Get Cycling: Part 1 – Why Cycle?

Emily James·4 March 2016·5 min read
Get Cycling: Part 1 – Why Cycle?

There are countless benefits to cycling. The main ones are (as you probably know) the cost, the good effects on health, and the convenience of getting from A to B in a relatively short space of time, if not as quickly as a car.

I visited Leith Cycles in Edinburgh, a popular bike shop for students in the area, and spoke to Richard, who runs the shop, to find out more, and to get a better idea of the benefits of cycling.

Richard Leith Cycles

Richard says, “The benefits of cycling significantly outweigh other modes of transport. You might spend around £45- £50 a month on bus fares. With cycling, you save money, it’s healthy, it’s green, and you feel like a child going down steep downhills!”

I wanted to find out about the affordability of bikes, especially for students on a budget. It’s really worth getting clued up before buying your bike, and you could save yourself hundreds of pounds in replacement costs and repairs by doing a bit of extra research before making a purchase. I asked Richard what the benefits were of going for a second hand bike, rather than a new one. He replied, “Well, you save money, but you have to know bikes so you don’t pick up a wreck.”

It is definitely worth going for a brand new bike if your budget can stretch. As Richard says, “The cost is not that much different given the amount you might spend fixing up a broken second hand bike. You might pick up a bike from a dodgy shop, but there’s no back up service if it breaks, especially if you buy one from Gumtree or car-boot sales.” He continues, “With us you get a free service after 6 weeks of purchase, as well as a warranty.” At Leith Cycles, the minimum price for a bike is £220, with the most expensive coming in at a whopping £10,000!

Young woman cycling on a road in the city

Still, there are some very good second hand bike shops out there – it just takes some searching and careful assessment. For example, you might spend an average of £150 rather than £200-250 for a second hand bike. The most important thing to remember when going for a second hand bike is to take it for a test ride. Make sure you check over the brakes, wheels, and gears, and see that it has been kept in good condition. Always ask for a receipt with a warranty, and don’t be afraid to take it back if it conks out after a few rides.

Compared to other modes of transport, with cycling you will easily make your money back in less than a year whichever option you choose. Say you cycle to university 3 days a week rather than taking the bus. With a weekend trip into town, that’s 208 trips a year, including holidays.

Here in Edinburgh, an annual bus Ridacard with Lothian Buses costs £525 (and that’s including a student discount!). A brand new bike would cost you half as much. So in 6 months you’ll have made back your money (and have a shiny new bike to keep for years to come!).

Road bicycle and concrete wall, urban scene vintage style

There are, of course, downsides to cycling, including bike theft, road accidents, and unmarked routes – but these can all be mostly avoided if you take careful measures. If you’re not sure what precautions you can take, don’t worry: more information on safety, maintenance, and storing your bike are coming later in this series.

Cycling is definitely my favourite option of transport locally. I bought my bike second hand, and it has lasted fine so far, however given the price difference, I might have opted for a brand new one when I was out bike shopping. I’m definitely going to treat myself to a new bike next time around after seeing the savings I’d make compared to taking the bus!