If you’re tired of trawling through Google for guides on cycling—whether it’s how to size a bike, learn to ride a bike, or teach your little one to ride—there’s a stack of information out there.
This, understandably, can seem quite overwhelming.
So to help you, today, I’ve gathered a couple of good-to-read guides, hopefully making it easier and faster for you to get to the pages you need.
My Top Tips for Newbie Cyclists
New to cycling? I’ve put together these quick tips for you. Some are obvious, but others are pointers that I wished I’d known before.
- Wear a helmet. Whenever you’re on the bike, protect your head, even if it’s a short ride to the store.
- Ensure that your bicycle is the right size. Riding on an ill-fitting bike can compromise comfort and control.
- Use your gears wisely. Continually riding in a high gear puts excessive pressure on your knees. Instead, shift gears accordingly to the road and conditions.
- On longer rides, change your position. Hold the handlebars differently and move your butt around on the saddle.
- Don’t use headphones while riding if you can. You want to be alert and aware.
- Know the rules of the road. This will help you stay safe.
Choosing the correct bike size for you is crucial for many reasons, and it’s a process you shouldn’t try to wing.
Generally, the first thing we think of is saddle height. This has a direct impact on your position and overall comfort.
Your knee should bend slightly when your leg extends fully at the bottom of the pedal stroke. However, if your saddle is too high or low, it could lead to inefficient pedal strokes and injuries.
Besides saddle height, the frame size must meet your measurements. The ideal tube length maximizes your control over the bike. You can comfortably reach the breaks and turning doesn’t mean losing your grip on one side.
When you inspect different bikes, it quickly becomes evident that frame size varies—this depends on the manufacturer and type of cycle.
However, there are several methods for sizing up your new wheels—all without sitting on it first!
I have a two-step approach to find the correct bike size, which is what I focus on in my in-depth guide. I’ve also included a few tips for sizing a bike for your kiddos.
Guide to Choosing a Bike Helmet Size
Wearing a helmet is vital for your own safety while on the road.
An easy way to find your size is to measure the circumference of your head. Use a flexible tape measure and wrap it around the largest part of your head—approximately one inch over your eyebrows.
If you don’t have a flexible tape measure, use a piece of string and then measure the length with a ruler.
When looking for a helmet, keep in mind that sizing varies between brands. Similar to shoe manufacturers, cycling brands use different molds to shape the headgear around. So it’s essential to follow their specific recommendations for sizing.
With the helmet on, you can alter the tightness around your head. Most modern models come with an adjustment wheel sitting at the back. Turn it to adapt it to your head—keep in mind that this is only minor tweaks.
If your helmet doesn’t have an adjustment wheel, it probably has interchangeable foam pads.
The next step to check is the straps—these should form a V shape under each ear when you buckle and tighten the strap. Continue adjusting the buckle under your ears until the shape appears.
A properly fitting helmet should feel snug around your head, but not uncomfortably tight. It should remain level on your head—the front edge approximately half an inch to one inch above your eyebrow.
If the helmet shifts drastically from side-to-side (more than one inch) when you push it, it’s too loose. Adjust the fit and try again. You can read more in my full guide.
Teaching a Child to Bike
Teaching my little one how to ride a bike was one of the best bonding experiences.
But, yes, it takes patience and reassurance to keep trying to teach a child to bike, even after falls.
Before I started with bicycle lessons, a big question circulating my mind was, “Is my kiddo ready to ride a bike?” And frankly, there isn’t a set age limit—some children are ready when they begin to walk, others may not start until later.
Instead of focusing on a number, consider your child’s mental and physical development, coordination and comfort level. Fortunately, there are various types of children’s bikes, suitable for different levels and needs.
Balance bikes have become known as fantastic starter bikes for a wide age range. They’re essentially cycles without pedals, so the rider focuses more on establishing their balance as opposed to turning the pedals.
To build speed, they push with their legs, and then ideally, they should pick up their feet and glide.
Another critical step before starting bike lessons is to ensure the bicycle and helmet fit. You want to give your little one the best chance of success, and purchasing a bike that they can grow into isn’t ideal.
For the same reasons as adults require a proper fitting cycle, so do children. Placing them on a bike that is too big may intimidate them, putting them off.
With balance bikes, for instance, they should be small enough for the rider to be able to push off from the ground—but not too low that it’s difficult picking up their feet.
To help you teach your little one how to ride, I’ve put together a step-by-step, in-depth guide for you to follow.
Learning to Ride a Bike as an Adult
If you never learned how to ride a bike as a kid, then you’re certainly not alone. It’s quite common, and fortunately, it’s never too late.
Learning how to ride a bike as an adult is very similar to how you’d approach it with a child. Except for one thing—we adults tend to overthink things. We know crashing hurts, both on our body and self-esteem.
Someone once told me that you’re never a good cyclist until you’ve fallen off 100 times. Because of this, you should always be patient with yourself—take it one pedal at a time.
One of my top tips is starting with a balance bike. Remove the pedals and put your focus on establishing your balance.
Find a secluded, safe spot—an even surface, preferably a tarmac road with grass or sand verges to cushion a potential fall—practice building speed and picking up your feet.
You should wear your helmet during all attempts. To protect your skin, consider full-coverage clothing—in case you do fall, the materials will prevent scratches on your skin. You may also want to choose bright-colored fabrics so that you’re visible to motorists.
Another tip is always to look forward. Once you get going and try riding on public roads, you need to be aware of your surroundings, and watching the pedals doesn’t help.
Keep your focus straight ahead. This way, you’re able to spot cars, pedestrians and other obstacles.
I have a tonne of pedaling pointers for you in my guide, so feel free to check it out.
As my family grew accustomed to the pedals and gained the same passion for two-wheels as I did, it was time for a vacation.
Now, planning a getaway where you’ll be traveling on two-wheels as opposed to four can be a daunting prospect, especially with kids. You want to ensure that everyone is safe and enjoys their time.
This prompted me to sit down and do my research.
Within the U.S., and across the globe, there are several bike-friendly cities. Some of my top picks are:
- New York City.
Multiple factors contribute to making a city bike-friendly. One of the main aspects that I focused on was bicycle-only lanes, meaning that motorists and cyclists were completely separated.
Next, it was an emphasis on traffic lights. They’re a pain for motorists who have to wait—but for me, they are essential. It allows cyclists to safely cross any road, which is much appreciated when you’re towing a youngster along.
The cities I’ve listed above offer all this, but there are many more. You can explore them in my full guide of 50 bike friendly cities around the world.
Whether it’s teaching yourself how to ride or choosing the best bike size for your little one—there’s a significant learning curve when starting cycling. Fortunately, once you’ve got the basics, it’s easy to power forward.
I hope you found your way to some helpful pages. If there’s anything you feel I’ve missed or further questions, please let me know in the comments below.