For a beginner road cyclist, road cycling can sometimes seem like an intimidating hobby to get started in.
In reality, beginner road biking is one of the most accessible, independent, and worthwhile sports around – and has the huge added benefit of combining exercise and transport into one neat package.
Whether you’re looking for a new way to get back into shape or keep fit, want to find a new community, or want a healthier and more eco-friendly commute, beginner road biking has something for everyone!
To get you up to speed, we’ll be covering:
- Why Start Road Biking?
- What Gear Do I Need To Start Cycling?
- How To Set Up Your Bike For Beginner Road Biking
- Planning Your Rides As A Beginner Road Cyclist
- Essential Bike Maintenance Skills
Let’s get started!
Why Start Road Biking?
Health and exercise
The health benefits of cycling are vast.
Alongside being proven to reduce your chances of serious diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, depression, diabetes, arthritis, and even some cancers, cycling is also a fantastic way to lose weight and build muscle.
A common misconception is that you can be “too unfit” to start cycling.
As long as you’re physically capable of getting on the bike and turning the pedals, you’re ready to be a beginner road cyclist!
Sure, you might not be in shape to go hauling yourself up any mountain passes just yet, but getting fit cycling is just like any other form of exercise: start small, build your way up slowly, and before you know it you’ll start to see your fitness improving.
And for those with physical disabilities that prevent them from riding a conventional bike, alternative solutions such as recumbent road bikes, adult tricycles, or specially adapted bikes can make beginner road biking possible for a wider range of people too.
Cycling is also a great low-impact alternative for people suffering from chronic injuries from other sports. It’s much easier on the knee joints than running, for example, while still providing the same exercise benefits.
Cheap, Environmentally-Friendly Transport
For commuters, cycling to work is a fantastic alternative to driving.
Besides keeping you fit, cycling massively reduces your environmental impact – and with the ever-increasing costs of cars, parking, repairs, and fuel, switching to a bike makes more and more sense with every passing year!
Beginner Road Biking Is Fun (and Social)!
There’s a reason people go out cycling for its own sake too – it’s great fun!
Whether you take satisfaction from seeing your performances improve, love the thrill of whipping along a country road with the wind rushing by, or enjoy taking in the surroundings on a sedate countryside amble, biking is a great source of enjoyment and way to clear some headspace for cyclists the world over.
And with so many cycling communities, it can also be a great way to meet new people, which many have found especially difficult with the boom in remote working.
What Gear Do I Need To Start Cycling?
Don’t let feeling like you need to buy a “proper” (or expensive) bike put you off beginner road biking. If you’re just starting out, the right bike for your earliest rides is probably the one you already own.
If you don’t already own a bike or want to get something better suited to road biking, don’t feel like you have to invest a small fortune in high-end gear.
While professional-standard bikes can cost vast amounts of money, you can get a reliable, well-performing ride for a fraction of the cost.
Bear in mind that frame size is a very important factor. If you find a great deal on a bike you love with impressive specs, but it’s not quite the right size – it’s not the right bike.
Consider what you want from your bike. For beginner road biking, the best type of bike will – unsurprisingly – be a road bike. If you want to mix in some light off-roading too, consider looking at gravel bikes.
If you’re after a more comfortable commuter bike, a hybrid might be the one for you.
Looking at second-hand bikes can also be a great way to keep costs down. If you want more in-depth guidance, check out our Complete Guide To Buying A Bike here!
A helmet is pretty much the only other absolute essential you need to get started with beginner road biking.
On a short ride in good weather, a working bike, a helmet, and your legs are really all you need to get going!
Wearing a helmet while cycling is essential, regardless of the level of experience of the rider. When it comes to staying safe on the bike, no other factor makes as great a difference as helmet usage.
When you first start out as a beginner road cyclist, there’s not really any need to invest in cycling-specific clothing. Provided you have appropriate clothing for the weather conditions, just get on the bike and ride!
However, as you progress as a cyclist and start taking on longer rides and braving less-than-perfect weather conditions, there are a few bits of equipment that will increase your enjoyment of beginner road biking.
Proper cycling shorts will make a huge difference. These include a padded section in the crotch that will make long rides much more comfortable and reduce the chances of saddle sores.
Cycling shoes are another worthwhile upgrade. As you progress, you’ll likely find yourself wanting to switch from flat pedals to cycling cleats (“clipless pedals”), at which point you’ll need to invest in some compatible shoes.
Cycling gloves and light waterproof layers will also vastly improve your enjoyment of winter or wet-weather cycling. Bright-colored, reflective layers are always a good idea when cycling in the dark or in poor weather.
Bike lights are a must for cycling at night, especially on the roads.
A good-quality bike lock will also help keep your new ride safe, though they’re not always essential if you’re planning on a recreational ride without any stops.
Finally, a decent bike pump is essential for every cyclist. If you don’t own one yet but can’t wait to jump on the bike, most bike shops will happily let you borrow theirs, but it’s much more convenient to buy your own.
Setting Up Your Bike: 3 Key Points
Setting the correct saddle height is vital to improve comfort and performance on the bikes, and to reduce the chance of developing injuries.
Check out the video guide to setting your seat height from our in-house bike fitting expert Robbie below!
Tire pressure is important on a bike, both for safety and performance.
The range of tire pressures appropriate for your tires should be written on their sidewall. In general, road bike tires tend to be between 80-120 psi, hybrid bikes can be roughly 40-80 psi, and mountain bike tires might be as low as 25 psi.
Never inflate your tires above or below the specified range on the sidewall.
You’ll need a track pump to see what pressure you’re inflating your tires to. If you don’t have one at home, a local bike shop will usually be happy to let you use theirs.
The “ABCs”: Bike Safety Checks
- “A” is for Air: Check your tires are inflated to a safe pressure, and scan them for defects and bald spots.
- “B” is for Brakes: Check there’s still life in your brake pads, and test whether both brakes are working effectively before starting your ride.
- “C” is for Crankset and Chain: Check the components of your bike’s drivetrain are all in good working order.
Beginner road cyclists might not know where to begin when checking the parts of their drivetrain, so it can be worthwhile taking your bike into the shop to have them do it for you initially. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or to watch while they perform the check!
Planning Your Rides
As a beginner road cyclist, it’s a good idea to plan your routes ahead of time.
This allows you to keep track of the length and difficulty of your rides, slowly building them up in length and elevation.
It’s okay to start small – even rides as short as a kilometer or two around the local park will help you build fitness and confidence on the bike if you’re starting from zero!
Planning ahead can also help you avoid busy roads with lots of traffic, which can be intimidating while you’re getting started with beginner road biking.
Essential Bike Maintenance Skills
There are only really two absolutely essential skills every cyclist should learn right from the start of their road biking journey: getting the chain back on the bike if it falls off, and changing an inner tube.
These are the two issues you’re most likely to encounter while out on a ride. As you become more experienced as a cyclist, it’s worth developing your maintenance skills further. Being able to carry out your own repairs saves you money and is incredibly rewarding!
Robbie’s Video Maintenance Guide: How To Put A Bike Chain Back On
- You can also see our full guide in writing here: How To Put A Bike Chain Back On In 4 Easy Steps
Robbie’s Video Maintenance Guide: How To Change An Inner Tube
- You can also see our full guide in writing here: How To Change A Bike Inner Tube In 11 Steps
Now you know the basics of beginner road biking…
It’s time to get riding! We hope you’ll find beginning road biking as enjoyable and worthwhile as we did.
You’re about to take your first steps as a member of an incredibly welcoming and encouraging community, so never be afraid to reach out to fellow cyclists for advice – whether it’s over the internet, through a local bike club, or while out cycling.
Stay safe, follow the laws of the road – and have fun!