The most important equipment depends on the type of cycling you expect to do. If you’re new to cycling – just start with the bike and don’t feel you need to buy everything at once. You’ll work it out as you go.
The type of bike you’ll need depends on the type of surfaces you’ll be riding on and the distances you intend to do. A racing road bike is quick but not great for uneven surfaces. A mountain bike can go anywhere but won’t be as nimble on tarmac. A hybrid is somewhere in-between and suitable for, say, a canal towpath combined with a bit of road.
Bike types you may not have considered include folding bikes which are increasingly popular as they can easily be carried on public transport. Electric bikes have also improved a great deal in recent years – they are particularly good if you live at the top of a steep hill and want to use your bike for short shopping commutes!
- The bike: If buying new we’d advise spending £400 or more for decent quality, but if second hand you can spend less, but get it serviced. A cheap second hand bike may be all you need to get started and you can upgrade later.
- A lock: Make sure it’s decent enough that you can’t cut through it with pliers. D-locks are usually strongest.
- A bell: Most new bikes come with a cheap ‘dinger’ – but consider an upgrade if you actually want to be heard. A bell is a must if you plan to cycle near pedestrians, e.g. on a shared walkway.
- Bags/Pannier rack: for commuting or touring, these make a difference when carting laptops and so on.
- A water bottle/carrier: A must for longer rides and shouldn’t be expensive.
- Decent tyres: (as with the bike, this will depend on the terrain – thick mountain bike tyres help you grip better but will slow you down – slick road tyres will speed you up, but you’ll be more vulnerable to skidding and punctures if you go off-road). A new bike obviously comes with tyres as standard.
- Safety equipment: Lights are a legal requirement when cycling in the dark and a helmet offers some head protection should you come off your bike. Some high-viz or reflective clothing can also help you be seen by drivers.
- Clothing: You don’t need to spend a fortune on lycra for a short commute! Clothes can get expensive but a decent cycling jacket and shorts or trousers which won’t rub may well be useful for many types of ride. Water-proofs and clips to keep trousers away from the bike chains are optional – you can also tuck your trousers into your socks! Longer dresses are not recommended for cycling.
Information and Advice
Shops: One of the many independent bike shops in Bradford will be able to offer you good advice on what to purchase, but remember you don’t have to buy everything at once, you can read reviews online and check around for the best deals.
Books: A great book to refer to is: Cycling to Work: A Beginner’s Guide. It is packed with great tips on buying the right bike and equipment, riding safely in traffic, finding the best route to ride to work and basic bicycle mechanics.
You may also consider Every Woman’s Guide to Cycling: Everything You Need to Know, from Buying Your First Bike to Winning Your First Race and The Big Book of Bicycling also comes recommended.
Online Discussion: Facebook groups associated with the various cycling clubs in Bradford are generally pretty friendly and don’t mind questions from ‘newbies’ at all. Nationally, Cycling UK is a great resource and they have a very helpful online forum.