Inspired by the Tour de France? A beginner’s guide to buying a bike

Ever since the Tour de France came to Yorkshire in 2014, cycling has enjoyed a huge rise in popularity. The 2021 Tour de France is in full swing (catch the live coverage and daily highlights show on ITV4), and we always have an increase in interest in bikes when it’s on. So if you’ve been inspired by the Tour de France and want to take up a new hobby that can also double up as a sustainable mode of transport, then here’s our beginner’s guide to buying a bicycle. 

There’s too much choice! - Explore our full range here.

There are a lot of bikes on the market. And many that are built for a range of different purposes. You can have a road bike, an off-road bike, a touring bike, a city bike, a mountain bike, a butcher’s bike, a racing bike, a BMX, an upright bike, a recumbent bike, a folding bike, a low step bike, a prone bike, a cargo bike, a tricycle, a low rider, and even a penny farthing (you’d be surprised how popular they are these days - however, we don’t think a penny farthing is suitable for beginners!)

What kind of bike you need depends on what you’re planning to do with it. The easiest way of doing your research is to make an appointment to come into Highway Cycles and ask our experts - we’ll discuss how you plan to use your new bike, show you the best bicycle for your needs, let you know what’s in stock, let you have a test ride, and advise you on safety and any parts/ accessories you may need. 

Once you’ve decided which bike to buy, we’ll also help you choose the best frame size, saddle, handlebars and helmet. We’ll also adjust your new bike, so it’s ready for you to ride away. 

Bikes are our passion, so we’ll also give you a lot of tips about cycling proficiency, the best local routes to try, group rides to join, etc.  

Do I have to buy a brand-new bike? 

Not at all. To save money you can buy a preloved bike or explore our sale, but it’s vital that it is roadworthy and safe to use. So if you’ve bought or been given a second-hand bike, book it in for an inspection and a service to ensure it is efficient to use as well as safe to ride. After that you’ll be all set to go!

Electric vs regular bikes

Modern electric bikes (e-bikes) are amazing and are efficient, light and easy to charge. They’ll help you cycle uphill, cycle more quickly and carry heavy cargo without needing to make any extra effort (though remember you’ve always got to keep pedalling). On the other hand, if you’re buying a bicycle because you want to get fit, maybe an e-bike isn’t such a good idea! Read our guide on e-bikes vs regular bikes to help you get a better idea of which one may be best for you.

Do I have to wear lycra? 

Not if you don’t want to! But on the other hand, there’s nothing stopping you if that’s what you’d prefer. It’s entirely up to you. You can even wear a yellow jersey without needing to race up a mountain in the Alps first. As long as you’re safe, you can wear anything you like when you’re riding your bike or, indeed, nothing at all (though we do recommend wearing your cycling helmet and sunscreen). If you want to throw off your inhibitions, check out the annual World Naked Bike Ride held in London. 

Where can I learn more about cycle safety? 

You will need to be aware of the rules for cyclists when you’re on the road, including cycling at night, crossing roads and using roundabouts, so check the Highway Code to make sure you keep safe. In Hertford, we are part of the Hertford Cycle Hub, which teaches ‘bikeability’ skills for the whole family. 

The benefits of taking up cycling cannot be undersold. Not only is it such an enjoyable experience that will allow you to keep fit as well as enjoy views of Hertfordshire’s stunning countryside (with all the psychological benefits that nature brings), it’ll also provide you with a cheaper and more sustainable mode of transport, so you’ll be helping to save the planet as well as your money!  


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