People may learn to ride a bike at different ages – some start as young as three years old, others at thirty years old. Either way, mistakes are common for all beginners. If you forget proper positioning or fail to do some maintenance, that’s okay! We are here to guide you through your first steps as a newbie bike-rider. Familiarize yourself with these common cycling mistakes and maybe you can pick up a few tips on how to avoid them.
The machinery of your bike may need some tweaking.
Determining the fit of your bike is one of the most important things to note during purchase, but in case you got your bike as a present or from an older sibling, you have to fit it to your height and build. Note that the wrong fit may result in injury and strain.
You can consult your local bike shop to help you with the adjustments if you don’t know where to start. Otherwise, here are two handy tips:
The right saddle or seat height will help you feel comfortable with your pedal strokes and prevent knee injury. At this height, your knee is only slightly bent at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Place your saddle too low and you risk not extending your leg enough for this.
You can adjust your saddle height by positioning your heel on the pedal, with your foot at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Your leg should only be slightly bent. Adjust your saddle height accordingly then try riding your bike as you normally would. Do you feel comfortable pedaling around? If you do, then that is your ideal saddle height. Otherwise, you can just fine-tune your setting. Remember that your toes should touch the ground while you are seated on the saddle.
You also might have heard of the “reach.” The correct reach prevents back injury (too far) and the hassle of hitting your arms with your knees (too near). To achieve this, adjust the seat so that you form an angle of 45° between your arms and torso as you hold the handlebar.
You can also check out our guide for bike fitting.
Another thing to look out for is the gearing your bike uses. To move across different types of terrain smoothly, you need the right combination of gears, and this is often a very personal thing. With the correct combination and shifting, pedaling won’t feel like a chore.
Your bike needs some TLC.
When you get a bike, it becomes your obligation to treat it with care and attention. One of the important cycling mistakes that many newbies make is failing to routinely check, clean, and fix their bikes. There is no need for complicated mechanical procedures here. Check the parts: handlebars, gears, brakes, and wheels for small dents or areas where the paint may have chipped off.
After every ride, make sure to wash off mud and debris from the frame. Lubricate the chain to prevent the onset of damage, as well as ward off that annoying squeaky sound.
These maintenance habits are quick and easy to perform, so don’t feel intimidated. We also advise having professionals check your bike out every now and then.
Your clothes are the wrong fit or material.
We have mentioned several times across this blog that clothes are crucial to the comfort you feel during a bike ride. Checking the weather forecast for the day of your planned bike ride is a must. If it’s going to rain, wear the appropriate head protection, and wind- and waterproof clothes. Layering your clothes prepares you for the coldness that comes with the rain, but don’t overdo it. Choose headgear that blocks off raindrops so your view of the street is not obscured.
On sunny days, there is less to worry about; though make sure to wear breathable fabrics with moisture-wicking technology.
Using the most expensive gear will not necessarily make you a good bike rider.
Using unnecessary, expensive biking gear is one of the many cycling mistakes you need to avoid. As with any new hobby or activity, we always feel like the best brands are the most expensive ones. While it is true that cost goes up with the quality of the material, sometimes the mid-rangers are already capable of delivering great performance. You have the freedom to spend as much as you want on your bike, but if you’re on a budget, you should feel no pressure to spend more. All it takes is a bit of research and a conversation with the bike shop staff.
You’re a bit too enthusiastic.
Believe it or not, enthusiasm is one of the many cycling mistakes newbies make. Enthusiasm is the number one motivator for people who are new to biking! It helps you learn faster and more efficiently… but is there a downside to having too much enthusiasm?
Your riding coach will be thrilled to know how much you want to apply what you have learned. However, this extra energy can drive you to ride too far or pedal too fast. Before thinking of conquering your first trail, make sure you understand your capacities and limitations as a bike rider. Start with little goals, then build them up when you have developed your skills.
Cycling is enjoyable but it can be difficult, especially when you’re exploring trails outside the city. It is common for newbies to overestimate the mileage they can take on, so watch out for impulses to ride farther than you’re comfortable with.
Don’t push yourself too hard. Improvement comes from being consistent, like riding your bike daily or every other day, not from just the occasional hardcore ride.
You don’t bring the essential tools.
Your friends can’t always come to your aid when you’ve punctured a tire during a ride. Prepare a small toolkit containing a multitool, patches, mini-pump, levers, and two inner tubes and mount it on a secure spot on your bike. More importantly, equip yourself with the know-how on how to fix a punctured tire.
You don’t stock up on energy.
Ironically, people forget this basic need. Sometimes, in our excitement, we fail to take snack breaks, especially if the ride is more than an hour long. Always make sure to bring water and snacks. Descending into a hypoglycemic state is never a good way to finish your trip.
You don’t brake properly.
Rounding corners can be tricky. To avoid accidents, pull on your brake gently before you reach the corner, not when you are on it. In this way, you have an allowance for turning. On wet surfaces, brake even earlier.
Make sure to keep these cycling mistakes in mind!