CYCLISTS are gearing up to strip off for a serious cause.

Around 150 campaigners are expected to ride the streets of Southampton next week sporting nothing but their birthday suits for this year’s Naked Bike Ride.

They will set out from Southampton Common for a sixth consecutive year in a cheeky protest against the world’s dependency on oil.

Organisers say this year’s event will also be dedicated to former university lecturer Mark Brummell, a member of the Southampton Cycling Campaign, who was killed in an accident while cycling in the New Forest on Monday.

    The annual event, which attracted more than 100 participants last year, will take place on June 8 from 6pm. It will start on the east side of the common, opposite the junction with Omdurman Road, before heading for the city centre.

    Event organiser Rob Jordan said: “Initially we encountered questions from the police about legality but it’s well established now and gets a warm welcome from nearly everyone.”

    He added: “On Monday we heard of Mark’s tragic death, killed while cycling in the New Forest. Mark was a great character among Southampton’s cycling community – a long-standing and valued member of the cycling campaign and a legendary bike mechanic, who built and restored bikes for numerous friends. Friday’s ride is a great opportunity to remember a friend."