Although many sports and outdoor activities get a boost in popularity around the New Year, cycling has experienced a boom throughout all of 2020 like never before. Even when many other sports saw reduced activity due to lockdowns and facilities closing, bicycle shops around the world have seen huge increases in sales over the past 12 months.
If you’re one of the many people who took up cycling during the COVID-19 era, welcome! To make sure your rides are safe, fun, and sustainable, we’ve rounded up some of the best tips around for getting started cycling.
Don’t: Feel Like You Need a Top-of-the-Line Bike to Get Started
When you’re getting started, you don’t need to drop thousands on a top-of-the-line bike. Although it can be exhilarating to do so, you’ll learn more about your needs and preferences as your cycling evolves, and you’ll be able to make a more informed purchase after a year or so. Rather than slick equipment, focus on making sure your first bike fits you well to prevent injuries and discomfort that could halt your momentum and prevent you from making cycling a permanent part of your life. Make sure to try out a few bikes, and shop, if you can. You may be surprised at what sizes and styles are most comfortable to you.
Do: Make Sure Your Seat is Set at the Right Height
If you are experiencing pain in the front of your knees as you ride, it may not be your age. A common culprit is a seat that’s set too low, causing you to under-extend your legs during your pedal stroke. Many beginners make this mistake because it’s comforting to know that you can touch the ground with your feet, but the cost of that is an incorrect distance between your hips and pedal stroke throughout the ride. Trust yourself and your bike, and raise that seat up. Your knees will thank you, and you’ll get used to getting off the bike more quickly than you’d expect.
Don’t: Forget your ABCs
To make sure your bike is safe to ride, be sure to follow the ABC checklist: Air, Brakes, Chain. If those elements of your bike are working well, you’re likely to have a safe and enjoyable ride. You don’t want to forget to check these before beginning your ride without any way to fix them on-the-go.
Do: Create a Simple Maintenance Routine
Keeping your bike maintained will improve your overall experience and save you a ton of money at the bike shop. The two most important things you can do are regularly lubricate your bike chain and keep your tires inflated to the right PSI. Not only will this practice make your rides safer and more comfortable, keeping your bike maintained will save you money on repairs and make your bike last longer, no matter how often you use it.
To lube your chain, you only need to add lubrication between the side plates and under the center roller. Otherwise, keep your chain wiped clean of dirt and grime, and make sure to wipe it down after every ride.
Keeping the tires at the recommended PSI will save your knees and make your rides a lot easier. Find the recommended PSI for your tires by checking the wall of the tire. Speaking of easy rides, you should also get in the habit of carrying a patch kit or tube, especially as you build up to longer or more remote trails and roads. “Phone a friend” is not a great flat tire plan.
If you want to go the extra mile, you can also clean and grease your seat post — but make sure to mark your seat height with a piece of tape so you don’t have to re-fit it!
Don’t: Take on Too Much Too Soon
Although you may be extremely excited to get started, any new hobby has a learning and strength curve. It takes eight weeks to build a habit, and if you exhaust or injure yourself before even building the habit of riding, you won’t get back on the bike for a long time. Make sure your exercise routine is sustainable, and remember that your body needs to adjust to the new hobby for the long term. Consider cross-training and exploring increased protein and hydration as you add cycling to your life.
Do: Be Aware of your Limits & Surroundings. Be a Predictable Cyclist
Although top-of-the-line gear is awesome, much of protecting your body comes down to cycling within your own ability, being aware of your surroundings, and communicating your intentions clearly to other cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers, as well as being a decisive and predictable cyclist. Many vehicle-and-cyclist accidents happen when drivers or cyclists are indecisive or unpredictable, or when they fail to clearly communicate their intentions to other vehicle operators. Make sure that isn’t you by getting to know your favorite roads and trails well and always communicating with people around you.
You also need to make sure that you learn the roads or trails that are at your skill level before trying to take on extreme challenges. You don’t want to be learning pedal strokes and technique while also pushing your body to the brink. Make sure you’re prepared to spend some time getting used to the bike and the sport.
Do: Find a Community & Learn to Ride in a Group
As with any sport or hobby, growth comes from engaging with mentors and community members who can help you overcome issues with your technique, understand local cycling rules and culture, and find great trails and roads for safe and enjoyable cycling. Although cycling groups are not as active during the pandemic as they normally are, the cycling boom is here to stay, and there’s likely a great community near you. If there’s not, you may find other new cyclists looking for a community, too. Why not start a group yourself?
Do: Make Sure Your Helmet Fits Well & is Effective
Although you don’t need a top-of-the-line bike or thousands of dollars of gear to get started cycling, one thing you should be sure to have is a safe, well-fitted helmet. Protect your one brain with a Bontrager helmet incorporating WaveCel technology today. Shop now at our Products page.
These tips are not a guarantee of safety on the road and we encourage every cyclist to educate themselves on safe cycling from a variety of resources. WavCel is not responsible for any injuries incurred while following suggestions outlined in this article or while wearing our helmets. Stay safe!
- Lindsey, Joe. “The Pandemic Bike Boom is Here to Stay.” Outside, 16 Jan 2021
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- Brooking, John. “A Beginner’s Guide, Part One: Bicycle Safe to Ride?” Cycling Savvy, 25 September 2020. Retrieved 27 Feb 2021.
- “3 Super-Easy Things your Bike Mechanic Wishes you Would Do.” Bicycling, 24 Jan 2012.
- Skinner, RJ. “Cycling safety 101: The basics any beginner biker should know.” CBC Life, 11 July 2019.
- 10 Cycling Safety Tips For Beginners | Visual.ly
- “Cycling for beginners: 25 essential beginner’s cycling tips” Bike Radar, 1 June 2020.
- Bicycling Editors. “Cycling for Beginners: Tips That Make Riding More Fun.” Bicycling, 31 July 2020.