They say that “Once one learns how to ride a bike, they can never forget it because it gets stored within the procedural memory”.
Whist that is often true, it is also the case that with prolonged periods of abstinence can result in the loss of confidence and stability!
We have had the pleasure of re-introducing cycling to men and women who are looking for new means of transportation and are seriously considering the Brompton bicycle as their bike of choice.
Through our SRV Brompton Tours we have had the pleasure of taking participants out for our intro discovery rides and the speed of cycling varies from 10km/h to 15km. Sometimes a normal 18km ride will take participants up to 2.5 hours to complete which is fine with us as safety and a positive experience is much more important.
The following are suggested cycling techniques that can help you ride your Brompton more effectively therefore enabling you to cover longer distances at a faster pace.
A Higher Saddle Position
It is common for participants to set their saddle height lower as it enables both their feet to be firmly planted flat on the ground when stationery. This is a common practice which is fine when participants are starting out, however one might not enjoy your ride as much. Having a bend in your knee that exceeds 30 degrees puts stress on the riders knees, which could lead to injuries to the knees over an extended period of time, and doesn’t allow you to use your quadriceps muscles as much.
The following diagram illustrates the appropriate saddle height versus low saddle height .
The optimum saddle height is the height at which your legs are almost fully extended at the lowest stride (optimally 25-35°). If there is a bend in your knee it creates pressure in your knee and you are not activating your quadriceps.
We completely understand that riders feel more secure when they are able to touch their feet on the ground. However it’s a trade-off between ample pedaling power and a false sense of security. One should rely on the brake levers as the primary means of stopping / slowing down.
Hills, slopes and roads with steep elevation is often feared by beginner cyclists although seasoned cyclists often hunt for them as its great for a good cardiovascular workout. The ability to overcome steep rests in these few simple techniques.
Using gears effectively
Adjusting your saddle to the right height so that your legs are almost fully extended
Being able to stand and pedal thereby activating your full body weight and upper body strength to push through that obstacle. This is why some cyclists are happy to get by with only a 2 speed Brompton as they compensate with the lack of gears by sheer cycling power and leverage.
Whilst standing and pedaling may seem dangerous and risky, it’s possible to practice this on wide open roads to gain more confidence.
What is important to realize is that your handle bar brakes are the best source of braking as compared to extending your legs can be dangerous as a stopping technique.
Brake first before coming to a complete stop, then learn to balance for 2 seconds stationery and then you can tilt your bodyweight towards your left or right to stabilize your position.
Effective Braking techniques
It is important to be able to reach the brake levers with ease, it is good practice to have at least 2 fingers resting on the levers at any point in time. This allows you to quickly response and brake faster in case of emergency.
The following pictures illustrate proper resting positions and improper resting positions. If your Brompton is not fitted properly it is best to seek assistance to adjust the Brake calipers accordingly so that you are comfortable operating the brake levers.
Take note that the Brompton bicycle has brake configurations opposite to most normal bikes. The left hand brake will normally control the rear wheel brake whereas the right hand brake will control the front wheel brake . It is good practice to always brake with the left first to avoid the front wheel from locking.
Balancing the bicycle for 2 seconds
This skill takes practice but it greatly helps you control of the Brompton, where you are able to balance a stationary bike for 2 seconds. This allows you to naturally decide on which direction to tilt the bike and which leg to rest on. Practice stationary balancing by holding onto the brakes and holding your balance for up to 2 seconds. This is the key to riding at a higher saddle position.
Effective Use of Gears
The Brompton bicycle has a unique gear system which has a combination 2 x 3 gear shifting which offers a total of 6 gears. It is important to learn how to shift your gears without staring at them, instead focusing on the road and obstacles ahead. When in doubt avoid using the left shifter and focus on the right shifter as it allows gear changes when the bicycle is stationary.
Defensive Riding Techniques
Given the Brompton’s small wheel base of only 16” , the riders main concern would be riding off the cycling path into grass patches or gratings. This is a common cause of falls and accidents because it is difficult to get back onto the pathway given the small wheel base of the Brompton . Unless you are able to bunny hop which is an advance skill, it is better to stop cycling . Dismount and push your Brompton back onto the pathway.
The above tips and cycling techniques are best practiced in a quite open area such as the F1 Pit lanes in the city or wide open car parks around your vicinity. We conduct confidence rides at the Toa Payoh Town park and open spaces at Bedok Reservoir which offers wide open spaces for beginners to train and build confidence.
We try to address the following concerns and build more confidence in riding the Brompton .
As cycling becomes a ever more popular means of exercise and regular commuting, it’s important to have confidence in your cycling abilities. Practice Makes Perfect and we cannot stress how cycling more helps you become fitter and more agile on your bicycle.
For more information on Brompton Confidence Tours and Brompton Experiences, you can contact us at wa.me/6589257912
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