For Your Consideration – Types of Bike Pedals


When you purchase a new bicycle, there are various types of bike pedals that you can purchase. Some new bikes are sold without pedals, in particular higher-end bikes. Other new bicycles are sold with caged pedals (pedals with toe straps). If you’re new to cycling, starting with the caged pedals is fine. However, as you progress with your cycling, you may want to update to a clipless pedal. In this article, I will go over some types of pedals you may want to consider.

Caged Pedals

If you purchase a new road bike, there is a chance they will include caged pedals. What are caged pedals? These are flat pedals with a toe strap attached. For entry level riding, these are certainly suitable.

For these pedals, you simply slide your foot into it. They do not need special shoes, like clipless pedal systems do. The strap can be adjusted in case you need to tighten it if your foot moves around too much on the pedal, or loosen if it is too tight.

Benefits to a caged pedal include allowing your feet to be secure on the pedal, yet also allowing you to remove them in the event you need to quickly get them out. They are also low maintenance, and need little upkeep.

A downside to these types of pedals is that since your feet do move around in them a little, there’s a loss in transfer of power when stroking the pedals. However, for a beginner, this should not be a deal breaker.

If you happen to remove the straps, you get…

Platform Pedals

Platform pedals are simply flat pedals with no straps that you rest your feet on. These can be found on various types of bikes including mountain, casual, and BMX bikes. Much like the caged pedals, these are very low maintenance, and you do not need special shoes for them.

Platform pedals are good for mountain biking if you’re new to the activity and find you are dismounting the bike to navigate obstacles, or are on the middle of a hill and need to climb the rest. They do provide some mental comfort knowing you can quickly get off your bike if you need to.

Like caged pedals, platform pedals require little maintenance.

The major drawback to these types of pedals is since your feet are not secure on the pedal, you may not be transferring as much power to your pedal stroke.

Hybrid Pedals

If you’re looking for a pedal that provides the best of both worlds, a platform and a clipless system, hybrid pedals would be a good choice.

Hybrid pedals are exactly as the name describes. One side of the pedal is flat, without a lock to attach cycling shoes to. The opposite side has a locking mechanism that when you attach your cycling shoe to, locks your feet into place.

These pedals are good for someone who is transitioning from caged or platform pedals to a clipless system. It may take a while to get comfortable locking your feet into clipless pedals. With hybrids, you can use the platform side if needed while becoming acclimated to clipless.

Some maintenance may be required with these pedals. It’s a good idea to keep the locking mechanism clean, and they may need to be oiled up on occasion.

You would need to purchase cycling shoes with the appropriate cleat that lock into the pedal, and for some more information on that, see the next section…

Clipless Pedals

The final type of pedal I’d like to mention is the clipless pedal. How a clipless pedal system works is the pedals has a locking mechanism that matches to the cleats that are placed on the sole of corresponding cycling shoes. You slide your feet onto the pedal until they lock. You’ll know when it is successful by hearing a locking noise.

These pedals, when your feet are locked properly into them (see not too loose), allow for more efficient transfer of power from the pedal strokes.

If you go the clipless route, it may take a little time to get used to locking your feet in quickly, but once you get it down, it will become second nature.

To remove your feet, all you need to do is twist your foot to dislodge the shoe cleat from the pedal.

There are clipless pedal systems available for both mountain and road cycling. Road systems are usually three bolt, and mountain are two bolt. The photo on the left is an example of a two bolt pedal. If you decide to go clipless, you’ll need to get corresponding bike shoes (two or three hole) that will allow them to lock into the pedals properly.

Like the hybrid pedals, some occasional maintenance may be required. If your feet are too loose on the pedal, or you find difficult dislodging the cleat from the pedal, the cleats on the shoes may need some adjustment, or replacement.

With clipless pedals, you want to make sure your feet are solidly locked into place, but you also want to be able to quickly dislodge your feet if the need arises.

There Are Always Options

If you are just starting out cycling, and purchased an entry level bicycle, chances are the bike will come with either caged or platform pedals. Just starting out, those options are certain sufficient and will get the job done.

As you progress as a cyclist, and want to explore clipless pedal options, there are plenty to choose from. I’ve ridden my road bike with a mountain bike clipless pedal system, but that’s mainly because I prefer to wear mountain bike shoes over road ones.

Some companies that produce clipless pedals are Shimano, Look, Time and Crank Brothers. It’s a good idea to research the products these manufactures have on the market, and consider your riding style and budget. Pedals and corresponding shoes vary in price, but you can find good quality in the lower pricing range.

Hopefully this article provides you with some insight into some major bike pedal types available.

Road Cycling Tips for Those Starting Out

You have your bike, you have your helmet, and are ready to get out on the road. It is easy to just hop on a bicycle and pedal away. One can certainly do that, but sometimes it is good to keep certain things in mind if you are just starting out. In this article, I will provide some road cycling tips for beginners. Hopefully the information provided will lay a solid foundation that will allow you to enjoy riding on the road, while keeping you comfortable and safe.

Gauging Your Physical Ability

People take up cycling for many reasons. One of those reasons is to get in shape. Some people may have poor physical conditioning or health issues which lead them to take up an activity to improve that area of their lives. Cycling is a great, low-impact activity to take up. Like most physical activities and sports, you don’t want to push yourself right out of the gate.

If you are just starting out cycling, especially if you are coming from a more inactive lifestyle, I suggest riding short and slow. Whether it’s just a couple blocks, or riding on a paved path, you want to start building physical endurance and confidence. Ride at a pace you are comfortable with, enjoy the surroundings, and just have fun!

The goal here is to find both a distance and pace that you feel comfortable with to lay a fitness foundation.  This will be your base to work off of. How can you keep a tangible record of this information? Here, a cycling computer is your friend. They keep track of ride statistics such as distance, speed, and other types of metrics depending on model.

If you are interested in tracking your riding progression, you can input the ride stats you want to focus on into a spreadsheet. Using this data, you can track your progress and set goals. For example, you ride a couple blocks, and feel that was a good starting point. You can enter the data into a spreadsheet, and decide your goal will be to ride that same distance for x number of days, then extend the ride further after a set period of time.

This may come off as micromanaging, but tracking your rides (you can keep stats of whatever you choose), sets up tangible base data that you can work off of, and improve upon.

Don’t be Distracted!

 

When riding a bike on the road, you want to be aware of everything. From vehicles, runners, road signs, storm drains, fallen tree branches, chipmunks… As you may tell, there are plenty of obstacles and hazards that pose a threat to your safety and well-being on the road.

It’s a good habit to keep your eyes scanning the road ahead of you, instead of looking straight down where you may not notice an oncoming hazard until it is too late. By scanning what is ahead of you, it allows you time to prepare to slow down to let a critter cross, or ride around and upcoming obstacle.

When it comes to traffic, you need to have both your eyes and ears open. You may wonder why I mention having your ears open. Depending on the terrain of the route you ride, you may encounter blind spots. In those situations where you are unable to see traffic, it’s a good idea to try to listen for any vehicles coming out of the blind spots.

As such, it is a BAD idea to wear earbuds while cycling. You may see people riding wearing them.  However, it is not recommended.  Using your ears can very well save your life.

Don’t be distracted, but always be aware!

Want to Be Comfortable?

Cycling is not the most comfortable activity available. You’re hunched forward on the bike, hands covering hard handlebars, and you’re most likely sitting on a hard saddle. Is it possible to ride in total comfort? Probably not, but here are some tips to help make riding as comfortably as possible.

Find a good pair of cycling shorts and gloves. Cycling shorts are padded, to provide some cushion and reduce chafing when you are on the saddle. Outside a helmet, a pair of cycling shorts should be one of the first items of gear you purchase. They are available for men and women riders, and come in a range of sizes.

Like cycling shorts, gloves are also designed to provide comfort while riding. Most have gel pads in the palm to cushion your hands on the handle bars. They also provide hand protection in case of a fall. Like gloves, they can be found in various sizes, and different styles. Definitely try them on at the store to make sure they fit properly.

Sometimes you may still experience hand fatigue and pain, even with gloves. Road bikes usually have C-shaped handlebars. It is a good idea to move your hands around the bar to reduce stress, and don’t grip the bar too tightly. That only adds to hand fatigue and pain.

On a related tangent, by changing your hand position you are usually and changing your position on the bike. Hands on top of the handlebars allow you sit up more, taking off possible pressure to the back. Placing your hands on the drops of the bars (below the brakes), provides a more aerodynamic position, but the trade-off is you are bent more forward.

Always listen to your body. If your hands, or back feel fatigued or in pain, try swapping positions. If you feel your legs are tired, cut the ride short.

Stay Hydrated!

Sometimes while riding, you may feel that you don’t need a sip of water because either the weather is cool, or you don’t feel thirsty. However, it is important you still hydrate yourself. Ideally, you want to take a sip of water every few minutes or so, even if you feel you don’t have to.

Water bottles are the standard for hydration. However, there are hydration packs that you can use that have bladders of various capacities that can hold more liquid than standard water bottles.

Both hydration systems have their pros and cons, but the important thing to remember is to drink during the ride. This is especially important when conditions that are more strenuous on the body, such as high heat, play a factor. However, you want to make a good habit of hydration, no matter what the weather conditions are.

On Your Way!

Hopefully you’ll find some of these tips helpful if you are just starting out on your cycling journey. When you ride, you want it to be an enjoyable, safe experience. With these tips, you have an idea of some things you want to be aware of as a beginner cyclist.

Ride safe, but most important, have fun doing so!

 

 

 

 

Something to Consider – What Are the Different Types of Bicycles?

 

So far, I have provided some information on cycling helmets, accessories, and tips for those who are new to cycling. I would be remiss if I didn’t go over the most important decision one makes when they decide to be more serious about cycling; whether for commuting, recreation, or are looking to be competitive in the sport. That would be the bike itself!  What are the different types of bicycles available? Which one should you purchase? There are various types of bicycles available to fit nearly all styles of riding. Before you purchase a bicycle, it is a good idea to put some thought into what kind of riding you are looking to do, what your goals are, and what price range fits with your budget.

When the Road Calls to You

One of the most common bikes you’ll see people riding are what as known as road bikes. They are usually lightweight, with drop handle bars (they appear to curve down forming a C-shape), and have thin tires. These bikes are designed to be ridden on the road, with speed in mind.

Originally, the frames of road bikes were made of steel. These days, in addition to steel, frames are made of aluminum, carbon fiber, or even titanium.

Within the road bike realm, there are different types to choose from besides the standard road bike. Here are a couple examples:

  • Gravel Bikes. These have sprung up within the past few years. The frame geometry differs slightly from a usual road bike, providing more comfort for the rider. Also as slightly wider tires to help with light off-road riding.
  • TT (Time Trial) Bikes. These bikes are built with pure speed in mind, and you’ll most likely see them being ridden during time trial races, or triathlons. The frames have an appearance of being flat, and are designed that was to be as aerodynamic as possible.  Even the handle bars are designed in a way that positions the body for aerodynamic efficiency. More than likely you won’t be riding these starting out.

What if I’d Rather Ride in the Woods?

There are valid reasons why road cycling may not be attractive to people. Perhaps you live in an area with dense vehicular traffic. Maybe the local roads always seem littered with potholes and other obstacles. Or, you want to explore forest trails, but want to cover more ground than hiking.

If you have those concerns, or just prefer being in the woods, a mountain bike would be a great choice. They are designed to handle obstacles you may encounter on the trail such as rocks, tree roots, or thick patches of dirt.

Mountain bikes have flat handle bars, and a slightly different frame geometry than road bikes. The frames are made, like road bikes, out of steel, aluminum, titanium or carbon fiber. They have more weight than road bikes, and have wider tires.  The tires should be knobby.  This helps provide traction.

Listed below are some different mountain bike types available:

  • Full-Suspension. Many mountain bikes available have suspension forks integrated into the frame. A full-suspension bike contains both a front suspension fork and a rear suspension system. The benefit of this type of bike is it allows you to cover more difficult terrain without your body taking the brunt of the punishment.
  • Hardtail. This type of bike has a front suspension fork, but does not have a rear suspension system. These bikes are good for trails that are smoother/have fewer obstacles, and are decent even for road riding over shorter distances.
  • Rigid Bike. This type of bike has no suspension at all. That means your body will take more the absorption of riding over obstacles. However, my first mountain bike was a rigid, and I found it to be slightly lighter, and handle just as well as my hardtail.
  • Fat Bike. These type of bikes have become popular over the past few years. They are called fat bikes because they have tires which are wider than a standard mountain bike.  These bikes can handle almost anything, including snow.

Just Want to go Casual

Say you don’t want to spend hours out on the road, or navigate rocks, and you just want a bike you can ride around town. An urban bike may just be what you are looking for. These bikes lack the bells and whistles of more tradition road bikes, and don’t have as many gears to shift through. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t be useful!

Frames of urban bikes are usually either steel or aluminum. They have wider tires than road bikes, and are designed for both going on the road, and light off-roading (dirt paths for example). Some have fenders over the tires, and may include front racks or pannier baskets to store things.

Prices for these types of bikes run lower than road and mountain bikes. If you’re looking for an economical bike that will allow you to safely commute within town, an urban bike may be something to consider.

Cost Considerations and Your Budget

 

While I am a firm advocate that cycling can be taken up without obliterating your budget, purchasing a bike will be the most expensive cost you’ll take on when you start. Yes, you can purchase a bike at a lower cost from a retail store, but the quality will probably not the same as purchasing from a bike dealer. Whether it is due to using less expensive components that wear down quicker, or no free lifetime service (which some bike shops offer), you may ultimately pay more in the end versus purchasing a bicycle from a local bike shop.

Bicycles will fit into a wide range of pricing. High-performance ones can cost thousands of dollars. This is due to better materials and components. However, there are entry-level bicycles that cost less than $1000 (understandable if that still seems expensive) that can perform and serve you well for many years.

More than likely you’ll be spending some hard-earned money on a bicycle. As such, do as much homework as possible before making a purchase. You want to be happy with your bike, for there is a good chance you’ll still be riding it well after, say years, after you purchase it.

 

Find the Type of Bike that Suits You!

In answer to the question of “What Are the Different Types of Bicycles Available?”, you can now get the idea that there is plenty, and you are bound to find one that is right for you. This article provides a glimpse of just some types out there.  Two key factors at the start that should play into your decision are the type of riding you are looking to do, and what you can afford. Don’t purchase a bike based of how it looks, or brand.

It is very important to do some homework before making a purchase. You can search online, or go to your local bike shop and talk to a salesperson. They can provide suggestions based off information that you give them.

The good thing about cycling is if you are just starting out, you’re not limited to the bike you start out with. Over the years, you may find you want to upgrade to a bike that’s lighter, a bike that better fits your riding style, or you may decide to switch to mountain biking from road. You’re not locked in, but if you are just starting out, definitely seek out a bike that you feel fits you the best for that stage of your journey.

Have fun out there!

 

 

 

 

 

What is the Best Cycling Helmet Should One Purchase?

 

If you are new to cycling, the first thing you should invest in is a good helmet. Why? Without adequate head protection, if you fall off your bike and hit your head on pavement, or on an obstacle on the ground like a rock, you run a risk of severe head injury, or even death. The reasons for riding without helmets vary. Some people aren’t really thinking of the risk they are taking. Some justify it saying helmets are uncomfortable, or don’t look cool. Whatever reason, there’s no excuse to ride without one. While there’s no absolute guarantee a helmet will eliminate risk of head injury from a fall, with a good helmet, your chances of reducing head trauma and possible death from one are increased. What is the best cycling helmet that you should purchase? Well, that depends on factors such as a price range that works within your budget, or even the type of riding that you do.

What is the Best Cycling Helmet Option for Starting Out?

 

If you venture into your local bicycle store or check online for helmets, you may find there is a surprisingly large selection of helmets you can choose from. So much so it may be overwhelming! There are the standard cycling helmets, with many selection options within that alone. There are full-faced helmets suitable for mountain bike and bmx riding. There are also aero helmets, which are worn by time trialists and triathletes.

The first thing you want to consider is what sort of riding you are looking to do. If you are going to be mainly on the road, and/or light trail riding, a standard helmet would be a good choice. If you are going to put your efforts on advance trail riding (see highly technical trails with obstacles such as large jumps), a full-faced helmet would be a viable option. Aero helmets will most likely be off the radar at this point if you are just starting cycling, or doing so casually, unless you are into maximizing performance and/or a triathlon competitor.

Some other factors to consider when selecting a helmet:

  • Fit. This is perhaps most important. You want to make sure you find the proper size, and that the helmet isn’t too loose. The protection the helmet provides won’t be as effective if the fit is not proper.
  • Cost. Helmets have a wide range of pricing, and there are decent helmets on the market that are affordable.
  • Certification. All helmets on the market should meet safety certification requirements (SNELL or CPSC for example). This certification proves the helmet meets safety standards via testing. If you find a helmet that is not certified (and you shouldn’t), run away as fast as you can from that one.
  • Color. Want to stand out while riding? Helmets come in a variety of colors, and if you feel so inclined, you can choose one which fits into your personal style or look!

Proper Fit is Key!

This was touched upon in the last section, but making sure the helmet is a proper fit can not be stressed enough. Helmets come in sizes most of us are accustomed to seeing with articles of clothing, extra small, small, medium, large and extra large with some models coming in a one size fits all option. These sizes go by the circumference of your head (either in inches or centimeters), so you want to measure around your head just after your eyebrows. If you have someone to help you with this, it is recommended.

Sometimes a helmet may be a little loose if you measured within the large size range. Some helmets have mechanisms (mine is a small turning wheel for example) on the back you can use to adjust fit. Or, you can wear a cycling cap or skull cap underneath to fill in space. When you first wear the helmet, you may need to adjust the turn wheel to get the helmet to sit comfortably on your head.

Make sure the straps are secure as well. You don’t want them so tight that they are uncomfortable, but you don’t want them real loose either. You can adjust the straps to find the proper fit. Over time, it is a good idea to check the fit of the straps.

 

Feels Like There is Nothing on My Noggin

I’ve been wearing performance road helmets for as long as I can remember. As the years have rolled on, helmets have become lighter, and lighter, and most have plenty of vents to allow air flow. In short, using the reasoning helmets are heavy and uncomfortable won’t fly.

Some helmets have more vents than others. Helmets with more vents allow increased air flow, and also make the helmet lighter, as there is less shell material. Often times helmets with more vents also tend to cost more, so you may need to take that into consideration.

Even helmets on the lower end of the price spectrum have plenty of vents, and are very light. Don’t feel that if you paid $50 for a helmet instead of $200 that you are going to be wearing a cast iron pot for protection. Quality abounds in many areas of cycling apparel and gear over a spectrum of price ranges. Helmets are no exception.

Do Some Research

With all the different choices one has for purchasing a helmet, you don’t necessarily want to make a blind purchase. Once again, remember that your safety can very well depend on that piece of important headgear. You can research helmet lines online, or you can go to your local bike shop, look at some possible selections, and ask a sales person about them.

There are several well-known brands on the market (Bell and Giro for example), that have been around for a long time and have an excellent track record of providing quality helmets. Some people do purchase by brand, and while that’s fine, you want to make sure you purchase a helmet by them that meets your qualifications such as fit, type of riding you plan to do, cost, etc.

Don’t hesitate to read available customer reviews, and compare/contrast features.

An investment in safety

A helmet is the most important piece of equipment you’ll need besides the bicycle. A helmet can not only help reduce the chance of serious injury, but also death. As a result, feel free to take the time you need to take some considerations in this article into account. Helmets aren’t all serious business though. A helmet should last you several years, so you also want to make sure you find one that fits your personal style if you feel so inclined.

The best cycling helmet when you are starting out can be of quality at a good value. As you progress as a cyclist, and you need to helmet shop down the road (and you will), you will be able to know exactly what you are looking for in a helmet. You may find you prefer more vents, or certain features for example. Starting out though, don’t hesitate to do proper research before making a purchase. Your life could very well depend on it.

 

 

 

 

Cycling For Beginners: Easing the Intimidation Factor

 

 

For those who are not cyclists, or may be new to the sport, cycling can seem intimidating. Most of us see those cyclists on the road, decked out in tight clothing, riding the fancy bikes blowing down the road with seeming ease. Indeed, they are very much out there, and heck, I get blow past by those people quite often! Perhaps the type of gear and accessories one thinks they may need to be good at the sport is another intimidation factor. Whatever you may feel is intimidating regarding cycling, it does not need to be. Cycling for beginners can be a different experience from those who are seasoned, but the experience you get as a beginning cyclist lays down the foundations for future success on the bike.

Cycling for Beginners – Don’t Stress So Soon

If you are someone who is new to cycling, welcome! Like most new ventures we embark upon, there is an element of excitement, and sometimes adventure. Cycling is no different. You can have an expensive bicycle, or one purchased at a retail store, but if your desire is to become a good cyclist, there’s no doubt a degree of excitement you have for riding these machines of two wheels!

Cycling for beginners can seem difficult, and in honesty, it is. You may see other riders on the road or trail, or join a cycling club and feel you’re unable to keep up with everyone else. It is important to go easy on yourself, and work your way up. Here are some ways to do it.

  • Start small. Don’t jump in right away into a 50-mile charity ride. Start with short, quick rides, and proceed to add distance and speed to them gradually.
  • Know your limits. It is always good to be aware of how you’re physically feeling. Always listen to your body. Take breaks as you ride, cut rides short, or even call someone to pick you up if you have to. Definitely do not push yourself on the bike. Know your limits, especially when just starting out.
  • Try to find others. This can be difficult, but try to look for riding partners who will be willing to ride with you. Riding with a partner is beneficial, for the other person can be encouraging, and provide tips. Also, look for cycling groups in your area that have leisure and/or social rides. These rides are usually ridden at slower paces and over shorter distances.
  • Consistency. Try to have a goal of how many days you’re riding a week, and stick with it. Of course, things come up that may cause you to lose a day or two of riding, but you definitely want to try to stick to whatever goal you may set for yourself.

If you keep the above suggestions in mind, you’ll find you will increase distance and speed quicker than you realize.

 

You Don’t Need to Break the Bank

Let’s be honest. There is a cost to entry to cycling. Besides the bicycle, you’ll need to purchase equipment such as helmets, gloves, and other gear and accessories. While sometimes it is better to pay the extra cash for a good helmet for example, you do not need to pay premium pricing for everything. If you are budget conscious, you should be able to find retailers that sell cycling gear at reasonable prices, especially catalog and online. Here are a few gear and accessory suggestions that won’t set your wallet back.

  • Gloves. There are so many brands that sell gloves out on the market, with various price ranges. From personal experience, I’ve found gloves I paid $10 – $20 for sometimes lasted longer than ones I paid at least $40.
  • Water bottles. Not only is this a necessary accessory, you can find them at inexpensive prices for basic bottles.
  • Saddle bags. Small capacity saddle bags are great for storing a cell phone, some cash, a spare tube, and tools like tire levers. A small bag that can fit under the bike saddle won’t set you back
  • Bicycle computer. Want to keep track of how you are riding? A bicycle computer is your friend here. There is a wide range of computers on the market, but there are inexpensive ones that can track basic stats such as ride distance, average speed, and cadence.

The point of the list is to show you that you don’t necessarily need to spend a lot of money, and there are less expensive options you can go with that would work great for you as a beginning cyclist.

 

What to Wear

You may see cyclists on the road wearing kits (the tight jersey and shorts). These kits are made of high performance materials, and cyclists can use them as a method of self-expression. Some cyclists wear kits of pro teams that ride in the Tour de France. In all honesty, a full kit is not necessary starting out, but that is up to the individual.

I do personally recommend a pair of cycling shorts. Yes, you may feel silly wearing them starting out, but they are made of breathable material, and the tight fit means you won’t experience having them get caught in the saddle when you are trying to swing your leg over it, and less wind drag. They also have padding in the saddle area, providing comfort.

You can also get a cycling jersey. Jerseys have a couple benefits of regular athletic shirts in that they usually have rear pockets to store small things, and have zippers to help keep you cool. Like the shorts, jerseys usually have a tight fit to prevent wind drag. Jerseys are not required, however. I find polyester athletic t-shirts work well, and like the fact they are slightly more loose fitting.

The good thing with jerseys and shorts are that there are many affordable choices on the market, and as mentioned, the choice is up to you regarding what you want to wear starting out. The key thing to keep in mind is you want to wear what works for your starting out. Don’t feel you need to get yourself a full kit, or an expensive kit starting out, which leads to my final point…

 

Be Yourself

 

You really don’t need to ride consistently at 20 MPH, or go on century (100 mile) bike rides to feel like you are a cyclist. It may be frustrating to be the one who keeps getting passed by other riders, but don’t let that get into your head.

All of us who ride do so for various reasons. Some ride to explore back roads. Others ride to train for competitive and/or long-distance rides, yet others appreciate the stress release riding a bike provides. You are considering, or have decided to take up cycling for your own reason. Embrace it.

 

Conclusion

The goal of this post is to help alleviate some factors that may prove intimidating to someone new to the sport, especially in relation to actual riding and cost. Those two factors seem to be what come up when people ask me about cycling. While I never encountered someone who felt put off by wearing a t-shirt and cargo shorts in a crowd of kit wearers, you never know!

Just remember that cycling is not as intimidating as it seems. Do not feel the need to go big at the start. Keep building on small actions and achievements as you go along, and you will eventually find yourself aiming higher. Always remember why you ride, and keep that motivation whenever you are on the bike. Sometimes that motivation alone is the driving force to break down any intimidation barriers.

Have fun out on the road!

 

 

 

 

Bicycling Accessories to Consider When Getting Started

So you have your new bike, and are excited to take it out and start riding, but should you? Before you take your bike out, there are some bicycling accessories you should seriously consider purchasing that will provide safety, can come in handy during a ride, and can track your progress.

Bicycling Accessories for Safety

Perhaps the most important bicycling accessory is a helmet, and not just any helmet. You want a helmet that fits properly. A proper fit will mean better protection for your noggin if you crash. If your helmet is loose on your head, it will not provide optimal protection in the event of an accident. They are available in a range of sizes, colors, and many are extremely light, with plenty of vents to allow air flow to help keep your head cool while riding. From personal experience watching my father get hit by a car pulling out of a driveway, he could have suffered head injuries, for his head hit a wooden fence as he fell off his bike. Fortunately, he was wearing a helmet that fateful evening.

Another bicycling accessory for safety are lights. As a cyclist, you want to be as visible as possible to motorists on the road. Ideally, you’d want to have both a front and rear light to go along with your reflectors. There are many options available for lights, with plenty of them being on the affordable end. Most lights run on battery power, but there are some available on the market do not need batteries, and instead can be charged via USB.

When on the road, you will encounter other cyclists, walkers and joggers. It’s always a good idea to make them aware you are going to pass them, and many times these days with walkers and joggers, they are often wearing ear buds. An optional accessory to let others aware of your prescence is a horn. Horns are inexpensive for the most part, and while it is not necessary to have one, a horn can come in handy to avoid startling those who are sharing the road with you when you suddenly blow by them.

Keeping Hydrated

Since cycling is a physical activity, it is important to stay hydrated. You want to drink, and drink often. Perhaps the most well-known solution most people think of is a water bottle. Not only is it the most common, but water bottles are also very inexpensive. With proper care, water bottles can last a long time.

Besides the standard water bottles, there are also water bottles that are insulated. These cost more than your standard water bottle, and the principle behind these bottles are they keep your drink cool.

The other option is a hydration pack. It’s a backpack, with a removable hydration bladder. I am a fan of these, because not only does the bladder usually come in various capacities, which are often more than water bottles; you can also store things like a cell phone, cash, bike tools, and other miscellaneous things you want to bring with your when you ride. Throw in some ice cubes in the bladder, and the drink will stay cool for a long time. I personally recommend a hydration pack, especially if you are trail/mountain riding, or are riding long distance on the road.

Uh Oh! Having Technical Issues

In my previous section on hydration, I mentioned bike tools. Many cyclists ride with as little gear as possible, however, I believe you should be as prepared as possible for mechanical situations that may arise. Flat tires in particular. There are some tools I recommend you have when you are out riding that may be able to help you do some quick fixes to get you back on your bike.

It is a good idea to purchase a saddle bag. You want to find one large enough to fit the tools I’m about to mention. There are some saddle bags out there that are very small, and as a result, have limited cargo space.

One of the more common mechanical issues you may encounter cycling are the dreaded flat tire. On a given road, there is a good chance you will encounter potholes, broken glass, nails, and other objects in the road. In order to be prepared for possible flat tires, carrying a spare tube is highly recommended.

I carry tire levers with me on my rides. There are different styles of tire levers available, but they serve the same purpose – to separate the tire from the wheel. While inexpensive for the most part, they are invaluable.

A mini-pump is also a logical accessory to have with you. There are standard mini-pumps, which are small, but sometimes not quite small enough to fit in a bag, or jersey pocket. Mine for example, is attached to the bike via a mount. Some mini-pumps work with using carbon dioxide cartridges. These pumps for the most part are very small, and should fit into a bag, or pocket.

An optional tool you can purchase and bring along with you is a mult-tool. There are plenty of these in the market. Basic ones may only have various hex wrenches, and are inexpensive. More expensive muli-tools have in addition to hex wrenches, things like a chain tool, Phillips head screwdriver, and wrench. While it is not absolutely necessary to carry a tool with you (some do have heft), a basic one may be good to have if you find you need to tighten something on the bike.

Micromanaging Your Activity

 

Are you someone who needs to keep track of everything in an effort to gauge improvement, or just because? Well, there cycling computers that can gauge your cycling activity. These come in a wide range of prices, for those with basic functions to more expensive computers.

The basic style computers will track metrics such as distance, ride time, calories, cadence, and min/max speeds. These can be purchased at inexpensive prices, and will usually last a long time. The more expensive computers have high resolution color screens, and features such as GPS and pre-loaded maps. Just to give an idea of pricing range for computers, you can purchase one for $25, or one for $600. For most people, I feel a basic computer would be a good choice, but it does come down ultimately to the features that matter to you.

Having a computer is not mandatory, but is VERY useful for tracking progress.

Time to Ride!

The accessories I have mentioned in this post are just a small sample of what is available on the market, but are ones I recommend looking into before hitting the road or trail. When cycling, there are two machines working in tandem – the bicycle, and you, its operator. Often it is easy to take our bodies, and our equipment for granted, but it is important not to do so. We need to take care of ourselves on and off the bike, and give a little love to the two wheel friend who can take us places we never thought of.

Have a blast on the road, or on the trail!

 

 

 

 

About David

Welcome to The Everyday Cyclist! As a long-term casual cyclist of close to three decades, I have plenty of miles ridden under my belt.  My goal here is to provide some tips, advice, and opinions developed over my years on the road to share with fellow riders.  In particular, those who are new to the sport.

My Story – From Training Wheels to Now

I was a little behind riding bikes as a child, for it took longer than others to lose the training wheels! Once I graduated to two wheels, I’d join my family on short rides to a nearby pond. After that, I was riding around the neighborhood with my friends. Soon, I was riding the neighborhood loop by myself, often losing count of how may laps I rode. One day, when I was 12, my father purchased himself a new bicycle, and he handed the Trek he had ridden for several years down to me. It was my first “grown-up” bike.

That summer I joined him on rides around town, and eventually began increasing my distance. One positive result was I had begun to slim down. Another benefit was I was able to explore the back roads of the town and area in which I live, providing perspectives driving simply can not provide. I credit cycling for positive changes in my life, whether it was bonding with my father, weight loss, or learning side roads to avoid traffic before the advent of GPS!

Here I am, nearly three decades later. I still ride, and have included occasional mountain bike rides into my routine.

An Ambassador of the Sport

I feel after all these years it is time to give back the sport that gave me so much. While I do see an increase of fellow cyclists while out riding, I feel there is more that can be done to roll more people into the sport. For some, cycling may seem intimidating. For others, perhaps it may seem the price to participate is too high.

Well, it doesn’t have to be. I want newcomers to cycling, or those who’ve been away for a while and are looking to return, to feel that there is a place for them; that they don’t need to purchase very expensive stuff or need to ride 20 MPH. In cycling, just like in nearly every other facet of life, there are all types, and there is room for everyone.

Time to hit the road

Everyone needs a bike to start cycling, but what comes after that? Whether it is etiquette, gear, or technique, there is learning curve involved but it does not need to be intimidating. If a stocky, nonathletic type such as myself can do it, anyone can.

If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out.

All the best,

David

The Everyday Cyclist

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