So, you're ready to start cycling? This page is intended to provide useful information to anyone wanting to use a bike for commuting, utility or recreation, whether they are doing it for the first time, or returning after not being in the saddle for a while.
Buying a New Bike
There are a few things to look out for when finding a bicycle that is suitable for you. This is not intended to be a comprehensive overview but merely a quick guide for the new cyclist. First, when on the seat you should be able to touch the pedal with your heel whilst keeping your leg relatively straight. If you come off the seat and straddle the bar with your legs on the floor, there should be about 1 inch clearance between the bar and your crotch (otherwise a painful accident can result!). If you place your elbow on the seat, your hand should be touching the handlebar or the handlebar attachment. Usually you can adjust the bike until it fits, but if not then it's either too small or too big! Buying a bike the right size makes for a much more comfortable ride.
A new bicycle should be chosen with care - we recommend buying from a knowledgeable and reputable bike shop. There are lots around South Lakes and you can find a few of them listed on the CycleFest website here.
Buying a Second Hand Bike
If you would rather buy a second hand bike, and know nothing about cycle maintenance, we recommend popping to your local cycle shop to make sure it is in safe working condition before using it. Checks you can do easily yourself are: check that all the gears work by cycling through them all. Also check the brakes - get off the bike, hold the back brake lever and pull the bike back. It should do a wheely and not move in a backwards direction. Do the same with the front brakes, this time pushing the bike forward. Take a look at the tyres to ensure they are not worn, and check the spokes and wheel rim for any damage. Check the wheels to ensure that they are securely atached, and check the bike has both front and back reflectors. Finally, check that the seat has not been raised past its limit - there are markings on it that show when it has been raised too far.
If it satisfies the above conditions, then it is safe to ride. However, a quick checkover by a qualified expert is always recommended, and won't cost much.
Even if you are an experienced rider, we would recommend undergoing some cycle training. It not only makes you much safer on the road, it also makes for a more enjoyable experience and puts you in touch with other cyclists. Cycle training also covers the basics of bike maintenance to enable you to maintain your bike in good condition, ensure a proper fit and comfortable ride, and to identify any problems. We can also risk assess any journey to work and go through the route with you if you are nervous or lacking confidence.
Our cycle trainers are trained to the national standard. They will tailor the training to meet your needs. To request cycle training contact us here.
Now you've got the bike, what should you wear when cycling? Baggy clothing or anything that can get caught/tangled up in the chain or wheels is not recommended. Wearing layers helps to control your temperature - remember you will warm up when cycling, but also cool down when you stop. A good helmet is recommended - make sure it fits and that you wear it properly, just ask when you are buying it. Never buy a second hand helmet, and always replace it if it gets dropped or if you bang your head when wearing it.
Proper lights are a must, espcially if you are cycling at night in areas where there is no street lighting. The number one rule is to make yourself as visible as possible to all traffic, and to ensure you can see the road ahead for some distance ahead so that you can brake in time. Wearing high visibility vest is a must, and is recommended even in daylight - remember that number one rule!
Other than that, other factors you may want to consider are: a small toolkit for repairs, spare inner tube, drinks bottle and panniers or handlebar bag for carrying any items.