Advice needed please

Discussion in 'Bikes and Buying Advice - What Bike?' started by NannetteMTGB, 13 Apr 2010.

  1. NannetteMTGB

    NannetteMTGB New Member

    Hi all!!

    I've decided I want to start cycling to work (3 miles), not sure what bike, where, equipment etc? If anyone has any advice please help - I'm very confused!!

  2. jazzmessengers

    jazzmessengers New Member

    hi ya, you should try Evans Cycles they are a good cycle shop propably one of the best in the uk as thet let you try out and test ride the bikes before you buy. The staff are well informed on the products they sell. They also sell everything you will need for cycling.
    Hope this will help you in trying to find what you are looking for .
  3. vickster

    vickster Legendary Member

    I was in the same position as you a couple of years ago when I decided to get a bike not having had one for around 20 years :laugh:

    Where do you live - try your local bike shop, most towns have one or two. Are you going to be riding purely on the road / cycle path or is there rougher stuff too? You'll probably want a hybrid/city bike as first stop - Specialized, Trek, Giant, Marin all worth a look

    Also, what's your budget (realistically for a decent bike you are looking at £300+)? Does your work participate in a cycle to work scheme, as this will save you up to 50% off the bike (pay over 12 months from gross income, so tax free).

    Equipment wise - you'll need a helmet, front and rear lights, a good lock. I would also recommend a pair of padded cycling shorts (<£15 from eBay), also some sort of hi viz vest or jacket. Also, please get mitts or gloves - having fallen off last year, I was very glad that my hands were only bruised and not full of gravel!! Also make sure the shop fits a bell and a kickstand is quite useful too.

    I am guessing from your name that you are a woman (apologies if not :smile: ) - how tall are you, as you'll likely want to look at women specific bikes

    All the kit can add up, but cycling is fun when the sun shines :laugh:
  4. OP

    NannetteMTGB New Member

    I live in Bolton, Greater Manchester. It will just be on the roads - not many cycle lanes in Bolton.

    My work doesn't do the cycle to work scheme - but said they might do later in the year so don't want to spend too much money at the moment.

    I will def get some gloves - ouch!! and helmet, vest etc.

    I'm 5'4" and yes I'm a woman:laugh:

    Can't wait till I get all my stuff really looking forward to it:biggrin:
  5. ASC1951

    ASC1951 Guru

    Activity at the beginning and end of the work day is definitely a Good Thing. It takes me about 10 miles to raise a sweat on a bike, so if I lived 3 miles from work I would prefer to run it, which would do me a lot more good.

    But it is never wrong to buy a bike ;) although you might hold back on all the accessories until you know you like it.
  6. A Beginners Guide to Cycle Commuting

    The world of cycling can be a confusing and bewildering place. For newcomers who want to get to the heart of the matter here's the important information a beginner needs to know. Distilled by MICK ALLAN.


    For a beginner or returning cyclist a visit to a modern bicycle shop can be a bewildering experience. It's not like the good old days when the choice amounted to Racer, Roadster or Folder. Now it's like a maze, with ten varieties of mountain bikes, several classes of street bikes and an ever growing range of road bikes, tourers and racers. Luckily it's not as complex as it seems and armed with a short list of answers to the following questions even a child can find the right bike for their needs.

    How far? Broadly speaking, for rides up to three miles almost any bike will do. Unless you live somewhere particularly hilly a cheap shopper or roadster will cope with short distances perfectly well. An able bodied person can cover such a distance in around fifteen minutes so you simply won't be on the saddle for long enough for discomfort to become a serious issue. And reliability isn't a major concern since the worst that can happen is that you have to walk a mile and a half.

    A six mile commute equates to half an hour on the bike twice a day. At this distance saddle comfort and bike-fit really start to play a part so a six mile bike should be designed for comfort and reliability with large-section comfy tyres and an upright riding position.

    At nine miles and above commuting becomes a rather more serious business. At roughly an hour and a half of daily travel time a nine mile bike should still be comfortable and reliable but now efficiency becomes more important. A more aerodynamically efficient (bent over) riding position and skinnier tyres trade a bit of comfort for speed.

    How many gears? There are bikes currently available which feature 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20, 21, 24, 27 or even 30 gears. A commuter on a dead flat route might only require a single speed whilst a tourist on a fully laden touring bike over an alpine pass will need every gear she can get. Between five and nine is an adequate range for a six mile bike on moderately hilly terrain. To an extent the number of gears is determined by the type of bike you choose and whether it has hub or derailleur gears.

    Which wheel size? With the exception of folding bikes there are only two common wheel sizes; 26inch and 700c (also known as 28”). 26” is derived from mountain bikes and is generally available in a larger (ie more comfortable) range of sizes. 28” is (obviously..) larger than 26” and is generally available in skinnier (ie faster) sizes. All the way down to super fast 18mm, about the size of your thumb but there is some cross-over, you can get skinny tyres for 26” and fat tyres for 28”. Skinny equals fast. Fat equals comfy. You choose.

    Folding bikes often have suspension to overcome the higher rolling resistance of their smaller wheels. Few people ride folders more than six miles thanks to their ability to sneak their bikes unnoticed onto buses and trains.

    How much? Some people will ride a horrid bike from the catalogue or supermarket for many years without a grumble. At the other end of the scale are the bike snobs who wouldn't be seen dead on anything less than the most expensive bike in the shop. Of course most people fall somewhere in between, but how is a new cyclist to decide how much to spend? It's unrealistic to expect a super cheap bike to be reliable, comfortable or even nice to ride, cost cutting at the factory leaves the absolute minimum required to qualify as a functioning bike. And don't expect a super expensive bike to still be attached to the railings when you come back to it. A commuting bike is above all a tool. It doesn't need to be super-light with all the bells and whistles but it does need to be up to the job of day in day out riding in all weather conditions. We reckon no less than £200, whilst £600 will get you something quite special to last a decade or more.

    Sizing. Bikes, like shoes and cardigans, come in different sizes. Sizes vary between brands so don't count on an 18” Brand X fitting the same as an 18” Brand Z. These are the key considerations: Stand-over, Saddle height, Reach.

    Minimum Stand-Over Height. Standing with the bike between your legs it is essential that there is a decent gap between the underneath of you and the top-tube. It's simply the difference between your inside-leg measurement and the height of the top tube from the ground. To establish your Stand-over clearance simply stand astride the bike with the top tube under your crotch and with your feet flat on the floor, then grab the handlebar stem with one hand and the saddle with the other and lift the bike up as high as it will go. Try and keep it level and ask a bystander to measure how much gap you have under your wheels. On a street bike, racer or touring bike this might be as little as an inch (25mm), on a mountain bike we aim for no less than four inches (or 100mm). This procedure establishes the maximum frame size in that particular model and you can progress to..

    Saddle height. “Sit on the saddle, place the flat of your foot on the pedal and adjust the height of the saddle until you can just straighten your leg. When pedalling the ball of the foot should be directly over the middle of the pedal and as a result your leg never fully straightens out”. It's the universal bike shop saddle height adjustment method. However, for a beginner this method will set the saddle way too high for comfort or confidence so it is the job of a good bike fitter to help the new cyclist find a compromise between a saddle height high enough for pedalling efficiency and a saddle height low enough to feel safe. Usually, after a few weeks of regular cycling our cyclist should have developed enough confidence to cope with a few centimetres of extra seat height. The saddle also has a few mm of fore and aft adjustment should you need it.

    Reach. The distance from the saddle to the bars is called reach and it's every bit as crucial as saddle height to get right. Adjusting the handlebar stem up and down (or replacing it for one of a different length or height entirely) puts the bars where you want them. High for more control and a sense of safety in traffic, low for better aerodynamics and greater speed. Too close and you'll feel cramped, too far away and you'll feel too stretched out. At first it's hard to know how you are supposed feel on the bike but making a conscious effort to be aware of your position really is the key to many happy miles of cycling. Adjustments can be usually undertaken with a single tool, the folding multi Allen key tool. So universal are they that many companies make them and many make several versions. Get one and learn how to wield it.

    Pedals to saddle, saddle to bar. Adjust the bike to fit your body, don't force your body to fit the bike.

    Helmets: There is a widely held misconception that cycling is a dangerous activity but the simple fact is that the health benefits of cycling outweigh the dangers by a factor of twenty to one. Presented like that it seems irresponsible not to ride a bike! In the UK there is no legal requirement to wear a helmet whilst riding a bike, it's a personal choice issue but very few people believe that wearing a helmet is a bad thing. Wearing an approved cycle helmet is a kind of insurance against the highly unlikely chances of you suffering a head injury so if you choose to wear one make sure it fits your head in accordance with the manufacturers instructions. And remember, it's designed to structurally collapse during an impact so it will definitely need to be replaced if you ever crash it.

    Lights: A helmet is only one of many items of safety equipment available to us. As everyday cyclists living at this latitude the day will come when our ride home (if not our ride to work) will be in the dark. It's common sense but there is also a legal requirement to carry approved lights on our bikes during the hours of darkness. Modern LED lights are a joy to use; bright, eye-catching and easily removable when we lock our bike up. With no old fashioned bulbs to blow they rarely fail and the Light Emitting Diodes which give them their name use very little energy so dim bike lights are almost a thing of the past.

    Reflectors: Reflectors and modern retro-reflectives work by bouncing light back to its source and are a brilliant passive safety aid. One of the difficulties we have as cyclists is quickly communicating what we are, where we are and how fast we are moving to other road users. Flashing lights have come to be associated with cyclists but they can make it difficult for other users to judge their position. Reflectors allow us to assemble a three dimensional moving image of ourselves. Reflective ankle bands, wheel reflectors and pedal reflectors are particularly good at announcing ‘cyclist!!!' In addition to communicating exactly what we are other road users can more easily determine our location, direction and velocity. They're cheap to buy and free to run too.

    Lugging loads: Unless it was designed for competition your bike's frame has threaded inserts or ‘eyelets' which are there for a back pannier rack. Many bikes come with a rack already fitted. A good sized pair of pannier bags will carry many litres of shopping, recycling, or ring binder files. Additional carrying capacity might involve a front rack and panniers, a front basket and a rucksack. If you don't need capacity for a ton of stuff a messenger's shoulder bag will devour a laptop and a change of clothes quite happily. For epic loads; logs for the fire, newspaper recycling, bags of kitty litter and the like consider a dedicated bike trailer. Such a rig takes you into the kind of carrying capacity most people would consider to be car boot territory.

    Clothing: Whoever said; ‘There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing' was definitely a cyclist. Like any performance gear cycling clothing is designed to be layered. A wicking base-layer followed by a thermal layer (or layers depending on the season) followed by an outer breathable/ waterproof shell. Each layer is designed to collect perspiration from its interior surface and transfer it outwards, delivering it to the inside surface of the next garment. The particular features of dedicated, cycle specific clothing will often do what other clothing does and then some. A cycling jacket for example will have a long cut to protect the lower back when bent over the bars, a long cut in the arms to accommodate the ‘arms forward' position and it'll have a high moisture capacity breathable membrane. It will work as a jogging or general outdoor jacket whereas a jogging jacket might not work very well when pushed into cycling duties. Cycling winter gloves work as winter gloves, winter gloves don't necessarily work as cycling gloves. This doubling-up of roles means that equipping yourself for all weather cycling should cost little more than you'd spend anyway.

    High performance cycling equipment has a place in everyday cycling but you don't need to dress up like a Tour de France rider just to go to the shops. The main thing to remember is that cycling generates a lot of heat. You'll start off quite happily but after five or ten minutes of pedalling will probably need to cool down, here's where the garment layering and cycling specific garments come in to play. You can shed clothes or just vent, open up your sleeves and ‘pit vents' to allow air through-flow without compromising your waterproofness.


    Losing a bike is a most unhappy experience. Aside from the inconvenience of having to find ones way home by unfamiliar and slightly unpleasant public transport there's the not inconsiderable cost of replacing your pride and joy.

    You'll be needing a D (or U) lock and the ability to use it effectively.

    Much depends on your location of course, inner-city cyclists have much more to worry about than rural cyclists but as a general rule you should expect to pay between ten and twenty percent of the replacement value of your bike on your main lock. Ironic, that you spent all that extra money to get a much lighter bike only to require a heavier lock to protect it!

    The most important component to lock is the frame, too many folks have returned to find their front wheel still safely locked up and the rest of the bike long gone. Your expensive spangly new lock may not be enough in itself though, if you have quick release wheels or seat you'll need to secure them too. A popular way to achieve this is to use a security cable with an eyelet in each end. Available in various lengths these cables can be looped through both wheels and your seat rails and then secured using your D lock as the ‘padlock'.

    * Always lock your bike! It only takes a few seconds to ride off on a bike, leaving it for any length of time, even if ‘just nipping in' to a shop is inviting disaster.
    * Always lock your bike to something. Don't return to find it gone, lock and all.
    * Always lock your bike to something substantial, a plastic drain-pipe will not do.
    * Always lock it in a busy place, not up a dark back alley away from view where thieves can work undisturbed.
    * Always try to lock it near other bikes. If there's a more attractive bike than yours, yours will be overlooked.

    The idea is to put as many barriers as possible between your bike and the pond life who would steal it. A good lock is just stage one, a secondary lock of a different type requires that they carry two different types of lock breaking tool, unlikely. Replace any quick release skewers with Allen keys or dedicated security bolts.

    Personalise it! Covering it in stickers and changing the colour of the grips and saddle makes it unique. Whack a big pink plastic basket on the front. Unique equals easy to identify, and easy to identify is a bad thing for bike thieves.

    Make it unattractive! The guerilla approach, the idea being that if it looks undesirable they won't look twice. A carrier bag taped on to the seat, frame tubes wound with gaffer-tape. Short of covering it with smelly sewerage anything goes to make it look valueless and valueless is a bad thing for bike thieves. Which introduces a great new pastime; spotting guerilla bikes locked up in your neighborhood. You'll be surprised how many there are.

    And if the worst comes to the worst make sure your bike is covered by theft insurance. Most household policies will cover bikes as ‘named items' (call and check) but if your bike exceeds their limit of a few hundred quid you'll be better off with dedicated cycle insurance. Check the back pages of the bike magazines or join one of the big national cycling clubs.


    Having the tools and knowing how to use them are two very different things. For many people wielding a spanner is an unfamiliar if not totally alien experience (and being told; ‘It isn't rocket science' doesn't help a bit). But the simple fact is that bikes aren't very complex. If you know how to turn a tap you can tighten a bolt and, broken down to its constituent parts, a bike is nothing more than a collection of nuts and bolts. Spokes are nothing more complicated than long bolts, spoke nipples are nuts. Simple. Honest!

    To make things even easier, over the years nut and bolt sizes have been rationalized so that on many modern bikes a single multi-tool that fits comfortably in the palm of your hand is all you need to take the whole bike apart. And put it back together…

    Adjustments. The most basic of all bike maintenance jobs; raise the saddle, re-set the angle of the brake lever, tweak the bar. This is genuinely easy stuff. Find the bolt which secures the component, insert the correct Allen key and turn anti clockwise until the part is loose enough to move. Position the seat/ brake/ bar where you want it and do the bolt back up again. The one and only trick required is this: Have a good think about how tight the bolt is as you undo it and simply tighten it back up to that same level.

    Mending punctures. There are too many variables in bikes, gear systems and brakes to give a full set of instructions here but in essence there are three separate skills required for the job of mending a puncture;

    1. Removing and replacing the wheel from the bike.

    2. Removing and replacing the tyre and tube from the wheel.

    3. Patching the tube.

    Learn these skills separately in easy to digest, bite-sized chunks and you'll have them for life. And you can pass them on to your kids too. The key tip? Always, always find the splinter, sharp, shard or nail that caused the puncture. Because if you don't remove it it'll go straight through your new tube too.

    Avoiding punctures. Luckily modern technology is here to save us from the character building indignity of sitting at the side of a road patching a tube. In the dark. In the pouring rain. The first line of defense is the modern puncture resistant tyre. Nearly every manufacturer makes one to fit your bike. There are no performance negatives except initial cost, they are a bit dearer. Under the tread is a tough layer of urethane or Kevlar which prevents foreign bodies penetrating your tyre. Some manufacturers have so much confidence in their tyres that they offer a money back guarantee against punctures.

    For the belt and braces approach, install some tube sealant inside your tubes (or you can buy tubes with sealant already inside). If a sharp object does get through the tyre the sealant fills the hole, preventing air loss (and preventing the long walk home). There is a slight weight penalty, only you can decide if it's a price worth paying. Perfect for a hub-geared city bike, perhaps not for a skinny tyred racer with quick-release wheels.

    Lubricants. Buy a chain-lube, not an aerosol and not the cheap stuff from a hardware store. Proper bicycle chain-lube in a dripper bottle. Once a month at the very least wipe your chain clean with a rag, drip a little lube onto the chain, spin the pedals a few times and wipe it all off again. It'll last longer and stay cleaner. In the long run it's worth replacing your chain before it gets too worn, a stretched, rusty or otherwise abused chain will destroy all the other components it comes into contact with. Expensive.

    Keep an ear out for unusual noises, rattles and knocks and you'll catch little problems before they develop into something serious or even terminal. In general it's important to be aware of how a bike deteriorates slowly but surely simply from being used. Brakes pads wear, cables get sticky, tyres lose their tread and wheels go out of true. Nothing wears out overnight so don't let worn out brakes take you by surprise half way down a hill. They'll have given you plenty of warning.

    And the best maintenance tip of all? Whatever type of tyres your bike wears keep them inflated to their optimum pressure, you'll suffer fewer punctures and your bike will roll easier. It's like free energy.


    Whatever your previous mode of transport, there will be a short period of adjustment as you adapt to life with a bike. For your body it's all good news: No matter how hard it seems at first, it will get easier. Most people become aware after about three weeks of regular cycling that they feel noticeably, if not profoundly, fitter. Your cardiovascular system will have adapted to the new exercise regime. Many people find they sleep better and are more mentally alert during the day. The exercise induced endorphin release, the enhanced sense of wellbeing and improved muscle tone are all part of the package.

    You're bound to make a few errors in the first few months, under or over dressing for the conditions, forgetting to pack your lights, putting your helmet on back to front. Don't panic, in time at all it'll all become second nature. Instead of puffing and panting up the slightest incline you'll zoom up them in the perfect gear. You'll have become a cyclist.

    Route planning. Cycles travel differently to cars (and buses and trains), we can use more direct routes, dedicated cycle paths where available and, if we need to, simply get off and push. Our route planning should reflect this difference. Incorporate parks, canal towpaths or river-side paths into your journeys. Quiet leafy residential roads often run parallel to the busy main thoroughfares. Vary your route. Explore your world, you may be surprised at what you find.

    Your local council produces cycling maps showing dedicated cycle facilities and recommended quiet routes. Draw a pencil line from A to B and see where it takes you.

    Road sense. You may already have a portion of road sense and be quite a confident cyclist. Don't let that put you off getting some adult cycle training. The Cycling Proficiency Test of old was been well and truly overhauled for the 21st century with the new National Standards for Cycle Training. Recommended even for regular, confident and experienced cyclists, National Standard Cycle Training is available through your local council offices and may even be free. It's considered to be a greater safety aid than wearing a helmet, better to avoid an accident in the first place through best practice.

    Modern cycle training stresses the fundamental importance of good road positioning. That is to say, not riding in the gutter. Cyclists, need we be reminded, have every right to use the road and every right to go about our business without being squeezed for road space by drivers whose knowledge of the Highway Code may be less than extensive. Holding position assertively obliges drivers to overtake only when safe to do so and is the best survival tool we have at our disposal.

    And finally, if there is one piece of advice that you take away from here I hope it's this;

    Gear one is low. Try to always be in a gear that feels too low/ easy/ spinny/ soft.

    Three rather than four. Four rather than five.

    Pushing high/ hard/ slow gears puts unnecessary strain on your joints and on the transmission of your bike. Pushing hard on the pedals promotes muscle bulk so if you want muscley legs go ahead and push a high gear.

    Spinning fast in a low gear promotes excellent cardiovascular health, reduces strain on your joints and on your bike, allows you to accelerate quicker and you get quicker gear changes. But the bottom line really is a bottom line, spinning gives you a lovely well defined bum and lean legs.

    What more could you possibly ask for?

    Welcome to cycling!

    The Bike Boost Team.

    This article was ripped from
    It was originally written for the Bike Boost Project , a Get Cycling creation.
  10. jimboalee

    jimboalee New Member

    I could build up a Ladies step-through bike.

    Apollo County Ladies. 19 1/2 " frame. 3 Speed Sturmey with extra-low sprocket for easier riding.

    Virtually unworn Schwalbe Marathon + tyres.
    Rack and back bag.

    Lovely burgundy colour.

    £30.... The tyres cost more than this....;)

    Will post photos if you're interested.
  11. summerdays

    summerdays Cycling in the sun Moderator

    Good information in there Mickle
  12. jimboalee

    jimboalee New Member

    Thanks Mickle....;)
  13. summerdays

    summerdays Cycling in the sun Moderator

    Won't a 19 1/2" frame be too big for a 5'4" lady?
  14. Just doing my job Ma'm.
  15. jimboalee

    jimboalee New Member

    64" tall, working around a 52.5% Sitting Height Ratio ( 30 1/2" inside leg ), NO.
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