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 it will be a topic of conversation in the cycling world for ever. The reason is that everyone has their own opinion, and thats 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 are you going too be using your bike for first. So Shokbox will take you through the basics of whats 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 its what are you going to be using it for. Different bikes have different price points so it can make a big difference win the cost of your push bike. Is it just for the commute to work and to help loose weight cycling along with saving money. If it is this decision perhaps 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.

Buy a bike is a commitment so don’t buy a bike on a fancy or a whim. Are you considering joining a cycle club and increasing your fitness level. What about cycling in European destinations or biking in the Balkans. Of course you will need a bike box to safety transport your bike on a plane. To help you decide how much you will spend on a bike here its a small list on the types of bikes and what they are used for. In theory some of the bikes lend themselves for the commute to work and then also 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 for the commute to work.

Mountain Bikes  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 rides on roads due to the wobbly tyres.

Gravel/AdventureBikes  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  Bikes 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 of the other categories here, 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 wider 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 arguments sake you are going to take cycling journey seriously so you want to invest in a cycle at 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 don’t make the mistake of trying a bike at the local store then buy online, imagine if something goes wrong with it and you take it to that store. He isn’t going to be a happy Chappy and I cant image he would put his heart and soul into the repair. Don’t get one from those multi-national stores that sell car parts as well. 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 would 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 just 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 cycle shop you should be able to ride the bike as well. 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. Do NOT ever buy a bike without riding it first!

Is A Thousand Pounds Enough To Buy A Bike & Accessories

You may think that this is quite a large budget if you are new to cycling, however there are bikes out there that cost over 10k. So let’s start to break down  what you actually need to start cycling at a good serious level. This is ideally what you need to buy before you consider the bike. If you are looking at seriously taking up cycling as a hobby then the 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 be aiming to spend around £50 on a reasonable helmet and there is no point n buying cheap if it offers no protection. Its 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 personal protection.

The next piece of kit you will be wanting 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 when you are cycling so the sweat doesn’t build up and make you small real bad. You can get a good cycling top from between £20 up to £50 which isn’t to bad, however the down side is you are planning to keep cycling during winter. Believe me there is a vast difference from cycling on a nice summers day to a cold water morning, if you are looking at thermal cycling tops then 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 do need that extra padding on the bum, its 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 to bad. Again if you are pounding those roads in the winter months it is going to need something to keep you warm. Probably the best option is bib shorts so it keeps 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 effects what type of pedals you will have on your bicycle, basically there are 2 types, click in or slide in. You don’t really 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 either keep them warm or cool, depending on what you want. 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 lets 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 beginners set of cycling clothes you could just spend £130, the best way to start as a beginner is to buy last season designs. That way you can pick up some great bargains and get better quality gear as well.

Beginners Guide To Cycle Saddles

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

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

Beginners Cycle Accessories

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

A multi tool is an invaluable piece of kit for the beginner cyclist, just for checking everything is nice and secure before you start your ride. Or the inevitable at some point in your riding career, a flat tyre at some point. So you will need a pump and for around the £12 mark you can get a good mini pump to carry with you. The next question is do you carry 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 of so maybe an inclusive kit may be the wise choice here. Ideally you will need a back pack to carry all your gear in, the pump, the repair kit, the packed lunch if you are commuting to work. You should get a good unbranded back pack for under £20 easily. Or you could go with the controversial bumbag, just saying !

Basic Safety Cycling Accessories

If you do intend to cycle at night time then you may want to consider some hi vis items of clothing. If you purchase from a cycling shop expect to pay around £10 for a basic 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. If you need something a little more discrete then you can go for the hi vis bands. Usually the kits come with a band you wear around the body and then 2 cuffs that you wear on the wrist.

Cycling Hydration – How You Carry The Water

Again this will depend on how serious and how far you intend to cycle. No not all cycles come with a bottle holder anymore, things have moved on a little. Some people simply don’t like a the little bottle holder bolted to the frame butt it is the cheapest option. So for the base level you can get elite Ceo Kit Resin and Corsetta Bottle Cage for £10. 

You may be wondering what else is there to keep your hydration levels up whilst cycling. Now they make hydration back packs, originally designed for the Army in scorching hot environment, 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 thats when my Bike Box comes into its own.

Black Shokbox Classic bike box

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 a really solid bike, especially if you keep an eye out for last season’s deals.

Cycling To Help You Loose Weight

Since Covid-19 has disrupted the world everyone started to get a few things in common. Lack of the big outdoors, socialising and a lot more eating especially from the boredom. This ultimately resulted in quite a few of us gaining a few extra pounds. Can Cycling help you to loose 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 biking community . You can either just take it up as a hobby or you could take the plunge and start commuting to work. Just think of all the money that you would save on petrol and parking.  You may still be wondering if cycling is good for weight loss on the stomach, and will it reduce belly fat. Yes you do mainly use your legs for cycling but when it comes to the burn and peddling as hard as you can you naturally tense your core. So not only are you burning the calories you are actually toning your stomach muscles as you tense them.

Things To Consider Before Commuting To Work

tax savings cycle to work scheme example

Bike Riding For Weight Loss

Riding the bike is a good exercise for weight loss, which also involves weight loss on the stomach. However, there is no such thing as targeted weight loss, which means it isn’t possible to only directly burn belly fat cycling, the calories are burnt up everywhere.

  • 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 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 loosing 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 wan to go that far and burn muscle protein. That would be some serious 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 the calories you burn are from fat. But you must first expend the more easily available energy sources (blood sugar and glycogen) before your body turns to the fat stores. So if you only ride for 20 mins then you haven’t hit the magic number and you will not be burning the fat calories. If you are commuting to work and it s only a short distance I would suggest going the long way and extending the time to get the full benefit.

Accelerate weight loss on stomach

The key to losing weight on the stomach is the same as the key to any weight loss. There is no magic diet to loose weight its just a simple formula.  Burn more calories than you consume, thats it. If you do this consistently then you will loose weight and cycling will certainly help burn calories with this. Any sporting effort can be ruined with bad eating habits. However, with proper nutrition bicycling is effective tool in speeding up the process of fat burning. Here are a three concrete tips to burn as much fat as possible.

Ride before breakfast

Pedaling 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 riding for 40 minutes in the morning 5 times a day, then back home thats around 666 calories burnt in a day. That around 3,300 calories burnt in the week. Imagine how many calories you would burn off in a year, on an average working year that 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 get to burn the body fat quicker as there will be less easily 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. The caffeine  works by blocking an inhibitory neurotransmitter called adenosine By blocking adenosine, caffeine increases the firing of neurons and 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

cycling to loose weight

Pedal Hard or Pedal for HIIT

HIIT is a cardio session arranged as short bursts of very hard work. The whole point of high-intensity training is to kick up the intensity of your cardio. In order to qualify as true HIIT, you’ll need to push yourself to the max during every set. That’s why they’re short—anywhere from 20 to 90 seconds, typically. It’s the opposite of going for a long run where you ration your energy in order to sustain the activity for longer. Thats why cycling is perfect for the 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 key when it comes to boosting endurance, increasing metabolism, regulating insulin levels, and losing body fat.

Do  Complementary Training

Doing some weight training targeting your upper body can prove to be very helpful. While this will not make you lose fat on 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 make your belly look flatter too.

Complimentary training doesn’t mean that you need to spend hours in the gym. In fact, 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 3 months you will be surprised and impressed. You could start by trying an online Pilates Class.

Stretching And Cycling

Stretched muscles to become longer and increases the 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. More on stretching before exercise.

Eat Drink  Sensibly For Weight Loss

This 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 single calorie, but you need to understand how much energy is contained in various types of foods.

Fizzy pop, caffeine drinks, cream cakes in abundance are obviously not going to help with weight loss. The word diet is often misconstrued about its actual meaning. Everyone presumes or associate  it with losing weight. The first meaning of diet  just refers to the kind of foods that you eat on a regular basis. It does not mean eating crap foods to loose weight. Moderation is the key and remember that if you burn more calories than you eat you will loose weight.

Sweets and snacks get easily get into 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. By the time you notice you’re full or don’t want to eat anymore it’s usually too late. 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 there will empower you to make good decisions.

How fast can you expect to lose weight

You can burn the energy contained in 20lbs (9kg) of body fat with 1 hour of moderate cycling every weekday for 6 months. While this number can vary depending on a number of factors, it is very attainable.

Coupled with proper nutrition, your 20lbs weight loss can be accelerated: it can be as short as 10 weeks. If, on the other hand, if  you don’t watch what you eat, you can end up putting on weight instead of losing. Obviously 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 then you can expect to use approximately 720 kilocalories (kcal) of energy. The average daily intake that an adult requires is between 1800 and 2500 kcal. This certainly shows the potential to lose weight by regularly commuting. The caveat when trying to lose weight through exercise is that you cannot eat much more. Exercise leads to hunger and research has shown that compensatory eating limits the effectiveness of an exercise based weight loss program. To give greater 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 bodies 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. There is mixed evidence in the literature when it comes to 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 as well as reducing the 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, and con-artists and various financial interests. It is hard to distinguish between genuine helpful information and scams. At the end of the day weight loss depends on you and your lifestyle.

As long as you rely on will-power to lose weight or to replicate a certain way of living, you’re bound to 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 on 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 overtime, in the beginning its 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 actually 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, waterbottle, etc) You don’t have to start looking for your things in the morning, so you will be less likely to skip it.
  • Decide when, what and how much you will eat before you get hungry. This helps with portion control.

If you remove will-power from the equation by making these choices and building simple systems ahead of time, you transform your lifestyle and weigh-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 and not the outcome, and fall in love with it.

Ignore the ‘fat-burning zone’

A common mistake made by lots of cyclists and other endurance athletes who want to lose some 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 intensities our bodies do predominately use fat reserves as fuel, but because the effort is low, the total calorie burn will also be low. This means that 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 loose 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 who are 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 you bike abroad read our Shokbox reviews. Shokbox the best bike box money can buy.

you may be interested in Reduce The Excuse To Exercise.

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