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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This road bicycle is built using lightweight, shaped aluminium tubing and carbon fiber stays and forks. It has a drop handlebar and narrow tires and wheels for efficiency and aerodynamics.
This road bicycle is built using lightweight, shaped aluminium tubing and carbon fiber stays and forks. It has a drop handlebar and narrow tires and wheels for efficiency and aerodynamics.

Cycling is a recreation, a sport and a means of transport across land. It involves riding bicycles, unicycles, tricycles, quadricycles and other human powered vehicles (HPVs). As a sport it is governed internationally by the Union Cycliste Internationale in Switzerland (for upright bicycles) and by the International Human Powered Vehicle Association (for other HPVs). Cycling for transport and touring is promoted on a European level by the European Cyclists' Federation, and regular conferences are held under the auspices of Velo City, whereas global conferences are coordinated by Velo Mondial [2].


World-wide, the vehicle most commonly used for transportation is a utility bicycle. Utility bicycles tend to have a more relaxed geometry, with priority given to the rider's comfort. Most come with components that make commuting by bicycle more practical, such as fenders (also called mudguards in some English speaking regions), racks (for mounting cargo bags or baskets), chainguards, kickstands, bells and generator light systems.

The two most popular types of bicycle in North America, where cycling for recreation is more common, are mountain bikes and road bicycles. They tend to have a more aggressive geometry which requires the rider to bend forward more. To reduce cost and weight, those types are usually sold without the components that make utility bicycles more practical.

The price of a new bicycle can range from US$50 (on sale) to more than US$23,000 [3]), depending primarily on the quality, type and weight (the most exotic road bicycles can weigh as little as 3.55 kg (7.8 lb) [4]).

Getting started

Dutch utility bicycle featuring rear internal hub brake, chaincase and mudguards, kickstand for parking, permanently attached dynamo-powered lamps and upswept handlebars for a more natural grip position.
Dutch utility bicycle featuring rear internal hub brake, chaincase and mudguards, kickstand for parking, permanently attached dynamo-powered lamps and upswept handlebars for a more natural grip position.

Being sized for a bike and taking it for a test ride are both recommended before making a purchase. Many road bikes include clipless pedals in which special shoes attach via a cleat mechanism to special pedals, which allows for the transfer of power to the bike throughout the entire pedaling motion. Riding in the dark also requires lights; riding in wet weather requires raingear such as cycling gloves, a waterproof jacket and/or overtrousers and possibly waterproof overshoes.

The drivetrain components of the bike should also be considered. A middle grade derailleur is most likely sufficient for a beginner, although many utility bikes come equipped with hub gears. If the rider plans a significant amount of hill climbing, a triple-crank (three chainrings) front gear system may be preferred. Otherwise, the relatively inexpensive and lighter double-crank (two chainrings) system may suffice.

There is a wide variety of accessories that can be purchased together with or after the bicycle itself. These include locks, mudguards/fenders, luggage racks and pannier bags, pumps, cycling shorts, pantleg clips, cycling shoes, cycling gloves, spare inner tubes, CO2 cartridges, water bottles and water bottle cages, puncture repair kits and tyre levers, bicycle computers, studded tires and Banana cases.

Items legally mandatory in some jurisdictions for safety reasons include: bicycle helmets, lighting and audible signalling devices (such as a bell or horn).

Learning to cycle

Learning to ride efficiently and safely in traffic is important for anyone who chooses to travel the public ways by bicycle. While most cyclists act like pedestrians who just happen to be on wheels, some cyclists have learned to operate their pedal vehicles vehicularly (i.e., by the rules of the road for vehicles). In the United Kingdom, most primary school children are given the opportunity to take the Cycling Proficiency Test, the intent of which is to help them travel more safely on the road.

Organized rides and races

Many cycling clubs hold organized rides and varying races in which bicyclists of all levels compete. The typical organized race/ride starts with a large group of riders. This will thin out over the course of the ride. Many riders choose to ride together in groups of the same skill level to take advantage of drafting.

Most organized rides include registration requirements and will provide information either through the mail or online concerning start times and other requirements. Rides usually consist of 25, 50 and 100 mile routes, each with a certain number of rest stops that usually include refreshments, first aid and maintenance tools.

Professional racing organizations place limitations on the bicycles that can be used in the races that they sanction. For example, the Union Cycliste Internationale (which sanctions races such as the Tour de France) prohibits bicycles weighing less than 6.8 kilograms (14.96 pounds) and effectively bans recumbent bicycles.[1]

Bicycling and health

Bicycles are commonly used by people seeking to improve their fitness and cardiovascular health. In this regard, bicycling is especially helpful for those with arthritis of the lower limbs and who are unable to pursue sports such as running that involve more impact to joints such as the knees. Furthermore, since cycling can be used as a form of transportation, there can be less demand for self-discipline to maintain the exercise because of the practical purpose of the activity.

Cycling while seated is a relatively non-weight bearing exercise that, like swimming, does little to promote bone density[2]. Cycling up and out of the saddle, on the other hand, does a better job by transferring more of the rider's body weight to the legs. However, excessive cycling while standing can cause knee damage. It used to be thought that cycling while standing was less energy efficient, but recent research has proven this not to be true. There is no wasted energy from cycling while standing.[3]

Endurance cycling is an aerobic exercise, Sprint Cycling is an anaerobic exercise, however both types involve both forms of exercise to some degree and can improve cardiovascular health. One measure of cardiovascular health is Vo2 max.

Cycling makes use of the largest muscles in the body (the Gluteus Maximus and Quadriceps) so it is good for people who are trying to lose body fat. Exercising at low intensity is better for people who want to lose weight as the body doesn't have the chance to burn fat at high work rates and will burn glycogen instead (although the body will replace the burnt glycogen by metabolising body fat as soon as it can - see Krebs cycle).

It has been estimated that, on average, approximately 20 life-years are gained from the health benefits of road bicycling for every life-year lost through injury [4].

Injuries can be divided into two types:

  • Physical trauma (extrinsic)
  • overuse (intrinsic).

Acute physical trauma includes injuries to the head and extremities resulting from falls and collisions. Since a large percentage of the collisions between motor and pedal vehicles occur at night, bicycle lighting is required for safety when bicycling at night.

The most common cycling overuse injury occurs in the knees, affecting cyclists at all levels. These are caused by many factors:[5]

  • Incorrect bicyle fit or adjustment, particularly the saddle.
  • Too many hills, or too many miles, too early in the training season.
  • Poor training preparation for long touring rides.
  • Selecting too high a gear. A lower gear for uphill climb protects the knees, even though your muscles are well able to handle a higher gear.

Overuse injuries, including chronic nerve damage at weight bearing locations, can occur as a result of repeatedly riding a bicycle for extended periods of time. Damage to the ulnar nerve in the palm, carpal tunnel in the wrist, the genitourinary tract [6] or bicycle seat neuropathy [7] may result from overuse.

In extreme cases, Pudendal Nerve Entrapment can be a source of intractable perineal pain [8]. Some bicyclists with induced pudendal nerve pressure neuropathy gained relief from improvements in saddle position and riding techniques [9].

Note that overuse is a relative term, and capacity varies greatly between individuals. Someone starting out in cycling must be careful to increase length and frequency of cycling sessions slowly. Muscular pain is a normal byproduct of the training process, but joint pain and numbness are early signs of overuse injury.


  1. ^ Union Cycliste International (2003). UCI Cycling Regulations. Retrieved on 20060804.
  2. ^ Osteoporos Int., Low bone mineral density in highly trained male master cyclists. 2003 Aug;14(8):644-9 (PMID 12856112)
  3. ^ "Sit or Stand: Tradeoffs in Efficiency?", [1], November 21, 2006. Retrieved on 2006-11-28.
  4. ^ British Medical Association; Mayhew Hillman, David Morgan [1992]. Cycling: Towards Health and Safety. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-286151-4.
  5. ^ "Knee Pain in Cycling: New Twist on an old Injury", BioMechanics, July/August, 1996. Retrieved on 2006-11-24.
  6. ^ Eur Urol., Bicycling related urogenital disorders. 2005 Mar;47(3):277-86 (PMID 15716187)
  7. ^ "Bicycle Seat Neuropathy, follow up", eMedicine, February 8, 2006. Retrieved on 2006-03-20.
  8. ^ Am J Phys Med Rehabil., Pudendal nerve entrapment as source of intractable perineal pain. 2003 Jun;82(6):479-84. (PMID 12820792)
  9. ^ Clin Exp Neurol., Bicycling induced pudendal nerve pressure neuropathy. 1991;28:191-6. (PMID 1821826)

See also


Utility cycling and slow recreation

  • Bicycle touring
  • Bicycle transportation engineering
  • Green transport
  • List of cycleways
  • Segregated cycle facilities
  • Utility cycling
  • Icebiking


  • Bicycle
  • Bicycle culture
  • Bicycle trailer
  • Clothing-optional bike rides
  • Cyclist
  • Challenge riding
  • Folding bicycle
  • Peanut butter wrench
  • Quadricycle
  • Road cycling
  • Vehicular cycling

Sports-related cycling and fast-paced recreation

  • Bike trials riding
  • Bicycle racing
  • BMX racing
  • Bike derby
  • Cycle speedway
  • Cyclo-cross
  • Mountain biking
  • Offroad cycling
  • Road bicycle racing
  • Spin-class
  • Track cycling
  • Triathlon


  • Aerobic exercise
  • Exercise
  • Heart rate monitor
  • General Fitness Training

External links

  • Rec.Bicycles FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
  • Icebike: Effects of ice and snow on cycling
  • The late cycling enthusiast Ken Kifer's bike pages
  • Live and Archived Road Races, Cyclo-Cross and MTB 24/7
  • Cycling Training Tips Advice about wattage, interval training and planning
  • MapItPronto Map out or view other's bike routes either by hand (using your mouse, or your GPS) See plenty of stats including elevation, and speed!
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