Book: Bicycle by Helen Pidd



Useful and comprehensive guide for beginner cyclists that'll serve as useful reference for years to come

A book aimed quite squarely at the complete cycling neophyte, ‘Bicycle’ is designed to be a one-stop shop for anyone starting out on two wheels or as the book's strapline says "Love your bike: the complete guide to everyday cycling".

Written in a non-threatening and conversational tone, seeking to reassure uncertain newbies, it brings together all the elements that need to be considered when looking at your first bike or kit purchase. Chapters cover buying a bike, clothing selection, safety equipment, basic maintenance, riding safely, storage and security, leisure riding, commuting, touring and more competitive cycling. Information is effectively delivered and easy to grasp, whilst the book as a whole will remain a good point of reference long beyond the first forays into the world of cycling.

That said, considering Helen Pidd is an experienced cyclist, which shows through in her practical and informative writing, the book nonetheless has a tone which, to my mind, will only appeal to a predominantly female, fashionable, urban readership. Pidd is scathing about much of the traditional cycling community and its kit, whilst simultaneously dipping into it herself through her various cycling based activities. There’s nothing wrong with a book that will appeal to a sector of society that might currently see the sport as ‘not for them’, and indeed it could be seen to have enough of a place doing just that, but it seems a shame that here this is only possible by alienating those who might be more traditional or ‘sporty’ in their attitude. There’s an enduring feeling of ‘them’ and ‘us’ throughout the book that grated slightly.

Despite its tone there's no arguing with its content, this is a genuinely useful beginners book, and one that delivers a surprisingly comprehensive amount of information.

Just don’t buy it if you find high viz quite fetching.


A useful and comprehensive guide for beginners to cycling. Self-consciously aimed at the fashionable, urban would-be rider.

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Make and model: Book: Bicycle by Helen Pidd

Size tested: n/a

Rate the product for quality of construction:
Rate the product for performance:
Rate the product for value:

Did you enjoy using the product? Useful, but tone of book not aimed at riders like me

Would you consider buying the product? Possibly, for more fashionable urban friend.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Only trendy city dwelling ones

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 37  Height: 1.65m  Weight: 67kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb,

Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling. 

Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other. 

She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting. 

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