How to choose the right cycle for you

Two different types of cycle locked to a railing

Whether you’re commuting, heading out for some exercise or a family ride, cycling in London is an easy way to get around. 🚴 But first, you need to choose the right cycle for you. We’ve partnered with Halfords, the UK’s leading cycle retailer, and the Wheels for Wellbeing charity to help you find the perfect one. 👌

Consider how and where you would cycle

All cycles are the same, right? Not at all! If you plan to buy a cycle, it should match how and where you want to ride.

Road cycles

Built to be fast, road cycles are best for leisure riding and commuting. Dropped handlebars allow you to get closer to the frame and tuck into a more aerodynamic riding position. Road cycles often have slimmer tyres, lighter frames and larger gears – all to help you keep moving! 🚴 💨

If you want to challenge yourself to ride further and faster or swap your commute, a road cycle may be the best option.

Mountain cycles

Mountain cycles are great for everything from riding up your local trails or along canal paths. They can be used on tarmac, but will be slower and heavier than other options – they are best for off-road adventures. 🚵

Mountain cycles benefit from either a rear suspension (hardtail mountain bikes), or a front and rear suspension (full-suspension mountain bikes). Absorbing any bumps, this creates a smoother ride that can handle whatever you can!

Hybrid cycles

Person riding a hybrid cycle

Hybrids are a popular choice for urban riders. Flat handlebars let you keep upright for a comfortable cycle. Most hybrids have racks which allow you to carry things on your journey and mudguards so you can avoid getting dirty.

With a wide selection of gears, you’re ready to combat steep hills or coast along the flats. Many hybrids also come with front suspension to make easy work of rougher urban roads. A practical day-to-day option, hybrids are perfect for shorter journeys.

Folding cycles

Collage showing a folded cycle on an escalator and another in the park

Folding cycles are great for journeys which combine riding and public transport – it’s the only cycle that you can take on all our services at any time. They’re typically light, easy to carry and can be stored easily inside.

Family cycles

If you want a cycle with space for your kids or even your weekly shop, cargo bikes are another great solution!

Find out why cargo bikes could be right for you

Create your own!

Wherever you ride, take your kids with you with the help of a child seat. 👩‍👧

With both rear and front-mount options, child seats securely attach to your cycle’s frame to keep your child safe. Similar to car seats, they have straps which are specially designed to keep your child secure. Most child seats have adjustable head and footrests so your child can enjoy a comfortable ride too!

Alternatively, tow your child with a trailer. Many can carry two children and are fully covered to protect your little ones from the elements.

Accessible cycles

Woman using a handcycle
Man on a recumbent tricycle
People using a side-by-side bike

Balancing on two wheels isn’t for everyone, but the fantastic thing about cycling is that it can be done in so many ways with an accessible cycle!


You don’t need legs to cycle! Crank the wheels with the power of your arms and get moving. Transform your wheelchair into a handcycle with a ‘clip-on’ attachment (choices of gears and e-assist models are available) or go for a single piece handcycle.

Recumbent tricycles

Take the stress off your joints and sit back in a proper seat. Recumbent tricycles support your lower back for better balance and a low impact ride. Low impact doesn’t mean low power – these are often faster than regular road cycles! 🚴💨

Tricycles and trikes

The best thing about trikes is that you don’t need speed to keep you upright! These three-wheeled cycles are a great option if you need added stability while riding and getting on and off. Many come with handy extra storage space in the rear, which also makes everyday trips and transporting your essentials simple. 🛍️


The balance of a tricycle, with the ease of a steering wheel – go karts are a fun and stable way to get into cycling.

Cycles made for two

Enjoy a ride with someone else with one or both of you in control! Cycles for two come in all shapes and sizes with options ranging from trike tandems, wheelchair tandems to ‘duet’ and side-by-side cycles, most of them available with e-assist options.

Go electric

Think cycling is wheelie difficult? There’s no need to worry as anyone can ride with the help of an electric cycle. You can rely on power assistance to help you on your way – never be afraid of hills again! 💪

Options for all types of riding (including road, mountain, hybrid and folding) mean you can still choose the perfect cycle for you. 🚲

Easy to charge at home using a standard 3-pin plug, electric cycles come with a variety of maximum ranges and assist levels – so you can always select the level of support you need. You can still get a good workout with an eclectic cycle though as they only provide assistance while you’re pedalling.

Get the right size

Cycling is a lot of fun, but it can quickly become uncomfortable if you don’t have the correct size cycle.

Getting the right fit is easy as manufacturers and retailers provide comprehensive size guides with a range of measurements to help. You’ll need to know your height and the length of your inside leg to find the right size frame. 📏

Learn how to set up your saddle in less than 30 seconds!

Try them out

Taking a spin around the City is a breeze with over 700 docking stations across London, there’s bound to be one near you! Try cycling with Santander Cycles from as little as £2 for 24 hours. With unique lights, comfortable saddles, puncture prevention and small wheels for fast acceleration, these cycles have been specially designed to help everyone feel confident cycling in London. 👌

Many local councils offer a three-month cycle trial where you can test different rides. Residents of Waltham Forest can request free cycle hire and training from the council. Camden businesses and residents receive one month’s free cargo bike hire.

If you’ve got your eye on a folding cycle, practice setting one up and cycle the streets with Brompton’s daily hire scheme. Try different wheels and get tailored advice from other disabled cyclists at an inclusive cycling session. Sign up for sessions in south London with Wheels for Wellbeing or check Cycling for All for sessions in other parts of London. Peddle My Wheels also offer a ‘try before you bike’ scheme for adaptive cycles in Lambeth, Ealing, Waltham Forest, Croydon and Southwark.

Get a discount

If you love your rented ride, council schemes through Peddle My Wheels let you take the cost of your rental off the price to buy your cycle.

Check with your employer before you buy a new cycle as you could save up to a third on your new cycle and accessories with the Cycle to Work scheme.

Scrap older, more polluting cars and motorcycles and buy a cycle – the ULEZ scrappage scheme could reward you with up to £2,000 for contributing to clean air and green transport in London. 💚

Lots of people are already enjoying the benefits of cycling in London, and once you’ve chosen the right cycle, you can too!

Share your photos

Get to grips with your new ride and share your photos using #transportforlondon on social media! 📲💻


  1. Should also mention a more utility-oriented style of bike, no? i.e. with low maintenance hub gears, built in lights, a frame lock and other useful and practical features. When I started cycling, that’s probably the bike I would’ve wanted – except no-one told me they existed.

    1. Exactly what I thought! Dutch-style bikes are often ignored on webpages like this but they’re fast becoming the bike of choice for many commuters. And for good reason!

  2. “road cycles are best for leisure riding and commuting”. No they are not the best bikes for commuting. They’re almost always sold without pannier racks or mudguards. Why aren’t Dutch-style bikes on this list? Pound-for-pound, they’re the best bikes for most commutes. They’re often sold with everything needed for everyday trips – proper mudguards, a strong pannier rack, built-in lights (dynamo powered or run off the e-bike battery), maintenance-free hub gears and hub (“roller”) brakes. They’re also a lot more comfortable to ride that road bikes and step-through bikes (which most Dutch-style bikes are) are easier to mount and dismount. All too often Dutch-style bikes are overlooked on webpages like this in favour or “lighter” bikes – light because they don’t come with what’s needed for everyday use – or bikes which have too many gears that most people need. Please update.

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