I decided cycling might be a good way to get some general exercise. I haven’t ridden in more than ten years but always enjoyed it immensely when I used to, so I decided to get back into it.
I had no idea what I was doing when I walked into the bike store but I talked to the guys in there, told them what I was basically looking for (hybrid bike that’s easy to ride, good for a novice, for general exercise, not crazy-expensive) and this is what I wound up with:
Took it for a test ride before buying and liked it a lot. It was weird being on a bicycle again after so many years. I was so wobbly at first I wondered if the old maxim about never forgetting how to ride a bike was actually true, but it came back to me within about two minutes and I was riding around fairly confidently (although still a bit shaky and only at pretty slow speed until I get more confident.)
Anyway, just wondering if cycling QT3ers had any basic tips. I live in a very bike-friendly neighborhood (Presidio of SF) which has dedicated bike lanes and very litle motor traffic, so I think I can find some good routes around here.
My main question right now is about finding the right gears for the right purpose. Last time I rode bikes had nothing like the number of gears this one has (I think more than 20?) so still trying to figure out what’s what in that regard. Any other tips appreciated too.
Basically try to find a gear where you pedal 80-120 RPM(aka cadence). You can really just go by feel, if you don’t have a bike computer. Don’t try grinding at low RPMs in high gears, it isn’t very effective. I own a Trek 1000 2006 model(few thousand miles on it), which seems to no longer be in production but it’d be very similar to the 1.2. I wouldn’t want to ride a road bike without drop handle bars myself.
I don’t know how much you plan to ride or what you already own, but if it is going to be fairly serious(10+ miles) I’d recommend some other gear like spare tubes, and a tire lever to change tires(it is easy). Also you usually need a bike saddle bag to carry a few things. Of course a pump is nice too, etc…
I haven’t pick up my bike in three or four years. It’s a Giant Yukon I bought in '95, still in great condition, although behind the times now; no front or rear suspension, and no gripshifts.
So if they make a mountain bike and stick road tires on it they call it a hybrid? I figured a hybrid would have a lower seat and higher steering - you’re steering wouldn’t be as accurate, but it’s not so bad on your back over long periods of time, although it can be sore on your arms I guess.
As for shifting, try not to cross the chain from the outside to the inside, and don’t sudden drop a gear while peddling hard, it’s probably bad on the chain and the sprockets, but it also causes you to fall out of your seat and land on the bar - painful.
I love riding, but hate breaking down and reparing. Not that it’s hard to fix a flat, but it’s a pain in the ass if you are in a hurry, using the bike for commuting, etc. I suggest investing in kelvar tires/tubes. It’s a little expensive (for tires) and adds a little drag, but it keeps you in the saddle.
The missus and I bought bikes this last summer. We decided to go the ridiculously impractical route and get cruisers, based on the theory that if I think the bike looks cool I’ll ride it more often. Turns out that’s right.
I bought a Norco Sekine Men’s Cruiser:
The picture doesn’t quite do it justice, because it has this incredible deep burgundy paint job that, in the sunlight, is the colour of a pint of Rickard’s Red. This one is slightly practical in that it has three whole gears, so I can huff my way up hills, but it has coaster brakes which take a while to get used to. They’re utterly useless for any sort of serious urban riding, but luckily Kitchener-Waterloo has a pretty decent bike path and trail system, so we can get to lots of places without having to ride down major city streets.
I totally, utterly love this bike. It rides like a dream and, more importantly, it’s just plain fun to ride.
My wife bought a Manhattan Cruiser:
It’s a men’s bike but she doesn’t care, because it looks like something Pee-Wee Herman would have ridden to the Playhouse, which is all she really wanted. When we ride together we look like the world’s least-threatening gang.
After a couple of rides, you should be able to know instinctively when to be shifting up or down. A long time ago, I remember someone describing it as: “If you feel the burn in your legs, shift down. If you feel it in your lungs, shift up.” Basically, if it feels like you’re spinning too fast and getting little velocity in return, upshift. If you hit a hill, downshift.
Most guys with a triple chainring (I’m referring to the gears around your pedals here) should be able to get around town using just the middle ring. Use the small one for climbing, and the big one for long flats or going downhill. Certain combinations of chainring and cog (the gears on your rear wheel) will overlap. This isn’t a big problem, but do avoid combos like small chainring/small cog or big chainring/big cog, as you don’t want to stress the chain too much.
Pace pq, a comfortable cadence can vary a lot from person to person. 80-120RPM may be more efficient, but it can be very mentally tiring to keep those pedals spinning, especially if you’re not an experienced cyclist. There are times when grinding away at a “too-big” gear at 60RPM or so will feel better.
Final tip: Do learn some basic bike maintenance, or at least be able to replace a flat. Of course, if you’ll be riding mostly around San Francisco, you shouldn’t be far from a bike shop at any given time, but it’s still good to know.
I’m glad you got a bike, Gary… they’re great for fitness and good for the soul. Here’s all you need to know to get started.
Wear a helmet. Have the folks at the bike shop help you with the fit and adjustment. Even the most skilled riders can crash due to things outside their control and helmets save lives.
Don’t worry yourself too much about your cadence or speed. Just have fun. Just find a gear that you can pedal quickly in. If you start to feel like your feet are spinning out of control, shift into a harder gear.
Avoid cross-chaining. Basically, when your chain is on the small ring in front, keep it on the large rings in back. When it’s on the large ring in front, keep it on the small rings in back.
Learn how to change a flat and always carry a spare tube, small pump, and plastic tire levers. If you’re prepared, the bicycle gods will smile upon you and you’ll never get a flat.