- We wanted to share some recent advice for new riders from John Herrman of the New York Times. We hope you find it useful.
Hermann noted that conditions for new or aspiring cyclists are a bit unusual now. There’s an international bike shortage. Bike shops are operating under challenging circumstances for sales and repairs. Some recreational areas remain closed. Still, it’s always a great time to start riding because, as Hermann writes, “Maintaining forward movement on two wheels so as not to fall over is one of life’s great joys.”
In addition to advice on where and how to buy new and used bikes and some basics about bike sizing, meeting your riding needs, and affordability, Hermann provided the following suggestions that should be very helpful to new riders.
Basic Needs: an air pump that works with both types of valves (Presta is the thin one and Schrader is one identical to those on a car tire); a folding multi-tool with a range of hex keys; some inner tubes in the size marked on your tires; and all-purpose bike lubricant and bike chain lubricant.
Maintenance: Park Tool has a comprehensive and accessible YouTube channel for most common maintenance issues and is a good place to learn basic skills. Also:
- Regularly check and fill your tires at the recommended pressure.
- Lubricate your chain every once in a while, wiping off excess lubricant and grime.
- Changing a flat is not easy, but you can learn how to do it on YouTube here.
Tune-ups: Don’t neglect this. New bikes usually require adjustments to their gears after a couple months of riding — something shops often include with your purchase. Then a tune-up once or twice a year depending on the riding you do will help keep your bike working smoothly.
Helmet: Herman advises (and FABB agrees) that you should probably buy a helmet that fits snugly and has good ventilation. All new helmets pass basic safety testing so you don’t have to spend more than you want to. There are arguments against helmet usage, but we think it best to think of helmet wear as insurance against the unexpected.
Masks: Finally, Hermann recommends having a mask with you when you ride (FABB adds that it is always a good idea to have a bandanna or gaiter/buff, which can be used as a mask, with you for sun protection, as a sweat band, and to clean up). Depending on your location, you may need the mask to enter a store or other business, and, if you are commuting, you could find yourself in a crowd at an intersection stop.
Of course, if you have questions, you can ask someone you know who bikes for information or contact a nearby bike shop. FABB also welcomes your questions and suggestions, and you can reach us at [email protected].