Bikes and Equipment

Getting a new bike can be a bewildering experience. Would it be best to get a hybrid, racing or mountain bike? What equipment is essential? How much should I spend? These pages are designed to help you answer these questions. And if you're still unsure, a good bike shop should be able to point you in the right direction. 

Choosing a bike


There are a large variety of different types of bikes. And the one which will suit you best will depend on how you'll use it. Think you'll often be going off the beaten track? Then a mountain bike may be best for you. Want to speed along London's roads? Perhaps choose a racing bike. Think you'll be using it for a mix of commuting, and fun at the weekends? Consider a hybrid. There's more information about these bike below, as well as the essential equipment we recommend you invest in. 

  • Hybrid  - lighter than a mountain bike but more sturdy than a racing bike - a good option for going around town. The hybrid is a relatively new style. Also referred to as 'trekking' bikes, they are ideally suited to most leisure riders and a good deal of commuters. 
  • Racing  - light and fast but have thin tyres that can be susceptible to punctures. You'll have seen these in the Tour de France. Racing bikes (also known as road bikes) are designed to go as fast as possible on tarmac. Everything is pared down as much as possible to save weight and improve aerodynamics. The riding position is quite hunched over to cause less wind resistance, and the drop handlebars give a choice of riding position depending on conditions. 
  • Mountain - robust but heavy, they can be slower on the road. Mountain bikes have tough frames, good brakes, lots of gears and knobbly tires; perfect for riding off the beaten track. Suspension is now common. Mountain Bikes, however, do not necessarily all have suspension, some have rigid forks and frames, others just have suspension forks and some have suspension front and rear.
  • Fixed gear - simple and lightweight, with only one speed. Unlike most bicycles (which incorporate a freewheel to allow the pedals to remain stationary while the bicycle is in motion, so that the rider can coast) when bike's rear wheel turns, the pedals always turn in the same direction.
  • Folding  - saves on storage space and can be taken on public transport. Folding bikes are designed to be easier to store and transport than normal bikes. You can fold them up to put them in the back of a car, store them in a closet, and take them by train or bus. They are perfect for commuting, as you can cycle to your nearest train station or bus stop, quickly fold them up, and put them behind your seat or in a luggage rack.

Getting the right equipment

  • Helmet - Cycling is actually much safer than you might think, especially if you observe a few simple techniques. That said, a helmet does offer you some protection in case of a collision. For types of riding where there’s a significant risk of a crash that doesn't involve a motor vehicle (such as mountain biking) a helmet is definitely a good idea. Remember: if a helmet is going to be effective at all, it needs to be properly fitted and securely attached to your head, which means it should be level, covering your forehead, and the straps should be snug. Read more about cycling safety
  • A good lock - If you park your bike outside, you’re going to need to lock it up. This is one area where you truly get what you pay for: good locks generally aren't cheap. Read our top security tips to find out more. 
  • Lights - These are essential if you’re going to cycling at night or in limited light conditions. Your lights have two functions; to make you visible, and to illuminate the road. You may be landed with a £50 fine for cycling without lights at night too.  
  • High viz - You should always make sure you can be seen on your bike. Eye-catching neon and reflective materials will do this in the day as well as at night. 

Staff Financial help

There are two main ways staff members can benefit from cycling at UCL. First, through the Cycle Scheme, that allows staff to sacrifice some of their salary each month to go towards a tax-free bike. And secondly, through getting business by bike travel reimbursed

Page last modified on 06 may 14 15:39