Cycling will transform your life. For me all it took was a £130 secondhand bicycle. His name was Centurion (not some macho metaphor) that was just his name; he was from Denmark and he was super sturdy. I had the bike for 4 years during that time I changed the front and back tyre, the bike chain a couple of inner tubes and one brake cable. And that was it… Total maintenance cost £150 (perhaps) so less than £40 per year for free unlimited London transport.
However the first challenge to joining the world of cyclists is finding a bike if you are not keen on hire schemes. In London there are plenty of bikes but equally plenty of cyclists, so competition for bikes and second hand bike prices are slightly higher than elsewhere in the country. I am sure this rule applies to any major city with a keen cycling demographic.
Ways to find your perfect bike
1) Secondhand: If you’re new to cycling, I would recommend going for a second hand bike first to make sure you don’t spend heaps of money on something that may not be right for you.
Sourcing a second hand bike can sometimes be a unsavoury business. Sadly bike theft in major cities is an ongoing problem and one police authorities are still struggling to get a grip on.
The most important thing when buying second hand bike is to ensure your new steed isn’t stolen. When I brought my Centurion bike I made sure I asked him about riding the bike, when it was last serviced, how long he had owned it etc and I checked to make sure the bike serial number hadn’t been removed.
Most importantly trust your gut feeling, if something doesn’t feel right make sure you walk away. There is a great blog on buying a second hand bike available here: http://thecyclehub.net/buying-second-hand-bikes/
Also I recommend going and speaking to independent bike repair shops. They will often sell a small selection of bikes and be connected into the cycling community. They offer your best route to getting a well serviced, clean second hand bike.
2) New Bikes: Cycling can seem like a bewildering world to a newbie, 5 years on and I am just getting to grips with the terminology. Bike Kitchens are popping up all across the world which provide a safe space for cyclist to learn about their bikes with drop in sessions and maintenance workshops. This is why I recommend a second hand bike first to enable you to learn about cycling before going and spending a small fortune on something that may not be right for you.
When the time comes and you want to go pro… I suggest looking for a good entry level road bike so between £700-£1000. You want something with an alloy frame, which will stand up to being dropped. The big brands like Specialized, Giant, Cannondale, Trek offer a lifetime warranty on most of their frames so if it cracks they will always replace it.
I recommend ideally going to an independent bike shop you have heard good things about. You tend to find that people who work in bike shops are honest people and pretty awesome. I also recommend doing some online research as well; this is a big investment and you need to make sure your new bike is going to be safe for you to ride and fun.
I brought my most recent bike for £800 reduced from £1000. I was able to get this deal as the new series of bikes for the year were about to be released.
Extra things to get to make your biking experience more enjoyable:
- D-locks: Make sure you spend a decent amount of locks that will ensure your bike has a chance of not getting stolen.
- Insure your bike: My new bike is insured so that if does get stolen I am able to get a replacement
- Join a cycling campaign organisation: I am a member of the London Cycling Campaign, this means I get a discount in bike shops and have third-party cycling insurance if someone hits my bike whilst I am riding
Thanks for reading