For those of us who don't like exercising indoors, bike riding is a great way to get exercise
& to get somewhere in life. Ride w/friends or family.
Run errands, or just go out & pedal hard
to feel the wind in your face. Ride the road or hit the trails. With modern bike technology, almost no area is out of bounds.
Biking is one of the best fitness activities for whole families to enjoy together. It's also
the one activity that allows you to cover some real distance. There are plenty of biking tours available now through various
regions of the country or world.
More than most outdoor activities, bicycling is subject to the vagaries of the weather. High
speeds & relatively little contact w/the road don't mesh well w/wet or icy conditions. The road isn't the only thing that's
slippery when wet. Brakes are too.
Bicycles are simple
& beautifully elegant machines that attract just about every kid at an early age. The coolest thing about a bicycle is
that it lets you get where you are going a lot faster & using a lot less energy than you would if you were walking or
The other neat thing
about bicycles for anyone interested in machines & mechanics is that everything is completely exposed. There are no covers
or sheet metal hiding anything, on a bicycle, it is all out in the open.
Many kids w/mechanical
tendencies can't resist the desire to take their bike apart! click here to read more about how bicycles work!
One hundred calories can power a cyclist for 3 miles, but it would only power a car 280
type of food a cyclist eats can affect performance. While exercising on the bicycle, it is extremely important to keep in
mind that you need to meet your requirements of water, protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins & minerals.
Even though Leonardo DaVinci had sketched a design
for it 400 years earlier, when the "velocipede" - a.k.a., the bicycle - first made its appearance in the 1860's, it was considered
little more than an oddity.
Few who saw it believed that the strange-looking
apparatus would ever fulfill the promise for which it was touted:
"to replace the horse
as the dominant mode of human transportation."
That's hardly a surprise, judging from the early designs that came outfitted w/metal wheels &
a wooden frame. Little wonder that the early bicycles were nicknamed "boneshakers."
Cut to the present
day. You can now walk into an upscale cycle boutique & pick out a bike w/a frame made of super-lightweight titanium alloy,
a set of precision components comprising more than 20 gears & an advanced rider-suspension system - not to mention a price
tag of several thousand dollars.
But perhaps you're
not planning to go off-roading in Moab or enter the tour de France. You may prefer to make a more modest investment
& acquire something that's simply suited for an afternoon ride around your neighborhood. Either way, you'll be enjoying
an outdoor activity that's a proven source of aerobic exercise
& strength conditioning.
The first step
in selecting a bike is deciding which type of riding you want to do:
some combination of those.
host of DIY's Family Sports, talks with Darryl Glascock, a bicycle specialist for Galyan's Sports, about the most popular
categories of bicycles as well as some safety equipment & accessories that are available.
Mountain bikes have a durable, rugged construction (pictured
below) & are designed to survive being ridden off-road, over dirt trails, rocks, roots & other rough terrain. Their
- A low, compact frame
- Thick, knobby tires for
extra grip on slippery surfaces
- Wide, high handlebars
for a stable, upright ride
They may employ
upward of 25 gears for adaptability in a wide range of riding conditions, & many of the more technical
(& expensive) models also employ a suspension system that serves to absorb some of the bumps & jarring encountered in
Suspension systems may range from a set of shock-absorbers on just the front forks to an elaborate
& adjustable full system that includes rear suspension (directly above right) as well. Some utilize toe-clips or "cages"
to keep the rider's feet secure on the pedal through rough rides; others feature a clipless design where the pedal connects
by means of a specialized cleat to the bottom of the rider's shoe.
The clipless variety offers the advantage of enhancing pedaling efficiency. You may choose from
a variety of seat styles, but most used on mountain bikes are low profile & lightweight. The bike frame may be of steel,
aluminum or lightweight alloy.
Generally, the lighter the material used to make the frame, the more expensive the bike will
be. Though they have a thicker frame & more robust construction than road-racing bikes, the best mountain bikes are nevertheless highly engineered performance
Depending on the materials used & the sophistication of design, they may range in price from
several hundred to several thousand dollars. A high-quality mountain bike suitable for novice to intermediate riders generally
costs around $700.
It takes less energy to bicycle one mile than it takes to walk a mile although bicycles
can be up to 5 times more efficient than walking.
Comparing the amount of calories burned in bicycling to the number of calories an automobile
burns, the difference is astounding.
Road bikes, modeled after the high-performance models used in road racing, utilize
a taller, & often more slender, frame. They are lightweight, built for speed & intended for use on paved roads.
These bikes utilize
a greater wheel diameter & narrower tires than off-road bikes. Their aerodynamic road-racing design (immediately above)
is intended to optimize pedaling efficiency so that each rotation of the pedals yields maximum forward momentum.
The result is
that you travel farther & faster w/less effort. The drop-style handlebars (below) are positioned so that the rider can
lean fully forward, thereby reducing wind resistance, an important consideration in racing.
settings allow the rider to compensate for the incline of the road & select from a range of gear positions so as to minimize
fatigue over a long ride. Road bikes generally use a very light slim line seat to further reduce weight. As w/mountain bikes,
the frame may be made from a variety materials, & the price of the bike is often most dependent on the type of material
Prices for a good
aluminum-frame bike will generally start around $600 to $700.
bikes, some of which are known as hybrid bikes, are a popular
style in which the design (below left) is oriented more toward comfort than performance.
They offer a mix of features found on mountain bikes & road bikes. For instance, they may
use tires that have a relatively smooth center tread for riding on pavement but knobby lugs on the outer edges in case you
want to veer off onto a trail (below right).
Some offer convenience features such as comfortable gel seats, a gauge that indicates what gear
you're in (below center) & grip-style shifters. Since they don't need the high-end components & ultralight frames
used in the performance-oriented models, these tend to be less expensive: starting around $250 to $300.
The bike itself, padded shorts, helmet
Time: If you're
going to get out there, figure on being out a half-hour, at least. It takes a while to get warmed up.
- If you're going to stay on relatively smooth
roads, get a road bike. Otherwise, for rougher roads (including city streets) & for versatility, consider a "hybrid" bike.
- Comfort is the key to long rides & the
right bike setup is the key to comfort. On a road or hybrid bike, set the handlebars about an inch lower than the saddle.
Unless you're a racer, any lower puts undue strain on your back. For mountain bikes, 2 - 4" is right. Make sure your seat
- Buy your bike from a reputable bike shop &
make friends w/your dealer. Repairs & upgrades are a whole lot easier when you have friend in the business.
"I went out yesterday in a snow flurry and rode for an hour through the woods. I felt like I
was a kid again! The fresh air and the hilly terrain are so invigorating." --iVillager lakeroho
"When I started biking I could barely
get around the block, but now I'm doing 12 miles a day, six days a week. I'm 47 and I've lost 45 pounds!" --iVillager
cycling, dress in clothing that is close-fitting. Loose pants can catch in your bike chain or wheel. Accomplished cyclists
often opt for fitted stretch clothing to cut down on wind resistance.
you've got room in a backpack or saddlebag, you may want to bring a windbreaker along in case the temperatures are cool.
Always wear close-toed shoes to prevent foot injuries.
Never wear sandals or bicycle barefoot. If you're going to do a lot of cycling, you may want to look into some specialized
These are lightweight, low profile & made to
fit into pedal cages or clip directly to specially made pedals.
When a sport relies heavily on equipment, whether it's snow skiing, skateboarding, backpacking
or golf, that sport often evolves in a "chicken & egg" relationship with technology.
Bicycling is no exception.
As cycling becomes more popular, manufacturers increase their emphasis on coming up with new
materials, styles & accessories to please enthusiasts. And as the bikes & equipment become more sophisticated &
intriguing, more people become interested in cycling.
Helmets are the single most important piece of safety equipment in bicycling.
Since they are designed to prevent head injury, it's no exaggeration to say that wearing one could save your life. Contemporary
bike helmets are aerodynamically designed (some are even wind-tunnel tested); they come in a myriad of styles & colors
& most are ventilated.
Advances in technology have led to helmets that are strong but still extremely lightweight, generally
around nine ounces total.
Most have a padded interior & a body made of specialized StyrofoamB.
covered in impact-resistant plastic. These are design-tested to disperse the energy of impact in the event of an accident.
Helmets come in 3 sizes, & you should choose the smallest size that comfortably fits your head.
Refer to the manufacturer's instructions for details on fit, but
in general the front of the helmet should just rest at the top of the brow, & the side straps should come together under
each ear (see above left A). Tighten the chin strap to hold the helmet on securely.
Gloves come in different styles depending
on their use. Road gloves (immediately right) are designed for use with road-racing style bikes & are usually made of
synthetic leather. The synthetic holds up better, & stays more supple, than real leather. Palm padding provides comfort
& helps avoid calluses developing on long rides. Newer gel types provide optimal palm padding & help prevent hand-numbness
through weight displacement. Mountain-bike gloves (immediately below left) serve similar functions but usually have some form
of top armor to protect the hands & knuckles from abrasions, since off-road riding often leaves the hands exposed to tree
limbs & other hazards.
The human body is made up of mostly water; so even losing as little as 2 percent
of the body's fluid through sweat can adversely affect cycling performance. Athletes riding in hot conditions
for extended periods need to be careful. Severe dehydration can cause heat exhaustion or heat stroke and in even
in some extreme cases, death. Cyclists are instructed to drink a few cups of water before riding and then to drink
often during exercise.
legs provide the power for cycling. Muscle attached to the thighbone (femur) and the shinbone (tibia) does the majority of
the work. Your thighbone works like a lever and if it's longer than your shinbone it will provide extra leverage on each stroke
of the pedals. The length of your thighbone is determined by genetics, so if you have short thighbones you can blame your
parents. The length of the thighbone is not the whole story, though--it takes muscles to move those bones.
Thousands of thin spaghetti-like fibers make up muscle tissue. These fibers receive messages
from the brain, causing the fibers to contract. The main muscles at work in cycling are the quadriceps and hamstrings in the
upper leg, and the gastrocnemius and soleus in the calf. These muscles contract in a sequence that creates the pedaling action.
can take you a long way from home, so it's a good idea to carry along a few items to deal w/minor emergencies.
is a list of some recommended items that you may need when you're out on the road. These items should be available from your
local bike shop, & a salesperson can advise you on the various options.
bottle or hydropack. It's important to stay hydrated while you ride, so bring along an ample amount of water.
- Snack food. High-energy snacks that won't spoil are a good idea.
- Multitool. These versatile tools include a variety of features attachments that may assist you w/a roadside repair.
Specialized bicycle multitools are available at your bike shop & include spoke wrenches, chain tools & other
attachments that facilitate most basic bike repairs.
- Bicycle pump. Bike-mounted pumps are lightweight & easy to use in the event you have a tire that is low or flat.
- Spare inner tube.
- Tire-patch kit.
- First-aid kit w/tape, bandages & other basic first-aid items.
- Duct tape, the all-purpose fix-it accessory for temporary or makeshift repairs.