- Tire Pressure.
Always inflate tires to the pressure shown on the sidewall. This greatly reduces pedalling effort and the chances of a pinch flat from hitting potholes. Check Tire Pressure often. Tubes leak air right through the rubber. Air loss at recommended pressure can be 5-10 psi/week.
- Seat Height.
I know its comfortable to sit on your bike with feet flat on the ground but a bike is for riding, not sitting. The straighter your leg is at the bottom of the pedal stroke the easier it is to pedal. It's simple mechanics, a bent leg can't push with much force whereas an almost straight leg can push with much more force. Road riders and racers raise their seats until their legs are almost straight at the bottom of the pedal stroke resulting in maximum pedaling efficiency. We aren't road racers so we can compromise between comfort and efficiency. If your knees are at waist level at the top of the pedal stroke, raise the seat 2" and see how much easier it is to pedal. You might like it.
Do you have multiple gears on your bike and don't use them? Thats like using only one gear in your car. That isn't the way to get the best performace out of the motor. The same applies to your bike where YOU are the motor. In addition it's not safe to be in a higher gear when approaching an incline or a crossing. In both cases you need to use a lower gear resulting in more power to the pedal to negotiate a grade or to make a safe crossing.
A lot of riders love the old coaster or back pedal brakes and dislike hand brakes. If you have a choice, go for the bike with hand brakes. Why? Hand brakes stop better, are safer, and are easier to use. How so? Coaster brakes work on the rear wheel only. Hand brakes work on both wheels. Hand brake pads are easily replaced when they become worn. Coaster brakes are for life, worn or not. Hand brakes can be applied while mounting and dismounting. Coaster brakes cannot. The pedals of bikes with hand brakes can be positioned while stationary for easy take off. Coaster brake pedals can only be positioned by rolling the bike. Are hand brakes easier to use? That's somewhat subjective, but I trust my hands more than my feet where braking is concerned.
- Starting and stopping.
Getting under way smoothly and safely is easy with the right technique. There are several methods of getting under way.
- The stationary mount. This method requires that the rider be setting on the seat or standing over the top bar. If the bike has a coaster brake you cannot position the pedal for take off but must choose the pedal that is in the best position for take off or roll ahead until a pedal is in a suitable position. If you are riding a freewheel type bike, position the pedal at 2-3 o'clock and push off.
- The rolling mount. This is a favored method for physically agile riders. The explaination is for right handed riders. If you are left handed, reverse the foot assignments. If the bike you are riding has a freewheel drive e.g., used on 3, 10 and up drive systems, position the left pedal at bottom dead center. Place the left foot on the pedal and push off with the right foot. As soon as the bike is rolling, throw your right leg over the seat, sit down and place your right foot on the right pedal. If your bike has a coaster brake you must roll it ahead until the left pedal is at bottom dead center. Follow the above procedure. With practice this method is very smooth and effective.
- Bike Maintenance
Keep your bike in good repair and adjustment. I've heard that there is someone in the park who can help with repair and maintenance-so ask around.