Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > General Cycling Discussion
Reload this Page >

Beginner questions

Notices
General Cycling Discussion Have a cycling related question or comment that doesn't fit in one of the other specialty forums? Drop on in and post in here! When possible, please select the forum above that most fits your post!

Beginner questions

Old 05-20-15, 05:03 AM
  #1  
Norg
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 15
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Beginner questions

At the ripe old age of 29, and after a number of aborted efforts, I have decided to learn to ride a bicycle, with the long-term goal of cycling to work every day. Instead of going for a dirt-cheap bicycle, I splashed out on a proper bicycle (a Bottecchia city bike), and will try to ride it for the very first time this evening

However, I have a few questions before I get started.

First of all, is Bottecchia a reputable brand? The bike shop assured me that they produce good-quality bicycles, but as a complete beginner, I had no idea whether he's taking me for a ride (pun intended!).

Secondly, I have been reading up about how the gears are to be used (my bike has two gear levers, one on the left handlebar and another on the right). I have more or less understood their function, however what I am still unsure about is what gear to be in whilst trying to learn. I assume that I should be somewhere on a mid-level gear if I am learning on flat terrain - is this right?

Thirdly, braking. Should I be braking with the rear brakes only, or should I brake with both back and front brakes simultaneously? I read that I shouldn't be braking using only the front brakes as this would obviously propel me forward.

Fourthly (perhaps a stupid question), my bicycle is fitted with a rear rack, however I still need to buy a basket or something to hold any bags I might be carrying around. Are the sizes of these racks standard, or do I need to figure out what size my rack is to make sure that I buy a basket that actually fits?

I'm sure I will have many more questions as I go along, but I really appreciate any help you guys can give me!
Norg is offline  
Old 05-20-15, 06:31 AM
  #2  
JonathanGennick 
Senior Member
 
JonathanGennick's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Munising, Michigan, USA
Posts: 4,131

Bikes: Priority 600, Priority Continuum, Devinci Dexter

Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 685 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 55 Times in 37 Posts
Beginner questions

Gears. Just find a combination that feels comfortable when you pedal. Switch to an easier combination just before going up a hill. As you ride more, you will develop a sense of which gear combinations you like for different circumstances.

Braking. Practice to get comfortable with front brake. It's a safety issue. The front brake is the one that will stop you when you really need to stop. Usually I apply both brakes, and often I'll apply more pressure to the front. I almost never use the rear brake alone.
JonathanGennick is offline  
Old 05-20-15, 06:35 AM
  #3  
htotaza
Junior Member
 
htotaza's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2015
Location: Maryland
Posts: 23

Bikes: Raleigh Cadent 1

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Not an experienced cyclist, so I'll keep my thoughts to myself and let the masters speak, but whatever you do, enjoy the ride!
htotaza is offline  
Old 05-20-15, 06:37 AM
  #4  
imi
aka Timi
 
imi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
Posts: 2,972

Bikes: Bianchi Lupo (touring) Bianchi Volpe (commuter), Miyata On Off Road Runner

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 51 Post(s)
Liked 32 Times in 26 Posts
Hi, great to here you got a bike. Do you have a friend who is used to bicycling and preferably is used to the specific kind of gear levers you have? If so, I think it would help a lot if they could help you and give tips as you progress.
Good Luck and stick with it!
imi is offline  
Old 05-20-15, 06:46 AM
  #5  
Panza
Keep calm, Cycle on
 
Panza's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: New England
Posts: 844

Bikes: Pinarello F8, Bianchi ∞, Colnago SS, Niner MTB

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 117 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Get into the habit of braking with both brakes front and rear... because a bad habit is better to break than a good bone. Brake in a straight line also.
Panza is offline  
Old 05-20-15, 07:22 AM
  #6  
Norg
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 15
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanks for the help! None of my friends cycle unfortunately (very, very few people cycle where I live), so I'm kind of on my own on this one. I'm hoping that once I get the hang of it I will convince my girlfriend to learn and start cycling to work too.

I definitely plan to stick to it - I deliberately bought a slightly pricier bicycle rather than the cheapest one I came across, because that way I would be motivated to not give up practicing in order to justify my spending.

How about the rear rack question? Can I buy any rear basket knowing that it will fit to the rack that is fixed to my bike, or do I need to go for a specific size or model?
Norg is offline  
Old 05-20-15, 07:46 AM
  #7  
dr_lha
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Central PA
Posts: 4,843

Bikes: 2016 Black Mountain Cycles Monster Cross v5, 2015 Ritchey Road Logic, 1998 Specialized Rockhopper, 2017 Raleigh Grand Prix

Mentioned: 11 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 374 Post(s)
Liked 13 Times in 9 Posts
Bottecchia are an old Italian brand with a long history of racing. I would guess the bike you got is pretty solid. Where are you out of interest? I remember Bottecchias in the UK, never seen one in the US, so I guess you're in Europe?
dr_lha is offline  
Old 05-20-15, 07:47 AM
  #8  
imi
aka Timi
 
imi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
Posts: 2,972

Bikes: Bianchi Lupo (touring) Bianchi Volpe (commuter), Miyata On Off Road Runner

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 51 Post(s)
Liked 32 Times in 26 Posts
Typically baskets have hooks which may or may not fit on the handlebars or rear rack depending on model and make, so try before buy. Don't load the basket too heavily to begin with as it may affect your balance. An alternative is to strap or bungy any old bag onto the rear rack.

Be safe! Lights front and rear. Use them as soon as visibility is reduced, even in fog or rain. I would also strongly recommend always wearing a neon coloured reflective vest. The more visible you are the better!

You're very welcome to ask more questions. There's a huge wealth of knowledge and experience on this forum. Let us know how you're getting on. It may also serve as inspiration to other beginners.
imi is offline  
Old 05-20-15, 08:15 AM
  #9  
gpburdell
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 315
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 76 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Yes, front brake can provide the majority of the braking force (up to 100% in some circumstances), so learn to use it well.


That said, don't just grab a handful of front brake; even without a suspension, weight transfer to the front wheel isn't instantaneous and if you get on the front brake too hard too quick you won't be a happy camper. Especially if you're on a less than ideal surface.


Also remember that your traction budget for each wheel is finite. If you're using some of it for turning you have less available for braking. Translation: you can brake harder (stop faster) going straight than if you're turning. Brake-swerve-brake.
gpburdell is offline  
Old 05-20-15, 08:22 AM
  #10  
Norg
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 15
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
dr_ilha: I'm in Malta - very close to Italy, so it makes perfect sense for an Italian brand to be more popular here. Here's a picture of the bicycle that I took while waiting for the guy at the shop to sort out all the documentation



imi: I thought about buying a strap, but I'm thinking that I might need to carry a laptop or camera on some days, so I'd rather have something as secure as possible. The bicycle is equipped with lights and a dynamo. Do I just turn the dynamo on to switch on the lights or do I need to do anything more complex than that?

Apologies for the stupid questions, I can guarantee that there will be many more to come! I will post updates on my progress, with the ultimate goal being my 7 mile commute to work. I'm hoping that I'll build up the ability and stamina for the ride by the end of summer. The only problem is that there aren't too many open places to practice close to my house, so I will have to find a quiet road, away from the eyes of my prying neighbours, to learn!
Norg is offline  
Old 05-20-15, 08:52 AM
  #11  
imi
aka Timi
 
imi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
Posts: 2,972

Bikes: Bianchi Lupo (touring) Bianchi Volpe (commuter), Miyata On Off Road Runner

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 51 Post(s)
Liked 32 Times in 26 Posts
Beginner questions

Have you found the "Commuting" sub-forum here as well?
imi is offline  
Old 05-20-15, 08:55 AM
  #12  
imi
aka Timi
 
imi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
Posts: 2,972

Bikes: Bianchi Lupo (touring) Bianchi Volpe (commuter), Miyata On Off Road Runner

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 51 Post(s)
Liked 32 Times in 26 Posts
Beginner questions

Don't worry what the neighbours think! They're probably mostly envious of your new fun and healthy lifestyle and will soon join you riding around on the island!
imi is offline  
Old 05-20-15, 09:17 AM
  #13  
SpeshulEd 
Senior Member
 
SpeshulEd's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 8,089
Mentioned: 10 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 686 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
9 times out of 10, I only use my front brake. Just like driving a car, you slowly apply pressure to come to a stop, you don't slam on the brake...if you need to stop more quickly, use both.

Your rear rack looks fairly standard, I'm sure most baskets or panniers would work on it.

As for gears, go with what feels good on your legs, but remember spinning (pedaling at a higher cadence) is better than mashing (pedaling at a slower cadence, pushing hard on the pedals).
__________________
Hey guys, lets go play bikes! Strava

SpeshulEd is offline  
Old 05-20-15, 10:15 AM
  #14  
nightvision
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2015
Location: Texas
Posts: 58
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Gears you can try to first practice playing with the rear and keeping the front in the middle or small depending how many cranks you have in the front. As you go up small hills, the steeper the hill the larger you want to go on the rear and as you level out or go down hill you can move to a small gear. Once you start getting familiar with the rear then you can add in the front.

Front brake has most stopping power and if wheel locks, you will flip forward. Rear slight stopping power and if wheel locks, it will just drag. Brake can be mostly front to slow down and both to come to a sudden stop.
nightvision is offline  
Old 05-20-15, 10:33 AM
  #15  
corrado33
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Bozeman
Posts: 4,094

Bikes: 199? Landshark Roadshark, 198? Mondonico Diamond, 1987 Panasonic DX-5000, 1987 Bianchi Limited, Univega... Chrome..., 1989 Schwinn Woodlands, Motobecane USA Record, Raleigh Tokul 2

Mentioned: 25 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1128 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Nice bike! Looks very nice! I can't comment on the brand though as I'm in the US.

Gears: Generally you'll use the right gear lever to switch your rear "gears" (called cogs individually or together called a cassette) more often than the left lever. When you run out of rear gears, you switch the front gears (called chainrings.) The rear gears are spaced more closely together than the front chainrings. (So each gear "jump" is small on the back, but big on the front) You also want to avoid "cross chaining" as it will make it harder to pedal and you'll wear your gears and chain out quicker. (See this link HERE.) If your bike has 3 chainrings (3 gears up front) you'll probably mostly keep it in the middle chainring and just use the back to change gears. (That's generally how I ride my bike with three chainrings.) The bigger of the three only gets used when I'm going really fast or downhill, and the smaller only gets used when I'm going up huge hills or I'm loaded down with lots of stuff.) One last piece of advice for gears/chains. You have to lube your chain a LOT more than you'd imagine. I probably clean and lube mine once every two weeks or less depending on what I've ridden through lately.

Braking: Use both. Most braking force will be due to the front brake, but in slippery conditions you'll want to put a bit more emphasis on the back brake. Front tire skid = almost certain crash. Back tire skid = easily recoverable. Also, brake BEFORE turns. If you brake during turns traction is shared between braking and turning, and neither turns out well. I don't think this will matter too much on a city bike, but it's a good habit to get into.

Almost any bag designed to go on a rack will fit your rack. (There are certain bigger bags that will not fit made for for so called "extended bikes" or "xtracycles" but you do not have those bikes.) Or, if you want to go cheap, go find a box or milk crate and attach it to your rack with zip-ties or string/rope. You do have to be conscious of how big the bags are though. If they are too large your feet will hit them when you pedal. It's best to try the bag before you buy it if possible. (Or ask the bag company if it'll work well with your bike.) For small bags (called panniers) I wouldn't worry about your feet hitting them. Often times bags from reputable companies allow you to move the mounting points forward on the back therefore moving the bag further away from your feet.
corrado33 is offline  
Old 05-20-15, 10:45 AM
  #16  
Corben
Senior Member
 
Corben's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Sacramento
Posts: 603

Bikes: 2014 Dawes Lightning 1000.1990 Schwinn Voyuager. 1997 specialized Crossroads Hybrid.

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 11 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
When you say "learn " to ride a bike do you mean learn to " just ride around town" or actually to get on a bike ride it?
Corben is offline  
Old 05-20-15, 12:43 PM
  #17  
Norg
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 15
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Corben View Post
When you say "learn " to ride a bike do you mean learn to " just ride around town" or actually to get on a bike ride it?
I mean literally get on on a bike and ride it, I wasn't joking when I described myself as a beginner I had bought a bicycle and had started learning the very basics, but had to give it up after around two weeks.

Quick update - my cycling career started again this evening. I took the bike up on the roof of my house to get used to balancing on it and pedal for very short distance. I quickly got the hang of it and took the bike down to the road in front of my house and spent around an hour doing laps around the road (it's a fairly quiet road with relatively few cars). I was extremely pleased with my progress, on the whole. I didn't fall at all, surprisingly, although I was slightly wobbly at times and tended to panic anytime a car came within 20 metres of me

Thank you to everyone for the advice, it was extremely helpful! In terms of the brakes, I found myself automatically using the front brakes (gently) more frequently, although there were instances where I used both. I also followed your advice in terms of the gears - I kept the bike on the middle chainring and didn't really mess around too much with changing gear. I was riding on flat terrain, so I'll try to experiment more with gears once I get some more experience.
Norg is offline  
Old 05-20-15, 01:29 PM
  #18  
obed7
Senior Member
 
obed7's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Porter, Texas
Posts: 4,125

Bikes: Trek Domane 5.2, Ridley Xfire, Giant Propel, KHS AeroComp

Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1648 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
welcome to the great adventure.
obed7 is offline  
Old 05-20-15, 01:40 PM
  #19  
Velocivixen 
Senior Member
 
Velocivixen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: The Great Pacific Northwest
Posts: 4,515
Mentioned: 87 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 397 Post(s)
Liked 21 Times in 18 Posts
If you are learning how to actually ride a bike, It might help if you were to to take the pedals off, go somewhere where you won't get involved with traffic, like maybe a park or something. Find a slight incline & go to the top, mount the bike then go down the slope and gently learn to balance and to use brakes.

I think we have some adult bicycle classes for folks who don't know how at all and that's how they start. If you're learning how to balance & slow down you don't need to worry about pedaling at the moment. I say this assuming that you really cannot ride a bike. I apologize if this description is too simple for your current situation.
__________________
"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth." Albert Einstein.
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls & looks like work" - Thomas Edison

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
Velocivixen is offline  
Old 05-20-15, 02:15 PM
  #20  
imi
aka Timi
 
imi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
Posts: 2,972

Bikes: Bianchi Lupo (touring) Bianchi Volpe (commuter), Miyata On Off Road Runner

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 51 Post(s)
Liked 32 Times in 26 Posts
Originally Posted by Norg View Post
... I wasn't joking when I described myself as a beginner ... I took the bike up on the roof of my house to get used to balancing on it and pedal for very short distance...
Oh man! You got me scared out of my wits with that!
imi is offline  
Old 05-20-15, 02:21 PM
  #21  
ColaJacket
Senior Member
 
ColaJacket's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Raleigh, NC
Posts: 1,892

Bikes: Fuji Sportif 1.3 C - 2014

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I found the Sheldon Brown site very valuable for beginners. Especially the article on starting/stopping.

I've read most of the beginner articles, and they are very informative.

GH
ColaJacket is offline  
Old 05-20-15, 05:11 PM
  #22  
Pidge
Senior Member
 
Pidge's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Texas
Posts: 92

Bikes: Mongoose bmx. Specialized bmx. Trek mountain bike.

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Congrats on the new ride. The front brake may be best for stopping but, remember, it's the rear brake that helps you do awesome skids. .
Pidge is offline  
Old 05-20-15, 08:43 PM
  #23  
JonathanGennick 
Senior Member
 
JonathanGennick's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Munising, Michigan, USA
Posts: 4,131

Bikes: Priority 600, Priority Continuum, Devinci Dexter

Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 685 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 55 Times in 37 Posts
Originally Posted by Norg View Post
dr_ilha: I'm in Malta - very close to Italy, so it makes perfect sense for an Italian brand to be more popular here. Here's a picture of the bicycle that I took while waiting for the guy at the shop to sort out all the documentation
That's a gorgeous bike.

Is it just a trick of the lighting, or are those crankarms painted white to match the frame?
JonathanGennick is offline  
Old 05-21-15, 05:09 AM
  #24  
Norg
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 15
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
That's a gorgeous bike.

Is it just a trick of the lighting, or are those crankarms painted white to match the frame?
I wish I could tell you, but I'm not sure what crankarms are! Here's another picture, in case it's more visible:

Norg is offline  
Old 05-21-15, 08:05 AM
  #25  
corrado33
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Bozeman
Posts: 4,094

Bikes: 199? Landshark Roadshark, 198? Mondonico Diamond, 1987 Panasonic DX-5000, 1987 Bianchi Limited, Univega... Chrome..., 1989 Schwinn Woodlands, Motobecane USA Record, Raleigh Tokul 2

Mentioned: 25 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1128 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Norg View Post
I wish I could tell you, but I'm not sure what crankarms are! Here's another picture, in case it's more visible:
Very pretty! The crankarms are the things that connect your pedals to the "crank" which is the thing that runs through the big (front) gears and the circular thing (bottom bracket) at the very bottom of your bike. (Also the thing that connects the "crank arms" together, but that's a bit of circular reasoning for ya!)
corrado33 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.