Basic Essentials for Riders

Choosing you bicycle

The most important question to ask when choosing a bike is:
what style of riding do I want to do?
To find out more about each style of riding and what types of bikes are available to suit each style, select from the different riding styles below.

All-Weather Riding


Some people only ride their bicycle on sunny days and take another form of transport when the weather turns nasty.  These “fair-weather cyclists” don’t need any special equipment, however, all-weather bike riders need to be prepared for anything.

Some all-weather riders will ignore the rain and just grit their teeth and get on with it, but many will fit their bike with mud guards and make sure that their pannier bags and bicycle clothing are water-proof.

dutch – touring – utility


Carrying a Load


There are a number of different reasons why you may want to carry things on your bike.   You may want to bring clothes to work.  You may want to do your weekly shopping by bike.  You may want to holiday by bicycle and carry your luggage with you.  You may want to take small children out to experience the joys of cycling, but they are too young to ride their own bike.  You may even want to move house by bike!

cargo – dutch – electric – tandem – touring – utility





You can use whatever bike you like to commute!  The best thing you can do is give it a go and make adjustments to your setup as you go.  You may even find that combining a bicycle trip with a train, bus or ferry trip is just the thing to get you where you need to go.  This “multi-modal” commuting is all the rage in europe and makes it possible for people to travel long distances to work without needing a car.

If you are looking to purchase a new bike for your daily commute, then there are many factors you may choose to consider.  You may even find that one bicycle is suitable for certain weather conditions or when you need to take clothes to the office and another bicycle is suitable for sunny days when you want to ride fast and lean.

carry – weather – speed

Expressing Yourself


Bicycle culture is experiencing an explosion in the “Cycle Chic” movement, a term that was first coined by the Copenhagen Cycle Chic website.  Various websites and events have jumped on-board the concept which recognises the elegance and beauty of the bicycle and celebrates the people who ride them through photography.

It has never been so easy to express yourself through bicycle culture.  Whether you are a fashion afishionado, a high-class hipster or just someone who likes to add your own personal touch to your ride, there are many ways to explore your creative side through bicycles.

By customising your bicycle, your choice of transport can blend seamlessly with your choice of fashion to create a stylish package which also communicates your values as a healthy, active, socially-conscious person.  Choosing your bicycle is only the beginning of the opportunities for self-expression due to the huge variety of accessories available for both the rider and the bicycle.

After you’ve accessorised your bike, the next task is to match your look to your bike.  If you own a classic bicycle such as a Dutch Bike, then why not complement the classic machine with vintage clothing and accessories.  If you own a Fixie, then why not complement the deep-rim bling with some fashion bling.  If you own a BMX, then why not complement your low rider with some low-rider jeans!

bmx – dutch – fixie

Niche Bicycles


The bicycle has inspired countless inventors and designers to explore their imaginations and to test the limits of physics in their quest for the perfect bicycle. While some of these inventions have been uncomfortable, impractical or even down-right dangerous, a few designs have created their own niche markets.

hand – recumbent – tandem




Racing & Triathlon


Since 1868, when the first bicycle race was held at the Parc de Saint-Cloud, Paris, bicycle races have been an essential part of bicycle culture.  As the bicycle evolved and many different Bike Types were created, many different forms of racing evolved.

bmx – downhill – road – track – trail – tt




Riding Over Rough Terrain


The bicycle industry sells a huge variety of mountain-bikes to suit every different type of trail you may ride. This provides a huge selection of bikes, but at the end of the day, you won’t need a different bike for every trail you ride unless you have a lot of money to burn.

bmx – downhill – trail




Speed & Efficiency


Just because you don’t race, it doesn’t mean you can’t ride the quickest bike available. A bike that is optimised for speed and efficiency will allow you to ride longer, harder and over hills that you never thought possible.

The key things that improve the speed and efficiency of a bike are:

– the weight of the bike.
– the stiffness of the frame.
– the rolling resistance/weight of the wheels and tyres.


Getting Started

You’ve come to the right place if you don’t know much about cycling and are keen to start riding.  This page provides step-by-step instructions on how to get all the equipment, information and training you need to start exploring the joys of cycling.

1. Joining Bicycle NSW

Just as people who drive a car obtain insurance in-case they cause an accident, bicycle users should make sure that they are covered by insurance.  Bicycle NSW Membership provides you with insurance for members and a host of other membership benefits.  Becoming a Bicycle NSW member also helps us to create a better environment for cycling through our advocacy.

2. Joining a Local Club and/or Bicycle User Group

Bicycle NSW has strong ties with Bicycle User Groups who share our objective of creating a better environment for cycling.  To find out more about what is going on in your local area including group rides, training courses and advocacy, contact your local Bicycle User Group.

3. Buying your Bicycle and Equipment

For those of you who like a bit of retail therapy now and then, here comes the fun part: buying your bicycle and equipment…  Buying the right bicycle can be tricky if you are not sure what you are after, but with the help of our guide to choosing a bicycle above it will be easy.

4.  Brushing Up on your Riding Skills

Maybe it has been a while since you’ve ridden or maybe you’ve never really mastered the skills needed to ride a bicycle.  Either way, it is a good idea to spend some time getting comfortable with riding your bicycle in a forgiving environment away from cars.  Try taking your bicycle to a sports field or a vacant parking lot where there is plenty of room for mistakes.

Road Rules

Under NSW Road Rules a bicycle is considered a vehicle.  This affords bicycle users the same rights and responsibilities as other vehicles on the road.  There are some special rules that apply to bicycles and it is best to be aware of these.

Click here for information on road rules as they apply to bicycles.

Click here for the full, comprehensive NSW Road Rules.

Safety Checks

Daily Checks

  • Tyres should feel very firm to touch. The maximum pressure is written on the sidewall of the tyre (between the tread and the rim).
  • Check that the saddle is at the correct height.  If you are able to sit on the saddle and have your feet flat on the ground, then the seat is too low.  Your leg should be slightly bent when the pedal is at its lowest point.  When adjusting the height of the saddle, make sure that the seat post is inserted at least as far as the line marked on the post.
  • Brakes should be secure. Brake levers should engage when gripped.
  • Handlebars should not be loose.
  • Lift the handlebars, spin the front wheel, apply the brakes and check that the wheel is properly secured in the forks and that the quick release levers are secure.  The wheel should rotate freely without rubbing on the brakes and the brakes should operate smoothly smoothly and directly.
  • Lift the seat and turn the pedals to spin the rear wheel.  Perform the same four tests as above.

Weekly Checks

  • Check that the brake pads contact the rim squarely (not applicable for disc brakes).
  • Check that the brake levers are firm.  Brake levers should never be loose enough to touch the handlebar when squeezed hard.
  • Check that brake and gear cables are not frayed or damaged.
  • Check that wheel axle nuts are tight.
  • Clean and lubricate the chain.
  • Check the headset by applying the front brake and rocking the bike back and forward.  If the headset is loose, there will be a ‘knocking’ sound.  Tighten the lock nut or see your local bike shop for assistance.
  • Check that fittings such as racks, front and rear lights, wheel reflectors and kick stands are firmly secured.
  • Check front and rear lights are bright when operating.
  • Clean mud from lights and reflectors, including pedal reflectors. Check that front and rear reflectors are aligned vertically.

Monthly Checks

  • Check the tyres for wear or splits in the rubber and replace if necessary.
  • Check wheel bearings, chain, gear cluster, chain rings and head stem (handlebars).
  • Check pedals are intact and spin freely.
  • Check that derailleur gears are not bent and that they do not travel too far and jam the chain.
  • Check wheels for rust, buckles, bulges, rims with dents, and broken spokes. Check for loose hub bearings by wiggling wheel sideways.
  • Make sure your bell is in good working order.
  • Wipe down your bike with a damp rag.

Annual Checks

  • Check the frame for rust, cracks and weaknesses.
  • Replace handlebar tape and check handlebars for rust, cracks and weaknesses.
  • Replace the chain and the gear cluster (cassette) as both generally wear out evenly.