When you decided to ride a bike, you can be jumping into a world you don’t know well. People will use new words, or words in ways you aren’t used to hearing them. People will also try and give you advice, some will be good, and some will be bad.
We felt it would then be a great idea to offer you a few tips and ideas to make cycling fun and easy.
- Buy a bike that fits you. A bike is not a “bargain” or a “good deal” if it doesn’t fit you. A bike that doesn’t fit you can damage your long term fitness goals, and it can put you off cycling for good. A bike that fits you will also be easier to ride.
- Enjoy it. Don’t instantly jump on Strava and start worrying about fitness goals. If you enjoy riding all those goals will come naturally. Get out and go and see some new places, stop take photographs. The more you enjoy cycling, the more you’ll want to go cycling.
- Join a club. It doesn’t have to be a local race club; you can find local groups of riders on Facebook and other social media now. Join them and have a laugh as you go for a ride; it nicely ties in with the rule above.
- Learn to live in the moment. Just seen a new road you’ve never been down, go and see where it takes you. Fancy stopping at that café, go for it. Want to sprint to that sign down the road, you guessed it, go for it. Make your ride full of enjoyable moments and live for those moments.
What about saddle height?
Seat height. Everyone struggled to get their seat height correct; it's just that many people have forgotten about as time has gone past. One of the easiest ways to set your seat height is the Greg LeMond method.
The Greg LeMond method wants you to use 88.3% of your leg height to be the correct place to set your saddle. The easy way to do this is to measure from your crotch to the floor and then multiply the answer by 0.883.
The method won't be as exact as using a professional bike fitter, but it will get you in the ballpark. What you also want to do here is to start listening to your body. If you get a little bit of pain at the front of your knee, your saddle may be too low. Pain at the back of the knee and your saddle may be too high. It is worth knowing that there may be other issues, so please see an expert if you have a lot of pain or issues.
How do I use my gears?
Using gears can take a little time to get used to using. The answer for most people, though is that they probably want to change gear more often than they do. You’ll again want to listen to your body. If your pedaling is slow and labored, find an easier gear. If you feel your legs are going to fly off, find a harder gear.
If you want to get used to changing gear, we would suggest for your first trips out that you just stick to using your rear gears and seeing what happens when you go up and down it. Once you’ve mastered that you can start to try and use the front rings, should you have more than 1.
You should also not be afraid to experiment and see what happens. Should you drop a few gears in a strong headwind or just keep plodding on, try a variety of gears and see what suits you. We’re all different, and what suits someone else might not suit you.
A lot of people new to bikes see a lot of articles telling them about maintenance and being a home mechanic. What many of them miss out, is that you don’t have if you don’t want to. There is no shame in using your local bike mechanic because you don’t have the time, tools, or knowledge.
If you don’t want to know, you don’t have to know, and if other cyclists want to frown on you for it, that is their problem and not yours. There are only two things you should really learn how to do, and that pump your tires up and how to replace a tube. With tubeless tires becoming all the rage, the second one of those ideas is becoming more and more optional all the time.