Casual Summer Cycling Gear
Just like any riding there is specific gear aimed at casual riding. Not every ride has to be an all out race bike kind of ride but that doesn’t mean grabbing some specific gear won’t be beneficial. This is a collection of a few pieces of casual summer cycling gear in 2020.
Casual cycling gear should be less specialized and serve more roles.
For me the big difference with casual summer cycling gear is that it’s less specialized than other cycling gear. Going out for a big ride means it’s worth springing for a more expensive, and very specific, piece. I’m not going to wear my race cycling shoes around town but that’s okay. The design is very specific. On the other hand, shoes for casual summer cycling should be something you can wear in a variety of situations. Casual riding is less demanding and the gear can be less specialized.
Since I mentioned shoes lets start there. In 2016 I reviewed a pair of DZR shoes and they are still a fantastic choice. These days I’m wearing a pair of Cove Midnight DZR Shoes. On the DZR website you’ll find the line ” We’re not pretentious bike shoes, we’re just shoes for people who really like their bike.” This is a great description of what DZR offers. They look like regular shoes. They also feel pretty close to regular shoes but there’s more to them. The front section of the shoes has a provision for SPD style clipless cleats.
Even if you decide not to use them with cleats they still make sense. The sole is stiff enough to keep from deforming around a pedal while still being walkable. While I often wear Vivobarefoot shoes a soft sole shoe leads to fatigue on a bike. The stiff sole of the DZR makes for a more comfortable ride while still being fine off the bike.
Always wear a helmet and in these times always wear a mask.
Next up, let’s talk about helmets. As I say to my boy, “always wear a helmet.” No matter how short the ride it’s important to make it a habit. I also recommend a helmet with some kind of slip plane technology. In 2020 with the technology available in a variety of options at every price point it makes no sense to go without. The most well known version of this is MIPS but MIPS is a brand name and they aren’t the only player in the space.
Another slip plane technology is Wavecell from Bontager. One of my favorite high end helmets is the Bontrager XXX but at $299 it might not be a first choice for casual riding. The Bontrager Starvos Wavecell helmet gives the advantages of wavecell at a more affordable pricepoint. It’s a bit heavier, it’s not aero optimized, and it ditches the BOA adjuster at the back. What it keeps is the same Virginia tech 5 star safety rating and it gains a price point of $200 less at an MSRP of $99. It’s a great choice if you are looking for casual summer cycling gear.
In the realm of safety, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a facemask in 2020. Riding around town I treat a facemask like a helmet. Never leave home without it. I looked for a mask that had a filter pocket where I could put a procedure mask. I also wanted good sealing around the edges so that I didn’t get fogging of my glasses, and so that it was effective. And it had to be comfortable.
Out in the country far from anyone it’s fine to take the mask off but cruising around the city it’s best to keep it on.
The mask I found that fit the bill was from Mandala scrubs. It has a moldable piece of metal at the bridge of the nose and it does a great job of sealing. The air I breathe comes through the mask and my glasses don’t fog. It attaches to my face over the ears so that it’s compatible with a helmet and it’s very comfortable. It also runs only $9.99 plus shipping.
I track every ride I take and casual rides are no different. When I go out for a ride I almost always ride with a power meter and a heart rate monitor connected to a dedicated cycling head unit. Jumping on a casual bike for an around town ride it doesn’t make much sense to do that. I still think it’s important to track heart rate and mileage though and a smartwatch is the way I recommend handling that.
A dedicated heart rate strap might provide more accurate heart rate but it’s a big hassle to use. Not only that it’s nowhere near as useful off the bike, or even on the bike. Using a smartwatch means I can keep track of my heart rate and mileage but it also allows me to see incoming messages without getting my phone out.
A smart watch lets you track your fitness without being a hassle.
For years I used a Ticwatch E and while it’s cheap it wasn’t a great product. It was so slow that it wasn’t all that usable and that doesn’t even mention the abysmal battery life. I never wrote about it because it wasn’t a good buy. This year Ticwatch has fixed all that with the Ticwatch Pro 2020.
The price of Ticwatch Pro is a bit more at $259 but it’s worth the extra cost to gain the usability. It has android pay which makes a contactless option in these times of COVID and it means not needing to get a wallet out. It’s right there on your wrist. It also has an app called ticsleep. Admittedly this might fall out of the range of the needs of a casual cyclist but as things get more serious sleep becomes a big issue for recovery. I keep track of my sleep to help get a sense of why I’m feeling tired on a particular day. Over the years I’ve never found a good solution for sleep tracking on a wear OS device. Ticwatch includes it in their core app lineup and it’s a big deal.
A smartwatch has a lot of usefulness both on and off the bike and makes sense for cyclists of all kinds.
The other big thing I do with my Ticwatch Pro is use it as an alarm for early morning rides. The vibration on my wrist doesn’t wake the rest of the house. It’s in this area the battery life of the Ticwatch Pro becomes a big deal. The specs list 2 -30 days. What that means is two days of use as you’d expect to use a smart watch. After that it switches to only using it’s less power intensive LCD display. This LCD display is easy to read when riding in the sun and the extra battery life means it will continue to work as an alarm even if you forget to charge it.
I haven’t reviewed any new casual bikes lately but my two favorites are the State Bicycles 4130 road and the Priority Continuum Onyx. They are vastly different bikes and you’ll need to evaluate which one makes more sense to you. The State Bicycles offering is closer to traditional road bike. On the other hand the Priority option is a more refined option that is much nicer to ride around town. Check out my reviews for more details.
These are a few of my favorite pieces of casual summer cycling gear. The things I like to grab when cruising around the neighborhood with my son or heading to a park to see a friend. They are things that make casual rides a bit more enjoyable.