I wanted to share a quick list of tips that I have learned for getting into the sport of cycling without deep pockets.
Step 1: Get the Bike
This is often the only step people focus on when starting their cycling hobby. It is important, yes, but you need to keep in mind the supporting gear you will need to actually make riding enjoyable. Make sure your entire budget makes room for accessories as well as the bike.
First, buy a bike that fits. The frame size you choose is dependent on a lot of factors and if you don’t know, you should go to a bike shop and find your size, or use a chart. I am 6’4”, so I know I need a 61cm Frame size, or an XL depending on the manufacturer.
Next, hunt down bikes your size on Craigslist and Facebook marketplace. There is almost always a market and if you wait long enough you will find a great bike for your budget. Doing this allowed me to find a race bike with all Ultegra components for less than $1k. Here is a great video on what to look for in a used bike.
Your next option would be to go to your local bike shop and look for deals. Previous model years should have big discounts, and most shops run big sale events a few times a year.
The final option I will suggest is not for everyone, but I only have good things to say about bikes direct. For a few hundred dollars you will get a decent frame, wheels, and tires with entry level components. And if this is your first bike, entry level is absolutely enough. Claris, Sora, Acera all have trickle down tech from previous years.
Step 2: Get the Gear
Spend a little money here. It’s important. You might not need a light depending on your location and riding habits. You do need a helmet.
MIPS Helmet for $60: Amazon
CygoLite Metro $60: Amazon
This category is highly subjective. But I recommend good bibs, jerseys, gloves, and glasses. Aliexpress has these things in multitudes, and they are good enough quality for me. I also don’t care if people see me wearing knock off Oakley Jawbreakers.
Another site I recommend is the The Black Bibs
My general rule is not to spend more than $20 on gloves or glasses, and no more than $50 each on bibs and jerseys. I’ve built up a good collection of aliexpress jerseys now.
Step 3: Ride that Bike!
All you really need is a bike and a helmet. Get out there and ride and don’t worry about the extra gear. One thing I want to see more of are what Vegan Cyclist calls “T-Shirt” rides. You show up in street clothes and whatever bike and just hang out while riding. It doesn’t have to be a ‘25 mph around a corner’ thing.