Now that your friend is excited about cycling, it’s time to get them in the saddle. You can use all your cycling expertise to make the experience as hassle-free as possible. The first step is taking care of the bike and equipment they will need to enjoy their first ride.
Make it feel like it’s no big deal
Cycling can seem daunting to people because there are so many things you seemingly need to have – bicycle, helmet, padded shorts, cycling shoes, bike computer, bidon, the list goes on. Your job is to make all of this seem like it’s not a big deal. Don’t overwhelm your friend with cool new gadgets. Keep it simple. Make sure they have the basics that will allow for a safe ride.
Help them get a bicycle
First things first, make sure that your friend has a bicycle appropriate to their skill level and enthusiasm. If you have an extra bike that would fit them, then that’s the best option. Otherwise, you can consider renting a bike. Recommend a place to rent and go with them to help them pick the right bike for the ride you planned.
If your friend is ready to commit to getting their own bike, then you can really apply your cycling expertise. Help them browse eBay, Facebook Marketplace, or your local online bike stores for second-hand options. Buying a new bike is not out of the question either. Help them ask the right questions so the purchase is worth the money.
Necessary accessories only
There are two essentials – a bike and a helmet. Don’t leave the helmet in the optional category. Encourage your friends to take safety seriously from the start. Apart from these, consider this list of accessories that can notably improve the enjoyment of the first ride.
Bottle cage and bidon filled with water: Carrying a water bottle in a backpack is ok too but this will make your friend feel more like a part of the cycling tribe.
Padded shorts: A sore butt after the first ride is not going to be very motivating to do this again.
Wicking jersey or shirt: This makes a huge difference for riding on a warm sunny day. And you want the first ride to be in weather just like that.
Sunglasses and sunscreen: Very important for that sunny day you’re going to choose.
Snacks: Running out of energy mid-ride is one of the worst feelings for a new cyclist.
Try to keep the equipment to these essentials. But there is a list of others your friend might consider if they start getting into cycling more, or if they are returning to cycling after some time away from the sport.
Wind jacket, mud guards, front and rear lights: Once your friend gets into cycling, they will start riding in bad weather and poor lighting conditions more often.
Clipless pedals and special cycling shoes: These make a big difference in pedalling efficiency. Your friend will only appreciate the difference after riding without them for a few rides.
Bike computer: If they start getting competitive or enjoy tracking progress, a good cycling computer is really nice to have.
Cycling gloves, knee pads: Extra protection is important if your friend gets into more technical MTB cycling.
A lock and cycling luggage: If your friend gets into urban cycling, they might need a good lock and something to carry the other gear in.
Pump, spares and tools: If your friend gets into longer rides, these things can be lifesavers.
Do a pre-ride equipment inspection
Before you set out, make sure the bike your friend has is in good condition and set up well for their size. You can use this checklist.
1. Check tire pressure and give it an extra pump if needed.
2. Test the brakes to see if they work properly. Make sure your friend can reach the brake levers easily.
3. Adjust seat height. If your friend is a beginner, make sure they can sit on the saddle with both feet reaching the ground to feel safe.
4. Secure the front and rear wheel quick releases.
5. Check that shifting works without issues.
6. Now that everything is ready, it’s time for the perfect first ride. We’ll go through what that should look like in the next article.