Beginners Guide To Cycling For Fitness, Part Two.

04/01/2014   |   Posted by jeremy

Beginners guide to cycling for fitness part two.

Ok so you have got your bike home and let’s suppose the bike shop didn’t set it up for you or you bought it through the internet or second hand. You will need to set the bike up so that it is comfortable for you to ride. Remember that in this blog we are using road bikes but the logic remains the same for other types of bike more or less.

Let’s start with the seat.  This is a really important one because it determines quite a lot about how your muscles will work comfortably and efficiently on the bike. Firstly you want to make sure that your seat is in a level position. Some people go as far as using a spirit level to do this but I would just eye it in. Once that’s done we need to look at seat height. Sit on the bike and bring the cranks into the straight up and down position.  Place both feet on the pedals (you may need help at this point) and see where you stretched out leg sits. It should more or less be not quite straight. In other words there should be a little bit of bend at the knee when the ball of the foot is placed on the axle of the pedal.

Once you test ride you can adjust in small amounts as needed. Next you will want to get the seat in the correct position forward or backwards. Again if you have help from a friend this would be useful. Set the pedals in the horizontal position and place the ball of the feet over the axle of the pedals as before. Using your right leg as a guide you will want the knobbly lump just below your knee cap to draw a vertical line so that it goes through the axle of the pedal. You can use a plumb line held from the knee to help with this. Adjust the seat backwards or forwards until you are there.

The handlebar position is a matter of personal opinion but I would start with the bars in a flat position at the top then ride around for a bit with your hands on the hoods of the brakes. If your arms ache then the bars are too far down. You will also start to get neck or back ache if they are rolled too far down.  Roll the bars up a bit to take the weight off your forearms so much and try again. Another basic rule of thumb is that when riding in the same hand position as before, look down and your front axle should be hidden behind your handlebars.

With this all done take you bike for short runs to make sure if it feels comfortable. You can make very small adjustments that will make a huge difference in the way your bike feels. For example don’t be tempted to push the seat up or down an inch at a time, go maybe 3-5mm at a time and you will notice the difference.

Once the bike is set up you will need some gear for safety. The most important of these is the helmet. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and costs. I would go to your local bike shop and get an assistant to help you with proper fit and sizing.

Next clothing, I would recommend a pair of padded cycling shorts and a pair of gloves at the very least.  You don’t need to spend a fortune to get going. You will not be riding that far to start with but if you do want to buy some then just go for budget stuff as you will almost definitely want to upgrade at a later stage. The same goes for shoes. To start with just use trainers before you upgrade to cycling shoes with cleats. It’s all about small steps to ease you into the feel of the bike and the distances you may want to ride.

Next time we will actually get on the bike and start riding it, so keep an eye out for next week’s blog. We will also look at some basics that you will need to take with you on the bike.