How to: get started cycling

Thinking of getting (back) on a bike for work, leisure, health, happiness? Here's a few dos and don'ts to get you out the front door and on a ride quickly and easily.

Don't worry

You don't need to be a fitness fanatic to cycle - we've got members from kids to grandparents, and plenty of people with mobility impairments who cycle too. If you're out of shape or a bit nervous, then don't start with a long daily commute into central London - a few leisure rides, then a couple of days commuting a week, in on one day, out on another. Build up slowly.

Cycling doesn't have to involve lots of pricey specialist kit either. Many people cycle in their everyday clothes. So unless you're looking to shave seconds off a personal best or go long distances, a good waterproof coat, warm gloves and hat will see you through most weather. If your commute is 20 minutes or less you probably don't need a change of any clothes.

Likewise, you don't need a top of the range bike to commute in London. The hills in London aren't that big - all those people on single-speeds and fixies don't just do it because it's hip - given how flat London is, they also cut down on maintenance costs. And whether your style is happy shopper, urban hipster or shaved-legs racer, you don’t have to spend a fortune on a new bike. Read our tips on how to buy a second hand bike.

There's not many accessories you need to get going either - here's a few you might want to consider, but really, the locks you need are the most important extra.

Do some basic planning

Get a decent lock (or two) and learn how (and how not to) best lock up your bike. Plan a route that will make you feel comfortable. Journey planners like CycleStreets work out routes suitable for you. It gives three options of quiet, fast and balanced routes.

Consider free training too. TfL's Cycle Skills training is free for LCC members and is one of the best things you can do to cycle safely. Whatever your level - you will learn something! Join LCC now to take advantage of this offer. We've also got some basic advice on riding sensibly, safely and comfortably in London - and how to get started from scratch, before you feel confident enough to tackle riding on street.

While you're picking up skills, learning how to perform basic maintenance on your bike is a good next step - so you can get your wheel out to fix a puncture, check your bike over before a ride and adjust your bike setup for maximum comfort in the saddle.


Need more advice?

Become a member and you'll receive free cycling advice whenever you need it. Plus free Lezyne bike lights worth £44.99 if you join by Direct Debit. >>>