Beginner’s guide to riding a bike to work

Moving Well | RACV | Posted on 14 October 2019

Quit spinning your wheels and get back on your bike with these beginner cycling tips.

Sick of Melbourne’s crowded trains, packed trams and peak-hour traffic jams, and looking for an alternative option for commuting to work? Halve the wheels and double the fun by swapping your car – or packed train carriage – for a bicycle. Riding to work is not only a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly mode of transport, it’s also a low-impact activity, making it ideal for people of all fitness levels. But if it’s been a while since you last dusted off the old two-wheeler, riding a bike is as easy as, err, riding a bike. So if you’re planning on pedalling to the metal, here are our top tips for beginners. 

A bicycle leaning against a wall in an alley

Five tips for new riders

1. Choose the right bike for you

Getting the right bike to suit you makes all the difference in enjoying a ride. If you’re planning to commute into work or are spending most of your time on the road or bike path, either a hybrid or a road bike is going to be your best bet. With skinny tyres and a light weight getting you around quickly. If you’re looking to spend more time off road and make the most of Victoria's great rail trails, a mountain bike will be your best option. When purchasing your bike it’s important to make sure you get the right size. Head to your local bike shop to make sure you get a bike that fits you and your needs. (More: Victoria's seond-hand bike peddlers.)

2. Get the right gear

Now that you’ve got the perfect bike you’re going to want to make sure you’ve got a sturdy lock to make sure it remains yours. A decent set of lights will make sure that you can be seen and see when you’re out and about. Gloves are also a smart purchase to help you maintain a safe grip on your handlebars and keep your hands warm on cooler days. (See also: How to choose a commuter bike.)

3. Safety first

We like to think about safety by remembering the three H’s – helmet, headphones and hand signals.

Wearing a helmet can be the difference between life and death, and in Victoria, it’s mandatory. Find one you like the look of so wearing it isn’t such a chore, and make sure it's been certified and fits correctly.

A toot of a horn, the skid of a tyre, the sound of a siren in the distance – all of these are important to hear when you’re cycling on the road. It’s a contentious point, but if you must listen to music, make sure it doesn’t completely mask the sounds of your surroundings.

Hand signals
Cars use indicators, cyclists use their hands. Be sure to acquaint yourself with Victorian road rules and all the common signals to avoid confusion and collision.

4. Carry a spare tube and patch kit

What’s a tube you ask? Well, the inner tube is the inflatable rubber or latex doughnut that sits inside your tyre. It’s important to know this because if you end up with a flat tyre on the road, this is what you’ll need to replace. A spare one can be easily stored in a backpack, along with a couple of other tools to help you replace it. This might include a multi tool, a couple of small levers and a mini bike pump. If you can’t remember everything you learned about fixing a punctured tyre from the helpful lady in the bike shop or the nice man from YouTube, RACV's Bike Assist service can get you moving again. Our Patrols will even provide you with a new tube at no additional cost.

5. Plan your ride 

If you want to get your cycle on and put pedal to the medal, preparation is key – especially when you’re just starting out. If you’re planning on riding to work, use a journey planner app like arevo to find the best cycling route and, if you haven’t ridden in a while, maybe allow a little extra time, just in case. It’s also a good idea to consider where the nearest bike parking or storage facilities are (if your office or workplace doesn’t have them) and make sure you have chains/padlocks to keep your two-wheeled baby safe. (Cycling into the city? Here's our CBD bike survival guide.)


Don't let a flat tyre stop you in your (bike) tracks. Get the wheels spinning with RACV Bike Assist