Tips for newbies


Three Skills for New Riders


1. The M-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:

  • Starting at the front wheel, check that there are no broken spokes, that the rims are crack-free and that the tyres are pumped up and not worn out.
  • Visually check the brake blocks 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.
  • To check the headset, grip the front wheel between your knees and try to turn the handlebars: if they turn but the wheel doesn't, you'll need to tighten it up.
  • At the bottom of the down tube that 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. 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).
  • Now check that the saddle is straight, level and secure. You should be able to put your foot down comfortably and safely from a sitting position.
  • Finally, check your back wheel and brakes as above and make sure your derailleur - the device that moves the chain between gears - is straight and clears your spokes comfortably.

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, cemeteries and quiet car parks are ideal:

  • Observation – practice looking over your shoulder and to your right and left whilst riding.
  • Riding with one hand – lift one hand at a time off the handle bars and repeat until you can control your bike with either hand.
  • Stopping – make sure you can stop quickly and safely if you need to.

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 the flat. Are you a spinner or a slow turner? Everyone has their ideal rhythm (or cadence) so take the time to find out what suits you.

Also bear in mind:

Helmets - wearing a helmet is mandatory by law when riding a bike in New Zealand. 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 1.5 metres away from parked cars. You've got to imagine what might happen if a car door unexpectedly opened.



*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!

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