If you started the New Year resolving to get fitter, cycling might be the perfect way to do it. The beauty of cycling is that it’s something anyone can do – young or old. And whether you're cycling to work, to the shops or just to get out and about a bit more, cycling is a great way to keep fit.
This guide gives you everything you need to know to get in the saddle and start cycling regularly. First up, let’s talk bikes...
If you’re just planning on tootling down to the shops now and again, then pretty much any working bike will do. If you’ve got an old one gathering dust at the back of the garage, that’s a good place to start. Though if it’s not been ridden in a really long time, then it’s worth taking it to your local bike shop for a tune up. A bike mechanic will make sure everything’s in good working order, in particular that the brakes are working properly, and the chain is well lubricated.
- Find the right bike for you
If you don’t have an old bike you can use, your local bike shop can recommend one. Popular bikes fall roughly into three categories: mountain bikes for off-road trail riding, road bikes for riding on flat surfaces and hybrids which are a happy medium. A decent bike shop can advise you on the kind of bike that would suit you. You can buy a bicycle from about £200 upwards. But if you’re planning on cycling regularly, it’s worth spending more to get a bike that’s a bit more robust.
- Invest in essential accessories
You don’t need much to start cycling. But there are one or two essentials you should seriously consider picking up.
Though wearing a helmet isn’t compulsory, it’s highly recommended from a safety point of view. Helmets don’t cost much, but they provide valuable protection. Again, speak to your local bike store to find one that fits you perfectly.
A good bike lock is essential if you’re planning on leaving it anywhere unattended. Some insurers specify certain locks before they’ll cover you. However, generally speaking a decent d-lock is a sturdy and cost-effective option.
If you’re planning on cycling in winter, when the days are shorter, lights are a must. Remember, they are not necessarily for your benefit while cycling. Rather, they’re to help other road users see you when light levels are low. The brighter the better, so look out for how many ‘lumens’ they offer to get an idea of which ones are right for you.
A waterproof jacket won’t just keep you dry, it’ll keep you from talking yourself out of a bike ride when it’s raining. Look for a brightly coloured or hi-viz cycling jacket, if you can. It’ll give you an extra layer of visibility on dark evenings out.
On cold weather rides, a good pair of gloves is a must. Without them, you’ll feel like your fingers are about to drop off after about five minutes! Some of the warmest gloves are so puffy you lose some dexterity in your fingers – when you need to lock/unlock your bike, for example – but it’s a price worth paying for warm hands.
So, you’ve got your bike and you’ve got your bike gear. There are just a couple more checks you need to complete before you set off.
- Check your tyres are properly pumped up
Before you go anywhere, you need to make sure your bicycle’s tyres are pumped up to the correct pressure. How do you know what the correct pressure is? Easy – simply look on the sidewall of the tyre itself. There will be two values listed, one in BAR and one in PSI. It’ll also give you a minimum and a maximum pressure for you to pump up to. Aim for somewhere in the middle and you won’t go far wrong.
Note: pumping up a tyre from flat can take a while. If you can afford to, it’s worth investing in a track pump – trust us, it’ll save you time and a lot of elbow grease!
- Position your saddle at the right height
Cycling should be an effort but not uncomfortable. The first thing to get right is your saddle height. Go on YouTube and you’ll find all sorts of complicated videos, on the geometry of the optimal riding position. But you don’t need all that. Start by positioning your saddle so it’s level with your hips – that should be about right. To check, simply get in the saddle and pedal half a rotation – your leg should remain slightly bent. If it goes straight, lower your saddle an inch or two until you get it right.
- Gain your confidence
When you’re cycling on the road, it’s important to be assertive. Inexperienced riders will often cycle as close to the kerb as possible but this isn’t a good idea. It encourages other road users to try and squeeze past you, even if there isn’t quite the room – that’s when accidents can happen. Always ride a sensible 1m away from the side of the road. And give yourself some extra room when riding alongside parked cars... that way you don’t get taken out by someone opening their car door without looking.
One word of warning: if you find yourself behind a lorry, bus or long van, don’t be tempted to stay on the left-hand side. Drivers will often struggle to see you coming, leaving you in danger if they decide to turn left. To be on the safe side, always overtake on the right.
Lock up your bike the clever way
Cycling is something you can enjoy almost all year round. But what should you do with your bike when you’re not cycling? Have you the room to fit your bike in your garage? What about in your house? If the answer’s no, consider checking out the Bike Nook from Thane. Put simply, the Bike Nook stores your bike vertically, saving you roughly 3½ feet of floor space, wherever you decide to store your bike.
All you do is reverse your bike back into the Bike Nook ramp, then pop the front wheel up and lock into place in a ‘handstand’ position. It takes just seconds, but you’ll enjoy the benefits for a long time after. For example, you can keep your bike indoors, knowing it won’t scratch the walls, doors or ceilings.
The Bike Nook from Thane will store practically any bike you have – mountain bike, racer, road bike, hybrid bike, even kids’ bikes. So, it’s perfect for you however you like to ride.
So, if you’d like to know more about the ultimate storage solution for your bike, simply go here to discover the Bike Nook for yourself.