Congratulations on your decision to become a cyclist. This guide will walk you through the steps necessary so you can quickly become fully operational on the road. Follow these basic instructions and you will have yourself up and spinning in no time.
Turn your bike into a powerful weight loss tool!
Step 1: Installing Yourself on a Bike
Finding the right bike is critical. First, think about how you'll use the bike and your budget. Then:
a) Find a local bike shop with a good reputation. Plan to ask lots of questions. If the staff doesn't listen, treat you respectfully, or answer all your questions, go elsewhere.
Top Questions To Ask At The Bike Shop
b) Do some research before setting out. Components and frame materials vary by performance, weight, and durability, so it's wise to educate yourself in advance. (Search: Types of bike components)
c) Buy the highest-quality bike you can afford—that is, the one with the best parts and frame materials. It will pay you back in terms of performance and comfort.
d) Test ride. Different brands may have identical components or frame materials in similar price ranges, so it comes down to fit and feel. Look for gearing that matches the kind of riding you plan to do, and a comfortable saddle. (More on that later.) Plan on spending 20 to 40 minutes per bike.
e) Ultimately, choose the bike that fits best instead of the one that's the best deal. Shop employees are trained to figure out which frame size and seat height are suitable.
12 Bike-Buying Tips to Remember
What It Will Cost
$500 to $700: Expect entry-level components; a frame made of no-frills steel or aluminum; basic wheels
$1,000 to $1,500: Mid- or entry-level parts; a midquality steel or aluminum frame, maybe with carbon fiber mixed in; lighter, stronger wheels
$1,500 to $3,000: Upper-level components; a frame made of some high-quality aluminum or steel or midlevel carbon; lighter wheels
When It’s Okay to Splurge on Bike Gear
Step 2: Achieving the Proper Fit
Once you have acquired a bicycle, you should consider getting a professional fitting. In this process, an expert will measure your proportions and flexibility and make adjustments to ensure you have the most comfortable and efficient ride possible based on the kind of riding you want to do. The fitter may swap out some components, such as the stem, handlebar, and seatpost.
VIDEO: Making Your Bike Fit
Step 3: Getting Properly Seated
One change many riders make is their saddle. Although it seems counterintuitive, you should avoid cushy saddles with lots of padding. That's because your weight will sink through a soft model and press against the hard bottom. Instead, plan on using a firmer, narrower model common to sportier road bikes that will support your sit bones and muscles. You might initially experience soreness while your rear end acclimates to the seat, but that will subside over a week or two of riding. Not every saddle is the same, and as with a bike, you should test-ride them. This requires even more time than testing a bicycle frame: Plan on at least 25 miles of riding per saddle. Some shops offer test saddles or a 30-day return policy.
Read Bicycling’s Ultimate Beginners Guide for everything else you need to get started.
Up Next: Bike Your Butt Off!