Updated: Jun 24, 2020
by Robin McAdoo, photos Heidi Sarna
It seems like everyone is cycling these days, craving the wide-open spaces and fresh air of the great outdoors. Biking is a great way to travel much further than you could by running or walking. Plus, it’s very liberating to propel yourself anywhere you want to go—no fossil fuels required—with a breeze at your back and the ability to coast whenever the mood strikes. For me, cycling is all about exploring and getting to know my environment, whether I’ve lived somewhere for years or am new to a place. It gives me another perspective, different from walking or driving. While they say you never forget how to ride a bike, there are some things to consider to make the most of your next ride. [If you never learned to cycle at all, check out Biking Singapore for lessons.]
For speed, a great work-out and long, smooth stretches of road, the road bike (left) is the big cheese. Road bikes are light, with very narrow, stiff tires—think Tour de France. They are aerodynamic, making the perfect tool for long distance riding. The sports cars of cycling, they can be quite expensive.
If you like off-road riding and/or city riding, a mountain bike (right) can handle obstacles, whether tree roots or the occasional curb, pothole or drainage grate. They’re heavy, durable and have wide tires geared for slower riding with a geometry that keeps you a little more upright.
For those riding in a suburban landscape, a hybrid bike (left), a cross between the two is ideal. A hybrid allows you to be comfortable on longer stretches of road, while also navigating quick turns and obstacles. This video gives an excellent explanation of the five basic types of bikes, including three kinds of hybrid cycles.
Do I really need a helmet? Yes! I know several people who have been in bicycle accidents and all of them were grateful for their helmets.
Do I need special shoes? If you intend to do some longer road riding, pedals that you can clip into with special cycling shoes enable you to cycle faster and harder. Otherwise, wearing comfortable sneakers with flat regular pedals works great.
Which kind of handlebars are best? There are flat bars (straight) like on mountain bikes that are ideal for narrow roads and technical trails; riser bars, like on a hybrid, that encourage you to sit a little more upright and take the weight off your upper body and wrists; and drop bars, which streamline the body and bike for speed.
What type of tires should I have? For long and fast rides, you want narrow hard tires. If your vibe is slow and chill rides, then you’ll want wider and softer tires.
Buying a bicycle? Head to a reputable bike shop in your neighborhood and be very clear about the kind of riding you want to do.
So no excuses, time to get out there and pedal! Cycling is such a versatile pastime—it’s not only a means of transport, but a way to cross-train, explore, and clear your head!
Avid cyclists and curious birds Robin McAdoo & Heidi Sarna co-founded Bike-A-Local to offer self-guided mapped cycle routes around Singapore, some with heritage stops. Check them out!