Riding tips

There’s always something new to learn about riding, no matter if you’re a beginner mastering the basics or a pro trying out advanced techniques. And the more you learn, the more capable and confident you’ll feel on every ride. Our YouTube channel has a ton of great how-to videos, especially for those new to cycling:

See the videos

Shifting gears

Shift gears to suit your riding speed and the terrain. You should always be pedalling when you shift, and you should use a gear that allows for smooth, efficient pedal strokes.

Your right levers move your rear gears. The big lever moves you to easy (bigger) gears. The small lever moves you to harder (smaller) gears.

Your left levers move your front gears. The big lever moves you to the big (harder) ring. The small lever moves you to the small (easier) ring.

Choose your gear early. Don’t shift when your pedals are under load, like when going uphill. Choose your climbing gear early so you’re ready for the hill. If you do need to change gears under load, try to ease up on the pedals while shifting.

Finding the right gear

With practise, gear selection will become more of an impulse or reflex, requiring little thought.

Over time, you’ll find the gear(s) that are most comfortable for you. Optimum gear and pedal revolutions (rpm) vary. Most people find that a lower gear is better going uphill, a higher gear is better going downhill and a gear somewhere in between is comfortable on flat or rolling terrain.

Try not to use a cross-chain combination: A big front gear/big rear gear OR small front gear/small rear gear. Cross-chaining is bad for your drive train.

It’s a great idea for beginners to ride with an experienced rider who’s willing to teach you the basics of gear selection.

Braking and stopping

Learning how to brake properly will make you safer and more confident on the road. Before you start riding, always make sure that your brakes work.

Coaster brakes

If your bicycle has a coaster brake activated by the pedals, you pedal backwards to apply the brake. To apply the greatest force, the rear pedal should be above horizontal when you apply the brake.

Pedal position for best coaster brake application.

Lever brakes

Braking should be done with both brakes at the same time. Applying too much front brake might cause the rear wheel to lift off the ground, resulting in a loss of control. Applying too much rear brake might cause you to begin a skid.

The majority of your bike’s braking power comes from the front brake – use it sparingly. Your rear brake can help to slow you down gradually.

To keep the rear wheel from lifting under heavy braking, shift your weight rearwards on the seat and stay low over the bicycle.

If you have to perform an emergency stop, apply the brakes smoothly and evenly to best control your speed.

When cornering, use the brakes before you make your turn. Hard braking during a turn can cause your wheels to skid, which could cause you to lose control. Ease off the brakes about halfway through the turn for more stability and positive cornering traction.

Continuous braking can cause heat build-up on your rim and brake components which causes premature wear. To avoid overheating the brake system, release the brakes occasionally to allow the surfaces to cool.

Climbing hills

The most important tip for climbing is to find the right gear selection before reaching the hill. Once you've mastered gear selection, these additional techniques will make it easier to tame any climb.

On steep climbs, lean forwards and bend your elbows. Practise finding the right weight balance between your front and rear wheels and be ready to shift as you go.

Whether you sit or stand for a climb is a matter of personal preference. Sometimes it helps to alternate the two techniques because they use different muscle groups and changing positions can provide a rest for fatigued muscles.

Descending hills

The keys to safely and effectively descending a hill are speed control, weight distribution and steering control.

Your speed is controlled through experience and good braking technique. To keep your weight correctly in balance between the wheels on a steep downhill, move your weight rearwards on the bicycle and stay as low as possible, just like when braking. .

Keep your knees and elbows bent to allow your body to absorb bumps and impacts. Avoid a 'death grip' on your brakes.

Controlling the steering

You’ll only turn your handlebar to steer at low speeds. Steering at high speed or while descending is dangerous and only done as a counter-steer.

For example, for a right turn, move your outside (left) foot down to the 6 o’clock position and keep your weight on that pedal. As you move into the turn, push forwards (not down) with your inside (right) hand and lean into the direction of the turn.

The front and rear wheels will follow different paths. Steer so that both wheels follow the best paths. Stay relaxed through the turn and keep your weight centred on the bike.

Product Compare Rack

Start comparison
Australia / English
You’re looking at the Australia / English Trek Bicycle website. Don’t worry. We’ve all taken a wrong turn before. View your country’s Trek Bicycle website here.