What is Cycling?
Cycling is an aerobic activity that helps improve your overall fitness level.
By cycling you open yourself up to many health benefits such as increased cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, joint mobility and decreased body fat levels.
Cycling is known to be a low impact activity because it causes less strain and injuries than other activities such as running.
What do you Need to Start Cycling?
No matter when people started cycling. Everybody was once a beginner cyclist.
It doesn’t take long to become immersed in cycling. And before you know it you’ll be riding to work and tackling basic everyday tasks on your bike instead of your car.
- Correct type of bike for your needs
- Helmet for safety
- Hi Vis clothing if you’ll be riding in the dark
- Elbow and Knee protection
Top Tips for a Beginner Cyclist
Make sure you buy the right bike for your needs. If you’re going to be using it to commute to work, look at getting a road bike. If you’re looking to go more off road then a mountain bike may be for you.
We’ll go into detail later on for each specific type of bike there is to choose from.
Get Comfortable on your Bike
When you first assemble and setup your bike make sure to adjust the seat and handle bars so you feel comfortable.
Making sure you can reach the floor as well as reach the brakes without over stretching.
The optimum height for your saddle is to make sure that there is a slight bend in your leg when your pedal is the furthest away it can be.
Likewise with the handlebars. Make sure you’ve got a slight bend in your elbow to avoid overstretching on the brakes.
Use Your Gears
Don’t put strain on yourself when riding. Gears are there to help you. It’s important to shift into a lower gear when climbing hills for easier pedaling.
On flat surface using a large front chain ring and smaller rear chain ring will help you get a faster to a faster speed but only on flat surfaces. Using these gears will make it much easier to cycle long distances like 5 and 10 miles!
If you’re spinning your legs really fast then more often than not your in the wrong gear.
You’ll get used to knowing which gear to be in quite quickly and it’ll soon be second nature to where you don’t even have to think what gear you’ll be in. You’ll find yourself selecting the right gear naturally.
Practice Basic Techniques
As many people will tell you practice makes perfect.
When coming to a hill make sure to keep pedaling as you don’t want to lose much momentum. Whilst changing to the appropriate gear when you start to lose the momentum.
Some basic techniques include slowing down when attempting to go round corners, whilst lifting your knee up on the inside of the corner. But making sure you move your weight the opposite way to keep your balance .
Learn Basic Cycling Maintenance
Another helpful tip for beginner cyclists is learning some basic cycling maintenance techniques. The more you take care of your bicycle, the longer it will last. If you don’t take care of your cycle, then it could lead to a number of different issues like rust developing.
The knowledge of basic cycling maintenance can be especially helpful for cyclists in the case of an emergency. When you’re riding and encounter a flat tire, that’s where learning how to pump a bike tire will come in really handy.
Of course taking care of your cycle is no easy work. There’s a big chance that you might get bike grease everywhere, that’s why learning how to get bike grease out of your clothing is essential.
While you can take your bike to the shop, you’ll save a lot of money by working on the bike yourself!
Benefits of Cycling
Cycling has many benefits but we’ve narrowed down the main benefits into two categories. Personal and Environmental.
By switching to your bike instead of a Car, Taxi or Bus. Your not only going to improve your personal health but help to reduce carbon emissions.
Health & Fitness
- Burn Calories
- Better Lung Health
- Improve Heart Health
- Boost Brain Power
- Strengthen Your Legs
- Strengthen Immune System
- Promotes Weight Loss
- Boost Your Vowels
- Increased Mental Well Being
- Improve Sleeping Patterns
- Save Your Knees
- Improve Joint Strength
- Reduce Stress
- Reduce Anxiety
- Build Muscle
- Improve Balance
- Develop a Positive Addiction
- Save Trees
- Save Animals
- Save the Planet
- Reduce Carbon Emissions
- Explore New Places
- Bikes are Cheaper than Cars
There’s 23 benefits for you to start cycling. And most importantly there are 100s more.
ECF say that cycling produces 10x less carbon emissions per kilometer compared to a car.
Types of Bikes
A mountain bike or abbreviated to MTB is a bicycle that is designed for off road cycling.
Mountain bikes are built to increase durability and improve performance on rough terrains.
Mountain bikes perform best on single track roads and unpaved surfaces.
Typically mountain bikes will include either front or full suspension, wider tires, better brakes and lower gear ratios for climbing easier of rough inclines.
A road bike is designed to travel at faster speed on paved surfaces.
Typical features of a road bike include, narrow high pressure tires, dropped handlebars, disc brakes.
Although similar looking to racing cycles, road bikes tend to have more gears and fewer features.
Primarily road bikes will be used on roads, and would be very unsuited to unpaved surfaces.
A gravel bike is a combination of a road bike, and a cyclo-cross bike.
Meaning that you can use it on both paved surfaces as well as it being suited on unpaved surfaces such as single tracks, and gravel crushed surfaces.
Gravel bikes are especially useful if you plan on cycling to work. But also want to use it for other scenarios.
Most people call gravel bikes a sport-touring bike. Meaning a versatile performance bike.
A hybrid bike as you can probably gather is a bicycle designed to be advantageous for being suited to multiple surfaces.
The hybrid bike is essentially a combination of mountain bikes and road bikes. As a result, they’re great for students like for a bike they can take to college!
Having a padded seat and upright handlebars allow the user to sit in a more comfortable riding position.
Hybrid bikes are primarily used for casual riding, and short distance commuting.
A comfort bike was designed to be a more comfortable mountain bike.
Mainly being used for casual recreational riding.
Although could be used for dirt trails. They are best for riding around town and completing the usual errands.
Comfort bikes are designed with features to make your cycling use as comfortable as possible.
Fat Tire Bikes
Fat Tire bikes get their name for the extremely wide tires compared to any other bike.
They’re designed to travel on soft unstable surfaces such as snow, sand and mud.
They are usually a lot harder to pedal and can be used on regular roads and trails.
But unless you plan on using them on really rough or soft surfaces. You’d be best off going for a different type of bicycle.
A tricycle is a three wheeled bicycle. Some tricycles can have two seats for a passenger. Or as seen in the image can have a storage area.
Some tricycles are used for commercial purposes.
If you’re not very good at balancing on a bike a tricycle could be for you. Although have obvious disadvantages such as, weight, turning circle, and the overall size for storing.
Tricycles allow the rider to be sat in an upright position.
Bike Size Chart
Buying bikes online is coming more popular than ever. And due to not being able to just sit on the bike to see if it’s the right size like you can in a shop.
Below is the recommended bike sizes for road and mountain bikes for both men and women.
It’s a little easier to measure if you’re a women because you don’t have to measure the inside leg.
To measure the inside leg it’s very easy with two people and a book.
Step 1: Stand against a wall with your feet spread around 6 inches apart.
Step 2: Place the book between your legs as if it was a bike seat.
Step 3: Get the second person to measure from the ground to the top of the book.
This is your inseam length which is referred to as Inside-Leg in the diagrams below.
We’ve got a host of buying guides to help you out: