York is well supplied with cycle shops, with two actually on the Tour de France route - Cycle Heaven on Bishopthorpe Road and Shannon's on Boroughbridge Road. But what should the first-time cyclist look for in a new bicycle - and the clothes to wear on it?

Andy Shrimpton, of Cycle Heaven, has more than 20 years' experience of selling bicycle and cycling equipment.

His number one advice is: Don't buy online.

"If you have a problem, there's no-one to go back to," he said. "A good local bike shop will look after you and the after sale service will be really useful and valuable to the customer."

Bikes come in different sizes and riding the wrong size causes problems. A specialist bike shop will make sure you buy the right size and that all the bits such as gears, brakes etc work properly. It will also offer a free service after six weeks to check for and eliminate any teething problems such as cables stretching.

Prices for a decent quality first bike start at £300, a price that hasn't changed for ten years.

Bicycle types vary according to what the cyclist wants to do with it.

Urban commuting or riding about town is best done on a town bike or a hybrid bike.

For riding about the countryside, look for a road bike - they have the drop handles that racing cyclists use - or a hybrid bike with straight handlebars.

Mountain bikes are designed to be used off road and have wider tyres and suspension to cope with rough surfaces.

There are many bikes with lower or non-existent crossbars, sometimes called ladies bikes or "step-throughs".

There is no lower age limit for children. As soon as a child can balance on a bicycle they can ride it. Mr Shrimpton is strongly against buying stabilisers for children's bicycles, calling them pointless.

He prefers pedal-less bikes which a child propels by putting feet on the ground and learns how to balance before graduating to using pedals. His daughter, who never had stabilisers, has been cycling on a bicycle with pedals since she was three.

Specialist cycling clothes are not necessary unless you are riding more than an hour, nor are fluorescent yellow jackets. Cycling gear generally tends to have hi-visibility flashes and yellow may not be the most visible colour in the countryside. Orange or red can stand out more and ensure cyclists are seen by cars.