Getting Started!

Thinking about cycling but you don’t know where to start? Here is some information that can help you get started cycling in London.

Buying a bike!

Buying a bike may seem a little daunting, so here is some advice to help you make the right purchase!

It can be difficult to find trustworthy shops in London, many sell stolen bikes or bikes in poor condition.

Click here to see Time Out London’s list of the best bike shops. This is by no means an exhaustive list and please get in touch with us if you have found a trustworthy and friendly bike shop! Evans Cycles and Cycle Surgery may be expensive and generally sell only new bikes, but they are a great place to go for advice!

You can find plenty of used bicycles on sale on community websites such as Gumtree – however it is a haven for stolen bikes so maybe ask for a second opinion before you commit to handing over any money.

Don’t forget to take a look at the campus’ notice boards every now and then. Let your friends know you want to buy a bike – they might know someone who is selling one!

As well, we at UCLU Cycling Society will be organizing a used bicycle auction – details to be posted soon!

What sort of bike do I need?

There is a massive range of bikes available on the market:

  • Folding  bikes save on storage space and can be taken on public transport
  • Racing  bikes are light and speedy! The thin tyres and drop handle bars can be a little daunting at first, and they do not suitable for taking off road.
  • Mountain  bikes are fairly heavy so can also be slow and cumbersome on the road, but they are very robust.
  • Hybrid bikes fall somewhere between a racing bike and a mountain bike, they are a good option for commuters.

What size bike do I need?

You should be able to touch the floor with your toes when sitting on the saddle, and have only a slight bend in the leg when your foot is on the pedal at the bottom position – it is more efficient this way and you will get less tired!

Click here for more advice about frame size! 

What else to look out for.

The most important thing is the state of the frame. If there is rust on the steel, dents in aluminium or cracks in carbon fibre, the bike is not in the best condition and could end up to be more trouble than it is worth! If in doubt ask for a second opinion about the condition of a bike.

Check that the wheels are aligned properly (i.e. they are in line with the frame when looked at from above the bike) and that they are not buckled (i.e. they spin smoothly and don’t wobble).

Other helpful links

UCL Cycle Scheme  available to UCL staff, this scheme offers an attractive employee benefit to make it easier for staff members to use a bicycle to move around the city.

Barclays Cycle Hire London’s public bicycle sharing scheme offers you the chance to see what it’s like to cycle in the city without having to purchase your own bicycle. The system is quite easy to use and has more and more docking stations all around London. It’s great for tourist and occasional cycling, but also for commuting.

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