13 of the Best Bike Riding Tips for Beginners
Do you want to try out biking as your new hobby? Whether it's a long ride on the road or on rugged mountain trails, biking is a healthy and fun way to spend your free time. Every year, countless people learn about the thrill of biking, and some of them make it a life-long hobby.
While you will gain experience over time, it helps to remember the best bike riding tips for beginners to get head start on the hobby. This not only helps you develop good riding sense early on but also spare you from having to deal with the consequences of common beginner mistakes.
Tip # 1 - Find the Right Bike
There are different bikes for different kinds of biking. Do you need something that can tackle all but the roughest trails? Get a mountain bike. Are you someone who rides mostly on the road? Then a road bike would be a better choice. Looking for something that can go the extra mile? Go for a touring bike.
Since a lot of people new to the hobby will want to try different kinds of biking, hybrid bikes are a popular choice for beginners. However, you can expect a more specialized bike to outperform a hybrid bike in its own element. If you don't plan on "branching out", then starting with a specialized bike is fine.
Tip # 2 - Find the Right Fit
Having the right kind of bike for the ride is good, but it won't do you any good if you can't ride it comfortably. Remember that you'll be using your bike for a long time – even the slightest bit of discomfort while riding a poorly-fitted bike will become a major issue after a while.
To find the right bike fit, you have to find out the right frame size. Oversized bike frames will be difficult to mount, while undersized ones will make you feel cramped. You also have to research about the right saddle height and shape that will best suit you to ensure long-term comfort.
Tip #3 - Wear the Right Attire
Ever tried running around wearing denim jeans and a thick shirt? It's uncomfortable; feels heavy, and will also have you drenched in sweat in no time. Now imagine wearing the same thing while on a long bike ride in the middle of the day; you'll be dehydrated and tired sooner than you think!
Wearing the right kind of clothing when riding will let you move around easier. Padded bike shorts are good since they help reduce chafing, and shirts with breathable material help your body stay cool during most of the ride.
Tip #4 - Don't Forget Safety Gear
Always keep safety a number one priority. Always ride with a certified bicycle helmet and consider getting kneepads and protective gloves (especially if you're riding on rough terrain where falling is more likely). They can be the difference between shrugging off a fall and spending days or weeks in a hospital.
You should also wear the right biking accessories. Ordinary sunglasses may look cool, but they can get fogged up unlike sunglasses specially designed for intense physical activity. You should also wear shoes that help keep your foot on the pedal at all times.
Tip #5 - Bring Essentials With You
A lot of things can happen to your bike during your rides. While bikes are designed to be durable, there's always a chance that you get a flat tire or something on the bike may become loose. If you're unprepared, you might end up getting stuck in one place until help arrives.
You don't have to bring an entire workshop's worth of items with you, but it helps to keep a few essentials at all times. A couple of tire levers, a patch kit, and a multi-tool will let you perform basic repairs in case something happens.
Tip #6 - Keep Cash and Cards at All Times
Never ride without some cash with you. You wouldn't know when you have to stop at a store for extra hydration or take the bus in case you suddenly need to get somewhere fast. You also need the cash to make emergency purchases in case you need something more than the essentials you took with you.
You should also keep an ID and insurance at all times should an accident happen during one of your rides. This helps speed up identification and gives other people valuable info on who they can call or notify in case of emergency.
Tip #7 - Watch Your Diet
You're going to be exerting a lot of effort every time you go out for a ride, so you need to keep a consistent diet, especially before a ride. Trying out something new may not only cause nutritional imbalance but also upset your stomach while on the road because it's not used to the food.
A healthy hobby should go with a healthy diet. You should start cutting down on junk food and look for options that provide plenty of energy and nutrients. A proper diet doesn't just increase your stamina but also improve your overall health.
Tip #8 - Don't Overdo It
A lot of people new to the hobby can get too enthusiastic - they'd want to go fast, so they pedal hard. A few minutes later, they find themselves already tired. Aside from not being a fun experience, riding your bike while already out of steam can affect your focus since you'll be struggling to just keep the pace up.
Experienced bikers strongly recommend being light on the pedal; not only does it help prevent early burnouts, but help you keep enough energy in case you need that burst of speed later during your ride. It also prevents the chances of cramping caused by overworked muscles (a common beginner problem).
Tip #9 - Change Your Position
Ever sat on a chair for an extended period of time without moving? You'll probably feel a bit sore after a few hours. The same thing happens when riding a bike, except you'll feel the effects sooner. The same thing also happens to your arms and hands since they're on the handlebars the entire time.
When you're riding and you feel like your rear end is getting sore, adjust your seating position to relieve the pain. Do the same thing with your hands and arms by moving them around the handlebars. Doing this also helps keep the blood properly circulating, especially during extended rides.
Tip #10 - Shift gears accordingly
Most bikes today feature multiple gear combinations that give you control over speed, acceleration, and torque. While most offer anywhere between 16-26 gear combinations, a lot of beginners just stick to the lowest and highest gears most of the time.
You need to get used to the idea of shifting gear often according to your cadence or pedaling speed. If you think you're straining too much to just keep up your pace, switch to a lower gear. If you're traveling too slow even while keeping up with your cadence, switch to a higher gear.
Tip #11 - Observe Traffic Rules
Another common beginner mistake is that they treat themselves as pedestrians while on the road. Aside from leading to accidents, it also gives bikers a bad reputation among motorists. Part of your responsibility as a biker is to follow traffic rules and maintain the good image of biking as a hobby.
It also helps if you keep your distance not just from motorized vehicles, but also from other bikers. This will give you enough room to react in case the vehicle or bike in front of you makes a sudden turn or stop, reducing the risk of collision.
Tip #12 - Always Pay Attention
Riding a bike in the wilderness or along a coastal road will give you plenty of sights to admire, but that's no excuse not to pay attention to your immediate surroundings. You could be checking out the scenery one moment then find yourself hitting the pavement all of a sudden.
Always look at where you're going; watch out for road signs and possible hazards such as manholes, road bumps, or debris lying on the path ahead. If you really need to look somewhere else, do it briefly, slow down so it's safer, and get your focus back on the road ASAP.
Tip #13 - Don't Be Frustrated
Even the most experienced bikers had to start somewhere; they didn't start out with complete mastery over their pacing, endurance, and riding techniques. They also had to develop their skills from scratch and make the same mistakes when they started the hobby.
Don't be frustrated if you find yourself unable to keep up with your more experienced biking buddies. You'll eventually manage how to pace yourself better and ride more efficiently, but it takes experience. Don't beat yourself up over it since you'll eventually get there.
While these tips are meant for beginners, even biking veterans know the importance of keeping them in mind at all times. Do you know other tips that you can share with other people new to this hobby? Feel free to leave a comment below!