Cycling – getting started

Whether you use a bike for fun or to get to school or work, cycling is a good means of getting around. It's fast, environmentally-friendly, and can help you keep fit. All cyclists, whether experienced or not, should do cycle training.

Cycling basics

Getting started is easy - all you need is a roadworthy bike, a safety helmet and some means of making yourself visible.

Your local cycle dealer can advise you on the most suitable bike for your needs.

Before you start, there are some basic things you need to do to make sure that you and your bike are ready for the road:

  • take your bike for a check-up at your local cycle shop
  • make sure your bike is the right height and weight for you
  • make sure your bike is suitable for your purposes - a town bike, for example, will be no good for off-road riding
  • make sure there is a place to carry bags if you need them
  • cycling can be quite a vigorous activity, so it is important to be physically prepared - do some simple warm-up exercises before setting off

Cycling equipment

Some items of equipment are legally requirements for your bike:

  • a bell to let pedestrians and motorists know you are there
  • for cycling at night, front and rear lights (plus spare batteries) and a red rear reflector

Some other basic equipment is advisable to make cycling safe and enjoyable, including:

  • a safety helmet
  • reflective clothing for cycling after dark
  • puncture repair kit and tyre pump
  • a small emergency toolkit containing spanners, tyre levers and Allen keys
  • a sturdy lock
  • wet weather gear
  • a rucksack for carrying small items

Cycle training

Sustrans NI runs a number cycling training courses throughout the year. This includes on-road urban cycling for adults and courses for lorry drivers, providing them with the chance to experience the road from the cyclist’s perspective. 

Find out more at this link:

There are many other accredited providers that teach various skills, depending on your needs. This includes off-road mountain biking and cycling instructor training.

Cycle training and safety for children

Many schools in Northern Ireland can provide formal training for children in how to ride a bicycle safely, through the Cycling Proficiency Scheme.

You can find information on the cycle safety for children page.

Cycle paths and routes

The National Cycle Network is a national network of on-and-off-road cycle routes. There are currently more than 1,300 kms of cycle paths in Northern Ireland - this includes 170 kms of traffic-free paths offering long, medium and short rides for cyclists of all ages

You can access full details of Northern Ireland cycling routes at this link:

More useful links

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