A beginner's guide to buying a bike

By Swindon Link - 15 December 2023

Clubs & ActivitiesFitness

Becky Cox of Swindon Cycle Campaign writes for the Link

It’s coming up to Christmas and the gift of a bike can be a popular option. Having a bike can change a life; the start of new adventures and opportunities.

It’s important to get the right bike for you or the person you’re buying for. Is the bike for cycling to school or work, going on family cycle rides or training with a local cycling club?

A mountain bike may be great for off-road trails but if you’re mostly using tarmac paths it can be a bit slow and cumbersome. Most people are best suited to a hybrid bike, which is an all-rounder suited to all purposes..

Make sure you get the right size bike for your height. An ill-fitting bike can cause discomfort, injury and even accidents. Visit your local independent bike shop to get the best support.

If you’re on a tight budget consider buying secondhand - the safest option is to go to somewhere local such as Recycles or Bassett Bikes, who will sell you a pre-loved bike that fits your needs and budget, fully serviced and ready to ride.

If you buy new, you need to spend over £200 to avoid getting a Bicycle Shaped Object, which won’t be enjoyable to ride and will likely break shortly after purchase.

For kids' bikes, look to buy a lightweight one from manufacturers such as Isla Bikes, Frog Bikes, Squish and Woom. There’s a great secondhand market for these bikes and you’ll get most of what you pay back when you sell it on, plus your child will have a fantastic time riding it.

There are plenty of good lower cost makes too, and the Cycle Sprog website is a great place to check out.

Does the person you’re buying for have a disability? There’s a range of cycles suited for all needs. These specialist cycles can be costly, so it’s best to try them out first at a local session such as the Active & Inclusive cycling sessions held on Monday and Thursday mornings at the County Ground.

There are also charities such as Charlotte’s Tandems that hire out tag-along cycles for free to families with additional needs. Adapted cycles such as tricycles and tandems can be bought from local bike shops or found second hand quite easily.

For more specialist children’s cycles there are often grants available, and charities such as Wheels for Wellbeing can provide some useful support for adult cycles too.

Or are you thinking of replacing a second car? Why not consider an electric bike or cargo bike? They’re becoming popular options for replacing short urban journeys by car and have much lower running costs.

Whatever bike you choose I hope it helps you get out and have some fun in the fresh air this winter period.

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