A beginner’s guide to buying a bike … a cyclist writes

The best place to start is the internet. There are masses of bike blogs about, offering great advice. Think about what you’ll use your bike for, and how you’ll use it.

If it’s mostly for short journeys, a smart town bike may be the answer, rather than a zippy carbon bike. If you’re short on space, consider a folding bike like a Brompton.

The best sources of advice will always be friends who cycle – drag them to a park and have a go on their bike. Ask them where they got it, what they like about it and what they don’t.

Ebay is often a good and potentially cheap place to buy your first bike with minimal chance of its having been stolen – though always check a user’s history to be sure.

Once you’re sure cycling is for you, you can always invest in a more expensive bike, and many workplaces will have a cycle to work scheme to help spread the cost.

Baskets are handy for slinging a handbag in when you’re in a rush. However, they also run the massive risk of making you look a bit of a pillock. Bread in a basket immediately marks you out as someone desperately trying to ape a Zooey Deschanel-style character from a terrible romcom. Avoid. Among cyclists opinion was torn over whether it was worse that Andrew Mitchell had allegedly called police officers plebs or that he’d done so atop a bicycle with a gigantic basket.

Don’t go in for masses of expensive kit – unless you’re cycling for miles, a quick change of T-shirt at the office is sufficient. Comfort is the key to making sure your bike doesn’t end up languishing in your hallway. I swear by jersey dresses, ankle boots and tights, because cycling’s fun, it’s a way of getting from A to B and it’s rarely dangerous.

Two things never to skimp on are lights and locks. Buy cheap lights and they’ll break. And they always break at 1am, when it’s raining. Good lights will last forever. Similarly, a good lock, like a Kryptonite, is a must. It’ll protect your beloved bicycle as well as it can, because losing a bike is a unique heartbreak. I have never wept in the street over a man, but I have over a stolen bicycle. 80S Raleigh Shopper, I will never forget you.

Two blogs worth a visit are lovelybike.blogspot.co.uk and cyclodelic.wordpress.com/

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