The Beginners Guide To Cycling and Loosing Weight

One of the most asked questions for new cyclists is; How much should I spend on a bike? It will be a topic of conversation in the cycling world forever. The reason is that everyone has their own opinion, and that’s a good thing as long as it’s a healthy opinion. Some advise that you should spend as much as you can afford, others ask the question of what you are going to be using your bike for first. So Shokbox will take you through the basics of what’s needed to start cycling.

What Will You Be Using Your Cycle For

This has to be the first question before deciding how much to spend on a cycle. It’s what you are going to be using it for. Different bikes have different price points, so it can make a big difference in the cost of your push bike. Is it just for the commute to work and to help lose weight cycling along with saving money? If it is this decision, you could justify spending a little extra because of the money you will be saving. Is it just for the occasional ride to help you get a bit fitter, don’t fall into this trap because it’s unbelievable how many people ride a bike once and ride it again.

Buying a bike is a commitment, so don’t buy a bike on a fancy or a whim. Are you considering joining a cycling club and increasing your fitness level? To help you decide how much you will spend on a bike, here is a small list of the types of bikes and what they are used for. In theory, some bikes lend themselves to commuting to work and adventure at weekends.

A Quick Guide to the Different Types of Bikes:

Road Bikes:  Lightweight, efficient bikes with drop handlebars and narrow tires for recreational riding on pavement. Styles include race, endurance and could be used to commute to work.

Mountain Bikes: are rugged machines with flat handlebars and wide, knobby tires for riding narrow dirt trails. Styles include hardtail, full-suspension cross country, full-suspension trail, and full-suspension enduro. Very noisy when riding on roads due to the wobbly tyres.

Gravel/Adventure Bikes: are drop-bar bikes with clearance for multiple tire sizes for a range of riding experiences on- and off-road. Styles include gravel, bike packing, and cyclocross. Gravel racing has taken America by storm. Read Kanza King Tips for gravel riding.

Utility Bikes: are designed for utility, such as commuting or errands. Styles include commuter, fixie, mid-tail, and cargo.

Comfort/Fitness Bikes: Everything from beach cruisers to flat-bar bikes for weekend spins on multi-use paths. Styles include hybrid, fitness, comfort, and cruiser.

E-Bikes: Electronic bicycles can be bikes from almost any other category, designed with a small, lightweight electric motor to assist the rider. Styles include commuter, cargo, mountain, and road. These would be great for the longer commute to work. However, the starting price for a good one can be high.

Fat Bikes: These head-turning bikes feature 3.8-inch wide or broader tires for flotation and traction, often for sand, snow, or trail. Styles include mountain and cruiser.

Where Should You Spend Your Money Buying a Push Bike

Again it depends, but for argument’s sake, you are going to take the cycling journey seriously, so you want to invest in a cycle at the right place. So firstly, do not buy a bike online. You need to feel if the bike is the right fit and feel for you. Also, please don’t make the mistake of trying a bike at the local store and then buying it online. Imagine if something goes wrong with it, and you take it to that store. The store owner isn’t going to be a happy Chappy, and I can’t imagine he would put his heart and soul into the repair. Don’t get one from multi-national stores that also sell car parts. You might be lucky and have a passionate cyclist building your bike. However, multi-national, probably on around average wage, these places make money from selling lots of bikes.

Spend Money At Independent Bike Shops

I recommend the smaller independent cycling shop where they know exactly what they are talking about. Independent shops don’t really open up with just making money in their mind. They open shops because they have a passion for cycling and happen to make money as well. Try several shops, engage with staff ask them how much you should be spending on a push bike. Ideally, set your budget to include the accessories as well; no point in leaving the shop with the bike and no helmet or pump etc.

Remember, I said investing in cycling is a commitment, so think it through first. If you go to a good cycling shop, you should also be able to ride a bike. Some of the larger stores have schemes where you try out the bike for longer. Some of the London councils have also got schemes running. Peddle My Wheels. Only buy a bike after riding it first!

Is A Thousand Pounds Enough To Buy A Bike & Accessories

If you are new to cycling, you may think this is quite a large budget. However, there are bikes out there that cost over 10k. So let’s break down what you need to start cycling at excellent levels. This is the minimum you need to buy before considering the bike. If you consider seriously taking up cycling as a hobby, there is a realistic budget to purchase everything you need to start cycling safely.

The Beginners Cycle Clothing

The first item on the list has to be a helmet for obvious safety reasons; it can be a tough place out there, just you on your bike. You want to spend around £50 on a reasonable helmet, and there is no point n buying cheap if it offers no protection. It’s your head, your brain, and you don’t get another one, so protect it; this is one place you do not want to cut costs on your protection.

The next piece of kit you will want is a Cycling top; you don’t want to be riding around in some regular T-shirt that gets you all sweaty. You need breathable materials for cycling so the sweat doesn’t build up and makes you smell terrible. You can get a good cycling top from between £20 to £50, which isn’t too bad. However, the downside is you are planning to keep cycling during winter. There is a vast difference between cycling on a lovely summer’s day and a cold water morning; if you are looking at thermal cycling tops, the starting point is around £50. Of course, these can go way up in value depending on the properties of the top and extras like zip covers.

The Bottom Half

Cycling shorts are a must because you need extra padding on the bum. It helps keep you in the saddle for longer without pain. You can get a reasonable pair of cycling shorts for around £30, which isn’t too bad. Again if you are pounding those roads in the winter months, you will need something to keep you warm. The best option is bib shorts, which keep your back nice and cosy; these start around the £60 mark and upwards.

Cycling shoes, do you or don’t you? That is the question. This decision also affects what type of pedals you will have on your bicycle. There are two types, click in or slide in. You don’t just want a basic pedal and trainers, as you will lose so much power. The good news is you can get some pretty good shoes for around the £30 mark. Socks, yes, I did say socks; wearing the correct ones can keep them warm or cool, depending on your preference. Just a tenner should sort you out in this little dilemma.

The Cost Of Budget Cycling Clothes

of course, you don’t have to budget all the winter and summer cycling clothes in one go, so let’s look at the summer cycling gear for beginners

  • Helmet £50
  • Cycling Shirt £20
  • Shorts £30
  • Cycling Socks £10
  • Shoes £30

So all in all, for a beginner’s set of cycling clothes, you could spend £130; the best way to start as a beginner is to buy last season’s designs. You can pick up some great bargains and get better-quality gear.

Beginners Guide To Cycle Saddles

You may think that this wasn’t going to be a cost to be considered at all. If you buy a top-quality bike, the only standard thing you purchase is the frame; everything else is extra. If you buy a cycle with a saddle fitted as standard, you will want to change it at some point. Bums come in all shapes and sizes, and when you purchase a bike saddle that suits you fit makes a world of difference. Once you hit the 20-mile mark, which takes around 1 hour and 45 minutes on average, you will want something good to sit on.

The cost of a new basic saddle can be anywhere from £25 to £50; the range and the prices are staggering. There are cycle saddles out there that cost more than £300; of course, you don’t want to spend that much. In the first instance, you don’t need to be spending that much on a saddle. However, I suggest you get to your local cycle shop and sit on as many saddles as possible. Start to get a feel of what naturally feels comfy because the day will come when you upgrade that saddle.

Beginners Cycle Accessories

If you want to cycle at night, you have the legal requirement that you have a white light at the front and a red one at the rear. Unfortunately, this is a dependent answer because it depends on where you intend to cycle at night. You will spend less if you are riding on well-lit main routes. If you decide that you want to cycle off the more beaten path, then you are going to have to spend more money on more lumens.(the brightness of the beam) If you want to be seen and ride on man routes, then £20 should be enough for the beginner.

A multi-tool is an invaluable kit for the beginner cyclist to check that everything is secure before you start your ride. Or the inevitable at some point in your riding career, a flat tyre. So you will need a pump, and for around the £12 mark, you can get an excellent mini pump to carry with you. The next question is, do you have a puncture repair kit or a spare inner tub? Let’s go with the patches and glue for less than a fiver. However, you may need some tyre levers two gets the tyre off, so maybe an inclusive kit may be a wise choice here. Ideally, you will need a backpack to carry all your gear in, the pump, the repair kit, and the packed lunch if you commute to work. Getting an excellent unbranded backpack for under £20 would be best. Or you could go with the controversial bumbag; just saying!

Basic Safety Cycling Accessories

If you plan to cycle at night, consider some hi-vis clothing items. If you purchase from a cycling shop, expect to pay around £10 for an essential sleeveless hi-vis jacket. If you went to or shopped online at a workwear supplier, you can get them for under £5, like this Portwest His Vis Yellow vest. You can go for the hi-vis bands if you need something more discrete. Usually, the kits come with a band you wear around the body and two cuffs on the wrist.

Cycling Hydration – How You Carry The Water

Again this will depend on how serious and far you intend to cycle. Not all cycles have a bottle holder anymore; things have moved on a little. Some people don’t like a little bottle holder bolted to the frame. It is the cheapest option. So for the base level, you can get elite Ceo Kit Resin and Corsetta Bottle Cage for £10. 

What else is there to keep your hydration levels up whilst cycling? Now they make hydration backpacks, initially designed for the Army in scorching hot environments; the ultra athletes also use them.

  • Cycle lamps £20
  • Cycle pump £12
  • Puncture repair kit £5 / Kit including levers £14
  • Back Pack £20
  • Water bottle and holder £10
  • Hi-Vis £10

The Future Of Cycling

Of course, once the cycling bug gets under your skin, you will want to start to cycle further and in different locations. The next is cycling abroad, and that’s when my Bike Box comes into its own.

Q&A

How much should I spend on a bike in the UK

How much should you spend? There is no need to spend thousands, but try to avoid very cheap bikes. Around the £400 mark is a good starting point for an entry-level road, mountain or hybrid bike. Spending between £700-£900 will get you an excellent bike, especially if you watch for last season’s deals.

Cycling To Help You Lose Weight

Can cycling help you to lose weight ? Yes, it can; I am not saying that I am a rippling Mr Universe, but it has helped to burn those calories and keep the weight steady.

Cycling for weight loss is one of the most common reasons people get into the biking community. You can take it up as a hobby or take the plunge and start commuting to work. Just think of all the money you would save on petrol and parking. You may still be wondering if cycling is good for weight loss in the stomach and if it will reduce belly fat. Yes, you mainly use your legs for cycling, but you naturally tense your core when it comes to the burn and peddling as hard as you can. So you are burning calories and toning your stomach muscles as you tighten them.

Things To Consider Before Commuting To Work

Bike Riding For Weight Loss

Riding the bike is good exercise for weight loss, which also involves weight loss in the stomach. However, there is no such thing as targeted weight loss, meaning it is impossible to burn just belly fat while cycling. Calories are burned all across the body.

  • Cycling will speed up your weight loss
  • Some advanced strategies you can use to make this process even faster
  • How fast can you expect to lose weight
  • The only two pieces of advice you will need to keep your momentum

Cycling is a good cardio exercise. Your muscles need energy to function. When you pedal, you move your muscles, and to get the necessary nutrients, your heart rate is elevated, so the increased blood flow can deliver these nutrients. The harder you pedal, the more energy you will need and the higher your heart rate will be. The average person burns between 450 to 750 calories per hour while cycling. Cycling is one of the top sports for burning calories and losing weight, along with jogging, swimming and rowing. Should you wear a mask for cycling?

Burning Calories And Weight Loss

Depending on the duration and intensity of exercise, your body burns available blood sugar, glycogen stored in the muscles and liver, fat, and, if required, even begins to burn muscle protein. Of course, you never want to go that far and burn muscle protein. That would be severe long-distance biking, so the average cyclist has nothing to worry about.

If you want to burn body fat, aim to exercise at 60% to 70% of your maximum heart rate for at least 45 minutes. In that fat-burning zone, 85% of your calories are from fat. But you must first expend the more readily available energy sources (blood sugar and glycogen) before your body turns to fat stores. So if you only ride for 20 mins, you haven’t hit the magic number and will not be burning the fat calories. If you are commuting to work and it s only a short distance, I would suggest going a long way and extending the time to get the full benefit.

Accelerate weight loss in the stomach.

The key to losing weight in the stomach is the same as the key to any weight loss. There is no magic diet to lose weight. It’s just a simple formula. Burn more calories than you consume; that’s it. If you do this consistently, you will lose weight, and cycling will help burn calories with this. Bad eating habits can ruin any sporting effort. However, with proper nutrition, bicycling is an effective tool in speeding up the process of fat burning. Here are three concrete tips to burn as much fat as possible.

Ride before breakfast

Pedalling on an empty stomach, also known as fasted cardio, is a very effective way of forcing your body to use the energy stored in the form of fat, which means that cycling to work can be such a powerful tool in accelerating the fat-burning process. Bike commuters ride for 40 minutes in the morning five times weekly, then back home. That’s around 666 calories burnt in a day. That is approximately 3,300 calories burnt in the week. Imagine how many calories you would burn off in a year; an average working year would be over 150,000 calories. That would be the equivalent of burning over 38 pounds of pure fat.

Skip your breakfast and have it at work, and then your body will burn the body fat quicker as there will be less readily available energy sources (blood sugar and glycogen). What you need before cycling to work is a good cup of coffee. Or any physical activity if you want to increase the weight loss. Caffeine works by blocking an inhibitory neurotransmitter called adenosine. By blocking adenosine, caffeine increases the firing of neurons and the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. This, in turn, makes you feel more energised and awake. Caffeine also stimulates the nervous system, which sends direct signals to the fat cells, telling them to break down fat.

Pedal Hard or Pedal for HIIT

HIIT is a cardio session arranged as short bursts of arduous work. The whole point of high-intensity training is to kick up the intensity of your cardio. To qualify as true HIIT, you must push yourself to the max during every set. That’s why they’re typically short—anywhere from 20 to 90 seconds. It’s the opposite of going for a long run, where you ration your energy to sustain the activity for longer. Cycling is perfect for HIIT because, after your maximum boost, you can sit back in the saddle, coast and recover. 

Ideally, you go flat out for short bursts of 30 to 90 seconds, followed by a 1-3 minute recovery period during which you gently pedal while recovering. Numerous studies have shown that working your hardest is vital to boosting endurance, increasing metabolism, regulating insulin levels, and losing body fat.

Do Complementary Training

Doing some weight training targeting your upper body is very helpful. While this will not make you lose fat in the stomach, it will increase your upper body muscle mass. It will make you look more proportional (cycling only targets your legs), and it can also make your belly look flatter.

Complimentary training doesn’t mean you must spend hours in the gym. You don’t even need to hit the gym at all. Body weight exercises work perfectly. Pull-ups, push-ups and dips work your arms and shoulders and can be done almost anywhere. Do them twice a week and just after three months you will be surprised and impressed.

Stretching And Cycling

Stretched muscles become longer and increase viscosity. Thus It helps reduce injuries like ligament tears, muscle tears, strains and sprains. It’s also worth noting, especially with an ‘ageing’ population, that the ‘Synovial fluid’, which basically ‘lubricates’ our joints, reducing friction and wear & tear of joints, could and will deteriorate, causing damage over time.

Eat Drink Sensibly For Weight Loss

This is not directly speaking exercise, but very closely linked to it because as you increase your level of physical activity, your hunger level will increase too. You can easily ruin your gains if you don’t watch what you eat. It doesn’t mean that you need to count every calorie, but you need to understand how much energy is contained in various foods.

Fizzy pop, caffeine drinks, and cream cakes in abundance will obviously not help with weight loss. The word diet needs to be understood as its actual meaning. Everyone presumes or associates it with losing weight. The first meaning of diet refers to the kind of foods that you eat regularly. It does not mean eating crap foods to lose weight. Moderation is the key, and remember that if you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight.

Sweets and snacks get quickly get in the way of your weight loss too. You don’t need to forget about goodies altogether, but you need to have a strategic approach to them. Portion control is your friend here. Don’t open big bags of chips or boxes of desserts. It’s usually too late when you notice you’re full or don’t want to eat anymore. Go small instead.

Reading the nutritional fact labels of the foods will help you understand how much energy is contained in them as a reference. The information contained here will empower you to make good decisions.

How fast can you expect to lose weight?

You can burn the energy contained in 20 lbs (9kg) of body fat with 1 hour of moderate cycling every weekday for six months. While this number can vary depending on many factors, it is very attainable.

Coupled with proper nutrition, your 20lbs weight loss can be accelerated: it can be as short as ten weeks. If, on the other hand, you don’t watch what you eat, you can end up putting on weight instead of losing. With the increased activity, your appetite will naturally increase, wanting to replace the burned carbs. Eat sensibly with a varied diet, some inspiration for cheap dinner ideas.

The science behind weight loss through exercise

“Assuming your commute is a fourteen-kilometre round trip, you can expect to use approximately 720 kilocalories (kcal) of energy. An adult’s average daily intake is between 1800 and 2500 kcal. This certainly shows the potential to lose weight by regularly commuting. When trying to lose weight through exercise, the caveat is that you cannot eat much more. Activity leads to hunger, and research has shown that compensatory eating limits the effectiveness of an exercise-based weight loss program. To provide further meaning to the numbers, 720 kcal correlates to a sandwich, an apple and two slices of pizza.

Commuting to and from work has another benefit, albeit harder to quantify. Exercise temporarily increases the body’s basal metabolic rate (BMR). The BMR is essentially the amount of energy the body needs to sustain life while at rest. BMR rises during exercise, and it takes time for the body to return to its normal state as it works hard to settle body temperature and heart rate. This is known as exercise after burn.

By exercising twice a day courtesy of commuting, you get the benefits of this after-burn effect twice. The literature has mixed evidence regarding weight loss through the temporary increase of the BMR alone. Thankfully, there is no evidence of it being counterproductive. The inconclusive evidence of increasing BMR and the potential ineffectiveness of exercise programs for weight loss begs the question, why exercise? Exercise results in increased lean body mass, fat burning, muscle and ligament strengthening, and reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. All things being equal, if exercise has not resulted in weight loss, then it may be a matter of diet.” (source)

The best piece of advice to lose belly weight with cycling

The fitness industry is full of ads, con artists, and various financial interests. It is hard to distinguish between genuine, helpful information and scams. Weight loss depends on you and your lifestyle.

As long as you rely on willpower to lose weight or replicate a particular way of living, you’ll lose momentum and give up. This is true with everything in life, but here I’m referring to weight loss through bike commuting and nutrition.

The best piece of advice and the secret to something sustainable in the long run is to have a systematic approach and to build habits. This means don’t improvise the preparation for your commute and your meals. Changing the mindset over time, in the beginning, it might be a dread to get up and get on that bike. However, with persistence, it does change to acceptance that you need to get up and ride; the next stage is looking forward to riding the bike each morning and the freedom it brings.

Look Forward

Here are two things you can start doing today to start losing weight by bike commuting:

  • Prepare your clothes and gear the night before (backpack or pannier, computer, water bottle, etc.). You don’t have to start looking for your things in the morning, so you will be less likely to skip them.
  • Decide when, what, and how much you will eat before you get hungry. This helps with portion control.

Suppose you remove willpower from the equation by making these choices and building simple systems ahead of time. In that case, you transform your lifestyle, and weight loss doesn’t become a goal but a natural consequence of your newly acquired habits.

You didn’t gain your stomach fat overnight, so don’t expect to lose it overnight, either. Play the long-term game instead. Come to terms with the fact that you won’t be able to target your belly fat directly and celebrate every small gain. Let your body decide where it reaches for energy. The most important thing is to commit to the process, not the outcome, and fall in love with it.

Ignore the ‘fat-burning zone.

A common mistake made by many cyclists and other endurance athletes who want to lose weight is going out and riding for a long time at a low intensity in the fantastically named “fat-burning zone”. Unfortunately for the sedate-paced, it’s a myth. While working at lower powers, our bodies do predominately use fat reserves as fuel, but because the effort is low, the total calorie burn will also be low. It won’t produce better results than other training methods, and you’re better off using your cycling time more effectively.

If weight loss is your goal, it doesn’t matter too much whether you are fuelled with fat, carbs or protein; as you’re in a calorie deficit, you will lose weight. So, forget about the fat-burning zone and focus more on high-intensity, high-effort cycling, as you’ll get far better weight loss results through that. Sometimes you may need help from a nutritionist to lose weight.

Ride with others

Cycling with others has multiple benefits. You’ll likely push yourself further and ride harder if you’re with other people. It’s much harder to quit when you are with others, and if you’ve arranged to ride with other people, you are much less likely to cancel your ride due to excuses like the weather.

While it might initially seem like it’ll be damaging your morale, riding with people who are fitter/better than you will mean you’ll quickly adapt and catch up with them.

As well as that, riding with like-minded people on the same weight loss journey as you will give you encouragement, advice and accountability – not to mention it’s often more fun, and if you’re enjoying it, you’re more likely to do more of it! Should you wear a mask while cycling?

If you ever decide to take your bike abroad, read our Shokbox reviews. Shokbox is the best bike box money can buy.

You may be interested in Reduce The Excuse To Exercise.