Riding a bicycle is fun, no matter what the reason – whether due to rising gas prices, to have fun, or simply to stay fit and healthy. If you have decided to start cycling, congratulations! You have many amazing adventures waiting for you. Here are 8 tips to help you to get started as a beginner cyclist.
Tip #1: Find the Right Bike
First and foremost, you need to find a suitable bike. Before making a purchase, consider how you will use the bike. There are so many types of bikes, such as road bikes, touring bikes, mountain bikes, hybrid cycles, etc., and the type of bike you choose makes all the difference.
There are many available bike brands, but make sure to research their features and, most importantly, whether it serves the purpose of your biking needs. Backbiker can help you to narrow your options with expert tips for all kinds of bikes.
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Tip #2: Find a Safe Space to Practice
A flat and large space, such as an empty basketball or tennis court, distant from traffic, is most suitable for learning cycling as a beginner. A neighborhood park or empty parking lot is also suitable.
Beginning on smooth gravel or grass helps as falling on them hurts less. However, surfaces like these make pedaling and balancing a bit harder. If you plan to pedal on hills, try finding a location with gentle slopes to practice.
Tip #3: Wear Suitable Clothing
All beginner cyclists are recommended to use elbow and knee pads as they insulate the joints and shield them against scrapes. Long pants and long-sleeved shirts are also protective against falls. You can combine them with pads for better protection. You can also use cycling sunglasses to protect your eyes.
Make sure to avoid long skirts and baggy pants. These can get entangled in the tires and bike chain, causing you to fall.
Open-toed shoes should also be avoided as they provide insufficient protection for your feet.
Tip #4: Put On Your Helmet
Both experienced and beginner cyclists are recommended to use cycling helmets. Muscle, ligaments, or bone injuries are usually fixable. However, a head trauma, common in bike accidents, can cause permanent damage. Moreover, there are laws in some areas that make helmet-wearing compulsory for bike riders.
Your helmet should be well-fitting and snug. It should be flat on your head and not be tilted back. To protect your forehead, the front edge of the helmet should be about one inch above the eyebrows.
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Tip #5: Learn How to Brake
Learn how to use your bike brakes. Practice how much pressure you should apply for slowing down or stopping the bike.
Walk by the side of the bike and press the brake to decrease speed. Remember that the rear and front brakes should be squeezed simultaneously. Try to make a controlled, smooth stop.
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Tip #6: Try Coasting Without Pedals
It is a good idea to learn how to coast without using the pedals. Get on your bike and take small steps to move ahead. Eventually, take bigger strides. Try this multiple times.
When you feel more comfortable, start to increase your speed. Then, try to lift your feet up, even if it is for just a few seconds. Your balance should quickly start to improve. Finally, try for more speedy and prolonged stretches where you can keep your feet up and balance the bike.
After you have practiced coasting for long periods, try turning your bike to the left and right. Try to do large figure eights eventually, making big turns in both directions.
Tip #7: Learn to Pedal
When you have mastered balancing, it is time to learn to pedal. There are many strategies to move a bike from a stopped position. First, sit on your seat, with one foot on the ground. Use the other foot to keep one pedal at the 2- to 3-o’clock position. Next, firmly press the pedal to give your bike its required forward motion.
A second way is to keep a pedal in a down position and place one foot over it while using the other to scoot yourself forward, just like you would if riding a scooter. Once you have built up some speed, put your other foot on the second pedal and immediately start pedaling.
There is a third option to do this as well. Use both feet simultaneously and scoot forward before finding the pedals. In this option, you must simultaneously put both your feet on the pedals.
Tip #8: Turning and Steering
After learning to pedal, try steering and turning while pedaling. Next, try to create large figure eights again, then try for smaller ones. Eventually, you will find yourself riding with confidence.
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The Bottom Line
Learning how to ride a bike takes time. You won’t become an expert in an hour or two, but you can master it fairly quickly with continuous practice. After you have learned to ride a bike, remember to bike safely. We have a post here that tells you how to cycle safely.
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