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Cycling For Beginners (Helpful Tips) – Pro Bike Corner

Cycling For Beginners (Helpful Tips)

cycling-for-beginners

Are you interested in cycling for beginners DOs and DON´Ts or would you simply like to get some basic skills beginner cyclists should know in 2021?

Are you looking for beginners cycling tips, gear and shoes? I´ve got you covered.

America is experiencing the biggest influx of new cyclists since 1973, with biking levels increasing 253% in the Western United States between April 2019 and 2020.

Cycling offers an emission-free and cost-effective travel, not to mention a host of calorie-burning benefits.

If you plan to start cycling, now has never been a better time with states extending sidewalks and designating new bike lanes and trails.

As a beginner, cyclists should consider the correct gear for cycling, the road rules, the correct size bike, and how to use their gears. They should also consider safety on the roads and how to cycle in traffic to avoid injury.

Most of all, new cyclists should increase their training gradually and not take on too much too soon.

Cycling offers a kind of freedom that is unique both outdoors and in the city. It is not only a great exercise; it is a convenient and fossil fuel-free alternative to using a car.

If you are new to cycling, we have some valuable advice on how to start off on the right wheel.

3 Beginners Cycling tips You Should Know Before Starting

1. Finding Your Perfect Fit

Budget

If your budget is a problem, there are many second-hand bikes for you to choose from to get a feel for the sport without breaking the bank.

That way, you don’t mind a ding or two on your bike if your start is a bit rocky while perfecting your cycling skills. It makes more sense to buy a second-hand good quality bike than a poor-quality entry-level bike.

It doesn’t have to cost a million bucks to get started in cycling. Start with entry-level purchases and you can class up as you go.

Yes, that $4,000 bike looks sick as hell, but it’s going to roll down the street just like the $400 bike will. 

On that same note, where you do want to invest in is your helmet! Go for quality here, then budget on the rest of the gear like water bottles, cleats, and bike shorts.

Don’t feel like you’ve got to look like a pro from the start. Cycling can be a pricey sport, so it’s perfectly fine to start low.

Related reading: Are Trek Bikes Good Quality? (All Facts You Need to Know)

What Size Bike Do I Need: Bike Size Chart

Road bikes are generally a good place to start when beginning to cycle. It would be best to have a good idea about what you wish to use your bike for.

If you plan to do trails or off-road, you should suit your bike to the terrain.

It makes little sense to start with a top of the range bike when you might find you grow bored with the sport (unlikely) or discover a new biking passion once you are up and cycling.

Related reading: Why Do Cyclist Have Their Seat So High? (SADDLE HEIGHT)

Nothing will set your new riding adventure backward more than a badly fitted bike.

Bikes that are too small will cramp your riding style, while a too-large bike can set you up for big spills.

A general rule is that your bike’s frame size should be .65 times your inseam (the measurement of a well-fitting pair of pants from your crotch to the bottom of your trouser.)

For example, if you have a 25’’ inseam, you will require a bike with a 16’’ frame.

HeightSize (Inches)Size
4´10″ – 5´2″47cm – 48cmXX-Small
5´2″ – 5´6″49cm – 50cmX-Small
5´3″ – 5´6″51cm – 53cmSmall
5´6″ – 5´9″54cm – 55cmMedium
5´9″ – 6´0″56cm – 58cmLarge
6´0″ – 6´3″58cm – 60cmX-Large
6´3″ – 6´6″61cm – 63cmXX-Large
Road Bike Size Chart

If you wish to measure by eye, you should aim to have 1.5–2.0” inches between the frame of your bike and your crotch for touring, racing, or hybrid bikes.

The clearance should be higher on mountain bikes at 2.0-4.0”.

2. Safety Can’t Be Understated

Staying safe on the roads is incredibly important. There won’t always be a big bike path and you might have to share space with cars.

Before you get out there, study up on the proper way to ride on the street. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Ride with traffic, not against it
  • Stay as far out of traffic as you can
  • Take care riding next to parked cars – if a door opens up quick on you, it’s not going to be pretty
  • Strap on headlights and taillights if you plan on riding in dim or dark conditions 

Find a local bike club and plan to participate in some easy group rides. This can help you understand safe riding practices from more veteran riders. 

3. Cycling Is Social!

That local bike club can do more than just show you the ropes of safe riding. It’s also an opportunity to challenge your skills and make some lasting comrades.

Cycling might seem like a solo activity, but in reality, it’s far from it!

Make local bike shops or bike clubs host regular rides, of all ability levels. Riding with a group can teach you the expectations of riding with others.

For instance, how to organize into a peloton, the signal for a biker to pass you, and avoid grinding wheels with the rider in front of you! 

Related reading: How Much Weight Can a Bike Rack Hold? [Real FACTS]

Get Geared Up

Biking accessories can easily add up if you want the top of the range kit, but you don’t need to race the tour de France straight out, so a few basics can get you on the road.

You may always increase and upgrade your kit at a later date, but these essentials are a must-have starting out:

  • A good quality helmet should have proper padding and a protective shell. Once properly tightened, a helmet should sit level on your head without slanting back, with the front edge an inch or less above your eyebrows. Once tightened, there should not be any noticeable shift of an inch or more when you push the helmet side to side and back and front.
  • A good quality bike lock is crucial in the urban jungle to protect your new investment from theft
  • Bike lights are essential for safety when riding in poor visibility or early morning and evenings
  • Gloves soak up sweat and keep your hands dry to ensure that you keep a safe grip on your handlebars at all times. They also keep your hands warm in cold conditions
  • Proper cycling shorts with padding can really ease a newbie into the sport without saddle soreness 
  • Proper shoes and pedals are a must-have, and although you can start off with trainers and flat pedals, ensure your laces don’t put you on the curb. You should make a move to cycling shoes with clipless pedals. Proper cycling shoes provide support, protection, and seamless riding action
  • Basic repair kits are essential for new cyclists, with a good quality pump and some repair kits if you cycle into a snag.

Know Your Road Rules

To cycle safely, you need to learn how to share your space with sometimes unobservant motorists.

It would help if you learned to be aware of the vehicles around you and navigate your way through traffic safely.

Here are some key tips for remaining accident-free on the road:

  • Always cycle in the same direction as traffic 
  • Obey the traffic signs and always stop at red lights
  • Use designated bike paths if they are available
  • Obey your state laws about highways, expressways, and interstate routes
  • Wear an additional light on your helmet to alert motorists when your bike lights are obscured by traffic
  • Use hand signals when making turns
  • Watch out for parked cars, and keep a car door distance from cars when possible, in case they open a door in your path
  • Stay out of vehicle blind spots and keep at least one hand on your handlebar at all times.

Keeping Safe

Beyond knowing your road rules and having the right kit, always ensure that you bring your identification when out riding.

It would be best to have a basic multitool for emergency fixes, ID, and some cash when riding alone.

You might have a mechanical failure and find yourself stranded far from home in a worst-case scenario, and you should always prepare for the unexpected.

Don’t ride with earphones on because it could be hazardous if you can’t hear the sound of emergency vehicles or the sounds of motorists.

You may use a clip-on alternative with a speaker if you wish to listen to music while you cycle.

Keep your head up and anticipate obstacles ahead of you before it’s too late. Things like a sudden storm drain or debris can cause a nasty spill. 

Don’t Do Too Much Too Soon 

Take your time to build up your cycling training without doing too much too quickly. You might end up causing yourself an injury or becoming overly fatigued.

Understand that your body needs to become used to the new stresses and strains and give yourself time to adjust.

Keep your long-term goals in sight but allow yourself to improve your fitness and skills gradually.

The best way to ease your way into cycling is to build a routine until cycling becomes second nature.

Create a weekly riding schedule and keep to it, and expect that saddle soreness and muscular aches are all just part of the greater plan.

Once your body adjusts, you will find that the initial aches and pains become things of the past.

If it is your first ride out, you should choose a traffic-free trail or park and aim to cover around 5 miles to start.

You may build up your distance from there quite comfortably but ensure you give yourself some recovery time between distance increase and build up your strength and confidence gradually.

Make Sure Your Tyres Are Pumped Properly

Tires are often overlooked by newbies even though your tire pressure is an essential part of your riding experience.

The proper tire pressure should be written on your tire’s sidewall, which generally provides the recommended pressure range.

Proper tire pressure allows your bike to roll smoothly and efficiently and helps avoid flats. Road tires typically require 80 to 130 psi (pressure per square inch) and mountain bikes 25-35 psi. 

Ensure that you have an accurate and easy to read tire pressure gauge. Many bicycle pumps have a built-in pressure gauge, but some may be inaccurate.

It’s best to compare your pump readings at a local bike shop or somewhere with an accurate digital gauge.

Once you become more experienced, you may begin to adjust your tire pressure according to the conditions, such as a lower psi for damp and slippery surface conditions.

Learning Your Gears

One of the tricky parts of learning how to ride is how to operate your gears. Ideally, you should find a quiet road and practice gearing up and down until you are comfortable with the action.

Related reading: Why Are Kickstands or Sidestands On The Left? (All You Need To Know)

Ensure that you only start on the gears once you have sorted out all your balance issues; you don’t want to be fussing with geas when you need to be focused on staying upright!

Here’s a quick guide to starting out:

  • The left shifter controls the big changes in gear by moving the front derailleur that shifts your chain between front chainrings.
  • The right shifter controls your rear cogs or sprockets and the derailleur (that shifts the chain up and down) and is the one that cyclists use most often
  • Anticipate your hills. Use the left gear for big changes and the right gear for fine-tuning. For example, if you have a hill coming up, it is quicker to shift down from the left shifter, which you can then fine-tune with your right shifter
  • If your pedal speed is too high, you need to increase your resistance by gearing down
  • If you are struggling to pedal, you need to decrease your resistance by gearing up
  • Don’t shift too quickly. Make your shifts gradually, making sure to engage each new gear before moving to the next one. In some bikes, shifting too quickly can cause your chain to drop, which is a dirty business to fix.
  • Don’t cross your chains. This happens when you shift between the big and small rings when under too much pressure and may cause a dropped chain. This is why it’s best to change your gear before a hill and not while you are busy climbing it.

4 Basic Skills For Beginner Cyclists >> Check out the video below:

Cycling For Beginners Over 40

Here are the 5 most important things that beginners over 40 need to know before they start cycling:

–    If you have not ridden a bike since you were twenty or you’re perhaps just launching into the world of cycling, make sure you start off slowly and gradually increase the intensity and your mileage so that your body can have a chance to adjust to this relatively new activity.


–    Cyclists over 40 must really any areas of their body that are weaker than others and make sure they alternate their routines – otherwise, they could burn out.

So change your routes and therefore alleviate certain body areas from sustained stresses. 

–    Watch your posture. If you’re on a standard road bicycle, the bent forwards position can put extra strain on your neck, shoulders, and back, which could become quite serious as we age.


–    It pays to see what the professionals are up to and seek their advice.

Apart from picking up some top tips, you can also learn quite a bit about the sport by simply watching what the pros do –but do remember that these guys haven’t just started cycling at the age of 40! 


–    Listen to your body! When you were younger you would probably have dismissed the odd twinge or pain here and there.

But if you’re a beginner over 40 you should really take notice of your body because if you tackle the smaller injuries early you stand a good chance of them not becoming any more serious later on.

Cycling For Beginners Over 50:

Here are the 5 most important things that beginners over 50 need to know before they start cycling:

–    If you’ve turned 50 and haven’t cycled since you were much younger, you should really take things very slowly to begin with.

It makes sense to rest every other day i.e. ride on a Monday but don’t ride on a Tuesday etc. etc. while your body gets used to your new-found fitness regime.


–    Make sure you have your bike fitted to your body height, weight and proportions. A poorly fitted bicycle may cause extra stress on certain parts of your body, especially your back and hips. 


–    It pays to alternate your general cycling practice so that you’re not focusing too much or putting too much strain on certain parts of your body that may be weaker.

At least a few days a week you should maybe try to integrate some core-strengthening exercises such as weights, swimming, or yoga, which will help you to maintain your strength so that you can sustain further distances when cycling.


–    Swap your routine around now and then too, because as we age, especially when we hit the 50 mark, it becomes more and more difficult for our bodies to recover.

So make sure that you don’t focus on the same body area two days in a row – especially if you have a tendency to be weaker in that part.


–    Your general nutrition and fitness should play even more of a role if you’re over 50.

When you were younger you might not have really considered what you were eating all that much, but when you turn 50 as well as taking up a new sport like cycling you should also really make sure that you take care of what’s fueling your body.

Eat healthy food after your ride so that you can accelerate your recovery, and don’t forget to stretch down after your ride too.

Cycling For Beginners Over 60

Here are the 5 most important things that beginners over 60 need to know before they start cycling

–    Hitting 60 years of age doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be leading an active life. But do make sure that you have your bike fitted properly to you, your dimensions, and what you’re trying to achieve from your cycling exercise.

Make sure that your bike or the equipment has a focus on comfort and ensure it suits your body’s proportions as opposed to being speedy or looking swish.


–    Make sure you pay a healthy regard to any medical conditions that could impair your cycling ability – especially arthritis.

As cycling, like most other cardio sports, will cause your heart rate to increase it is a good form of exercise for the elderly as it doesn’t induce so much wear on your body.

But you do need to be sensible where any underlying conditions or medical issues are concerned.


–    It’s important that you protect your knees when you are over 60 years old and taking up cycling for the first time. Here, your form is really important.

You should aim to keep your knees stable so that you can obtain increased performance in the strokes of your pedal and therefore stop your knees from experiencing pain at the end of your ride.

If your knee has a tendency to roll inwardly or push outwardly, the cap of your knee will not operate in a smooth fashion.

Left unchecked, this could go on to cause significant issues and damage to cartilage, particularly if you happen to already have any form of muscle issue or inflammation.


–    There’s no harm in considering an electric bike when you are wanting to cycle in your senior years.

A bike like this will drive you forwards even if you don’t actually pedal it, but obviously, you want to have exercise so the best way to operate such a bicycle is to let it help you as you push on the pedals – easing the load a little.

Cycling For Beginners Weight Loss: What To Consider

1. Make a Plan

Crafting up a training plan can help keep you consistent when trying to lose weight with cycling. Print out a calendar and start sketching in a plan.

Start with short rides, but keep them at an easy pace. As your body adapts to the new activity (and your bum adapts to the seat, trust me, it’s a process) you can lengthen the rides. Your ultimate goal should be long, multiple hour rides at a slow and sustainable pace.

2. Nutrition Counts

Don’t think that cycling alone will help you lose weight. You’ve got to include the other part of the equation to get the result.

And that’s nutrition! Cut out the junk and stick to nourishing and healthy foods.

For during-workout fuel, pack healthy carbs to keep your energy up. Here’s what to plan out for fueling during bike rides:

  • Rides 1 hour or less: No food needed
  • Rides >1 hour: Plan to bring 60-90g of carbohydrates for each hour of exercise.

3. Hydrate!

Proper hydration plays a key role in the body’s energy levels. If you’re feeling particularly zonked, it might be because you aren’t drinking enough water. You’ll want to ensure that you:

  • Hydrate throughout the day
  • Pack a few water bottles with you on the ride (about 8oz per 15 minutes of exercise)
  • Hydrate after your ride

When you are planning those super long rides, make sure to include a pit stop in the middle to refill on water.

Gas stations will often let you refill with water and ice from their soda fountains for a few cents, so pack some change when you go. 

Cycling for beginners training plan:

1. Start With Some Fitness

Before you start carving out a training plan for your cycling, try to get into the habit of riding regularly. This will do a few things for you:

  • Help you adapt to your bike
  • Give you the ability to work out any kinks in your gear shifts
  • Familiarize you with some regular routes you can take from your home

Starting with a baseline of fitness will also let hone in on more specific goals while training, as you’ll already be in good shape before you start. 

2. Be Familiar With Heart Rate Zones

Heart rate zones are a great way to shape out a training plan. This method will help you apply different intensities to your plan so you challenge yourself enough to improve and also decrease the risk of burnout.

You’ll need to know your max heart rate first, then observe the zones below:

  • Zone 1: Very Light/Active Recovery, Heart Rate is below 68% max
  • Zone 2: Light/Endurance, Heart Rate is 69-83% max
  • Zone 3: Moderate/Tempo, Heart Rate is 84-94% max
  • Zone 4: Hard, Heart rate is 95%+ max 

3. Find An Event

Training for something is much more likely to keep you motivated. You’ll be more committed to your training, not to mention, excited about your event!

Find a friend to sign up with you and you’ll both be able to embark on similar training plans.

A workout buddy adds another notch in that commitment belt. 

Beginners Cycling Shoes: 5 Things To Consider

–    Although it’s, of course, possible to ride your bike in trainers, proper cycling shoes will be more comfortable and generally better for you.

The soles are rigid and the actual mechanical link between the pedals and the cycling shoes helps to enhance your pedal pushing comfort. 


–    When looking for the best cycling shoes, remember that those coming with external cleats are usually intended for those who wish to race or participate in other types of more sporty cycling.

If you also need to be able to walk in these shoes, you should ensure that they have a recess in the shoe where the cleat can be accommodated for periods of walking.


–    As with most things in life, the more you pay for your cycling shoes usually the “better” they will be, which, in the world of cycling, means that they will tend to be of a lighter weight as lots of expensive state-of-the-art materials will have gone into the design and manufacture.


–    The basic rule of thumb when looking for cycling shoes is to remember that they are supposed to be as light as possible and rigid too, so they enable efficient cycling.

Some of them will come with mesh inserts so that your feet don’t become too hot in the warmer months.

Some of them also come with a sole structured to comply with a standard pedal cleat that doesn’t have a clip.


–    It’s also key to remember that women’s cycling shoes will usually be narrower at the heels than the men’s ones.

Women also need cycling shoes that are shallower and don’t have as much height between the upper and the base of the shoe.

And as women usually have smaller shoe sizes than their male counterparts, some of the producers of women’s cycling shoes will provide them in smaller sizes too.

Beginners Cycling Gear: 4 Things To Consider

–    We know that embarking on this hobby/leisure pursuit can seem a bit daunting, especially when shops often present you with a huge range of cycling accessories and general cycling gear.

There are, however, some important extras that you should consider purchasing such as a lock. If you’re going to be leaving your bike unattended you are definitely going to need to lock it up.

It pays to buy a really good lock and not skimp here, as the cheaper ones are easier to break or cut through.


–    In terms of cycling bags or luggage, you’ll definitely need something that you can put on your back or around your waist for carrying your personal bits ; pieces such as keys.

You might also decide it makes sense to buy some pannier bags in which you can put some larger items. A saddlebag is also an option – it fixes to the area beneath your saddle and it is usually used to stow tools and spares for emergency fix-ups.


–    If you’re going to be cycling at night, you’ll without a doubt need lights! You’ll need these to lighten up the road ahead of you and, all importantly, make you visible to other traffic.

If you’re going to be cycling in the countryside this is even more imperative, as there are fewer streetlights and often vast expanses of very poorly lit roads.

For unlit roads, it’s best to use LEDs and lithium-ion batteries that can be recharged. These will give you very powerful lights.


–    It pays to be prepared for any eventuality, so having a multi-tool a spare inner tube, and a standard tire lever is a really good start.

And not forgetting the all-important pump! Always keep these tools on your bike so that you have them ready for any emergency

Conclusion

If you are new to cycling, you have a new world to discover and many adventures to explore.

Ensure that you have all the basics covered to keep your ride smooth and, more importantly, safe.

You may join a cycling club or local group and benefit from other cyclists’ experiences when starting off before you go solo and find your cadence.

Either way, you will find that you will be clipped in for life once you get a feel for it.

References

https://www.theproscloset.com/

https://greatist.com/fitness

https://www.bicycling.com/

https://www.webmd.com/

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John Muranko

John is Founder and Senior Bike Editor at ProBikeCorner. John is a bike and travel addict who has cycled through 17+ countries and doesn't really have any plans of stopping. He´s passionate about helping others by creating technical resources, in-depth reviews and more…

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