As a small business owner and limited company contractor, are you considering whether you should start travelling to work by bike? Basically, it may be a good idea to go to work by bike while contracting in future, especially in the more excellent weather. In this guide we will look at some top cycle to work tips when you plan to travel on bike to work. In addition, we will also look at other various considerations in terms of business bicycle travel and also consider how to purchase a limited company contractor bike. What’s more we will also look at what to consider for cycle to work clothing and contractor bicycle storage ideas. In addition, we will also highlight what to consider around the contractor motorbike.
As a contractor, you can consider the above bike travelling options if you decide to start to travel to work by bike in the future. First, you could use your private bike for business journeys and claim a cycle mileage allowance. However, when we investigate commuting by bike to work (UK) further, there is also a bike to work scheme (HMRC) for limited company contractors. Therefore, as a UK contracting professional, when you cycle to work, HMRC has certain rules with regard to their travel to work scheme. In this guide, we will take a closer look at the bike to work scheme rules and also the option of claiming a bike mileage allowance or motorcycle mileage allowance when using your private bike for work.
What to think about first
In this guide, we will investigate the travel to work by bike in general. We will also consider contractor Cycle to Work Scheme, bike tax and cycle to work clothing. Basically, the Cycle to Work Scheme (limited company) has become more popular in recent times. The Travel to Work Scheme (UK) for employees also makes allowances for other methods of commuting to work, including travelling by bike. As a UK contractor, it is also worth considering buying a company bicycle outright for your business.
Care about the environment
Do you care about the environment and would like to reduce your carbon footprint? Another thought is, would you also like to save money when travelling to work? If this fits you, what can you do about it? Well, you could use public transportation or alternatively start to go to work by bike.
UK contractors and small business owners alike will have questions with regards cycling to work on their private bike, or how the HMRC Cycle to Work Scheme 2023 works:
- Can I buy a bike through my business?
- Can I buy a motorbike through my business?
- What are the rules on buying a bike through limited company HMRC?
- What is a cycle to work scheme UK?
- What is a bike to work scheme UK?
Therefore, in this guide we will take a look at the above and how the company bike scheme works. In addition, we will also consider how using a private bike works.
Other initial considerations
Claim mileage allowances
You can claim mileage allowances for business journeys when you are a business owner who runs your own company. This includes when you commuting to work by bike on either a bicycle or motorbike that you own privately. When you travel by bike on business journeys, you can make a bike claim for your cycle mileage and this is treated as a business expense. As a result, your cycling mileage allowance will save your company Corporation Tax. However, please note that any motorbike or bicycle allowance for mileage, just like car mileage, is subject to the 24-month rule. Therefore, only journeys that do not fall foul of the 24-month rule will attract cycle to work tax relief.
Buying a bike through limited company
As an alternative, if you plan to get a bike for work, your business can claim the cost of the business work bicycle or motorbike. As a result, it will receive a bicycle tax deduction (UK) on the cost of bicycle or motorbike. In addition, it can claim for any work bike running costs. However, both the cost of the bike and any bike expenses are subject to benefits in kind (BIK) if you use the bike for private journeys. Therefore, what should you consider for future cycle travel with regard to if you buy a bicycle for work?
What to wear when you travel to work by bike
In terms of the cycle to work clothing, when you travel to work by bike, what should we consider here? When you start to go to work by bicycle, your cycle to work clothing could be your normal work clothes as these should be fine for short journeys. If the weather is a bit cooler, your cycle to work clothing could be a rain jacket, vest, and winter gloves. Therefore, when you commute by bike to work, please make sure you are warm enough in cold weather.
Likewise, when you are riding a bike to work in warmer weather, you could wear your work clothes or even some lighter clothes then change when you get to work. Furthermore, if the weather is extreme winter such as snow or ice then the answer to should I bike to work will probably be no. As a result, you can use your car or another method of transport.
Business bicycle storage
When you think about your contractor bicycle storage and how to store this, there are various option available on the market. These come it terms of bike storage solutions for any space. In addition, there are durable, secure and user-friendly racks as well as various stands, shelters and enclosures available. Alternatively, if you already have a space in your home or a shed, you could keep the bike there when you are not using it.
Make claims for your mileage
The rates that you can claim when you go to work by bike
Can you claim mileage for cycling and if so, what rates can you claim when you cycle to work (UK)? Periodically, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) publishes the rates you can use to work out your cycle allowance for work journeys. There are different rates for using a private bicycle or motorbike, just like there are for using a private car or van.
HMRC refers to motorbikes and bicycles’ mileage allowances as `MAR.’ You can claim a bike allowance, for any business journeys, as expenses from your company. The amounts that HMRC sets when commuting by bike on business journeys are currently:
- A motorbike mileage rate of 24p per business mile.
- A bicycles mileage rate of 20p per business mile.
There is no lower HMRC cycling mileage rate after the first 10,000 miles when you travel to work by bike, unlike there is for car mileage. The bike mileage rates above apply to the total business mileage incurred by you during the tax year.
Travelling to work by bike and keeping mileage logs
As a UK contractor or small business owner, if you start using a business bike to get to work, you should keep mileage logs for the business journeys. You also have to keep mileage logs when you travel to work locations by private car. HMRC is more relaxed regarding bicycle mileage logs; however, you should keep these.
Furthermore, when you start to go to work by bike, please keep the mileage records for a private bicycle or motorbike separate from any personal car usage. The reason that these records should be kept separate is that the rates of mileage payable are different.
Please take note that when you travelling to work by bike, you can also regularly reimburse the value of any bike or motorbike mileage. Most contractors choose to do this every month.
If you reimburse more than the HMRC-approved rates, HMRC will tax you on the excess. Therefore, it is vital to ensure you stay within the allowed rates.
Travel to work by bike -choose your bike and the government scheme
Let’s now look at the various options and their associated implications for your future ride to work by bike.
There is a scheme in place called the contractor Cycle to Work Scheme (HMRC). Under this Cycle to Work Scheme, directors and contractors can benefit from the use of a company bicycle. Therefore, if you run your own contractor limited company, this bicycle scheme (UK) is something you could consider too. In addition, in some cases the contractor cycle to work scheme is also available for a company motorcycle.
There has been quite a bit of hype by bicycle shops regarding the HMRC Cycle to Work Scheme (contractor option). This bicycle scheme for employees enables workers who make a salary sacrifice to use a bike their employer provides tax-free. When the company purchases the bicycle, the employee pays this back as a deduction from their salary each month. In addition, the employer can claim the Cycle to Work Scheme VAT on the cost of the bike. Please see HMRC’s detailed cycle to work rules for further guidance.
A contractor who has their own company and decides to start travelling to work by bicycle could buy a business bike. The company would save Corporation Tax (CT) on the contractor bike cost. In addition, it can reclaim the VAT on this, too (see below).
Buying a bicycle through your business
Can I claim a bicycle as a business expense? Let us suppose you are a contractor who runs your own company, and you decide to start commuting by a business bicycle to work in the future. In that case, you may prefer to use a bike for your business journeys without the salary sacrifice option. The company can claim CT on the cost of the contractor bike. The company will also be able to reclaim the VAT if you buy your contractor bicycle from a VAT-registered supplier.
The contractor could buy the bicycle from the business later, at the market value.
When the company buys the bicycle, there is also the benefit that you are purchasing this for the company out of pre-tax income. This method is better when you compare it to paying for a bike on a personal basis. This is because you would pay for this out of your post-tax income.
There are rules regarding the business and private use of a bicycle. The taxman will tend to look at cases where the contractor is not using the bike for business journeys.
Plenty of choices when you travel to work by bike
When you consider purchasing a bike for contractor purposes, what are the best cycle to work bikes? Basically, there are lots of choices out there for UK contractors if you decide to start to travelling to work by bike. Indeed, this is in terms of the types of bikes that are available to buy on the market today. When you investigate the best bike to go to work in you can look into different types of bikes. These could include road bikes, mountain bikes, cargo bikes, hybrid bikes, and `normal’ bicycles. Your local cycle store will have all of the details.
When a worker starts cycle commuting, travel to their work can include a permanent workplace. HMRC’s rules on what makes up a work journey are quite favourable when using the provision of tax-free bicycles. This is when we compare it to contractors’ usual travel rules.
As mentioned, if you purchase a bicycle for your company, there is plenty of choices. While on the road, you can use hand signals when required. It is important to bear in mind that this will help other road users know which direction you are going.
Also, bike lights help you see the road when it is dark. They also help other road users, as well as pedestrians, see you. Generally, you can use white front and rear red lights on your bike at night. However, the legal requirements are a little more complicated regarding front and rear lights, which you should read up on before using a bicycle on the road.
Travel to work by bike on a company motorbike -purchase motorbike (UK)
A journey to a contractor’s worksite might not be practical on a bicycle when travelling to work. In this case, some contractors who prefer to use two wheels and travel to work by bike may opt for extra power for longer journeys. As a result, they may choose the contractor motorcycle option instead. It could be the case that they may also be able to run a company motorcycle tax-efficiently through their business. However, the motorbike for contractor option does not benefit from the same tax savings as bicycles.
If a contractor’s business purchases a motorbike, there is a bike tax in the form of a BIK charge.
You base the motorbike tax BIK on 20% of the cost each tax year. It may be the case that the company pays for the running costs (fuel, insurance, maintenance, road fund tax, etc.) for the motorbike. If this is so, there is an extra BIK charge of 20% of these annual costs too. When you use the motorbike mainly for business journeys, this will need to be included in any BIK workings.
The Class 1A NI that is payable on any BIK is 14.53% in 2022/23 and 13.8% in 2023/24. The director or employee will also pay tax at their highest rate. The BIK will be added to their PAYE tax code which is applied to their salary to calculate the Income Tax each pay period.
The director can choose to reimburse the company for the BIK elements. If they do this, the actual BIK reportable to HMRC will reduce to zero.
If you care about the environment, you may decide to travel to work by bike in the future. Basically, when we consider bike & travel, this method of commuting will help you get fitter if you start travelling to work by bike on a regular basis. Indeed, cycling to work in the morning and on your ride home in the evening, each day will improve your physique. Therefore, if you decide commuting by bike is the way to go, please also ensure you wear appropriate cycle to work clothing so that your journey is enjoyable.
As mentioned, you could buy the bike outright through your company, or opt for the bicycle to work scheme. Alternatively, you could run a private bike and claim for your business mileage.
You may also decide that you would like a company motorbike to travel to work on. However, before your company buys this, it would be best to weigh the tax costs first.
Whichever type of bike you choose, there are tax considerations as set out above.
Link to Contractor Advice UK group on