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Complete starter in Leeds

ObitimObitim Posts: 26
edited September 2013 in Commuting general
Morning all!

I'm really new to this cycling business but have decided that I want to get fit/do my bit for the environment and most importantly save some cash so I have joined the Cycle to Work scheme.

A bit about me first of all:
I live in Leeds and will be commuting from Horsforth to Seacroft hospital, I've seen a couple of routes but the best seems to be to make my way to the canal path to Bridge Water place and then towards the A64 but anyone suggest any other routes?

I'm a total newbie when it comes to bikes (I used to commute the 3 miles to my old job about 10 years ago but that bike was old and knackered then!) so am looking to buying a bike and kit. I've read the guides and have an idea of what sort of bike I'd like and also the kit I should be looking for but still have a couple of questions:

1) Where would be best to go for a bike and gear? I've checked the types of stores and my choice is either an Evans cycle store or a local triathlon store in Horsforth. I'd think Evans would have more choice but I'd get a better level of service in the store in Leeds and they're local for tune ups?

2) I'm probably going for a hybrid or a cyclocross...if anyone knows a decent route, which would be better?

3) In terms of gear I'm going to invest in some LED's, a light to see by (as I reckon the canal path would be decent) and a high vis jacket and helmet (didn't used to wear one, I know better now!). I've got a rucksack at the moment which I'll probably be using for the meantime.

Any help is much appreciated!



  • davisdavis Posts: 2,566
    It's been a while since I spent much time in Leeds but I don't remember the Headingly/Otley road being that bad, really. I'd probably still give the canal a go, although I'd be tempted to avoid it at night as you're more likely to encounter scrotes by the canal at night (maybe not though, don't know the area that well!), but I can't really help too much with the route.

    Can you try a really cheap hack bike to test the route to see if it's doable before jumping in on the bike?

    1) I'd recommend local shops over big chain-shops, normally. The service you get is usually better, although you might have a very decent Evans!

    2) If you're thinking of canal tow-paths, then probably a cyclocross. (Huge generalisation alert) They're generally tougher-built and they'll cope better with winter. If you're commuting in winter then I'd say disc brakes, mudguards, and probably rack mounting points are a requirement (panniers are just better than rucksacks; they just are). Also, over the distance of around 9 miles I'd prefer drops as they offer more choice of hand position. You don't say what your budget is, but this seems to fit the bill (not seen or tried it!)

    3) Definitely go for lights! I run mine all the time, and I think they have more use than hi-viz (which I don't wear). You will likely find that cheap lights probably aren't worth the money, as the mount will fail or the light will let water in. There are exceptions to this, but honestly I've given up on cheap lights now. You haven't mentioned a lock though.
    Sometimes parts break. Sometimes you crash. Sometimes it’s your fault.
  • Hi Davis,

    Cheers for the info, I'm probably looking at about £500 all in budget as I've got to pay my loan off in 1 year as I'm on a fixed term contract :(

    I did think about a local place, I thought Evans might have more choice and therefore a couple of cheaper models knocking around!

    Mudguards sound good, I'l look into those and a decent set of lights, thinking LED's, hopefully with a rechargeable battery (depending on cost!)
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 15,962
    The towpath is gaining more tarmac all the time so you can probably do it on a road bike - or will be able to soon. But tbh, davis is right that Otley Road isn't that bad. Particularly if you can avoid the rush hour (I try to get into work early and leave early).

    I'd have thought that Woodrups on Kirkstall Road would be worth a look as is Edinburgh Cycles in Chapeltown. The latter will certainly have cheaper stuff and probably give you more time on the fitting than Evans (which always seems very busy).

    Panniers may be better than rucksacks but it does depend. For shorter routes, it makes knack all difference really and rucksacks are a bit more convenient than panniers. Certainly, if you have one and get on with it you can save a lot of money and weight by dispensing with the rack. That said, I like the large-ish saddlepacks Carradice sell. No need for a clunky rack (mount to the seatpost) and enough space for what you need if you don't bring the house in to work.

    Cheap lights can be excellent - eg Smart R2s for £11.00 from Planet X - a couple of those is as capable of blinding a driver as lights costing over £100. You need to spend a bit more on fronts but I have managed perfectly well for some years with a couple of RSP lights that cost £80 together. Rechargeable and powerful enough to light unlit roads.

    You may also find the Leeds Cycle Map useful. Not sure where you can get them (they had them at the Cycle Show in the Town Hall this weekend but that won't help you now) - the shops may have them though - or the library. Free and they show where the cycle routes are.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • I think it's doable. I moved away from Leeds over 3 years ago. Most of the areas you'll end up going, no matter what, will have Scrotes. Everywhere between where you live and near Seacroft Hospital is pretty much Scrote central (I lived there and am glad to have got away, lol).

    A64 never struck me as particularly cycle friendly if wanting to avoid traffic. Particularly after they changed the bus lanes to those silly things that go up the middle with kerbs for tracks.

    You could go to Cross Green then across the bottom of Osmondthorpe, and through Halton Moor (beware the Scrotes, and can't remember if it gets hilly through that bit [might be thinking of Temple Newsam]).
  • Morning!

    Thnaks for the info on the route, I think yeah, it seems to be scrote central, but hopefully I'll be going early enough that they'll not be awake at that hour...

    Went to Evans last night and got a quote for the gear, going to have a look at some reviews today and see what I;ve gone for...I've gone for basic gear:
    Bike (most important)
    Inner tube

    I'm gonna nip to Aldi tomorrow for the cheap winter gear as well...
  • Mark909Mark909 Posts: 456
    I've only ever road along leeds canal twice. Both times I've had hassle of youths. One group keep stopping and waiting for me to pass before flying pass me and doing it again and watching my bike as I road past. The other time I got surrounded by six 8 year olds on bmx's with one telling me that my bike was his!
  • Sounds pretty grim Mark...not sure I'm keen for that, where did it occur? Was it the same place both times?

    Perhaps I'll just stick to the roads...been checking Google routes as well as Bikhub
  • Last summer there were a couple of incidents where cyclists had been pushed into the canal and I think one man drowned (while a scrote called Adam Lowther took the man's bike to a pawn shop and got £20 for it). The police couldn't prove he'd done the pushing so he got off very lightly. There was also an incident where a disabled man was pushed from a motorised scooter and if I remember correctly he also drowned, these were both around the Kirkstall area.

    Having said that I've ridden the canal towpath from Leeds to Rodley/Shipley loads of times and never once had any trouble. Occasionally late at night I've seen homeless men that scare the life out of you ambling around in the dark, but I've never felt threatened at all.

    To be honest I'd use the road, simply because it is much faster. The towpath tends to wind around a bit and the surface is either rough and dusty or, after rain, rough and sludgey, it slows you down and means you have to clean your bike a lot more often! Although, as said above, they are slowly tarmac'ing it all I think they've got to up to Armley so far but I haven't ridden that way much this year.

    My experience of the A64 is not good, although I see they've put a cycle lane on it now, I'd still personally avoid it. Depending on where you are in Horsforth I'd look at cutting across north Leeds. Something like Otley Road -> Grove Lane (B6159) -> Potternewton Lane and then somehow on to Foundry Lane. I don't know these roads at all but they are likely to be quieter at the times you'll be using them and offer a more direct route than going into the centre and then out again.
  • Hi, Its longer via the canal into town from Horsforth than on the road as I've done this loads of times on my bike. The quickest way is straight down from Horsforth down past Kirkstal Abbey, straight down Kirkstal Road into town.Down Wellington street, past the train stration, keep going through town.Go past the corn exchange down to the market, keep going through the lights and past St Annes o n the right to the big DSS building.
    Go straight up York Road, past Great Clothes and the Irish Centre,keep going till you get to the Dog and Gun Pub, then keep left and its straight upto Seacroft Hospital.
    That will take about 50 minutes or so I guess. I would stay well away from Foundry Lane and Halton Moor if you want to keep hold of your bike. I was once cycling on Foundry Lane and a child threw a stone at my bike. At one point the bus service to Halton Moor was stopped on an evening because the buses were getting shot at. If you stick to the main route I've outlined you will most likley be o.k.
    What bike have you decided on?
  • HI there,

    Sounds like the canal is only for summer when it's light then...

    I'll give the main roads a go and head through town then, plus there does appear to be a few cycle paths on the route!

    I've gone to Evans and decided on a Dawes Discovery 201, it was in my limit and I could get a few extras for it too!
  • Mark909Mark909 Posts: 456
    Obitim wrote:
    Sounds pretty grim Mark...not sure I'm keen for that, where did it occur? Was it the same place both times?

    Perhaps I'll just stick to the roads...been checking Google routes as well as Bikhub

    Heading up out of kirkstall and back. It was just chav kids who have no respect for adults. I was annoyed more than anything.
  • Little sh!ts...

    Hmmm...cheers for the info on that!
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