9 of the most common questions by new cyclists answered

The turn of the year often encourages people to make resolutions to get fit, or save money – and the good news is that cycling allows you to do both.

If you’ve started cycling recently, you may be coming across questions that you’d never considered before. If so, here’s a look at 10 of the most common.

If you’re a seasoned cyclist, then please share this with any new riders you know, and be sure to tell them that they can find their answers at the London Cyclist!

How do I work out the best route to work?

iPhone showing a cycling route

 

The best route for a cycle commute might not be the same way you’d go by car – you may be able to find quieter streets that are much more enjoyable to ride, or even have the option of cutting across a lovely park.

There are a few sites that are specifically designed to help cyclists plan their routes – one of which is CycleStreets.net. This site designs the best route for you, and then gives you turn by turn directions.

How do I cycle safely?

safe cycling sign on the road

 

Cycling gets a bit of a hammering in the press, and there have been a number of high profile accidents. In fact this January is proving to be one of the worst in recent records. The reality remains that you are still better off riding a bike, as inactivity and poor health are far bigger dangers.

Accidents are rare, and by learning how to to negotiate the road with other road users – what to avoid, and how to anticipate situations you’ll greatly improve your safety.

We’ve rounded up 7 common mistakes riders make, and explained how to avoid them here.

How do I keep my bike safe from thieves?

Bike theft is a sad part of city cycling life – but you can do a lot to protect yourself.

A good lock is your best form of defence – look for a Sold Secure Gold rated lock for the best assurance – check out some of the best here.

The right kit isn’t the only important element – you also need to choose your location with care, and know the right technique for locking a bike. With these tools, you drastically cut down your chances of being a victim.

What should I wear to cycle?

The good news is that there are many answers to this questions – depending upon how far you want to ride, how fast, and if you’ve got time to change.

There are a range of brands, such as Vulpine, who create casual cycling clothing you can ride in, then wear to work if the dress code isn’t too suited and booted. Alternatively, you can pop waterproof trousers and a jacket over your clothing so you arrive with your outfit intact.

However, if you want ultimate comfort for speedy, longer rides, cycling kit does give you freedom of movement, and uses technical fabric which wicks away sweat, as well as keeping you warm in winter.

What if I get a puncture? 

Learn to fix it before it happens on the road!

Puncture fixing isn’t difficult – the only fiddly bit is getting the tyre back on correctly, and this gets much easier with practice.

Your best bet is to download the BikeDoctor app and follow our simple steps at home a few times, first. After a few trials, you’ll feel more confident in your ability to carry out roadside repairs.

There are also a few things you can do to cut down your chance of getting a puncture- such as watching wear you ride, having good tyres, and keeping to the recommended pressure – we’ve got more info here.

How do I meet other people to cycle with? 

You may be happy riding on your own, in which case carry on as you are! However, if you’d like to find some riding buddies, a cycling club is a great place to start.

‘Cycling Clubs’ are not there to be intimidating, scary or unfriendly – if you find one that is, they’re not a good club. You should instead find a welcoming environment – and there are clubs for all sorts of different riders – from those who want to race, to those who want to gently ride to a tea stop and back.

We rounded up some of the best London cycling clubs and groups here.

What happens if I’m in an accident?

Nobody wants to think about it, but it’s a good idea to know the steps you need to take if you are in an accident. Remember, if you were in a car crash, you’d get the other person’s insurance details, well it’s similar to when you are on a bike.

Will I get sore knees? 

If something is hurting, there is probably something wrong – cycling should not cause knee pain/back pain/wrist ache or any other sort of pain.

Firstly, sudden changes to routine can be to blame. If you’re new to cycling, start gently, and in moderation – you need to let your body adjust. Once you’ve got into a steady routine, you can add 10% to your weekly time in the bike – but no more.

If you’ve not increased your time cycling massively, the problem might be down to your bike fit, or set up. A saddle that is too low could cause pain at the front of the knee, too high and it may be behind the knee. Wrist ache could be that you are too stretched out, and placing unnecessary pressure on your arms.

Professional bike fits are available, but they are quite an investment. If these are out of reach, ask a friend to help you set yourself as per this video from the Global Cycling Network.

What if I find my saddle is uncomfortable? 

Far too many new cyclists are put off the bike by an uncomfortable perch. This does not need to be the case!

Everyone’s bottom is different, and the way your bike fits will also play a part in what suits your own backside. It is common to assume the more padding and springs the better – but this is often not the case – extra padding can chafe and become uncomfortable.

The right saddle for you depends on a few variables – primarily your riding style, hip width (based on your bone structure, not the size of your bum), and flexibility. We offered advice on choosing a saddle here.

Do you have any questions, or perhaps advice for new cyclists? Share your thoughts in the comments… 

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8 Responses to 9 of the most common questions by new cyclists answered

  1. Peter 16/01/2015 at 7:33 am #

    Get cycle training! It’s free, even if you’re doing everything right it’s good to have the feedback

  2. Mrs janet groves 16/01/2015 at 6:14 pm #

    I started cycling on a very heavy hybrid bike, and very soon had very painful knees. LBS recommended a light weight road bike and to keep the saddle high enough for proper leg extension. .. No knee problems since.. – from a 50 year old cyclist.

    • Vincent 16/01/2015 at 10:43 pm #

      A heavy bike doesn’t necessarily cause painful knees as long as it has enough speeds so you never have to push down hard.

      The right cadence should be between 60-90 rpm.

  3. Peter 17/01/2015 at 11:18 am #

    Painful knees would tend to indicate the saddle is too low. As a rule of thumb with heel on pedal and knee straight bum should be on saddle.
    You want a comfortable position for when you’re riding not for when you’re standing waiting to get started.

  4. Spencer 17/01/2015 at 2:47 pm #

    Wrist ache can also be down to brake levers on straight bars being too horizontal. They should be somewhere between 30-40 degrees down from the horizontal.

    I have suffered from this myself and adjusting the brake lever position resolved it and I know of others who also suffered with the same fix.

    Another problem I suffered a fair bit when I started was pain and strain in my lower back. Caused by too many years sitting at a desk with little exercise. Working on my core body strength helped a lot there but it took time and was not a quick fix!

  5. Matthew Baker 21/01/2015 at 9:27 am #

    Well, some advices from my expirience:

    – Start slowly, make a plan and schedule (just see some tips for runners)
    – Overal body excercises will help also (little warm-up won’t hurt)
    – Good saddle is worth money

  6. Simon Lyon 22/01/2015 at 2:22 am #

    When I started cycling back in 2003 it took me weeks to realise that the reason my rear end was taking a beating had nothing to do with the saddle – it was because I didn’t have enough pressure in the tires!

    As soon as I actually looked at the marked pressure range and followed it the problem instantly went away.

    Many people assume that a “soft” tire pressure will be a more comfortable ride but almost the opposite is true. Too soft and your bum is being bounced up and down rather than resting firmly on the padding of the saddle.

  7. Phil 16/02/2015 at 6:43 pm #

    How do I cycle safely?

    I would offer the following advice – right side – passing side; left side – suicide.

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