Getting Started

Most of the information on this page is reproduced with the generous permission of the fabulous (but no longer available) Cycling in Auckland

How to get started

So first you need a bicycle. There are a couple options here:

  1. You can either rent or borrow a bicycle until you get the hang of it and decide what kind of bicycle you need; or
  2. Buy a bicycle if you are clear what type of bicycle suites your lifestyle and fits the kind of cycling you want to do.

There are many different types and styles of bicycles to fit different purposes. Don’t rush into the purchase of an expensive bicycle as you may change your mind once you have more experience. You may be thinking ‘lycra and toe clips and 20km training rides every night’ and in reality you may be more of a ‘pop down to the dairy and take your kids to the park on the weekend’ kind of rider.

So to start with, you want to ask yourself 3 key questions:

What type of cycling am I intending to do?

Write a list of the activities you are intending to accomplish on your bicycle and then think carefully about which ones are realistic. Think about your current lifestyle and be honest with yourself, are you the ‘thrill seeking’ mountain bike type or are you a ‘pop out for a latte’ type—of course you can be both—either buy two bikes or buy one that will accommodate both activities.

Check that any accessories that you may want on your bicycle, such as mud guards or a chain guard, are either fitted or can be attached.

What kind of person am I?

Are you the kind of person that has to have the latest tech gear in everything or are you more of a retro type? This may dictate whether you look for a bike on TradeMe or check out the high-end bike stores.

Are looks important to you? Will you be shopping for a specific colour or style of bike? Are you primarily interested in performance? What do you want to wear when riding your bicycle — skirts, jeans, lycra …?

How much do I want to spend?

Bicycles come in a wide range of prices from the ‘truly exorbitant’ to the ‘cut price cheapie’. Figure out what is your top figure before you go shopping and preferably do some window shopping before you make your final choice.

If the bicycle is purely for recreational purposes, you may want to spend less than if the bicycle is intended for transport/commuting and is therefore a ‘car replacement’—the cost of your bicycle will very quickly be recovered if you are not paying for petrol!


It’s perfectly normal to feel apprehensive about trying something for the first time (or at least the first time since you were 10!). Find a quiet street and practice a few skills first and then choose more challenging routes as you gain in confidence.

Read up on the rules and perhaps see if a friend or family member also wants to give it a go—you can practice together! There are also plenty of groups and group rides that you can join (check out the groups listed on our Links page). Or sign up for a Pedal Ready ‘Cycling in the City‘ adult skills course. These run on the first Saturday of the month, or you can book an individual session.

Why ride?

Well, most because it’s really enjoyable, but there are other reasons if you need more than just plain fun.

Mat’s Commute from Mat Barlow on Vimeo.

Safe bicycling for children