If you’re new to cycling, there’s a lot to learn. From choosing the right bike and gear to developing proper technique and nutrition habits, it can feel overwhelming. That’s why we’re here to help. In this article, we’ve compiled 30 essential tips for new riders, covering everything from kit and clothing to technique and more.
So, whether you’re looking to improve your fitness, commute to work, or just have some fun exploring trails, keep reading to discover our essential tips on cycling for beginners.
- Best Bike Gear for Beginners
- Preparing for A Ride
- Get Some Skills
- Road Safety
- Nutrition and Recovery
- Goals and Motivation
- Questions and Answers (Cycling for Beginners Q&A)
- What are the best beginner bikes for adults?
- How can I choose the right size bike for me?
- What gear do I need for cycling as a beginner?
- How often should I ride my bike as a beginner?
- What are some common mistakes that beginners make when cycling?
- How can I improve my cycling technique as a beginner?
- What should I eat before and after cycling as a beginner?
- How can I build endurance for longer rides as a beginner?
Best Bike Gear for Beginners
1. Choose the Right Bike
Choosing the right bike is essential for enjoying your cycling experience. There are many types of bikes to choose from, including road bikes, mountain bikes, hybrid bikes, gravel bikes, etc. It’s important to choose a bike that matches your needs and riding style. If you plan to ride on paved roads, a road bike might be the best option. If you prefer off-road riding, a mountain bike might be more suitable. Hybrids are an excellent choice for casual riders who want a versatile bike that can handle different terrains. Gravel bikes are great for road and light offroad use. Consider your budget and size when choosing a bike, and test-ride different models to find the one that feels comfortable and meets your needs.
If you are looking at a second-hand bike you might want to try our: Used Bike Value Calculator (How Much Is Your Bike Worth?)
2. Get a Proper Bike Fit
Getting a proper bike fit is crucial for maximizing your comfort and performance on the bike. A bike that is too small or too large can cause discomfort and affect your ability to ride efficiently. A professional bike fitting can help you adjust your bike’s saddle height, handlebar position, and other components to fit your body’s dimensions. This will ensure that you ride in a comfortable and efficient position, reducing the risk of injuries and improving your overall cycling experience.
We have made a number of calculators and tools to help you improve your bike fit:
- Bike Saddle Height Calculator
- Crank Length Calculator
- Mountain Bike Handlebar Width Calculator
- Road Bike Frame Size Calculator
- Mountain Bike Frame Size Calculator, Charts, Fit & Frame Geometry
3. Find the Right Helmet
Wearing a helmet is the most crucial safety measure when cycling. Helmets help protect your head from serious injuries in case of an accident. However, it is important to get the correct type for your riding type.
|Type of Helmet||Intended Use|
|Road Bike Helmet||Designed for road cycling and have an aerodynamic shape for high-speed riding on smooth roads, Road = half-face helmet.|
|Mountain Bike Helmet||Designed for off-road cycling and have a more rugged design with more coverage to protect against impacts from branches, rocks, and other obstacles. XC = half-face helmet, Trail/Enduro = half-face helmet (with added back-of-head protection), DH/Bike park/slopestyle = full-face helmet.|
|BMX Helmet||Designed for BMX riding and have a full-face design to protect against face and head injuries during jumps and tricks.|
|Commuter Helmet||Designed for urban commuting and have a more casual look with added features like integrated lights and reflective details for visibility.|
|Triathlon Helmet||Designed for triathlons and have an aerodynamic design with good ventilation to keep the head cool during long events.|
|Youth Helmet||Designed specifically for children and have smaller sizes and added safety features like extra padding and a lower profile to protect the back of the head.|
Always choose a helmet that fits properly and meets the safety standards set by the government. Make sure to wear your helmet correctly, with the chin strap securely fastened and the helmet covering the top of your head. It’s also essential to replace your helmet after any significant impact or after a few years of use, as the foam inside can deteriorate over time.
Note: helmet size varies a lot between different brands. so, for example, for one brand you might be a size medium, and for another brand, you might be a size large. Always ensure a good fit!
Helmet Size Calculator
We made a simple helmet-size calculator below to give you a starting point.
4. Flat or Clipless Pedals?
Pedals are an important part of any bicycle, as they provide a connection between the rider and the bike. Flat pedals are simple and allow riders to use any type of shoe, making them a versatile choice for casual riding, commuting, mountain biking, and BMX. They have a large platform for the foot, which helps to distribute pressure more evenly and provides better grip for technical riding. Flat pedals also allow riders to quickly and easily put a foot down when needed, which is useful for beginners or riders in technical terrain, and also great for nervous riders.
Clipless pedals, on the other hand, require special cycling shoes that clip onto the pedal. They provide a more efficient transfer of power from the foot to the pedal, which can improve speed and performance. They are ideal for road cycling, triathlons, and other types of competitive cycling, where every second counts. Clipless pedals also allow riders to pull up on the pedal during the upstroke, which engages different muscle groups and provides a more balanced workout. However, they can take some time to get used to and require extra effort to clip in and out. Ultimately, the choice between flat pedals and clipless pedals depends on the type of riding you do and your personal preference.
You might also be interested to know Do Mountain Bikes Come With Pedals?
5. What Should You Wear?
When it comes to cycling, wearing the right gear is crucial. The appropriate clothing and protective gear can improve your comfort, safety, and performance on the road or trails. So, before you set off on your ride, take a moment to consider whether you have the right gear for the job. With the right equipment, you can ride with confidence and make the most of your cycling experience.
Padded cycling shorts
Padded shorts are a must for any road rider or endurance cyclist, as they can save you from getting a sore bottom during long rides. It’s a common question whether to wear underwear under padded shorts, but the answer is a resounding NO. Doing so can cause chafing and defeat the purpose of the padding.
The best cycling sunglasses don’t need to cost a fortune or make you look ridiculous, but they will keep your eyes protected from various elements on the road. Whether it’s bugs, stones, sun, or rain – investing in a good pair of sunglasses is a wise decision. Look for ones with interchangeable lenses, so you can switch to the appropriate lens for different lighting conditions.
For mountain bikers, knee pads, and gloves are a minimum requirement for protection. However, if you’re trying out new skills, it may be worth considering additional padding such as elbow pads and back/chest protection. These extra layers can prevent injury and allow you to focus on your technique without worrying about falls.
Preparing for A Ride
6. Staying Safe on the Road
Cycling can be a safe activity if you follow some basic safety guidelines. Always wear a helmet and use proper hand signals when turning or stopping. Obey traffic laws, ride with traffic, and use lights and reflective gear in low-light conditions. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid distractions while riding. Finally, consider taking a cycling safety course or joining a cycling group to improve your skills and confidence on the road.
7. Pre-Ride Checks
Before heading out on a bike ride, it’s important to perform some pre-ride checks to ensure your bike is safe and ready ride. The first step is to check your tire pressure and make sure they are inflated to the recommended level, as underinflated tires can affect the handling and performance of your bike.
Next, check your brakes and make sure they are working properly, with no rubbing or excessive play in the levers. You should also check your chain and ensure it is properly lubricated, as a dry or dirty chain can cause unnecessary wear and tear on your bike.
It’s also a good idea to check the bolts on your bike, including the stem, handlebars, seat post, and pedals, and make sure they are tight and secure. Loose bolts can cause your bike to feel unstable and unsafe to ride.
Finally, check your saddle height and handlebar position to ensure they are adjusted correctly for your comfort and riding style. By taking a few minutes to perform these simple checks, you can help ensure a safe and enjoyable bike ride.
8. Learn to Deal with Common Bike Repairs
Bike breakdowns can happen at any time, but with a little preparation, you can handle them on the road. Familiarize yourself with common bike repairs such as fixing a flat tire, adjusting brakes, and repairing a broken chain. Carry a basic bike repair kit and a pump with you on every ride. Consider taking a bike maintenance course to improve your repair skills.
9. How to Improve Your Cycling Performance
Improving your cycling performance takes time and effort, but with the right training and technique, you can achieve your goals. Consider incorporating interval training, hill repeats, and tempo rides into your routine to improve your endurance and speed. Work on your cycling technique by practicing good posture, pedal stroke, and bike handling skills. Additionally, consider joining a cycling group or hiring a coach to improve your training and technique.
10. Essential Bike Maintenance Tips
Regular bike maintenance is crucial for optimal performance and safety on the road. Keep your bike clean and well-lubricated, check the brakes, gears, and tires regularly, and replace any worn or damaged parts. Store your bike in a dry and secure location and consider taking it for a professional tune-up once a year. By taking care of your bike, you can prolong its lifespan and ensure a smooth and enjoyable ride.
Get Some Skills
Cycling is a great way to stay active and explore the outdoors. However, using the proper technique is important to avoid injury and maximize efficiency. Here are some tips for cycling techniques:
11. Pedaling Efficiently
Pedaling efficiently can help you ride longer and with less fatigue. Here are some tips:
Maintain a cadence of 80-90 RPM and shift gears accordingly to maintain a comfortable pedaling speed. Focus on using both your quads and hamstrings to pedal in a smooth circular motion. Avoid “mashing” the pedals down with all your weight.
12. Maintaining a Consistent Pace
Maintaining a consistent pace is important for endurance and efficiency, especially on long rides. Here are some tips:
Start slow and gradually build up speed as your muscles warm up. Use a heart rate monitor or power meter to gauge your effort level and avoid burning out. Practice breathing deeply and rhythmically to maintain a steady pace and reduce fatigue.
13. Braking and Gear Shifting
Knowing how to brake and shift gears is essential for safe and efficient cycling. Here are some quick tips:
learn to use both brakes at the same time to avoid skidding or losing control. It’s a good idea to practice braking somewhere safe so you learn how hard you can pull your brakes without panic braking. Braking is probably the most under-appreciated bike skill and it’s something every cyclist can improve no matter your ability or riding genre.
Shift gears before you need to, such as before a hill or when approaching a stop sign. Use a lower gear when climbing hills to maintain a steady cadence and avoid straining your muscles. Use a higher gear when riding on flat terrain or downhill to maintain speed without pedaling as hard.
14. Hill Climbing and Descending
Hills can be intimidating for beginner cyclists, but with practice and the right technique, you can tackle them with confidence. Here are some tips for climbing and descending hills:
Shift into a lower gear before you start climbing to make it easier on your legs (this often means a larger cog on the rear cassette). Focus on maintaining a steady cadence, while trying to keep your breathing under control. On steeper climbs, you can stand up and use your arms to help pull yourself up (when standing keep your weight slightly over the front of the bike, but not too much otherwise your rear wheel will loose traction). Try to stand up and pedal only when necessary, doing only short bursts will help avoid fatigue.
15. Stay Safe on Descents
Descending can be exhilarating, but it’s important to stay safe. Here are some tips for braking and cornering on descents:
Try to keep your weight over the back of the bike and use both brakes lightly to control your speed. Look ahead and plan your line through corners to avoid sudden turns or obstacles (normally it’s best to take a nice smooth wide line). Lean into turns and use your outside foot to push down on the pedal for stability. Avoid sudden movements or jerky steering, which can cause you to lose control.
learning the attack position will help give you more control on the descents, you can see our post here.
16. The Importance of Proper Signaling
Proper signaling and hand gestures are essential when cycling on the road. As a cyclist, it’s your responsibility to communicate your intentions clearly to other road users, such as drivers and pedestrians, to avoid confusion and prevent accidents. Using hand signals to indicate when you’re turning, changing lanes, or slowing down, can be a lifesaver. Make sure to signal early enough so that other road users have time to react. Additionally, using hand gestures to communicate with other cyclists can be helpful, especially when riding in a group.
17. Avoid Cycling Accidents
Cycling accidents can happen to anyone, and the best way to avoid them is by being prepared and taking preventative measures. One common accident that cyclists face is colliding with cars. To avoid this, always wear proper safety gear, such as a helmet and bright clothing, and follow traffic rules, such as riding in the bike lane and obeying traffic signals. Additionally, make sure to stay alert and focused on the road ahead, anticipate potential hazards, and maintain a safe distance from other road users.
18. Tips for Riding in Traffic
Riding in traffic can be daunting, especially for new cyclists. However, with the right knowledge and practice, it can also be safe and enjoyable. When riding in traffic, choose a route that’s bike-friendly and has fewer cars. Stay visible to drivers by wearing bright and reflective clothing and using lights and reflectors on your bike. Make sure to use hand signals to indicate your intentions, and obey traffic laws, such as stopping at stop signs and red lights. Finally, stay aware of your surroundings, anticipate potential hazards, and maintain a safe distance from other road users.
19. What to Do When Riding in a Group
Riding in a group can be a fun and social way to cycle. However, it also comes with its own set of challenges. When riding in a group, communication is key. Make sure to communicate effectively with your fellow cyclists, using hand gestures or verbal cues to indicate any changes in direction or speed. Maintain a predictable and consistent riding style, and be aware of your surroundings. Finally, follow the rules of the road and maintain a safe distance from other riders.
20. Staying Visible: The Importance of Reflective Clothing and Lights
Visibility is crucial when cycling, especially when riding at night or in low-light conditions. Wearing reflective clothing and using lights and reflectors on your bike can help make you more visible to other road users, such as drivers and pedestrians. Make sure to wear bright and reflective clothing, and use front and rear lights on your bike. Additionally, use reflective tape on your helmet and pedals to increase visibility. Remember, being visible is key to reducing the risk of accidents and staying safe on the road.
Nutrition and Recovery
21. Pre-Ride Nutrition: What to Eat Before a Ride
Proper nutrition is essential for a successful and enjoyable cycling experience. Eating a balanced meal before a ride can provide the energy and nutrients your body needs to perform at its best. Aim for a meal that’s high in carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and low in fat and fiber to avoid any digestive discomfort. Some examples of pre-ride meals include oatmeal with fruit and yogurt, a peanut butter and banana sandwich, or a smoothie with protein powder and spinach.
22. How to Fuel Your Body During a Ride
To keep your body fueled during a ride, it’s important to consume carbohydrates and fluids regularly. Aim for 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour of riding, depending on your body weight and the intensity of the ride. Some examples of cycling-friendly snacks include energy gels, bananas, energy bars, and sports drinks. Additionally, make sure to stay hydrated by drinking water or electrolyte drinks throughout your ride.
23. The Importance of Post-Ride Recovery and Nutrition
Proper recovery after a ride is just as important as nutrition before and during a ride. After a ride, make sure to replenish your body with carbohydrates and protein to aid in muscle recovery and glycogen replenishment. Some examples of post-ride meals include a smoothie with protein powder and fruit, a turkey and avocado sandwich, or a bowl of quinoa and vegetables. Additionally, stretching and foam rolling can also aid in recovery and prevent muscle soreness.
24. The Benefits of Stretching After a Ride
Stretching after a ride can help reduce muscle soreness and improve flexibility. Focus on stretching the major muscle groups used during cycling, such as the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Hold each stretch for at least 20-30 seconds, and breathe deeply throughout the stretch. Additionally, using a foam roller can also aid in muscle recovery and reduce soreness.
25. Rest and Recovery (The Importance of Taking Breaks and Rest Days)
Rest and recovery are just as important as training when it comes to improving your cycling performance. Make sure to take breaks and rest days to allow your body to recover and prevent overuse injuries. Incorporate activities such as yoga, walking, or swimming on your rest days to keep your body active without putting additional stress on your muscles. Remember, listening to your body and giving it the rest it needs is essential for long-term success in cycling.
Goals and Motivation
26. Setting Realistic Goals for Cycling
Setting realistic goals can help you stay motivated and make progress in your cycling journey. Start by identifying your current fitness level and setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals. For example, you could aim to ride a certain distance, complete a specific route, or improve your average speed. Make sure to track your progress and celebrate your achievements along the way. Another good way of achieving your goals is to challenge friends or family or book yourself into an event that will give you a time frame to work towards.
27. Overcoming Fear and Building Confidence on a Bike
Cycling can be intimidating, especially if you’re new to it or have experienced accidents or near misses in the past. To overcome fear and build confidence, start by practicing in a safe and controlled environment, such as an empty parking lot or a quiet road. Gradually increase your exposure to different types of terrain and traffic, and consider taking a cycling safety course or working with a coach to improve your skills. check out our post on How To Overcome Fear When Mountain Biking, Most of the advice in this post is applicable to all forms of cycling.
28. Dealing with Setbacks and Overcoming Obstacles
Setbacks and obstacles are a natural part of any cycling journey, but they don’t have to derail your progress. Instead of giving up, use setbacks as an opportunity to learn and grow. Take a break if you need it, re-evaluate your goals and training plan, and seek support from friends, family, or a cycling community. Remember, perseverance and resilience are key to long-term success in cycling.
29. Finding Motivation to Keep Cycling Regularly
Staying motivated to ride regularly can be challenging, especially when life gets busy or the weather isn’t ideal. To stay motivated, consider joining a cycling club or community, setting new goals, trying new routes, or investing in new gear. Additionally, try to focus on the mental and physical benefits of cycling, such as stress relief, improved fitness, and a sense of accomplishment.
30. Joining a Cycling Community: The Benefits of Group Rides
Joining a cycling community can provide a wealth of benefits, from motivation and accountability to social support and friendship. Group rides can help you improve your skills and fitness, discover new routes and trails, and meet like-minded individuals who share your passion for cycling. Additionally, cycling communities often organize events and races, providing opportunities for personal growth and challenge.
Where find and how to join a cycling community?
There are many ways to find and join a cycling community, both online and in person. Here are a few tips:
Ask your local bike shop: Many bike shops host group rides or can point you in the direction of local cycling clubs or organizations.
Search online: There are many online cycling communities that you can join, such as Strava, Zwift, or local cycling groups on Facebook or Meetup.
Attend events: Look for local cycling events or races in your area. These can be great opportunities to meet other cyclists and learn about local cycling clubs or organizations.
Ask friends or colleagues: Ask around to see if anyone you know is part of a cycling community or has any recommendations.
Join a charity ride or event: Many charity rides or events, such as Bike MS or Tour de Cure, have teams or groups that you can join.
Questions and Answers (Cycling for Beginners Q&A)
What are the best beginner bikes for adults?
The best beginner bike for you will depend on your intended, personal preference and budget. Hybrid bikes are versatile and good for commuting and recreational riding. Road bikes are great for fitness and long rides, while mountain bikes are suitable for off-road terrain.
How can I choose the right size bike for me?
Choosing the right bike size is important for comfort and safety. You can measure your inseam and refer to a bike size chart, or you can visit a bike shop to get professionally fitted. A proper fit includes adjusting the saddle height, handlebar position, and overall bike geometry to your body. Check out our bike size calculator’s here: Road Bike Frame Size Calculator, Mountain Bike Frame Size Calculator, Kids Bike Size Calculator.
What gear do I need for cycling as a beginner?
As a beginner, you’ll need a few essentials to get started: a properly fitted helmet, comfortable clothing that allows for movement (padded shorts will save a sore bottom), cycling shoes or sneakers, a water bottle to stay hydrated, and basic repair tools such as a spare tube, tire levers, and a pump (and a set of Allen keys).
How often should I ride my bike as a beginner?
Starting with short rides a few times a week is a good way to build your fitness and skills. Gradually increasing the frequency and duration of your rides as your body adapts will help you progress safely. Listen to your body and slowly progress!
What are some common mistakes that beginners make when cycling?
Common mistakes include not wearing proper gear like helmets, not maintaining their bike regularly, not knowing how to properly shift gears, and not obeying traffic laws and signals. It’s important to take the time to learn the basics of cycling and road safety.
How can I improve my cycling technique as a beginner?
Improving your cycling technique involves working on your pedaling efficiency, body positioning, and balance. You can do this by practicing on flat terrain, using a higher cadence, keeping your upper body relaxed, and taking turns and corners smoothly.
Good cycling technique always starts with ensuring your bike is set up right, checking your saddle height is correct, and that your handlebars are the right width too. Next work practices a fluid circular motion while pedaling.
What should I eat before and after cycling as a beginner?
Before cycling, you should eat a light meal that’s high in carbohydrates and easy to digest. After cycling, it’s important to replenish your body with protein and carbohydrates to aid in recovery. Examples of good pre-ride meals include oatmeal, yogurt, or a banana. Good post-ride meals include a protein shake, chicken and rice, or a vegetable omelet.
Note: we are all made differently, some require more or less to eat before cycling. So experiment and see what works best. for you.
How can I build endurance for longer rides as a beginner?
Building endurance for longer rides involves gradually increasing the length and intensity of your rides over time. It’s important to start with shorter rides and gradually increase your distance and speed. Incorporating interval training and hill work can also help improve your endurance. There are also many studies that suggest that weight training can also improve endurance. Check out Training Peaks post on the subject here.