Suitable bikes

There is no such thing as a ‘proper’ bike that you need to take part in our rides. All we expect is that it should be legal and roadworthy for your own safety and the safety of those riding with you.

There are a few things you should think about:

Type of bike

We see a variety of cycles on our rides: bikes with dropped handlebars; bikes with straight bars; ‘hybrid’ bikes; bikes with suspension; tandems; tricycles; tandem trikes; recumbents; folding bikes; bikes with electric motors. So you see, nobody is excluded because their bike doesn’t fit in.

However, you might find after a few outings that a few changes to your bike (or even a different bike) would make riding a lot more comfortable. Ask any of the other riders for advice.


A ride along the coast is not going to be very challenging (and we do have members who will come out on a single-gear bike), but even locally there are some hills without even venturing into the Downs. So a wide range of gears, including low gears, is going to make your ride a lot easier.


Make sure your tyres are not worn and that they are inflated to the correct pressure. Pump them up to at least the minimum pressure shown on the side of the tyre. Most people will inflate them to near the maximum, it might make the ride a bit harsher but the tyres will roll better.

Most of our riding is on the road, but some parts might be on tracks. Fat, knobbly tyres are better on rough tracks but tend to be slower on tarmac. Narrower tyres are faster on the road but can still be used on tracks.

If you are keen to explore off-road, look for tyres that have a ridge round the centre of the tyre that gives you a smoother and more efficient ride on tarmac.


Brakes are probably the most important part of the bike. Make sure your brake pads are not worn down and the brakes are well adjusted and efficient. See here for how to adjust brakes or give the job to a bike shop.


Make sure your chain is lubricated cycling will be less work and gear changing will be smoother. You should use specialist chain oil, one of:

  • Dry lube - keeps the chain cleaner for longer but it gets washed away in the rain
  • Wet lube - is more all-weather but it attracts dirt more than dry lube.

You can use 'normal' oil but it is less effective than oil designed for bike chains and tends to fall through chain so a lot of it ends up on the floor. WD40 is not suitable for oiling chains.

Every now and again you should clean your chain. One method is to remove the chain, shake it vigorously in a well sealed jar half full of white spirit, thoroughly wash the white spirit away - or let it evaporate, hang it to dry, refit it, then lubricate it. The jar of white spirit lasts for several chain cleanings. For a more esoteric explanation of chain care look here.

Chains stretch over time and will have worn the teeth of the rear sprockets making gear changing difficult, or you might find the gears are slipping. If this happens to you, you will need a new chain and new sprockets. You can make sprockets last longer by using a chain gauge to detect chain wear before it has had time to damage them (although they don't last forever).

Saddle height

Assuming the bike is the right size for you (if not, consider a replacement), make sure the saddle is at the right height. When you’re pedalling the leg should stretch to almost, but not, straight. If your knees are too bent or your leg is completely straight, you will know about it next day.


We don’t insist on mudguards, they're not necessary on a fine day, but if you ride in the rain without them you’ll get a dirty wet stripe up your back and the rider behind you won’t be too pleased at being sprayed with water.


Most of the year we don’t need lights on our rides. But be aware that in the winter months it starts to get dark around the middle of the afternoon so you should make sure you have lights with you just in case.

Some lights come with a 'day' setting that emits short, bright flashes designed to be visible in day time. Some of us find them a useful safety provision.


You will want to carry something with you: inner tube, tools, sandwiches perhaps, waterproof top, map, wallet. If you can’t get these into the pockets of your jersey you will need something else to carry them in.

A rucksack is not a very good idea; it can be sweaty and uncomfortable if it’s heavy. Other options are: a saddle bag; a rack pack; panniers.

For some useful information about how to maintain your bike look at this.