Cambridge is sometimes described as the cycling the cycling capital of the UK and it can often make your journey time much shorter if you cycle. You may already know how to cycle, if so that’s great! If not, that’s not a problem either! You can always learn to cycle before you arrive in Cambridge or even at Cambridge! If you’re not interested in cycling it’s really easy to walk everywhere too!
Are you comfortable cycling on roads? If not, again not a problem! You can try to get experience before you arrive in Cambridge or at Cambridge! Cambridge also has cycle paths to make it easier. Remember, it’s really easy to walk everywhere too!
Do you own a bike you can bring to Cambridge? If not: if you can get a good second hand bike at home, consider bringing that. If not, you can find a second hand bike in Cambridge or buy a new one.
Do you know how to repair a bike? If not, don’t worry, most people don’t! The basics are covered later on in this document and you can always find Youtube tutorials or go to a bike shop!
If you answered yes to all of these then you’re sorted – otherwise contine reading this guide to find out more!
There are a number of bike shops in Cambridge and the map below shows the close ones. The closest one to college is Bridge Cycles just by Magdalene Bridge. There’s also a few stalls in castle market that sell bike parts. The Cambridge University Cycling Club recommends Bicycle Ambulance but that’s slightly higher end.
The best ways to find a secondhand bike are Facebook groups, eBay, Gumtree, and even bike shops themselves as some may be selling demo bikes or trade-in bikes etc. Make sure you’re not buying a stolen bike by checking “https://www.bikeregister.com/”, the Police approved bicycle register. Its advised to avoid really bright colours or flashy paint-jobs as this is just more likely to get stolen if it stands out. Be wary of deals that look too good to be true and stay safe online of course! Get pictures of the actual bike for sale, don’t accept stock photos etc. Also check that the bike doesn’t need any fixing before its used as this may add on to the total price you pay. If you are buying locally, then consider how you are going to transport it to Cambridge! Be aware that trains have bike compartments which can be very useful.
Safety is always the most important thing so make sure you’re wearing a helmet and are visible at all times. That could be reflectors on your bike, wearing reflective clothing and/or using lights on your bike. Always use lights on your bike at night and have a rear reflector. Be aware of the road and the users you’re sharing it with so you’re ready if someone else makes a mistake.
Cycling with Tourists
Cycling with tourists can be very frustrating. Especially on weekends, they can walk in the middle of the road facing the wrong direction which makes it a pain to cycle past. In this circumstance you just have to go slowly and ring your bell/verbally warn them your passing. Be wary of people casually stepping out into the road as well. Sometimes, it might be easier to wheel your bike if there’s a very thick crowd or a big gathering on King’s Parade.
Cambridge has a one-way system around its centre which can be a bit tricky to navigate at first. The image on the next page explains it. It’s not particularly complicated but can be a bit annoying.
Using a good bike lock is important to keeping your bike safe! Never use just a wire lock, use a full metal D-lock and maybe a combination of that and a wire lock. Always lock the Body of the bike to the pole you lock the bike to as this is the strongest part of the bike. If this isn’t possible, lock the back wheel to the pole as most front wheels have a quick releasee so someone could steal the rest of your bike if you lock the front wheel. If there is nowhere to lock up: if you are with a friend, you can both lock your bikes together, else lock the back wheel to the body of the bike so it can’t rotate.
Most colleges and university sites have some form of bike storage
you can lock your bike to. Some of these are sheltered, some aren’t so it
might be worth getting a seat cover so if it rains, your seat won’t be soaked (pretty sure they give these out at the fresher’s fair). If no storage is there, you can lock your bike to anything that is immovable street furniture like railings or street signs but NOT drainpipes (easily break) or in obstructive positions.
Your bike is covered on theft by the insurance Fitz provides under: Bicycles aren’t covered unless locked through the frame and wheel to an immovable object in Cambridge. Have a read of the policy and make sure you understand what is covered and how to claim. Also look at what personal liability insurance you may have if you hit someone whilst riding your bike.
It might be worth bringing some basic tools like a swiss army knife, screwdriver, spanner, allen keys and/or a bike pump. Also, it is definitely worth bringing a spare inner tube if your tyres use them. Note that the porters have repair tools and a pump and other people will bring some too so if you can’t, it’s not a problem.
Pumping up your wheels – This is something that you need to do regularly to make getting punctures harder. The porters have a bike pump but you can bring your own or borrow someone elses. Different tyres have different ends to attach to a bike pump so make sure you have the attachment for your type of tyre. Road tyres typically require 80 to 130 psi ; mountain tyres, 25 to 35 psi; and hybrid tyres, 40 to 70 psi.
Chain come off – If your chain comes off, you just need to make sure it’s not trapped between any gears. Then push the gear derailleur forward (the little cog hanging below your back cogs), then using the new slack in the chain, thread it onto a gear. Then spin your wheel in the air using the pedals to make sure the chain is turning. Oiling your chain will help with your gear changes (not too much!).
Adjusting seat height – This is usually doable but if you’re struggling, some bike shops do it for free (in particular, Rutland Cycling under The Grand Arcade).
Flat tyre – If you have a puncture you will need to fix up the tyre. If it is very small and patchable you can do that but otherwise you will need to replace the inner tube (your tyre most likely has an inner tube but if it doesn’t, then search up how to replace the type of tyre you have). Replacing the inner tube involves taking the wheel off the bike. This is harder if it is the back wheel, but you can search up how to remove it. Then remove the outer tyre and the punctured inner tube, put in the new inner tube and put the outer tyre back over BEFORE inflating the inner. Put the wheel back on and then pump up the tyre.
Tightening your brakes – If your brakes are loose, you need to tighten them. You will probably have disc brakes or clamp brakes so search up how to tighten the type of brake you have. Usually this is easier with a friend. Make sure you test how tight your brakes are after as you don’t want to be catapulted off your bike, but it needs to be able to stop you properly and quickly.