Cycle helmets are optional in the club, but we do advise under-16s and inexperienced cyclists to wear a helmet on all our rides. We do not make the wearing of helmets compulsory because a) it is not compulsory in the eyes of the law, b) some people tend to ride more dangerously with a helmet because they feel safer, and c) helmets, especially the cheaper ones, can be very uncomfortable in hot weather, and this factor can also affect the safety of the cyclist.
The best footwear is probably a good pair of trainers that you can use on or off the bike: Hi-Tec Badminton or Squash are good at around £25, but choose whatever make you find comfortable.  SPD pedals have been made fashionable by Shimano as a means of improving their profits, and whilst they offer some advantages over toe-clips, they do require special, expensive shoes that are not easy to use off the bike and can easily be damaged.  SPDs are not, therefore, ideal for touring.
You will need good raingear that is completely waterproof for some of our activities. The recommended kit here is a waterproof jacket made of proofed nylon or one of the cheaper breathable fabrics, costing around £25-£70.  Three-layer GoreTex would be even better, but prices start at around £100!  Don’t get a waterproof coat that has insulation built in, because you’ll get too hot.  Over-trousers are not really very useful - you'll be better off wearing shorts in the rain than getting hot and uncomfortable in overtrousers.
Select other items of general clothing according to your personal tastes, but make sure you bring several removable warm layers on winter rides.
You should bring a good puncture repair kit and a pump on every ride as soon as you can afford them.  You should also bring a spare inner tube that fits your bike: this saves time if you get a puncture, and may be essential if your puncture is near the valve and cannot be repaired.
Working lights are required for all day and afternoon rides from November to February, and on all evening rides, as indicated in the rides lists.  Choose good quality lights that will not easily jump out of their fittings.
Panniers are almost essential for weekends and tours, although you may be able to borrow a pair from Michael for your first trip.  A good pair of panniers will have a total capacity of at least 40 litres in two separate, easy-to-remove bags and will cost between £40 and £75 for the pair.  Karrimor and Carradice set high standards for their products, but some other manufacturers offer similar quality.
When choosing a pannier rack, try to get a strong one that uses four-point fixing, as this will be more stable when loaded with heavy panniers and will be less likely to break - expect to pay £20-£30 for a good rack.
If you don’t want to use panniers for day rides, a wedge seat bag or saddlebag can be used to carry tools, waterproofs, money and packed lunch. The use of rucksacks can be dangerous and is discouraged.
The following list summarises the main items which you are advised to bring with you.  But don't worry if you haven't got everything together in time for your first ride.
All Rides
  • Drink Bottle
  • Waterproofs
  • High energy food
  • Money for café stops
  • Pump
  • Spare inner tube that fits your bike
  • Puncture repair kit .
  • Training shoes
  • Warm clothes (if cold)
  • Good gloves (if cold)
Day Rides
  • Packed lunch
  • Working lights (in winter)
There are special packing lists for hostel weekends and tours, but you can ask about these when you place your bookings.