​​There are many different types of cycling, and so equally there are many different types of bike on the market.  It is, therefore, important to choose a bike that will suit the type of cycling you plan to do.

  • A folding bike

    Great for combining a bus or train commute with a cycle-ride to finish your journey.

    Folding bikes are ideal for:

    • Commuting​ on roads
    • Commuting (mix of surfaces)​
    • ​Utility
  • Step-through or urban bikes

    ​These stylish bikes have a more relaxed riding position and are easier to mount and dismount gracefully, so are ideal for nipping about town.

    Step-through or urban bikes are ideal for:

    • Commuting​ on roads
    • ​Utility
    • Off-road cycle tracks​
  • Touring

    ​If you intend to go on longer distance cycling adventures, it is worth investing in a tourer or cross-bike. These combine road bike performance with the sturdiness and utility of a hybrid.

    Touring bikes are ideal for:

    • Commuting​ on roads
    • Commuting (mix of surfaces)​
    • ​Utility
    • On-road​
    • Off-road cycle tracks​
  • Commuting and utility cycling

    Most types of bike are suitable for short-commuter journeys - although for long on-road commutes, a hybrid, tourer or road-bike are the best options.

  • Off-road

    Mountain bikes are designed to be put through their paces on rough woodland trails and bridleways, whereas hybrids and tourers/cross bikes are suitable for gravel cycle-tracks.

  • Road-riding

    Whether for leisure or for sport and fitness, road bikes are designed to be ridden fast on tarmac surfaces and are not suitable for riding off-road.

    Road bikes are ideal for:

    • Riding on the road
  • Electric bike

    ​Becoming ever more popular and can be useful for those who are less-physically able or for journeys that have a lot of hilly-terrain.

Quick buying guide

Our quick guide can help you choose the right type of bike for your needs:

Commuting​ on roads
Commuting (mix of surfaces)​ ​Utility On-road​ Off-road cycle tracks​ Off-road bridleways and trails​ ​BMX tracks
​Hybrid ​Ideal ​Ideal ​Ideal Suitable Ideal​ Suitable ​Unsuitable
​Step-through / urban
​Ideal ​Unsuitable ​Ideal Suitable ​Ideal ​Unsuitable ​Unsuitable
​Road bike
​Ideal ​Unsuitable Suitable ​Ideal ​Unsuitable ​Unsuitable ​Unsuitable
​Mountain bike
Suitable Suitable Suitable ​Unsuitable ​Ideal ​Ideal ​Unsuitable
​Tourer / Cross
​Ideal ​Ideal ​Ideal ​Ideal ​Ideal ​Unsuitable ​Unsuitable
​Folding bike
​Ideal ​Ideal ​Ideal ​Unsuitable ​Unsuitable ​Unsuitable ​Unsuitable
​BMX ​Unsuitable ​Unsuitable ​Unsuitable ​Unsuitable ​Unsuitable ​Unsuitable ​Ideal
​Electric ​Ideal ​Unsuitable ​Ideal ​Unsuitable ​Unsuitable ​Unsuitable ​Unsuitable

Buying a bike

The general rule of thumb when buying a brand-new bike is, the more you pay, the better the bike. That said, a good-quality new adult bike can cost from as little as £200-£250. Anything less than this and the bike is likely to have poor quality parts with the potential for safety to be compromised. Ultimately, a cheaper bike could lessen your enjoyment and put you off cycling all together.

We recommend buying a brand-new bike from a reputable specialist. There are many independent cycle shops and cycling specific chain stores in Northamptonshire that can offer expert advice on choosing the right bike for you and help make sure the bike is set up correctly.

Bike shops

Some of the better larger chain stores that stock good quality bikes and can offer reliable advice include Halfords, Decathlon and Evans Cycles.  There are also many reputable online specialist cycling retailers.

Cycle to work scheme

Another option for purchasing a new bike is through a cycle to work scheme, allowing you to spread the cost and save you money.  Visit our Cycle to Work page for further details of how these schemes work.

Second hand bikes

It is also possible to buy a good-quality second hand bike for the fraction of the cost of a new one. This Cycling UK article gives a wealth of tips on what to look for.

The Umbrella Fair Bicycle Recycle Project, based at The Racecourse Pavilion in Northampton offers donated bikes that have been refurbished and given full check over at very reasonable prices.

Look out for forthcoming sales from Northamptonshire Police’s Cycl-opps programme, which takes recovered bikes and uses young offenders to fix them up before they are sold.

There are also a number of auctions and re-use centres around the county that often have an array of bikes, frames and spares for sale and, of course, there are plenty of online sites offering everything from basic mountain bikes to renovated vintage models.

Bike hire in Northamptonshire

You don’t even have to own a bike to enjoy cycling in the county as there are several places where you can hire a bike:

Cycle hire