Tips for bike beginners
Are you new to cycling? Then hello, welcome to the bike lanes, you will not regret it!
You are probably wondering what bike is best suited to you, the necessary equipment for everyday riding and probably some basic knowledge to make your ride as safe as it can be. So here we are, ready to calm the nerves and settle the dust on concerns you may have, with our useful tips for those new to the world of cycling.
1. Choose a suitable bike
(for those of you looking for your first new bike)
First and foremost, you’ll need to find the right bike for the purpose you’re wanting to ride. Nowadays, various bike types are categorised by different criteria such as by function (commuting, racing, etc.), by frame construction (upright, folding, etc.), by gearing (single speed or multi-speed) or by means of propulsion (human-powered or motor-assisted). Well, all of these might sound complicated enough to new riders, so to make it simple, you’ll just need to think about whether you’ll be on your bike to commute to work or around town with friends, then you might be interested in the lifestyle or urban bike ranges; or whether you’re up for a challenge of riding longer road or climbing hills and mountains, then the performance range is definitely what you’re looking for.
We recommend that you seek advice from the staff of your local bike shop. They should be able to give you valuable suggestions on the bike that suits your need the most. Having said that, no matter what type of bike you are into, one key feature that a good bike should have is the stability. You should have enough support from a stable bike when you balance or corner on your two-wheeled vehicle. A bike with good stability usually has a longer wheelbase, wider handlebars and a low enough saddle height. This leads you to the next section: bike fit.
2. Get a bike fit to size
Now you’ve chosen your category of bike fit for your purpose, the next crucial step is to make sure you’re getting the right bike size for you. You don’t want to experience any back or knee pains after cycling, or not even be able to get on or off it! So, to get the right fit, you need to consider some of the following.
The first element you should check carefully before taking the bike home is saddle height. As a number of bike riders have experienced pain in front of their knees, it is likely that their seat might be too low that it causes them to under-extend while pedalling. It is understandable that beginners would feel more confident and comfortable when their feet can touch the ground easily. Nevertheless, putting your saddle at the wrong height can risk you some injuries. Ideally, the seat post should be high enough so that you bend your knee slightly when your foot is at the bottom of the pedal stroke.
The second element worth checking thoroughly is reach. Proper reach means that a 45-degree angle between your arms and torso is made over the bike. If the reach is too long, your back will be in pain trying to hold the handlebars; too short, you’ll be in an uncomfortable position as your knees are too close to your arms. We suggest you have a test ride when shopping for a new bike so that you’ll get your bike fit by the staff properly.
Now, since you’ve got the type of bike that you want with the perfect size fit, here are some tips to make your ride safe and enjoyable.
3. Prepare the essential accessories
It’s not necessary to wear specialised clothes and shoes for cycling all the time you cycle. However, there is some equipment that we highly recommend you prepare yourself with for your ride. A helmet is the number one useful accessory and one of the first things you should buy alongside buying your bike; it will literally save your life. With a variety of models and colours available in the market, you can choose a helmet which not only fits your head size but your style and budget best. The more you love the look and feel of your helmet, the more you’ll want to wear it on your bike ride, keeping you safe whilst looking stylish!
The second most essential equipment after a helmet is probably the lock to protect your bike. Today’s bike thieves are well equipped with portable cutting tools, but it doesn’t mean that there’s no way to avoid the risk. In order not to catch that horrible gut-wrenching feeling when you discover that your bike has been stolen, it is worthwhile to invest in a good quality bike lock. Regarding that, these three types of lock are rated as effective bike protectors: D-locks, chain locks and cable locks. They are deemed to be robust and good for medium to high-risk theft areas.
As aforementioned, you don’t really need specialised clothes, however, the choice of proper garment in different seasons is essential. In hot summer days, it is highly recommended that you wear lightweight clothes with wicking properties to aid the removal and evaporation of sweat from your skin. Nonetheless, you’ll possibly catch some chilly wind while cycling early in the morning or later in the evening, so spare a little room for a handy windbreaker jacket. On the other hand, really cold weather requires warm clothes and even extra warm accessories for your hands and legs.
4. Remember to refuel
If you cycle for around an hour, a bottle of water to keep you hydrated through the ride is enough. Nonetheless, if you plan to ride for two hours or more, bring some snacks along to nibble after 45 minutes or an hour into your ride. Forgetting to refuel on a long ride can lead to fatigue, sore muscles and irritability which is not a strong way to finish the ride.
5. Stay safe
Besides wearing a helmet to protect your noggin, you should be cautious when riding on the road. Always follow local traffic laws which should include riding on the bike lanes and stopping at red lights. One unwritten rule is hand signalling before making a turn and lane change, which are useful and important indeed. Sometimes, a slight glance to the back can also be a sign. The point is, don’t suddenly change your direction without signalling because you never want to be hit on road accidents.
Moreover, always carry a form of identification and your phone in case of emergency. We all try to avoid all the mishaps as much as possible, however, if the rides don’t go as planned, you might need help from strangers or a call to your contact of emergency.
At Reid, we hold a strong belief that when life is experienced on two wheels, we become healthier, more mindful, more focused people. Therefore, our job is to help them realise; to inspire, motivate and empower people to get out of the car, onto their bike and into the open world beyond. We see this as an opportunity to set an example; to show the world that sustainable, economical and human aren’t mutually exclusive with performance, beautiful design and the Reid Rider lifestyle.
For you guys and gals who are new to the cycling community, we hope that the abovementioned tips can give you some initial instructions so that you’ll enjoy your ride from the first days.