When it comes to exercise or commuting to and from work, many people have different ideas of what is the best option for them. Some people choose cycling as their main mode of transport for many reasons, ranging from exercise to environmental incentives. However, bicycle sales dropped to a 20-year low last year, with the number of people cycling falling too. In our 2023 study, we found that most people are deterred by cycling due to issues such as safety concerns, a lack of cycle lanes and other road users. There does, however, seem to be an incentive to cycle; it’s all about knowing where to start.
In this guide, we will explore how a beginner can start to make cycling a part of their weekly or even daily routine. We will discuss the different types of cycling that can be undertaken, the various benefits of riding a bike, and how you can effectively start to build up your confidence. We will also highlight how to keep safe whilst cycling, and whether or not cycle insurance could benefit you.
Before you start cycling, it is important to know what type of cycling you wish to undertake. You don’t have to stick to just one variation, but your main choice could influence how often you cycle, and which bike you choose. The main types of cycling include, but are not limited to:
Commuter cycling: this refers to cycling that is undertaken as a main mode of transport. For example, someone who cycles to and from work is a commuter cyclist.
Road cycling: this type refers to any cycling that takes place on the road, whether you want to enjoy the great outdoors or travel to different locations.
Mountain biking: if you’re looking for a sportier biking hobby, mountain biking is a great choice for thrill seekers looking for more adventure. Often, cyclists will need a certain type of bike to go mountain biking, as a regular bike may not be durable enough
Competitive cycling: cycling in a competitive sense ranges from indoor track cycling to BMX stunt competitions.
Touring cycling: if you want to travel with your bike for a cycling holiday, touring cycling is for you. This can range from single-day trips to multiple days, weeks or even months on the road with your bike.
No matter which area of cycling you wish to get into, it is always best to do your research to decide which suits you, and to start small. If you’re dedicated to cycling as a long-term part of your lifestyle, consider cycle insurance to help protect yourself and your bike on the road.
What Are the Benefits of Cycling?
Amongst the people in our 2023 survey that did cycle, the majority did so as a form of exercise due to its many benefits. Cycling is a great way to build up stamina, muscle strength and joint mobility. It is also proven to decrease stress, increase flexibility, and help people lose weight. It is also a great exercise for mental health, as exercise is well known to release endorphins.
Taking up cycling as a hobby is also a great way to meet new people and get outside. If walking isn’t for you, and you don’t fancy taking up running, cycling is an ideal middle balance as you can take it at your own pace. As a beginner, you can take short trips that can eventually turn into longer adventures as you build up strength and confidence.
Cycling is also much better for the environment than driving, making it an eco-conscious alternative for commuting.
How Can I Start Cycling?
Once you have decided to start cycling, it can be difficult to know where to start. In our 2023 survey, 62% of respondents said they would like to cycle more than they already do, highlighting the need for more information and support regarding cycling for beginners.
When you make the decision to start cycling, whether you’re choosing to commute, take it up as a hobby, or for a mixture of different reasons, you first need to choose the best bike for you. Investing in a good quality bike rather than opting for the cheaper choice is a good place to start, as your bike will be more durable, and you can often find a bike built specifically for a certain use. For example, BMX bikes are great for stunt shows due to their size and frame, but not ideal for commuter cycling.
You will also need to choose the right accessories for your bike, such as a helmet, lights, a secure lock (ALA recommend a Sold Secure gold standard lock), and clothing. If you’re planning to cycle frequently, the right clothing can make rides much more comfortable. You can also get cycling accessory insurance to protect your belongings.
You could start with smaller journeys before moving on to bigger treks; if you are commuting, do a test run at a quieter time of day rather than rush hour first to see how you get on cycling on the road. If you decide to take up mountain biking, try somewhere that has less harsh terrain, or maybe take a friend.
No matter the medium of cycling you wish to embrace, always start comfortably and work your way up. As well as cycle insurance, there are other ways in which you can keep safe as a beginner.
How Can I Keep Safe When Cycling?
Cycling can sometimes be seen as a dangerous hobby, especially if you ride on the road. In our 2023 survey, we found that 76% of people believe that cycling has become more dangerous in recent years, attributing their fears to external factors rather than their own ability to control a bike on the road.
Although you cannot control other drivers and terrain issues, you can keep yourself safe by getting equipped and learning the highway code for cyclists. As well as cycling with a helmet and lights, it is advised that cyclists carry a form of identification, a small amount of cash, and a means of communication wherever they go.
Cyclists should also make themselves aware of different hand signals when making turns, and bring food and water on their journey. If you are worried about other drivers when out on your bike, stick to cycle lanes or close to the pavement if the former isn’t available. By making yourself familiar with the local roads and areas where you wish to cycle, you can keep yourself safe and potentially avoid any surprises.
Do I Need Cycle Insurance?
If your bike is expensive, or you choose to cycle frequently, then it is a good idea to consider cycle insurance. Cycle insurance can protect your bike should it be damaged or stolen, giving you peace of mind whilst you’re out on your bike. No matter whether the damage was accidental or malicious, cycle insurance will replace your bike on a new for old or like for like basis.