Thinking about getting into biking. What's a good way to start?

Looking for any tips and advice you have to offer.
My current plan to pick up a relatively cheap Bike from Walmart.

Before investing a lot of money, I figured I should first see if it’s something I’m going to like and stick with. And of course, if I like it, I can always upgrade to a better bike later.

Does that sound like a sensible plan?


A Walmart level bike could turn you off the sport entirely. Try to find a good quality used bike and make sure it fits.
Check you local bike shop. They might have some trade-ins and can advise you on fit.
Or look for a local cycling club.

The worst thing you could do is get a cheap bike from Walmart. On the off chance that it’s assembled right it’s still a crappy bike. I second the recommendation to get a decent used bike from a shop, get fitted properly, get a helmet, and then ride.

What kind of riding are you interesting in? Commuting, recreational, touring?

NO bikes from Walmart, or any other cheap chain.
Go to a bike shop,full of nerdy enthusiasts.
Tell them you want a low-price (not cheap!–there’s a huuuuge difference) bike for a total beginner.

The difference between riding a good bike vs a cheap one is like the difference between exercising while wearing good running shoes vs hiking boots.

I asked a similar question about a year ago, and ended up getting a used Trek on Craigslist for about $180. I really love it–one of my favorite purchases ever.

As others have said, get a good bike. Get a good helmet and a decent pair of sunglasses as well (for eye shield purposes).

Go out at your own pace and don’t let anyone bully you into doing too much, too fast. You’ll find your own groove soon enough, and that’s when you’ll really start enjoying it.

And never wear headphones.

Thanks guys.
Inpatient man that I am, after reading RC’s advice, I headed up to the local bike shop. And now, $400 later, I am the proud owner of a brand new Trek FX. :slight_smile:

(The new one was cheaper than any of the used ones they had in stock)

Wasn’t exactly my game plan, but after taking the bike for a test spin, I knew I had to have it! So here’s to hoping I stick with it. :slight_smile:
Still open to any advice and tips entering into the world of biking.

Yes, this is the sense that I got. After hopping on the bike, it was like I was riding around on a cloud of air as opposed to peddling a large, clunky, metal contraption.

Must have:
Lights(headlight, taillight) Even if you don’t ride at night, a bright flashing headlight will improve the odds of drivers seeing you. Do NOT get the cheap lights that advertise 25,000 lumens for $20. They are no where near that bright and are generally shoddy construction. I favor Cygolite but there are a number of high quality brands.
Hi-Viz shirt/jersey-Same deal.
Patch kits
Spare tube(s)
Tire levers or Quik-stik(won’t pinch tubes)
Floor pump, on-bike mini-pump. Practice changing tires at home
Basic tools inc. Allen wrenches, chain breaker and spoke wrench.
I get moisture wicking shirts from Alertshirt
If you find your going longer, you might look into clipless pedals and matching shoes. Or you can go with (very) old-school toe clip. Either way, having your feet secured to the pedals improves control.
You must practice getting out of any system so it’s second nature. You shouldn’t have to think how to get a foot free.

Second getting a good (used) bike. I struggled with a Walmart cheapie, then got a track. Much lighter and sturdier.

Watch shifting that front derailleur under load. Especially with a new bike.

Remember that under normal conditions, you should be peddling at about 90 RPM. The biggest mistake people make is using big gears and peddling with a lot of effort, too slowly. If you haven’t been riding much, 90RPM is going to seem really, really fast. But stick with it and it will become natural over time.

Obviously, this is not the case if you’re riding up a hill. But cruising along at 10 - 15 MPH, this should be a comfortable cadence. That is, if you’re trying to get from Point to Point B and do it while bring some calories. Nothing wrong with just cruising around town if like doing that, but you’re not going to be getting much exercise that way.

Trek FX. That’s a hybrid, right? Make sure your tires are properly inflated. You should expect to inflate your tires before every ride. It’s been awhile since I’ve dealt with hybrids, but I think they usually clock in at about 90 PSI. But ask your salesperson. Under inflated tires will make riding a lot less fun.

Also, be sure to have them help you set the saddle height properly. At the bottom of the stroke, your knee should only be slightly bent. Not straight, but just slightly bent.

Don’t forget to have fun. :slight_smile:

The best exercise is the one you do because you’re having fun. That way, you’re not likely to quit.

Congratulations! That is what I did too when I wanted to start riding again. I ended up with a tall version of a Trek 7100 hybrid for about the same price. I knew I had to have it 5 minutes after the bike geeks fitted me and sent me on a test ride. Suddenly it all made sense. All of those people saying to stay away from the cheap bikes weren’t being snobby; they were stating a simple fact because it makes a huge and obvious difference even to newcomers. It does feel like floating on air and is fun to ride on almost any reasonable terrain.

Mine is still in great condition 7 years later and has thousands of miles on it.

Great advice here I wont repeat - the people on this thread know what they are talking about!

My only addition is regarding clothing. Over time you will start to ride longer and comfort becomes a factor. If you are going to spend money on cycling clothes, spend on stuff where you and the bike come into contact: cycling shorts, cycling gloves, and cycling shoes. A good quality short, spandex or other, will have a pad made of gel or other material to help absorb shock and eliminate chafing in the tender parts. Gloves will keep your hands comfortable and clean, and if for some reason you get dislodged from the bike en route, your hands will be protected. And cycling shoes, even if uncleated rubber, will have a stiff sole that will allow a more efficient transfer of power to the pedals. Eventually, you will want to clip-in and be attached to the bike. Maybe not yet.

So, spend on those three things. As far as jerseys - the cheaper the better, and the ones with pockets in back are handy - search the clearance rack. There is no need to spend $100 on a jersey, but do wear a tech-fabric workout shirt at a minimum, to wick away any sweat. Oh, and helmets - mandatory, if you want to be taken seriously. AFAIK, all helmets sold in the US meet the same safety standards. The main differences are in the mechanism for securing to your head. The $60 helmet protects you just as well as the $160 one, as long as fitted properly. So just find one you like that fits and is comfortable.

5th, 10th(?) on don’t get a Wal-mart bike. The components are crappy & they are frequently put together by someone who isn’t a bike mechanic, which means improperly. This is a recipe to make it not fun &/or dangerous.

Second on the helmet being mandatory, & it has nothing to do with being taken seriously but to ensure you survive any crash with your brain functions intact. We were riding on the bike trail, there was a family coming the opposite direction. Just as we start to pass each other, junior decided he didn’t like the view behind daddy anymore & decided he wanted to pull out, just enough that handlebars were caught. If you’re going 13 MPH (not especially fast) & he’s going 12MPH, that’s a 25 MPH collision. Also, while it may look okay after a crash, helmets are only designed for one crash. Just like with your car after an accident, the bumper may look okay, but the stuff underneath is damaged & won’t protect you in another collision. If you crash it, replace it!

Also, as stated, all helmets should meet one of the safety standards; however, the difference is not securing mechanism (although it might be better in a higher end helmet) but in comfort & air channeling. The best helmets are designed to channel air thru the helmet in a way that will keep you cooler than if you weren’t even wearing a helmet. The less expensive ones are safe but not as cool/comfortable on a hot day.
One more thing, the helmet is useless if not worn properly; straight & level on your head, not worn like a beret off to one side or so far back that it’s protecting your neck. Also, if not clipped/strapped/attached under your chin chances are it will go flying further than you do if you come off the bike; having it land in a different place than you really doesn’t offer you much protection.

Actually, it’s a 12.5 mph collision. 25 mph is the closing speed, abruptly reducing your reaction time.
The critical speed is the vertical drop of head to ground. Unless you ride directly into a wall or such.

As someone said, what are you planning on doing on your bike? Commuting, sport riding?

Unless you’re never going to ride anywhere near other traffic, read this: Bicycling Street Smarts - Table of Contents

IMHO, becoming a good cyclist requires two big mental adjustments to overcome your natural instincts. Both require a lot of practice because you’ll revert to instinct when distracted/tired unless you really work at it. The first is pedaling faster and easier. This is really unnatural for humans because we really have three natural modes: walking (slow and easy), walking up steep hills (slow and hard), or running (fast and hard). But cycling is most efficient when you go fast and easy. It’s hard to train yourself to do that, but once you do, you’ll ride much faster, farther and more enjoyably.
The second one is being comfortable in the flow of traffic. The natural human instinct, when there’s something big and noisy behind you, is to move out of the way. But on a bicycle with cars behind you, that’s usually the most dangerous thing to do – Think of it from the driver’s point of view: sober people do not in fact drive right over things directly in front of them, but they do very often not see things at the side of the road, or think they have room to pass when really they don’t (especially something that can swerve like a bicycle), or only look at the center of the lane in the cross street when they’re making a turn. [And, if there are parked cars, they open doors; there’s no way they can see a cyclist travelling right next to a line of parked cars behind them, so you can’t blame them for opening a door]