Author Topic: Your fave biking tips?  (Read 7343 times)


  • Handlebar Stache
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Your fave biking tips?
« on: June 18, 2013, 03:34:10 PM »
I am intrigued by biking more, but it is still at the Big Deal stage for me.  I do not have the experience that many of you have and while I am gaining confidence, I wonder if experienced bikers would offer up their tips for making it as easy as jumping in the car.

For example, I have a rack, but fumbled around with strapping my backpack on there with bungees.  This made it hard to grab things in and out of the pack and very fussy to quickly dismount, lock up and head on foot inside to my final destination, as well as get going again once ready to come home.

I also had to plan ahead like all morning to think of all the things I would need - clean clothes, a washcloth and towel for my destination, etc.  Plus then I had to leave way early to make sure I'd have enough time, and I did, it was fine.

This sounds whiney but isn't meant to be.  I believe that in learning a new skill like biking as a mode of transportation one has to "practice," and this is that.  I did the same thing when I rode the bus for the first time.  I mapped the route, read how to buy the tickets, was at the stop way early, observed all the other bus riders, etc.  Obviously if I were to do this bike ride again I'd know the route, wouldn't be nervous about traffic (hey! there are bike lanes on that main road!), would have a good idea where to put my bike once there, etc.

It just made me think that it would be awesome to have all the biking tips for newbies in a single place.  There have been so many biking threads and they are great but it is hard to go back through them to mine for usable tips.

Thanks all for being an inspiration and for hopefully obliging me.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Your fave biking tips?
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2013, 03:48:21 PM »
First off, your question didn't come across as whiney at all! I bet every cyclist remembers the days when we were still in your shoes.

Here are a few tips I can think of:

1. Get your bike fitted. Either professionally (which will run you about $100) or you can find an online guide to do it yourself. Just think of $100 as the cost of two physical therapy treatments, which is just a fraction of what you'll need after riding an ill-fitted bike for a while.
2. Look for local resources. My city prints a bike map every year, which shows the roads that have bike lanes. Google maps has a similar thing online, in select areas. Look for a cycling club or any other source of people who know the specifics of riding in your area.
3. As for carrying stuff, I'd use the backpack in the way it was intended: on your back. If you need additional carrying capacity, check craigslist (or whatever used-goods marketplace is active in your area... See #2) for a used pannier.
4. Other than safety stuff (helmet, lights), don't get caught up in all the gear people say you "need" to have. Just make do without it, and after 6 months if it's really holding you back, then you can find something (used bike gear is plentiful).

All the advance planning will become second nature in due time. You already have the best mindset: that you need to practice to get it down! Very mustachian.

I'm interested to see what tips other people have...


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Your fave biking tips?
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2013, 04:14:16 PM »
5. Stuff a plastic shopping bag under your saddle for when your bike gets rained on and you don't want to get your bum wet.
6. Buy or build bicycle panniers for your rack.  Bonus if they are waterproof or have covers.  Put your clothes, towel, etc. in the night before.
7. Fenders are the best.
8. Keep an extra set of bike lights at work, if you need to ride at night, for when you forget your main set.
9. Learn the appropriate hand signals for where you live, and use them to communicate with other traffic.
10. Learn some defensive cycling techniques appropriate for the laws in your area.  For some examples of what not to do, check out this Youtube channel


  • Bristles
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Re: Your fave biking tips?
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2013, 05:43:37 PM »
A rubber band around your ankle can keep your pants from getting caught on the gears.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Your fave biking tips?
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2013, 06:11:55 PM »
Leave your fancy shoes at work and maybe a change of clothes and a deodorant stick in a locked drawer at your desk.

Explore alternate streets on days that you aren't in a hurry. The best routes for bikes are not always the best routes for cars.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Your fave biking tips?
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2013, 06:54:32 PM »
A rubber band around your ankle can keep your pants from getting caught on the gears.
So much this.  I biked six miles to the train station today for the first time, and my right pant leg got a whole bunch of grease on it. 


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Your fave biking tips?
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2013, 10:40:49 AM »
I use a basket in front. It doesn't cause any balance problems for me, and it's really quick to dump things in and then bike off to wherever. If it rains, put stuff if plastic bag, then in basket.


  • Senior Mustachian
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Re: Your fave biking tips?
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2013, 11:50:06 AM »
Winter biking tips:

- Lube your chain, derailleurs, brake pivots every really wet ride and they won't get corroded
- Take a couple water bottles filled with hot water and spray the salt off your bike every week (or after a particularly wet ride)
- Clean and check your brake pads every week or so . . . they disintegrate in record time under winter conditions
- Before winter comes, grease everything that can rust.  Seatpost especially.  Screw threads as well.

- Wool stays warm, even when soaking wet.  If you're wearing wet cotton you might as well be naked.
- Face, Fingers, Toes, Ears, Nose . . . if you can keep these warm you'll probably be pretty comfortable.
- Chest, Back, Thighs . . . if you can keep these cool you'll be much more comfortable (overheating is as bad as freezing).  You need less clothing than you would expect!
- Put hot water in your water bottle.  It will give you another 15 minutes before freezing solid.

- Brake early, you may not always stop when and where you expect to stop.
- Skinny tires with a little tread are better than wide tires in snow on asphalt.  Studded tires are really slow on the road, and probably overkill if your roads are regularly salted.
- Lights (and backup lights), reflectors, reflective stuff, and bright clothing . . . all a good idea.  It's dark all the time in the winter.
- If you're in freezing rain, try to keep feathering your brake and changing gears.  The motion can keep the cables from freezing in place.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Your fave biking tips?
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2013, 01:01:57 PM »
A rubber band around your ankle can keep your pants from getting caught on the gears.
So much this.  I biked six miles to the train station today for the first time, and my right pant leg got a whole bunch of grease on it.

Better yet, invest in a pair of padded bike shorts, and put the pants in your backpack.

Also: 1) If you're using the bike for fitness as well as transport, invest in a bike speedometer, and use it to challenge yourself.  2) If riding at night, use one of the LED headband lights as well as your bike headlight.  It's nice for looking off to the side, and a good backup.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Your fave biking tips?
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2013, 05:08:11 PM »
Rain pants.  Some people are fine with getting wet - that's cool.  I don't like it.  A rain jacket is pretty obvious, but rain pants make the difference between me hopping on my bike without even bothering to check the weather vs. stressing out all day that I'm going to get rained on on my way home.  Seems wussy, but I'm a wuss, and it got me riding every day.  Also, it's great for shedding freezing rain/sleet, when you 100% won't want to wear wet bike shorts for a couple of miles.


  • Guest
Re: Your fave biking tips?
« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2013, 09:56:05 PM »
You sound nervous about it; how about do a dry-run first and try your route out on a Sunday afternoon when the traffic is much lighter.

I would recommend a rear-view mirror; this was huge for me to gain 360 degree situational awareness of whats going on around you; I have the type that extends out of the handlebar, I ordered it online from Walmart pretty cheap; some bikers use the mirrors that mount to their bike helmets; its personal preference

Maybe also get a reflective safety vest so that the cars will notice you better; however, don't get it at some fancy bike shop because their stuff is way overpriced and outrageously expensive; instead go down to Lowes and pick up off their neon yellow safety vest (the type that construction workers wear) for $10


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Your fave biking tips?
« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2013, 02:02:10 PM »
Bike aggressively, own your space on the road.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2013, 02:34:45 AM by gooki »


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Your fave biking tips?
« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2013, 06:46:54 PM »
I have many suggestions, but they are covered well by others. I will emphasize one that will allow you to enjoy riding more and that is to get yourself organized. Place all the things you need in the same place and have it ready the night before.  Since you need more time to ride in the morning you don't want to stress about getting ready.

And another - lift up your head and feel the wind in your face when you ride!  Enjoy the rythmic motion of the peddling Take in the scenery. Enjoy the time - live in that moment.


  • Senior Mustachian
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Re: Your fave biking tips?
« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2013, 07:27:24 PM »
You can get a cheap fluorescent construction vest for six bucks.
Practice. I generally ride to work, and on specific days. Before bed, my lunch is packed, my bags are packed, one with clothing, phone, lunch, the other with keys and laptop.
I know how long it takes to get there and that it's an extra ten minutes of unloading, locking the bike, changing clothes.
I lay out my bike clothes and helmet the night before.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Your fave biking tips?
« Reply #14 on: June 24, 2013, 07:19:40 AM »
It gets easier.

I started biking in early May and had not been on a bike since Reagan was president.  I love it.

I used a plastic bin that, a decade ago, a local grocery store distributed to customers.  It has some open slots in it that made it easy to attach to my bike with zip ties from Lowes.   I plop my backpack in the bin, strap a bungie over it and go.  I'll post a pic later on.  When I go to the grocery story, it's handy for whatever I buy.  You could buy a plastic bin from Family Dollar or whatever and drill a couple of holes in it to accomplish the same thing.  My bike is coral with turquoise accents and the bin is dark purple.  I am a colorful blur -- no motorist can miss seeing me.

I also have a basket on the front for if I'm just taking my purse and don't need the backpack.

In/ under my desk at work I have:  8 pair of shoes (yes, I am a girly girl); a washcloth hanging on a cuphook that I screwed into the side of the desk where no one can see, a small bag of makeup (applied after arrival at work); anti-persperant; some jewelry that works with every outfit.  On the back of my office door, hanging in a garment bag, I have most of my summer office wardrobe (really, this is the ONLY place I'll wear a black pencil skirt so it can live here instead of at home).

If it weren't for the bike helmet on my desk, no one would know I bike-commute.