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In tough times like these  we’re all looking for ways to save a few quid, but here’s a way to tighten the belt in more ways than one: cycling to work not only slashes fuel bills but also boosts health, fights flab and leaves you feeling healthier and more motivated.

And that’s not all. Besides the fuel savings, there’s another financial incentive in the form of the government-backed Cycle to Work scheme, which offers savings of up to 40% off the cost of a new bike.

Cycle to Work takes advantage of a tax break introduced under the government’s Green Transport Initiative, set up to promote healthier journeys to work and cut damaging environmental pollution from fuel emissions. Over 400,000 have already bought a bike on the scheme, and reports suggest the resulting drop in emissions saves the entire CO2 output of a city the size of Hereford every year.

In really, really simple terms, think of it as an interest-free loan – the scheme enables you to buy a brand new bike, pay in installments with no up-front cost, and save a bit off the purchase price to boot.

cycle lane

You’ve got to cycle to work every day though? 

No! You can ride as little or as often as you want, or make part of the journey by car or public transport and ride the rest. Herefordshire Council even provide free ‘Park and Cycle’ locations so you can drive part way to work, whip out your bike and pedal the remainder. (Find out more about the scheme here.) And you’re not confined to using your tax-free bike just for riding to work – you can use it for leisure and recreation, too!

OK. Sounds great! How does it work?

Basically, you choose a bike worth up to £1000 and your employer buys it for you through an accredited Cycle to Work scheme provider – Drover Cycles is signed up to several, including Cyclescheme.co.uk, Bike2workscheme.co.uk and Cyclesolutions.co.uk. We are also accredited scheme providers for employees of Powys County Council.

Any bike? Really? I don’t have to get some stuffy commuter bike?

The choice is yours! You could pick a new mountain bike or a sleek road racer and for a bike costing, say, £350 you’ll only be paying about £20 a month. That sort of money doesn’t buy a lot of diesel these days! Your employer gives you a voucher to exchange for your bike, which you hire from your employer for a period of between 12-18 months. At the end of the hire period, you buy it from them.

raleigh velo XC cycle to work

Err – hang on. I hire it, then buy it. So I’m paying twice? You said this was a good deal!

First off, you’re spreading the cost – like an interest-free loan – with monthly payments coming straight out of your salary, before any tax or National Insurance deductions are made. In other words, you don’t pay any tax on those monthly installments. As for the final purchase price: after a year, on a bike costing under £500 you’ll pay a ‘fair market value’  of only 18% of the original cost. Even if you’re in the lowest tax band, you’ll still be saving between 25-35%, once you take into account tax and National Insurance deductions. Top earners in the highest tax band will save even more!

ridgeback avenida 3 cycle to work

The maths is giving me a headache!

400,000 happy  Cycle to Work schemers can’t be wrong! In practice, you’ll find most employers don’t bother with the final purchase step. The employee just keeps using the bike. If you ever leave the company, you’re supposed to pay the fair market value, but on a sub-£500 bike it falls to a trifling 3% after four years. Chances are, your employer won’t even bother asking you to pay.

Genesis Longitude cycle to work

OK, so in simple terms…

–You sign up to the scheme through your employer (ask us or them about it if they don’t publicise it).

–You pick a bike and your employer gives you a voucher to buy it with.

–You pay for it over the next year or year and a half (like buying the bike on credit –  but without the added interest!) with installments deducted from your pay packet.

–You pay as much as 40% less than you would have if you’d walked into a shop and paid for the bike up front.

genesis volant 30 - cycle to work

I’m sold! Almost…what about helmets and lights and stuff. It all adds up…

It does! But luckily the scheme covers accessories, too. You can spend up to £1000 on your bike plus accessories. If you already own a bike you can even use the scheme to buy accessories alone – a fancy new helmet or some top-of-the range lights, for example. You’ll need to spend at least £100, but the same generous savings apply – and the cost is split over the next 12-18 months.

 Just lights and helmets?

Nope – the scheme covers:

–Cycle helmets

–Bells

–Lights and dynamo packs

–Mirrors and mudguards

–Cycle clips and dress guards

–Panniers, luggage carriers and straps

–Child safety seats

–Locks and chains

–Pumps, puncture repair kits, cycle tool kits and tyre sealant

merida crossway 100 cycle to work

I’m ready. Really – I am. But I can’t be bothered going to a bike shop. Can’t I do it all online?

Well, you can. But buying in person from your local bike shop has some clear advantages:

They’ll have a range of bikes in-store for you to see in the flesh, plus demo models you can try before you buy.

You’ll get a proper, in-store bike fitting and face-to-face advice from expert staff. Buying the wrong size frame or adjusting your saddle, pedals and handlebars incorrectly can, at best, make your ride uncomfortable and, at worst, cause serious long-term health problems.

You’ll receive your bike fully-built instead of boxed for self-assembly and more often than not you’ll get a free service and bike check after a month’s use.

You’ll have the peace of mind that the vendor is just around the corner if something goes wrong.

Your money stays local and helps support local businesses.

Let’s do it! What next…

Talk to your employer or your local bike shop to get started. There are various scheme providers, including Cycle Scheme, Cycle Solutions and Bike2Work Scheme. It really is as simple as filling in a couple of online forms, and picking your dream ride! Remember we are also accredited Cycle to Work scheme providers for employees of Powys County Council. They have two windows a year when employees can sign up. The next one is coming soon, at the end of March – stay tuned for dates!

Spend the full £1000 on a Cycle to Work bike through Drover Cycles before Easter and qualify for one of these bonus offers:

–A Giro Revel or Trinity Helmet and Blackburn Local light set – worth up to £70

–A £75 voucher to spend on any items from the Altura clothing range

–A New Looxs pannier bag and Squire combination lock worth up to £80

Contact Drover Cycles on 01497 822 419 or on [email protected] to get started!