Cycling is an excellent pastime and a great way to get around. While you may understand the basics of riding a bike, there are numerous tips and tricks that can help you get the most out of your ride.
Whether you love exploring the trails while mountain biking or regularly commute to work on your electric bike, the following advice can help you enjoy a safer and more comfortable ride.
1. Always Wear Your Helmet When Cycling
Your helmet is not just a piece of gear; it’s a life-saving device. A helmet can reduce the risk of severe head injuries by up to 85%. Always ensure it fits snugly, covering your forehead and the straps are fastened securely.
Remember, a helmet is not a one-time investment. Replace it every five years or immediately after a crash, even if there’s no visible damage. It’s also a good idea to choose a brightly colored or reflective helmet, like the Hudson MIPS in turquoise or a model with an integrated LED light to increase your visibility on the road.
2. Light Up Your Bike
Visibility is crucial when cycling, especially during dawn, dusk or late at night. But visibility is not just about seeing; it’s about being seen. A well-lit bike can be the difference between a safe ride and a dangerous situation.
Equip your bike with front and rear lights, such as the Lezyne Femto Drive Headlight and Taillight Set, to make yourself visible to motorists. Ensure that you regularly check your lights for functionality and battery life. Reflective tape on your bike and clothing can also enhance visibility.
3. Comfort is Key
Start with a bike that is the right height for your body; your feet should touch the ground when seated. Adjust the saddle to the right height and angle for your body type.
Invest in a good quality, ergonomic saddle and handlebars. You can replace the saddle on your bike with a model suited to the type of riding you enjoy. For example, racing saddles typically have a narrower shell, while a pressure relief saddle often features a wider cutout to minimize pressure on the soft tissue. You can also wear padded shorts to reduce pressure and chafing.
4. Perfect the Art of Looking Ahead
When cycling, keeping your eyes on the road ahead is crucial. This allows you to anticipate obstacles, turns and changes in terrain. By looking ahead, you can adjust your speed and position in advance, making your ride smoother and safer.
Practice this skill in different environments, like busy city streets or quiet country roads. Remember, the faster you’re going, the further ahead you should look.
5. Corner Like a Boss
Mastering the art of cornering can make your cycling experience more enjoyable and efficient. Approach the corner wide, then cut in close to the apex and exit wide again. This line gives you the smoothest and fastest path. Lean your body into the turn, not the bike and always look where you want to go, not where you’re currently heading.
When buying used electric bikes, test their cornering ability at low speeds first to get a feel for their handling. E-bikes are heavier than manual bikes due to the motor and battery. This means you’ll need to approach the corner at just a fraction of the speed of a conventional bike or you’ll risk missing your braking point and cornering the line and skidding out. But remember to accelerate out of the corner to maintain momentum.
6. Get Comfortable Riding in the Drops
Riding in the drops or the lower part of the handlebars can increase your control and speed by making you more aerodynamic. It lowers your center of gravity and reduces wind resistance, allowing you to ride faster with the same effort.
Start by spending short periods in the drops during your rides and gradually increase the duration. If you’re considering using an electric bike, ensure the handlebars are adjustable and comfortable. Remember, it’s not about staying in the drops all the time, but knowing when to use them effectively, such as during descents or when riding into a headwind.
7. Spin it to Win It
Spinning your pedals at a higher cadence, around 80-100 RPM, can help you ride faster without tiring your muscles as quickly. This technique is useful when riding electric bikes, as the motor can assist with maintaining a steady, high cadence.
When beginning your ride, start at a comfortable speed, then gradually increase your cadence while trying to keep your speed constant. If riding an electric bike, ensure the motor can support your desired cadence range.
8. Speed Up Your Descents
Descending requires precision control and balance; when done correctly, it can increase your speed. On the descent, shift your weight back, keep your body loose and your eyes focused on the path ahead.
Before setting out on a ride, check the brakes and tires as they play a crucial role in safe and fast descents. And, remember to only descend at speeds you’re comfortable with.
9. Get in the Draft
Drafting or riding closely behind another cyclist can reduce wind resistance and help you save energy. It’s a common strategy in professional cycling and can be beneficial for electric bikes too.
When drafting, stay about three feet behind the cyclist in front and keep your focus on their back wheel. Always communicate using hand signals with your fellow cyclists when drafting for safety.
10. Stay Hydrated
Hydration is key to performance and safety when cycling. Aim to drink about one bottle of water per hour, but adjust based on weather conditions and your exertion level. For longer rides, consider a hydration pack or extra bottle cages.
Be aware that thirst is a late sign of dehydration, so drink regularly, not just when thirsty. Proper hydration will keep you pedaling longer and stronger.
Discover the Joy of Cycling
Cycling is a journey of self-discovery, adventure and fitness. It’s about mastering the skills, overcoming challenges and enjoying the scenery. But whether you’re riding the latest high-end model or one of the top 10 electric bikes under $1,500, safety, comfort and regular maintenance should always be your priority.