Cycling is one of the most popular pastimes in the world with millions taking to their bikes every single day. If you’re just starting to consider joining this fantastic activity of ours then welcome! You’re sure to love it, trust us.
As someone new to cycling it is naturally daunting trying to decide which style of cycling to start with, which bike to buy and what clothes and equipment you need. Then it’s equally natural to start worrying about how much it’s all going to cost you, especially if you don’t enjoy it as much as you hoped you would. Well don’t worry, this is where we come in.
At Tweeks Cycles we’ve got decades worth of experience in all forms of cycling and we’ve pulled together a list of bikes, helmets, clothing, equipment and accessories to help get you started. In this beginner’s guide to cycling (of sorts), we’re not going to tell you how to ride a bike, but we will help you to fall in love with cycling from day one by making an informed decision on what YOU need and what suits YOU.
It doesn’t matter if you’re getting into cycling because you’ve finally got some spare time to give it your all or because you need to do something to help get fitter and healthier; cycling unites all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds. So whether you choose to go down the road bike route or the off-road mountain bike trails are more your kind of thing, we’ve got some great tips and ideas to get you going.
How do I choose a bike?
Road cycling and mountain biking, as the names suggest, are very different styles of cycling and it genuinely is all down to personal preference as to which discipline does it for you. For some the lure of being able to ride quickly over long distances and along flat roads is a real pull factor; while others will prefer shorter rides over rough terrain that gets the adrenaline pumping.
The most important thing to consider when choosing a bike, ultimately, is the size. If you get this wrong then – while you can make adjustments to the height of the bars and saddle – your bike will never quite fit as well as it could do.
If you’re going to spend your hard-earned money on a road or mountain bike then make sure that you measure yourself and compare your height against our size guide, with the sizes varying according to whether you’re buying a road bike or a mountain bike:
Which bikes are best for beginners?
Once you’ve settled on the style of bike you’re looking for, and you’ve worked out what size you need, you can start doing your research and looking for your very first bike. Trust us, this is some of the best research you’ll do as we all remember our first bikes fondly and it’s a moment you might even be able to experience again when your kids come to choose their first bikes!
If you’re thinking that a road bike is for you then we’ve got two recommendations:
- Cube Attain. One of the biggest names in cycling, Cube manufacture a wide range of incredibly high quality bikes. The Cube Attain range offers something for everybody from beginner’s right up to experienced road cyclists with a model to suit every height and budget, too. Offering excellent spec for the money, and a choice of either rim or disc brakes, the Attain is definitely a great starter bike.
- Scott Speedster. Another of the biggest names in cycling, Scott specialise in both mountain and road bikes, with models suitable for every riding style, height and budget. The Scott Speedster is another excellent starter road bike with a lightweight but strong frame and some outstanding components for the price of the bike.
Alternatively, you might think that the high adrenaline downhill rides and rough terrain of mountain biking is more up your street (or should that be trail?) In this case, our starter mountain bikes would definitely be:
- Scott Aspect. We’ve already talked about Scott in terms of their road bike offering, but they’re best known for their range of mountain bikes. The Scott Aspect is undoubtedly one of the best in terms of starter bikes as it looks great, comes with excellent spec and offers real value for money as a first MTB.
- Lapierre Edge. If you want to go serious from day one then the Lapierre Edge is a mountain bike with real character. Not only is it a great looking bike, it has a spec sheet to rival more expensive bikes in the MTB range and makes for a thrilling ride.
How do I choose and fit a bike helmet?
A bike helmet is possibly the best investment you can make. You see tons of people riding without a helmet and you are quite literally putting your life in your hands as despite the numerous safety initiatives and warnings, drivers still don’t see cyclists and accidents still happen. Wearing a helmet can save your life, so make sure that you wear one from day one and get into the habit from the first time you take to the saddle.
To find the right size of helmet, wrap a flexible tape measure around the largest part of your head, around two to three centimetres above your eyebrows. Whatever the measurement is, that’s the ideal size of helmet for you – you don’t want to have too much room that the helmet flops around on your head; while too tight and it will be very uncomfortable.
In terms of options, there are plenty of stylish, lightweight and excellent quality bike helmets to choose from.
If you’re going into road cycling then our recommendation would be the Giro Isode. This is an extremely comfortable and affordable road bike helmet available in various colours and comes with an in-mould polycarbonate shell with EPS liner, 22 vents to help keep you cool on warm days and Giro’s Roc Loc Sport fit system to ensure it fits perfectly.
For mountain biking we highly recommend the Giro Fixture MTB helmet. While it’s a small and lightweight helmet it is one of the best performance value mountain bike helmets available; offering exceptional protection, a comfortable fit and 18 vents to keep you cool and you get a choice of different colours here, too.
What about other cycle clothing?
A helmet is undoubtedly the most important thing you can buy after the bike itself so you don’t actually NEED to buy any additional clothing. With that being said there are all kinds of different items of cycle clothing available that will keep you warm and dry in the cold months, or cool in the warm weather, including:
- Cycle shorts. Not only will these keep you cool in the summer, they also serve a dual purpose in giving you some padding – which you’ll soon discover is an added bonus! If you’re going on a long distance ride, or taking on rough terrain, then a pair of padded cycle shorts like these lined shorts from Madison will give you plenty of padding and support where you need it!
- Waterproof jacket. You never quite know when the weather will turn and you certainly don’t want to get caught unprepared. This high quality reflective and waterproof cycling jacket from Altura is a great example of a jacket that will not only keep your body as warm and dry as possible, it will also make you more visible to other road users as the light deteriorates.
- Cycle shoes. Whichever style of cycling you choose it’s important to have good grip on the pedals and plenty of comfort for your feet, too. There are a lot of instances where cyclists will choose a pair of specialist cycling shoes without considering both factors, so don’t fall into that trap! Shimano produce an excellent range of cycling shoes with the stylish skate-style Shimano AM5 shoes great for clipless MTB pedals or the Shimano GR5 a brilliant option if you’re running flats; while clipless road bike riders will definitely benefit from the Velcro-secured Shimano RP1 road cycling shoes.
Are there any other cycle accessories I need to buy?
After you’ve sorted out your bike, your helmet and your gear, you might want to start considering a range of other accessories, too. In the early days you probably just want to start riding and see how you go – which is a very good approach to find out what works, and what doesn’t, for you – but if you’re looking to upgrade some components or buy some new bike accessories then here are some suggestions:
- Pedals. Once you’re ready to start upgrading some parts of your bike the pedals are a good place to start. Offering excellent value for money, and a definite upgrade on some factory MTB pedals, the Shimano PD-ED500 pedals are a set of easy-release clipless pedals that are certainly worth a look. If you prefer the flat style of MTB pedals, however, the DMR V6 pedals are some of the best you can get as a relatively new rider with a comfortable shape and stylish design. As a road cyclist we highly recommend the Shimano R540 Light Action quick release road pedals which are great for riders wanting a more efficient pedal.
- Bike lock. It goes without saying really, but a bike lock should be high up on your list of priorities when you start buying cycle accessories. We’ve got a great range here at Tweeks Cycles ranging from padlocks and chains to anchors meaning you can secure your bike anywhere you go.
- Bike pump. Over time your tyres will start to deflate and you can either use tubeless sealants or a good old fashioned bike pump if you’re running tyres with inner tubes. An essential piece of equipment, especially if you put your bike into hibernation for any period of time, a pump will let you get going again within minutes.
- Water bottle and cage. Whether you go for a long ride or a short, sharp one it’s important to stay hydrated. With this in mind a water bottle and cage are an essential investment and can be fixed to the frame of your bike for easy storage and access whenever you need a quick sip to set you up for the ride ahead.
- Saddle bag. Great for storing…almost anything really, saddle bags offer a storage option for items like your phone, keys and cycling essentials like pumps and tools just in case you have any issues during your ride.
- Puncture repair kit. So what else can you put in your saddle bag – a puncture repair kit, of course! Coming with everything you need to patch up your tyres whether you run a set of tubeless tyres or those with inner tubes, it’s a must-have kit to have on you just in case.