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19-04-2024 | Frank Jansen

Fifteen everyday products useful for cycling

Marketing in the bicycle industry can be aggressive, often leading to high prices for products specifically designed for cycling. This article explores fifteen items that may not have been intended for cycling but excel in this context, all while being considerably more budget-friendly compared to their cycling-specific counterparts.

#1 Granola bars

These bars are a versatile addition to your cycling essentials. While not designed exclusively for cycling, these convenient snacks are packed with energy and make for excellent on-the-go nutrition. You can find a wide variety of flavors and options, allowing you to tailor your choice to your taste preferences. Additionally, they are readily available in most grocery stores, making them a convenient and cost-effective fuel source for your rides.

#2 TESA 4289 tape

Originally not designed for bicycles, this tape performs exceptionally well as tubeless rim tape. In fact, it's sold by Stan's under its own brand name at a much higher price. You can find it on eBay and Amazon in various widths, making it not only an excellent tubeless rim tape but also highly cost-effective.

#3 Knipex 95 62 160 cable cutter

This cable cutter isn't specifically intended for bicycle cables, but it outperforms many pliers designed for that purpose, all at a fraction of the cost. You can find it online for just 20 euros.

Photo: Steradent for your water bottles, tape for your frame, and a cutter for your cables.

#4 Wool socks

While many clothing brands offer pricey winter socks, gardeners in winter often choose wool socks for their warmth and moisture-absorbing qualities. You can find them online for less than ten euros per set.

Photo: They may not be as stylish as our Castelli socks, but wool socks provide excellent warmth during winter.

#5 Dasty and lamp oil

Expensive degreasers can cost as much as fifteen euros per liter. However, you can find a perfect alternative at your local shop: Dasty, a citrus-based biodegradable degreaser, for just a few euros per liter. It's so potent that you can even dilute it 1:1 with water. Another cost-effective option is lamp oil, available at supermarkets for under 2 euros per liter.

#6 Brake cleaner and spirit

Brake cleaner, originally designed for cars, works exceptionally well for cleaning bicycle components such as chains and brake pads. You can find it at Action on the car shelf for a few euros per spray can. For an even more budget-friendly choice, spirit is also effective.

Photo: Affordable degreasers are readily available.

#7 Brushes

Various types of brushes, including washing brushes, paint brushes, pipe cleaners, and toothbrushes, may not be designed specifically for bicycles, but they work just as effectively as their cycling-specific counterparts and come at a fraction of the cost.

#8 Bearings

Wheel manufacturers often charge thirty euros for two moderately sealed bearings, which may also be of poor quality. However, many hubs use standard bearing sizes. Online stores like Lagerboer or Lagertechniek offer SKF, FAG, or NTN bearings at a significantly lower cost. These bearings are not only cheaper but also of higher quality. Additionally, they are often available in a double-sealed version (noted as 2RS).

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#9 Nail polish

For minor frame damage, use nail polish in the right color to touch up, as effectively as an expensive paint pen.

#10 Laptop table or lectern

An indoor cycling laptop stand can often cost over 100 euros, which can be excessive for what you get. Consider using a laptop stand or a music stand for sheet music for under 25 euros, providing the same functionality.

#11 Steradent

Clean your water bottles effectively with Steradent, a product designed for cleaning dentures, readily available at the drugstore. Also useful for cleaning your Camelback.

#12 Maltodextrin, fructose, and electrolytes

Instead of costly sports drinks, consider ordering Maltodextrin and fructose online for about 5 euros per kilo. Additionally, electrolytes, though slightly more expensive, require only a small amount. Mix two parts maltodextrin, one part fructose, and a scoop of electrolytes, and add sugar-free syrup to your water bottle for flavor, if needed. This results in sports nutrition costing less than half of the cheaper "official" alternatives. Some say it could even be a lot cheaper. They point to using white sugar (which consists of 50% glucose and 50% fructose) as an alternative. More info on that in this video.

Photo: Car shampoo works great for shining your bike.

#13 Helicopter tape

Stickers designed to prevent damage to your chainstays can be expensive and ineffective, as they tend to come off quickly. A roll of helicopter tape provides enough material for as many as a hundred bikes, costs less, and offers better performance. The tape is also highly effective on gravel bikes or MTBs in vulnerable areas. Just round off the edges as needed. The original 3M helicopter tape is rarely available, but the alternative from TESA (56349-TR) is nearly as good.

#14 Car shampoo

For bike cleaning, you don't need expensive solutions to make your bike shine. A cost-effective bottle of car shampoo or even a little all-purpose cleaner like Dreft will work just as effectively.

#15 Hand tools from (for example) Wera

Sockets, torx wrenches, and screwdrivers are commonly used tools for bike maintenance. Opting for brands that aren't specialized in cycling, such as Wera or Skandia, often offers better quality at a more reasonable price compared to well-known bicycle tool brands.

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