Bicycle Information
Pennsylvania Bicycle Driver's Manual - Chapter 1: Off to a Good Start

Let’s look first at how you get on your bicycle. If you climb onto it the right way, you get quicker, safer starts and a more efficient riding position. We’ll also take a look at how to get off smoothly so you’re positioned to start again quickly.




Thread a toe strap....
      Thread a toe strap as shown, from outside to inside of the pedal. Leave the end hanging loose so you can pull it to tighten the strap.


PREPARING TO START

When you get onto your bicycle, first stand over the frame in front of the saddle. Hold the brake levers so the bike won’t roll. A steady bike lets you get into position to mount.
Now, lift your right foot and put it into the pedal. Turn the crank backwards until the pedal is at 2 o’clock position -- forward and high. Backpedal gently. If the crank won’t turn easily, adjust the gear levers until the chain runs smoothly.

When the pedal is in the 2 o’clock position, you’re ready to get moving. Let go of the brakes and push down on the pedal. The first pedal stroke starts the bike moving and lifts you up to the saddle. When the opposite pedal comes up to top position, put your foot on it for the second pedal stroke. If you don’t get your foot into the pedal on the first try, ride along with the pedal upside down until you build up speed. Then put your foot into the toeclip.

USING CLIPLESS PEDALS OR TOECLIPS

Clipless pedals and toeclips are your "feet belts" -- they increase pedaling efficiency and safety. But until you're used to them. leave them loose in stop-and-go traffic. Practice removing your foot from the pedal as you stop.

Thread toeclips and straps as shown in the illustration -- from the outside to the inside of the pedal. Leave the end of the strap sticking out like a floppy dog ear -- don't tuck it back in to the buckle. Tighten the strap by pulling on the end, and loosen it by pushing the buckle outward with your thumb.

Clipless pedals are usually easier to use than toeclips -- but the motion to release your foot is different, so practice it a few times before you use one of htese systems out on the road.

When you're coming to a stop, stand on the right pedal, and slide forward off the saddle. lean the bike a little to the left side an dplace your left foot on the ground. When soptted, raise your right foot and its pedal into the 2 o'clock starting position.

No matter what type of pedals you use, put only one foot on the ground when you stop. The other foot waits on its pedal in the 2 o'clock position, ready for a quick start.

As you slow to a stop, shift down to a low, starting gear. On a derailleur-equipped bike, the gears shift only while you're still turning the pedals.

AVOIDING COMMON MISTAKES

Many bicyclists like to sit down on the bike's saddle before they start, with both feet on the ground -- a common mistake. People get into this habit as children, riding tricycles. On a tricycle, your feet reach the ground, because the pedals are ahead of you. On a bicycle, the redals are underneath you, so the saddle has to be higher.

People with the tricycle habit always keep their saddles too low. They can't develop much power, because their legs don't straighten out enough.

There are a couple of other common mistakes people make in getting onto their bikes. Some people push the bike along with a foot, like a scooter. Other people stand next to the bike, then leap over it, the way you mount a horse. But a bicycle is not a tricycle, a scooter, or a horse.

Practice the pedal-step method until you're comfortable with it. Raise the saddle if it is too low. Also, practice shifting your gears as you stop, so you'll have good acceleration when you start again. You'll be rewarded with smoother, safer and quicker starts.