Listed below are a few cycling tips I personally followed as a beginner or wished someone had told me sooner than later. This post is aimed solely for beginners and enthusiasts who have started cycling recently. I’ve tried to cover some of the most common pitfalls of getting into riding, but haven’t forgotten that the best thing about cycling is that it’s fun and easier on your joints.
In the words of the great Eddy Merckx — the legendary Belgian ex-pro cyclist who won 11 Grand Tours, including five Tour de France: “Ride as much or as little, as long or as short as you feel. But ride.”
1. Choosing the Right Bike
The first and most important thing to determine before buying a bike is the purpose of getting one and the terrain it’s going to be ridden on. Bikes are most broadly divided into 3 groups and we’ve provided a short summary below. However, you can also refer to our previous article for an in-depth analysis of ‘How To Choose The Perfect Bike For Yourself’.
|Types||Road Bikes||Hybrid Bikes||Mountain Bikes|
|Type of Road||Meant for paved roads||Some off-road MTB abilities mixed with a compromised road bike design for paved roads||MTBs are designed to be used on rough terrain ranging from unpaved roads, gravel paths and technical trails|
|Type of Frame||Lightweight aluminium frame and thin wheels||Aluminium and steel frames with thin wheels, but thicker than a road bike||Aluminium and steel frames with thick wheels and greater ground clearance|
|Handlebars and Posture||Drop down handlebars and aggressive streamlined posture||Flat handlebars for comfort and ergonomic posture||Straight handlebars with a front as well as rear suspension with a straight or aggressive posture depending on type of ride|
|Average Speed||Average speeds on 25 – 35 km/h||Average speeds on 18 – 25 km/h||Average speeds on 10 -12 km/h on trails and upto 20km/h on paved roads|
|Recommendations||Ideal for people who want to discover speed or athletes who want intense cardiovascular exercise||Ideal for beginner cyclists or users who are looking at cycles to go on excursions exploring the city or countryside||Ideal for beginner cyclists thanks to its hardiness and all-terrain credentials or for individuals who want to cycle on trails|
2. Cycling Core Gear (For Short Rides upto 1 hour)
As far as apparel choices are concerned, there is a huge range of cycling clothing out there ranging from easily affordable to insanely expensive choices. But we’re going to list down a few must-haves for you to ensure a comfortable and joyful ride.
1. Padded Shorts
The main purposes of padded shorts is to protect and cushion the bottom and genitals from the pressure of the body on the saddle, and to cushion the sit bones. Massively padded saddles won’t help you on longer rides (ouch!). The only way to be comfortable in the saddle is to wear padded shorts, fit a decent saddle and ride until you get used to it.
For those who haven’t heard or used these before and are wondering if you should be wearing any undergarments below these shorts, then the answer is NO. You do not wear underwear under padded bike shorts. The pad is designed to sit next to the skin.
2. Cycling Helmet
Things to keep in mind before you select a Bicycle Helmet:
- First thing first, please do not compromise on the quality. Wear a cheap helmet is equivalent of wearing a plastic cap. It will not help in any way during a mishap.
- The helmets are unisex and can be used by both men as well as women. Although one can always choose a preferred color.
- Buy the correct size of the helmet for your head. One can check the helmet size as per the image below.
3. Rear and Front LED Safety Lights
Bike lights are a non-negotiable for any ride. Front lights may not be necessary if you don’t plan to bicycle in the dark however, rear lights cannot be compromised with, be it day or night. At the same time, wearing reflective clothes or a reflective jacket is also a great idea.
You can choose amidst a range of really nice looking fancy lights, which can be attached to the back of the seat or to the wheel itself.
4. Cycling Sunglasses
They don’t need to cost the earth or make you look stupid, but they will keep your eyes protected from bugs, stones, sun and rain. Some versions feature interchangeable lenses, so, if you can, get one lens for bright conditions and one for dull, wet days.
5. Medical Contact Card/Identity Card
You can never be too precautious when on the road. As careful as we are and hope it never comes to this, but always carry your identity card or medical card in case needed during any kind of duress or emergency. It may be very crucial to obtain your vital information in case of mishaps.
6. A Bike Lock
It is important to note that a good bike lock is usually available for sale separately and never included while buying the bike itself. It becomes important to carry a lock especially if you plan to take breaks between your ride to enjoy the scenery around or just park it in your garage or workplace if you use it for commute.
7. A Mobile Phone (With/Without A Phone Mount)
You might have come across some professional or big time cycling enthusiasts who prefer using a cycle computer or have a speedometer attached to track live data. Well, if you don’t want to spend that extra money on those pricey accessories, you can simply invest in a good and sturdy phone mount. There are various apps that help you track live speed.
If you’re not someone who wants excessive data, you can also just use an armband or a safe pocket to store your phone in. Needless to say, it’ll not only help you with maps and commute but also ensure communication and empower you to call for help during emergencies, accidents or flat tyres.