Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Five essentials for a cycling beginner

There are many people at the moment that are using lockdown as an opportunity to learn a new skill, take up a new hobby or return to a hobby of old, and many of those are choosing cycling. So whether you are getting back into the habit, or trying cycling for the first time, it's a great time to do it!

Cycling for beginners: Here's what you need to own...

A bicycle

First off, you can't try cycling without a bicycle... obviously! But what do you really need to get going on two wheels? The answer is quite simple - a bike you like and that you feel comfortable on. The best way to work this out is to visit a shop in person (we're open seven days a week if you want to pop down) and get a feel for the different bikes. It's a bit like Mr Ollivander's Wand Shop in Harry Potter - the bike will choose you! Or at least it will quickly become obvious what bike is most suited to you.

Before you get to grips with buying a bike, you can of course make some initial decisions about what bike you might like. Here's some top tips to get you thinking:

  • Your height: surprisingly, not everyone who enters our shop knows their height, but this is the first step in finding the right bike for you. Your height will help determine the size of the frame that you need and is essential to helping you get the right fit. It's the best place to start.
  • Your budget: have in your mind a practical budget that you are happy to spend. A high-spec, pro-standard bike can cost you more than a small car... don't worry, we've got plenty of choice available for every budget - but having a good idea of budget really helps to narrow it down. As a general rule of thumb, the more expensive the bike, the 'better' it is - a higher specification on paper that is - but you really don't need your bike to cost thousands for it to do what you need it to do. Upwards from about £150 will buy you a quality second-hand bike, and upwards of £250 will get you a quality new one. You don't need to spend a fortune to get the bike you need, but it helps to have an ideal and maximum budget to narrow down the choices.
  • Bike use: how you plan to use the bike will help to determine what type of bike you need and will guide our team to showing you the right choices. If you want to off-road or downhill and that's all you'll be doing, then a mountain bike is the right one for you. It will come with suspension, better grip tyres and lots of features to ensure your safety, but while you can use it on a road, it will be much heavier than a hybrid or road bike would be! A road bike, on the other hand, is lightweight, has narrow tyres and is very swift, but it usually has a higher price tag and it's only really suitable for on-road riding. You'll also find that you don't really need a road bike unless you are intending to cycle long distances or want to compete. So that leaves the hybrid, a brilliant blend of the two with the ability for light offroading (dirt trails rather than downhill racing) but perfect on the road and for the commute to work. Hybrids prove the most popular and because they are the least specialised, they are usually more affordable too. The only other variation to consider is whether you want an electric bike; there's a price tag attached but their assistance on the tough bits can prove invaluable and many people also find them brilliant when recovering from injury too. 
  • Your preferences: a bike is not just a lean, mean, exercise machine, but it is also an accessory and you are allowed to have a preference about what it looks like. Frame colour, step-through or step-over frames, vintage design versus sleek modern, baskets, mudguards, saddle. You can pick pretty much anything you want on a bike. It pays to pick an 'off-the-shelf' design, simply so you don't incur additional costs adding your own pizzazz, but you can still afford to have an opinion on how you want the bike to look. 

Once you've got these things in mind, it's time to visit the shop. Although our website features many of the bikes we have in stock, our warehouse is much bigger than we have online, and we sell both new and used bikes. In our used bike range in particular, we carry many one-of-a-kind styles and it's best to pop in and take a look. You'll also meet one of our experts - Steve. Keith, Joe, or Ruben - who will happily provide help and advice.

So you've got the bike; what else do you need?


Although the evenings are getting lighter at the moment, it's a legal requirement that bikes have lights in the dusk or the dark. While you may plan daytime riding only, it is always best to get a set of front and back lights, just in case you get caught out and about after dark. The lights will pay for themselves in avoiding a fine if you are caught! We recommend the Ultra Torch mini and USB set at £28.

Helmet & High Vis

Neither of these are a legal requirement or a necessity, but we do encourage people to put safety first. You never know when you might need it! A helmet will obviously protect your skull in a fall, while high vis helps improve visibility and ensure that drivers pay attention to you on the road. We recommend the Kali Chakra helmet at £37.  It's guaranteed for the lifetime of the helmet (circa 5 years)

A heavy-duty lock

We cannot stress enough how important it is to invest in a good quality lock! If you've just spent £hundreds on a new bike, why scrimp and save on a lock? A lock can be the difference between a thief walking away with your bike or not, and is an essential piece of kit. We recommend the Oxford Shackle 14 lock at £40.00.

We offer a complete starter kit of lock, helmet & lights from £40 you can be on your way.  Our favourite products can be purchased for a bundle price of £94.

Optional extras

Once you've got the bike, can ride it safely and have all the necessary kit, you can decide what little extras you might want to add on. Some of these will be driven by personal preference, while others might be appropriate to how you use the bike. Added extras include everything from mudguards to bicycle basket's, saddlebag to water bottle and cage. It all depends what you like and what you want on your bike.

So that's what you need to get things started, but we have one final TOP TIP for you. REGISTER YOUR BIKE!! There is a free bike registration scheme in the UK, in which you can register the make, model and unique details of your bike, along with your personal details and contact information. In the unfortunate event that your bike does get stolen, it will help the police return it to you if it gets recovered.