Gearing up

Follow these essential tips to be sure to get the right bike to steer you successfully through your university career

When choosing a bicycle and cycling gear, remember that you will be cycling to your lecture hall, not competing in the Tour de France.

Just as there is no need to work out on the track for a visit to the library, there is also no reason to spend £1,000 on a top-of-the-range bike or go about sheathed in Lycra.

Many universities hold second-hand sales to pass on bicycles left by departing graduates and you can pick up a perfectly decent road bike for well under £200.

Take a second-hand bike to a mechanic for a full service — often costing no more than £30 — to make sure that the brakes, chain and gears are in smooth working order.

Wearing a helmet is still a matter of choice, but choosing to take to the roads without one leaves you open to serious injury not only in a collision but if you simply come off on a slippery winter’s morning.

It is a legal requirement to use front and rear lights while cycling at night and a reflective vest or jacket is also advisable. It is also illegal to jump red lights or cycle on the pavement (despite the actions of many suggesting the contrary) and you will be fined if caught doing so.

Invest in a good pair of locks, including at least one D-lock to fix the rear wheel and frame to something secure. Use the other to lock the front wheel to the frame.

Panniers or a basket are a big help when lugging books between classes and a waterproof jacket comes in handy for those rainy days.

Never cycle along the inside of a bus or lorry at a junction, even if the cycle lane leads you that way. Check regularly over your shoulder and always signal early and clearly.

Many local councils and universities offer free cycle training for those who would like to familiarise themselves with new surroundings. Take them up on it.

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