51 Beginner Cycling Tips From Experienced Cyclists
“You must learn from the mistakes of others.
You can’t possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.”
Cycling is a complex sport.
I used to be a runner and that was simple. Shoes, clothes, watch, go. With cycling there are infinitely more variables.
As a beginner this can feel intimidating. Making the right decisions early on can save you time, money and embarrassing ground time. There is no right or wrong answer to alot of the questions you have, but taking in information quickly and forming your own opinions will put you ahead of the pack.
The best way to pick up knowledge quickly is to ride with others. Whilst some of what you hear is built on deeply rooted ‘traditions’ such as The Rules these guys have earned their stripes out on the road, so by asking the right questions you will un earth those amazing tips that will help you through your first few years.
My aim here is to save you some of that time.
Reaching out to experienced cyclists from across the web including the I have put together the best the best beginner cycling tips from experienced cyclists.
New To Cycling? I have a number of other articles on the site which you may find useful after you have had a read through the tips below….
Neil Morrison – Blogger at Grit.cx
1) “Never take what one bike shop says as your size as gospel for all bike brands. I spend half my life trying to explain to people that a 48cm in Cannondale is like a 51cm in Cervelo”
2) “If you are new to road biking consider an adventure/gravel bike. Slightly slower but way more comfy thanks to the tyres (not the frame as many manufacturers will tell you)”
3) “Cadence is really important. Set an alarm on your computer for when cadence drops below 80rpm, time to drop a gear. Eventually it becomes second nature.”
Cadence is important. Set an alarm for when cadence drops below 80rpm, time to drop a gear Click To Tweet
Bryan Hutton – Cyclocross King & Blogger at TwoWheelArmy.com
4) “Buy a cheap Garmin. I still have a 200 that is great. Even a good cateye one. For me seeing my speed increase on rides and seeing my average speed increase on my training route was and still is a huge boost.
Then on the other hand see how things like the headwinds can effect your ride so don’t get too disheartened if you are having a slow ride.
You can also get more advanced with sprint training once you have the hang of the bike”
Buy a cheap Garmin (like a 200), seeing my speed increase was a boost #cyclingtips @baahutton Click To Tweet
5) “Good cycling clothing is the best investment you can make. Don’t waste money on an expensive fancy helmet they all meet the same standard spend your money on decent bib shorts they make all the difference”
6) “Don’t be afraid of traffic but sit away from parked cars, at least an open door width and claim your place on the road be confident and look at drivers at junctions they will feel your burning gaze”
7) “Start slowly don’t aim to go too far or fast too soon. Build it up steadily over time and as you feel more confident and comfortable push your limits.
Oh, and the most important tip of all….. Just enjoy yourself!”
Beginner Cycling Tips: Start slowly don't aim to go too far or fast too soon, build it up… Click To Tweet
Matt @mattmbr – Cycling Photos at #3Counties
8) “Buy the best bike you can afford,
buy the best shorts you can afford”
9) “Always use lights”
Beginner Cycling Tips: Buy the best bike you can afford, buy the best shorts you can afford.… Click To Tweet
Brad Collard – Passionate Cyclist and Blogger at VeloBlogUK
10) “Always check the weather forecast.
In England you can get deceivingly blue skies, it looks like it may be warm so you go a layer less only for it to actually be really really cold. I can live with my core being cold but my hands? Definitely not. Descending quickly with numb hands is not cool, you can’t feel yourself squeezing the brakes!
Also, check it for rain. Going out without a rain cape stuffed in your jersey pocket only for there to be downpour is disheartening to say the least.”
Beginner Cycling Tips: Always check the weather forecast before heading out @VeloBlogUK Click To Tweet
Robbie Ferri – Adventure Cyclist and Blogger at Living The Dream
11) “Get out of your comfort zone
The rides where you bite off more than you can chew always turn out to be the best.
Probably the worst thing you can do is not challenge yourself, go further, go faster and don’t look back.
Stay motivated, have goals and a plan to achieve them Before you know it you will be doing things you never believed you would ever do.”
12) “Look after your bike well. Your trusty steed will take you thousands of miles, so respect it.
Clean it every week, fresh degrease and grease. Bikes shouldn’t squeak or make funny noises. Make adjustments and learn to fix it yourself.
Always spend the last mile of your ride listening to your bike, so when you get home it can be cleaned and fixed.”
Look after your bike the trusty steed will take you 1000s of miles #beginnercyclingtips @LTDRF Click To Tweet
13) “My biggest tip would be to ‘Just ride’. Get out, short rides, long rides, lone rides or group rides. They all count and you’ll always feel better for it!
Just enjoy it!”
Donna Navarro – World Famous Women’s Cycling Blogger at Ordinary Cycling Girl
14) “Make the switch to clip-in pedals.
It might seem daunting at first but you won’t regret it. You’ll be surprised at the improvement you will see in your ability to cycle more efficiently and to get up those hills.
My top tip is definitely to anticipate having to unclip and to do it early! And always unclip with the same foot first so that it becomes habit.”
Always unclip with the same foot first so it becomes habit! #cyclingtips @OrdCyclingGirl Click To Tweet
Wes Hellyar – South African Racing Cyclist @WesHellyar
15) “While climbing, don’t go too hard too early on and ensure you continue to pedal over the top of the climb. Often cyclists stop pedaling at what the perceive to be the top only to lose momentum when the are several feet from the plateau.”
16) “On the nutritional side, generally stick to water for rides under an hour. Carbs on rides of 1-3 hours and a mixture of carbs and protein for rides longer than 3 hours. Its worth noting however that these are only guidelines, as nutrition is often a matter of ‘what works for you’.”
17) “In wet weather, keep your bike as upright as possible in corners and break earlier than usual. Also watch out for slippery oil/diesel patches which are particularly bad during the first rains of the season as well as at intersections.”
18) “Make use of your gears (and wear out your shifters) by changing frequently to avoid ‘grinding the pedals’ on both flats and climbs. Cadence is also a personal preference, but I’d generally say 90-110rpm on flats/descents and around 70-90rpm on climbs.”
Tim Hoyle – Just ‘Another Cyclist’ and Blogger at Another Cyclist
19) “If you’re new to cycling enjoy it! Don’t get bogged down in Strava, average speeds and sharing your rides on social media that’s just details. The bigger picture is one of adventure and exploration.
Buy a map, print one off the internet, join a club, or if you have the cash get a Garmin (other navigation devices available). Explore your local area or nearest national park, the views, hills and exploration will inspire you more than just pushing hard all the time. Getting faster will happen naturally the more you ride.”
20) “Don’t avoid the hills, they get easier the more you do, you can’t avoid them forever so you may as well get better at them. Good technique works on small hills, strength and fitness is more important on long slogs like the Alps.”
Hills, you can't avoid them forever so you may as well get better at them! @Another_Cyclist Click To Tweet
21) “Contact points are crucial:
a) Between you and the bike – Hands, feet and bottom – get these right! Good short, gloves and shoes. Try out saddles, bar tape, pedals – make sure they are comfortable. Get your bike to fit correctly (either use an online guide or pay for a fitting). Chamois cream on long rides makes a huge difference.
b) Between the bike and the road – buy the best tyres you can afford – they are the ONLY thing that sticks you to the road!
c) Between chain and gears – clean and oil. Buy a chain cleaner and degreasing fluid – it will save you a lot of money replacing chain, chainrings and cassette and you will enjoy your rides more because shifting is smoother and quieter.”
Buy the best tyre you can afford - they are the ONLY thing that sticks you to the road!… Click To Tweet
Chris Kent – @MrDigitalJedi
22) “If you’re planning for wet weather riding invest in a decent pair of overshoes first.
If you don’t enjoy riding in the wet an expensive pair of winter shoes will end up in not being used so a waste of money”
23) “Use Youtube videos to learn about bike maintenance. Cheaper than a course, and loads of information available.”
Beginner Cycling Tips: Invest in a decent pair of overshoes #cyclingtips @mrdigitaljedi Click To Tweet
Shane – @Taffy_von_Trips
24) “Always carry enough cash to get you home in case you have a major mechanical problem”
25) “Make sure you know how to remove your wheels and fix a puncture , and carry the tools to do it. Carrying a spare innertube and some self adhesive patches will save time on the road. Pop the new tube in and fix the punctured one when you get home; the stickies are in case you are really unlucky.”
Carry cash to get you home in case of mechanical problems #cyclingtips @Taffy_von_Trips Click To Tweet
Daniel Dunn – London based South African cyclist blogging at OnYourBike London
26) “Buy the right bicycle. A mountain bike may feel like a sensible choice, but as you get fitter and more confident its going to start to hold you back.”
27) “Use mudguards. It will keep you, your bike and the cyclist behind you clean.”
28) “Do not be tempted by cheap cycling gear on Amazon. As soon as it gets wet and cold you will spend a lot more money in an attempt to weather proof yourself.”
29) “Be aware of the vehicles around you. When taking the inside lane, watch for indicators.”
30) “Wear an additional light on your helmet. When behind a car your lights are obscured from cars joining from side roads. At least they will see the light on top of your head.”
31) “Drink enough liquid throughout the day even in the cold months. You lose a lot of moisture wearing winter kit, so stay hydrated.”
Stuart Barrington – Ironman and blogger at Quadrathon
Don’t be deceived into thinking that one that looks like a armchair is comfortable; it may not be and the one that looks like a razor blade isn’t, it could be!
Try lots of different types to determine what is good for you, ask for recommendations from others, use demo programs from your LBS or online. Try them on short rides, long rides, climbing, flats and on your trainer! Don’t worry about looks worry about fit!”
Beginner Cycling Tips: Check out this post on choosing saddles #cyclingtips @Quadrathon Click To Tweet
Clint Renee – Pro cycling blogger at PedalMash
33) “Get Strava.
It’s the best thing I ever did.
When I started I didn’t have any cyclist friends so I had nobody to compete with but myself. As soon as I got Strava and could see who was doing what around me, that motivated me to ride more and enjoy the added element of competition.”
Get Strava and enjoy the added element of competition #beginnercyclingtips @Pedal_Mash Click To Tweet
Beth Manning – Massage Therapist and founder of Cycling Hacks
34) “Get a professional bike fit when you buy your bike and revisit your fit every season.
As a bodyworker, I see a lot of problems that are only exacerbated by an ill-fitting bicycle.”
Nick Boyle – Rider for Chelmer CC and host of @UKCycleChat
35) “My beginner cycling tips would be, don’t be afraid to step up a level or distance. If you are used to riding 30 miles at 15mph average, go out with others on a 40 mile at 16-17 average. You will surprise yourself!”
36) “Don’t be afraid to wear Lycra. It’s odd at first but, trust me, it’s the most comfortable way to ride.”
37) “Always smile, nod or say hello to passing cyclists.”
38) “If you have no friends that cycle, join a local club. You will soon make friends, enjoy the group riding and soon improve performance levels.”
Don't be afraid to wear lycra. It's odd at first but the most comfortable way to ride… Click To Tweet
Keith Russell – One Pro Cycling superfan
39) “Get to know your best Local Bike Shop.
Seek out a bike shop you can absolutely trust to do what is right for you and not just their takings, they do exist.
I made a lot of purchasing errors in my first few years and ended up riding the wrong sized bike for 9 years at the advice of a LBS.
Ask on social media for recommendations, cyclists will be quick to praise a good shop and equally quick to let you know the poor ones.”
Seek out a bike shop you can trust to do what is right for you #cyclingtips @keithrussell23c Click To Tweet
Jay Morris – Ex downhill mountain biker turned road rider @nukeproofjay
40) “Always layer up correctly, never pad up from the inside, a good base layer under a jersey is fine and then a coat on top.
It’s always easier to remove layers from the outside in as you get warmer on rides.
The same with your feet, one pair of socks followed by overshoes or toe protectors on the outside.”
It's always easier to remove layers from the outside as you get warmer on rides @nukeproofjay Click To Tweet
Jeff Luckett – Charity Fundraiser for MS @Jeff_Luckett
41) “My biggest beginner cycling tips would be don’t focus on speed, focus on cadence and effort.
Your speed on the bike is the last thing you can actually control. The conditions (pitch, headwind, pavement quality, etc…) will dictate how fast you can go. What you CAN control is how fast and hard that you pedal.
Try to keep your cadence between 80-100 rpm and in a gear where you’re not “grunting” to turn the pedals. Many light efforts (spinning fast, not pushing hard) allow you to put the watts down for a much longer time as it’s then more of an aerobic activity.
Focus on having a smooth pedal stroke rather than having a big push from the 2-6 o’clock, think about spreading that effort between 12 and about 7 or 8 o’clock. Engage the quads AND the hammies and glutes.”
42) “Focus on time not distance (or if distance, forget time)
Either plan a ride for an hour (for example) and do that … don’t worry about how far you get. Or, if you want to do a distance … don’t focus on the time, but pay attention to your body. In the end, it’s about keeping yourself in that area of output that you can do for a long period of time. It should be challenging not exhausting.”
43) “The two pieces of equipment that will help you most if you’re serious about getting started in training are a cycle computer with a cadence sensor and a heart rate monitor. You can skip the HRM if you’re fairly in tune with judging your own effort level, but it can be a huge help.
Watt meters are nice, but cost as much as a decent bike. You can go a LONG way training without one. If you get really serious a watt meter is what it takes to become super competitive, but most riders don’t need that piece of equipment (unless you are a numbers junky and have disposable income…)
In the end, SPEED will come. Your averages will creep up … if you repeat the same rides frequently, you’ll see your times improve over weeks and months. It’ll actually be pretty quick at first. In the same spirit of Greg LeMond’s quote … “It never gets easier, you just get faster.”
Eric Schlange – Blogger at ZwiftBlog.com
44) “If poor local weather, injuries or other factors cause you to miss out on riding, get set up with Zwift. This ‘game’ takes indoor training to an entirely new level with group rides, racing, structured workouts that ensure you’re never bored on the trainer again.”
Get set up with Zwift and take indoor training to a new level #cyclingtips @ZwiftBlog Click To Tweet
Michelle Brideau – Fundraising long distance cyclist and Vlogger
45) “You’ll likely have to change the saddle your bike came with. You shouldn’t be thinking about your saddle when you ride, if it’s uncomfortable it’s time to change it.”
46) “Listen to all the advice and then do what makes you happy! :)”
Listen to all the advice and then do what makes you happy #beginnercyclingtips @cycling_woman Click To Tweet
London Cyclist – The king of Cycling Blogs: tips, reviews, news and more!
47) “Take a cycle training course – Regardless of how long you have been riding a bike, everyone can learn something from a cycle training course. There are lots of options out there and depending on where you live they might be free! A training course can be particularly useful if you are just embarking on cycle commuting in a busy city. It will help with your traffic awareness and road positioning, both things that go a long way to keeping you safe. It will also give you a lot more confidence to know that you are doing the right thing and can handle most situations you will encounter.”
Take a cycle training course, it will give you alot more confidence #cyclingtips @londoncyclist Click To Tweet
Thank you to the amazing people and groups below for inputting their ‘Beginner Cycling Tips’ to this article:
- Bikes & Blogs [Facebook Group]
- I Love Road Cycling – VIP [Facebook Group]
- My Twitter Followers @CyclingTipsHQ
- My local cycling club Team WR CC
- Road Bike Enthusiasts [Facebook Group]
- The members of the cycling subreddit
- The followers of UkCycleChat Twitter account
This post is always growing. If you’d like to contribute please e-mail Ben@CyclingTipsHQ.com.