How many ways can you save time and money by cycling?

It may be stating the obvious but using a bike as your means of transport really can give your finances a boost. What’s perhaps less obvious, but actually no less accurate, is how much time you can save

Save money on transport

Cycling is by far the most efficient way to get around for the majority of city dwellers in terms of time and cost. Every time you choose your bike over public transport or your car, you are saving money.  For ease of comparison, we’ve done some educated estimates to compare the cost of using the tube and cycling to travel to work in London.

An annual travelcard for zones 1 to 2 is currently going for £1,320. Swapping for a bike equates to about 15 km round trip each day for most people (estimation aided by TfL’s geographically accurate map of of the London Tube and rail lines).

Assuming you are cycling into work 15 km each day, 5 days a week, all year round, you are looking at around £100 bike maintenance cost at most. For that amount of cycling, you will probably get yourself a quality bike along with accessories all for under £400. So for your first year of cycling into work in zones 1 to 2, it’s fair to say you can be looking at a saving of £820! And of course it only gets better from hereon in as you don’t have to buy a brand new bike every year.

If you are travelling between zones 3 and 4 or 2 and 3 instead, your annual travelcard for the tube is cheaper at £988. The practical distance you cover in these zones is around 10 km round trip each day. The bike maintenance cost for the year will be proportionally lower at around £66. Let’s make the (possibly sweeping) assumption that you are less keen on spending as much money on bikes and accessories as well, so might spend £300 altogether. In this scenario, you are still saving a whooping £622 in the first year!

Time is money
By: cea +

Time is money, so save time with cycling

Beat the traffic jam with cycling. Depending on where you live (and this is mostly true in cities), cycling can often get you to places much faster than motorised vehicles can. You don’t even need Bradley Wiggins’ legs or lungs! You can often access shortcuts not open to motorised traffic for an even more tranquil journey.

How about all that time you spend waiting for a train or bus? Without a doubt, using that time getting physical exercise on your bike is of much more benefit. The added bonus is that you are more in control of your journey; you can start your journey whenever you feel like it, know how long it’s going to take and no one will go on strike on you.

Give your health a boost

All the evidence shows that consistent, weekly exercise benefits the health of both body and mind. It’s a great option to combine your commute with exercise, thereby killing two birds with one stone, or you might just want to soak up the endless scenery as you zip along a country road.

Cycling is also a particular favourite for those looking for low impact exercise to limit aggravating overuse injuries from running and squash, for example.

Low cost hobby

You can spend as little or as much money as you want on your bike and cycling specific clothes and accessories. However, going out for a cycle ride costs you nothing other than your own energy! There’s no monthly membership, entry fee or any obligation to use any consumables.

Cycle to Work scheme

Who would have thought you can get tax free transport every day? Your employer just needs to have signed up with the Cycle to Work Scheme. You will then have a budget to purchase your bike and necessary accessories such as lights, locks, helmet, etc which will all be tax free! For exact details and eligibility, visit their website.

What to do with the saved money?Current Logo Blue

What you do with the money you’ve saved is up to you, obviously. You could buy more bike stuff or you could sponsor a bike with the charity we are supporting: The Bike Project. They fix up second-hand bikes and donate them to refugees and asylum seekers. Some of the bikes that they receive go on to be sold through The Bike Shop to ensure long-term sustainability. A bike is also donated to a refugee or asylum seeker for each bike sold. Pass on the cycling love, people!

Give the gift of wheel building knowledge

Need a Christmas present idea that’s perfect for the bike enthusiast who seems to have it all already? Look no further. Our Demystify Wheel Building course is the perfect gift!


Taking City & Guilds standards and our teaching experience, we’ve developed this 2 day course to take students from minimal prior knowledge to being able to build a wheel from scratch. The aim is to give you
the knowledge, resources and confidence to tackle selecting your own components, calculating spoke lengths and building your own wheel to the standard that is expected in the industry.

On Day 1

Working in our accredited, fully equipped training workshop in Oval, you’ll learn first about the materials and components. After this, you’ll go on to rim, hub and frame compatibility, comparing lacing patterns before learning how to calculate spoke lengths for different hubs and rims for any wheel set. We end day 1 with lacing your spokes to hub and rim.

On Day 2

Having dreamt about spokes all night you’ll come in fresh to learn about truing and tensioning. You’ll learn and then practice how to properly tension and pre stress a wheel to prevent damage and reduce problems down the line and you’ll practice tensioning and making the wheel true to the tolerances expected across the bike industry.

Finally, you’ll stand back, marvel at your brilliance and return home basking in the glow of skills learnt having conquered the dark art of wheel building.

Course Dates are Saturday and Sunday 18th-19th Feb.

Cost is £200 for a 2-day course. Here’s the link to book:

Merry Cycling!

Back to school: but how?

September sees about 8 million pupils returning to school, or going for the first time. Around 35% will be driven to and from primary school, a journey with an average distance of 3 miles (significantly less in London where catchment areas are much smaller). Just 2% of primary school pupils and 3% of secondary school pupils will cycle to school, even though active travel options offer a range of benefits. So is it time to think about changing the school run, for the school ride?

The benefits

According to a 2010 study by Sustrans, nearly half of children wanted to cycle to school, with parents citing safety as the most important reason for not allowing them to do so.

In fact, cycling to school can be a great way to instill road safety skills in young children, and to allow them to develop the ability to manage risk effectively. It also promotes independence, training them to make good decisions for themselves.

According to teachers, children who cycle or walk to school arrive more relaxed and ready to learn than those who are driven. Undertaking a regular journey by foot or by bike will also help children to meet the recommended levels of physical activity.

Encouraging more people to ditch their cars has associated benefits for the entire school community and beyond. Potentially dangerous congestion at the school gates is reduced, as are levels of pollution.

Things to considerschools_level_1

Younger children will be accompanied on their journey until the parents feel confident that they are able to make the trip independently.

Spend time planning a route, choosing quieter roads where possible. Ride the route together during the holidays when you have plenty of time. You don’t want to be doing it for the first time on a school morning when, chances are, everyone’s running late and emotions are running high.

Pay particular attention to busy junctions, pinch points, passing parked cars and other situations where road positioning is extra important.

If possible, find other parents and children to buddy up with so that they can share the journey with friends.

When sharing the roads with others, visibility is key so think about donning bright clothing or a day-glo tabard over the school uniform. Reflectors and lights are a must when the days grow shorter. Being visible to other road users is also about how and where you position your bicycle on the road, and this is where cycle training can come in…

Get training

Cycle training equips both adults and young people with the skills and the confidence they need to ride on the road. Lessons are available to individuals as well as to families. You can even use the session to test ride the school run alongside a qualified instructor who will have local knowledge. They will be able to give expert advice on particular roads and junctions, and also help with route planning.

See what training is available in your area.

Is cycle training for me?

Who is cycle training for? The simple answer is that it’s for everyone. By which I mean that pretty much anybody who rides a bike, or would like to ride a bike, will gain something from a lesson with a qualified cycling instructor.

It’s for the kids though isn’t it?

Many people’s standard conception of cycle training will be what used to be known as the cycling proficiency test, and the training of school-age children remains a big part of our work today. Thankfully the rather ad hoc approach to cycling proficiency was replaced with the launch of the National Standard for cycle training in 2003, and it is this structure which guides training in schools under the banner of Bikeability.

IMG_5997Training is also available to adults, and whilst all training will be underpinned by the same National Standard, there is a large amount of flexibility that allows for training to be tailored to the individual needs of each trainee.


What if I never learned to ride a bike?

If you never learned to cycle as a child, don’t worry, it’s never too late.  Also, you’re not alone.  You might be surprised to find out that, according to some estimates, around one in ten adults don’t know how to ride a bike. The good news is that one or two sessions with a qualified instructor are usually enough to get a complete beginner pedalling along.

I already ride on the roads so I guess training’s not for me?

Cycling safely and confidently, particularly on the roads of a major city like London, involves much more than mastering the control of your bicycle and learning the rules of the highway code.  Although those two things do clearly make for a good starting point!

Unlike driving a car there’s no test to be taken before you start cycling on the roads (and I’m not proposing that there should be) which means that often even experienced cyclists have never actually stopped to think about the finer details of how they cycle. Like most activities, habits (good and bad) are quickly and easily established. As an example, a very common habit of urban cyclists is to only ever ride in a narrow strip of road within 50cm or so of the kerb. A little time with a cycling instructor spent thinking about how to increase your safety and visibility can modify this behaviour for the better.

Bespoke adviceIMG_6040

The great thing about 1-2-1 cycle training is that each session can be designed bespoke for the individual trainee. If you want to tackle a certain journey your instructor can sit down with you to plan a route before riding it together to provide advice on specific roads and junctions. Perhaps you are unsure of a certain turn or manoeuvre? If so then these can be looked at in detail. You can also spend time considering the existing cycling infrastructure in your area and discuss when’s best (and best not) to use it.

So whether you’re a complete beginner, someone returning to cycling wanting the confidence to use the roads, or an experienced cyclist wanting to make sure that you’re riding as well as you possibly can, take a look at what training’s available near you.

Are London cyclists really six times healthier?

A recent press release from Brunel University contained the startling claim that London cyclists are 6 times healthier than those who use other means of transport for their commute. Unsurprisingly such an eye-catching claim generated plenty of press coverage as the story was picked up by the Evening Standard among others.

The most obvious question raised by the headline is what measure of health is being used, and what does it mean for one person to be six times healthier than another. Is their resting heart rate six times lower? Is their aerobic capacity six times higher? Will they live six times longer?

Brunel University Cycling ResearchThe answer is contained in the full report, which can be found in the Journal of Public Health here. By analysing Sport England’s Active People Survey the author discovered that ‘utility cyclists’ (more on this term later) were 4 times more likely than others to meet UK guidelines on amounts of physical activity. For those living in inner London the figure rises to 6 times, which leads us (sort of) to that press-friendly headline.

Of course, undertaking a certain minimum recommended amount of physical activity will not make somebody 6 times fitter than a person who does not. Indeed, someone who just exceeds the threshold may well be only marginally more healthy than somebody who falls just short, or indeed may be less fit once other dietary and lifestyle factors have been accounted for.

Nevertheless, we should be willing to forgive the misleading reporting as long as the overall effect is to communicate the important underlying message. Which is that an individual’s choice of transport can have a dramatic effect on their health. Or more succinctly: cycling to work will make you fitter.  All the evidence suggests that it can also improve your psychological well being, as well as your bank balance.

Build exercise into your daily routine

So how much physical activity should you be doing? Government guidelines suggest that adults (19-64) should aim for 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. One way of doing this would be to cycle a 15 minute journey each way, 5 times a week. When you consider that the average cycle commute in London is 9.3 miles, and so more likely to be around 45 minutes in each direction, it becomes clear that the majority of London cycle commuters will comfortably exceed the recommendation.

The great thing about choosing what are known as active travel options (walking or cycling) is that they incorporate exercise into your daily routine, increasing health using only time that would otherwise be spent sitting in a car or bus, or squashed into a tube carriage.

What is utility cycling?

Shopping by bike: Kamyar Adl

Interestingly the report only accounts for activity classed as ‘utility cycling’. This is defined as ‘cycling for purposes other than…health, recreation, training or competition’.  Riding a bike as a means of transport is the original and still the most common form of cycling, but this captures an important point – that to reap the health benefits offered by cycling you don’t need to don full lycra and head for the Alps, or spin a stationary bike in the gym, or ride endless laps of the velodrome. You can simply choose a bicycle as your everyday way to get around.

Wider implications

This basic insight has important implications for wider society, and for policy makers. It demonstrates that promoting cycling as a transport option has massive potential for improving public health. It also suggests that putting money into making utility cycling a more attractive option, for example through better cycle infrastructure, offers a fantastic return on investment.

Getting started

If you are considering commuting by bike in London but need a little help and advice to get started, a 1-2-1 training session can be a great way to overcome any doubts or fears you may have. It’s not guaranteed to make you six times fitter, but it will be several steps (or turns of the pedals) towards a healthier lifestyle.

Gearing up for the winter commute

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”
– Alfred Wainwright

The vagaries of the British weather can throw up surprises for cycle commuters at any time of the year, but it is the cold, dark winter days that will provide the greatest test of riders’ resolve.  With winter feeling like it finally arrived in earnest this month, it’s worth investing in a bit of preparation and the right gear. That done, anyone can enjoy the benefits of travelling by bike all year round.

The Bicycle

There’s no denying that your bike has it a lot tougher in the winter months, so you need to show it a little more love and attention. It’s a good idea to get a thorough service in order to make sure that everything’s in good nick, particularly the brakes (which must be set up well to be effective in the wet) and the drive train.

A good service in winter is worth it's weight in gold
A good service in winter is worth it’s weight in gold

Once everything’s running smoothly regular maintenance is vital to keep things that way and to get rid of the grit and grime that is thrown up from wet roads. You won’t always feel like spending an extra five minutes cleaning your bike once you get home, but making the effort once in a while will be worth it in the long run.

Nothing makes the cyclist’s heart sink like the dreaded P-word, so to avoid having to utter it, invest in some tyres with decent puncture protection. It’s also a good idea to check your tyres every so often for bits of grit, stone or glass that have lodged in the rubber. Often these don’t cause a puncture immediately you ride over them, but can work their way down over time, so a quick once over can actually prevent flats. Wider tyres will give better traction in slippery conditions, as will running them at a lower pressure. A recommended pressure range for tyres is given on the sidewall.

When riding on wet roads the biggest enemy to your comfort is the water sprayed up from the wheels that, if unchecked, will soak your back and legs in no time. Mudguards will stop the worst of this, particularly if they are the close fitting type (see this guide), and the cyclist behind you on the road will have reason to thank you too.


If you don’t already own them you’ll want to go shopping for a waterproof jacket and a pair of gloves. Even on the coldest days you should avoid wearing too heavy a jacket. You might be surprised by how much warmth you generate cycling and a thick overcoat will soon have you overheating. The jacket doesn’t necessarily have to be a cycle specific product, although these will tend to be cut differently (long in the arms and long at the back) to suit a stretched out riding position.

Hands are particularly susceptible to wind-chill and so as soon as the mercury starts to drop it’s on with the gloves. Specialist cycling gloves will have extra padding on the palm, dampening vibrations from the handlebars. Another useful feature built in to some gloves is a section of towelling material that can be used to wipe away sweat and rain.

Apparently it’s not true that most body heat is lost through the head, but having a chilly bonce is undeniably not much fun, so a warm hat is a must. For helmet wearers an underhelmet hat can be a good option.


Good lights, front and rear, are essential for winter riding. Bright clothing also improves visibility, although if fluorescent jackets don’t meet your style criteria a less garish garment with some reflective elements built in might offer an acceptable compromise.

The other important way to make sure you are seen is to ride confidently.  Riding too close to the kerb, dipping in between parked cars, and filtering on the left of queuing traffic will all reduce your visibility to other road users.


Riding in the wet and the dark presents its own challenges but shouldn’t be too daunting for the confident rider. Many techniques which are good practice in all weathers become even more so during winter.

As noted above, for reasons of visibility it’s never a good idea to ride too close to the kerb. What’s more, in poor conditions, rainwater, grit and other debris collect in the part of the road adjacent to the kerb and can cause punctures and accidents. Potholes should be avoided, as, when filled with water, it can be impossible to gauge their depth. Take extra care also when riding over painted lines and metalwork in the road, as these can become much more slippery when wet.

Cycling in Winter
Cycling in the snow by Colville-Andersen

If you find yourself riding on ice, as can sometimes happen, try not to panic. Stop pedalling, ride in a straight line, and avoid braking if possible as grabbing a lever will tend to be the quickest way for you to meet the ground.

What’s my motivation?

Years of experience cycling every day in London confirms that complete soakings are less frequent than you might think. You can expect somewhere around 6-8 of them in a whole winter’s worth of Monday to Friday commuting.

And when the going really does get tough, try to focus on the benefits you will have already accrued through you choice of transport. The money saved, the fitness gained, the calories burnt.

So you see, there really is no such thing as bad weather.