Cyclescheme FAQs

All the most common questions answered, and a few less common ones too.

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Who is Cyclescheme and what makes us different?

Cyclescheme provides unrivalled administrative and promotional services to employers of all sizes wishing to set up a Cycle to Work Scheme benefit for their employees. We offer the most admin-friendly scheme for employers and the greatest choice of bikes and equipment for employees.  To get a better feel of who we are and what we do, here’s a list of some of the aspects of our service that we are most proud of:

  • We are a completely free of charge service to employers and their employees;
  • With over 1800 Partner Stores throughout the UK, we have the largest supplier network on the market;
  • We only work with Independent Bicycle Dealers (IBDs) whose core products and services are dedicated to the promotion of cycling as a sustainable form of transport;
  • Hence, scheme participants will receive expert and specialist advice when selecting the bicycle and safety equipment for their commuting needs;
  • Our partner stores provide an unrivalled customer service experience and access to over 500 bicycle brands and the widest range of safety equipment;
  • Free access to our secure, online Certificate processing tool - the Cyclescheme 'Extranet';
  • Automation of scheme processes that minimise administration, allowing employers more time to look after their business;
  • Provision of free of charge promotional material including Posters, leaflets, our ‘Cycle Commuter’ Magazine, and a host of electronic communications including our monthly newsletter;
  • Knowledgeable and friendly Account Management and Helpdesk teams dedicated to helping employers and employees through the entire lifecycle of the scheme;
  • Peace of mind that our scheme adheres to HMRC, Department for Transport (DfT) and Office of Fair Trading (OFT) Cycle to Work guidelines.
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How do employees get a tax-free bike for work through Cyclescheme?

Step 1. Once an employer is partnered with Cyclescheme (employers can sign up here) all employees wishing to participate visit a local Cyclescheme Partner Store to choose the bike and, if required, safety equipment. To search for local Partner Stores click here.

Step 2.
Employees then apply for a Cyclescheme Certificate online using a unique link to our secure Extranet facility. The unique link is provided to employers and distributed to all employees. The employee will usually sign an online Hire Agreement at this time.

Step 3.
If the employer approves their application they will countersign the Hire Agreement and pay Cyclescheme for the full retail price of the bike and equipment.

Step 4.
Cyclescheme will then post out a paper Certificate, usually to employee’s home address.

Step 5.
The Certificate is then redeemed in the bike shop and exchanged for the bike package. Salary sacrifice then commences over the hire period (usually 12 months). The salary sacrifice is made prior to Income Tax and National Insurance contributions and, as a result, employees pay less of both.

Step 6.
At the end of the hire period the owner of the equipment may choose to offer the employee ownership of the bike for a market value payment, or the employee may pay a small deposit allowing them to remain in possession of the bike and continue to use it.

Please note that the above procedure applies to the vast majority of schemes, but there are some variations to the above. This variation depends on how the employer’s scheme is set up, i.e., the employer may use a finance company to fund the scheme (see below) or a benefits provider.

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Who can participate in the scheme?

Any size employer from any sector can partner with Cyclescheme. Eligible employees must receive salary via the PAYE system, and earnings should be more than the National Minimum Wage after salary sacrifice. Employers who pay staff close to the National Minimum Wage should contact Cyclescheme to discuss the range of attractive options available that allow lower paid employees to participate in, and benefit from the scheme.  There is no credit check for employees wishing to participate, and Under 18s can join the scheme if their guardian signs a guarantor agreement.

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What is salary sacrifice and how do participants save?

Salary sacrifice occurs when an employee agrees to give up part of their salary for an agreed period (in the case of the Cycle to Work scheme this is usually 12 months) in exchange for a non-cash benefit, such as the loan of a bicycle and safety equipment. As salary sacrifice is taken from the gross salary (before tax) rather than net pay it means the employee pays less income tax and National Insurance.

Figuring out how Salary Sacrifice Arrangements work can be confusing, particularly when participants can only see the gross salary sacrifice amount on their hire agreement. So where’s the saving? Here’s a guide to how it all works.


How do participants save?

The key to understanding the way participants save money on a salary sacrifice arrangement is in understanding how they pay tax.

Cycle to Work scheme participants can potentially save on 2 forms of tax; Income Tax & Employees’ National Insurance Contributions (NICs).

Income Tax and Employees’ National Insurance Contributions (NICs) are expressed as a percentage and applied to participants’ gross salary amounts. The tax deductions are then made and what the participant gets in their pocket is NET salary.

This is the clever bit; by reducing their gross salary they reduce the amount the income tax and NICs are calculated on, hence participants pay less of both.


Sounds confusing?

Here’s an example of how the savings work during the hire period, assuming the following:

  • Employee is paid monthly
  • Employee is a standard rate tax payer requesting a £500 Certificate
  • The hire period is 12 months
  • The Employee’s monthly gross salary is £1,200.00 (£14.400 per annum)
  Salary before
scheme participation
Salary during
scheme participation
Monthly Gross Salary £1,200.00 £1,200.00
Bike value including VAT
Gross salary sacrifice total
  £500.00
£500.00
MONTHLY GROSS SALARY SACRIFICE = £500 / 12 months
(this amount appears on the hire agreement) 
  £41.66
Monthly Gross Salary after salary sacrifice
Monthly NIC contribution (12%)
Monthly income tax contribution (20%)
Net Salary 
£1,200.00
£144.00
£240.00
£816.00 
£1,158.34
£139.00
£231.67
£787.67 
MONTHLY NET SALARY REDUCTION £816.00 minus £787.67= £28.33
MONTHLY SAVING £41.66 minus £28.33 = £13.33


So, because the participants pay less income tax and NIC their NET salary reduction is less than the GROSS salary reduction, and this is how savings are achieved. In this example, the employee makes a £41.66 contribution to the employer, but it only costs them £28.33, resulting in a saving of £13.33 per month.

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What are the savings for the employee and employer?

Typical savings for employees are between 32% for basic rate taxpayers and 42% for high rate taxpayers, but the actual amount depends on the employee’s personal tax band and the way the employer runs their scheme. If the employer uses external finance (i.e. borrows the money to buy the bikes from an outside agent) then savings will be approximately 5% lower.

Employers can typically save 13.8% of the total value of salary sacrifice, due to reductions in Employers’ National Insurance Contributions (NICs) due.

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What bikes are available through the scheme?

Cyclescheme’s network of 1800 Partner Stores provides access to over 500 different bicycle brands, including the UK’s most popular bike manufacturers.  Many of our Partner Stores provide electric bikes, folding bikes and other specialist cycles.  Please select the 'getting a bike' tab at the top of this page and click on 'Where can I get a bike?' to use our Partner Store finder.

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Can a bike be provided by mail order specialist?

Cyclescheme's Partner Stores can supply bike packages and/or safety equipment by mail order, but there are distinct advantages to getting bikes from local bike shops that will be the first port of call for advice, servicing, after sales and warranty. 

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What is the maximum value bicycle and safety equipment package employees can select through the scheme?

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has issued a group consumer credit licence to cover Employers implementing Cycle to Work Schemes that are limited at £1000 inc. VAT per Certificate.  To view and download a copy of the licence please click here.

Employers who have their own Consumer Credit Licence Category B (consumer hire) can allow employees to request Certificates of a higher value.  Alternatively, employers wishing to increase the Cycle to Work Certificate value can apply for their own individual Consumer Credit Licence from the Office of Fair Trading.  For further details please contact our Helpdesk on info@cyclescheme.co.uk.

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Who actually owns the bike?

The bike and equipment remain the property of the employer throughout the hire period, unless the employer uses a finance company to fund the bikes; in this case the finance company or funding bank will own the bikes.

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Who is responsible for maintaining the bike and what happens if it is stolen?

It is the employee’s responsibility to maintain the bike. Cyclescheme Partner Shops will be able to advise about maintenance and servicing depending on how the bike is used and stores offer a free first service. If the bike is stolen, as long as the employee replaces the bike and continues to use it mainly for commuting purposes, the employer can continue to take the salary sacrifice reductions from GROSS salary.  This means the participant can still take advantage of the income tax and National Insurance Contribution (NIC) savings. Cyclescheme strongly recommend that scheme participants insure the bicycle and safety equipment as soon as they collect it from the store.

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What's the best way to insure the bike?

Most cycle-specific insurance not only provides cover for the cost of theft replacement, but also provides personal and third party medical insurance cover and, in some cases, a roadside recovery service in the event of breakdowns.  By insuring the bike, scheme participants can now maintain their savings by avoiding hefty replacement costs in the event of theft, and continue to enjoy the full tax exemption for the rest of the hire period.  For further information on cycle-specific insurance please visit Cycleguard on www.cycleguard.co.uk (Cyclescheme participants can obtain a 10% discount on Insurance and Roadside Recovery).

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Do you have an open framework agreement?

Yes. Cyclescheme are approved within the MOD Open Framework Agreement. The Framework is available to all Pubic Authorities, runs until 31st March 2015 and is free to use. For more details and a simple guide to implimentation please click here.

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Do you offer the Cycle to Work scheme in the Republic of Ireland (ROI)?

Yes, we offer the same free of charge service to Employers that have employees based in ROI. For further information please visit www.cyclescheme.co.uk/employers/ireland

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How do I return my bike?

If you do not wish to take ownership of the Equipment or sign the Extended Use Agreement you must return the bicycle to Cyclescheme Ltd.

You need to inform Cyclescheme that you wish to return the bicycle by writing to us at the below address:

Cyclescheme Ltd
PO Box 3809
Bath, BA1 1WX

You must inform us of you intention to return the bicycle

Once we have received written notice of your intention to return the bicycle, Cyclescheme Ltd will contact you with further instructions. Whilst Cyclescheme Ltd will not charge for disposal of the bicycle, you will be required to deliver or post the bicycle and are responsible for any financial cost in doing so.

Once the bicycle has been received and verified as the original hired equipment you will be contacted with an acknowledgement of receipt and no further correspondence will be sent to you.

If you do not inform us of your intention to return the bicycle, this would result in a benefit in kind that should be declared on a P11D which may result in any tax savings, made during the hire period, being disallowed. Futhermore, you will be responsible to pay Cyclescheme Ltd any costs that we reasonably incur in recovering the bicycle from you.

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Does the bike have to be used for commuting?

Employees should use the bike mainly for commuting to and, if relevant, between work places (at least 50% of the bike’s use should be for work purposes). However, the bike can also be used for non-work purposes and there is no need for employers to monitor individual usage or for employees to keep a mileage log. Please note that employees cannot claim business mileage allowance with a bike that is being hired to them by their employer.

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What happens at the end of the hire period?

In order to preserve the tax benefits of the scheme, there can be no guarantee or obligation to transfer ownership to the employee immediately after the hire period has ended.  However, employers generally choose to offer this option in addition to others, either directly or via Cyclescheme.

At the end of the hire period, Cyclescheme will contact employees to discuss the options available.

The most attractive option for employees will be to pay a small, refundable deposit (3% or 7% of the equipment value*) and continue to use the bicycle or safety equipment for an extended period of up to 36 months.

At the end of this period, if the employee does not wish to keep the bicycle or safety equipment, then Cyclescheme will refund the deposit in full.  Alternatively, Cyclescheme may at its discretion, offer ownership of the bicycle or safety equipment to the employee at this point, and no further action or payment will be required if they wish to keep the bicycle or safety equipment.

For more information, please refer to the article 'HMRC Market Value Clarification' in our 'Employer Updates' section, or click here to watch our website video guide to our simple end of hire process.

* the lower figure is for an equipment value of less than £500 and the higher one for equipment value of £500 or more. These figures include VAT.

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What happens if an employee leaves their job or is made redundant?

Once signed, the Hire Agreement is non-cancellable following a cooling-off period of 7 working days following collection of the goods. This means that if an employee leaves or is made redundant from their employment during the hire period they are obliged to pay the remaining salary sacrifice amount in full from net pay i.e. without any tax exemptions.

If applicable, the employee may then be offered ownership of the equipment in the normal way (please refer to 'What happens at the end of the hire period?' above).

For further information please see the Department for Transport’s Cycle to Work implementation guide:
http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/sustainable/cycling/cycletoworkguidance/

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I already own a bike, can I obtain just safety equipment and accessories through Cyclescheme?

Yes. Your Cyclescheme application can include safety equipment and accessories without the need to include a bike in your request.

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I already have a Hire Agreement in place, can I get another Certificate for safety equipment only?

Unfortunately if you are part-way through your initial Hire Period, you are unable to place another Certificate request until the current one has ended.  If you are in an ‘Extended Use Agreement’ with Cyclescheme (as part of the End of Hire Process), you are able to request another Certificate.

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Is there a minimum spend for safety equipment only requests?

Yes. If you are submitting a safety equipment-only request there is a £100 minimum.

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How do I submit a safety equipment only request?

To submit a safety equipment-only request, please follow our guide here

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What safety equipment is allowed?

Allowable safety equipment includes:

  • Cycle helmets
  • Bells
  • Lights, including dynamo packs
  • Mirrors and mudguards to ensure riders visibility is not impaired
  • Cycle clips and dress guards
  • Panniers, luggage carriers and straps to allow luggage to be safely carried
  • Child safety seats
  • Locks and chains to ensure cycle can be safely secured
  • Pumps, puncture repair kits, cycle tool kits and tyre sealant to allow for minor repairs
  • Reflective clothing along with white front reflectors and spoke reflectors

This list is by no means exhaustive, so if you do have questions about what equipment you can obtain please contact our Help Desk.  Bicycle components such as Frames etc are not permitted.

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