Cycling in Manchester

Space for Cycling ride in Manchester (credit: GMCC)

Cycling in Manchester

Looking for information about cycling in Manchester? Cycling UK's guide to cycling in Manchester gives you routes, events, clubs and advice to inspire you to cycle in the county.

It may be home to Team Sky and one of the world’s best velodromes, but Manchester is unlikely to feature on any ‘top cycling cities’ list. It’s certainly nothing like London for cycle-commuting. Poor infrastructure, car-centric layouts, tram tracks, a fiendish one-way system, infrequent bike parking and endless urban sprawl make it a challenging and often unpleasant place to get around by bike. No wonder the city’s campaign group, GMCC, is very active.

There are some good things, though. Getting from the centre to, and certainly around, Salford Quays (with the Lowry, War Museum, the BBC, and shiny new dockside developments) is fine; Old Trafford is conveniently bikeable if you’re going to the football or cricket.

And good cycle paths do exist. NCN6 and NCN60 provide some often good, smooth railtrail access to some southern and eastern parts of the city, and NCN66 provides a canal towpath route northeast out of the centre; NCN62 (part of the Transpennine Trail) can take you all the way to Liverpool, much of it car-free.

There is family cycling to be had – at Chorlton Water Park for instance along the Mersey, or following the car-free Fallowfield Loop – and at the National Cycling Centre, not far from Manchester City’s Etihad stadium, you can book a session on that velodrome, try the indoor BMX track, and even go mountain biking on seven miles of trails.

Manchester Airport, thanks to handy rail connections, is a much more convenient option than Heathrow if you’re flying with your bike. Trains can also take you and your bike away from hectic city-centre streets to the neighbouring Peak District, with its superb scenery and quiet back roads. 

Cycling groups and clubs in Manchester

Manchester and District CTC (Manchester)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/manchester-district-ctc

http://www.delphcyclist.info/MAD.html

Range of rides from beginners to the experienced long-distance Audax rider

University of Manchester CTC BUG (Manchester)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/university-manchester-ctc-bug

http://umbug.manchester.ac.uk/

Subsidised locks, free security marking events, monthly bike to work event with free breakfast, etc

South Manchester CTC (Cheadle/Hazel Grove)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/south-manchester

http://www.smctc.org.uk/

Regular (non-racing) rides into Cheshire and Derbyshire and beyond

North Manchester Community Cycle Club (Manchester)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/north-manchester-community-cycle-club

Monthly led ride for beginners over 12 years old

Impact Safer Trailers (Manchester)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/impact-safer-trailers

https://www.facebook.com/safertrailersUK

Campaign to make it mandatory for all agricultural trailers to be fitted with guards

Alfa Cycle Club (Manchester)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/alfa-cycle-club

Trafford College (Manchester)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/trafford-college

CMFT BUG (Manchester)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/cmft-bug

http://cmmcbug.pbworks.com/w/page/4538512/FrontPage

Central Manchester Hospital's Bike User Group; campaigns and holds rides

Man Met Riders (Manchester)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/man-met-riders

http://manmetriders.pbworks.com/w/page/20253112/FrontPage

Manchester Metropolitan University’s Bike User Group; campaigns, and offers monthly breakfasts

Urban Fitness Collective (Manchester)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/urban-fitness-collective

http://www.tuf-c.co.uk/

Using sport to inspire young people

Chainlink (Manchester)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/cycle-centre/chainlink-community-cycles-cic

Moston Cycling Club (Moston)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/moston-cycling-club

Bolton Hot Wheels Cycle Club (Middlebrook)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/bolton-hot-wheels-cycle-club

https://www.bc-clubs.co.uk/boltonhotwheelscc/

A Go-Ride Club for riders aged 5-16 riding in Bolton Arena in Horwich

Sk6 Spinners CC (Marple)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/sk6-spinners-cc

Westmead Team 88 (Stockport)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/westmead-team-88

http://www.westmeadteam88.co.uk/index.php

Specialises in time trials

Altrincham on Wheels (Altrincham)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/altrincham-wheels

https://www.facebook.com/altrinchamonwheels/

Enables and encourages Altrincham children and young people to cycle

Second Chance Cycling Manchester (Manchester)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/second-chance-cycling-manchester

Simply Cycling (Manchester)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/simply-cycling

http://www.simply-cycling.org/

Offers cycling to disabled people on specially adapted bikes

Sale Cycling For All (Sale)

http://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/sale-cycling

Family bikes rides and a site with links to events, rides and all things cycling in the area

Empowered People Disability Cycling Charity (Royton)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/group/empowered-people-disability-cycling-charity

Positive Cycles (Oldham)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/event/positive-cycles-1

Saddleworth Clarion Cycling Club (Saddleworth)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/saddleworth-clarion-cycling-club

http://saddleworthclarion.co.uk

Ability Wheelz (Oldham)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/ability-wheelz

Oldham and Tameside CTC (Oldham)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/oldham-tameside

http://www.cycleoldham.org.uk

Coppice Sporting Alliance (Oldham)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/group/coppice-sporting-alliance

Cycle Ops (Stalybridge)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/cycle-ops

The Urban Cycle Centre (Manchester)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/cycle-centre/urban-cycle-centre

Marina Milers (Manchester)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/group/marina-milers

http://www.marinamilers.uk

Dadly Does It Winton (Manchester)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/dadly-winton

Wheels For All Salford (Manchester)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/cycle-centre/wheels-salford

Wheels For All Debdale (Manchester)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/cycle-centre/wheels-debdale

Royal Northern College of Music (Manchester)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/group/royal-northern-college-music

Platt Fields Bike Hub (Manchester)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/platt-fields-bike-hub

Friends of Longford Park Community Cycle (Manchester)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/friends-longford-park-community-cycle

Manchester Mountain Bikes (Manchester)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/manchester-mountain-bikers

https://www.meetup.com/Manchester-Mountain-Bikers/

Popup Bikes (Manchester)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/cycle-centre/popup-bikes

http://popupbikes.co.uk

Manchester Science Park (Manchester)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/group/manchester-science-park

Home MCR (Manchester)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/group/home-mcr

Bikeright! (Manchester)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/cycle-centre/bikeright

https://www.bikeright.co.uk

Manchester College (Manchester)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/cycle-centre/manchester-college

Lady Pedal Manchester (Manchester)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/group/lady-pedal-manchester

The Bike Hive (Manchester)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/bike-hive

https://www.cyclinguk.org/cycle-centre/whalley-range-wheels

http://www.thebikehive.co.uk

Sperrin Spinners (Manchester)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/sperrin-spinners

Chain Gang BUG (Manchester)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/chain-gang-bug

Team Glow (Manchester)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/team-glow

http://www.teamglow.net

Southway Housing Trust (Manchester)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/southway-housing-trust

Hamilton Davies Trust (Irlam)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/group/hamilton-davies-trust-irlam

Bicycle Village (Sale)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/bicycle-village

The Bike Barn (Sale)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/cycle-centre/bike-barn

Seamons CC (Altrincham)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/seamons-cc

http://www.seamonscc.co.uk

Second Chance Cycling Manchester (Manchester)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/second-chance-cycling-manchester

Manchester Airport BUG (Manchester)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/group/manchester-airport-bug

The Western Link Cycling Club (Manchester)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/western-link-cycling-club

Gatley Cyclists (Gatley)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/group/gatley-cyclists

Transformation Trust Tower to Tower (Manchester)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/group/transformation-trust-tower-tower

Standish Community Cycle Club (Standish)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/standish-community-cycling-club

The Tribe MBC (Horwich)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/tribe-mbc

http://www.thetribembc.co.uk

The National Clarion Cycle Club (Manchester)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/national-clarion-cycling-club

https://clarioncc.org

Heywood Health and Social Club (Heywood)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/heywood-health-social-cycling-club

Littleborough Amateur Boxing Club (Littleborough)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/littleborough-amateur-boxing-club

East Lancashire Road Club (Rochdale)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/east-lancashire-road-club

http://rochdalectc.org.uk

Petrus Community Cycle Club (Rochdale)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/petrus-community-cycle-club

Rochdale CTC (Rochdale)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/rochdale-ctc

http://rochdalectc.org.uk/ctc.html

Rochdale Ezi Riders (Rochdale)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/rochdale-ezi-ryders

Whitworth Wheelers Cycling Club (Rochdale)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/whitworth-wheelers-cycling-club

Bowlee Park Community Cycle Club (Milnrow)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/bowlee-park-community-cycle-club

ABC Centreville Manchester (Milnrow)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/abc-centreville-manchester

http://www.centreville.org.uk

Bury Employment Support and Training (Bury EST)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/cycle-centre/welly-caf%3F

Real Life Skills & Well-Being (Bury)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/real-life-skills-well

The Welly Community Cycling Club (Bury)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/real-life-skills-well

Bury Tandem Club for Blind and Partially Sighted People (Bury)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/bury-tandem-club-blind-partially-sighted-p

http://www.bury-tandem-club.org

Wheels For All Bolton (Bolton)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/cycle-centre/bolton-arena

Bogtrotters Mountain Bike Club (Manchester)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/bogtrotters-mountain-biking-club

http://www.bogtrotters.net

Wigan Borough Community Cycling Club (Wigan)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/wigan-borough-community-cycle-club

http://trails4us.co.uk

Wigan Wheelers (Wigan)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/wigan-wheelers

http://www.wiganwheelers.org

The Orrell and District Mountain Bike Rider Group (Wigan) 

https://www.cyclinguk.org/group/orrell-and-district-mountain-bike-riders-group

Gearing Up (Wigan)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/cycle-centre/gearing

http://gearingupbikes.org

The Handlebards (Wigan)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/group/handlebards

https://www.handlebards.com/

Hindley Cycle Group (Wigan)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/hindley-cycle-group

Wheels For All Wigan (Wigan)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/cycle-centre/wigan-robin-park-leigh

Dukinfield CC (Stockport)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/group/dukinfield-cc

Stockport CP Wheelers - for disabled and rehabbing cyclists (Stockport)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/stockport-cp-wheelers

https://www.stockportcp.co.uk/activities/disability-cycling-adults-children/

Cera Easy Riders (Stockport)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/group/cera-easy-riders

https://www.ceracycloan.co.uk

H3 Supported Cycle Scheme (Stockport)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/h3-supported-cycle-scheme

Stockport Community Cycling Club (Stockport)

https://www.cyclinguk.org/local-groups/stockport-community-cycling-club

http://www.sccc.co.uk/?page_id=1151

What to take with you on your ride 

The only thing you really need for cycling is a bike. And maybe a phone, and credit card: in Britain you’re only a call away from any service you might need.

But unless money is no object, it’s wise to take a few things with you on a day ride. A saddlebagpanniers or bikepacking bags are best for carrying stuff. A front basket is second best. A rucksack is third best. Your sweaty back will soon tell you why.

Cycling short distances in jeans and t-shirt is fine, but on a long or strenuous ride – over ten miles say, or in hills – those jeans will rub and the t-shirt will get damp and clingy. Shorts or, yes, lycra leggings and padded shorts will be much comfier, and merino or polyester cycling tops wick away the sweat, keeping you dry and comfy. (They don’t have to be lurid colours.)

If rain’s in the air, pack a rainproof top. If it might turn chilly, take a fleece or warm top. But the thing you’re most likely to forget is the sunblock. 

It’s remarkable how often you enjoy being out on the bike so much that you suddenly realise it’s getting dark. So take lights (which are legally required at night). They’re price of a sandwich, take no space, are easy to put on thanks to tool-free plastic clips, and the batteries last for ever.

Take a puncture repair kit (with tyre levers) and pump. Make sure it fits your valves, which will be either ‘Presta’ or ‘Schraeder’ – realising they don’t match is a very common roadside discovery! Carrying a spare inner tube (make sure it matches your tyre size) makes puncture repair much easier: mend the old one back at home. If you do get in trouble, some kindly passing cyclist will probably stop to help.

Using a helmet is a personal choice – they’re not legally required.

Cycling makes you thirsty, so take lots of water. Long-distance riders talk about ‘the bonk’ – a sudden loss of energy rendering you almost stationary. It’s miraculously and instantly cured by eating something sweet. On short rides you’re unlikely to run out of energy, but just in case, take a snack like flapjack, banana, chocolate or jelly babies. 

Taking a packed lunch or picnic will save you money, though that hot drink and cake in a cosy cafe could yet prove very tempting!

Your phone GPS could be invaluable for showing where you are when lost; you can download free detailed UK maps and GPS software before your trip. 

Paper maps are still useful, though, so take one: no power source or wifi signal required, and they’re great for suggesting possibilities or changes of plan.

What have we missed? Let us know your favourite routes by leaving a comment below. 

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