The most important--and most overlooked--piece of cycling safety equipment is the helmet. Cyclists are susceptible to head injuries from a variety of sources. Not only are the injuries sustained during collisions and high-speed impacts often serious or fatal, but a simple fall at slow speeds exposes the head to dangerous impacts with rocks and pavement. Always wear a cycling helmet when you ride to reduce the risk of head injuries.
Reflective Clothing and Lights
Every seasoned cyclist has had a close encounter with another vehicle, and often for the same reason: Bicycles are hard to see, and drivers do not look for them. Wear bright clothing when you ride, and always use bright headlights and rear blinking lights during low-light and night conditions. Add reflective tape to the back of your helmet, seat bag or panniers.
Sunglasses not only shield your eyes from bright light but also protect against foreign objects. Bicyclists encounter similar eye hazards as motorcyclists, including dust, bugs, debris and rain. These hazards can cause injury and reduce your ability to ride safely. Always ride with sunglasses in bright light, and purchase a pair of photo-chromatic or clear-lensed glasses for low-light riding.
Gloves and Cycling Clothing
Most riders wear gloves simply to stay comfortable on the bike, but they serve a larger purpose, as well. Gloves increase your grip on the handlebars and absorb road shock, making it less likely that you will lose control of the front wheel. Form-fitting cycling clothing has a similar purpose. Tight shorts and jerseys give your body a full range of motion and avoid snagging on the saddle or handlebars when you shift riding positions. In addition, the chamois in padded shorts helps prevent skin injury caused by long hours in the saddle.
Tires and Tools
Always check your tires before you ride for foreign objects that may lead to a flat. Replace your tires when they appear worn or cut, or if a blowout causes weaknesses in the sidewall or tire belt. Also carry a flat kit on your bike whenever you ride, including a spare tube, tire lever, mini bike tool and a hand pump or CO2 inflater with extra cartridges. If you've had little experience changing flat tires, practice at home so you can be quick and efficient on the road or trail.