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Beginner's Guide To Cycling

The Essentials for a Fast & Fun Ride

We make getting into cycling easy. Whether you want to start commuting to work or are ready to try out mountain biking, we’ll help you find the right bike and the right fit. We offer free accessory installation to make your new bike fit your needs. All new bicycles purchased at Free-Flite include free lifetime minor tune-ups as well as a free 30 and 60 day check up on the entire bicycle.

Be Prepared

Whether you’re going for long road rides, hitting the trails or just commuting to work, it’s always important to be prepared for the unexpected. Putting together a repair kit and keeping it with you while you ride is something every cyclist should do. A typical repair kit might include:

Multi Purpose Tool
Even if your bike is perfectly fitted to you, it’s always good to be able to make adjustments on the fly. A multi purpose tool allows you to adjust many components on a bike, from the seat height to the brakes.

Tire Levers
While it’s possible to remove a tire from your wheel rim with bare hands, tire levers make it much easier. If you get a flat, tire levers will save you time and make a flat repair less frustrating.

Patch Kit
Getting a flat is inevitable with any kind of riding. Patch kits help you fix small holes and punctures for short periods of time until you can replace the tube.

Saddle Bag
The easiest way to carry your repair kit is with a saddle bag. There are many options and styles for these to fit every kind of bike, so make sure to test one out before you buy.

Bikes have a tube inside the tire which holds it up. When you “have a flat tire” that means that the tube has a puncture. Keep a spare tube with you to make it easy to get back on your bike in the event of a flat.

CO2 Head & Cartridge
CO2 cartridges are small metal tubes of compressed air that you attach to a CO2 head to quickly fill up a new tube in the event of a flat. Keeping a few with you in your repair kit makes repairing flats easier.

Hand Pump
While CO2 cartridges are the fastest way to repair a flat, if you run out or get a defective one, a hand pump is necessary to get you back on the road.

Staying hydrated during your ride is key to having the best riding experience possible. Water bottles are the most common hydration tool, but there are also hydration packs, which are great for mountain biking.

Ride in Comfort

Staying comfortable in the saddle is one of the best ways to keep cycling enjoyable. The right clothing and gear can make the difference between a pleasant ride to work and a sufferfest:

Cycling Shorts
Padded bike shorts, when worn without underwear, provide support to your sit bones and wick away moisture to prevent chafing, making for a more comfortable ride. A good pair of padded shorts is a long term investment that's worth the initial purchase.

Cycling Jerseys & Tops
Cycling jerseys are always moisture wicking and have small pockets along the lower back that allow for easily accessible storage. However, any lightweight, moisture wicking top will make riding more comfortable and prevent chafing.

Even on smooth roads, your hands will experience a lot of vibration while riding. Fingerless gloves with palm padding are great for wide open road rides. Full gloves with extra padding are best for trails and mountain rides where falls and scrapes are more likely.

Every cyclist should have a helmet. There are different styles for different types of riding. Road helmets are more aerodynamic for speed, while mountain bike helmets provide more protection. Try a few out to find the best style and fit for your head.

From Head to Toes

Tennis shoes and sneakers are great for getting started with cycling, but proper cycling shoes and pedals make all the difference when it comes to comfort and safety. Cycling shoes provide stiffer soles which improve efficiency and reduce “hot spots” where shoes make contact with the pedal. Jump right in with shoes and pedals that clip into one another, or ease into it with a pair of flats:

Road Cyclists

Road shoes are typically very stiff, providing exceptionally efficient pedaling. They provide a large platform for power transfer but can be awkward to walk in. Road cycling shoes typically use a Shimano SPD-SL Cleat Set, Look Cleats or Speedplay.

Mountain Bikers

Mountain bike shoes are a little softer, provide more protection and traction. If you have to get off the bike to walk over an obstacle, they are still comfortable and maintain traction. For pedals, mountain bikers often use Flat Pedals like the Evo MX-6 Pedals or SPDs like the Shimano PD-M520 Pedals.

City/Urban Cyclists

Urban and city shoes are typically more flexible and maintain comfort on and off the bike. The Bontrager Solstice is perfect for cyclists who plan to combine riding and walking. Pending the length of your commute you may want a clipless shoe.

Want to Learn More?

Join our Park Tool School classes to learn more about bicycle repair and maintenance.