A Bike is For Life - Not Just Christmas

Top tips from Ealing's Mr Bike on buying two wheels this season

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info@londonbikehub.com or phone 07880 797 437

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Here at Ealing Bike Hub we get asked a lot about buying bikes, sometimes before people buy a bike, but frequently after the event.


The most basic question is why do you want a bike? To commute, for social rides, to get fit, race? Once you know why you it can be easier to answer the next question of what type of bike.


There are many types of bikes which does nothing to dispel the myth that bikes are complicated.

Mountain bikes

These are designed for cycling up and down mountains and generally going off-road. Wide chunky tyres with lots of grip, usually front and maybe rear suspension to even out bumps and help keep the wheels in contact with the ground.

Road bikes

The opposite of mountain bikes; ideally suited for cycling on the road with narrower tyres, lighter and built for carrying luggage and longer distances.


A fairly new innovation combining the best of both worlds of mountain bikes and road bikes; medium sized tyres, possibly front suspension and suitable for some off-road riding.


A fairly specialised type of bike that folds down to some extent, some are better than others as to how small they go. Good for shorter distances and designed for carrying on public transport or keeping in the car and easier to store than normal bikes.

City bikes

Gaining in popularity these are also called Dutch or sit-up-and-beg bikes; upright riding position, heavy but practical for city use.


Although it may sounds obvious, a bike shop is a pretty good place to start. Any decent shop will ask questions as to what you intend to do with the bike and get you to try a few out. Whilst mail order and non-specialised shops can be cheaper the support and service is unlikely to be very good and mail order will almost certainly involve some self assembly and you will not be able to check the size and riding position.

Any decent bike shop will also offer a free six month service to make sure everything is bedded in a running correctly.

Your employer may also run a government run scheme called CycleScheme where your company buys a bike of your choice and you pay for it over the course of 12 months.

Bikes for children

Some special consideration should be given for bikes for children, whilst it’s easy to think of these bikes as toys think of where the bike will be used and for what purposes. A basic mountain bike will usually be heavy, with poor quality components, likewise a cheap BMX may look great but simply will not last. We see a lot of these in the course of teaching children to ride and rarely are they any good; with chains coming off, poor brakes, badly set-up gears etc.


It’s tempting to buy alot of extra kit when you first get a bike, there’s locks, luggage, lights, helmets, tools, clothing, the list is endless. However we suggest not buying anything unless you have to and have had time to shop around. Perhaps the most important accessory to get even before you buy a bike is membership of the London Cycling Campaign at www.lcc.org.uk. For £32 a year you get up to 15% off most bike shops in London, a quarterly magazine, third party insurance and a host of other benefits. The magazine contains local and city wide information for all cyclists and frequently contains a buyers guide, handy for first time cyclists or those about to dip their toe in the water.

You could also wisely invest in some training, some boroughs offer free or discounted training. Most training is one to one and Ealing Bike Hub offers this service centred around making a specific journey, for example to your place of work, your local school or nursery etc. We find alot of people returning to cycling in later life discover they were taught how to stay on a bike but not necessarily how to ride with other traffic.

About Ealing Bike Hub

Ealing Bike Hub is a not-for-profit community work shop based in Ealing. We offer a range of sessions from an introduction to maintenance to more advanced weekend courses, Brompton Bikes, wheel building as well as second hand bike sales, cycle training and a wide range of other services.

Our main workshop in Greenford is open on the first Saturday of every month with other dates throughout the year. We offer help and advice on all things cycling and sell a range of tools and accessories although we’re not a traditional bike shop, we encourage people to drop by and use our workshop under supervision. We can help you build a bike, check over a new purchase or simply offer some help on cycling or your bike.

For more information:



info@londonbikehub.com or phone 07880 797 437


David Eales



01 December 2011



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