Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to book/make a reservation?
No you don’t NEED to. It is possible to just turn up, however It is best to drop us an email to let us know you’re planning on coming to avoid disappointment. For example if we have no-one booked on a quiet Monday, it is possible that we might cancel and we don’t want you hanging around thinking it’s on.
What are the safety issues?
Our tours are as safe as we can make them. Safety is our priority above all else.
We follow carefully planned routes, which are virtually entirely in parks, bike lanes and large pavements. Many of the small streets in the City are one-way and only one lane.
Helmets are provided and come in a range of sizes. You are not currently legally obliged to wear a cycling helmet; however it makes good common sense. Suitable clothes for cycling include shorts as trousers/long legged ‘pants’ (for you Americans) can get tangled up in the chain. Comfort is also a safety factor.
We have a range of bikes with comfortable seats; however it is up to you to make sure the bike you use is suitable. If you are uncomfortable and want to change your bike that is no problem at all, just let us know.
Although our public liability insurance is up to date each participant is responsible for their own safety and actions. I’m sure if you initiate some common sense you should not get into any difficulties. Regardless you will be asked to sign a full disclaimer. If you are unsure as to what one of these are please let us know and we will do our best to explain it to you. A disclaimer will be provided to all our customers’ right at the beginning of the tour and you will be given plenty of time to read through it and sign it before you are given a bike and start riding.
We shouldn’t have to remind parents that they are responsible for their children.
How do we find your meeting point?
Click on the Meeting Point page.
Can I bring a bag with me or leave it in the Visitor Centre?
You are welcome to bring a bag with you. Some bikes have racks where you can put your bag, which is much nicer than wearing a backpack. We also have little bags to put a few items in that tie to the front of the bike that are very useful. You are also welcome to leave your bag in the Visitor Centre for the day but there may be a charge. Please liaise with the Visitor Centre directly on this matter.
What days are you open and what’s the season?
We’re open every day except Tuesdays throughout the season. Our 2016 season will run from the 12th March to the 6th November 2016. Private Tours are available all year round by appointment only.
Do I need to wear/bring a helmet?
The short answer is no you don’t. However for your information we do provide helmets. Parliament has yet to legislate them to be worn, however the Highway Code Rule 45 states they ‘should’ be worn. Given that the Post Office has insisted on postman wearing them since 2003 that’s a pretty good indication that they are a good idea.
What happens if it rains?
This is a good one … we actually provide cheap ponchos and go anyway. Unless it’s so miserable we can’t conduct a tour, in which case we act in the traditional British way and ‘go to the pub’ and you are welcome to join us if you get the first round in (!)
What if I am the only person who shows up for a tour?
If you’ve booked and we are expecting you, your guide will be with you at the designated start time at the meeting point.
If you are the only person for the tour we will try and move you to another tour leaving later that day or the following day or refund you any money you may have given us.
Is the tour conducted in English?
All our tours are entirely in English as standard; however we are able to provide tours in other languages including Mandarin upon request.
If you struggle to speak or understand English you are still very welcome to join us and meet other interesting people from around the world. We can even provide you with some written information in other languages if requested.
If you’re a large group and want to bring your own guide/interpreter that would be fine and indeed we’d let your guide come free of charge.
Do we go inside the museums, monuments and colleges?
Not all of them … that would take too long. We do manage to put our heads inside some colleges but there is no guarantee. The Bike Tour is designed to take you around the City and show you where things are and tell you stories of Oxford’s past and present. It is not logistically possible to take groups on bikes inside all the colleges and museums we mention. It is possible to take a walking tour of some of the colleges or just pay for your own entry.
Can I come and work for Oxford Bike Tours?
That depends on whether you’re an outstanding person. There are various roles available so just send us an email.
How big do the groups get?
Normally around 10 to 15 persons at the weekend but less during the week. Our limit is 20 unless it is a private tour or a pre-arranged school trip, in which case we can be more accommodating. If you’d prefer a more exclusive tour one can be arranged for you so just drop us a line.
Are these tours appropriate for children?
If your child can cycle by themselves and can maintain a leisurely pace, they certainly are! In fact we find that children probably gain the most from our tours because they learn some interesting stories that we hope they will remember and they get to hang out with young adults rather than just their ‘boring’ parents.
The vast majority of the tour is on dedicated cycle paths but we do go on the road at times.
We have stopped doing tours for very small children. If your child can cycle themselves then they are welcome to join us. This is usually at around 8 years old when they can fit a small adult frame bike.
Can I park my car or shuttle bus at your shop or nearby?
There is on-street parking on Broad Street in Oxford but you might find it easier to use the Park&Ride facilities in Oxford as the city can get congested. Leave plenty of time as it always takes longer than you expect to get somewhere.
Do you accept credit cards?
CASH ON THE DAY IS FINE. However, we do accept card payments online through our Tours page (please make sure we have confirmed your tour is going ahead before you pay us).
For large groups we can provide an invoice that includes our bank details for direct bank transfers.
Can I bring my dog with me?
If you can fit it into a basket in the front of your bike then … why not! People have…..
Do you hire bikes out?
Yes we do for specific requests, but we are not a bike hire company.
If we wanted to hang onto the bikes a bit longer would that be possible?
It is possible by arrangement and subject to a deposit.
Can I bring my own bike?
That’s no problem at all but we can’t offer you a discount for doing so I’m afraid.
Can I buy a T-shirt?
You sure can! They’re available in the Visitor Centre … however I think you’d look better in one of our polo shirts to be honest.
What things do I need to bring with me on the tour?
I’ve listed a few ideas below:-
- Comfortable shoes
- Sun screen
- Sun glasses
- Jumper (could get cold … this is England)
- Raincoat (if you’re really worried it’s going to rain)
- Energy Bar
- Bottle of water
- Packed lunch (if you are so inclined)
- Shorts rather than trousers (we don’t want clothing getting caught in the bike)
How many calories will I burn during a tour?
Well a typical City Tour you’re likely to burn in the region of 116 calories (by my calculations), which is slightly less than a Mars Bar at 260 calories. I think the River Tour burns slightly more calories, but it’s negligible. A pint of real ale in the pub will give you approximately 200 calories so it’s nice to know that it gets entirely burnt off!
What is punting all about?
Punting is actually a Dutch word meaning to ‘push’. This type of river craft was used to transport goods, however now it’s just a fun touristy thing to do. There’s an Oxford way of punting where you stand in the front and a Cambridge way of punting where you stand on the back.
Can you plan a romantic weekend getaway for my girlfriend and I?
No … not personally – however we are entirely independent and receive no commission on anything from anyone and so if you’d like some impartial advice from a local on just about any subject just ask your tour guide or send us an email and we’ll do our best.