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How to Get into Road Biking: A Beginner’s Guide to Road Cycling

Road biking is a popular form of cycling.

It’s one of the main styles of cycling that new riders first get into. It’s also a very race-friendly style of cycling. Many of the bigger cycling competitions use road biking such as the Tour de France and others.

Road cycling is so common that it’s an easy style of riding to get into. You have a lot of options, whether your budget is small, medium, or high. There is an affordable road bike option for you.

But you can’t just buy any road bike and start riding.

It takes a little more preparation and know-how than that.

That’s why I wanted to write this guide. It’s an ultimate how-to of getting into road biking and should answer most, if not all, of your questions about it.

Road Biking

What is Road Biking, and why do it?

Road biking is a style of bicycling where riding is typically done on paved roads.

The bike designated for this style of cycling is most often a road bike. It’s designed in a way to be light, aerodynamic, and have smoother skinnier tires. This makes it perfect for riding on smooth, paved roads and highways.

You wouldn’t want to take a road bike on heavily graveled roads or single-track dirt mountain bike trails.

You might choose to get into road biking for many different reasons.

It’s one of the most popular forms of cycling. It’s a great way to get into shape, lose weight, and become a stronger cyclist. It’s one of the most social forms of cycling, and you can make all sorts of friends who share your cycling interests.

Road biking is an ideal style of cycling to participate in, and there are great options available for everyone, no matter what your budget is.

Disclaimer: Like with any form of cycling or fitness, you should consult with your doctor or medical practitioner before getting into road cycling. This guide is intended for educational purposes and information only. This guide is not intended to offer medical advice in any way. Road cycling isn’t for everyone.

Road Bike

Choosing Your Road Bike

It’s important to choose the best road bike for your style of cycling. There are multiple options available, and you should consider these options before making a choice too quickly.


Road Bike versus Gravel Bike

There are two bike-type options to consider when deciding on your road bike style.

The classic road bike or the modern gravel bike.

A road bike is designed for the road and smooth road surfaces. You can ride it on some gravel, but it gets difficult, and the tires aren’t made for that sort of road condition. If you just plan to ride on smooth and paved roads, a road bike might be in your best interest.

However, gravel bikes are designed to be like road bikes but with more rugged components and tires made for riding on gravel, dirt, and uneven surfaces. You can definitely ride a gravel bike on smooth and paved roads, too. But you can take the bike off the paved road when you need to.

I own both a road bike and a gravel bike. If I could only choose one, it would be the gravel bike only because I can do more with it. However, I enjoy the luxury of having both. I do like to use my road bike for organized road rides and group rides when available.

You need to understand what your area consists of as far as roadways and routes and then decide on the best option for you.


Frame Materials and Components

There are many different types of frame materials and components to choose from.

Nowadays, the cheaper end but still very reliable frame material that most beginner cyclists use is aluminum. It’s the cheapest metal used in bicycle technology so that it can be the cheapest sold, too. These bikes make cycling affordable to the masses and are still very popular.

The downfall is usually the weight of the bike and duration of use, as aluminum typically doesn’t last as long after hard use and riding.

Titanium and carbon fiber frames are often a choice for those who wish to use lighter bikes.

It’s important to note that a lighter-weight bike isn’t going to make you faster. The material in these bikes is often for the goal of reducing friction and vibration during the ride. Many beginners make the mistake of assuming these types of bikes make you faster when they don’t.

The downfall is that titanium and carbon materials are harder to fix when breaks and cracks occur. These bikes are also typically expensive and can range over a few thousand dollars, whereas an aluminum road bike can be purchased for under a thousand dollars.

Components are really where the best parts of the bikes are. They’re more important than the frame material of the bike in most cases.

Better components will mean better cycling, but it’ll also mean bigger costs.

Disc brakes are top-of-the-line for road bikes, but they cost more than standard brakes. An electronic gear system can make a bike cost upwards of about a thousand dollars more, but the benefit of using such a component is really helpful.

You can also upgrade components to better your bike. A better drivetrain will give you more gear options. You can get carbon fiber seat posts, forks, water bottle cages, and rims to lighten the load of your bike. Again, these upgrades will cost money, some more than the cost of the bike in some cases.

You should research and understand what each component is. This will give you a better idea of what bike you want to get based on the type of components you’ll need to have.

Just remember that if you’re a beginner at road biking, you might not need to go too overboard as you’re just getting into it.


Where to Buy a Road Bike

This is really important and where most beginner road cyclists make their biggest mistake.

You need to buy your first road bike from a legit local bike shop.

There are many reasons for this.

For starters, you’re supporting a local business in your community, which is critical for your local economy and neighbors. Secondly, the bike shop can fit you for the size of bike you need. If you get the wrong size, it can injure you. Finally, local bike shops know what they’re doing, and they sell bikes that will last. Big chain stores are not trained in proper bike maintenance, and they sell the cheapest road bikes that typically don’t last very long.

You’ll have a much better experience by buying from your local bike shop. Many of them will give you a great deal and take care of you.

A cheap bike from a chain sell-all retail store is likely poorly assembled and uses off-brand components that won’t last more than a year. These bikes are good for children to play on. They’re not the best for people who want to take cycling a bit more seriously.

Go with known and reputable brand names such as Trek, Specialized, Cannondale, Giant, and others.


Proper Bike Fit Basics

Bike fit is the most important thing to check off your list when buying your first road bike.

If you choose a bike that has a bad fit, it can lead to injuries and increase your chances of wrecking your bike while on the road. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all style of road bike.

Most chain retail stores are not going to be able to provide a proper bike fit. A local bike shop is usually skilled with this knowledge. It might cost you extra, but if you’re buying the bike from them, most will include your bike fit for free. You can also find professionals you can pay to give you a proper bike fit and help you make changes to your bike to ensure it fits you better.

However, it’s good to understand the basics of a bike fit in case you wish to do it yourself:

  • Saddle Height: Your legs should have a slight bend when the pedal is at its lowest point. You shouldn’t be able to put your feet flat on the ground when sitting on your saddle (seat). In fact, you should barely be able to stand on your tip toes. You need to be able to pedal comfortably without your hips moving from side to side.
  • Handlebar Reach: With your elbows slightly bent, you should be able to comfortably reach your handlebars. If you’re struggling or struggling to reach your handlebars, then the bike is not a good fit.
  • Cleats: You need to adjust your cleats on your bike shoes (if you use them) to where your foot isn’t in pain or going numb during longer rides. You may need to ride to test and adjust as needed.
  • Adjustments: You should continue to ride and adjust things like your saddle, cleats, and components as you feel necessary. Sometimes, it takes you riding and seeing how everything feels in order to get everything perfect.

As I stated above, these are all basic fit techniques. You’ll be better off getting a more professional bike fit from your local bike shop or a cycling professional who offers it in your area.

Bike fit is very important when choosing the right bike. Don’t make a critical mistake and ignore it.


What to Wear Road Biking

You can wear whatever you want when road biking. However, there are some great cycling-specific clothing that will benefit you as a cyclist. Once you wear this clothing, you’ll emerge yourself in our cycling culture and that’s always a great thing.


Padded Cycling Bib Shorts or Shorts

Tight-fitting spandex bib shorts or bike shorts are the best to wear on your road bike.

The main reason is the padding integrated into the shorts around your butt and private area. This is often called a chamois. The chamois is padding that will help reduce friction and chafing in your sensitive areas during your ride. The compression/spandex component of the shorts is to better keep the padding in place while also making you more aerodynamic. The material also breaths better and keeps you dry from sweat and moisture in general.

You can get bib shorts, which are shorts with built-in shoulder suspender-like straps. These are often the most comfortable cycling shorts. Some women’s versions offer the ability to unclip the bib straps for easier access to take the shorts down for restroom breaks and stuff like that.

You can also get traditional bike shorts with no straps if you prefer that.

Bib shorts and regular shorts come in many different colors and inseam lengths. You can also have different features such as reflective details, side pockets, and different chamois constructions for different lengths of riding styles. The leg bands come in different styles to help keep the shorts from riding up. They even make thermal cycling shorts for cooler rides.

These shorts are gender specific. You’ll want to get the right shorts for your gender to be able to properly fit your private area for the best results.

Bike shorts are typically meant to be worn alone. Don’t wear any sort of underwear with them, or you’ll likely suffer chafing and a reverse effect.

If you’re uncomfortable with tight-fitting shorts, you can get liners to wear under baggier shorts.

Some of my favorite brands of cycling shorts include The Black Bibs, WILDCYCLER, Aero Tech Designs, Pearl Izumi, Voler, and Pactimo. Baleaf has good options for those of you with tighter budgets.


Cycling Jersey

A cycling jersey is a type of shirt created specifically for cycling.

Cycling jerseys come in many different styles. You can get summer jerseys in short or long sleeves. You can also get insulated and thermal jerseys in long sleeves for winter riding months. Some jerseys zip all the way down the front, while others zip halfway. Most full zippers will be located on the left side for on-the-bike zipping convenience.

Jerseys are made with moisture-wicking material and are often able to block out dangerous rays from the sun. They’re typically worn alone, but base-layer shirts can also be worn with them if you prefer to do so.

You can get fitted jerseys or looser jerseys.

Most jerseys come with three large pockets in the back. Cyclists use the pockets to store extra water bottles, snacks, bike tools, extra layers, and other items. The pockets are fairly big and can stretch out to hold plenty of items. Sometimes, there are smaller zippered pockets, which are great for keys, credit cards, and cash.

Try to avoid putting too much in your jersey pockets as the extra weight will impact your sit bones and can cause discomfort. It’s best to utilize the pockets for stuff you might need while on the bike, like your phone, snacks, and warmers.

Cycling jerseys come in different styles, sizes, and colors and are often created gender-specific to offer support based on gender needs.

My favorite brands for jerseys are the same as my bib selections, including The Black Bibs, WILDCYCLER, Aero Tech Designs, Pearl Izumi, Voler, and Pactimo. Baleaf has good options for those of you with tighter budgets.


Cycling Gloves

Cycling gloves are a small piece of cycling apparel that many new riders don’t even think about.

However, for being such a small piece of gear, gloves are extremely beneficial for road biking purposes. They not only protect you from the elements but also from issues that are caused by simply riding your bike.

There are many styles of cycling gloves. Most summer styles feature cut-out finger designs to help reduce sweat and moisture build-up. The material used also helps wick moisture. You can get full-fingered gloves with different material thicknesses for colder riding months. Some gloves have reflective features and touch-screen abilities.

Gloves effectively protect your hands from the elements like rain, sleet, cold temperatures, wind chill, dirt, debris kicked up from the bike, and bugs.

Gloves also protect you from issues brought on by your road bike. They allow you a better grip on your handlebars. They give you more comfort and friction reduction through the padding in the glove. However, some riders prefer gloves with no padding. It’s a personal preference that you’ll need to decide on your own.

Gloves can slightly increase your aerodynamic position.

They’re great to use to wipe away sweat from your face and eyes when you need something quick.

Like with any apparel item, make sure you get gloves that properly fit your hand. Bad-fitting gloves can lead to pain and discomfort.

Gloves typically last me one to two years, based on my riding schedules. I usually spend less than $30 on a pair of Bontrager or Specialized gloves. Winter gloves are typically more expensive but tend to last longer.


Cycling Cap

The cycling cap is more than the historical fashion it represents.

Traditionally, cycling caps were won before helmets became a thing. You can watch early Tour de France videos where all the riders are wearing nothing but cycling caps. So, with that being said, the cap has definitely made its way into the culture of cycling fashion. Whether you wear the bill up or down is your personal preference – I prefer it up.

But cycling caps offer a little more benefit than just road biking fashion.

Protective benefits are the main features of a cycling cap. They protect your head from the sun rays that get through the helmet. They keep your head from getting too soaking wet during rain. They even help with moisture and sweat management. They can keep bees and other insects from getting into the helmet vents and stinging you in the head.

Cycling caps will help keep you warm and comfortable during cooler rides.

The caps come in all different styles, colors, and materials. You are bound to find a cap that meets your style, and you can even have them custom-made for a reasonable price.

I don’t have any suggestions for where to get your cap. I’d say to look around, read reviews, and find the best option for you.


Cycling Socks

You might not realize that cycling socks are a thing, but they are, and they’re an important part of your cycling wardrobe, too.

Cycling socks are made specifically for cycling. They offer compression with moisture-wicking management. This keeps your feet dry and comfortable, especially when it’s nestled into a bike shoe clipped into pedals all day.

You can get cycling socks in different lengths, colors, designs, materials, and thicknesses for weather and the elements. You can even have custom cycling socks made for a reasonable price.

I enjoy cycling socks from Bontrager, but I’ve also shopped from the Sock Guy and enjoy their line of cycling socks, too. For winter socks, I recommend My Comfy Apparel and Aero Tech Designs.


Cycling Shoes (and Pedals)

Cycling shoes are two parts-one part apparel and one part component upgrade.

Road biking shoes, cleats, and pedals used together create a systematic improvement to your cycling routine.

This combination allows you to stay attached to your pedal while riding. While the thought of that might scare a new rider, it is actually widely favored in road cycling. It’s technically more dangerous to accidentally slip off your pedal than to use a shoe that clips in and attaches to it.

The improvements of the road biking shoe, cleat, and pedal system are phenomenal.

You improve your power transfer because the construction of the shoe and attached position lets you focus on using your leg muscles to push through the ride. It also gives you better pedal efficiency, which helps you with your cadence and pacing techniques. It secures your foot and prevents it from slipping and causing you to wreck.

You can adjust the cleat position of your shoe. You should adjust if your feet, legs, or knees are hurting, going stiff, or going numb after using the shoes and pedal system. Sometimes, it takes a few rides to get the adjustment perfect.

It’s a good idea to get used to it on roads that are not busy with motor vehicles. This way, if you fall because you can’t unclip in time, it isn’t as dangerous. And you might fall. I know I did a few times and now and then, I still fall.

There are many different styles of bike shoes, but road biking-specific shoes are best for riding a road bike. You can choose different sizes, colors, brands, and more.

I enjoy Bontrager road biking shoes the most. I also use Specialized mountain biking shoes on my gravel bike and really enjoy them, too.

As for the pedals, this is up to you. You can buy basic ones for under $150. If you want higher-end and lighter-weight pedals, they’ll cost more. The best thing to do it get them at your local bike shop so they can help you decide.

Don’t skip out on shoes and pedals. Once you use them, you’ll thank me later for it.


Tights or Bib Tights

Don’t quit cycling when it gets colder because of the temperature.

Instead, invest in some cold-weather cycling apparel. Winter cycling is a great way to continue training and improving your cycling abilities. You can do plenty of indoor cycling, but you should get out and get some fresh air when possible.

Cycling tights are a great piece of apparel to own for this.

There are many types of tights to choose from, too. You’re bound to find which type is best for you:

  • Bib tights with chamois built-in (insulated and non-insulated options available)
  • Non-bib tights with chamois built-in (insulated or non-insulated options available)
  • Bib tights or regular tights with no chamois to be worn over your bike shorts (insulated and non-insulated options available)
  • Bib tights or regular tights that are three-quarter length, commonly called knickers or capris with or without chamois (insulated and non-insulated options available)

Your cycling tights come with many different features, including material combinations, pockets, reflective details, and zippers on the legs.

You can use your tights as a layering piece or the main apparel for colder rides.

My favorite tights come from The Black Bibs. I sport the insulated bib tights with a chamois built in and the insulated bib knickers with the chamois built in.

Tights are great to have when the weather is colder.


Warmers and Shoe Covers

Warmers and shoe covers are layering apparel every cyclist should own.

Warmers are meant to cover your knees, legs, or arms for layering and colder weather cycling. I use them during cooler rides where I know I’ll heat up. When I start getting hot, I can take my warmers off and balance out my body temperature.

Warmers are easy enough to wrap in a ball and store in one of your jersey pockets.

They make different styles and lengths of warmers. Some are insulated. Most of them are also good for sun protection. You should get the size you need typically based on your bib shorts size for the leg and knee warmers and your jersey size for the arm warmers.

Shoe covers are covers for your entire bike shoe or your toes. They’re typically made out of neoprene or another material that warms and blocks wind from getting to your feet. They’re useful during the colder cycling months.

The Black Bibs have been my favorite source for cycling warmers thus far.


Eye, Face, and Ear Protection

You want to protect your face and ears when cycling in colder weather.

You can do this by getting ear protection or full-face protection garments.

The ear protection goes over your head, under your helmet, and covers your ears. You can get insulated or non-insulated options. Full face covers can range from a facemask, balaclava, or a neck and face gaiter, depending on what you need. These options can be insulated or not.

You need good eye protection to prevent debris, bugs, and harmful rays of the sun from hurting your eyes. A good pair of UV-safe cycling sunglasses is a good idea. Amazon sells great ones that are clear and turn dark in the sun for little cost.

Protect these parts of your body because many beginner cyclists forget to keep them in mind.


Cycling Jacket

On colder days, you need to wear a jacket, but you’ll want to make sure it’s a cycling jacket.

Cycling jackets come in many styles, fits, and materials.

You can get them with reflective details or bright colors for visibility, multiple pockets, different insulation for cold weather or just a windbreaker, and different fits based on how tight or loose you want the jacket to be.

Some cycling jackets are even made to have built-in rain protection and a hood.


Rain Gear

You should consider adding cycling rain gear to your closet for those wet days you might need it.

You can rain gear from practically all portions of your body, too.

You can buy a rain jacket and rain pants to wear over your cycling kit. A cycling kit usually consists of your bib shorts and your jersey.

You can also get rain gear for your shoes and a cover for your helmet.

If you have bags on your bike, you can get rain covers to put over your bags, too.

For rain pants, make sure you get some that have features to protect your pants from getting caught up in the components of your bike. Rain jackets that are too long can also present this issue. These are things to make sure of before you go ride.

Treat rain gear as a layer and pack it only if you know you’ll need it.


Road Biking Gear and Accessories

There are important cycling gear items to bring with you on the bike during your ride. Many of these items are important for safety and efficiency in road biking.



A helmet is extremely important for road biking.

According to the National Safety Council, one-third of the non-fatal injuries sustained from cycling are due to injuries to the head. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says a majority of the annual 80,000 cycling-related injuries in emergency rooms are brain injuries.

An injury to your head or brain while cycling can result in cognitive problems or even death.

Helmets are not fashionable, and they can mess up your hair. Helmets are not designed for fashion. They’re designed for function, and their function is to protect your head and brand from severe injury.

You should wear a helmet when cycling. This is especially true while road biking, as motor vehicles can cause you to wreck with force and impact your head.

Helmets save lives. We never hear “Not wearing helmets saves life” because it’s simply not true.

You should wear a cycling-approved helmet. If you wreck and damage the helmet, it should be replaced immediately before your next ride. A damaged helmet will likely be defective in keeping your head safe during your next crash or impact.

There are different styles and colors of helmets available. You can get a helmet specially designed for road biking, which gives it a more aerodynamic construction, or you can wear a traditional bicycle helmet that most riders use.

Use a helmet and live by it because it’s your most important piece of cycling gear.



A mirror is great to have while road biking.

A mirror will allow you to glance behind you without having to turn your head.

Sometimes, turning your head on the bike can be tricky. You could become disoriented and veer in a different direction. If you veer the wrong way, it could become a hazard for you. A mirror helps to mitigate this problem.

There are two good options for mirrors with road biking.

You can install one onto the bottom drop bar of your handlebars by popping the end plug out and pushing the mirror into it. You can also install the mirror onto your helmet if you’d rather do that. It’s a personal preference that matters more than anything.

A mirror isn’t required by any means, but it can be an effective safety measure to use on your bike.


Repair and Patch Kit

You need to have repair and patch kit items on your road bike.

A simple patch kit consists of a small box or resealable bag with tube patches, sandpaper for smoothing the puncture mark, and adhesive glue for applying the patch. A patch kit is great for fixing a tube in a pinch or if you don’t have a spare.

Bring a spare tube with you even if you’re tubeless. If something happens and you have to convert from tubeless to tube while riding, you’ll need a spare tube with you. You really only need one spare tube with you in most cases. Make sure your tube fits your bike based on the information provided on the tire. Not all road bike tubes are the same size.

Bring either a portable hand air pump or a CO2 pump. I prefer to bring a CO2 pump with two CO2 cartridges. They’re easier to store by putting them in my saddle bag versus attaching a pump mount to the bike.

Bring some basic bike tools. This includes a multi-tool that fits your road bike needs, a chain breaker with extra chain links, and some tire levers to help you change your innertube.

These basic kits will be really helpful in the event that a repair is required in order for you to keep being able to ride your bike.


Bike Bags

Get as many bike bags as you need.

I suggest getting one saddle bag. If you get too many bags, you’ll add extra weight and have an excuse to carry more stuff than you’ll ever need. The only time you need extra bags is if you plan to go bike touring or do a longer ride that requires more stuff.

Most road biking requires a simple saddlebag which is a small bag that attaches and fits under your saddle or bike seat. Saddle bags come in different sizes, capacity amounts, and colors and have different features such as rear light holders and reflective details. All you need is a bag with one pocket that will fit all of your gear.

Utilize your jersey pockets for lighter-weight gear, too.

You can also get a bag for your top bar to hold your gear. Some even come with a phone holder that is useable with touch screens.

Handlebar bags are also convenient and typically are able to handle more gear.

The choice and type of bag really is a personal preference.


Water Bottles and Cages

There are many different types of water bottles and water bottle cages to choose from.

As far as bottles go, you can get standard-size bottles or shorter ones. Most cyclists carry at least two to three water bottles. Some bottles are insulated, and some aren’t.

Cages are the holders you put the bottles in. Most cages are attached in the middle area of the frame or on top of the bottom bar of the frame.

You can get cages that require you to put the bottle through the top or ones that allow you to also put it into the side. The side bottles come in a right and left direction, too.

Cages are fairly cheap unless you want a lighter material. You can spend more on carbon fiber cages. This might be ideal for those doing competitive road biking and who want to lower the weight of the bike. It might seem crazy to spend a lot of money on a cage, but for some, it does help out a lot.

You should definitely make sure you bring water on your ride.



Lights are an essential gear item for road biking.

You should have and use your bike lights even if you don’t ride at night. Yes, you read that correctly. You should have lights on your bike and turned on during the daylight hours. You should use a clear front headlight and a rear red backlight.

Why use lights during the daylight hours? For extra visibility for motor vehicle drivers, pedestrians, and other cyclists. A light is easy to notice. A flashing light is even easier to notice. A high lumens bright flashing light is the best way to get noticed.

Buy lights that are high in lumens (1000+ for front and 250+ for rear) and have the capability to flash.

My favorite bike lights are made by NiteRider, which are top-of-the-line and some of the most trusted bike light products out there.

Then, if you ride after dark, your bright lights will be effective for night riding.


Phone and Camera Mounts

These are a luxury item more than anything.

You can attach mounts on your bike handlebars for your lights, camera, or action camera and your phone.

I use a GoPro mount on my bike for making videos for my YouTube Channel.

This is really up to you how you wish to do it.


Bike Computer

A bike computer is another good piece of cycling gear to consider.

As a new rider, you’ll want to track and monitor your road biking progress, right? This way, you know the areas you’re improving on and what areas you need to focus on during future rides. Knowing your performance can help you get better at cycling.

Bike computers can track performance data like your speed, elevation gain, time spent on the bike, heart rate, and other important metrics that can help you determine your cycling rhythm and improve on it.

You can also navigate your route with my computer and, of course, record it. Most computers integrate with popular cycling apps like Strava or Garmin Connect.

Bike computers can help you stay motivated to keep riding.

There are many bike computer options available. Some are fairly cheap, while others are quite expensive based on features and sizes.

You can use a fitness watch or even your iPhone watch with Strava integrated into it. You can also get dedicated computers, too. There are smaller, cheaper ones from Bontrager and Specialized. However, there are very nice and feature computers by Garmin and Wahoo that have a higher price tag.

Just make sure you learn your computer and what each benefit it gives you so that you can use it to your fullest advantage.


Bike Bell

A bike bell is likely what you think it is: a bell that you ring that’s attached to your bike.

These were popular on kids’ bikes at one time but are really popular among commuters in bigger cities because of the ability to warn people that a bike is near.

It’s a personal preference more than anything.

But it’s a good way to alert people that you’re coming behind them. If you’re in an area where there are a lot of people where you ride, it might be a great tool to have on your bike.

Most of the time, bike bells are very inexpensive, and you can get them practically anywhere where you can buy cycling accessories.


Bike Lock

It’s important to get a bike lock to take with you road biking.

If you live in an area with people present, as everyone does in the first place, then you risk getting your bike stolen if there is an opportunity to do so. This is especially the case in larger cities and metropolitan areas.

A good bike lock will help prevent theft. Get a lock that isn’t easy to cut through but is still easy to attach to your bike and carry while you’re riding.

And be sure to keep in mind parts of your bike that can be removed that the lock doesn’t protect, like your saddle or bike computer.

Bike security is an important factor to consider as a road biker.


Sunblock, Bug Spray, and Chamois Cream

You need to make sure you protect your skin from the elements.

I suggest going into any big chain retail or dollar store. Look for those small bottles of sunblock and bug spray. Throw them in your saddle bag or whatever bag you use on your bike. Use them as needed.

As for chamois cream, it requires your preference. Chamois cream is a lubricant you can apply to the chamois in your bike shorts or tights to help prevent chafing. The padding doesn’t always do the trick for everyone. Sometimes, you have to add some cream to give yourself some extra help.

I personally like Chamois Butt’r brand chamois cream. They have perfect travel-size pouches that are about the size of a GU gel pack. It’s perfect to throw in the bike bag just in case I need it.

These are a few supplies that you’ll regret not having during the times you need them the most.


First Aid Supplies and ID

A lot of riders don’t carry first aid kit supplies when road biking.

It’s a good idea to carry at least some supplies just in case you wreck. Some band-aids, anti-infection creams, alcohol pads, and hand sanitizer go a long way when you need them the most.

You don’t have to bring a full kit, but a few supplies isn’t a bad idea.

Bring some ID, though. Identification. I use RoadID and attached an ID plate to my watch. It has my name and phone number, known allergies, and emergency contact information. If I wreck and am unable to contact my loved ones, the information is there for emergency responders.

Make sure you consider these safety items before you start road biking.


How to Ride a Road Bike

Road biking definitely requires a certain amount of skill and technique to master. You’ll learn a lot on your own just by riding more. But the information below can help you get a head start in developing techniques before you start riding.


Join a Club or Group Ride

One of the best ways to get better at road biking is by riding with other road cyclists.

You can do this by joining a local cycling club or participating in group rides. This is because you’ll be riding with people who are already good at road biking.

But don’t let that intimidate you. Bike clubs and group rides want new people to participate. There are always leisurely and slow ride groups within these rides that you can ride in until you’re ready to ride with the fast group.

Members of a club or group ride can help you out greatly. They can point out things you’re doing wrong and show you how to better your riding technique. They usually have a wealth of knowledge to offer you. It would be crazy not to take advantage of learning these skills from them.

People typically pay cycling coaches quite a bit of money for what a cycling club can offer you for no cost at all. And as a bonus, you get to make all sorts of new friends in the cycling community.

Most local areas have numerous bike clubs and group riding events. You should be able to find them on social media or even ask your local bike shops about clubs and groups to contact.


Pacing and Cadence

It’s important to work on developing a good pace and cadence while road biking.

Cadence refers to the number of pedal revolutions per minute (RPM). Most cyclists try to aim for an 80 or higher RPM to have a more efficient cadence and reduce fatigue from pedaling.

You can use your bike computer or even high-end components to measure your cadence.

To improve your cadence, you want to work on keeping a steady pedal routine and cadence. Try to practice it on different road biking conditions, such as flats, hills, and a mixture of flat and hilly conditions. You’ll essentially want to hammer down your cadence during all riding conditions.

Cadence also requires better aerobic and fitness levels. You should do interval training on your bike to further develop these routines and the muscles you’ll be relying on to be able to maintain a steady cadence.

Try to pay attention to your pedaling routine. You want to keep a smooth pedal routine. If you’re pedaling one way and then another, you’ll have no cadence. What I mean by this is pedaling at one speed and then another and having no real uniformity in your revolutions.

You want to know your gearing and use it wisely, too. It’s the only way to better pace yourself and maintain a good cadence.

Consistency and fitness improvement are going to be your best tools for maintaining a healthy road biking pace and cadence.


Riding Position and Posture

Your riding position and posture are critical in road biking techniques.

It not only improves your technique and performance, but it also helps to prevent injury and discomfort. You have to ride in certain positions and maintain a good posture while on your bike. If you don’t, you’ll likely have a bad bike ride.

You need to have a correct saddle height to maintain a healthy position on the bike. Your saddle should also be adjusted either forward or back based on your best bike fit and preference. Your handlebar height needs to fit you, too. If you’re straining to reach your handlebars, your position will be improper, and you’ll risk negative outcomes.

All this relates to bike fit. If you don’t get properly fitted for your bike, you won’t be able to maintain a good, healthy cycling position while road biking.

Your posture also matters, though.

You should ride with your elbows bent, for example, or you can stiffen up and start feeling pain. Keep your body relaxed. Don’t stiffen yourself up. Keep your knees pointed straight as you pedal, too. You have to sink your lower body with your upper body as you bike in order to have a good riding posture.

It all boils down to bike fit and using your muscles to do all the work.


Road Bike Shifting and Braking

There are techniques in how you use your gears and brakes in road biking.

The trick with changing gears efficiently is to change them before you get into a situation where you’ll need to be in a certain gear rather than changing it while you’re in that situation.

For example, if you need to stop your bike, start shifting your gears down to your lower gears. Then, when you start riding again, it’ll be easy to start riding and change gears.

Lower gears are easier gears and best for when you need to stop or if you’re going uphill. If you’re going downhill and need a push to go faster, start shifting up through the gears and use higher ones to give you a grip to catch so you can push the speed of your ride.

It’s best to find a road with some hills that has low traffic. Go through your gears (on each side of the handlebar) and try to get an understanding of how they work together.

There are gear upgrades to consider, too. I have SRAM AXS gears on my gravel bike. Those shift through electronic means. I can go up or down, and the electronic function makes riding more efficient. Since I use a battery, I have to be vigilant in ensuring that the battery has enough life, or I won’t be able to shift my gears.

If you can hear your chain making noise or it’s bumping against parts on your bike, you’re using the gear combination. This can create too much strain and damage your gear rings and your chain.

As for using the brakes on your road bike, there are different techniques and styles.

You’ll either have traditional brake pads or use the modern disc brake component. Disc brakes are often favored, but they are harder and more expensive to change or replace than traditional brake pad systems.

Learn how to use both brakes (front and rear) together effectively. You don’t ever want to apply either break too hard. Applying the front brake too hard may cause you to flip over your handlebars, so keep that in mind. Shift your weight backward if you ever have to brake really hard in case of an emergency or something like that.

Slow down before you get to a turn rather than braking in the turn. Braking in the turn can cause your tires to slip and potentially cause you to wreck. Coast into a turn at a slow speed and then accelerate as you’re turning out of it into a straightaway.

Like with gearing, you should find a quiet road and practice your braking techniques. Be sure to note that different weather elements will cause different difficulties in braking and gear changing.


Getting Faster

In many cases, road biking allows you to ride faster on your bike, but it takes a certain skill to be able to speed up.

There are many different ways to become a faster road cyclist, including:

  • Getting into a more aerodynamic position where you lower your torso and bring your head closer to the handlebars on your bike. This helps to reduce drag from the wind. Utilize your aerobars to help you maintain your aerodynamic posture.
  • Wear tight-fitting cycling clothing. A skinsuit may also help. It is bike shorts and a bike jersey combined, giving you a smoother compression to prevent more drag and wind resistance. You can also get aerodynamic helmets and other gear.
  • Improving your overall strength will help make you a faster ride. This means exercising and strengthening your legs, core, and upper body. Losing weight and shedding fat can also help you, especially in your core, which tends to impact everything.
  • High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT is a great way to work on your strengths which will enhance your ability to bike faster.
  • Ensuring that you fit your bike and the components is important to increase your speed. You also need to make sure your bike is well-maintained and tuned up annually.
  • Focus on mastering your ability to shift through year gears effectively. The better you are at shifting, the faster you can ride your road bike. You also want to master your ability to use your brakes efficiently, too.
  • Focus on smooth pacing and cadence. You need to have a consistent pedaling technique to go at different speeds.
  • Learn how to draft. This is when you ride in a group and directly behind another rider to reduce your wind resistance and improve your overall ability to ride more efficiently. You can get better at this by riding on group rides more often.
  • Work on your mental strategy. Going fast a lot of times is all in our heads. Once we get past the mental anxiety of it, going faster on the bike becomes an easier task.

Practice makes perfect when it comes to being faster while road biking. You want to get out there and ride as much as you can and keep aiming to improve your cycling technique.


Road Biking Uphill

Road biking uphill can be a challenge, but once you learn your technique, it doesn’t have to be as difficult as it may seem.

There are multiple ways to improve your uphill technique.

For starters, lightening your load will help. This means optimizing the weight on your bike and your body weight. If you’re bigger, try to lose weight. Riding hills over and over again is a great way to lose weight, by the way. A lighter rider and bike will usually perform better uphill.

Mastering your gears is essential for uphill cycling. If you climb in the wrong gear, it can result in a disaster for you. You want to utilize your lower gears for climbing. But you don’t always have to be in the lower gear, either. It really depends on the hill.

Try to stay seated in your saddle when climbing. It will allow you to conserve more energy. However, on steeper climbs, you’ll likely have to stand up and pedal your way up.

When cycling uphill, try to shift your weight forward to distribute it evenly between the front and rear wheels. This will give you more traction and stability on the climb.

Try to keep your upper body relaxed during your climb and focus on deep breaths.

Do hill repeats? Focus on training on one hill multiple times until you master your ability to climb it. Start with smaller hills and gradually move to steeper and longer ones.

Make sure you remain hydrated and fueled properly to maintain your energy while hill climbing.

And most importantly, focus on the mental side of things. Being scared to climb a hill is all in your head.


Train and Train Some More

You should be focusing on training throughout the year to become a better road cyclist.

This is whether you race or not. You want to improve your road biking skills, so you’re generally better at it. This is done by training on your road bike.

The first step of training is to create a clear goal or multiple goals for what you want to accomplish in your training. Maybe it’s to climb hills better, maybe you want to average 25 miles an hour, or maybe it’s ever keeping up with the group ride.

Set your goal and aim for it as you train.

It doesn’t hurt to develop a structured training plan, too. Create a calendar of dates that you’ll be training. Write down the goal you’re working on for each training day. Stick with your structured plan for the best results.

As for how to train, focus on these areas based on your goals:

  • Endurance or longer rides
  • Interval training or riding harder
  • Hill climbing
  • Speed Increasing
  • Strength and conditioning off the bike (weights, aerobic exercises, etc.)
  • Hydration and nutrition
  • Rest and recovery

Make sure you track your progress and monitor the metrics provided so that you can focus on areas where improvements are needed.

It’s also important to note that training never stops.


Century Rides and Competitions

You can also get better at road biking by doing century rides, organized rides, and competitions.

A century ride consists of riding 100 miles in a single riding event. It will take you most of the day and requires a good amount of planning. You should try to ride a century ride a few times a year if you’re able to. It really does make you better off your bike, and it’s a great achievement to have under your cycling belt.

Organized and charity bike rides are typically road bike rides put on by local organizations supporting some sort of cause. A few examples of these rides are events like Bike MS and RAGBRAI. You typically pay for these rides, but you get snacks and hydration and often a t-shirt as part of your payment. These rides are usually a lot of fun, and they support important causes while also supporting local cycling infrastructure.

And then there are cycling competitions!

A cycling competition is when you participate in an organized bike ride for racing or compete against other riders based on points earned, age groups, gender groups, and your skills and cycling techniques.

There are many different types of road biking competitions, including road bike races, time trial events, multi-sport events like triathlons, stage races like the Tour de France, and even multi-state races like the Trans Am Bike Race across the United States.

Bike racing is a great way to not only get better at cycling but also to fall in love with cycling even more.


Off Bike Training

You can’t build all your strength entirely on your bike.

You have to train off your bike, too. There are many different forms of off bike training to choose from.

You can weight train. This will help you strengthen your lower body, core, and upper body, which will make you a stronger cyclist.

You can do cardio training such as swimming, spinning (cycling inside), running, and aerobics training. This will definitely improve your ability to be better on your bike.

You can also do basic exercises like walking or hiking to build better strength, especially in your lower body, which will help you with road biking.

It’s important to live a healthy lifestyle as much as possible. This means cutting unwanted weight, eating better, and making healthier choices in life.

Rest days off the bike should always be active rest days where you do something beneficial to your health rather than sit around and start to lose what you’ve been working so hard for.

Again, as I mentioned above, training never stops.

Paved Road

Road Biking Safety, Rules, and Etiquette

Road biking is often more dangerous than most other forms of cycling. This means that you need to pay attention to safety, rules, and etiquette designed to keep you and other riders safe while cycling.


Rules of the Road

The rules of the road are important in cycling.

In most areas, the same rules that apply to motor vehicle drivers also apply to cyclists.

If you’re road biking on the road, then you’re driving a vehicle on the road. This means that all road rules that apply to cars also apply to your bike for the most part.

No, you don’t have to have insurance (but it’s a good idea) or a license plate in most cases, but you do have to follow the same traffic laws as the guy in the pickup truck.

You have to stop at stop signs. You have to stop at red lights. You can’t speed in school zones and areas where the speed limit is very low. You have to ride on the right side of the road. You have to use lights at night. Some states even require you to wear a helmet.

You’ll see many road cyclists disobey these rules.

It’s wrong. It paints a bad name for all cyclists. It makes motor vehicle operators hate us even more. You can even get fined for it by the police.

Most of all, disobeying traffic laws can get you killed easily as a cyclist, and that’s the fault of the cyclist, not the motor vehicle driver.

If you can’t follow the rules of the road, road biking might not be the best thing for you.


Hand Signaling

Learn how to use hand signals before you go road biking.

Using hand signals is etiquette for both you as a cyclist and others driving or riding around you.

Failure to use hand signals might get you cited by law enforcement. But most of all, it might get you killed by a motor vehicle driver who doesn’t know what you’re getting ready to do. It’s not their job to determine your next move. It’s your job to give them the standard signal of what you’re doing next. If they don’t know the signal that you’re using and it’s the standard one, then they are failing to remember the required laws, which they claimed to understand when getting a driver’s license.

Even if you use signals, always assume drivers don’t see them. Always look around to make sure it’s safe to do something different on your bike. Always be a defensive rider.

The most standard hand signals in driving and cycling are:

  • Left Turn – Extend your left arm straight out to the side, parallel to the road.
  • Right Turn – There are two ways to do this signal. Extend your left arm out to the side and then bend your elbow upward at a 90-degree angle, making an “L” shape. The second way is to extend your right arm straight out to the side, parallel to the road.
  • Slowing Down – To alert others that you’re slowing down, extend your arm downward with your palm facing backward. This is mainly a signal for when riding with a group of cyclists, and you are trying to communicate with them.
  • Hazards – When riding with a group of cyclists, point down to hazards on the road as you avoid them. This alerts other riders that a hazard is present, like a pothole or dead animal.
  • Lane Changing – Before changing lanes or moving over, look back, then signal by pointing in the direction you plan to move, either left or right.
  • Wave – When you see another cyclist, wave at them. This indicates that you’re being friendly and saying hello to a fellow rider. Don’t be a bike snob.

Make hand signaling a habit. It will further keep you safe on the road while setting an example to other riders around you.


Be Highly Visible

The more visible you are while road biking, the safer you’ll be cycling on the road.

There are many ways to be visible while road biking. It would be best if you did every one of these options to maximize your visibility.

You should try to keep your riding during the daytime hours. Riding at night creates additional risks that are often hard to mitigate. Only ride at night if you have to, and when riding at night, stick to areas that are lit up and safer for cycling.

Avoid the road during rush hour if you’re able to. More cars and drivers anxious to go to or from work will create dangerous conditions for cyclists also using the road. Find local sources that report on traffic conditions and keep up to date with them.

Use bike lanes, bike paths, or other bike-friendly infrastructure and roadways. If these things are available, use them. If you don’t use them, communities will spend less money and planning on the cycling infrastructure.

Use lights even during the day. Get a headlight of 300 or more lumens and a rear light of 100 or more lumens and use them day or night. Flashing patterns are easier to catch than non-flashing.

Wear reflective and brighter-colored cycling kits. Plain black is so natural that it tends to blend in and is hard to quickly take notice of. Neon green, pink, red, orange, and blue can be seen very quickly. Yellow is said to be one of the quickest-seen colors in cycling apparel.

Visibility is an important aspect of riding your bike on the road with motor vehicle drivers.


Limit Distractions

Try to limit your distractions when road biking.

If you’re distracted, you might not be able to react in time before getting hit by a bar or wrecking your bike. You might not see another rider or pedestrian in time. You might not see a pothole or other road hazard in time. Distractions in biking are often the cause of most accidents.

The same distractions of vehicle drivers can be applied to cycling.

Using a phone to call or text while cycling will significantly distract you from paying attention to the road. Keep your phone in your pocket and stay off of it. The same goes for smartwatches. Stay off them while cycling.

When riding with another rider or a group of riders, everyone riding is responsible for paying attention and not becoming distracted. It’s fine to talk to each other as long as everyone is paying attention to the road and others all around them.

Music is a big distraction. If you have earbuds in, you can’t hear everything around you. Most are noise canceling, too. You can’t usually hear the engine of a truck barreling towards you from behind, even as it lays on the horn. By the time you hear it, you’re getting hit. Even one earbud is a distraction that isn’t worth the risk.

Always assume vehicle drivers around you are distracted. You need to remain attentive to ensure that their distractions don’t cause you to lose your life.

It’s easy to become distracted, but it’s easier to take the steps needed to not be distracted.


Fuel and Hydration

Staying fueled and hydrated is exceptionally important for your safety and wellness on your bike.

Improper fuel consumption and hydration intake can lead to many problems. You’ll become more fatigued. You’ll become distracted more easily. You might even be faced with injuries or medical emergencies if the issue is severe enough.

All the above can be prevented, though.


By hydrating and fueling up properly! That’s how!

Every half hour to hour, you should be eating something and drinking something on the bike. I take energy bars with me. I’ll eat a quarter of the bar every 45 minutes and then take 2-3 big swigs of my drink. I use electrolytes in my drink to replenish the sodium that I lose from sweating, as I tend to sweat a lot more than most cyclists. This keeps me fueled and hydrated for my entire ride.

If it’s a longer ride, like a century, you should also plan to stop and eat a full lunch. This will really fuel and hydrate you for the remainder of your ride. I prefer to eat lunch in the middle of a century ride when planned properly.

You should also eat and hydrate before and after your ride. Doing so before your ride helps to fuel and hydrate yourself for the upcoming ride. Doing it after your ride helps with recovery.

Your choices of snacks, food, and hydration should be focused on healthy choices. Be careful with products loaded with sodium and sugar because while those two components are effective in cycling, there is definitely such thing as too much.

Avoid bonking out and other problems by drinking and eating consistently.


Be sure to Recover.

In order to get good at road biking, you have to get good at recovery.

If you feel like garbage when you get back on your bike, you’ll always underperform.

After a big ride, you need to rest. You need to get a full night of sleep. You need to work on stretching or do some yoga. Eat a good, healthy meal. Drink water. Ease your mind. Take care of yourself.

If you’re hurting, get it looked at and seek medical advice from your medical practitioner. Don’t ignore pains and constant discomfort. Road biking shouldn’t be painful or uncomfortable all the time.

You must rest and recover as a road cyclist.


Dealing with Dogs

Loose dogs can be an issue for the road cyclist.

A loose dog chasing you can cause you to wreck or even get bit, two things you don’t want to occur while you’re road biking.

There are effective ways to deal with loose dogs chasing you.

First of all, try to remain calm and continue to be aware of everything around you. The last thing you want is to get hit by a car because you didn’t see it due to putting all your attention on the dog chasing you.

Slow down. Speeding up will simply add to the risk of an incident occurring.

Don’t make sudden movements. This can make the dog react with aggression.

If you stop, use your bike as a barrier to put between you and the dog.

Distract the dog with an object, such as squirting your water bottle at them or blowing a whistle.

Using a firm and raised voice, tell the dog “No” and “Go home.” You can also say the word “Nine,” which is pronounced the same way as “Nein,” which is German for no. Many dog owners, especially those who have German Shepherds, train their dogs using the German language.

Don’t ride off until you know it’s safe. Most of the time, the dog is going to lose interest while you’re stopped.

As a last resort, you can use a deterrent technology such as pepper spray.

Report aggressive dogs to local law enforcement and animal control. Don’t attempt to locate and confront the owner.

If you’re bitten, call 911 (or your emergency number) immediately. It might be wise to start videoing after you’ve called emergency services in case the dog’s owner becomes aggressive. At this point, legal action to pay for medical bills should be in your mind. You’ll want to get rabies shots regardless of what the dog owner claims in terms of whether the dog has had its shots or not.

Try to plan road biking routes more efficiently in the future to include areas with fewer dog problems.


Dealing with Road Rage

Road rage is an important subject in the world of road biking.

Road rage is when motor vehicle drivers become aggressive and angry towards cyclists. In most cases, those with road rage will scream, cuss, and make threats. They might peel out and drive away fast. In some cases, road-raged drivers will act and cause injury or attack the cyclist. You need to be prepared for any sort of road rage.

The first thing you need to do is stay calm and pay attention to your surroundings. Don’t let the driver distract you so much that you are seeing other potential hazards around you.

It’s best to avoid confrontation and not engage with the aggressive driver. If you can safely keep riding and ignore the confrontation, try to do so.

Sometimes, you might want to stop and signal the driver to have the right of way. This might calm them down enough to leave the area. Don’t try to stand your ground if you don’t need to. It’s better to defuse the situation if at all possible.

Put your safety first. If you feel threatened, flee the scene. Use defensive cycling techniques such as riding on the sidewalk, making turns that will be difficult for the driver to follow, and going down alleys with a lot of obstacles. You can get around things a lot easier than the driver can. Try to ride into an area with more people to witness any exchange with the enraged driver.

Prevent road rage by obeying traffic laws, using hand signals, being very visible, and yielding to vehicles during higher traffic hours. Sometimes, it’s best to stop and let all the drivers pass until you get a clearer spot to keep riding.

If you exchange words with the drive, stay calm and try to diffuse the situation with your words. Apologize to the driver and offer them to have the right-of-way. If you must, pull out your phone and say you’re calling 911. At that point, call 911. The driver will likely leave the area.

You can also use your phone to video if the driver is being overly aggressive. Your video evidence can be used in their arrest for road rage or in a civil lawsuit from you. People who have road rage should be stopped legally. It can create a very dangerous situation for everyone involved.

As a last resort, defend yourself. Carry pepper spray as a form of defense. If you carry a firearm, make sure you follow your local laws on using a firearm for self-defense.

Do what you can to avoid road rage incidents from happening to begin with.


Road Bike Maintenance

It’s always a good idea to learn some maintenance techniques for road biking. You don’t have to be a certified bike mechanic by any means, but you’ll do better to learn a few necessities.


Learn How to Fix a Flat

It’s important to learn how to fix a flat on your road bike.

If you’re out cycling and you get a flat, you’re stranded without the knowledge of fixing it. It’s basic knowledge that every road cyclist should learn how to do. You should learn and practice at home on a bike so that you know what to do when you’re out cycling.

Make sure you carry the gear you need for this. That includes a patch kit, tire levels, a pump or CO2 air kit, a spare tube, and the knowledge of how to use it all.

Then, you can follow these instructions:

  1. Remove the Impacted Wheel: For your front wheel, simply open the quick-release lever (or use a wrench if it’s a bolt-on wheel) and lift the bike to remove the wheel. For the rear wheel, shift to the smallest cog (chain ring) to make removing the wheel easier. Open the quick-release lever (or use a wrench), lift the rear derailleur slightly out of the way, and remove the wheel.
  2. Remove the Tire and Innertube: If there’s any air left, release it by pressing on the valve. Insert a tire lever under the bead of the tire and lever it over the rim. Secure the hooked end onto a spoke if your lever has one. Use a second lever a few inches away if necessary, and slide it around the rim to free one side of the tire. Pull the tube out from under the tire. You may need to remove the valve cap and locking ring if present.
  3. Locate the Cause of the Flat: Carefully run your fingers along the inside of the tire to find any sharp objects. Inspect the outside for cuts, thorns, glass, etc. Check the rim and rim tape for sharp edges or displacement that could puncture the tube.
  4. Patch the Tube or Replace it: If using a patch kit, roughen the area around the puncture with the sandpaper provided, apply the adhesive, and then the patch. Press firmly and wait a moment for it to adhere. Alternatively, you can simply replace the punctured tube with a new one. Ensure it’s the correct size for your tire. You can find the size by reading the side of most bike tires.
  5. Insert the Tube into the Tire: Inflate your new or patched tube just enough to give it shape. This makes it easier to insert without pinching. Place the valve through the valve hole in the rim. Carefully work the tube into the tire all the way around the wheel. Starting at the valve, use your hands to push the tire bead back inside the rim. Work your way around the tire on both sides. You may need tire levers for the last section, but be careful not to pinch the tube.
  6. Inflate the Tire: Use your pump to inflate the tire to the recommended pressure found on the tire’s sidewall.
  7. Reinstall the Wheel: Ensure the wheel is seated properly in the dropouts. Tighten the quick release or bolts, and make sure the brake (if rim brake) is re-engaged.
  8. Final Inspection: Make sure it spins freely, and there’s no rubbing against the brake pads or frame. Ensure the tire is seated evenly around the rim.

Every road cyclist should have the basic knowledge of changing out a flat before they start riding.


Learn How to Fix a Chain

Fixing your chain while road biking is another basic maintenance skill that’s a good idea to learn.

If your chain breaks or is causing issues on your bike ride, it could be serious enough to end your bike ride. If you’re out in the middle of nowhere or far from your starting point, that can be a serious issue. Having the basic knowledge of chain repairs can help save you in a pinch.

You’ll want to carry a few basic things, including a few extra master chain links that fit your chain and a chain breaker tool. Mine chain breaker tool is attached to my multi-tool, but they also sell them separately, too.

Now let’s go through the steps of fixing chain issues on your road bike:

  1. Access the situation: Is the chain broken, or has it just slipped off? Is the chain damaged at all?
  2. Flip Bike: It’s easier to flip your bike upside down to work on the chain. Just make sure you take anything attached to your handlebars off beforehand.
  3. Reattach the Chain: f the chain has come off the gears, guide it back onto the smallest cog on the rear cassette and around the chainring on the crankset. Rotate the pedals backward by hand to reposition the chain.
  4. Fix the Chain: If the chain is broken or has a damaged link, you’ll need to remove the damaged section. Use the chain tool to push out the pin holding the damaged links. Be careful not to push the pin all the way out if your chain doesn’t have a master link.
  5. Master Link Usage: If you’re using a master link to reconnect or repair the chain, first thread the chain through the derailleur mechanism and bring the ends together. Insert the master link pins into the ends of the chain.
  6. Be Careful: After you’re done, carefully ride your bike and go through the gears to make sure everything is acting normal.

Practice makes perfect for chain repairs, so the more practice you do at home, the easier it will be to do it on the road while cycling.


Practice on a Junk Bike

Buy a cheap, used junk bike just for maintenance.

Go online or go to a yard sale. Look for a cheap road bike that doesn’t cost very much. Buy it and make it your official learning bike for maintenance stuff.

You can use it to change tubes and get better at it. You can use it to break and repair your chain.

If there are any other things you want to learn in terms of maintaining your bike yourself, a cheap old bike is really the best way to do it.

And as a bonus, you might learn enough to fix it up really nicely and have a great spare bike.


Routine Tune-Up and Inspections

The best way to keep your bike properly maintained and long-lasting is to get it checked routinely.

Depending on how much and how hard you ride your road bike, you should plan to have it inspected and tuned up every 6 months to a year. Bikes are like cars and trucks; you have to keep them tuned up if you want them to last longer.

I went a few years once without getting my road bike inspected, and when I finally took it into the shop, it was determined that I had worn out most of my drivetrain. I thought I was going to pay $100 for a quick tune-up and ended up forking out $800 for a new drivetrain. If I had taken the bike in sooner, I’d have probably saved money.

So, unless you’re really knowledgeable about bicycle inspections, you should plan to get your bike looked at professionally at least once a year to be safe.


Support Your Local Bike Shop

Your local bike shop is an essential thread that holds all your local cycling infrastructure together.

You need to support your local bike shop.

If you need parts, get them from your local bike shop. If you need routine maintenance or an annual inspection, go to your local bike shop. If you need a bike fit or even a new bike, get it from your local bike shop. Support your local bike shop as much as possible.

They’ll take care of you and your bike more than any big chain retail store will.

Your local bike shop is probably run and staffed by people who love to ride bikes as much as you do. There are really the best people to trust with your bike and buying needs.

My favorite local bike shop is The Bike Surgeon of Southern Illinois in Carterville, Illinois, USA; what’s yours? Tell me in the comments below! Be sure to say what area it’s in.


Common Road Biking Mistakes

It’s a good idea to know and understand the mistakes of road biking. The more of these mistakes you learn about, the easier it will be for you to avoid making them.


Bad Saddle Height

A bad saddle height can really ruin your bike ride.

A saddle is your bike seat. You can adjust it by raising the bar it’s attached to. Usually, you can either use a quick release to adjust it, or you may need to loosen a nut or bolt.

It’s important to ensure that your saddle is at the right height.

A saddle that’s too high can cause pain to your knees and even your back. No one should have to have a painful bike ride. If your saddle is too low, it can also cause problems and take more energy to ride your bike. The solution is to adjust your saddle properly.

Use the heel-to-pedal method: Wear your cycling shoes and mount your bike on a stationary support or ask someone to hold it for you. Sit on the saddle and place your heel on the pedal. Pedal backward to the lowest point (6 o’clock position). Your knee should be fully extended (straight) when your heel is on the pedal in this position. If your knee is bent, raise the saddle. If you have to rock your hips to reach the pedal, lower the saddle.

Make sure your saddle isn’t tilted too far back or forward, as it can cause you pain and discomfort on your bike.

If you need help with this, call your local bike shop and request a proper bike fit. They can help you ensure that you saddle it where it needs to be.


Wrong Size Bike

A lot of new road cyclists make this mistake.

They get a bike that isn’t their correct size.

In most cases, you have to exchange the bike. You can’t just make a bike the right size. All the components and the frame are created or set for that specific size. Having a bike that’s the wrong size will increase your chances of being injured.

I’m a big guy. Big, as in really tall. I had to get size 61 in my road bike in order to ride comfortably. If I got something too small, I’d likely be in pain after most of my rides. I’m sure that would make me hate cycling in the long run.

So, how do you avoid the wrong size?

You can either get a bike size based on the size chart provided by the bicycle manufacturer or you can get a bike fit from your local bike shop.

I suggest getting a bike fit from your local bike shop more than anything else. It’s going to be more accurate that way.

Make sure you have the right size bike. You’ll thank yourself for it later.


Not Wearing Padded Shorts

Spandex bike shorts are a functional item not meant for fashion although many of us like the way they look and feel anyways.

A big mistake in the beginner cycling community, especially in road biking, is that people skip out on cycling short,

The problem is that the shorts have a padding built into them called a chamois. The chamois does a lot of great things for us as riders. It prevents chafing, reduces shock, and pads our sit-bones from shock and friction. The padded shorts significantly reduced pain and wear on our most sensitive parts.

You can get padded shorts in baggy options or even a liner to wear under something else.

But the spandex kind is the best for road cyclists. They help you be more aerodynamic and do better to cut through wind resistance.

To many of us, bike shorts are fashionable because they’re a part of the road cyclist culture. If you’re self-conscious, don’t be because you look as normal as the rest of us, and we accept you.

And last but not least, don’t wear underthing under your padded shorts. It will defeat the purpose of the chamois and likely cause you to chafe.


Poor Fueling and Hydration

Poor fueling and hydration will lead you to big problems on the bike.

As you ride your road bike, you’ll likely sweat. As you sweat, you lose the sodium that your body creates to help balance everything out. You also lose energy as you’ll use more of it to make your bike move at different speeds.

If you ride during warmer days or in areas with hills, you’ll lose even more sodium in sweet energy as you bike.

This can make you tired and want to quit riding.

If you ignore it, you can become dehydrated and start to suffer from severe cramps. Some have life-threatening conditions. You’ll also become fatigued, and that might make you become distracted while biking for heavy motor vehicles that can kill you.

All this can be prevented by properly hydrating and fueling yourself while you ride.

Drink plenty of water and also add electrolytes to your drink. Make sure you eat, too. Eat healthy energy bars, gels, chews, and even a lunch on longer rides.

By hydrating and fueling frequently (every 30 minutes to an hour), you’ll enjoy a better ride.


Braking in Corners

It’s easy to want to apply your brake in a corner, but it’s just as dangerous to do so.

Braking in a corner will cause your tires to lose grip on the road. This may cause you to slide off the road in the process. That, of course, will likely cause you to wreck.

You should never break into a corner unless you absolutely have to.

Instead, try to brake before you get to the corner. Keep your body relaxed. Pay attention to the corner and what’s coming. Use your counterweight to tilt your bike around to get through the corner without any issues.

As you’re finishing the corner, try to start riding harder to get yourself going again. Taking a corner usually makes you lose some speed and cadence. Slow down before, take the corner, and start speeding up as you finish it and get back onto a straightaway.

The best thing to do is practice riding corners until you get your technique down.


No Spare and Tools

I want to tell you a story.

A few years ago, I did an organized charity road bike ride. I got pretty far out in the country, and my tire deflated. It was flat due to a piece of glass or something. I went to get my extra tube, and it wasn’t there. Neither was my patch kit. In fact, I didn’t have any tools. I forgot to repack them after cleaning out my bag a few weeks prior.

Because of where I was, I had no cell phone signal.

I had to push my road bike for about four miles and down hills while wearing road bike shoes until I got to an area where I could call for help.

It wasn’t a good time.

Bring a spare innertube that fits your bike. Bring a patch kit. Bring some basic tools to change your tube or patch it. Be prepared to fix your bike so you aren’t stranded out there.

Take my story and run with it.


Poor Maintenance

Poor bike maintenance is a big mistake you don’t want to ignore.

You should get your road bike inspected at least once a year, more depending on how much and how hard you ride it.

Get it inspected by a professional like your local bike shop. They’re going to do a better job than a big chain retail store.

If you don’t maintain it, expect frequent breakdowns. Expect frame and component cracks that you can’t get fixed. Expect a lot of flats and tires rubbing the frame as you ride. Expect a bad experience on your bike.

Bikes are like cars; you have to get a tune-up once in a while.


Poor Use of the Gears

If you use your gears poorly, you won’t have a good road biking experience.

Get to know your gears before doing any serious riding. If you don’t, a number of bad experiences will likely occur. It could result in pain and discomfort. It can make you use more energy than you need to and fatigue you a lot quicker. It can even damage your bike and components.

Proper use of your road bike gears are extremely important.

So, how do you properly use your road bike gears?

Front Gears: Most road bikes have two or three chainrings at the front. The smaller chainring is for climbing or riding in challenging conditions, offering easier pedaling. The larger chainring is for speed and flat terrains. Some road bikes use one chainring, especially those that have electronic shifting components.

Rear Gears: The cassette at the back has multiple gears, ranging from 8 to 12 in modern bikes. Lower gears (larger cogs) make pedaling easier, while higher gears (smaller cogs) are harder to pedal but increase speed.

If you’ve switched a gear and you can feel the chain rubbing against the bike frame or the chain makes a lot of noise as you pedal, you’re in a bad gear combination. Staying in that gear combination may damage your bike, chain, and chainrings.

Anticipate gear changes before you need to do it. Trail yourself that you’ll need the change gear when going up a hill or stopping to ensure easier pedaling can happen. As you start to go down a hill, you’ll need to change gear so that you can continue to pedal and increase your speed.

Try to focus on a smooth pace and cadence to ensure you’re in the right gear. It should feel comfortable during normal riding.

Ride around your neighborhood and get used to your gearing before you go on longer rides.


Road Biking FAQ

Here are some common frequently asked questions about road biking. If you have additional questions about it, please post a comment below, and I’ll make sure I get your answer.


Is it hard to ride a road bike?

Road biking isn’t hard at all. In fact, it might be easier to ride than a traditional bicycle. However, road bikes are better to be ridden on smooth pavement. It becomes harder when you take a road bike on uneven or loose terrain. Road bikes are generally lighter in weight and created for longer ride comfort. You’ll find your road bike to be one of the easiest bicycles to ride on.


What roads can I legally road bike on?

This depends on the country and locality you live in. However, in most cases, you should be legal to ride on most roads that motor vehicles can drive on. There are some exceptions. Most bikes can’t be ridden on interstates and freeways for obvious safety reasons. Some roads restrict bikes to dedicated bike lanes or greenways. Most areas write their vehicle code laws that bikes have the same right-of-way as motor vehicles. With that, you do have to follow all motor vehicle codes that apply to cyclists.


How many people are killed in road biking each year?

There are some dangerous aspects involved in cycling, many of them in the road biking realm, too. On average, there are more than 1,000 cycling fatalities each year. Over 700 of the fatalities are caused by accidents or incidents involving motor vehicles. These statistics come from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). In most cases, you can prevent accidents by not being distracted and following the rules of the road.


How long does it take to get good at road biking?

This depends on your experience, training, and motivation. You control how long it takes to become a better road cyclist. The more you ride, the better you will get at riding. However, you also have to focus more on skills and techniques to make you better at riding. You can’t just ride over and over again to be able to maintain 20 MPH averages on a flat. You have to train for that skill. On average, though, most beginner road cyclists take about a year to get used to everything and have better handling of their bikes. Consider joining a bike club or group ride to get better at cycling.


How to reduce pain while road biking?

There are a few reasons why you should be in any sort of pain while road biking. Aside from being sore from riding hard or long, there shouldn’t be any sort of long-form pain or discomfort. In most cases, pain can be solved with an adjustment, whether it’s your saddle height, cleat position, or the way you posture yourself on the bike. However, a bike that doesn’t fit you can also cause pain, discomfort, and more serious problems down the road. Talk to your local bike shop for assistance in this area.


What if road biking isn’t for me?

Road biking is definitely not for everyone. Lucky for you, there are many different types of cycling to choose from. Maybe gravel biking is more your thing. You might also enjoy mountain biking. The best thing to do is research the different types and determine which is the best for you.


Final Thoughts About Road Biking

Road biking is a great way to enjoy cycling. It’s one of the most popular forms of cycling. There are many options for road bikes, making them very affordable for just about anyone. The guide above practically tells you everything you need to know about road biking. Now, it’s up to you to start doing it.

This guide is nearly 15,000 words in length. It took a long time to write. Please share it with other cyclists to support my effort for not only writing it but also providing it for free. If you’d like to donate, I do welcome donations.

Shawn Gossman

About Shawn Gossman

Shawn Gossman is the author of this post and founder of the Beginner Cycling Tips Blog.

Shawn has been an avid cyclist for around 12 years. He road, gravel, mountain, and trail bikes. He likes adventuring more than racing.

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