The Basics of Riding a Bicycle

Bicycles are used by millions of people worldwide for work, exercise, commuting, delivery, racing and just plain fun. They are the most efficient means of human-powered transportation in both biological and mechanical terms. Riding a bicycle might seem simple to the uninitiated, but it is actually a complex process involving both the rider and the bike.

Historically, the term ‘bicycle’ was used to describe any two-wheeled vehicle that was powered by human pedaling. The earliest examples of such vehicles were known by several names including dandy horse, hobby horse, boneshaker, velocipede and penny-farthing. The bicycle we know and love today, however, is the result of many technological advances. Its modern design, which includes both rear- and front-wheel drive and the use of gearing, makes it a highly efficient form of transport.

Modern bicycles are designed for all types of paved-surface riding, whether city streets, country lanes, cycle paths or mountain passes. They are lightweight and aerodynamic with components that allow the cyclist to go fast in a straight line, while climbing hills easily. Road bikes usually have narrower wheels than mountain bikes and are equipped with handlebars that curve forward, offering a more comfortable and upright position while riding.

The handlebars are the controls for a bicycle and are available in three styles. Upright handlebars, which were the norm until the 1970s, gently curve back toward the rider and offer a natural grip. Drop handlebars have a more forward curve and are a bit higher, allowing the cyclist to be in a more aerodynamic ‘crouched’ position while riding. Flat handlebars, which were the standard until the 1990s, are typically flat and offer the rider a choice of where to place their hands while on the bike.

When cycling, keep in mind that even a slight distraction can have serious consequences. Avoid listening to music or talking on the phone while you are riding. It’s also a good idea to wear a helmet. Distracted driving is a leading cause of car accidents in the US, and it’s just as dangerous to be distracted while riding a bike. If you must bring your electronic device with you on a ride, consider using a mount to secure it to the frame or handlebars. This will keep you safe and will prevent you from having to remove your hands from the handles when changing the volume, selecting another song or answering a call. You can also add a small saddlebag to your bike for carrying water, snacks or other items you need during your ride.