6 Common Cycling Mistakes

Cyclist drinking from bottle
How many are you guilty of?

Mistakes are just part and parcel of cycling, and they are how we learn and adapt to tricky situations on our bikes. We’ve previously looked at the 10 Mistakes That Every New Cyclist Makes, so this time we’ll be shifting our attention to the full spectrum of bike riders and the mistakes that can be easily rectified.

Ill-fitting bike

You should be as comfortable in the drops as you are riding on the hoods

A common mistake that can follow a rider throughout their life is a badly fitting bike. Over time, even if you have all the fitness in the world, you will remain an inefficient rider if your geometry is incorrect. This starts with the day you buy your bike, but there are a few small changes you can make at home.

A quick fix that you can do yourself is to make sure your saddle is at the correct height. Put your bike on a turbo trainer or lean it against a wall, and wearing your usual kit, carefully mount the bike. Roll the pedals around (backwards if you’re leaning against the wall) and position you feet at 12 and 6, or where your cranks are vertical. The big question is: how bent is your knee in that position? Adjust your saddle until your knee is only slightly bent when you’re at the bottom of the pedal stroke. This will give you performance benefits, it should be more comfortable for longer, and it will reduce the risk of injury.

NB: If you’re having real issues with sizing or persistent injuries, it is definitely worth consulting a bike fitting expert.

Braking through corners

Don't brake!

Descending is one of those skills that does take a bit of time to properly crack. A mistake many riders make is braking in a corner rather than before it. If you brake on the corner itself, you risk locking up and falling in the road. However, if you brake on approach and keep looking ahead through the bend, you will safely navigate and sweep through any corner. It may take a while to master, but it’s a skill needed on practically every ride.

Over-confidence

You can still be in control even at high speeds

On the flip side is over-confidence. Now, we’re not ones to put a limit on your enthusiasm for the bike, but sometimes over-confidence can only end in tears, especially on the aforementioned descents. If you race into them without mastering your cornering technique, you may quickly find yourself in bother. The same goes for hills and rides as a whole. Again, enthusiasm is to be championed, but you don’t want to blow on the first climb and have a hellish day in the saddle.

Not maintaining your bike

A clean bike is a fast bike!

Routine maintenance, even if it’s a cursory bit of TLC every weekend, will both prolong the life of your bike and save you money in the long run. And each time you clean it, you will familiarise yourself with the details and intricacies of your pride and joy, meaning you’ll be able to identify problems more quickly. If your bike is already having issues and you’re unsure how to deal with them, it’s best to take it into your local bike shop. For a more comprehensive cleaning/maintenance guide, check out: 6 Easy Steps To Clean Your Bike and 8 Maintenance Tips Every Cyclist Should know.

Not using your gears

Gears are there to be used

Using your gears efficiently is absolutely key when you’re on the bike. I.e. you do not want to be spinning at 150+rpm (rotations per minute) in your smallest gears at all times, nor should you feel like you’re using a leg press stuck in your highest gears. A smooth cadence (rpm) in the right gear will result in an even pace while not overexerting yourself. Most bikes have between 18 and 24 gears, so finding out how each one feels will take a couple of rides depending on the terrain where you live. You’ll find it’s a fairly intuitive process, but as a rule of thumb, aim for around 80rpm on the flat in a harder gear, and then shift down to easier gears on climbs where you may find a higher cadence more comfortable.

Overlapping wheels

Half-wheeling is generally seen as bad etiquette

Overlapping wheels and ‘half-wheeling’ while riding as part of a group is a sure-fire way to make enemies on the club run. Make sure you are behind the rear wheel of the rider in front of you and not inched alongside to avoid a crash or issue in the group. ‘Half-wheeling’ is when one rider nudges ahead of the other at the front of the group, forcing the trailing cyclist to speed up and thus unnecessarily increase the pace for the entire group. Both of these mistakes can be easily put right by proper group etiquette - if in doubt, ask your ride buddies. Unsure about how to ride in a group? Check out How to ride safely in a group.


Whether you’re new to the sport or have grown up on a bike, a basic mistake many cyclists make is not taking out cycle insurance. That’s where we come in. Pedalsure can protect you and your accessories in mass participation events and races, in cases of bike theft, personal injury, personal liability, during events and abroad. Most of the thing we cover you won’t find in your home insurance policies. Avoid dropping the ball on this one and follow our quick and easy quote process today.

Need something to lock your bike bike up with when you’re out and about? You can get a free gold rated Hiplok DX D-lock worth £69.99 with any new insurance policy, just one of many ways we protect both you and your bike.

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