Beginners Cycling Guide


Photo Credit: Marty Caivano.

We have had questions over the past year from beginning cyclists wondering what they will need to get started. They ask for a beginners guide to cycling or Cycling 101. There are a number of very basic things you can purchase to make you cycling experience a lot smoother. This story starts right after the bike has been purchased. That in it self is a whole other article.

Below are a number of important tips to help you get going but the two most important things are:

  • Be Safe
  • Have Fun

The majority of people think once you buy your bike you are ready to go. That is not the case. There are a number of very important accessories that you will need to make your biking experience fun and safe.

- What you need:

  • Helmet: Don’t ever ride without one! It can mean the difference between a bad headache and long stay at the hospital or worse. Helmets can be expensive but think of a bike helmet as very inexpensive insurance. Make sure it fits well. Here is a great helmet fit guide. Another important tip is to replace your helmet every couple years. They do wear out even if you dont crash.
  • Shoes: If you are getting a road or mountain bike you will need a pair of cycling shoes (road or mountain). Cycling shoes are very stiffed soled shoes. They help transfer power to the pedals. When it comes to shoes its all about fit. Get something that is comfortable.
  • Pedals: You will need pedals for your bike. When you buy your shoes you should think about pedals at the same time (road or mountain). There are many different types of pedals. The price usually comes down to how light (i.e. material used for the pedal) the pedals are. The pedals will come with a set of cleats. These cleats need to be attached to your shoes (see tools below). Once these are attached you should practice getting in and out of your pedals. I would recommend getting on your bike and balance against a wall. Practice clipping in then clipping out.
  • Water Bottle and Water Bottle Cage(s): Most bikes come with spaces for two water bottles. You will need to buy the cages that the water bottles fit into. Attaching the cages to the bike is very simple and is usually done with two small allen screws (See Tools below).
  • Saddle Bag and Repair Kit: One thing a lot of people forget about is a saddle bag that contains some basic repairs items. The saddle bag should contain a spare tube, a patch kit and tire levers. You should also carry a small hand held pump or C02 cartridge.
  • Tools: To start you do not need a lot of tools. A simple multi-tool will work just fine. In most cases you will need a 4, 5 or 6mm allen wrench. You will definitely need one of these allen wrenches to attach your cleats to your shoes and you water bottle cages to your bike.
  • Glasses: These protect your eyes from road debris flying up off you front tire or if you are riding in a pack flying up off the rider in front of you. They also keep your eyes from watering when you are going 20+ MPH down the road. I really like glasses that have exchangeable lenses. They give you more flexibility with outdoor conditions.
  • Gloves: Some people think gloves are essential. They definitely are when its cold outside but in the summer its up to you. They absorb shock form the road but more importantly they protect your hands if you crash.
  • Bike Computer: You might like to know how far you went, what your average speed was and maybe even how much elevation gain you did or your average heart rate. Bike computers are nice to haves and there are tons of options out there.
  • Chain lube: Cleaning and lubing your chain after or before every ride will do wonders. It is a very simple thing to do and in the long run could safe you potential problems. All you will need is an old rag and some chain lube.

In addition to the links to Excel Sports for the products above your local bike shop will either have the above items in stock or should easily be able to order them for you.

News Item: 

2 Comments

Getting Started in cycling

1. When in doubt, buy mountain bike shoes and pedals. The shoes are better for walking about the coffee shop. Crank Brothers Candy pedals are perfect for all riding styles.
2. When in doubt, buy a cyclocross bike. Easy to convert to a mid-range road bike. Easy to ride on moderate off-road surfaces.
3. Full finger gloves protect your livelyhood if you use a keyboard for work.
4. Convert to tubeless or run Stans to keep you riding.

Fit to your bike, cadence,

Fit to your bike, cadence, posture while riding. Those things helped me immensely to get comfortable, there are loads of guides online. For me personally comfort was the biggest issue in the beginning, I imagine it's something everyone goes through as they tack on more miles per ride when starting.

Charity/recreation rides. Register for one, they are loads of fun and you can learn a lot talking with other riders.