Top Tips for New Bike Riders

New to cycling or coming back to the bike after a long break? Or considering buying a bicycle to get your exercise fix through the coronavirus crisis?

This is PRO BIKE TOOL’s seven top tips to help you make the most of every ride as you begin your cycling journey.

It’s all here, from comfort and safety to fuelling and basic bicycle maintenance, so read on and ride more!

Start off steady

Once you get the bike bug, it can be easy to want to ride all day, every day. However, if you’re new to regular exercise or haven’t done much cardio activity (cycling, swimming, running etc) recently, you need to ease yourself in gently.

In the first month or so of starting cycling, make sure to allow yourself at least two or three days off the bike per week, dependent on how long your rides are. This will give your muscles time to adapt and strengthen and allow your heart and lungs some time to recover.

It’s better to steadily increase the duration of each ride rather than to ride more frequently in your initial months of cycling. Increasing the length of each session on the bike while allowing your body the time it needs to rest and recover will see you get fitter, faster, and prevent you from burning out.

Get proper shorts

Getting properly fitted padded cycling shorts or mountain bike baggies is a game-changer. Riding in normal shorts or joggers can leave you with a numb bum and nasty chafes!

Specifically-made cycling shorts are constructed so there are no seams around the seat area to prevent rubbing. More road-specific shorts will have a padded ‘chamois’ sewn into the inside to give you padding where you need it while keeping your legs and hips free to pedal.

One key mistake people make when initially wearing padded shorts is to wear their underwear beneath the shorts. Don’t! This will totally mitigate the benefits of the shorts’ seamless construction.

Wearing a pair of padded shorts can feel unusual at first, but over time, you’ll never go back. You’ll be able to bike further and in total comfort – wave goodbye to your numb bum!

Drink plenty!

It’s so easy to go for a bike ride for a few hours and come back to realise you’ve not drunk a thing. It may feel fine at the time, but will leave you dehydrated and liable to nausea, headaches and fatigue afterwards.

Nearly all bicycles will come with pre-drilled holes in the frame that allow you to attach a water bottle holder. These are typically found on the bike’s down tube and seat tube.

When you go for a ride, aim to drink around 600ml per hour. Conveniently enough, our Insulated Water Bottles hold 680ml, so if you drink one of these per hour, you’re in a good place! Our water bottles pair up nicely with our Water Bottle Holders, which are available in Black and White in either Gloss or Matt finish.

You can find out more in the PRO BIKE TOOL Hydration Guide, here.

Chain maintenance

The chain is arguably the most important part of your bicycle. This is the key component to keep clean and well-maintained to keep your bike running smooth and safe.

The two essential elements to keeping your chain happy are to keep it clean, and to keep it well lubricated. The good thing is that taking care of your chain is simple and fuss-free. Depending on how regularly you are riding, we recommend that you clean and lube your bike’s chain two to three times a week – or if you’re being good, before every ride!

Keeping the chain clean and well-lubricated will prolong its life, prevent wear of other components such as the cassette, and allow the bike to run smooth and without squeaks.

You can watch the full PRO BIKE TOOL Chain Maintenance Guide here.

Bike fit

Having a bike that is the correct size and properly adjusted for you is essential to preventing injuries.

There’s a lot more to bike fit than just sitting on the saddle and checking you can reach the pedals and handlebars – the seat post needs to be the correct height and the reach (distance between the handlebars and saddle) needs to be correct. This will ensure your comfort and prevent the risk of ‘over use’ injuries or muscle imbalances.

Specialist bike-fitters are widely available, and although you may not be able to see one during the current coronavirus quarantine, you should make it a priority to seek professional guidance when you can!

Puncture repair equipment

(and know how to use it)

PHOTO CREDIT: Arriere du Peloton

That dreaded P___ word. Unfortunately, it will happen eventually, and when it does, you need to be prepared to fix it yourself. You could find yourself in the middle of the woods or down some quiet gravel trail with no way to pedal home if you can’t get your tyre re-inflated!

If you ride with inner tubes, make sure you carry a replacement tube, tyre levers and a CO2 Inflator or Mini Bike Pump. If you ride tubeless, you should also carry a Tubeless Tyre Repair Kit in case the sealant fails to work properly.

And remember – it’s important to know how to use your Bike Pump, CO2 Inflator and Tyre Repair Kit or it’s useless! We have prepared full ‘How To’ videos for all these products. You can check out the CO2 Inflator walkthrough here, the Bike Pump guide here, and the Tubeless Tyre repair kit guide here.

Tyre pressure

Inflating your tyres isn’t all about pumping them up as hard as they will go!

Different tyres, different terrain, and different weight of rider all need different tyre pressure. The weather can also play a part, with wet roads calling for slightly softer tyres. Our full guide to finding the correct pressure to use for road bikes can be found here.

And it’s not just a case of inflating your tyres once, forgetting all about them and then realising they’re totally flat a month later. Check your tyres at least twice a week – or to get into good habits, try to check them before every ride! To measure the pressure in your tyres, you just need a track pump or Mini Bike Pump with Gauge.

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