What to consider when getting a bike
Updated on 24 November 2022
Use this guidance to help you make the right bike choice for your cycling needs.
What kind of bike should you get
If you are new to cycling, or returning after a substantial gap, you may be wondering what kind of bike to buy, here are some key features to consider:
- Hub gears
The big advantage of a hub is that whereas derailleurs need frequent adjustment and can be badly damaged if you drop the bike, a hub gear is virtually maintenance-free and indestructible. It’s true that the range is limited, but not to the traditional 3-speed. Modern hub gears offer ranges that include 5, 7 and 8-speed bikes.
Unless your hobby is doing challenging laundry, you will want to keep mud, oil and dirty water off whatever you wear for your trip.
An enclosed chain
For the same reason. Of course you can wear trouser clips, but why bother when you can have a chain case permanently shielding you from the single dirtiest component of the bike?
Hub dynamo lighting
You can choose between a hub dynamo and a bottle dynamo (the top of which is turned by coming into contact with your tyre); hub dynamos justify the extra outlay by greater reliability and also by being less susceptible to damage if you drop the bike. A feature that is well worth specifying is a stand light, which will keep your lights burning for a few minutes after you have stopped – very reassuring at junctions. Some lighting systems even incorporate a sensor, which will switch your lights on when light drops below a certain level and off again when it rises.
By far the best lights are now single light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which apart from being much brighter than their incandescent predecessors, also use less energy by producing light without wasted heat.
Rack and panniers
The most important principle is that it is safer, healthier and more comfortable to carry luggage on the bike than to carry it on your body. There are panniers designed for specific purposes, such as carrying a laptop and there are those that convert instantly to shoulder-bags when you park the bike. It’s probably worth checking that whatever you buy is waterproof, and don’t exceed the manufacturer’s weight-rating for the carrier rack.
Modern mirrors are small, unobtrusive and unlike earlier versions don’t wobble so much you can’t see a thing.
We hold regular 2nd hand bike sales on Campus Green, usually 2nd Wednesday of the month (check University weekly newsletter) and Dr. Bike sessions, this involves free bike checks and free basic repairs for all students and staff. We employ The Bike Station Perth to provide this service. If you are interested in electrical bikes, then check out Electric Bikes Scotland for further information.
Dundee and Angus Cycle Hub is located at the waterfront, next to the V&A museum. You can get your bike repaired, hire and buy second hand bikes from them.
You can book a bike from the university bike pool if you don't yet have a bike of your own or require one short term. You can also apply for a bike through Cycle Solutions for our cycle to work scheme that could save you 25-39% on a bike and accessories.
Why you should cycle
Its good for you
- Regular cyclists enjoy a fitness level equal to that of a person ten years younger. (Source: National Forum for Coronary Heart Disease Foundation, Sharp.)
- Cycling at least twenty miles a week reduces the risk of heart disease to less than half that for non-cyclists who take no other exercise. (Source: British Heart Foundation, Morris.)
- If one third of all short car journeys were made by bike, national heart disease rates would fall by between 5 and 10 percent (Bikes not Fumes, CTC, 1992). Info from BikeBiz.
- During rush-hour, a bicycle is about twice as fast as a car - good if you hate traffic jams!
Its good for your wallet
- Bicycles require no road tax, no MOT, no insurance, no licensing, no breakdown recovery services, and above all no fuel bills (unless you count Mars Bars!)
- A good bicycle needs at most about £50-worth of maintenance a year - less if you do a bit yourself. How much does your car need?
- A good bicycle will last for years, if not decades. How long did your previous car last?
- A bicycle can be parked just about anywhere, so no more expensive car park bills.
- The rate which can be claimed for journeys using your own vehicle are as follows: Bicycle 20p per mile.
Its good for the environment
- Twenty bicycles can be parked in the same space taken up by one car.
- To make a bicycle requires only a fraction of the materials and energy needed to make a car.
- Bicycles produce absolutely no pollution - they are a lot quieter too. When was the last time you saw a rusting, burnt-out bicycle?
- Cars kill and maim thousands of people every year - bicycles don’t.