The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Bikes

It’s good for the planet, your heart and your pocket, but the world of cycling can be chauvinistic and filled with enough technical jargon to put anyone off. Fortunately, on Today with Claire ByrnePhillip Boucher Hayes sat down with Niall Moyna, professor of health and human performance at DCU, and Willo King of Recycle Bikes, to put together the ultimate beginner’s guide to bikes.

Philippe started by throwing the gauntlet to his two guests:

“To people who have never ridden a bike before, who think it’s about climbing hills in the rain, can you please convince them that biking is actually quite joyful? “

Niall Moyna didn’t have to think too long to find his answer:

“I never came back from a cycle and said, ‘God, I regret this cycle’. I do it in the morning and it’s just me and the environment and the wind and the cows and the birds. And to have that freedom in the morning and go places you just couldn’t go if you were going up and down hills. And you do it in a relatively short amount of time. For me, you get that endorphin high. Every morning I come back from my cycle and for the next three or four hours I’m on a high…”

And while endorphins are free, gear isn’t, and Willo King broke down the costs:

“You can get an entry-level road bike for about two or three hundred dollars. You get your helmet for another twenty, thirty dollars. We have the lights here, LED lights, for twenty dollars. A lock for twenty , twenty-five euros.”

“Everyone should have this little pocket bag. The pocket bag is behind the saddle. You can put your tire levers, spare inner tubes, etc. in it. You could be on the road, riding a bike on the road like Niall, for three or four hundred euros.

And what about the necessary safety equipment? What laws are there to stay safe and visible on our roads? Willo explained:

“The only law is that you have reflectors on your bike. Lights on your bike. That you take good care of your bike and are sober enough to control your bike.”

And while helmets aren’t mandatory, Niall and Willo were unequivocal about their importance. Willo began, “Wear a helmet 100 percent.”

Niall agreed: “I have no doubt that helmets should be mandatory. I had a little accident recently and when I was talking to the orthopedic surgeon I told him that people were bribing me suggesting that people would wear helmets and he said “I wish some of these people come and spend a week with me in the ER and compare people who come in with helmets on to people who don’t,” and it’s day and night.”

But back to basics and Willo explained the difference between the types of bikes:

“Your road bike is a lighter bike and it’s made for distance and speed and on the flat […] Your mountain bike, there are a lot of different variations, they mainly have these fat tires and front suspension. They are intended for off-road use. Tracks and trails. They would be harder on the roads which then brings you to your hybrid which is the combination of your road bike and your [mountain] bike and your hybrid bike is more your commuter bike for city riding.”

So you have bought your bike and everything you need; how to stay on the road and, above all, worthy of the road? Willo again:

“If you cycle every day […] you’ll know your bike and you’ll know when things aren’t right. It’s kind of like a car – you’ll know when things start to get a little weird. Depending on how often you cycle, you should have your bike serviced every six to twelve months.”

And a final word from Niall Moyna on the physiological implications of going out on a bike:

“The best predictor of our health is our cardiovascular fitness and what that does is every time you get on a bike your lungs are activated, your heart has to beat faster, your blood vessels and your muscles have to use all that oxygen – so it’s a wonderful way to integrate all the major systems in your body that are important for health.”

The trio went over to discuss gears, brake maintenance, saddle height and different options for getting around with the kids and you can listen in full here.

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