Choosing a bike

For beginners

There are many different types of bikes to choose from and the one you want should be based on the type of riding you intend to do.

If you're new to cycling and would like some general informatation on Getting Started, download our 'Get Cycling Guide' which helps you understand the different types of bikes if you're just starting out or thinking of investing in a new bike.

'Get Started' (pdf)


For more advanced riders

You probably have a better idea of the style you want and maybe even the manufacturers you like. If so, then it becomes a question of how much you want to spend and whether you want to sacrifice on the quality of components.

It's fair to say that the more you spend, the better components you'll buy and the less maintenance your bike will need. However, it's always a good idea to shop around as prices and quality do vary.

It may be that you need two or more bikes - a cheaper bike for commuting and general city riding and another for sport or competition.

If you do need more than one bike, storage often then becomes an issue. Find out more about storage options with this PDF guide.

Buying a new bike

Buying from a cycle shop gives you the confidence that the bike is set up correctly before you use it. Many shops sell both new and second hand bikes. There are almost 50 cycle shops in the area so you really are spoilt for choice. Remember to pick up some useful accessories, such as a lock and a pump. Read more about the things you might need at our clothing and accessories page.

Rose Richards with a new bikeBuying a second hand bike from a shop

If you are unsure about buying get a second-hand bike, gets someone who knows about bikes to go with you. It's also a wise idea to get it serviced before you use it.  

Second hand bikes are sold by the following local cycle shops:

Several places also refurbish abandoned bicycles and sell them on at a low cost, including Bristol's Bike Back project. More information can be found at the Recycled Bikes page.

Asking for advice

Your local bike shop can provide excellent advice, even if you don't plan to buy from them.

Explain what you're looking for, or what type of riding you plan to do, and they will be able to give you some great independent advice based on your budget and style of riding.

Independent bike shops will have impartial knowledge about a whole range of bikes, whereas chain stores tend to specialise in a type of bike or particular manufacturers.

Alternatively, if you know what style of bike you're looking for, you could try reading the reviews in cycling magazines and websites for an independent opinion. 

Also, many cycling websites often have forums where cyclists sell second hand bikes. Try visiting the following websites for more information: 

Buying from a private seller

Many private sales are listed on auction sites or cycling forums such as Gumtree, Freecycle, Ebay and Trade-it. Also Bumblebee runs auctions from bikes retrieved by the Avon & Somerset Police Force.

If you do go down this route, it's always a good idea to see the bike before you buy it - or at least make sure the seller is prepared to offer you a full refund if it isn't as described.

Try to take the bike on a test ride before you buy as you're more likely to spot small issues such as worn gears or unusual squeaks and rattles.

Advice for buying second hand bikes

When buying from a private listing there's always a small chance that you'll be buying a stolen bike. Many people who've had their bikes stolen find them listed on the internet. The more thieves get for stolen bikes the more effort they're going to make to steal more.

Bristol Bike Workshop provided the following advice:

  • Ask if "the bike" is still for sale. If they say "which one?" leave it at that.
  • If they don't know much about it, it's probably not theirs.
  • Ask how much it was new. Some quick internet research should provide you with the right answer. If they don't know, ask why.
  • Only buy from the home address. Don't arrange to meet somewhere.
  • Always ask for its history. The less is known, the more likely it's stolen.
  • If they or their surroundings look suspicious, proceed with caution.
  • If the price is 'too good to be true', it's probably stolen.
  • Ideally the seller should have some of the original paperwork (eg the receipt or the guarantee details)


Clothing & Accessories

Mention cycle clothing to most people and lycra springs to mind.

Yet look at the people you see cycling in your town or city. Most will be wearing everyday clothing, especially if they are making a short, local cycling trip.

If you do plan to invest in dedicated cycling gear, the choice and the style is almost endless.

The fashion varies for each type of cyclist - commuters, racers, tourers, 'fixies', mountain bikers - and prices vary widely too.

Accessories are generally more important, especially if you plan to commute in the winter.

Lights and reflective clothing help to keep you visible and a lock will prevent your bike being stolen. If you plan to ride for pleasure you might consider investing in a pump and puncture repair kit and a waterbottle.

This guide to Cycling clothes and accessories will give you some important information about what to wear and what you'll need to get the most from your bike.

If you're interested in dressing to impress, these links may be of interest to you:

Local suggestions:

National and international suggestions:

Specifically for women: