Planning to bike it in


If you are new to riding, or returning to riding after a break, here are some hints and tips for things you might want to consider such as, choosing the right bicycle and equipment, how to maintain your bike, how to plan your route and riding responsibly.

It's important to ensure your bicycle suits your abilities and is roadworthy before you ride - for your own comfort and because under the law, a bicycle is a legitimate road vehicle.

A woman riding her bike.

Choose the right bicycle

There are four main categories of bicycles:

  • Road bike
  • Hybrid
  • Mountain bike
  • BMX

A road bike is suitable for riding on the road and training rides, while a hybrid bike is good for multipurpose use, leisure, commuting and touring. Mountain bikes are best for off-road use and BMX bikes are designed for off-road courses and stunts.

Choose the right size

Having the right size and style of bike that matches your needs makes a big impact to how safe, comfortable and confident you’ll feel on the road. Visit your local bike shop for personalised advice about the right size and style for you, and perhaps have them professionally adjust your saddle height while you are there – it’ll make a big difference.

Custom-made bicycles

If you decide to make your own bicycle using specialised or modified parts, or you modify your bicycle with better parts, you should consult a qualified bicycle mechanic to ensure your bicycle is safe before you ride. Aim for quality parts that have been manufactured to Australian Standards identified by an Australian Standards sticker. Some bicycle parts including brakes, gears, handlebars and forks may need to be calibrated by a qualified bicycle mechanic. Check with your local bicycle store for further advice. 


Your local bike mechanic can adjust your bike to suit your needs. If you decide to do it yourself consider adjusting your seat, your handlebars and how you’ll use your pedals.


Adjust your seat

Seat positioning is important for both stability and comfort. If the seat height is too low, you could experience sore knees.

Position your seat at a height that allows you to bend your knee slightly when your leg is in its most extended position on the pedals.  When sitting on the saddle you should be able to touch the ground on both sides at the same time and balance yourself.

Always check your seat is properly secure before going out on a ride - particularly after making any changes.

Adjust your handlebars

Well-adjusted handlebars will allow you to confidently mount, start off, steer, pedal, balance, ring the bell and stop. Handlebars can be adjusted on most bicycles and should be adjusted so that your arms are slightly bent and your body leans forward between the handlebars and the seat. The handlebars should be far enough forward so you can balance your body weight between the handlebars and the seat. Too much pressure on the seat can cause back pain, while too much pressure on the handlebars can cause neck, shoulder and wrist pain. After any adjustments, and before you go out riding, always check that your handlebars are secure.

Using the pedals

For maximum comfort, wear shoes with flexible soles and ensure the widest part of your foot (the ball of your foot) is over the pedal axle.  

Bike roadworthiness

Make sure your bike is ready for the road by watching this video on bike roadworthiness.

Bike accessories enhance your riding experience, but with literally thousands of options, it can be easily overwhelming to those new to bike riding. To help you sort through all the options out there, we’ve listed the essential items all riders should consider to make riding more accessible, safe and enjoyable.

Lights and reflectors

Good quality lights and reflectors will increase your visibility on the road. Light emitting diode (LED) lights are extremely bright and require less energy to power. Choosing lights that don’t have batteries but instead recharge using a USB charger cord/adapter makes them lighter and easy to recharge.

Traditional incandescent lights require regular bulb changes and may not be as bright as LED lights. Human powered (dynamo) bicycle lights do not require batteries, but most will not operate without you physically pedalling. This means that when you're stopped, you could be difficult to see.

It's best to seek expert advice on lights and reflectors to suit your needs. Pedal and wheel reflectors increase your visibility to other road users, as do tyres with reflective walls.

By law, you must have a white front light and a red back light on when it is dark and at times of low light.  Using lights during the day also has a safety advantage.  Wearing light and bright clothing, and ankle bands in daylight, and including reflective strips at night, also make you easier to see.


Front and rear working brakes will increase your ability to stop your bicycle suddenly and safely. Be aware that in wet conditions, it will take longer for you to stop as the brakes and wheel rim will be slippery. Give yourself time to apply the brakes gently, rather than coming to a sudden stop as this can result in tyres slipping or can jolt you over the handlebars. By law, your bicycle is required to have at least one working brake.

Bell or horn

A bell or horn enables you to let pedestrians and other cyclists know you're around - this is particularly useful when overtaking. Under the Victorian Road Rules, your bicycle must be fitted with at least one working bell or horn, or a similar warning device.


Tyres should be appropriate to the size of your bicycle and inflated to the pressure as listed on the tyre wall. If you need to replace your tyre or tyre tube, you should purchase a replacement that matches the original. If you're unsure of which tyre or tube to choose, consult your local bicycle shop. Keeping your tyres inflated to the correct pressure helps you to ride more easily and use your peddling energy most efficiently.

Optional extras for your bike

Bicycle pump

A bicycle pump fixed to your bicycle frame will be very useful. Pumps with a collapsible handle are quick, easy to use and handy if you need to inflate a tube mid-ride. Foot and electric bicycle pumps are also good to keep at home to inflate tyre tubes quickly and easily. You may find carrying a pressure gauge in your tool kit worthwhile so that you can ensure your tyres are filled to the correct air pressure.  A number of councils have bicycle repair stations listed on their web site which include pumps.

First aid kit

You should consider carrying a good first aid kit when cycling that contains:

  • A bandage
  • Antiseptic cream or fluid
  • Bandaids
  • Sun cream
  • Lip balm

Bicycle computer

A bicycle computer is helpful if you are interested in calculating your speed, distance travelled or kilojoules used during your exercise. Bicycle computers vary in price, ranging from simple models that calculate basic information, to more expensive models that calculate kilojoules used and other advanced statistics. There are also mobile phone apps that can be downloaded for the same purpose, however your phone must be placed in a suitable holder or pocket. The same rules apply to riders as they do to drivers regarding only using mobile phones hands free.

Bike rack plate

While a rear car bicycle rack makes it quick and easy to transport your bike by car, racks can obscure your car rear number plate. If this happens, you'll need to purchase a special bike rack plate for your car (called an 'auxiliary plate') and fix it to the number plate holder on the bicycle rack.

For more information, visit Bicycle rack number plates.

Carrying items on your bike

Putting a pack rack onto the back of your bicycle above the rear wheel can provide a structure to hang paniers off and tie bags onto.  A number of panier options are available that clip easily onto bike racks.  Avoid hanging bags off your handle bars, they can get caught in your wheel spokes and cause a hazard.

Child carrying devices

There are a number of child carrying devices available for bicycles, including cargo bikes, hitch bikes, rear seat child carriers and child carrying bicycle trailers. 

It is important to check that buckles and clips are correctly fastened and straps adjusted to comfortably restrain the child in the rear seat carrier. When using a bicycle trailer, ensure that restraints are used and the trailer is correctly fitted to the main bicycle frame. 

Young children must wear a helmet whenever riding - whether sitting in a child carrier or a bike trailer. Please consider the stage of development of your child before placing a helmet on the child's head for long periods.  

Also consider the route you take and avoid heavily trafficked areas by taking parallel local roads, using shared paths or by travelling via roads with good quality bicycle infrastructure.  Adults with baby seats attached or children on a hitch bike can cycle on the footpath, cargo bikes and adults towing trailers need to remain on the road.

Plan your route

Plan your journey into the city by downloading the arevo app, which shows you where you can find available bike routes on the new dedicated bike tab. A legend tells you the different types of bike options – on-street shared lanes, separated bike lanes and off-road shared and separated paths. Some councils also provide ‘shimmy routes’ which are local road routes signposted for back street cycling. 

A number of council active transport maps are available on the VicRoads web site.

Parking your bike

Once you’ve arrived in central Melbourne, find somewhere to park your bike.  You’ll find numerous on-street bicycle hoops, which you can view on a map on the City of Melbourne website.

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