These posted tips are editorial in nature. Therefore, SAW is not deemed liable for advice or information given contrary to that of a professional bicycle mechanic or professional coach, or from damage incurred as a result of advice or information given herein.

Riding Tips for Beginners

  • Avoid busy roads. Use lesser traveled residential streets whenever possible; take some extra time and enjoy the ride!
  • Be very careful when turning left, especially if there is a lot of traffic in either direction. On very busy roads, it is sometimes better to pull over to the right, dismount and walk across when the way is safe.
  • Watch for turning automobiles. A vehicle turning left across your path may not see you. Be prepared to stop.
  • A vehicle slowing to turn right should never be passed on the right. After checking traffic behind you and signaling, you may pass on the left.
  • Never pass a bus on the right as you may collide with passengers getting off the bus.
  • When riding near parked cars, be aware that car doors can suddenly open in front of you. Ride far enough away from parked cars that an open door won't be a problem.
  • When riding on a two-lane road, be aware of traffic backing-up behind you and allow it to pass whenever possible.
  • Be considerate to right-turning motorists when stopped at an intersection by leaving them room to make their turn, especially if it is permitted to make a right turn on red.
  • Let pedestrians and other cyclists know you are passing them with an audible warning before you pass. If a conflict arises, pedestrians have the right-of-way.
  • Try to select your lowest practical gear so that your legs can spin smoothly while maintaining pressure on your pedals. This will reduce strain on your knees.
  • ALWAYS cross railroad tracks at a perpendicular.
  • Never ride through puddles of water as it may be a deep pot hole.
  • On narrow roads without a shoulder, ride 14 to 24 inches from the edge of the pavement to help prevent cars from wanting to pass you without sufficient clearance.
  • Never use your brakes on road sand or silt and always avoid rocks.
  • Do NOT use headphones (iPods, etc.) on the bike.

The Five-minute Bicycle Check

  • Check that your front wheel quick release or axle nuts are tight.
  • Squeeze the front brake lever and check that the brake pads align squarely on the rim. Lock the front brake and pull the bike back, the wheel should skid. Also check the brake cable for cuts or kinks.
  • Pick up the front of the bike and spin the front wheel. Check if the wheel wobbles from side to side. Check the tire wear and brake pad clearance from the rim. If you have fenders or a handlebar bag, make sure these do not rub on the tire.
  • Apply the front brake and try to rock the front wheel back and forth. If you feel any play, your headset might be loose and will need adjustment.
  • Repeat steps 1 through 3 for the rear of the bicycle.
  • Grab the crank arms and try to push them in and out to check the crank arms and bearings for looseness. There should be no lateral play in the crank axle. Also check that the pedals are screwed in all the way, flat against the crank arm.
  • With the rear wheel off the ground, turn the pedals and shift through the gears. Make sure the derailleur can reach all your chainring combinations and does not throw the chain off the front or back sprockets. You may need to make a cable adjustment or adjust the derailleur screws.
  • Try hard to twist the saddle up and down, and left and right. If it does not move, it is secure.
  • Do the same to your handlebars, bracing the front wheel between your knees. Put all your weight on the handlebars when twisting up and down to make certain they will not slip in an emergency stop.
  • Check other attachments, nuts and bolts to make sure nothing is loose or might rub against your tires.
  • Check your tire pressure with a gauge. Keep your tires pumped up to the recommended pressure marked on the tire.

Essential Things to Have with You on a Bike Ride

  • Helmet (approved type and properly fitted)
  • Water bottles and cages or Camelbak-type hydration system
  • Tire pump or CO2 cartridges
  • Detailed map of the area
  • Cycling (padded) gloves, padded bike shorts
  • Spare tubes, patch kit, and tire levers
  • Identification, emergency contact numbers and change for a phone call or a cell phone (do NOT use while riding)
  • Energy bars or similar energy replacement food
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen & lip screen
  • Money
  • Basic tools specific to your bike (if on a long or self-sufficient trip)
  • U-Lock (if you are stopping for long periods other than just a rest stop)
  • Lights & reflectors if you plan any night riding.
  • Compact first-aid kit for long trips.

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