Cycling in Oxford

This article is mostly aimed at people who have never cycled before (either adults or children), and want to try it for the first time, or haven’t cycled for a long time, and want to restart.

The best place to start is to read the beginner’s advice here –  Have a look through that site, then come back here for some Oxford specific support.  Further support resources are listed at the end of this article.

Buying a bike

Secondhand bikes are abundant in Oxford, and are a great way to minimise initial outlay costs. This is particularly true for kids bikes, which can only last for 9-12 months before they need to be upgraded to the next size. The higher-end kids bikes (e.g. Islabike, Frog) are very well made and depreciate slowly, so they can be sold on to another family once your own children have grown too big for them. As a general indication, children will ride bikes with 14″ diameter wheels aged 3-4, bikes with 16″ diameter wheels aged 4-6, bikes with 20″ diameter wheels aged 7-9, and bikes with 24″ diameter wheels aged 9-10, at which point they should be OK to move onto a small-framed adult bike (with 26″ or 700c wheels).

The Kassam car boot sale (Sundays at the Kassam football stadium) has a couple of reputable sellers who refurbish old bikes to sell on at good prices.

There are normally a good number of quality used bikes for sale in Oxford on eBay, Gumtree, Nextdoor or Facebook, just follow the age-old maxim that if a sale looks too good to be true, it very probably is, and be careful not to buy a stolen bike, by running a frame number check on

Most local bike shops (see list below) carry some secondhand bikes. This author bought a quality secondhand city bike from an Oxford bicycle shop for £150 in 2004, and it’s still going strong today, so getting on for a purchase cost of £8 per year of service.

For new bikes, Oxford has a range of bike shops, from the big chain sheds, to independents selling high-end gear, as well as specialist shops for cargo bikes and electric bikes.  All of these shops should accept some form of cycle-to-work scheme vouchers which can really help people afford to make the switch to cycling – check with the shop when you enquire.  

Search for ‘bike shops of oxford’ in Google:

Our favourite independents are Bikezone, Warlands, and Reg Taylor.  However the chain stores (Decathlon and Halfords) both offer amazing prices on new eBikes, which are a great choice for people starting cycling for the first time in older age.

Outside of Oxford there is

Get riding

There is plenty of great getting started advice at

In Oxford, the best places to start riding are in a low-traffic neighbourhood, such as Florence Park, Church Cowley, Temple Cowley, St. Mary’s, St. Clements, or the Divinity Road area.  These areas are all low-traffic, which means you can learn the ropes safely without worrying about motor traffic.  Just watch out for all the other cyclists you will see!

Oxford is criss-crossed with cycleways, some of which are even signposted 🙂

Oxfords Quickways are new cycle lanes that provide more experienced cyclists with increased priority on main roads –

Getting children cycling

By far the best way to get kids cycling is to get a balance bike when they are very young.  These bikes have no pedals, and allow children to learn how to safely balance on two wheels.  They then progress to pushing themselves along using their feet, and get used to steering, and stopping.  Kids who learn on balance bikes never need stabilizers, and have learnt the cycling basics so well that they are up & running with pedal bikes within 30 minutes of getting on one – it’s quite amazing to watch!

Additionally, many schools provide cycle training, such as Bikeability.


Unfortunately bicycle theft in Oxford is rife as it’s not considered a cost effective policing priority by Thames Valley Police, so it’s pretty much open season for bike thieves.  This author has had at least five bikes stolen, and at least 3 of those were securely locked.  

By far the most effective way to avoid bike theft is to a) have an OK but not too fancy bike and b) have a high quality d-lock and something sturdy to lock it to.  Use a high quality D-lock and ideally a toughened cable to secure your bike and front wheel at the same time. You should spend about 10% of the purchase price of your bike on your D-lock, and nothing less than £40.  If you have the storage space, consider having a ‘pub bike’, an older/cheaper bike that gets you to the pub (or park, or town), but is not your long ride bike.

There is a lot of additional bike security advice here –

Specifically for Oxford, do not leave an expensive bike at either of the train stations or a park n ride site – it will probably get stolen, no matter how many locks you use.  Removing parts is also common – wheels, saddles etc can all get pinched if not secure.  Never leave your lights on your bike if you want them to be there when you return.  Plus check the thing you are locking your bike to does not lift out of the ground – a common thieves tactic is to have a metal rail that looks sturdy but actually lifts out of the ground such that a lock can be slid off very easily.  There is a well known example of this at the Kassam football stadium.  

The other main way to fight the thieves is to register your bikes with BikeRegister, and run their free stolen bike check before buying any bike.


If you have space, a bike shed with it’s own secure cycle stand is a good option.  If you don’t have space, e-mail your city councilors ( to ask for more community cycle storage in your area.  London has thousands of bike hangars, and long waiting lists for rental – Oxford has just installed it’s first 4 hangars – we need more, so ask your local city councillors to help.

In terms of general city cycle parking, the stations have lots of racks, but also a major theft problem, so if parking there ensure your locks are good ones.  Broad Street is the other main cycle storage area in Oxford.  

Some areas are woefully underserved for bike storage (the Kassam stadium being one, spot the theme here?).  Many shops, pus and restaurants will provide little or no bicycle parking, and the bike racks there are tend to be ‘wheel benders’ where you squeeze a wheel into a pronged hoop, rather than a Sheffield stand, which you park your bike frame against.  If we keep asking for more, better cycle storage, we should slowly start to get it.


To keep costs to a minimum, most routine maintenance can be easily carried out yourself with a small toolset and some practice (and the help of the internet, or a good old fashioned book – Budget for roughly £50 of parts (tyres, brake pads etc) each year.

The bike shops listed above can all provide maintenance services, or Broken Spoke bike co-op provide both DIY maintenance areas, and bike mechanics courses, including one event night a month for women, trans and non-binary folk to come use the workshop-

Broken Spoke also have mechanics or staff who will repair your bike for a fee, using salvaged parts on hand. This service is open Tuesdays and Fridays as of summer 2022, but see their website for current details.

Some local firms offer a mobile ‘cycle doctor’ service (e.g. that visit offices on certain days of the week, to provide while-you-wait maintenance.


Get some USB rechargeable lights, use them, keep a little box for your lights by your front door.  Tredz are a current leading online retailer –

Hiring a bike (or just trying one)

  • Some of the upmarket hotels provide their own cycle rental (Quod, The Old Parsonage) for guests.
  • At one point there used be cycle tour operators (including rickshaws), but these are currently not offered, as far as we know.
  • Or join a Facebook group and ask to borrow one – cargo bike owners love to lend them to others to try out – see end of article for useful links.

Oxford Cycle Clubs

Cyclox want to put cycling at the heart of Oxford’s future
Isis bike rides for women in oxford
Cowley Road Condors club riding
Oxonian cycling club
Joyriders, volunteer-led rides by women, for women starting in the heart of communities around the city

Other useful stuff

  • Critical Mass – a leisurely group ride on the last Friday of every month, meeting at Broad Street

Further support resources