Bicycle Program

New Bicyclists Tips

If you are new to bicycling, these helpful tips will ensure that your bicycle adventures get off to the right start. Several early bicycling mistakes are addressed below along with their suggested corrections.

New Bicyclists Fact and Fiction

Cartoon illustration of woman riding a bike with the seat too low

Riding with the seat too low

Fiction: A low seat gives you the ability to put both feet on the ground, which makes you safer.
Fact: A seat this low is too low. It stresses your knees, can cause injury, inhibits proper balance and reduces your power.
Correction: Raise your seat until when the balls of your feet are over the center of the pedals and the pedal is at the bottom of the stroke, you have a slight bent in your knee (illustration). You should be able to just touch the ground with your tip-toes.
Cartoon illustration of man applying front breaks and flying over handle bars.

Being afraid to use your front break

Fiction: If you use your front brake, You'll go sailing over the handlebars.
Fact: Because it's the more powerful brake, it IS possible to "endo" (illustration) if you apply it too hard or at the wrong time, however, not using your front brake drastically reduces your stopping power. So, you should use it a lot.
Correction: It's best to always use both brakes. Yet, there are times, such as on steep downhill's, when your front brake accounts for up to 90% of your stopping power and determines how much control you have. So it's important to practice and get good using it. An important tip is to shift your body rearward as you brake harder in front.
Bicyclist sweating excessively while wearing a t-shirt

Riding in a T-Shirt

Fiction: Cotton T-shirts are better to wear than trendy bright-colored jerseys, and they are less expensive.
Fact: Cotton is a great material to lounge around in. Once you start really riding, however, cotton holds onto every drop of perspiration leaving you soaked. Plus if the weather changes from warm and sunny to chilly, that wet tee will feel awful and could even cause chills and hypothermia.
Correction: There's a reason cyclists wear what they do. Unlike tee shirts, jerseys feature wicking fabrics that actually keep you dry, warm and stink-free. Plus, they catch less air so it's easier to ride, and they often have built-in pockets for your identification, cash and energy food. You can also stuff a jacket in a pocket for use should the weather changes.
Bicyclist covered in lubrication oil from adding too much to drivetrain

Over lubing your drivetrain

Fiction: The more lube you put on the chain, the better your bike will run.
Fact: Excess lube quickly collects dust and dirt accelerating drivetrain wear. Plus, that grimy chain leaves hard-to-remove chain marks on your arms, legs and car.
Correction: Lube your chain anytime the links begin to appear shiny and dry (squeaking is a sure sign that you've waited too long for lube). Let the lube sit for a few minutes and then wipe off the excess with a rag.
Woman going downhill on an out-of-control bicycle

Ignoring mechanical issues

Fiction: Your bike may seem a little loose up front (or plug in your particular problem), but you want to ride, not take your bike in to get it checked! You'll just keep riding.
Fact: Bicycles are relatively simple machines, however, they can travel as fast as cars and you can get in trouble quick if something serious is wrong with your bike and you neglect it.
Correction: Ride by a local bicycle shop and have them take a look. They won't charge to do this and it could save you the costs of a more serious repair, or more importantly, prevent a dangerous crash. For example, in the case of that loose front end, it could save you a ruined frame and a loss of control on a downhill leading to a bad fall.
   

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