A helmet, gloves and a bottle cage, is all a bicyclist needs to get going, that is for safety and hydration. Helmet and gloves for safety and a bottle cage to mount a water bottle that will keep a rider hydrated.
Bicycle helmets, barring the full-face ones used by downhill and of late, increasingly, Enduro (mountain bike) riders, only protect the skull. Most bicyclists fall head first, unlike motorcyclists who skid, and require only skull protection. The coverage, however, might vary.
The impact-absorbing element in a bicycle helmet is a foamed polymer liner made of expanded polystyrene. The helmets come in different shapes and sizes. Bike helmets are sized according to head circumference. Basic helmets come in small-medium and medium-large sizes. Sizing options providing a better and more comfortable fit increase as the price goes up.
The best way to select a helmet is to try it. The helmet should not move when you shake your head once you have strapped it and tightened the ratchet. It should not fit too tightly. It should sit level across your head, around mid-forehead, with the chinstrap close under your head. The strap should make a “V” around your ears. You should be able to insert two fingers under the helmet and one between the strap and your neck.
Gloves are important for three reasons. These prevent sweat from entering the handle bar grips and allow a rider a firm grip on his/her bike. Sweat loosens and makes grips smelly.
Gloves also prevent callosity (hardening of the skin due to sustained gripping of the handle bar) and numbness in fingers. There are two nerves – ulnar and median – under the surface of our palm. Sustained holding of the handle bar puts pressure on these, creating numbness in fingers. This numbness can sometimes last for months.
Most importantly, gloves prevent abrasion of hand in the event of a fall. Our natural instinct in a fall is to seek hand support. This can severely injure the hand in the absence of gloves.