Tips for New Riders

Three Skills for New Riders

1. The ABC Quick Check is a really useful way to give your bike a thorough once-over to ensure it's roadworthy. Follow these easily memorable steps to make sure your bike is safe to ride:

  • A = Air. Give your tires a quick squeeze and make sure that they don't give much under your fingers. If they do, your tires need some air!
  • B = Brakes. Visually check the brakes and cables to make sure they aren't worn down or frayed. Make sure you can reach the brake levers comfortably, then squeeze them and push forwards: if the wheel turns you will need to get your brakes sorted before you go out riding.
  • C = Chain, Cassette, and Crank. At the bottom of the down tube (it runs from your handlebars to the pedals), check that the chain is clean and lubricated and that the cogs it runs over aren't overly worn. Make sure to check the gears at the back as well (the cassette). Spin your pedals and check that the cranks (the arms they are attached to) don't wiggle from side to side (if they do, the bearings may be worn out). Finally, make sure your derailleur - the device that moves the chain between gears - is straight and clears your spokes comfortably.
  • Quick = Quick release. Check the quick release (little handle on the spindle of your wheels) and make sure it's closed and tight. If you have a quick release on your saddle, check it too!
  • Check = Hop on the bike real quick and pay attention to how things feel, look, and sound. If everything functions, then the bike checks out!

ABC Quick Check

If you find any problems you might want to check out our bike maintenance page or head to your local bike shop to get a service. If you don't find any problems, your bike is ready to ride!*

2. Basic riding skills are essential before you go riding in traffic. Find somewhere nearby where you can ride without worrying about other vehicles so you can master the essentials – parks, trails, and quiet parking lots are ideal:

  • Stopping – make sure you can stop quickly and safely if you need to.
  • Turning – practice turning quickly and confidently to avoid objects or make a turn while riding at speed.
  • Observation – practice looking over your shoulder and to your right and left while riding.
  • Riding with one hand – lift one hand at a time off the handlebars and repeat until you can control your bike with either hand.

3. Get geared up. Unless you're lucky enough to live somewhere that's pancake flat, being able to use your gears effectively will help you get from A to B without too much huffing and puffing. Before you start mixing it with traffic, get to know your bike's gears and what works best for your legs: try climbing, descending, and cruising on a flat section. Are you a spinner or a slow turner? Everyone has his or her ideal rhythm (or cadence) so take the time to find out what suits you.


Also bear in mind:

Helmets - wearing a helmet is not required for adults in the US, but is very strongly recommended. While helmets can seem a little cumbersome or uncool, they help protect your head in case of any change accidents and that benefit is tremendous! When putting yours on, make sure it fits properly. It should sit horizontally on your head and shouldn't move about. Two fingers should fit tightly between your chin and the strap.

Watch out for the 'door-zone' - cycle at least 3 feet away from parked cars. This way you'll avoid any unexpected door openings!

*Please note - thoroughly checking your own bike is a good way to identify any major issues but nothing short of a service by a fully qualified mechanic can guarantee it's safe to ride. If you're in any doubt, go and get to know your local bike shop!


See also:

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