Get into cycling
If you haven’t ridden a bike for years and you’re a bit unsure about starting to ride again, or you’ve never ridden a bike, here are some suggestions for getting ‘On Yer Bike’!
Get the right bike
You don’t need a fancy expensive racing or specialist bike with all the bells and whistles. This is not the bike for a beginner or getting back into riding.
A basic bike with a few gears and two good brakes is what you need to get started. It doesn’t have to be new.
What is really important is that the bike
is mechanically in good condition,
is adjusted to fit you and
is suitable for riding on Melbourne’s bike paths.
If you already have a bike or someone has offered you a bike that might be suitable take it to a good bike shop and ask them to give it a thorough inspection and service including and to adjust it so it fits YOU. They should look at the seat height, handlebar set up etc.
If you don’t have a bike then buy a new or secondhand one. A good bike shop will help you select the bike that best suits you and the type of riding you want to do. If you get one secondhand take it to a good bike shop and ask them to give it a thorough inspection and service and to adjust it so it fits YOU.
Ask friends, family etc about finding a good bike shop. You can also get good advice about suitable bikes for you and bike shops from a local bike group (see Find a Cycling Group.)
Get a good helmet
If you don’t have a good helmet then you will need to buy a NEW one.
If you have a helmet that is a few years old and a bit knocked around throw it in the bin.
Don’t wear a used helmet someone has given to you.
You must ride with a helmet that meets the Australian Standard.
A good helmet is one that
fits you properly,
is comfortable to wear,
is properly adjusted and
is new or in as new condition.
A good bike shop will help you select the right helmet and show you how to wear it and adjust it.
Wear the right clothes
You don’t need special clothes to ride a bike. Lycra is definitely optional.
Clothing should be loose fitting and comfortable and protect you from the wind, rain and sun. You don’t need specialist bike pants, shorts, tops and jackets but of course you can wear them if you want.
TIP: Stop long pants from getting caught in your chain by tucking the ends of your pants into your socks.
Close toed shoes (runners, joggers, walking shoes) are the best – avoid open toed shoes, sandals, thongs etc.
Cycling gloves protect the hands during falls, keep the sun off the backs of your hands and are good for wiping away sweat.
Sunglasses are good. They also keep insects and dust out of your eyes and prevent your eyes watering and drying out.
Learning to ride for the first time
This is best done with a patient friend or similar who wants to help you.
Your local bike group (see Find a Cycling Group) will usually have someone who is willing and able to help you learn to ride.
If you can’t find anyone you know, or in a bike club, to help you with riding, then a search on the internet will help you find someone to help you learn to ride. Use search terms like ‘learn to ride a bike’ or ‘beginner cyclist’. You will usually need to pay for this service.
Two examples in Melbourne are:
These links are provided for information only and no endorsement or approval is made or implied of any services these businesses offer.
Riding for the first time or going back to riding after a long time off the bike
It is best to start off by doing some short easy rides on bike paths or local quiet streets with little traffic and no hills until you find your bike leg and become confident.
A little bit of soreness is common and will go away quickly as your body gets used to riding again.
Riding with a friend can help.
If you have any sort of medical issues etc that might make riding a problem, discuss these with your doctor.
Improving your fitness and riding skills
The more you ride the more skilled you’ll become. Your riding fitness will increase. After a while you’ll usually find you’re riding a bit longer AND it’s easier AND even more enjoyable.
This can be a great thing to do. You ride when, where and how you want and it can be a great opportunity for reflection, contemplation and ‘me time’.
Riding with a few friends or with a group
Riding in company is a great thing to do too. The riding often feels easier and many people enjoy the company and camaraderie.
Most recreational bike riders are good sorts and enjoyable to be with. It might have something to with being out in the fresh air, getting a bit of easy exercise and moving around under your own steam.
Riding with a group means you don’t have to worry about working out where to ride and a lot of people like the ‘structure’ that a regular riding group provides.
Bike groups for older riders and seniors
Joining a local bike group is a great way to get ‘on yer bike’. There are a lot of local bike groups for older riders and different types of riding in Melbourne and Victoria.
To find a local group that suits you go to Find a Cycling Group.
Roadside Assistance for Your Bike
The Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) provides roadside assistance for bikes when riding in Victoria if your bicycle cannot be ridden or if you can't continue to ride.If you get a flat tyre in metropolitan Melbourne, they will send someone to fix the tyre for you. Electric bikes are included. For full details see RACV Bike Assist.
You might want to consider getting insurance to cover your bike. There are a number of insurance providers in Australia. When choosing a policy it is worth checking the fine print to ensure that the policy you choose is right for the type of riding you do.
Read the Choice article: “How to buy the best bicycle insurance”. It offers advice on choosing cover for your bike and accessories, plus personal injury and third-party liability and also has tips for preventing bike theft.
If you belong to Bicycle Network, membership includes premium bike riding insurance which provides cover in these three very important ways: income protection; medical cover; third party coverage. See Bike riding insurance for full details of the cover. To join the Bicycle Network go to Membership.