We show you how to share your life with a car and bike…
Take a break from the car and experience life on two wheels
Are you looking for a way out of those rush-hour jams that stretch before you in a never-ending snake towards eternity? Why not step from the car, saddle-up and get cycling? We all need a car, but that doesn’t mean we can’t occasionally lose a couple of wheels and take to a bike instead. Follow our guide to that first tentative push of the pedal here…
How safe is your ride
First things first – just how safe are your cycling plans? Rate your risk here…
Getting on your bike is a great way to improve fitness and enjoy time with your family, but you’ll need to make sure you stay safe, too. Perhaps cycling to work is the safe option, or maybe you should opt for weekend rides in the country? Use our risk-assessment tool to estimate just how safe your biking plans are.
5 Health reasons to get in the saddle…
How two-wheeled transportation can boost your health…
Getting fit can be fun with cycling
From becoming part of your commute to weekend rides with your family, cycling can be a great way to have fun and improve your health. Here are some of the medical benefits you’ll receive from from cycling….
Burning calories: Find out how many here
Burning calories: Cycling is great because you can cremate calories while enjoying a leisurely ride. A person weighing around 11.5 stone will eat up 292 calories for an hour’s riding at 10mph. The heavier you are, the more calories you’ll burn. Use this tool to calculate the amount of blubber you could be burning simply by swapping a few car journeys for your bike…
Cut the risk of heart disease: Find out how many miles you'll need to cycle
Cut the risk of heart disease: The British Heart Foundation says that cycling 20 miles a week will slash your risk of heart disease by a half when compared with people who don’t exercise. Heart disease can lead to damaged arteries and cause heart attacks.
Feel years younger and live longer: Find out how many years here
10 years younger: Middle-aged cyclists will enjoy fitness levels of someone 10 years younger – while also boosting their life expectancy by two years.
Stroke buster: By how much can cycling cut your risk of stroke
Stroke buster: Regular cycling can help cut the risk of suffering a stroke by 30%.
How far from fitness: How many hours of exercise are needed to get fit
Two and a half hours from fitness: According to official advice, adults aged 19-64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate activity over the course of a week. Cycling is a great form of moderate exercise that the whole family can take part in.
What type of bike do you need…
Don’t just follow fashion – get the bike that’s right for your plans…
Make sure you buy the right type of bike for your needs
Sadly, turning up at your local bike store and asking the proprietor to supply you his finest new bicycle could leave you with a hefty bill and a machine that’s incompatible with your plans and lifestyle. Gone are the days when all you had to decide between was a Chopper or Raleigh Arena ‘racer’ – now you’ll need to be a little more clued-up when looking for a way into the saddle. Avoid bike-geek humiliation with our basic guide to the different types of cycles on offer…
Built for speed on the hard stuff
Lightweight frames, large thin wheels and drop handlebars are the tell-tale signs you’re looking at a ‘road bike’. Don’t be tempted to call it a ‘racer’ as this will blow your cover and reveal you to be a bike novice and easy prey to the spot-ridden 18-year-old sales assistant.
Great for: Serious athletics types planning long, high-speed rides on the roads.
Not so great for: Commuters, family outings, riding anywhere that’s not topped with baby bum-smooth Tarmac.
How much: From around £150 to many (and we mean ‘many’) thousands of pounds.
Get a go-anywhere attitude
Commonly identified by wide, heavily treaded tyres, tough-looking design, suspension and a bucket-load of gears. These are set up for heading off-road and tackling wet, muddy surfaces. They make a great solution for family bikers and commuters whose journey comprises local roads and off-road cycleways, such as disused railway lines.
Great for: Families, commuters and just about anyone who wants an easy go-anywhere solution for getting into the saddle.
Not so great for: Anyone who will be spending their time on Tarmac. The wide tyres and hefty tread will make for slow and noisy progress.
How much: From around £85 to £6,500+
Cruise the city streets in comfort at a relaxed pace
This machine can be identified by its upright and relaxed riding position. The tyres aren’t as wide as those on mountain bikes, but more so than those on road bikes, making the perfect solution for cruising flat, city streets. They’re also well designed to fit boxes, a pannier rack and even child seats.
Great for: The city commuter or anyone who wants to get around flat streets for work or light shopping etc.
Not so great for: Anyone who is cycling to aggressively improve fitness, or those who want a mix of on- and off-road cycling; city bikes will soon get bogged down.
How much: From £120
Combine your commute with car and bike to save cash and get fit
Is it an odd suitcase or is it a bike? Well, it’s a folding bike, actually. The bike can be ridden then folded into a smaller more manageable size that can be carried by hand on public transport or in the back of a car.
Great for: Anyone whose commute is too long for a bike alone, but combined with a car – where the driver can get cheaper out of town parking etc. Simply drive to a location of your choice, unfold the bike and get cycling the last few miles to the office. Equally efficient for those using trains or buses.
Not so great for: Speed, off-road use or avoiding smirks from small children.
How much: Around £140
The best of all worlds?
These are a cross between road bikes and mountain bikes. They’re comfortable and capable on off-road cycle tracks, while also offering decent on-road performance. It’s a best-of-both-worlds-type solution for the wannabe biker.
Great for: Anyone who wants to combine family rides at the weekend with a reasonably challenging commute will love the versatility of this type of machine.
Not so great for: If you are looking to get serious about road or off-road biking, this type of cycle will be hugely frustrating.
How much: £109
No tax or insurance and it’ll help you get fit
Some might call this cheating, but that’s not strictly true. The user can set the amount of assistance given to the pedal action. The less assistance asked for, the further the bike will travel on a single charge and provide more fitness-inducing exercise for the cyclist. Electric bikes don’t require you to have a licence, road tax or insurance.
Great for: Anyone who has a long commute or wants to explore further afield without being a world class athlete. Most bikes will travel 20-30 miles on a charge and cost less than 5p per mile to run.
Not so great for: Anyone who wants an inexpensive way into cycling.
How much: From £400
Essential apps to get you cycling…
Yes – smartphones will help improve your cycling, too…
Let apps take you places that cars can’t go
So, how can the smartphone turn us into better, safer cyclists? Find out here…
Cyclemeter: Your cycling in stats
Cyclemeter: A comprehensive app that pairs up with the GPS functionality of Apple devices to deliver a raft of statistics to help log and improve your cycling.
It’ll record speed, time in the saddle, distance travelled and offer you a whole host of workouts to help hone your performance.
It even has voice prompts so there’s no need to take your eyes off the road.
How much: Free
Where to get it: Apple devices
Cycle Hire: Get on your Boris Bike
Cycle Hire: Heading to London? Swerve the Black Cabs this summer and get your mitts on the handlebars of a two-wheeled steed from the London Cycle Hire Scheme… that’s ‘Boris Bikes’ to you and me.
This independent app will help you devise a cycle-friendly route to a Cycle Hire docking station close to your destination, while also telling you how many bikes and spaces there are.
You can also view your Cycle Hire account on the app.
How much: £0.79
Where: Apple devices
Bike Hub Cycle Journey Planner: Go where only two wheels can go
Bike Hub Cycle Journey Planner: It’s a sat-nav that’s just for cyclists. Plot a route from A-B and the app will work out a cycle-friendly route avoiding dual carriageways and motorways, but including cycle paths and other such off-road routes.
Choose from routing options such as quickest, quietest and flattest.
Must-have app for any new cyclist finding their pedals.
How much: £Free
St John Ambulance First Aid for Cyclists: When things go a bit wobbly
St John Ambulance First Aid for Cyclists: Not exactly the app you’ll be itching try out, but one that’ll make sense to prime your smartphone with.
The app covers a number of common cycling-related injuries that might need to be treated at the roadside.
Step-by-step guides and informative diagrams. It also gives action advice for serious emergencies.
How much: £Free
SizeMy Bike: Get the bike that's right for you
SizeMy Bike: New to cycling and buying your first bike online? It might seem a little daunting as you attempt to find the right size machine for your body.
Handy then, that you can download this Size My Bike app to your smartphone. It’ll walk you through finding six key body measurements then compute the ideal geometry of your new mountain- or road bike.
A must-have app for new bikers.
How much: £3.77
Bike Doctor: First aid for your bike
Bike Doctor: It’s not just fallen riders who need a little tlc, keeping your bike in top condition will help avoid painful spills and mid-ride breakdowns.
Another must-have smartphone filler for virgin bikers, the app offer step-by-step guides for fixing just about all mechanical problems.
Designed with the beginner in mind.
How much: £3.99 (Apple) £1.79 (Android)
What’s at the back of your shed…
You might not have sat in the saddle since your schooldays, but what actually happened to your bike? If your trusty mount’s still languishing at the back of a garden shed somewhere, you could be sitting on a two-wheeled goldmine. Here’s how much you could be cashing in for the original Raleigh Chopper and its associated family of bikes.
Safety tech… coming soon
Car makers doing their bit to make it safer when you’re in the saddle…
Safety tech is taken seriously by car makers
There’s no denying the fact that cyclists are vulnerable road users, but car manufacturers are doing their bit to ensure that two-wheeled road users will soon be a lot safer. Here are just a couple of new technologies coming soon…
Jaguar Land Rover ‘Bike Sense’
Volvo helmet that communicates with cars
‘Bike Sense’ tech will tap the driver on the shoulder and ring a bicycle bell inside the car to help prevent accidents involving bicycles and motorbikes. Watch the video for more info.
World-first technology connects cycle helmets with cars: Volvo Cars and POC work on the helmet that uses a smartphone app to connect with nearby cars to avoid collisions. Watch the video.
Essential kit: Bike racks
You might have your bike, but now you need to find a reliable way to transport it. Here are three top bike racks you might like to consider – suitable for all budgets.
Cycleways of the future…
Cycling is hot news for the political elite, so expect plenty of new high-tech cycleways to be touted over the coming few years… and some of them might even become reality. Here we look at some that have already been built along with a couple of great Brit schemes that are still on the drawing board.
The Hovenring, Eindhoven, Netherlands
It’s the world’s first suspended cycle roundabout. It hovers above the busy Heerbaan/Meerenakkerweg intersection on the Dutch country’s A2 motorway. It cuts congestion and makes cycling safe.
The Green Connection, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Easy access for all
Faced with crossing a motorway and busy railway line, many cyclists in the UK would be tempted to head home and buy a pizza instead. Not so in Rotterdam where the €9.2m (£6.6m approx) Green Connection bridge and cycle path will get them there safely. Take a virtual ride here.
The Bicycle Snake, Copenhagen, Denmark
This €5.1m (£3.6m approx) construction is a bike and pedestrian bridge that is connected to the final stage – the Snake – to help return the elevated bridge across the harbour to ground level.
The Underline: London, England
Ride beneath the city
A design concept slammed by some cycle groups, but we think the idea of employing unused, or surplus Underground tunnels for biking is an innovative idea. Safe and direct routes… what’s the problem? Discuss.
SkyCycle: London, England
This scheme is built upon a network of 10 cycleways above the streets of London. A proposed 136-mile network that suspends routes above existing railway routes and would cost in excess of £200m… but a price worth paying, we’d say.
Sky Cycling, Eden Nature Park, Davao, Philippines
The cost-effective solution?
How about this for a concept? String a few steel lines up between skyscrapers and follow this Sky Cycling experience in the Philippines. Fancy a ride?
Head to the hills...
Let the MAMIL inside escape – or spill out – from you Lycra…
If you’re a man whose suddenly developed an ill-advised devotion to donning Lycra, the chances are you are becoming a Mamil – Middle Aged Man In Lycra. Don’t resist, merely head to your natural habitat… the moutain climb. Here are some of the best for you and your bike…
Five mountain climbs to tackle
Choose your mountain here, then get more details by clicking the tabs below.
Ride your your own mountain stage
Load your bike and head for these classic mountain climbs in the Alps and Pyrenees. Ride your own personal Tour de France and experience the pain and glory for yourself.
Col du Tourmalet
Start from: Sainte-Marie-Campan
Average gradient: 7.3%
Details: Part of the first ever Tour de France in 1910 – and visited by it more than 80 times since. Start in the town of Sainte-Marie-Campan and traverse the eastern approach for 17km until topping out at 2115m. The Tourmalet, along with the Peyresourde, Aspin and Aubisque, make part of the classic Tour de France stage through the Pyrenees, which is known as the circle of death.
Start from: Bédoin
Average gradient: 7.6%
Details: One of the hardest mountain climbs in France, with a relentlessly steep start that cuts through beautiful tree-lined slopes. Once again, though, the final stage of the climb are without vegetation and expose riders to stunning views – leaving them to be battered by wind and sun. The mountain is infamous for the death of Tommy Simpson in 1967, who collapsed in the inferno-like heat as he approached the top. A monument now stands near the spot he fell.
Start from: Briançon (northern approach)
Average gradient: 5.9%
Details: A classic climb that boasts plenty of Tour history. These were the slopes where legendary winners Fausto Coppi and Louison Bobet both launched their race-winning attacks. A memorial stands to both men near then summit.
Start from: Bourg d’Oisans
Average gradient: 7.9%
Details: It’s not the longest or steepest of climbs, but it’s certainly the Tour’s most well-known. With 21 hairpins that wind their way up the rock face from Bourg d’Oisans it’s a must-go destination for any serious fan – a natural theatre of sport. Visit the climb early on race day (Wednesday 16th July) and let the 500,000 cycling fans who line the climb power you to its summit. Look out for the hordes of orange-clad Dutch fans who party on the Alpe for days before the peloton’s arrival.
Col du Galibier
Start from: Valloire
Average gradient: 6.9%
Details: Expect a long, hard grind to the Plan Lachet, before the route enter a series of steep switchback as it climes the face. The gradient hardly falls below 8%. This is a daunting yet beautiful climb, which finishes with a final challenge that taunts riders with a 1km run with a gradient of over 10%.