If you want to get into cycling, this guide will come in very handy indeed.
Cycling is the perfect way to get fit and enjoy the great outdoors, with loads of amazing rides, right on your doorstep. But that’s not the only reason to get on your bike. Cheap, fast and good for the environment, it’s also the key to a stress-free commute. So what do you say? Want to pick up a new hobby and find a greener way to travel? Then you’ll love our handy guide to buying, borrowing and repairing bikes in Leeds.
Where to buy a bike
If you want to take up cycling, the first thing you need is a bike. The good news is, there are loads of cycle shops in Leeds, with something for every taste and every budget. For the comfort of a well-known brand, head to Evans or Halfords. The former has over 300 bikes in their Leeds store, while the latter stocks every big-name bike brand known to man.
Alternatively, make the most of the personal service and expert advice available at the city’s independent stores. All Terrain Cycles has been selling bikes in Yorkshire since 1907 and they have a 9,000 square foot megastore in Wetherby where you can put their expertise to the test. And Leisure Lakes Bikes will help you find the right ride, then ensure it’s fully adjusted to the right dimensions before you leave.
Chevin Cycles have bucketloads of experience and just about everything you could need to keep your bike in tip-top condition, while Fine Fettle Cycles make safety a priority by throwing in a free helmet, cable lock or front and taillight set with every bike purchase. And let’s not forget Edinburgh Bicycle Co-op. Their staff have a personal stake in the company’s success, so they go above and beyond to help every customer find the right bike.
If you’re after something a little more specific, why not get your bike custom made? Woodrup Cycles have a full-frame shop upstairs where bikes are hand-made in steel to your exact specifications, while Lifecycles offer custom-built, custom-painted Vertex bikes, complete with hand-built Torrent tyres. And for those of you who want to take your cycling to the next level, Dave Rayner specialises in competitive sports-standard bikes.
On a tight budget? Fear not, because you can pick up a second-hand bike on the cheap. The Bikes College is a social enterprise that collects, repairs and refurbishes unwanted bicycles. You can buy your bike, pre-repairs, and they’ll get it roadworthy for you. Leeds Bike Mill also recycle bikes, but they repair them first, so you can ride away with a fully-refurbished bike. And finally, Meanwood Valley Urban Farm sell bikes recycled by school children through their Reconnect Project.
Where to borrow a bike
Not ready to jump straight in and buy a bike? No problem – you can hire one. If you’re looking for a traditional bike-hire service in Leeds, try Pedego. They offer electric bike rentals from £14 for 2 hours or £25 per day – it’s the perfect way to test out your skills and see if you like cycling. But that’s not the only way to get your hands on a bike.
Leeds City Council is giving residents the opportunity to trial an electric bike for free. E-bikes have an electric motor that will speed up your commute and make light work of hills. They’re great if you’re just starting out and want to build up your fitness or if you’re taking on longer distances for the first time. There’s currently a waiting list, but once you make your way to the top, you’ll have three weeks to try out your bike and see if you like it.
Or you could always visit a Bike Library. From Leeds Urban Bike Park to The Compton Centre and New Wortley Community Association, you’ll find them spread all over Leeds and each one comes with its own fleet of bikes, ready for children and families to borrow for free. With so many to choose from, there’s sure to be a Bike Library near you.
If you’re at university, it’s even easier. The University of Leeds Bike Hub has a fleet of Ridgeback Speed hybrid bikes, equipped for city cycling, with 21 gears, rear and front lights, a D-lock and a luggage rack. They come in a range of sizes and can be hired for three months for just £22. Leeds Beckett has a fleet too, and they’re available to hire for three months for just £35 or for the whole academic year for £50.
Where to get your bike repaired
Once you’ve got a bike, you need to maintain it. You can do a lot of it yourself, but if you’re a complete beginner, you might want to sign up to a workshop to learn the basics. Many of the city’s bike stores offer them, including Chevin Cycles and Edinburgh Bicycle Co-op, but you’ll also find beginner’s maintenance courses at Leeds Bike Mill. They cover everything from puncture repairs to gear tuning and brake adjustments, so you can get a well-rounded introduction to bike maintenance.
There are other ways to learn too. For example, you could try one of the drop-in sessions at The Pedallers’ Arms, where you can learn how to repair your bike in a friendly, relaxed environment. They have tools, books and a team of CTC advanced mechanic trained volunteers to help you learn at your own pace. There’s no set price and no one will ever be turned away because they can’t afford to pay, but they ask you to donate if you can to help them continue their work.
Of course, you might just want to leave it to the experts, and that’s okay. Again, the city’s bike shops are your first port of call. Many have their own workshops on-site and offer everything from safety checks to custom repairs and full restoration services, but one stands out above the others – Woodrup Cycles currently maintain the University of Leeds’ 500-strong student hire fleet, as well as supplying and repairing police bikes for five local forces.
There are a few other repair options you should know about beyond the shops. Leeds Urban Bike Park offers a wide range of bike servicing options, including tune-ups, revamps, restorations and full overhauls, as does The Bikes College. Leeds Beckett University and the University of Leeds Bike Hub offer maintenance sessions at their BikeFix Workshop. And Re-Cycle Engineering do everything from repairs to alterations and adaptations, so you can get your bike exactly where you want it to be.