How to Ride a Bike: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

Learn how to ride a bike with our comprehensive guide, which includes well-researched and personal experience anecdotes from our team members at Parentaldaily. From selecting the right bike and safety gear to mastering balance, turning, and navigating traffic, our step-by-step instructions will help beginners gain confidence, and experienced riders enhance their skills. Start your biking journey today!

There are a lot of aspects that make a bicycle ride a comfortable and enjoyable ride experience. As a beginner rider, you must adjust the seat height and handlebar position according to your height and preference.

How to Ride a Bike a comprehensive guide to braking, balancing, first paddling, and which foot to use and which brake to apply first.

Understanding the different types of seat adjustments and how to adjust them properly is the first step in riding a bike. It can significantly enhance a biker’s comfort, performance, and overall satisfaction on the bike, whether a beginner or an experienced rider.

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Proper seat height, tilt, and angle adjustments are vital factors that contribute to a well-fitted cycle and can help prevent discomfort, pain, and potential injuries. We recommend beginner riders learn about these adjustments if they want to ride safely and comfortably.

In this guide, we will explore how you can ride the bike first time, using brakes, gripping handle bars, and how to balance yourself during turns and braking. The below article also provides step-by-step instructions on effectively making these adjustments.

By mastering the art of adjusting your bike seat, you can customize your riding position to suit your body, riding style, and preferences, resulting in a more enjoyable and efficient cycling experience.

1. Selecting the Right Bike and Safety Gear:

Right bicycle and Safety Gear outside my white house in driveway

A. Choosing the appropriate bike type

The first step is selecting the proper bike type, whether you are an adult or a parent (choosing a bike for your kid). The bike you select must suit your needs and preferences, which is crucial when learning how to ride a bike. 

As a beginner, you must consider factors that can affect you while riding a bike for the first time, such as the terrain and the purpose of your rides. 

Many options include mountain bikes for off-road adventures, road bikes for speed and long-distance rides, and cruisers for leisurely outings.

I was about ten years old when I first started learning to bike without the training wheels, says Parvinder Parentaldaily’s software head and Journalist. He says it was his friend’s cycle, and he rode it on the lawn in front of his house while his dad balanced the bike from behind. 

It was a Trek 4300, a sleek urban commuter bike that he loved.  

B. Proper bike sizing and adjustments

You need to ensure that the bike you are riding for the first time is comfortable and provides a safe riding experience, so choosing a bike that is the correct size for your body is crucial. 

Don’t choose a small bike if you have a large body type because sitting on and moving the pedals can be uncomfortable. 

 For adults, a good road bike size typically ranges from 48cm to 63cm, and 15″, 17″, and 19″ are suitable for Mountain Bikes. 

 For teens, a good road bike size typically ranges from 44cm to 52cm, and 13″ to 16″ or XS to S frame sizes are suitable for Mountain Bikes. 

You should know that improper bike size can lead to discomfort and difficulty controlling the cycle which can lead to injury. Learn about frame sizes and consult with a professional at a bike shop for assistance in finding the right fit. 

Additionally, you can make necessary adjustments, such as adjusting the seat height according to your height and handlebar position to optimize comfort and control.

We suggest you adjust the cycle seats before riding them. Seat Height Adjustment, Aft Adjustment, Seat Tilt Adjustment, and Angle Adjustment are the most common adjustments you can adjust according to your preference and height.

C. Essential safety gear

Our Software head, Parvinder, and Content head, Parmjit, both love riding bikes. They recommend wearing appropriate safety gear like a helmet, knee protection, elbow protection, and reflective vest when riding a bicycle. According to them and safety researchers, the most critical safety equipment is a well-fitted helmet that protects your head in case of a fall or collision. 

Additionally, it would help if you considered wearing quality knee and elbow pads to protect your joints, especially when practicing new skills or riding in more challenging environments.

Reflective clothing and accessories can enhance visibility at night or when visibility is low (during rain, storms, or haze), especially during low-light conditions or when riding on busy roads.

Parvinder remembers that a car almost hit him while riding at night because he was not wearing a vest. So do not ignore safety measures and ride safely.

You’ll set a strong foundation for a safe and enjoyable biking experience by carefully selecting the right bike and ensuring proper safety gear.

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2. Getting Familiar with Your Bike

Before you start riding the bicycle, it’s crucial to know and be familiar with the various components of your bike that you will use. Understanding each part’s work will help you ride confidently and ensure a safe experience. 

Here are the key aspects you must focus on while riding the bike:

A. Understanding bike components

  • Handlebars: Get familiarized with the different types of bars and grips and learn how to grip them comfortably. Practice steering and turning, and make sure to keep your hands relaxed while steering.
  • Pedals: You need to learn how to place your feet on the pedals securely. Practice for 5-10 minutes, rotating the pedals forward and backward to feel the motion, and then start the ride.
  • Brakes: As braking is one of the essential things to learn, you need to familiarize yourself with the brake system on your bike. Most bikes have two levers for braking, one for the front and a second for the back tires. Learn which lever controls the front and rear brakes and practice applying pressure gradually for controlled stopping. 
  • Gears: If your bike has gears (like most modern bikes), you must understand how they work and where to use them. You can quickly learn how to shift gears to adjust your speed and pedal resistance as needed from the instruction manual or by watching some youtube videos.

B. Adjusting the seat height and handlebar position

Adjusting the seat height of bycycle
Adjusting handlebar position of bicycle outside my white house in driveway
  • We recommend that before taking the bike for long rides, you must ensure your bike’s seat is at the right height. One simple trick is just standing next to the bike and adjusting the seat to align with your hip bone. 
  •  When sitting on the bike, whether your feet are touching the ground with a slight bend in your knees. If the answer is yes, then you have the right seat, height. I always use this simple trick when riding a new bike says, Parvinder. 
  • Adjust the handlebar position to a comfortable height and angle. If the handlebar position and angle are incorrect, your ride will not be comfortable. The angle and bar position should allow you to maintain an upright posture and relaxed grip on the handlebars while riding the bicycle

C. Checking tires and brakes for proper functionality:

  • Inspect the tires for any signs of damage or wear. Ensure they are correctly inflated and have sufficient tread for good grip.
  • Test the brakes to make sure they are functioning correctly. Squeeze the brake levers, check if the brakes engage smoothly, and bring the bike to a stop without any issues.

3. Basic Riding Techniques

We have given a proper introduction to bike sizes and components, and it is time for you to learn the fundamental riding techniques crucial for any beginner. 

We assure you that mastering these skills will enable beginners to ride confidently and enjoy a smooth experience whether a teenager or an adult:

A. Mounting and dismounting the bike correctly:

  • Stand near your bike – on the left or right side (according to your preference), ensuring it is balanced and stable. You can also take help from your parents, sibling, or friend to hold the bike for you.
  • The second step is to swing your leg over the bicycle saddle and position yourself on the seat. Keep the bike steady and balanced.
  • You need to place one foot on the ground (We recommend the non-dominant foot ) while keeping the other on a pedal in a ready-to-start position. We asked our team members what foot they used to pedal at the start, and all said the dominant one.
  • To dismount, slow down, apply the brakes gently, and put one foot down on the ground while swinging the other leg off the saddle. 

We suggest beginners take help from their parent or sibling while Mounting and dismounting the bike.

B. Balancing and maintaining stability:

  • Start by walking your bike and getting a feel for its balance. When I first rode my bike, I used this technique, and it is helpful as it eases your nerves and makes you feel comfortable, says Parvinder, our software head.
  • Once you are comfortable and at ease, push off with your foot and gradually lift your feet onto the pedals. 
  • You must always maintain a steady speed, relaxed posture, keep your weight centered over the bike, and gently grip the handlebars.
  • We recommend always looking ahead, watching the streets, and focusing on a fixed point to maintain stability and balance. It is the best tip to stay safe while riding a bike in a busy neighborhood.

C. Mastering the art of pedaling and steering:

  • Begin pedaling by applying downward pressure on the pedals with a smooth and even motion.
  • Steer the bike by gently turning the handlebars in the desired direction. Practice making gradual turns and becoming comfortable with the bike’s responsiveness.

D. Using brakes effectively and safely:

  • We recommend first-time bikers learning how to ride a city or mountain bike; please familiarize themselves with the brake levers and their operation so they can safely use brakes. 
  • Practice applying the brakes gradually, mainly when new to cycling; apply rear brakes first, followed by front brakes while stopping.
  • Remember to distribute your weight evenly when braking to avoid skidding or losing control.

Mastering these basic riding techniques develops a strong foundation for your biking journey. Practice regularly in a safe, controlled environment to build confidence and enhance your skills.

4. Starting and Stopping:

Following the correct techniques is essential for a smooth and controlled experience when starting and stopping while riding a bike.

A. Proper Foot Positioning for Starting

Proper Foot Positioning for Starting non dominant foot on the ground and other foot on paddle
  • A beginner bike rider should always place one foot on the ground while straddling the bike; this makes balancing more manageable.
  • Then you can position the pedal of the dominant foot in the upward position, ready to push off.

B. Pushing off with One Foot and Gaining Momentum

Pushing off with One Foot and Gaining Momentum using the dominant foot infront of a white house in driveway
  • Apply pressure to the bike pedal with your dominant foot to push the bike forward to gain momentum.
  • Simultaneously lift your non-dominant foot off the ground and pressure to the other side of the pedal as you gain momentum.
  • Keep paddling and increase the pedaling speed at a steady pace.
  • Keep your body balanced and centered as you start pedaling.

C. Applying Brakes to Slow Down and Come to a Controlled Stop

  • To slow down your bicycle, you can apply gentle pressure to both brakes simultaneously; we recommend using the rear brake first. Applying both brakes simultaneously is advised if you want to stop the bike suddenly due to an emergency.
  • Shift your weight slightly backward to maintain balance while slowing down.
  • You can gradually increase the pressure on the brakes until you come to a controlled stop and avoid sudden breaking or intense brake pressuring unless in an emergency.
  • Remember to distribute your braking force evenly between the front and rear brakes.

5. Turning and Changing Directions:

Turning and changing directions require proper technique and body positioning to maintain balance and stability.

A. Executing Basic Turns

Turning and Changing Directions of bicycle
  • For wide turns, lean your body and bike gently in the direction you want to turn.
  • Use your body weight to assist in the turning motion, keeping your arms relaxed and aligned with the handlebars.
  • Practice leaning the bike and your body further for sharper turns, maintaining control throughout.

B. Initiating Turns Using Handlebar Movements and Body Positioning

Initiating Turns Using Handlebar Movements and Body Positioning
  • Use the handlebars to steer the bike smoothly in the desired direction.
  • Shift your body weight towards the direction of the turn, leaning slightly into the turn.
  • Look ahead and focus on where you want to go to maintain balance and stability.

C. Maintaining Balance and Stability While Turning

Maintaining Balance and Stability While Turning
  • Keep your body relaxed and loose, allowing the bike to move beneath you.
  • Bend your knees slightly and use them as shock absorbers over bumps or uneven surfaces.
  • Shift your weight as needed during the turn to maintain balance and control.

6. Navigating Traffic and Obstacles:

When riding in traffic or encountering obstacles, it’s essential to understand basic traffic rules, practice proper signaling, and navigate safely.

A. Basic Traffic Rules and Hand Signals:

  • Familiarize yourself with local traffic laws and regulations.
  • Use hand signals to communicate your intentions to other road users:
    • Left turn: Extend your left arm straight out to the side.
    • Right turn: Extend your left arm and bend it upward at a 90-degree angle.
    • Stop or slow down: Extend your left arm and bend it downward at a 90-degree angle.

B. Sharing the Road with Pedestrians and Vehicles:

  • Respect pedestrians’ right of way and give them ample space.
  • Ride in the same direction as traffic and use designated bike lanes when available.
  • Stay alert and make eye contact with drivers to ensure they know your presence.

C. Avoiding Common Obstacles:

  • Watch out for potholes, debris, curbs, and other potential obstacles.
  • Scan the road ahead and plan your route to avoid hazards whenever possible.
  • Maintain a safe distance from parked cars to avoid collisions with opening doors.

By mastering these techniques and navigating traffic and obstacles, you’ll become a confident and safe cyclist, ready to enjoy the bike’s benefits. Remember to prioritize safety and follow local traffic laws for a rewarding biking experience.