Smart Cycling Tips
Use these tip sheets to learn more about how to ride safely and perform maintenance on your bike.
Basic Bike Check (Just Remember: ABC QUICK CHECK)
- Inflate tires to the pressure listed on the side of the tire
- Use a pressure gauge to insure proper pressure
- Check for damage on tired and replace if damaged
- Inspect pads for wear; replace is there is less than ¼" of pad left
- Check pad adjustment; make sure they do not rub the tire
- Look to see that you can fit your thumb between the brake lever handlebar when the brakes are squeezed all the way
- Pull your cranks away from the bike – if they are loose, tighten the bolt
- Check your that your chain is free of rust and gunk
- Make sure your quick releases are all closed
- They should all be pointing to the back of the bike, so that they don’t get caught on anything
- Take a quick ride to check that it is working properly
- To find the right size helmet, put one on your head without fastening the straps.
- The front of the helmet should be level and two-fingers width above your eyebrows.
- Shake your head from side to side: There should only be a little movement.
- The side straps should come to a point just below your ears - move the small tabs on the side of these straps up or down until they are a half an inch or less under your ear lobe.
- The chin strap should be about half an inch below your chin when your mouth is closed.
- Wearing a bike helmet with loose straps is the same as not wearing a bike helmet at all.
Become a subscriber
Become a Member
Join us in making biking better across the country.
Register your Bike
Bike Index is registration that works. Register your bike(s) on the League's profile here. Visit bikeindex.org for tips about locking and theft prevention.
What to Wear
- Wear a properly fitted helmet
- Make sure that the helmet fits on top of the head and is parallel to the ground
- After a crash or impact on your helmet, it should be replaced
- You don’t have to wear special cycling gear in order to ride a bike, everyday clothes work just fine
- If your bike doesn’t have a chain guard, you can keep your pants away from the chain by rolling up your pant leg or using a leg band
- Tight, close fit keeps fabrics from rubbing your skin and causing irritation
- Bike shorts should be worn alone or under another pair of lightweight shorts
- Wear layers
- Gloves and ear warmers are particularly helpful
- Wear bright colors and reflective gear
- Waterproof jacket and pants
- Wear bright colors and reflective gear
- Jerseys help pull moisture away from your skin and have pockets on the back for food, tools, and money
- Cycling shorts offer cushioning
- Bike gloves help distribute pressure across your palms
- Frame size is important for comfort and cannot be adjusted
- When standing over a straight tube, there should be 1" to 2" between you and the frame for a road bike and 3" to 4" on a mountain/hybrid
- On a step-through bike, your leg should be slightly bent when the pedal is pushed down all the way
- Your local bike shop can help you fit a frame
- While seated, you should have a slight bend in your knee when the pedal is pushed down all the way
- Beginners may want their seat a bit lower for comfort and security
- The seat should be tilted no more than five degrees up or down
- Handlebar setup is a personal preference; higher for comfort, lower for performance
- Seats come in gender specific as well as comfort and performance models
- If you hurt after you and your bike shop adjust it a few times, try a new one
- Explore your choices; your seat should not hurt you or cause numbness
- When it’s getting harder to pedal, shift into an easier, lower gear
- When it’s getting easier to pedal, you’ll want to be in a harder, higher gear
- On flat ground, you’ll want to be in the middle of your range of gears
- Be sure to shift into a comfortable starting gear before you stop
- For best results, the chain needs to be in a generally straight line -- if you are in your hardest front gear, you don’t want to be in your easiest back gear (you should be able to hear it if your chain isn’t in a straight line)
Share the Trail
- Respect all trail users
- Yield to slower users
- Obey the rules of the trail
- Use a bell, horn or voice to indicate your intention to pass
- Warn other well in advance so you do not startle them
- Yield to traffic at places where the trail crosses the road
- Yield to other users at trail intersections
- Stay as close to the right as possible, except when passing
- Pull out only when you are sure the lane is clear
- Allow plenty of room, about two bike lengths, before moving back to the right
- Travel in a straight line unless you are avoiding hazards or passing
- Indicate your intention to turn or pass
- Most trial users will not have lights at night; use a white front and red rear light.
- For group rides, use no more than half the trail
- Stop and regroup completely off the trail
- Place all litter in its proper receptacle