The cycle touring equipment you choose for a lengthy cycle tour, such as Lands End to John o’Groats or London to Edinburgh, will make a significant impact on your ride. For long distance rides it pays to plan ahead and carry the right kit.
However, there’s no need to take the “kitchen sink” approach to cycle touring. Space is limited on a bike, weight needs to be kept as low as possible and the cost of buying new cycling kit quickly racks up.
It is also important to choose the right equipment for your particular tour. The biggest variable is whether your ride is supported or whether you are going it alone?
To reflect the above, we have compiled two bicycle touring equipment lists. The first list is for cyclists on supported rides and the second for unsupported riders.
Although both lists adhere to a minimum viable cycling kit philosophy, we don’t advocate the approach taken by friends of Going Going Bike. They took nothing more than their cycling clothes, puncture repair kit, credit card and a toothbrush with them when they attempted a Lands End to John o’Groats ride. They soon realised it wasn’t a great decision when they had to wear wet clothes that had not dried from the previous day.
Kit for supported ride
- Bicycle (check out our blog article on what bicycle to ride for a cycle tour)
- Cycle Computer – knowing how far you’ve gone and have still got to ride is good for pacing and motivation.
- Lights – if there is a chance of riding in the dark
- 2 x water bottles
- Repair kit – to include spare inner tubes, pump, tyre levers, multi-tool kit and saddle bag for carrying
- Padded cycling shorts – you’ll be grateful for these. Bibbed or normal are a matter of personal comfort
- Cycling gloves – to absorb some of the vibrations from the road
- Cycling shoes with cleats – makes pedalling long distances far easier and more efficient
- Cycling jersey – rear pockets for storing food and extra layers
- Base layers – merino stays fresh longer than polyester
- Waterproof jacket – insulation dependent on time of year
- Sunglasses – to protect your eyes
- Hat – for warmth or to shield your eyes
- Mudguards (optional)
Unsupported ride – as above PLUS
- Pannier racks
- Waterproof stuff sacks or plastic bags for gear inside panniers
- Camping equipment – as required
- Bike locks
4 other tips for your tour
1 – It’s a good idea to include a “dry-run” ride into your cycle tour training. This can take the form of two days cycling with a one night stopover. This helps you to gauge fitness and also to check:
- you have the equipment that’s right for you.
- your touring kit fits into your panniers and you are comfortable and stable whilst riding with panniers.
2 – Some guidelines advocate using both front & rear panniers (distributing the weight 40/60(rear)). However, our experience of using only rear racks has been fine. A dry-run will find out whether this works for you.
3 – Don’t consider undertaking your tour with a rucksack on your back. It may sound sensible but becomes uncomfortable very quickly.
4 – Pack gear with thought as to what needs to be easily accessible on route i.e. waterproofs near the top or in a pannier pocket and consider what might be needed first when arriving at the campsite i.e. your tent near the top.