Bicycling is a way for people to get outside and get moving after a day of being indoors at work or school. As a hobby, it promotes good health and physical fitness. In addition, bicycling is relatively inexpensive when compared to other activities. To get the most enjoyment out of bicycling, it helps to start out correctly as a beginner. This means learning the basics about bicycling and bike care, which will build confidence while riding and help prevent injury to oneself and others.
Safety should always be a priority for anyone who rides a bike, whether they are a novice or experienced. Riders should always dress appropriately, which means wearing a properly fitting helmet to protect their head and clothing that allows them to be seen clearly during both the day and evening. Items worn while riding a bicycle should be brightly colored with reflective details. Bicycles should be checked before every ride to ensure that the tires are properly inflated and the brakes are in good working condition.
When learning to ride, choose a location that’s relatively traffic-free to reduce the risk of collisions. While learning, one should also spend time practicing using one hand while doing hand signals with the other, as these signals should always be used when appropriate. In general, however, unless one is signaling, they should always have both hands on the handlebars. When ready to ride on a street with traffic, a bicyclist should always be alert, and they should avoid riding at night whenever possible. If riding to an unfamiliar location, planning a route can prevent a person from getting lost or frustrated.
Bike-Buying Tips for Beginners
It’s important to buy the right bike for the best ride. To start, one will need to choose the right type of bike for the type of riding that they are planning. There are several different types to choose from, including road, city or commuter, mountain, and hybrid bikes. Mountain bikes are designed for riding on rough terrain or off-road. Many first-time bicyclists who will be riding on streets or on paths will want to choose a commuter, road, or hybrid bike. This will depend on whether one is choosing a bicycle primarily for commuting or if it’s for leisure or competitive use. When shopping, visit a shop that has a knowledgeable staff that will help select a bike that’s the right frame size and the right price for one’s budget. The shop should also be one that will allow consumers to take a test ride.
Adjusting Your Bike
After buying a bicycle, the next step is to make adjustments. The primary goal in making these adjustments should be the comfort of the rider, but certain adjustments are important for safety as well. Areas that may require adjustment include the seat height and angle, the saddle position, reach, and the height of the handlebars. Adjusting the seat height helps to improve pedaling efficiency in addition to safety and comfort.
Riding Positions and Tips
Having the proper body position while riding will help to reduce potential pain and improve the overall quality of one’s time on their bicycle. A majority of the time, a cyclist’s hands should be positioned on the handlebars so that they can easily reach the shifters and the brake levers. If the bike has drop-style handlebars, when riding downhill, riders can lower their center of gravity, become more aerodynamic, and improve stability by placing their hands on the drops.
In general, to achieve and maintain proper positioning, the cyclist should have relaxed shoulders. Their elbows should be in a bent yet relaxed position, which will help absorb the impact from any jarring that may occur and minimize strain in the shoulders. One’s wrists, on the other hand, should not be bent, as this can hinder blood circulation and cause the rider’s hands to grow numb on longer rides. Cyclists should also keep their core tight so that they can maintain a natural spine and relaxed back. While on the bike, cyclists should also be aware of the positioning of their knees as they pedal to ensure that they are over the balls of their feet and not bowed outward.
- Bike Safety (PDF)
- Medline Plus: Bicycle Safety
- Bike 101: Bicycle Safety (PDF)
- Seven Smart Routes to Bicycle Safety
- Bike Buying Guide: Getting Started
- A Beginner’s Guide to Buying a Bike
- How to Buy a Bike Even if it’s Your First
- Hints for Purchasing a Bike
- Fitting and Adjusting Your Bike
- Eight Ways to Make Riding a Bike More Comfortable
- How to Fit a Bike
- Riding Position and Lumbar Spine Angle in Recreational Cyclists
- How to Set Your Saddle Height at Home
- Cycling for Beginners
- Proper Riding Positions