UPDATED December 17, 2020

BY Eva Hoekstra

IN Cycle Touring Advice


UPDATED December 17, 2020

BY Eva Hoekstra

IN Cycle Touring Advice


Bike handling Tips And Tricks For Beginners

HOW TO PREPARE: An 8 part series to get you ready for your first TDA tour. Click here to read more.

When it comes to bike handling skills there are a few simple steps you can follow to increase your confidence, decrease the risk of accidents and heighten your enjoyment on your rides.  We have all made mistakes which resulted in a crash or bruised ego. Often times these injuries and mishaps can be avoided if you improve your overall bike handling skills. Here are five simple tips and tricks to make a lot of common mishaps a thing of the past.


When cycling, it’s so important to relax your mind and body. Always start slow as too much speed can lead to very avoidable accidents. Often times when someone has a crash, their first mistake was going too fast. When you get on your bike you should have a comfortable body position with your arms slightly bent. Let the bike do what it was built to do and remember an overly tight grip won’t make riding any easier. If you are tense and moving quickly, an injury or crash is more likely to happen.


A great rule of thumb is to always have one or two fingers on the brake levers. If you see a reason to break ahead, adjust your body position to prepare for the feeling of being pushed forward. You can do this by positioning your weight slightly back, even move your bum just behind the saddle. It’s easy to get thrown over the handlebars if you break quickly while leaning forward. We’ve all learned this the hard way right? Or was that just me?


When you know you have a climb coming up, shift into your easy gears ahead of time and not while you are actually climbing. You can do this by building momentum for a hill and changing your gears right as you enter the climb. This way you can do the climb with ease, as your shifting is already done. Trying to shift gears while climbing will cause a lot more work for yourself and your bike. Climbing can be fun!


Look ahead, at the trail, road or line you are following. If you look down, you are more likely to go down. Just like driving a car, you need to look ahead in the direction you are going. Imagine what would happen if you stared at the hood of the car while driving! Once you gain some confidence, looking around with ease will come naturally.


Practice, practice, and practice some more. Go to a trail or any quiet area where you can practice riding on dirt, gravel and uneven ground. It can be helpful to create a course to ride with small obstacles to go around in a safe and controlled environment.

Do’s and Don’ts checklist:

  • Do keep a relaxed body position, arms slightly bent.
  • Don’t go around corners quickly.
  • Do look straight ahead, along the road or path you are travelling on.
  • Don’t slam on your breaks and lean forward at the same time.
  • Do lean slightly back and keep one to two fingers on the break levers.
  • Don’t change gears while climbing a hill.
  • Do gain momentum and change gears before the climb.
  • Don’t attempt to ride on gravel or dirt too quickly.
  • Do practice, practice, practice.

Bike handling skills are all about getting out there and spending time on your bike. If you have someone in your life who you admire for their cycling abilities, ask them to go for a ride. Watch how they move and handle the terrain. I have learned a lot over the years by riding with different people and exploring my city and trails. Maybe some friends have learned a thing or two from me too!

How to Prepare

An 8 part series to get you ready for your first TDA tour. Click here to read more.

2 Comments for "Bike handling Tips And Tricks For Beginners"

Thanks for this. All good advice. I would find it really useful to have a set of tips focused on rough roads: washer-board, deep rutted gravel, sand, mud, etc. I did the African trip last year and it took me quite a while to begin to figure out how to deal with the challenging roads in Tanzania and Namibia. (It is also where I had my spills.)

    Hi Tom, thank you for your comment and suggestion. That’s a great idea, I was considering going into more detail about off road so I will consider this for next season. Thank you for the feedback!

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