How many times have you had a bad experience doing something, and it puts you off doing it again? Being prepared can save you from some negative experiences on your bike, and increase your chances of sticking at it!
Once you’ve made the decision to get into cycling, it can be tempting to just get out there. While we’re big advocates of going for it, there are certain things new cyclists should bear in mind before hitting the road.
In this blog post, we outline the five main beginner cyclists mistakes, and how you can avoid them.
Not Carrying Tools
This is a biggie. Even experienced riders forget to pack essential tools from time to time, and it’s always a stinger when something goes wrong. We never ride without packing:
- Spare tubes, and/or patch kit
- Tire levers
- Cycling multi-tool. We love the lightweight I-beam multi-tool. It has 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8mm hex wrenches as well as a flat blade screwdriver to solve any minor issues and keep your bike in safe, working order.
A super common rookie mistake, but an easy one to address! We’ve seen a bunch of cyclists commit this blunder. If your saddle is too low, you’ll be uncomfortable and probably ride less efficiently. If it’s too high, you risk tendon and joint injury, and rocking from side to side while pedalling will cause chafing and can make you feel unstable.
One of the most useful ways to determine saddle height is to check your knee is 25-35° from straight when the pedal is at the bottom of the stroke. Once you’ve identified the correct height, grab an Allen key (some bikes don’t even need this), loosen the seatpost clamp and set it according to your height.
Experiencing other bike issues? Check out our blog, Common Bike Issues and How to Fix Them.
Not Learning Your Gears
Have you ever seen a cyclist riding slowly, yet their legs are working overtime? They most likely have the gears set too low. Similarly, if gentle slopes are made to look like Everests, the gear is probably too high.
Gears are your greatest source of speed on a long, rolling stretch of road – and your best friends on a climb. It can take a little practice to get the hang of it, so before hitting any busy streets, take your bike somewhere quiet and play around with shifting.
Every bike handles differently, so see how it feels to ride in different gears. Give it a little time and you’ll be changing gears without even having to think about it.
Wearing Inappropriate Clothing
We’ve said plenty of times on this blog that head-to-toe lycra isn’t an entry requirement for getting on a bike. However, poor clothing choices are also a sure-fire way to have an unpleasant cycling experience!
Dress appropriately for the weather (waterproofs and layers are your best friends) and avoid baggy or flowing pieces of clothing, which can get stuck in the wheels or chain. If it’s dark outside, throw on some hi-vis and – of course – always wear a bike helmet!
A common mistake new riders make is braking too late, or too forcefully, or hitting just the front brake…uh oh. All of these can really impact your safety. Just like in a car, you should aim to break slowly but steadily to avoid skidding, damaging your tires or causing discomfort or injury from jerky, jarring movements.
If you’re approaching a curve in the road, remember to brake in a straight line before you hit the curve. Try to use your brakes evenly, and avoid using too much pressure to achieve a smooth, safe stop!
Make sure to primarily utilize your rear brake (that is the one on the right). Keeping a finger floating over your right brake (or lightly resting your finger on it) will reassure you that you can always stop and are using the correct brake. Feather in the front brake along with the rear brake. If you only use the left brake, you are sure to book yourself a trip over the handlebars at some point!
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