I need a bike

This article is for people that think they might need a bike, or a better bike, or just a different bike, whether you’re new to cycling or not.

If you don’t want to spend money until you’re sure it won’t be wasted, read on! You don’t want a terrible bike or the wrong type – that might put you off cycling for life and be a total waste of money. And you need to be safe!

Bike types can be very confusing – there’s a great summary of the different types on the Sustrans website.

If you don’t find the answers here, or you want advice on starting a different type of cycling (such as commuting to work, or joining a cycling club), you can always ask a specific question here.

You have three main options:

  1. Borrow a bike. Perhaps you know a keen cyclist that has has a old one they’d be happy to lend you (most do). Maybe you know someone that bought a new bike, but hasn’t used it. There is also a cycle hire company the island.
  2. Buy a second-hand bike. You could try: local newspapers, such as the Islander, adverts in shop windows and – of course – Ebay. The Community Cycle Centre is a group of volunteers that recycle donated bikes, giving them back to members of the community in return for a donation; you can increase your chances of getting a bike from the centre if you’re prepared to help in fixing up your new bike.
  3. Buy a cheap new bike. We have a number of bike shops within easy reach of Hayling – and Hayling Cycles in Elm Grove is a Cycle Hayling supporter. Although you can spend a fortune, you don’t need to – there are some pretty reasonable new bikes from, say, £150-200. Spending a lot more than that could be an expensive mistake until you know how much you’ll be cycling, and where.

Some things to look for:

  • If you plan to cycle the Billy Trail (and who wouldn’t), it’s rough, so a hybrid with wider tyres might be better.
  • Size – you need to be able to adjust the seat position so:
    • Your legs are nearly straight at the bottom of the pedal rotation
    • You are able to touch the ground with both feet so you can stop safely
  • Gears – they help a lot to get you going and to keep going once you’ve started, avoid single speed bikes unless you know what you’re doing
  • Mudguards – good to be protected from the elements while you get around
  • Suspension – or lack of. Suspension adds weight and something else to go wrong, unless you’re considering some serious off-road riding
  • Man’s bike or woman’s? Step through bikes without a crossbar used to be for women, but these days they’re just easier for anyone to get on and off.
  • Saddles make a huge difference if you are going to cycle any distance. Women’s saddles are different and well worth it. Many people (men and women) like a deep groove or cut-out in the middle of the saddle. Very soft is not always better.
  • Folding bikes have come a long way, if you want to take your bike on the train, or in the back of a car, or you’re short of storage space. What they lose in straight line speed, they make up in convenience.

If you’re buying second hand, make sure:

  • The brakes work effectively (if the brake pads are worn, make sure you can replace them)
  • Gears change smoothly
  • The chain, gears and gear-changing components are rust-free and not worn
  • You can change the seat position (freeing up a rusted-in seat post can be impossible)
  • The tyres do not look worn or cracked

Good bike shops will advise you on all these thing. Or we’d be happy to try to answer any specific questions you might have here.