Campaigning for a cycle-friendly Dorset

Campaigning for a cycle-friendly Dorset
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Where to buy
Go to a reputable dealer.  They want your bike back for servicing or upgrade, not for complaints. Avoid Saturdays when they may not have much time to spend time with you. Most bike shops are very helpful and will encourage you to take a ride on more than one bike to try them out.
Beware of cheap bikes in newspaper adverts. Although the frame is usually OK, brakes, levers and other parts are often sub-standard and there’s no after sales service.
Make and type of bike
Touring, off-road, shopping, commuting?
A dealer can help you choose if you are clear what you want to use it for. For mixed use, consider a hybrid. The vast majority of makes sold by local dealers are satisfactory. Do not get an unbranded make.
Second hand?
Beware of bikes left at the tip or which have been left out overnight in all weathers. If you are tempted by an old machine, take it to a dealer with a good workshop and get it fully serviced.
Frame size.
Get one that leaves room for you to adjust saddle and handlebar height both up and down, not at either extreme. When you are seated in the saddle with one instep on the pedal at its lowest point, the knee should be slightly bent.
How many gears do you need?  It’s not the number of gears that matters  but the range between lowest and highest. To get you up steep hills you need a low bottom gear at a ratio of 1.2 to 1 or 1 to 1 if possible.
(Gear ratios are calculated by dividing the no. of cogs in use on the front chain wheel by those in use on the rear  one)
Many people recommend a triple front chain wheel and 7 to 9 gears on the back (i.e. 21 or 27 gears), but an 18-gear bike can be quite OK. For a range of views from cyclists on what gears to have, visit
Get a good saddle. If you aren’t comfortable on the one that comes with a bike it’s worth paying extra to ask them to fit one that does.
Straight mountain bike bars can be a literal pain in the back and neck. Higher bars, allowing a more upright riding position, are more comfortable. If they're adjustable, better still. On some bikes, adjustment fittings can be added to suit you.
Try lifting the bike. Could you manage if you have to carry it a short distance? For leisure cycling about 11kg is reasonable. For harder work, up to 14kg is manageable.
When you have the bike.
If you are a novice, before going out on the road for the first time, take a short course. Moors Valley Park Rangers run excellent courses for adults who want to get back in the saddle. Phone 01425 470721 or visit
Read the handbook and keep your bike clean and oiled where necessary.
Give it a regular safety check, using the checklist in our handbook  
A good quality foot pump with pressure gauge. Check pressures often and make your tyres last longer.
For safety: a rear-view mirror and a reflective yellow waistcoat or jacket.
To carry shopping etc. use side panniers - never cycle with anything hanging on the handlebars!
Ask your dealer for advice on wet weather and winter wear that can keep you cycling whatever nature throws at you!

This advice is given from the experience of members of the DCN Committee, who cannot accept liability for any consequences. The rule, as for any purchase, is “Caveat Emptor” - “Let the buyer beware.” In our opinion you will always do best buying from a local bike shop