28 July 2020 18:42
People across England will be given £50 towards fixing their damaged or old bicycles as part of an ambitious new fitness scheme. People can apply for a voucher on a first-come first-served basis on the Fix Your Bike website from 11.45pm on Tuesday (July 28). The vouchers were initially due to be available in June - however the Department for Transport said they would only be made available once maintenance shops could handle the expected spike in demand. Once I've got hold of a voucher - how can I use it? Find a repair shop participating in the scheme and book your bike in for a check-up.
What do the vouchers cover? They can be used towards the cost of making a bike safe for use on public roads. Upgrading roadworthy parts or buying removable accessories such as lights or helmets are not included. The voucher will normally cover the cost of a standard service and replacement of a basic component such as an inner tube or cable. What happens if my bike needs several or more expensive new parts?
Cyclists will need to cover costs in excess of £50. Vouchers are capped at two per-household and they must be used on different bikes. The UK Government says it is releasing vouchers in batches to help manage capacity at cycle shops which have seen "overwhelming demand" for their services during the Covid-19 crisis. Is the total number of vouchers capped? Up to half a million vouchers will be released, but the initial batch is limited to 50,000. What have Halfords said about the new scheme? Halfords chief executive Graham Stapleton said: "When it comes to bike repairs, we've noticed a change in customer mindset, with more cyclists turning to us to help with the smallest of fixes as they dust off their old bikes and seek to avoid public transport. "As part of the scheme, our thousands of highly skilled bike mechanics will offer each cyclist a free 32-point bike check and diagnosis, which will help them decide how best to spend their voucher. "We think the Government's Fix Your Bike voucher scheme will not only help individuals become more confident about keeping their bikes maintained, but will help speed up the cycling revolution." Whether you're an experienced cyclist or have taken it up during lockdown, it's important to ensure you're equipped with the essentials to keep you safe. From glasses that improve your visibility, high-vis jackets to make yourself known to drivers and other cyclists on the road or elbow pads to cushion a fall, we've created a shopping list for the must-haves. As the weather in the UK can be temperamental, items you need, such as bike lights, will come in handy no matter what terrain you're venturing onto. In our guide on how to start cycling, Sam Jones from Cycling UK told The Independent: "Cycling remains one of the best in terms of safely maintaining social distancing."Not to mention, it's a good way to avoid coming into close contact with people if you're feeling wary about being in public spaces. So before you head out onto the road, make sure you've checked these products off your list, so you can be as safe, secure and as comfortable as possible. It goes without saying that you should always wear a helmet, to keep you cool, agile and most importantly protected. The POC omne air spin (Sigma Sports, £125) impressed us in our IndyBest guide to cycling helmets, that's aimed at gravel riders, road racers and commuters. It was the rounded design with a shiny hard shell finish that fits well that won our reviewer over, along with the nice thin straps and a highly adjustable retention cradle. This Abus stormchaser (Cycle Solutions, £116.99) topped our guide, which is designed for all types of riders. Our reviewer said: "There are some great design details to look out for – you can slot your sunglasses into the rear-facing arm holders while climbing hills and the lay-flat chin straps can be popped out when you need to wash them. Surprisingly, children riding a bicycle, scooter, skateboard, or anything on wheels aren't required by law to wear a helmet. But to give parents space of mind and protect little heads from injuries, we would highly recommend encouraging them to wear one. Thanks to modern designs there's plenty of colourful patterns that are both comfortable and safe, which will make wearing them simple, rather than lead to a tantrum. According to our reviewer: "The hard-body shell and impact absorbing features are ideal for serious mini cyclists, skateboarders or any child that spends more time riding on hard pavements than soft grass." It has well-thought-out features from a moulded anti-insect net to anti-allergenic padding and we found it to be a sensible choice if you tend to take your child on evening cycling trips, as it has a rear LED light fitted into the adjustment band, so your child will be seen both off or on road. "This style is adjustable from 52 to 57cm, ensuring the helmet will grow along with them and even our young tester became quite attached to wearing it, with very little persuasion – and that in itself makes it value for money." If you are going out when it's dark, make sure you have a high visibility jacket to keep you safe. In our round-up of the best reflective cycling jackets for women, we tested totally reflective jackets that make you glow in the dark to smart hi-vis gilets and the winner was the Reflect360 plus women's cycling jacket (Proviz Sports, £119.99). It's covered with millions of tiny glass beads, making it 100 per cent reflective at night time, but it will still look completely normal by day. Our reviewer noticed the biggest change in drivers' behaviour when riding in this jacket: cars gave her more space, and because the whole sleeve lights up, she felt much safer signalling turns on dark roads. The jacket is waterproof but mesh-lined and has great ventilation, which means you don't feel uncomfortably sweaty on long rides. It's windproof, water-resistant and includes attention-grabbing high-vis and reflective details. "It's superbly stitched together too, with a form-fitting design which will help you to cut through the wind with no annoying flapping material," said our tester. Cycling glasses Protect your eyes from the elements, whether that's blinding sunlight, lashing hailstones, insects or road debris with a pair of glasses. They can also make it easier to see the road in low light. The megol nose and arm pads ensured they stayed firmly in place, even when our testers were sweating in hot weather. Coronavirus: The global gap in education Show all 12 left Created with Sketch. Spare children's knees and elbows from scrapes and grazes, especially if they're cycling on uneven terrain, with padding. This SFR essentials triple pad set (John Lewis & Partners, £15) comes in two sizes; small and medium and is designed for beginners at cycling, skateboarding or rollerblading. It contains knee pads and elbow and wrist guard with soft lining, impact caps and backing socks for maximum comfort and will cushion any nasty falls. Bike light While of course, bike lights are useful for visibility, it's also against the law to ride at night without them, so it's well worth investing in a set that's both bright and long-lasting. Our highest-rated pair is this See.Sense icon 2 front and rear bike light set (See Sense, £149.99) which have every feature you could possibly need to stay safe on the road. They stay securely fixed to your hike with a plastic mount and you can link them up with the app on your phone to unlock the theft warning and trigger alert features, and the battery provides up to 16 hours of use. If you're confident on going on longer rides, use a GPS device to track them, set distance goals and record your pedalling rate, power output, or heartbeats. We'd recommend the Wahoo elemnt roam GPS bike computer (Evans, £299.99). The screen is a hefty piece of glass which should stand up to the rough and tumble of off-roading. Plus, you can set the LEDs on the left of the screen to show heart rate or power zones. Bike locks The HipLok DX (Tredz, £63.99) was the winner in our review of bike locks which easily fits into a pocket or onto a belt loop for safekeeping. It's Sold Secure gold-rated and the lock is protected from the weather by a rubber seal. IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.