Ultimate Guide to Cycling - Sussex Edition

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EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO GET STARTED ON TWO WHEELS

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CYCLING

GET FIT, SAVE CASH

WHY YOU SHOULD RIDE P6

ELECTRIC BIKES CYCLE TO WORK

THE EASY WAY TO A CUT-PRICE NEW

SWEAT-FREE CYCLING FOR EVERY BUDGET P18

STAY SAFE

THE BEST KIT AND SMARTEST TECH

P42
BIKE P48

WELCOME

There can’t be many things that are good for you, great fun, and save you money –but all three apply to riding a bike.

Cycling boosts your mental and physical health. Riding just a few miles a week can make a difference to your energy levels, and keep your heart and lungs healthy and strong.

If you use two wheels to get to college or work, you’ll be saving money over the bus or train, and you’ll probably get where you’re going more quickly too. Why sit in traffic when you can ride past it?

Whether you are new to cycling or dusting off a bike from the back of the shed, The Ultimate Guide to Cycling is here to help. We’ll show the benefits of riding, teach you to cycle more safely, and will guide you through all the latest kit.

Enjoy the ride!

Art director: Caroline Creighton-Metcalf

Commercial director: Richard Storrs

Contact us info@firstcar.co.uk 08451 308853

2 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CYCLING The contents of this magazine are copyright © First Car Ltd and may not be reproduced or transmitted, in any form in whole or in part, without written consent from the editor. Neither FirstCar Ltd nor its staff can be held responsible for the accuracy of the information herein or for any consequence arising from it.
3 WELCOME
CYCLING IS GOOD FOR YOU, GREAT FUN, AND SAVES YOU MONEY

Everything you need to enjoy life on two wheels

ELECTRIFY YOUR BIKE! 18-19
conversione-bike kit 4 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CYCLING
Take the strain out of riding with an
CONTENTS

6-11 WHY CYCLE

You need to ask? Cycling will improve your health, save you money and make you smile.

20-23 BUYING

The local bike shop isn’t the only place to buy your bike. We explain all the options.

28-35 SAFETY

Safety is no accident. Follow these tips to become a confident and safe cyclist.

38-41 BIKE CARE

Keep your bike running smoothly and safely with our guide to basic bicycle maintenance.

48-49 CYCLE TO WORK

That shiny new bike could cost less than you think, thanks to the Cycle to Work scheme. Here’s what you need to know.

12-16 BIKE CHOOSER

From road bikes to MTBs, we’ll help you find the right kind of bike for your style of riding.

24-25 HIGHWAY CODE

Big changes have been made to the Highway Code to protect vulnerable road users.

36-37 INSURANCE

Take out cycle insurance and you won’t be out of pocket if your bike is stolen or vandalised.

42-47 KIT

Stay warm, keep dry and be seen with the right kit, clothing, and cycling accessories.

50-51 SECURITY

Lock it, don’t lose it! Our guide to securing your bike outside and at home.

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CONTENTS

WHY CYCLE?

HEALTH

WEALTH & HAPPINESS

With so many benefits, why wouldn’t you ride a bike?

CYCLING IS GOOD for you, and not just because it can make you fitter. It’s a great way to save money, save time and have fun too.

Riding a bike gives your heart and lungs a good workout, but doesn’t have to be strenuous. Modern bikes have as many as 30 gears and are made of lightweight materials, so riding to college, the factory or the office needn’t turn into a slog. Even gentle riding will get your pulse rate up and burn some calories, and the health benefits can last a lifetime.

You won’t only be fitter than your mates waiting in line for the bus, you’ll be better off as well. A quality new bike may cost a few hundred pounds, but use it regularly instead of public transport or a car and in the long run you’ll be quids in.

What’s more, it’s hard to think of anything else so good for you which is also so enjoyable. Regular riders know that cycling is fun, and scientists know that cycling releases endorphins – chemicals produced by the body which give a natural feeling of well-being.

So, park the car or put away that season ticket. It’s time to get on your bike.

TOP TIP

Worried that riding to work every day will be tiring? Then begin commuting by bike a couple of days each week. Add extra rides as your fitness and confidence improve.

LIVELY LUNGS

Regular riding will enhance lung function, which is especially beneficial for anyone suffering from bronchitis or asthma.

HEALTHY HEART

Cycling just 20 miles a week can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 50%, according to the British Medical Association.

SUPPLE SKIN

Scientists at Stanford University have discovered that cycling can help protect your skin against UV radiation and reduce the signs of ageing.

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THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CYCLING

LIVE LONG

Just 92 minutes of lowlevel exercise per week can increase a person’s life expectancy by three years, according to one Taiwanese study.

WHY CYCLE?

BOOST YOUR BRAIN

Exercise such as cycling can improve your memory function. A study by the University of Illinois and the University of Pittsburgh found that physically fit test subjects performed 40% better in memory tests than those who were unfit.

BURN OFF THAT BELLY

Just how much energy is used when cycling depends on a person’s weight and how hard they are riding, but an hour of vigorous cycling can burn as many as 700 calories.

JOYFUL JOINTS

Cycling is a low-impact form of exercise, so unlike jogging or running there’s very little pressure on your joints.

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WHY CYCLE? WEALTH

Buying a bike won’t break the bank, and will save you money in the long run

COMPARED WITH JUST about any other type of travel, cycling will save you money. Unless you want to walk everywhere you go, get on your bike and you’ll be quids in. Spending £300-£400 is enough to buy a decent new bicycle. Pay the same for a used car and you’ll be crossing your fingers every morning in the hopes that it will start.

The cost of buying a car is just the start. Fuel, insurance and servicing all need to be paid for, and those bills soon add up. According to the RAC Report on Motoring 2022, 62% of drivers aged 1724 and 25-44 rank fuel prices as their top concern over the cost of driving. Some 23% of drivers aged 17-24 have stopped taking their car to be washed to save money.

So, will you still be able to go out on a Friday night if you sell the car and rely on public transport instead? Maybe, maybe not. Single adult bus fare

prices in England are capped at £2 until the end of June 2023. That means a three-mile journey costs 66.7p per mile. The government’s own figures suggest the cost without the cap would be £2.80, or 93.3p per mile for a three-mile trip.

What about the train? Now, this should work out cheaper per mile than the bus, but the true cost varies hugely depending on the route, the time of day and how far in advance tickets are booked. What’s more, the nearest station could be miles away from home unless you live in a big town or a city.

So, you’ll need to factor in the cost of getting to the station, which unless you’re close enough to walk means spending more money. At least you could save a few pounds by riding to the t rain station on your bike...

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THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CYCLING

TOP TIP

If your journey is a long one, become a multi-mode commuter. Take a bike to the station, hop on a train, then ride to your destination.

Just check first that bikes are allowed on the train.

Getting from A to B can be a very expensive business. Which is why riding a bike is such a smart choice.

We’ve compared the cost of different forms of transport, calculating the cost of running a bicycle ourselves. To give the other ways of getting around a fighting chance we’ve been really hard on the poor old bike. We’ve assumed a short commute of just

BIKE

16.6p per mile1

WHY CYCLE?

WHY CYCLE?

MILES CHEAPER

three miles each way, and have used a very pessimistic estimate of how much a bike would be worth after three years. In reality, look after a bike and it will be worth a lot more than 8% of the original price.

Even though our own cycling stats take a worst-case scenario view, just look how much cheaper it is to commute by bicycle rather than car, bus or train.

MILES CHEAPER TRAIN

55p per mile3

47p per mile2

66.7p per mile4

PETROL VS BANANA

£168.55* £68.57*

Cost of petrol to drive 1000 miles:

Cost of feeding a cyclist to ride 1000 miles:

1 UGTC CALCULATION BASED ON A £400 BIKE PURCHASED WITH £100 WORTH OF ACCESSORIES, RIDDEN SIX MILES PER WORKING DAY, ALLOWING £100 FOR SERVICING AND £100 FOR SPARES OVER THREE YEARS. BIKE SOLD AFTER THREE YEARS FOR 8% OF ORIGINAL ASKING PRICE (AS PER HMRC MARKET VALUE).

SOURCE: GOV.UK (FARES CAPPED AT £2 PER ADULT SINGLE IN ENGLAND UNTIL THE END OF JUNE 2023)

4

3 SOURCE: VOUCHERCLOUD.

2 SOURCE: NIMBLE FINS PERSONAL FINANCE.

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BUS CAR
*PETROL COST BASED ON £6.742 PER GALLON AND 40MPG. FOOD COST BASED ON BANANAS TO SUPPLY ENOUGH CALORIES FOR 1000 MILES OF CYCLING (16P PER BANANA, 105 CALORIES EACH, ESTIMATED CALORIES REQUIRED: 45 PER MILE)

WHY CYCLE?

HAPPINESS

Put the smile back on your face by riding a bike

PEOPLE WHO RIDE a bike regularly are in on a secret. Cycling makes you happy. You don’t have to ride far or fast, just cycling to work or college can be enough. Nine times out of 10 you’ll end a bike ride in a better mood than when you started.

This isn’t just pro-cycling propaganda. It’s rooted in science. Cycling (and other forms of exercise) cause the body to release chemicals called endorphins. These chemicals reduce the perception of pain, but can also lead to feelings of exhilaration and well-being.

Cycling doesn’t just perk you up if you’re in a reasonably good mood to start with. There’s plenty of evidence that cycling can help with depression. Researchers at the University of Southern Mississippi found that when people with a generalised anxiety disorder exercised at 60-90% of their maximum heart rates for 20 minutes, three times per

week, there were significant decreases in anxiety sensitivity and fear.

Other kinds of travel can have a very different effect. One American survey asked 900 women how much they enjoyed a number of everyday activities. Commuting came in dead last. What’s more, the longer you spend stuck in a car, train or bus the more unhappy commuting is likely to make you. A survey conducted for the Gallup-Healthways WellBeing Index found that among employees who took more than 90 minutes getting home from work, 40% experienced worry during the day. That dropped to 28% for those with short commutes of 10 minutes or less.

TOP TIP

If a car cuts you up or a pedestrian steps out in front of you, don’t get mad. Concentrate on staying safe and calm.

FEEL GOOD, DO GOOD

Why worry if you commute by bike? Forget about being caught in traffic, missing the bus, or being stuck under someone’s armpit on an overcrowded train. Go by bike, and you’ll enjoy your own space, not to mention a few quiet minutes away from email, ringing phones and the stress and strain of a busy day.

Not only will regular cycling put a smile on your face, you’ll be doing your bit for the environment too. Cycling isn’t quite emissions-free. There’s the environmental cost of building a bike, plus the carbon dioxide the rider breathes out. The European Cyclists Federation took this into account to

come up with carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of just 21g/km for a bicycle. The same methods resulted in an average figure of 271g/km for a car. What’s more, the human ‘engine’ of a bicycle emits no harmful particulates or carbon monoxide, substances which reduce air quality and can cause health problems.

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C02 emissions for a bike C02 emissions for a car 271G/KM 21G/KM
ULTIMATE
TO CYCLING
THE
GUIDE

WHY CYCLE?

TOP TIP

Get on your bike for a good night’s sleep. Cycling for 20-30 minutes a day helps people with insomnia fall asleep twice as fast, according to Stanford University School of Medicine.

GET HAPPY

Cyclists are the happiest of all commuters, according to research by the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium. Walkers are a close second.

SPREAD THE LOVE

If you know someone who is thinking of cycling but doesn’t own a bike, you could lend them yours for the weekend. Sit back and watch the smile slowly spread across their face.

FIND YOUR IDEAL BIKE

There are so many kinds of bike, it can be hard to know which to buy. Let us guide you through all the options

CHOICE IS A good thing, but it can also be bewildering. Take the range of bikes available from your local bike shop. From mountain bikes to hybrids to BMX and a whole lot more besides. How do you choose which is right for you?

It really comes down to what you plan to use the bike for. A single-speed bike may look good outside a trendy café, but it won’t look so cool being pushed up a steep hill. And while a BMX will fit in at the local skate park it won’t be practical if your job is a several miles from home. Over the next few pages we’ll talk you through the many different styles of bike to find the one that suits you best.

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E-BIKE

What is it?

An e-bike is a bicycle with an electric motor. You get most of the benefits of riding a bike but with less huffing and puffing on the hills.

Legally an e-bike is limited to 250 watts of assistance, but believe us, that’s plenty. Steep climbs are easy on an ebike. Assistance cuts out at 15.5mph.

Lots of e-bikes look like hybrids, but there are also mountain bikes, road machines and hybrids with battery power.

Why ride one?

You want to ride to work or college without breaking a sweat.

Why ride something else?

Because e-bikes are relatively expensive. Mail order machines cost around £600 or more. Expect to pay £1000-£3000 for an ebike from brands such as BH Emotion, estarli, Raleigh, and Wisper.

HYBRID

Hybrids have a comfortable, upright riding position

LET’S TAKE CHARGE

Exercise on your terms. With an e-bike you can get fit, you can travel effortlessly or you can do a bit of both! Electric bikes are proven to empower people to ride when they previously would not have. Conquer hills with ease, ride further without worrying about getting home, and do your daily journeys without breaking a sweat.

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH

canal towpaths as well as roads. (Look out for roadsters, too, which are the traditional-looking counterpart to the modern hybrid.)

Hybrids are usually designed with practicality in mind, so mounts for mudguards to offer some protection from wet weather are common. Many will also have mounting points for luggage racks.

What is it?

As the name implies, a hybrid is a halfway house between a road bike and a mountain bike.

Like an MTB, hybrids will usually have flat handlebars, giving a more upright position than a road bike and keeping the brake levers in easy reach at all times.

Expect larger tyres than you would find on a road bike to better soak up bumps, probably with some tread to make them suited to

Disc brakes sometimes feature on hybrids. These offer strong, consistent braking, and are less affected by rain than rim brakes. Another technology some hybrids borrow from mountain bikes is suspension. This makes for a more comfortable ride but adds weight and cost.

Why ride one?

You want one bike which can do just about everything reasonably well.

Why ride something else?

Any hybrid is a compromise. Road bikes are better if speed is your thing, while mountain bikes are much tougher if you like to get off the beaten track.

13 BIKE CHOOSER

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CYCLING

Choose a road bike for a speedy and lively ride

ROAD BIKE

What is it?

A road bike or racing bike comes with drop handlebars and skinny wheels and tyres. It’s built for speed on tarmac rather than dealing with rough surfaces. These days road bikes come in a variety of flavours. Some are made to offer comfort as well as speed with more upright riding

positions, while some have mounting points for mudguards and racks to carry bags. Others are designed for racing and competitive riding, with fewer concessions to practicality.

Most affordable road bikes are made from aluminium, with carbon fibre largely taking over on bikes costing £1500 or more.

Steel bikes may not be cutting edge but score points for their retro style, while super-durable titanium frames are a viable alternative to carbon fibre if you’ve got deep pockets.

Why ride one?

Speed is the obvious advantage of choosing a road bike. Their light weight makes them easier to get up to speed or ride uphill than most other kinds of bicycle.

Even if you’re not in a hurry, a road bike will help you cover the same journey in the same time for less effort.

Why ride something else?

Because you want to be able to ride on tracks as well as on the road, or would prefer a more upright riding position.

no suspension, others have front suspension, many have suspension front and rear. Then there’s the amount of suspension travel to consider, and whether to go for 26-inch, 650B or 29-inch wheel sizes.

More extreme riding benefits from having suspension at both ends of the bicycle to take the sting out of rocky tracks, but if you want a bike that’s tough enough to hit the trails but still rides well on the street then a ‘hardtail’ (a bike with front suspension only) is probably a better bet.

Mountain bikes can tackle any surface

MOUNTAIN BIKE

What is it?

Despite the name, a mountain bike isn’t just for riding on mountains. It’s for all kinds of off-road riding.

The choice of mountain bikes (also known as MTBs) can be even more confusing than the variety of road bikes. A few mountain bikes have

All three wheel sizes have their supporters, although 26-inch wheels aren’t as popular as they used to be.

Why ride one?

A mountain bike can tackle any terrain. You can muck about on the trails at the weekend then use the same bike to get to work on Monday.

Why ride something else?

If most of your journeys are on tarmac or smooth trails, then riding a mountain bike is a bit like wearing walking boots to go to the corner shop. Other choices will be lighter, and will go faster for the same effort.

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FOLDER

A good choice for commuting

What is it?

A bike which folds up for ease of storage or carrying on other forms of transport. No space for a full-sized bike in the flat? A folder will fit in a cupboard or under the stairs. Or maybe you want to save time at either end of a train journey? A folder is ideal for multi-mode commuting.

Folders usually have much smaller wheels than regular bikes, with 16 and 20-inches being the most common sizes. As a rule, the smaller

TOURER

What is it?

A touring bike is designed for cycling long distances, often with luggage. But that’s not to say that a tourer only makes sense if you are planning to ride from Lands End to John O’Groats.

A tourer will do just about anything a road bike will do, only a bit slower. Designed for durability, stability and comfort rather than speed, a touring bike is just as capable of handling the daily commute as a week-long camping holiday.

Tourers tend to use tried and tested technology, and are often built around steel frames. Mudguards and racks are often included in the price of a new tourer, or at the very least you can expect fittings for both.

Most bikes of this kind have drop bars, giving a variety of riding positions for all-day comfort, but some tourers use MTB-style flat handlebars.

Wheels tend to be heavier but more sturdy than those fitted to racing bikes, with tyres designed for puncture resistance and reasonable grip on tarmac as well as

the wheel, the smaller the fold.

You might think that being hinged in the middle would make a folder feel odd or awkward to ride, but with a few exceptions most folders feel surprisingly normal.

Folding bike enthusiasts have ridden around the world on their bikes, so there’s little a good folder can’t do.

Why ride one?

Because you want to commute a long distance, sandwiching a journey on public transport with a bike ride at either end. Used this way a folder opens up new possibilities. Journeys which are awkward and inconvenient using public transport alone become quick, easy and healthy with a folder. Or perhaps you are short of storage space. A folder can be stored under the stairs or in the corner of a utility room.

Why ride something else?

If you never intend to take your bike on public transport and you have a shed or garage to store it in then you don’t need a bike which folds away when it’s not being ridden.

Head off on an adventure you won’t forget

bridleways and towpaths. You can tackle a variety of surfaces on good touring tyres.

Why ride one?

Because practicality, comfort and versatility are more important to you than going quickly.

Why ride something else?

You want to ride fast, on or off-road, or are put off by the slightly staid image.

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BIKE CHOOSER

Stay on the road or hit the trail: allroad bikes can do both

ALLROAD/GRAVEL/ ADVENTURE ROAD

What is it?

Known by lots of different names, gravel bikes look like roads bikes from a distance but have bigger tyres, often with MTB-style tread to make them capable on muddy tracks as well as tarmac. This style of bike is not unlike cyclocross bikes, which also have drop handlebars and are designed for racing off-road. They were around long before the first MTB got its tyres

BMX

What is it?

BMX stands for Bicycle Motocross. These are small, super-tough bikes designed for short, sharp races on specially designed tracks, or for tricks and stunts at the skate park.

A BMX is built to withstand jumps, drops and even the odd crash, so whatever punishment you dish out expect the bike to keep coming back for more.

This kind of bike has just one gear, chosen for punchy acceleration from low speeds. Some riders add foot pegs by the wheels to make a greater range of tricks possible.

Why ride one?

Because you’re into BMX, or you’re into the image of BMX.

You can have great fun riding at a skate park or a purpose-built BMX track. But make no mistake, these are single-minded machines, at their best when used for their intended purpose rather than general riding.

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CYCLING

dirty. Cyclocross bikes tend to have narrower tyres and a racier riding position than adventure road and gravel bikes, which are designed to be comfortable on long rides rather than raced in the mud for an hour.

Gravel bikes are popular for everyday use because they’re versatile and can handle dirt as well as tarmac. They are purpose-built for mixed-surface riding.

You can make a strong case for riding a gravel bike even if you never intend to get the tyres dirty. Fatter tyres cope well with poor road surfaces, and the riding positions are usually less aggressive than those of racing bikes.

Disc brakes are the norm, promising powerful, controllable braking in all weathers.

Why ride one?

Because you want a bike which can be ridden on and off-road without feeling sluggish.

Why ride something else?

Both cyclocross machines and the new breed of adventure road bikes are not as quick on smooth surfaces as a racing bike and not as capable off-road as a mountain bike.

Riding a BMX well takes a lot of skill and balance

Why ride something else?

Any number of other kinds of bike are better suited to commuting, riding for fitness or offroading. Having one low gear means your legs will be spinning like crazy to get up to speed on the road, and the low saddle height means a BMX won’t be comfortable for more than a few minutes at a time. Short commutes by BMX are okay, but for longer journeys of more than a mile or two this type of bike really isn’t suitable at all.

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BIKE
CHOOSER

HYBRID & FOLDING EBIKES FOLDING EBIKESHYBRID & FOLDING EBIKES

ELECTRIFY YOUR BIKE

You can turn almost any bicycle into an e-bike. Here’s how

E-bikes are great, but they can be expensive. And if you already own a bike, you may not have space for two.

That’s where an e-bike conversion comes in. You buy the kit and fit it to your bike (or ask a bike shop to do it). It could take as little as half an hour. No more struggling on hills, all for a few hundred pounds.

So, how does an e-bike conversion kit work?

There are a few different kinds. Some fit to the seat post, and drive the rear wheel by friction. Others used a motorised wheel. Some mount to the

side of the bike, replacing the bottom bracket (the bearings the cranks turn on).

How much does an e-bike kit cost?

Prices start from a few hundred pounds. You can find conversions online from the likes of Amazon, but these are often mid-mounted motor kits that need some mechanical know-how to fit. You also need to check that these kits come with everything you need.

Is an e-bike kit legal?

Yes, so long as the converted bike meets all the same rules as a regular e-bike and the

rider is 14 or over. That means an assisted top-speed limited to 15.5mph, maximum power of 250 watts, and pedals to propel the bike. If the bike doesn’t meet these rules, it could be classed as a moped, and you’ll need a licence, insurance, and a helmet to stay legal.

Should I buy an e-bike or a conversion kit?

As a rule, a purpose-built e-bike will have a more neatly integrated motor and battery, and will typically go further on a charge. On the other hand a kit can give a new lease of life to a roadworthy bike, usually for a lower price.

18 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CYCLING

E-BIKE CONVERSION KITS

RUBBEE X

This kit is simple to fit. It clamps to the seat post then rests on the back wheel, with a grippy flywheel to drive the bike. There are three different specifications to choose from, with ranges from 10 miles up to 30 miles.

PRICE From 579€ (approx £510) rubbee.co.uk

SKARPER

So long as your bike uses disc brakes, a Skarper kit will turn it into an e-bike. You fit a replacement rear disc, then mount the Skarper unit to the frame. The battery takes 150 minutes to charge, and gives a range of up to 37 miles.

PRICE Around £1000 (TBC) skarper.com

SWYTCH

Leave your old front wheel in the shed, and swap it for one from Swytch with an electric motor in the hub. The battery mounts to the handlebars, with a choice of the Air (ninemile range) and Max (18-mile range) models.

PRICE TBC (previous batch from £449) swytchbike.com

19 BIKE CHOOSER

WHERE TO

Should you shop locally, choose a big chain or buy online?

SO, IF YOU’VE read our guide to choosing a bike you’ll have a good idea of which kind will suit you. The next step is to buy one.

The local bike shop is the obvious place to start, but there are other choices. You may have to travel further than the nearest high street, but one of the big chains like Evans Cycles or Halfords will have a wide choice, plenty of bikes in stock and some exclusive brands you won’t be able to find elsewhere.

Then again, you don’t need to travel at all when there are so many internet-based companies who will deliver to your door. And with bargain bikes on sale from supermarkets, you could pick up your new bicycle while doing the weekly shop.

This is assuming you want a new bike. Shopping on the second-hand market will make your money go further, although it pays to make sure the seller is legit and the bike is in good working order before handing over any cash.

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THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CYCLING

BUY A BIKE

TOP TIP

When comparing internet prices with what your local bike shop would charge, keep in mind that a shop may offer free servicing or discounts on parts and accessories.

TOP TIP

Explain what kind of riding you’ll be doing to help the bike shop find something suitable. Look at several bikes to get a feel for which one is best for you and don’t rush to a decision.

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BUYING

THE BIG CHAINS

2While the traditional local bike shop can be small with bikes crammed into every corner, the big chain stores are often more like car showrooms with plenty of space. Some big bike shops have exclusive, celebrity-backed brands you can’t find elsewhere. However, you may have to travel further than your local high street to visit one of the big chains.

✓ Pros Plenty of choice; some exclusive brands; special offers

1Wherever you live, you’re never too far from your local bike shop. Without a big name over the door, local shops rely on word of mouth and keeping their existing customers happy, so as a rule you should enjoy good service. Expect to find a wide choice of major cycling brands with examples of many types of bike in stock. A local shop will make sure your bike fits properly, and is a convenient option for servicing and advice.

✓ Pros Convenient; expert; wide choice

✗ Cons May not be as cheap as online

✗ Cons Some chain stores miss the personal touch; may need to travel

LOCAL BIKE SHOP SUPERMARKETS ONLINE

4What could be easier than picking up a bike when you next pop in for a pint of milk? Several supermarkets offer bikes at rock-bottom prices. However, the bike will come in a box and you’ll need to do some assembly yourself when you get the bike home. This style of cut-price bicycle doesn’t have a strong reputation for quality. You could pick up a bargain, or you could end up with a poor bike you’ll soon want to replace.

✓ Pros Very low prices; convenient

3

You can avoid going to a bike shop at all by shopping online. The likes of Chain Reaction Cycles and Wiggle sell exclusively over the internet, but plenty of bike shops and our e-bike partners estarli have an online presence. The internet specialists offer great value, and most bikes are delivered with very little assembly required. There’s no chance of a test ride, although the law gives you 14 days to try out an internet purchase. Some companies offer longer return periods.

✓ Pros Keen prices; plenty of choice

✗ Cons No face-to-face contact

✗ Cons Self-assembly required

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THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CYCLING

SECOND-HAND, NOT SECOND BEST

Buying a used bike can be a great way to save money, or to buy a better bike for the same cash – so long as you take a few precautions. The two obvious pitfalls are buying a stolen bike, or one that’s in poor mechanical condition.

shift, or anything seems loose. Look out for frayed cables, worn brake blocks or wobbly wheels.

Auction sites like eBay are full of second-hand bikes

Of the two, a bike that’s seen better days is fairly easy to spot. Take a test ride so you can feel if the brakes work badly, the gears won’t

CHOOSE CAREFULLY

Before you set foot in the bike shop, it makes sense to have a good idea of the kind of bike you need.

(Our guide to the different kinds of bikes should help: see page 12.)

A good bike shop will help narrow down your choices, asking about the kind of riding you plan to do and how much you are looking to spend. With this info in mind expect the shop to suggest two or three suitable bikes.

Always ask for a test ride to help you make up your mind. Most shops will be happy for you to try out a bike provided they have credit card details to act as security. Try to ride the bike on roads or tracks similar to those where you’ll do most of your riding.

If shopping online, use customer reviews to help narrow down your shortlist, and always check the company’s policy on returns.

A stolen bike is less obvious. Ask plenty of questions about the bike and be wary if the seller seems unfamiliar with it. Look for any registration mark which you can check against a national database like www. bikeregister.com, and ask the seller for proof of ownership.

LET’S TAKE CHARGE

With brands like estarli, buying online gives you great prices and lots of choice and at the same time, a range of testimonial and user videos to help you get as close as possible to the product.

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH

23
BUYING

The HIERARCHY OF ROAD USERS

The Highway Code includes lots of advice about protecting the most vulnerable

Acar can cause a lot more harm than a bike, but a bike could easily injure someone on foot or startle a horse. That’s now reflected in the latest Highway Code.

Lots of changes were made in a big update in January 2022. Some existing rules have been tidied up or clarified, but the guiding principle is the ‘hierarchy of road users’ – those who can do the greatest harm must take the greatest responsibility.

The likes of HGV and coach drivers have the

greatest duty to look out for other road users, because they’re driving the biggest, heaviest vehicles with the most potential to do damage. Pedestrians are at the opposite end of the hierarchy, as they’re likely to come off worst in any collision. Cyclists are towards the ‘vulnerable’ end of the spectrum, so the revised Highway Code is intended to keep cyclists safer. The new rules are sometimes misrepresented as allowing vulnerable road users, in particular cyclists, to do as they please with the car driver always getting the blame. That’s not what the changes are all

24
THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CYCLING
MOST VULNERABLE

NEW RULES DOS AND DON’TS

Drivers should give way to cyclists who are riding straight on when turning into or out of junctions.

Cyclists should always give way to pedestrians who are crossing (or waiting to cross) the road at junctions.

Drivers should not make a close pass on a cyclist. They should leave at least 1.5 metres when overtaking cyclists at speeds of up to 30mph, and more space when overtaking above 30mph.

Don’t pass close to a horse or a horse-drawn vehicle. Give at least two metres of space and pass at no more than 10mph. Although cyclists and horse riders are both vulnerable, take care not to startle horses.

about. Everyone needs to stick to the rules, and use the roads safely, however they choose to get from A to B. Rather there’s a shift of emphasis, and an acknowledgement that might isn’t always right. Those with the greatest potential to cause harm shoulder the most responsibility.

Just as a car driver should remember that a bike rider is more vulnerable than they are in a collision, so we cyclists need to remember that we could injure a pedestrian. We all need to take care of each other, and especially the most vulnerable people on the road.

Remember that you are permitted to ride in the centre of the lane, or two abreast, while allowing drivers to overtake when it’s safe to do so.

GREATEST RESPONSIBILITY

25
Those who can do the greatest harm must take extra care of others
THE HIGHWAY CODE

THE BRITISH EBIKE

THE BRITISH EBIKE MOVEMENT

Founded by the Francis brothers in the Chilterns, estarli designs and builds eBikes to help new riders to go electric.

Estarli makes hybrid and folding eBikes that give people the freedom to travel healthily, economically and traffic-free.

Their retro-inspired bikes don’t look electric and they are carefully designed and built so you can ride effortlessly and safely.

26 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CYCLING

CYCLE SCHEMES: Employees can save up to 40% off estarli eBikes by using any of the major cycle schemes. Contact help@estarli.co.uk for more information.

TEST RIDE: Estarli offers test rides via their retail partners up and down the country. Find your closest one on their website: www.estarli.co.uk

COUNCILS: Estarli runs council and community schemes to help get more people onto two wheels and remove traffic and pollution from towns and cities. For more information contact oli@estarli.co.uk

TOP BUYING TIPS

FROM ALEX FRANCIS

RANGE

A bigger battery gets you further but usually means more weight. Try to find the right balance for you by considering your likely range requirements. Remember, if an eBike runs out of battery, it’s still a bike!

ROAD LEGAL

In the UK and Europe, it must be EN15194 compliant, speed restricted, and without a motorbike-esq throttle.

AFTERCARE

Pick a strong and personable brand that also has a dealer network in your region so they can look after you efficiently and promptly after purchase. Try to

find a brand that demonstrates good customer service when you contact them and has good Trustpilot reviews.

VALUE

Anything under £1k is likely to have a low-spec controller, motor and components. The higher the bike spec, the longer it will last you. However, do your research because you don’t need to pay over the odds.

WEIGHT

Think about whether you will be carrying the bike. Might you need a folding bike for getting onto trains, into the boot of your car and domestic storage? If so, how often might you do these things?

27 ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE

OR

HOW ABOUT...

... fitting mirrors to your bike? They don’t remove the need to look over your shoulder but a mirror can improve your sense of what’s going on around

28
THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CYCLING

RIDING SAFE

Learn these techniques and you’ll be well on the way to becoming a confident, careful and safe cyclist

1 LOOK BEHIND YOU!

What does cycling and panto have in common? You need to ‘look behind you!’

Okay, it’s a bad joke, but a serious point. It’s easy to remember to look where you are going when riding, but what’s happening behind you is just as important, particularly when approaching a junction.

Well before you reach a junction, take a look over your right shoulder. Is there any traffic approaching from behind? Only when you know what’s happening behind you can you make a safe decision about adjusting your position on the road.

This over-shoulder check is especially important when turning right from a main road to a minor road. Look back before you move to the right-hand side of your lane, then look again before turning. Traffic shouldn’t try to overtake you when you are turning, but unless you look to check how can you be sure? It’s called the ‘lifesaver look’ for a reason.

RIDE WELL, STAY SAFE 29
RIDE WELL,

Lorries and buses have large blind spots, so take care when overtaking

LOOK OUT FOR BLIND SPOTS

Don’t assume other road users have seen you. In particular, be very cautious around large vehicles such as lorries and buses which have large blind spots. The rule of thumb is, if you can’t see the vehicle’s mirrors, the driver can’t see you. Even then be very careful when sharing a stretch of road with large vehicles. This eye-opening

2

video on YouTube shows why: www.youtube. com/watch?v=lV-rhiGRFTE.

In slow-moving traffic it’s generally safer to overtake a lorry or other high-sided vehicle on the right, as the driver of the vehicle has better visibility on this side, but only do so if there’s room to overtake safely without being in danger from traffic coming the other way. If in doubt, hang back and ‘guard the lane’ (see page 34).

30
THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CYCLING

KEEP ’EM COVERED

With good anticipation a skilful cyclist should avoid the need to brake suddenly, but someone else’s mistake could quickly turn into your accident. So when riding on a busy road, passing junctions or cycling by a row of cars, it makes sense to keep your hands poised over the brake levers. Be ready to brake hard if there’s no other way of safely avoiding a collision. The front brake does most of the work, so if you need to stop in a hurry pull hard on this lever and apply normal force to the back brake. As you brake, shift your weight backwards slightly to stay stable and in control.

GET OUT OF THE GUTTER

Nervous, novice cyclists often ride close to the kerb, right in the gutter.

“I’m keeping out of the way of cars and buses so I must be safe,” they think.

Think again. Riding close by the kerb leaves no room for error, and may encourage drivers to squeeze by when there isn’t really space. If they get halfway through their overtake, realise there isn’t room and cut back in, you’ve left yourself with nowhere to go. Instead – even when you’re on a busy road – aim to ride between half a metre and one metre from the kerb. This gives you more room, makes you more visible, and discourages unsafe overtaking manoeuvres.

RIDE WELL, STAY SAFE
3
Keep your fingers poised over the brakes if you spot hazards up ahead
4
31 firstcar.co.uk RIDE WELL,

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CYCLING

THE EYES HAVE IT

5

No cyclist ever wants to hear the words “Sorry mate, I didn’t see you.” Hi-vis clothing and a good set of lights will help, but don’t underestimate the importance of eye contact. If you’re riding past a junction and you can see a driver waiting to pull out, look directly at them. Make eye contact if you can. Don’t assume that someone has seen you, even if you think they are staring straight at you. But if they don’t make eye contact there’s a good chance they haven’t spotted you.

Be very cautious passing the junction and get ready to brake or change direction if the vehicle pulls out unsafely in front of you.

Look other road users in the eye to help you judge their intentions

OR HOW ABOUT...

... taking a first aid course? The likes of the Red Cross and St John Ambulance run courses which will help you attend to others in an emergency before professional help arrives.

32

ADVANCE, THEN STOP

Some signal-controlled junctions have advanced stop lines for cyclists. These create room for riders at the head of a queue of vehicles, making them more visible and giving them space to move off when the lights change. Usually a cycle lane on the left leads cyclists to the stop line. Keep an eye on the traffic signal as you

approach the junction. If the signal is red and traffic is stationary, it should be safe to move up to the advanced stop line. If the lights are red and amber or green, move carefully back into the main traffic stream. Even if the light is red, it may be better to hang back rather than filter up the inside of an HGV or bus: the driver may have a restricted view.

SAFETY IN NUMBERS

There’s evidence that the more people take up cycling, the safer cycling becomes. Studies in many cities including Berlin and York have all supported the ‘safety in numbers’ principle.

However, some statistics from Transport for London have shown that when cycling in the capital increased, the number of riders killed or seriously injured per million journeys rose.

That suggests that infrastructure improvements and the skill level of all road users may be just as important.

Advanced stop lines are there to make the roads safer, so don’t be afraid to use them

Some studies suggest more cyclists make for safer roads

33 6
RIDE WELL, STAY SAFE

The National Cycle Network covers over 16,500 miles, some of which are traffic-free

8 GUARDING THE LANE

There are times, especially at junctions, when the safest place to ride is the centre of the appropriate traffic lane. Having looked over your shoulder to check it will be safe, move to the centre of the correct lane. If that means changing lanes, such as when turning right at a roundabout, remember to indicate your intentions clearly. ‘Guarding the lane’ makes you more visible to other traffic, improves your own view of the road, and reduces the chance of being unsafely overtaken.

OR HOW ABOUT...

... leaving a door’s width between you and your bike and any parked cars? That way if someone opens their car door you are already far enough into the lane to avoid being knocked off.

34
THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CYCLING

PLAN YOUR ROUTE

The more skilful and confident you become the happier you will be riding in traffic. But don’t ride down a busy main road if you don’t feel happy, particularly if there’s a quieter alternative close by.

On the other hand, back roads with frequent junctions can slow you down, and there may be many parked cars, inattentive pedestrians and other hazards.

Try to plan a route where you don’t have to give way to traffic too often. In particular, avoid busy roundabouts if there’s a less frenetic alternative route. Roads with bus lanes can be cycle-friendly, and a well designed, traffic-free cycle path can make your journey hassle-free.

BIKEABILITY

Ride assertively but safely at junctions and roundabouts

Level 1 is for new cyclists or riders who haven’t been out on their bike for a long time. It teaches basic skills in a traffic-free environment.

Level 2 takes riders onto the road, and teaches how to cope with junctions and signal clearly to other road users.

Level 3 helps riders deal with more complex road layouts.

Find a local Bikeability instructor at www. bikeability.org.uk, or www.cycling.scot/whatwe-do/bikeability-scotland-2.

RIDE WELL, STAY SAFE 35
7
Bikeability training gives riders of all ages and abilities the skills they need to become safe and confident cyclists.
RIDE WELL,

A SENSIBLE POLICY INSURANCE

Insuring your bike means you won’t be out of pocket if it’s

KEEPING YOUR BIKE securely locked cuts the odds of it being pinched, but it’s no guarantee. If your bike is stolen, you’ll be glad you had insurance.

WON’T MY HOME INSURANCE COVER ME?

Not necessarily. Check the policy documents or better still give the insurer a call to check. The more expensive the bike, the less likely it is that your home insurance will cover it. The insurer may be prepared to add a bike to the home contents policy, but this is likely to push up the premium. In which case it makes sense to compare the cost against specialist cycling insurance.

WHO WILL INSURE MY BIKE?

There are plenty of companies out there, offering different levels of cover at different prices. Some of the best known are Cycleguard (www.

cycleguard.co.uk) Cycleplan (www.cycleplan.co.uk), the ETA (www.eta.co.uk), and Velosure (www. velosure.co.uk). Get quotes from several before you commit and compare the benefits of each policy as well as the price you will pay. Look for good value, not just the lowest price.

WHAT SORT OF COVER IS OFFERED?

That depends on the insurer. At a very basic level, a policy should cover theft and accidental damage. If you compete in some form of bike racing, check you’re still covered – this isn’t always the case.

When insuring a brand new bike consider a policy with new for old cover. This means if your bicycle is taken the insurer will pay out the price of a brand new replacement, not the current market value of the bike that’s been stolen.

Some policies include get-you-home cover, so if your bike is damaged or vandalised the insurer will pay for a taxi so you’re not stranded.

36 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CYCLING

POLICY stolen

Third party (or public liability) insurance is also well worth having. If you injure someone or damage their property, this should cover any claim for compensation. When comparing policies, check what the maximum payout would be.

WILL I NEED TO KEEP MY BIKE LOCKED UP?

Yes. Leaving your bike unlocked is little different to leaving the keys in a car with the engine running.

Just any old lock may not be good enough: the insurer may insist on a minimum level of security, depending on the value of the bicycle. For example, ETA insists on a Sold Secure Silver-rated lock for bikes worth up to £1500 (including the value of any fitted accessories), and Gold for bikes with a value of more than £1500.

You can also expect minimum standards for overnight storage. Don’t be surprised if a communal hallway isn’t considered secure.

HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?

We tried insuring a hybrid bike worth £500 at a Surrey address. Here’s what we were quoted:

CYCLEGUARD www.cycleguard. co.uk

Premium: £44.80

What’s included: Cover against theft and accidental damage (new for old on bikes, market value for clothing).

Optional extras: Public liability and personal accident cover; global travel cover; roadside recovery; competition use.

CYCLEPLAN www.cycleplan. co.uk

Premium: £29.05

What’s included: Cover against theft and accidental damage (new for old on bikes purchased new and not more than three years old).

Optional extras: Public liability cover (£1m, £2m or £5m); accessories cover (up to £1000); legal expenses cover; personal accident cover; loss of earnings; replacement bicycle; foreign travel; competition.

ETA

www.eta.co.uk

Premium: £48.13

What’s included: Cover against theft, accidental damage, including competitive use (new for old); Cycle Rescue (breakdown cover); get-youhome cover; personal liability (£2m); personal accident (£20k); worldwide cover (60 days, excluding US and Canada); loss of earnings; legal advice.

Optional extras: None – the policy is all-inclusive.

VELOSURE

www.velosure.co.uk

Premium: £26.34

What’s included: Core policy covers against theft and accidental damage (new for old); accessory cover (up to £1000); family cover; legal advice; physio; replacement cycle hire; public liability (£2m).

Optional extras: Upgrade to Performance policy (£38.65) for worldwide cover; cycle rescue; sports and events cover; personal accident cover; road rage cover.

37 INSURANCE

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CYCLING

TOP TIP

This adventure road bike has hydraulic disc brakes. They’re powerful and easy to control, but not as easy for the home mechanic to maintain as traditional rim brakes.

TYRES

Always keep the tyres inflated properly – there should be a recommended maximum or range of pressures given on the side of the tyres. Once a week or so, check the tread for any sharp objects which could cause a puncture. Remove whatever you find.

CHAIN

Keep the chain running smoothly with a high-quality chain lubricant rather than generalpurpose oil. A dirty chain will wear out quickly and reduce the life of other components. Some degreaser and a stiff wire brush should shift the grime, or you could buy a chain cleaner.

CABLES

Check for any fraying or wear. If the cables are worn either replace them yourself or get a professional mechanic to do it for you.

WHEELS

If there’s a slight wobble as the wheel rotates then it’s out of true. Check for loose spokes and tighten them evenly. It’s not especially difficult to true a wheel but it does take patience, so if in doubt head to your local bike shop who should fix the wheel for a few pounds.

38

BRAKES

On a bike with disc brakes spin the wheel to check the rotor isn’t bent or warped. If it is the wheel won’t rotate smoothly. With rim brakes, make sure the brake blocks are hitting the rim of the wheel not the tyre when you pull on the lever. Be sure to clean away any grime.

OR HOW ABOUT...

... going tubeless? Some modern wheels and tyres can run without inner tubes, meaning no more pinch punctures to worry about, and adding sealant fixes small punctures as you ride.

YOURBIKE LOOK AFTER

Take care of your bicycle and it should give many miles of reliable cycling

BIKES AREN’T THAT complicated. With a few tools it’s not hard to keep a bicycle working well, although for more complex tasks or anything safety-related it makes sense to turn to a professional mechanic. Prevention is better than cure, so regular cleaning together with checking the brakes, tyres and cables will save hassle – and money –in the long run.

HEADSET

The headset is the set of bearings on which the fork moves within the bike frame so the rider can steer. If the headset is too tight the handlebars won’t turn smoothly and freely. Too loose and you’ll feel a knocking through the bars.

Even more involved home maintenance isn’t difficult with practice. There’s something satisfying about hitting the road on a bike which is riding perfectly, and knowing that’s down to your own efforts.

That said, plenty of riders would no more adjust bicycle gears than they would strip down the engine of a car. If that sounds more like you, then your local bike shop will be happy to sort any niggles. They’ll want paying of course, but a basic service adjusting the gears, brakes and truing wheels will cost around £50.

OR HOW ABOUT...

... a job in the bike trade?

If you enjoy fixing your own bike, consider training as a mechanic. A qualification from Cytech (www.cytech. training) could open up a whole new career.

39 BIKE CARE

HOW TO FIX A FLAT TYRE

Sooner or later, you’ll pick up a puncture. The good news is punctures are easy to fix. These nine simple steps will soon have you back on the road:

1 2

If the puncture is on the back wheel, shift into the smallest chainring and the smallest sprocket on the back wheel. This slackens off the chain so the rear wheel can be taken out easily without catching on the rear derailleur (the gear-shifting mechanism by the back wheel).

Take the wheel out of the frame by loosening the quick release (the mechanism which clamps the wheel to the frame) and slackening off the brakes (there’s usually a lever on the side of the brake which opens up the space between the brake and the wheel so it will drop out without snagging). If your bike has disc brakes there’s no need to bother, it should drop through without catching on anything.

If the inner tube valve is fitted with a collar, unscrew it so that the valve can be pulled through the valve hole.

Unhook one side of the tyre from the wheel rim using tyre levers (you can buy these for a few pounds from any bike shop). Insert the scooped end of one lever under the tyre and attach the other end to a spoke, then insert the second lever a few centimetres further around the tyre. Push the second lever along, prying the side (or bead) of the tyre off as it goes.

3 4 5

Remove the old tube and examine it for the cause of the puncture. Check the tyre too, and carefully remove any thorn or flint which may have pierced the tyre and tube.

40 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CYCLING

Put

Be sure that one side of the tyre is securely on the wheel, then begin to hook the other side onto the rim. Start at the valve hole and work your way around using both hands so they meet at the far side. The last part of bead may need strong thumbs or some persuasion with a tyre lever, but be careful not to pinch the tube. Check carefully that no inner tube is poking out, then pump the tyre back up to the correct pressure.

Put the wheel back in the fork or frame. Tighten the quick release, make sure the wheel is centred properly, and if you slackened off the brakes in step two be sure to tighten them again. Keep the punctured inner tube so it can be fixed with a repair kit at home when you have more time to spare.

DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT...

■ 1 Spare inner tube (x2)

■ 2 Puncture repair kit

■ 3 Tyre levers

■ 4 ID

■ 5 Pump

■ 6 Mobile phone

■ 7 Multitool.

BIKE CARE
a small amount of air in the replacement tube to give it shape, which makes it easier to fit under the tyre. Insert the valve in the valve hole, and feed the tube under the tyre.
1 2 3 5 4 6 7
6 7 8 9

The right gear at the RIGHT PRICE

Quality cycling kit and clothes don’t have to cost a fortune

OR HOW ABOUT...

... shopping online? Some of the prices we’re quoting here aren’t hard to beat with some shopping around on the internet. Discounts of 10% or much more are common.

STARTING WITH... THE COOL STUFF

This ingenious two-in-one bag is made of recycled materials. estarli.co.uk

Litelok X1 £149.99

Hindsight Artemis £149.99

For longer rides this bag attaches to a luggage rack like a pannier. For shorter rides wear it as a rucksack.

This D-lock is claimed to be five-times more resistant to angle grinders than its best-selling rival. It’s not cheap, but this is a mighty tough lock if you want to protect your bike from thieves. litelok.com

Every other vehicle on the road has mirrors, so why not bicycles? That’s the thinking behind these ingenious cycling glasses with built-in mirrors to show what’s behind you while you ride. hindsight.store

Estarli Rucksack and
42 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CYCLING

LIGHTS FANTASTIC FRONT LIGHTS

TOP END

Front lights don’t come any cleverer than the Exposure Strada RS AKTiv. The roadspecific beam pattern works whichever way up the light is mounted, so it can be fitted under or over the bars. The latest model has been upgraded to a massive 1300-lumen output, and in AKTiv mode the light will adjust automatically to avoid dazzling other road users. exposure-use.com

£285

REAR LIGHTS

TOP END

£40

MID MARKET

You get a lot of light for your money with the Cateye Ampp 500. Select the most powerful light mode and you have enough power to see and be seen on unlit roads. Cutaways in the body of the light give good side visibility, and the run-time is up to 50 hours in flashing mode. cateye.com

BARGAIN BASEMENT

The tiny Elops CL500 rechargeable LED light is cheap, but it will help you stand out during the day (you’ll want something more powerful at night). A neat trick is the way it can be used on the front or the back of your bike, switching between white and red light. decathlon.co.uk

£9.99

BE-SEEN PEDAL LIGHTS

One of the most innovative products around is the Redshift Sports Arclight pedal. These include bright front and rear lights to make you more visible to other road users. They cost from £129.99, but are claimed to make you 57% more visible.

You need deep pockets for the Exposure Blaze Mk3 ReACT + Peloton but it’s packed with brilliant features. Thanks to Ambient Kinetic Technology the light automatically brightens under braking. The run-time is 6-48 hours, depending on mode. £115 exposure-use.com

MID MARKET

The Bontrager Flare RT punches above its weight – Bontrager claims the 90-lumen output can be seen 2km away. There are three flashing modes, two steady settings, with a claimed run-time of up to 13.5 hours. Bontrager makes a similar front light – they make a good pair. £50 trekbikes.com

BARGAIN BASEMENT

It’s cheap at full price, but we’ve seen the FEW Battery Rear Light discounted as low as £5. With a seven-lumen output it’s not especially bright and don’t expect too many clever features. But this is a great budget buy or emergency back-up. £8 evanscycles.com

KIT AND CLOTHING 43

PROTECT YOUR HEAD

TOP END

One of the lightest helmets you can buy, the Kask Protone Icon is designed to meet Kask’s WG11 standard for protecting against rotational impacts. A reflective insert in the rear catches car headlights for better nighttime visibility. Three sizes are available. kask.com

£245

MID MARKET

The Hummvee Plus is designed for mountain biking, but it works well for all kinds of riding. It’s a good-looking lid and comes in seven different colours. Endura runs a helmet replacement scheme that reduces the cost of a replacement after an accident. endurasport.com

£64.99

BARGAIN BASEMENT

Fox Racing Flight Sports Hardshell Helmet

You get a penny in change from £40 if you buy this helmet at full price, but we’ve seen it discounted to half price or even less. This BMXstyle lid looks good, while the eight vents should keep your head cool while riding. foxracing.co.uk

£39.99

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CYCLING 44

JUST JACKETS

TOP END

Designed for commuting, the Pearson Streets Ahead waterproof jacket looks good both on and off the bike. There are lots of reflective details as well as hi-vis reversible cuffs so you stand out in traffic.

Pearson Cycles offers the jacket in a men’s and a women’s fit. pearson1860.com

MID MARKET

Good value at full price, we’ve seen the dhb

Flashlight Women’s Waterproof Jacket on sale with 50% off. There’s a choice of four colours, and the fabric is highly waterproof and breathable. Reflective details help you to stand out when riding at night. wiggle.co.uk

£85

£175

£29.99

BARGAIN BASEMENT

The Triban RC 120 budget jacket will get you seen and keep you dry in a light shower, although it won’t keep out heavy rain. The colour really stands out in the day, while lots of reflective materials to catch car headlights at night. decathlon.co.uk

OR HOW ABOUT...

... wearing a regular waterproof rather than a cycling jacket? Just be aware that any waterproof designed for general use may not be as breathable.

KIT AND CLOTHING 45

CYCLING SHORTS

TOP END

These Rapha Women’s Randonnee Shorts are lightweight, breathable, quick drying and stretchy. They look great, on or off the bike, and are also available in a men’s cut. Okay, these shorts are pricey, but they’re made to last. rapha.cc

OR HOW ABOUT...

... changing your saddle? The further you ride, the more important it is to find a saddle which suits you. Everyone is different, so if possible try before you buy.

GLOVES

£80

£100

TOP END

These Le Col Hors Category Deep Winter Gloves should keep your fingers warm in cold weather, but without being bulky. Windproof material keeps out the chill, while a DWR coating adds water resistance. The price is high, but you are paying for topnotch quality. lecol.cc

MID MARKET

The clue is in the name: Proviz kit is all about making you more visible on the bike. These brightly coloured Proviz Classic Waterproof Cycling Gloves certainly do that, and there are lots of reflective areas to show up at night. They keep out the rain too. provizsports.com

£39.99

BARGAIN BASEMENT

Madison Freewheel Mitts come with padded palms and elasticated cuffs, so these budget gloves will relieve pressure on your hands while riding. With six sizes and four colours, you really can’t go wrong at this price. madison.cc

£14.99

46 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CYCLING

£49.99

MID MARKET

Available in five sizes, the Endura Xtract Gel Short II padded Lycra shorts are good value. The pad has an antibacterial finish and a dimpled structure to improve comfort, and the inside leg is free of seams to avoid irritation. endurasport.com

BARGAIN BASEMENT

You could spend a small fortune on upmarket cycling shorts. Or you could just buy the Triban Essentials Mens’s Road Shorts and have change from a tenner. They’re padded for extra comfort on the bike and come in six different sizes. decathlon.co.uk

£9.99

ACTION CAMERAS

MID MARKET

USING A SAFETY CAMERA

If you have an action or safety camera on your bike, you may have footage of a near-miss. Or you could be involved in a collision, and believe the other party is to blame. In England and Wales, you can upload footage for the police to review using the National Dash Cam Safety Portal. nextbase.co.uk/ national-dash-camsafety-portal/

There’s no equivalent in Scotland, but you can report incidents through an online form: scotland.police.uk/ secureforms/c3/

You get two devices for the price of one with the Cycliq Fly12 Sport , because it’s a 600-lumen front light as well as a camera. If you crash, the Fly12 Sport will trigger incident protection which locks audio and video files either side of the incident. Pair it with the Fly6 rear light/ camera to record what’s behind you too. cycliq.com

£349.98*

TOP END

With its large image sensor, cinematic quality footage and video stabilisation, the GoPro Hero 11 Black is a brilliant action camera if your budget stretches far enough. It’s ideal for filming two-wheeled adventures, but overkill as a safety camera to record incidents on the road. gopro.com

*With GoPro subscription

BARGAIN BASEMENT

Chilli MkII Action Cam

£299

Although it can’t match a high-end GoPro for tech or features, you still get good quality footage from the Chilli Action Cam, and it will record up to four hours and 30 minutes of footage on each charge. The battery is replaceable, so the camera isn’t junk if the battery fails. chilli-tech.com

£69.99

KIT AND CLOTHING 47

THE CYCLE TO WORKSCHEME

You can cut the cost of your next commuter bike thanks to a handy tax break

48 THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CYCLING

IT’S NOT OFTEN you have cause to thank Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, but the Cycle to Work scheme is one good reason to be grateful. Provided your employer has signed up, you can save between 32% and 47% of the cost of a brand new bike.

Most bike shops take Cycle to Work vouchers. Operators include cyclescheme.co.uk, bike2worksheme.co.uk, and cyclesolutions.info

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Instead of paying the full cost of the bike (and accessories) up front, you pay a proportion of the price each month through your salary. The saving comes through not paying any income tax or National Insurance on the money spent on the bike.

Technically the bike belongs to your employer and you are hiring it from them until the end of the agreement (often 12 months but sometimes longer). In theory there’s no guarantee that your employer will offer the bike to you at the end of the agreement, but in practice that’s usually the employer’s intention.

WHAT HAPPENS AT THE END OF THE AGREEMENT?

The bike is legally yours once a final payment has been made,

either to your employer or sometimes the scheme’s operator. Another option is to extend the hire beyond the original period so that when the hire eventually ends the bike is worth less. Some schemes ask for a small deposit to be paid at the start of the extended agreement, but no monthly payments. At the end of the term the bike is yours, or you can hand it back and ask for your deposit to be returned.

HOW MUCH WILL THE FINAL PAYMENT BE?

If you want to buy the bike at the end of the original hire period then the employer and scheme operator are obliged to work to the HMRC’s definition of ‘Fair Market Value’. This is 18% of the original price after 12 months if the bike cost less than £500, or 25% if it cost more. The valuation decreases significantly for extended hire periods, which is

why these longer hires can be so cost effective: a bike which cost £500+ is only valued at 7% of the original price after four years.

DO I HAVE TO USE THE BIKE FOR COMMUTING?

The purpose of the scheme is to encourage more people to cycle to work rather than to boost cycling in general, so in theory at least 50% of the bike’s use should be for work purposes. In practice this is difficult for an employer or HMRC to keep tabs on.

WHAT IF I NEED SOME ACCESSORIES?

You can also buy safety accessories and other essentials through the scheme. These could include a bike helmet, lights, locks, and mudguards. Funding accessories as well as a bike is a sensible way to get the most from the Cycle to Work scheme.

In theory at least 50% of the bike’s use should be for work
49 CYCLE TO WORK

BEATING THE THIEVES

You wouldn’t leave a suitcase full of money in the street. Why do the same for your bike?

SECURE YOUR BIKE

WHEN IT COMES to bike security, the most obvious advice is to use a bike lock. Even if you’re only popping into a shop for a moment, always use a lock as it only take a moment to steal a bike.

Go for a lock that’s been rated by Sold Secure, as this will guarantee a good level of theft resistance. Brands with a strong reputation include Abus, Kryptonite and Litelok.

Look for a lock which is easy to handle. Ideally, you should be able to lock and unlock it with gloved hands. If you ride whatever the weather, check for weatherproofing around the key barrel. You also need to think about how you are going to carry the lock. Many locks have mounts for fitting the bike to a bicycle frame, which saves the hassle of finding room in a bag. Think twice about carrying the lock on your body unless it has been designed to be worn this way (for example, Hiploks are designed to sit flat against the body, and so reduce the chance of being injured by the lock in a fall).

GO FOR A QUALITY LOCK

There are plenty of cheap, thin and flexible

locks on the market. On the face of it these look tempting, as they are easy to carry and straightforward to use. But these inexpensive and lightweight locks rarely offer good security – you’re much better off spending more on something really tough and robust.

It might seem like overkill, but using more than one lock is a smart move. That’s especially true if you have quick-release skewers on your wheels. These make it easier to remove a wheel to fix a puncture, but also make life easy for a bike thief. Make sure a lock passes through your frame and one of the wheels, securing to something solid like a bike stand. Then use the second lock to secure the other wheel to the bicycle frame.

LEAVING YOUR BIKE

Where you lock your bike can also make a difference. At school, college or work, if there are dedicated bike parking facilities then use them, especially if they are monitored by CCTV, or behind a security barrier.

If you need to leave your bike in a public place, the more public the better: don’t put it somewhere a

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CYCLING 50

Not all bike locks are created equal. It pays to use the best lock you can afford

YOUR BIKE SECURITY CHECKLIST

Lock it! Never leave your bike unattended, and use the best lock (or locks) you can afford.

Mark it! You’ll have a better chance of getting your bike back if it has a security mark or if it has been electronically tagged.

Insure it! If it can’t be recovered, at least you’ll get your money back (see page 36 to find out more).

Leave it safe! Avoid leaving your bike in a public place if possible, but if you have to put it where there are plenty of passersby.

thief can work unseen. At night, make sure it’s left in a well-lit area. And at any time of day, check for any signs to make sure you are parking legally.

Bike thefts don’t just occur on the street. It pays to think about security at home, too. A garden shed isn’t the most secure location, but a ground anchor sunk into a concrete floor gives more peace of mind.

It may not be a cheap option, but a dedicated cycle shed from a company like Asgard (www.asgardsss. co.uk) takes home security to another level.

GET IT MARKED

Having your bike marked with a unique number improves your chances of getting a bike back if it’s stolen, and may just put off a thief in the first place.

Schemes like Bike Register (www.bikeregister. com) will mark your bicycle frame with an indelible stencil etching, apply a deterrent warning sticker to the bike, and will register the bike and owner online. Another option is to use a small tracker like an Apple AirTag or a Samsung Galaxy Smart Tag. You can buy mounts to hide these under a saddle or beneath a bottle holder.

Take care at home! Don’t assume your bike is safe around the back of your house or kept in a hallway. Secure it to something immovable, preferable in a locked shed or secure bike storage.

Don’t let a bike thief get their hands on your bike. Keep it safe and secure wherever you take it

BICYCLE SECURITY 51
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