Tips and resources
Start riding is the go-to place for anyone who is new to bike riding. Below are a few simple starters to help you get going.
What do I need?
Any bike can get you started, as long as:
- it’s the right size for you and
- it’s road worthy (the brakes work, the tyres aren’t worn out, etc).
Some of these things can be fixed yourself, but you can also visit a local bike shop for some specialist treatment and any new parts. They’ll also be able to get the size right for you.
Nice to have
- Padded pants – lycra knicks aren’t essential but the padding helps prevent soreness and the sweat-absorbing properties helps prevent chafing.
- Cycling gloves – like the knicks, they can add comfort with a bit of padding for your hands.
Planning a ride
Where to ride?
Shared paths offer car-free riding that’s great for casual rides and commuting. These often follow rivers and beaches, which are beautiful places to ride. Learn more on our maps page.
Rail trails can’t be beaten for a weekend outing. These are disused railway lines, converted into car-free shared paths through the countryside. Find out which rail trails are near you.
Training routes often attract more road cyclists than car traffic on weekend mornings.
Mountain bike trails
Mountain biking challenges your skills more than any other type of riding – with the payoff of intense fun! Mountain bikers travel far for the best riding experiences but short options are often closer than you think. Have a look at these mountain biking spots.
Preparing for your ride
- Know the weather forecast and adapt if necessary – for instance, start earlier if it’s a very hot day or if an afternoon storm is predicted.
- Dress in layers so you can peel them off as you warm up or put them on if the weather turns. Include a light rain jacket as one of your layers.
- Carry water – two water bottles for each person is a good amount – and have plenty of snacks with you to keep fueled up.
- Slip, slop, slap to protect against sunburn.
- Don’t be too ambitious – think five kilometres rather than 50, at least until you’ve developed your riding fitness. You’re better off to be itching for another ride than to be sore from going too hard too early.
- Ride with friends or tell someone where you’re going.
- Insure yourself against personal injury costs with Bicycle Network membership.
Find the best route
Map out your ride
Check out the route you plan to ride on a map before you set off.
An online map such as Google Maps is good for planning, but a hard-copy map that you can spread out on a table can give a better sense of scale and options. It’s also handy to carry a hard-copy map when you ride in case your digital devices run out of charge, or if you’re riding in remote areas.
Google Maps can also map directions specifically for bikes. However, depending on where you are riding, these suggested routes vary from good to questionable. Remember you can always pull over and walk the bike past a tricky situation.Learn more
A quick guide
Bikes are vehicles and can ride on the road. You can’t ride them on the footpath in NSW or Victoria if you’re older than 12. A shared path is for both pedestrians and bike riders and has signs and symbols to show that it is shared.
Bike riders on a shared path must keep to the left and give way to pedestrians. You should ring your bell when overtaking or call out “passing”. When you stop, you should pull off the path to allow others to pass.
Communicating with others makes shared paths easier for everyone. See our tips here.
Riding on the road
On the road, most of the same rules apply for bikes as for cars. An exception is that bike riders can overtake on the left of cars.
You can also use a hook-turn to turn right anywhere a right-turn is allowed. This is safer than trying to merge with other traffic.
When turning right, changing lanes and overtaking you must indicate with a hand signal.
Two riders can ride side-by-side if you’re not more than 1.5 metres apart, though sometimes it’s considerate to go single file to let traffic pass. Ride one metre out from the kerb and the same from parked cars to avoid dooring.Learn more
Keep things running smoothly
Looking after your bike
Before each ride, or each week, give your bike a quick scan with the ABCD check.
ABCD bike check
A is for air in the tyres
Keep them pumped up to the pressure recommended on the sidewall to roll smoothly and avoid punctures.
B is for brakes
Check the pads hit the rim properly and aren’t worn away; check the levers don’t contact the handgrips.
C is for chain
Turn the pedals backwards watching that every link in the chain moves smoothly; check the chain isn’t dry or rusty – clean and lubricate it (with lube from a bike shop) if necessary.
D is a drop test
Lift the bike 5cm off the ground and drop it, listening for rattles. Tighten any loose parts.Learn more
What are new riders' biggest questions?
Check the forecast before you ride to be prepared. Carry a rain jacket and a light layer for warmth. Shelter in a cafe – it usually doesn’t last that long. Take public transport home if it’s a wash out.
They’re quite easy to fix if you have a puncture kit. Learn how to fix it yourself. Otherwise, walk the bike to the nearest bike shop or to the nearest train station.
Trains are the best back-up for bike riders, so it’s good to know where the nearest services are. Otherwise, if you drove to your start point, perhaps someone could ride back and bring the car to you.
Don’t be too ambitious – think five kilometres rather than 50, at least until you’ve developed your riding fitness. You’re better off to be itching for another ride than to be sore from going too hard too early.
Kids can ride a long way – further than most adults actually. For a fun family ride, break it into very short sections (around 1 kilometre), create games and challenges, and expect to stop very often and eat lots of snacks and treats. The stops only need to be for five minutes and then they’ll be ready to go again. Lots of water is essential for everyone!
Local riding resources
For more information on route maps and planning your ride we’ve put together links to free maps for a variety of bicycle routes across Australia.