How to Learn to Bike

Do you want to go out for a bike ride? Are you trying to teach someone else ? Many adults have never had the opportunity to learn and many children want to do it. Do not feel embarrassed, but rather immediately dedicated to one of the most healthy and fun means of transport that exist. Cycling requires preparation, technique and probably some fall, but everyone can learn.

Part1

Learn in Security

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    Find a suitable place. To learn you need an environment where you feel comfortable and away from traffic. Look for a smooth, uneven piece of asphalt, like the driveway or sidewalk of your home. If space is not enough, you can practice in a parking lot or at the park.

    • Giving the first rides on the grass or gravel is a good idea, because on those surfaces you will do less harm in the event of a fall. However, it will not be easy to balance like on the asphalt.
    • If you intend to practice balance and pedaling on sloping stretches, find a path with soft slopes.
    • Consult the highway code and find out if it is legal to ride a bike on the sidewalk.
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    Wear the right clothes. The knee pads and elbow pads protect the joints from scratches, so they are very useful for cyclists. Long-sleeved shirts and trousers are also a great help in case of falls and can be used in combination with protections.

    • Avoid wide trousers and long skirts. These clothes can get caught in the gearbox and wheels.
    • Do not wear open shoes. These models leave the feet exposed to the bicycle and the ground.
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    Put the helmet. These protections are recommended for experienced and novice cyclists. You can not know when an accident will happen to you. Broken bones usually heal, but head injuries, quite common as a result of bicycle accidents, cause permanent consequences. Furthermore, in some countries the highway code requires the use of a helmet.

    • The helmet must be the exact size of your head. It must be quite tight and reach 2.5 cm above the eyebrows; must also have a strap that holds tight, without preventing you from moving your mouth.
    • The Commuter helmets are the most common. They are round, made of foam and plastic, you can find them on the internet or in bicycle shops. 
    • Road helmets are elongated and often have vents. They are also made of foam and plastic, but are mainly used for competitions. Look for them on the internet or in specialized shops. 
    • Helmets for young people (10-15 years of age), children (5-10 years of age) and young children (less than 5 years) are smaller versions of the models described above. Those for young children are the only ones that have more foam.
    • The mountain and professional helmets have a visor and a neck protection suitable for traveling off-road. [5]
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    Exit during the day. It is possible to ride a bike at night, but it is not recommended for beginners. You will need a lot of time to learn how to stay balanced. This means that, as long as you are not used to it, your bicycle will skid and you may not see the obstacles in front of you in the dark. Moreover, at night, drivers are much more difficult to distinguish you. 

    • If you have to go out at night, wear light-colored clothes, reflective stickers and install a beacon on your bike.

Part2

Get on the bicycle

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    Start on a flat surface. Access driveways, sidewalks, low-traffic roads and paths in the park are ideal for a beginner. They have no ascents or descents, so you do not have to worry about falling down; moreover, it will be easier to find the balance and stop you.

    • You can also practice on grass or gravel. Falls will be less painful, but you will have to pedal harder to move.
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    Adjust the seat. Lower it until you can put both feet on the ground. This allows you to avoid falls. Adults do not need wheels, which can be very useful for young children. 

    • You can remove the pedals, but it is not necessary.
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    Try the brakes. Find out how they work by walking and carrying on the bicycle with their hands. Additionally, to get used to their position, the strength necessary to use them and the effect they have on the vehicle. Once you are familiar with the brakes you will feel more comfortable in the saddle, because you will be able to stop in case of emergency.

    • If the bicycle has brakes on the handlebars, try both to see which one controls the front wheel and which one is the rear one. A professional mechanic can reverse them if desired. 
    • Notice how the rear brake pressure causes the corresponding wheel to slip. Pushing the front brake hard, however, the bike tends to tilt forward. 
    • If your bike does not have brakes on the handlebars, it should have pedals that can brake the vehicle by turning it backwards. To stop, push the pedal closer to the back of the bike, as if you want to pedal backwards. 
    • If your bike has a fixed wheel and has not been modified, it does not have brakes. Instead of braking you will have to slow down the pedaling frequency or skid by tilting forward and holding both pedals parallel to the ground with your feet. 
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    Put one foot on the ground. Choose the side you prefer, even if often the dominant side is the most natural. For example, if you are right, you can keep the bike from the left side. Raise your leg, take it over the bike and place it on the ground on the other side. Keep the middle straight between the legs.

    • Warn the weight of the bike between your legs and try to keep it balanced while you lower yourself. With your feet on the ground, the bicycle can not fall on its side.
    • Keep the weight in the middle of the vehicle, evenly distributed on the legs. Sit on the seat with your back straight and do not lean forward.
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    Start moving forward. Do not use the pedals, but give the push with your feet. Raise your legs and place your feet on the pedals. Keep the bicycle balanced for as long as possible during movement. When you notice that the vehicle is about to tip, put a foot on the ground and start pushing again. 
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    Keep your eyes on. If you look at an obstacle, the bicycle moves towards it. Focus your gaze in the direction you want to proceed. It is practical to avoid distractions on the road.

    • Before taking full control of the vehicle, follow the bicycle. During the first rides the bike will tend to bend or move in a circle. Do not stop and try to keep your balance by following the natural trajectory of the bicycle. 
    • If you are helping a child or a friend, you can hold a hand on his lower back to keep him balanced.
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    Start pedaling. Start with one foot on the ground. Hold the other plate on one of the pedals, facing up. Push the pedal, put the foot that was on the ground on the other and go! Keep moving forward until you can keep your balance.

    • Increasing the speed is easier to maintain the balance, but not to accelerate to the point of losing control.
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    Disassemble from the bicycle. Do not stop putting your feet on the ground, but learn to do it with the brakes. Stop pedaling, shift the weight on the lower pedal and operate both brakes (if the bike has them). When you’re still, get up slightly and get down on the ground. 

    • Putting the foot on the ground too early during braking abruptly interrupts the movement of the bicycle. Inertia could cause you to crash into the handlebars. 

Part3

Learn to Go Sloping

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    Practice driving your bike along gentle descents. Carry it by hand at the top of a hill, ride up and down, taking advantage of the flat area that follows the slope to naturally slow down. Dismount and repeat, if necessary, until you are used to checking the vehicle and staying in balance. 

    • Keep your weight on your feet. Stay sitting on the seat, bend your elbows and relax your body. 
    • Once you can safely get down, try repeating the exercise with your feet on the pedals.
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    Brake while proceeding downhill. Once you feel comfortable with your feet on the pedals, try going down again, this time by gently pulling the brakes. You will learn how to slow down without losing control or colliding with the handlebars.
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    Try to steer. When you are able to proceed by inertia, pedal and brake in a straight line, try going down the slope again. Move the handlebars until you can change the direction of the bike without losing control. Try to find out how the slope changes the behavior of the vehicle and worries about staying balanced.
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    Pedal for the last part of the descent. Use the techniques you have previously used to pedal and steer without stopping at the end of the descent. Arrived on the flat surface, exerted in the tightest curves, then brakes to stop you.
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    Pedal along the climb. Start pedaling from the flat section and step up when you hear the road. Tilt forward or even up on the pedals to exert more force. Travel the slope up and down several times until you feel safe.

    • Once you feel confident, reach the middle of the climb, stop and start pedaling again.

Tips

  • When you are more experienced, you can raise the seat so as to touch the ground with only the tips of the feet.
  • Remember to look forward. If you look around, the bicycle has a tendency to follow your gaze.
  • Practice under the supervision of a parent or adult. Whatever your age, they will help you learn.
  • If you can not get a helmet and some protections, practice on the grass and avoid the roads.
  • Always wear protections and a helmet.
  • Do not try to predict the intentions of drivers; you always assume the worst and pay attention.
  • Bicycles with gears are more challenging for beginners. If you have to learn about a similar model, increase the ratio when you are climbing.
  • Learning is more fun in company. If you’re afraid of falling, learning in the presence of other people having fun is a useful encouragement.

Warnings

  • Once you have learned to ride a bike, learn the road code, especially the dangers of exceeding speed limits, how to behave in the presence of cars and signage.
  • Cycling accidents are common and dangerous. Always wear a helmet to avoid head injuries. Put the protectors to prevent scratches and fractures.
  • Learn local laws. In some countries the helmet is obligatory, in others it is not allowed to ride a bike on the sidewalks.

Things you will need

  • Bicycle
  • Pump to inflate the wheels
  • A helmet
  • Knee-pads (optional)
  • Elbow pads (optional)
  • A flat surface