It’s as easy as riding a bike! If you’re swinging your leg over your bike for the first time in a while, you may find these pointers helpful:
The bike. For short journeys, any bike will do (as long as it fits you)
If you are looking to cycle longer distances on the road think about the type of bike you will want:
- A folding bike – great if you have limited storage space in your flat or at work.
- An electric bike – no, it’s not cheating, you still have to pedal for the motor to work. It just means hills are a breeze
- A ‘road’ bike – think Tour de France – probably not suitable for a beginner/if you haven’t been in the saddle for a while – these bikes are designed to be ridden fast.
- Hybrid/Town bike – these are ideal for commuting, popping to the shops/pub/café/friends – look out for useful features such as gears, kickstand, basket or rack (to store your bag)
- Fixies – A fixie (track bike) is not designed to be ridden on the road, though they are popular with hipsters and couriers due to their minimalist look and maintenance. It’s called a fixie as the rear wheel is ‘fixed’ i.e. when the rear wheel is spinning so are the pedals (you can’t freewheel), to brake you have to straighten your legs to lock the rear wheel. You need to be both competent and cool to ride a fixie!
- Single speed bikes. These are not fixies (though they look similar). A single speed bike is simply a bike without any gears. Perfect if you don’t meet the requirements to ride a fixie!
Your local bike shop should help you choose the right bike – particularly the correct frame size. If you are buying second hand, make sure you ask plenty of questions – when was the last time the bike had a service? Do they have receipts? Beware of inadvertently buying a stolen bike – is the price too good to be true? If it is, be very suspicious.
- Check your bike over to make sure it is safe to use (do the brakes/gears work?). Make sure your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure (you will find the correct pressure on the sidewall (side) of your tyres. And don’t be intimated by those funny looking valves – use our handy guide here – http://www.havebike.co.uk/news/post.php?s=2017-06-12-pumping-up-your-tyres-the-basics-updated-for-the-summer
- A small amount of (bicycle specific) oil on the chain will keep your bike running silently but don’t put too much on!
- Before setting off, have a practice in a quiet road (or park) to get used to your bike and check everything is working e.g. brakes.
- Practise riding single handed (each hand) as you will need to signal with each arm. Also practise looking over your shoulder as you will need to do this before you set off, to make sure it is safe.
- To learn to cycle with confidence contact your local council as they may offer free cycle confidence training. Or look for a Bikeability course.
- Make sure you are familiar with the Highway Code.
- When you’re riding on the road, remember you are entitled to the same amount of space as a car (it’s true!) so you don’t need to ride in the gutter or in single file. Riding two abreast can make it easier and quicker for a car or van to overtake you.
- When riding alongside parked cars, remember to give a car door’s space between you and the car (this guards against you being knocked off your bike by car doors being opened.
- When approaching left junctions, beware of vehicles turning left and may cross your path – just because they are not indicating, it doesn’t mean they won’t turn.
- When cycling near large vans, trucks and buses try to avoid stopping on their inside (left) where they can’t see you. Try and stop ahead of them (turn your head and look them in the eye to make sure they have seen you).