Given my limited experience in this, I can’t help you choose the right bike; the selection is huge, and your type of usage is key in deciding. I’ll just list the mistakes I made, hoping to save you from making them. This post is meant for other noobs like myself, if you have any experience, you don’t need this post. Also, most of the advice is about cycling longer distances, my favorite type.
Just buy a cheap first bike
I probably spent a year hesitating and worrying about the bike I want to buy. Whenever I spend another hour researching, I always end up either finding a great but expensive €2500 bike or a sad €200 bike. If you’re interested in a hobby like me, it’s tempting to buy an expensive one, and kinda a bummer to start with a cheap bike, but it shouldn’t be.
The reason I say this is that once I got the bike, it put me in a completely different world. Now I know what makes a good bike. And there is no amount of reading that could have given me this information. You have to get on the bike and ride far to know the pain points. I’ll at least use this bike for a year then maybe get a decent one with proper knowledge and understanding. If you’re hesitant, just grab any bike knowing that you’ll use it for a year, tops. In my mind, this bike is educational.
Buy padded shorts
Bike clothing is a bit expensive, but if anything is worth buying, it’s the padded shorts or bibs. They change the whole game. They protect your groin and make the rides half as hard. And trust me, you don’t want to mess with your pudendal nerve.
Have at least two types of grips on your handlebar
I don’t care which types of grips. But the variety really protects your hands. Having a single grip is likely to put tremendous pressure on the same spots of your joints. Having more than one helps you switch from time to time. I have these and these. As as software developer, the normal grips put further pressure on my carpal tunnel, an added neutral grip really changed the experience.
SPD pedals are amazing
This is not a mistake per se, but a lost opportunity. SPD pedals lock your foot into them. This way, you can push and pull the pedals. You’d have around 30% increase in output, as in, your ride would be 30% easier. If I knew this, I’d have them installed on the bike when I buy it to save the cost of the pedals that came with the bike.
I have Shimano SPD PD-T421. I like them because they’re two sided, you can use them with normal shoes on one side, and with SPD shoes on the other. They’re around €50.
You’ll need shoes with them, I got the Shimano SH-ME100, affordable and OK. I paid €50 euros.
The vast majority of your effort is against air resistance
This was mind blowing to me (pun intended 😜). Air resistance can make 60% of the drag. 75-80% of that is against your body. Meaning, your position on the bike can make a lot of difference. Much more than your weight and the weight of your bike and gear. My advice is if you want to obsess about efficiency, consider air resistance before weight. Unless you want to cycle on the moon.
Anti-shock gloves are worth it
On asphalt, the bike is always vibrating, these gloves dampen these vibrations against your hands. They’re around €10.
Research your helmet a bit
First of all, a helmet is necessary. One month in, my helmet saved my face 😅
In my experience, I bought a cheaper BMX for €25. I got a BMX by mistake, I didn’t know about the difference between types of helmets.
I then had a minor accident and scratched it, helmets shouldn’t be reused after accidents, and it’s ugly. So I then spent the same amount of money but this time got a much much better helmet, with a blinking light, probably half the weight, and looks much better.
That’s all. Enjoy your summer.