About to start cycling, need help/advise

Discussion in 'Commuting' started by mmace, 20 Apr 2008.

  1. mmace

    mmace Well-Known Member

    Leeds, UK
    Hi, I'm new here and new to cycling (so new I haven't started yet!)
    My work is about to move to 6 miles away from my home (it's currently walking distance) and I figured it would be better for me and cheaper to cycle there. I'm quite fit so I can handle the distance (not much for all of you!) and I will go out on a weekend to get used to it first!

    The questions I have are:
    What bike should I get?
    I'm wanting to get to and from work as quick as I can but I'm also wanting a bike that's easy to maintain and ride (comfortable). I don't have a lot of money, about £450 and that needs to include accessories and I will be buying from www.halfords.com (I have credit there).
    Can you recommend anything I may have forgotten too apart from: lights, helmet, trip computer, repair kit (?), lock chain, padded shorts.

    Another question is, what sort of speeds or time should I be looking at?
    luckily the majority of the journey is flat (there's 8 metres height difference between home & work and no hills) and it's all on road but there's quite a few traffic lights on the way but also cycle lanes nearly all the way there. I know it varies from person to person, but I literally have no idea what sort of speeds people go at on a road. My brother thinks 9mph but I thought it would be faster than that?

    I'm wanting to do this to lose a few pounds but also need speed as I have a young son who I want to be at home for as soon as I can get there!

    Also, what do people wear?
    Don't fancy the skin tight lycra stuff and don't want to look stupid when not on the bike!

    also, is it a good idea to listen to music with earphones (just in one ear)?
    I'm not too sure about this as I wouldn't be able to hear the traffic but it will help the time pass quicker and if I play faster music then I tend to go faster (when in the gym anyway!)

    any help/advise anyone can give would be very much appreciated, sorry for all the questions
  2. Tim Bennet.

    Tim Bennet. Entirely Average Member

    S of Kendal
    Hi and welcome,

    I'm sure lots of people will be along to answer all you questions in some detail, but I'll kick off with some bits.

    Ultimately I think you will be looking at about a 30 minute commute from door to door. The 'what to wear' conundrum depends on how fast (sweaty) you intend to get, the availability of showers at work, etc. On the flat, it is possible to commute over that sort of distance in regular clothes and go straight to you desk. You just have to resist racing everyone away from the lights!

    Secondly, the Government has instigated a tax benefit to encourage people to commute by bike. Find out about the 'ride to work scheme' as it will boost your budget quite handsomely. It should allow you to consider the Boardman range of 'hybrid' bikes at Halfords, which all represent excellent quality at their particular price point, or if necessary the cheaper Subway range, especially as one model does have a 'hub gear' that will meet your low maintenance requirement. (Although the amount of maintenance required by the more versatile deraileur gears is not much, but does require a little bit of learning).

    Remember to included in your budget any 'bits' you might need such as locks / clothing / lights / helmets, etc. It's worth considering this before you buy as shops seem to be more willing to discount the 'extras' when you buy a bike than they are the bike itself.
  3. OP

    mmace Well-Known Member

    Leeds, UK
    thanks for the reply.
    There's no showers at work but I can wash, all over, in a sink (!), I've heard of some sort of wool top to draw the sweat away, is that right?
    I can probably get away with it as I sit next to my brother anyway!

    My company isn't willing to partake in that government thing (isn't it where I have to lease the cycle from them for a set period and then buy it from them afterwards?)
    It's only a small company so think it's down to money!

    would you rate the £400 boardman here (the cheapest one!): http://www.halfords.com/webapp/wcs/...mb_33980-33957-124465_parentcategoryrn_124468

    I've been reading up for about a week now before I make a purchase and everyone seems to think a road bike would be better/quicker, no one has mentioned a hybrid, what's the difference and would that be better than a road bike?
  4. If you're buying a road bike, make sure you can add full length mudguards (not all road bikes have clearance for them), that you use tyres suited for commuting - cycle paths, paradoxically, can have worse surfaces that the road - and possibly a rear rack to take a pannier.

    Hybrids and trekking bikes are popular amongst a lot of commuters because they don't have the 'racing' position that some riders find uncomfortable, can be cheaper (without being 'cheap' in component quality necessarily) and often come with the mudguards etc that road bikes lack.

    As to clothing, most beginner commuters wear too many layers or too thick clothing, go too fast, get too hot and arrive a sweat ball! Better to carry a lightweight long sleeve top - possibly a windproof / waterproof one - in case you need it. As to tools, the minimum is a spare tube, pump and tyre levers. A multi-tool can be a boon as can a couple of cable ties.

    Take work clothing in each day and swap for bringing soiled clothing home. Keep deodorant and body spray at work - don't carry it back and forth.
  5. BentMikey

    BentMikey Rider of Seolferwulf

    South London
    I would go for a road bike with drops, assuming your commute will be on the hard stuff and not off road.

    I'd also see if you can get some cycling lessons free or cheap from your local council, and buy Cyclecraft by John Franklin. This isn't about teaching you to suck eggs, LOL!, as I'm sure you're an experienced and competent road user, but it's about the specifics of road positioning for cycling. There are many myths in the general population about what you should and shouldn't do on a bike on the road, and this will help you to ride the right way. I found it a big help, even though I'm an experienced driver and motorcyclist.

    Oh, and never ride in the door zone, or filter up the left hand side of an HGV!
  6. Fab Foodie

    Fab Foodie hanging-on in quiet desperation ...

    Tim and Beanz posts sum it up for me.
    Mudguards and luggage carrying are important considerations. Not trendy, but I found a large saddle-bag on a Quick Release system (such as Carradice) is an excellent clothes to work carry solution. Full mudguards are de-rigeur IMO.

    Also consider where you'll lock the bike at work, nice bikes are thief magnets, it pays to get good protection.

    Welcome to cycle-commuting, it's a great way to start and finish the working day.
  7. OP

    mmace Well-Known Member

    Leeds, UK
    cheers guys. it's all very much appreciated

    what's a "town & trail" bike that Halfords sell?
    they don't explain what they are!

    also, what do you think to the music aspect?

    again, sorry for the questions, but I'd rather do my homework before splashing out on something we can only just stretch to
  8. tdr1nka

    tdr1nka Taking the biscuit

    Personally I'd say do not use headphones, even in one ear.
    If you're doing a 6 mile urban commute then there will be plenty going on that will need your undivided attention especially if the route is new to you.

    I will also add +1 on full mudguards and a rack, rucksacks and shoulder bags give you a sweatier back IMO.

    And as for the bike? What ever suits you best, I ride a MTB with slick tyres and that has done me proud for 11 years of utility riding and commuting in London. :thumbsdown:

    Good luck, have fun and let us know how you get on!
  9. magnatom

    magnatom Guest


    Thanks for your 'interesting' comment on youtube by the way!

    I strongly suggest you read cyclecraft! :thumbsdown:
  10. PrettyboyTim

    PrettyboyTim New Member

    Hi mmace.
    Those halfords town and trail bikes look like hybrids - flat mountain-bike like handlebars, but with thinner tyres. They give you a fairly upright riding posture and because the tyres are thinner and not knobbly you won't get as much rolling resistance on the road. They're probably not as fast as road bike though because the tyres will probably be thick enough for doing a little riding off-road (gravel cycle paths etc).

    I've never had a bike with suspension, but apparently the cheaper ones are prone to rusting up, so I wouldn't bother.

    As to whether you go for a hybrid or road bike - I guess it depends on whether you'd like to ride on drop handlebars or not. A more upright posture can make it easier to see around you in traffic, and a dropped posture can give you (apparently) a bit more power and less wind resistance.

    As for speed, you should easily be able to go more than 9mph!

    I have a cheap and heavy hybrid, which I ride to work 7 miles away. It takes me about 35 minutes, which gives me an average speed of 12mph. However, I have an awful lot of junctions and traffic lights on that route, and my cruising speed tends to vary between about 16 and 22 mph when I'm not on a steep hill, depending on the incline, wind and how I'm feeling that day.

    If I was to buy a hybrid from Halfords, I'd be tempted by the Raleigh one if only because it comes with mudguards and a rack already. It's not a very mean-looking bike with it's slightly swept-back handlbars, but I find them more comfortable than absolutely straight ones anyway.
  11. magnatom

    magnatom Guest

    In fact here you suggest you are new to cycling and yet on youtube you tell me what I have done is wrong and you qualify that by suggesting you are a cyclist! :thumbsdown:

    Definitely an interesting start!:biggrin:

    Good luck getting your new stead......
  12. OP

    mmace Well-Known Member

    Leeds, UK
    I'm not on youtube, maybe my uncle, he always calls himself mmace too (he's Michael, I'm Matthew - he's younger than me too which is strange for uncle/nephew situations), has caused trouble for me before (I've been using "mmace" on the net since 1996!), lives the other side of Leeds to me.

    Been suggested cyclecraft before, will definately be reading it

    EDIT: just looked at the comment, it's definately him (and would hardly call him a cyclist!)
    I've pointed him to this forum and ike Radar recently which is where I've been looking and getting great advise from.
  13. magnatom

    magnatom Guest

    Fair enough mate. I wasn't taking it too seriously anyway. I'm sure you will enjoy it here and good luck with the bike purchase. I can't offer too much advice as I know little about what Halfords has to offer.
  14. OP

    mmace Well-Known Member

    Leeds, UK
    I'd never take him seriously, he's one of those "I know everything" types and I couldn't even be bothered going to him for advise, he knows that and will probably read this, he knows what he's like and knows what I think!

    :thumbsdown: if you are reading this!
  15. Agree with tdrinka - another vote for no music on the move. I tried listening to my mp3 in one ear for a time, but dispensed with it. Any distraction from what's happening on the road is best avoided.
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