Beginner Bike Tips
It’s always hard being a noob at something. Here’s a list of the top ways to make your transition into cycling a seamless one and not miss out on the important beginner bike tips.
Alu Over Carbon
Unless you have deep pockets, the chances are you wont want to start out with a carbon bike. People new to cycling tend to have a fair few scratches or dents, after not knowing how to lean it properly or forgetting to unclip. Aluminium is stronger than carbon and way cheaper too, this means that if your beloved new bike does take a tumble, it wont be as much money disappearing as if it were carbon.
Go clipless ASAP
Riding a bike should be a fairly easy skill for most of us, throwing clip less pedals into the equation makes it even easier. With clip less pedals you’re able to pull up on the pedals as well as push down, allowing to to generate a lot more power through the pedals. Not only this but it makes it massively easier when standing up on the bike or going for an all out sprint. New riders are typically quite wary of getting clip-less pedals but theres no need to be. All you need is cycling shoes with cleats and pedals that have a compatible system. Then your best bet is to go and practise clipping in and out around a carpark or a quiet street.
It pains me to see cyclists grinding their legs around, I can almost feel their knees crying under the strain. Cadence is simply the RPM of your legs. In the past it has been though that riding with low cadence is for the ‘hard men’ but it reality, spinning = winning. Having a higher cadence means that your body produces less fatigue metabolites and such your legs fatigue at a much slower rate. Additionally, having a higher cadence allows your legs to flush the lactate from the muscles which gives you the burning sensation you will sometimes feel. Try to keen your cadence around 85-100, you can measure this with a simple cycling computer.
I would suggest grabbing yourself one the the lower priced Garmin units, they’re the go-to bike computer and 99% of all riders will have one. A Garmin allows you to track all different types of data such as speed, cadence, power, elevation etc and importantly allows you to upload all the data to Strava after your ride meaning your able to analyse it fully and compete for segments. Once you also have a heart rate monitor and power meter the cycling computer becomes an even more invaluable tool.
It’s surprising that a fair few new cyclists forget to buy a pair of lights. They come in handy especially on the early morning or evening rides when it’s still fairly dark and there’s sleepy drivers around. Make sure you get rechargeable ones with at least 100 lumens- that way you wont power through packs of batteries, just make sure you always remember to charge them after every ride! Additionally, you want to make sure you’re always carrying a pump, tyre levers and at least one spare inner tube, just incase you get a dreaded flat.
Probably the most important of all our beginner bike tips so pay attention. This more or less comes under cadence as well but you want to ensure that you have the correct gearing on your bike to make you the most efficient you can be. If you live in a hilly area or you like climbing hills then I would strongly suggest having a 50-34t at the front and 11-32 at the rear. These numbers are the number of teeth that are found on the biggest and smallest rings of gears, the rear cassette will be made up of 9,10 or 11 cogs and the front chainrings will typically be made up out of 2 cogs.
Another pretty crucial (yet obvious) one is making sure you’re properly hydrated. It’s easy to sweat out a lot of your fluids no matter where you are in the world but especially so living in tropical Asia. You essentially want to make sure you drink enough water so you’re pissing clear at least every couple of hours, if your piss is anything but clear then you know you need to drink up!
Make sure you get your tyres set up correctly. For beginners I would recommend that you ride either 28mm tyres or wider (the standard is 25mm). This being because it’ll give you more grip and an overall more comfortable ride, don’t forget they don’t need to feel super hard once inflated. I would suggest checking the pressure you need based on your weight online somewhere.
Disc brakes are still fairly new to the road scene which means they aren’t accepted at all races and events at the moment. This is set to change in the next couple of years so more and more people new to cycling are buying disc brake equipped bikes. Depending on your goals you may decide to wait but theres do doubt that they give you consistent braking whether it’s wet or dry and the increased stopping power is noticeably better. One tip for women riders- get yourself hydraulic disc brakes as they tend to be a lot easier if you have smaller hands.
Now, I know you’re probably going to be a tad embarrassed the first time you don the lycra. Fear not, soon enough it will feel like a second skin. Let’s face it though, would you rather some padded lycra shorts or a chafed, raw arsehole for the next couple of days? Thought so. Go by reviews, shorts don’t fit everyone the same so it’s worth shopping around until you find the pair most comfortable to you.
Learn How To Change A Flat
Don’t be lazy, all it takes is 3-5 minutes of your time to search online for a video on how to change a flat. No one wants to be with you dicking around for half an hour because you’ve never learnt how to change one yourself. Just do it.
After reading all these beginner bike tips you’re probably looking for some decent places to buy all the new kit you’re going to need. I would suggest heading down to your local bike shop or over to Wiggle, Chain Reaction or Evans.