Getting started with cycling
Start cycling with this beginners' guide, including safety tips, choosing a bike, motivation and cycling to work and school.
Cycling is a truly invigorating and liberating experience, enjoyed by people of all ages and from all walks of life.
Whether you're cycling to work, to school, to the shops or just for fun, the humble bicycle is an easy way to get more active.
This guide is designed to make cycling a safe and enjoyable experience for beginners, and provide you with tips on staying motivated.
Before you start
For short journeys, any good working bike will do. You might have an old 10-speed racer, a shopping bike or a bargain mountain bike that you could use.
If you're buying a second-hand bike or you have an old bike that's been gathering dust, consider having it serviced at a bike shop to ensure it's roadworthy.
If you're buying a new bike, there are lots of models to choose from. Hybrids, road bikes and mountain bikes are most popular.
A bike shop can advise you on the correct frame size and help you select a bike to suit your budget and the type of cycling you want to do.
Find out if your workplace operates a cycle to work scheme. This is a more affordable way of buying a new bike and safety equipment.
For most people, cycling is a safe and effective form of exercise. If you have any health concerns or an existing medical problem, see your GP before you start.
- practise in a safe environment
- wear a helmet
- be seen and heard
- check your bike
- be alert and plan your route
- always follow the Highway Code
If you haven't cycled much before or you're out of the habit of cycling, find yourself a traffic-free area to start off in, such as your local park.
Practise riding single-handed so you can make hand signals, and get comfortable looking over both shoulders to improve your visual awareness.
Before you start cycling in traffic, check the Highway Code for up-to-date rules and regulations for cyclists.
Regular cycling can reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke. It can also boost your mood and keep your weight under control.
A 30-minute ride will count towards your recommended weekly activity target.
Make it a habit
If you want some company on your bike ride, whether it's to work or just for fun, find a cycling pal using BikeBUDi. The free Bike Hub app finds the quickest or quietest cycle routes, on roads or on cycle paths. It can also locate the nearest bike shops.
Cycle to work
Commuting by bike is cheap, green and one of the easiest ways to fit exercise into your routine. Work out your route to work using Sustrans or contact your local council for free cycling maps. Transport for London has an interactive cycle journey planner and free local cycling maps.
Cycle to school
Riding to school is a great way to get the kids more active. Cycling has many benefits for children such as improved health, confidence and concentration. Parents may want to accompany younger children, which makes it a good way for grown-ups to get cycling, too.
Mix it up
There are many wonderful places to cycle in cities and the countryside. Cycling is an ideal way for friends and families to explore their neighbourhood and beyond. Sustrans has a map showing cycling routes in your region.
Join a bike ride
From charity rides to park cycles, signing up for a bike ride is a great way to stay motivated and experience the great outdoors. Find a bike ride near you using Bike Hub's events calendar or British Cycling's Let's Ride.
- Benefits of exercise
- Benefits of cycling
- Why we should sit less
- Physical activity guidelines for children (under 5s)
- Physical activity guidelines for children and young people
- Physical activity guidelines for older adults
- Physical activity guidelines for adults
- Exercise as you get older
- Couch to 5K: week by week
- Get running with Couch to 5K
- Life after Couch to 5K
- My Couch to 5K diary
- Running podcasts for C25K graduates
- How to run correctly
- How to stretch after a run
- Interval training for runners
- Knee exercises for runners
- Overcoming the barriers to exercise
- Knee pain and other running injuries
- Running to music
- 'I struggled to get out of the bath before C25K'
- 'Running helps manage my blood pressure'
- Mother and son bond over love for running
- 'My weight loss tips'
- Get active with a disability
- Fitness advice for wheelchair users
- Running in winter
- Exercising in winter
- Common exercise mistakes
- Why do I feel pain after exercise?
- How a well-fitted sports bra can reduce breast pain
- Exercises for back pain
- Lower back pain exercises
- Top 10 back care tips
- Exercises for sciatica
- Exercises for sciatica problems
- Common posture mistakes and fixes
- 'My search for a back pain cure'
- NHS Fitness Studio
- Get active your way
- Find your next challenge
- Get fit for free
- How to stretch after exercising
- How to warm up before exercising
- Nordic walking
- A guide to pilates
- A guide to tai chi
- A guide to yoga
- Cycling for beginners
- Dance for fitness
- Running tips for beginners
- Swimming for fitness
- Walking for health
- 10-minute abs workout
- 10-minute upper arms workout
- 10-minute firm butt workout
- 10-minute home cardio workout
- 10-minute home toning workout
- 10-minute legs, bums and tums home workout
- 5-minute wake-up workout
- 10-minute workouts
- Do I need to stretch before exercising?
- Exercises for strong bones
- 12-week fitness plan
- Balance exercises
- Flexibility exercises
- Gym-free exercises
- Gym-free workouts
- Easy exercises
- Sitting exercises
- Strength exercises
- Get fit with Strength and Flex
- Strength and Flex exercise plan
- Strength and Flex exercise plan: week by week
- Strength and Flex exercise plan: how-to videos
- 'Strength and Flex keeps me motivated'
- How to improve your strength and flexibility
This article along with others on a broad range of related subjects can also be seen on the NHS website at https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/cycling-for-beginners/.