Help and Advice
If you are new to cycling the first thing you may notice is just how many bikes are available on the market these days. However deciding on the right bicycle is simple.
Think hard about what you want it for now, basic exercise for example, and what you might go on to do with it later - commuting, touring or even entering a competition.
The following guides may assist you in providing the answers to some of the most common questions that arise during the Bike selection process.
- I'm looking for a bike to cycle to work on
- I want a bike suitable for road and trail leisure riding
- I am looking for a bike that can be easily stored
- I am looking for a road bike to keep fit
- I'm looking to rediscover cycling
- Looking for advice on buying bikes for my children
Cycling to Work
You can Cycle to work on any type of bike, be it MTB, Road, Hybrid or Folder, what you do need to consider when making your choice is the distance you will be commuting and the type of terrain you will be covering. For example, if your place of work is over ten miles away and a road journey we would not recommend a small wheel folding bike because you will work twice as hard as you would riding a large wheel bike, likewise with an MTB because wide knobbly tyres would increase road resistance making you work harder than necessary.
The following points should help you with your selection.
- Like all things you get what you pay for and if you are intending to cycle to work daily you will need a bike that is up to the task. You will firstly need to ensure the bike is comfortable and the correct size. If you require help with selecting the correct size bike please refer to our “Bike Size Guide”
- If you intend to commute daily you will need to have a quality bike and we recommend you ensure your selection has Shimano or Sram transmission including a Shimano Freewheel with a sealed bottom bracket, alloy V brakes and alloy brake levers, alloy rims and hubs, mudguards and carrier, or ensure the bike has the ability to fit them.
- Most routes to work are either on the road or cycle path therefore we recommend you choose a bike that has “semi slick” tyres which are thicker than a standard road tyre but not as heavy as a MTB tyre. The advantages of these tyres is they role faster and you will minimise the risk of getting punctures.
- Mudguards are a must for commuting in the UK as they not only protect you from the road spray but they also protect your bike reducing chain wear and general maintenance, a consideration if you are commuting daily. We recommend full length mudguards however you can use the clip on type that will offer a lesser degree of protection from road spray.
- The ability to carry your luggage on your bike rather than in a ruc sack will make your ride more enjoyable therefore ensure your bike either has a rear carrier fitted or has the ability to take one. Bike bags designed specifically for the goods you wish to carry are available for the front and rear of your bike this includes clothing, lap top or even a bag designed to carry your suit.
- Best to avoid cheap supermarket bikes because it is unlikely they will have the quality you require and also Dual Suspension bikes will be heavy and you will lose traction due to the “up and down” motion.
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- The ideal bike for this type of riding combines the benefits of a road bike and Mountain bike.
- Commonly known as either Trekking bikes or Hybrids
- Key features would include –
- Lightweight aluminium frame with an either a suspension fork (more important if using off road but also good for poorly surfaced roads) or a rigid fork if you intend to ride exclusively on the roads.
- Semi raises handle bars with an adjustable handlebar stem will provide you with a comfortable up right riding position which is important for longer journeys and rough terrain.
- 700c wheels with a multipurpose or semi slick tread tyre will cope with canal paths and cycling routes minimising the risk of punctures and maximising grip.
- Wide ratio of gears (minimum of 21) will help you cope with inconsistent road surfaces and undulating roads.
- Depending on your personal requirements this bike will at least have the necessary frame fittings to enable full mudguards and a rear carrier to be fitted but this type of bike is often available “fully equipped” and ready for the UK climate!
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Easy to Store Bikes
Folding bikes are very popular these days because they offer the rider all the benefits of Cycling on a standard bike but with the additional advantage of being able to fold the bike for storage or for transporting whilst commuting on public transport. Folding bikes are also very popular with Motor Home owners, Caravan and Boat enthusiasts, Cycle commuters and general leisure cyclists.
Important Points to consider
The folding bike market is much larger than people think with many brands specializing in this sector. Prices range between around the £200 mark for a basic model right up to well over £1000 for a lightweight commuting machine. Like all things you get what you pay for and if you are starting out you will get a very nice folding bike with many features if you spend between £250 and £350.
When we think folding bike we generally think small wheel which still represents the lion’s share of the market however folding bikes are available in full size 26” wheels and you can also get a folding Tandem or full size folding Tricycle. Small wheel folding bikes have a huge amount of adjustment and as a result can be adjusted to suit the height of most riders. If you are extremely tall or very short it would be worth contacting us for advise.
Budget / Cheap folding bikes because these are likely to be heavy and the all important folding mechanism may be inferior and as a result fail.
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When we refer to Road bikes we mean bikes that have dropped handlebars and narrow 700C wheels which are designed for speed and fitness riding or fast commuting. Technology has improved many of the features on road bikes in recent years and the market has grown substantially with the exposure gained from the Tour de France and other high profile road events. Whether you are returning to the sport and looking for a road bike for general keep fit or if you are looking to enter Triathlons looking to take part in the increasingly popular Sportive event riding you will be able to help.
Important points to consider when selecting your road bike
This can be a confusing area because Road frames are available as Traditional, Compact or semi compact geometry. Traditional frames have a straight top tube and are measured in the traditional way ie, from the centre of the bottom bracket to the highest point on the seat tube. Compact frames have evolved from the mountain bike market with a sloping top tube and low back end these are ridden with the maximum seat post showing and sizing for a compact frame is generally referred to as small, medium or large. Semi compact frames also have a sloping top tube but not as steep as on a compact frame and these are usually measured in centimetres or as with compact frames they can also be referred to as Small. Medium or Large.
If you need advice on what size bike is correct please refer to our Bike size guide.
Shimano, Campag or SRAM gears are a must because these offer the best quality and reliability also Gear shifters that are incorporated in to the brake levers ( STI Shifters ) are common on bikes that retail from approximately £400 upwards and are a vast improvement on the old fashioned down tube levers. Ahead steerers have reduced weight at the front of the bike and replaced the quill expander bolt method. Clipless pedals enable your shoe to clip straight on to your pedal without the use of straps and have massively improved pedalling efficiency.
None Shimano, SRAM or Campagnolio specification and down tube gear shifters.
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If you are a regular cyclist then you will probably understand the style of bike you are looking for but if however you are new to Cycling and have not taken regular exercise for some time you may need some help finding the correct bike to suit your needs.
Important points to consider when selecting your bike.
Many comfort and Trekking bikes are made with a low step over frames which enables the rider to mount the bike without raising his or her leg above a certain height. These bikes are generally classed as unisex bikes and most brands offer this style of bike in the comfort / trekking sections of the range.
Features like an adjustable handlebar stem will help you adjust the reach from saddle to handlebars ensuring your posture is correct and you are sitting up right. Suspension forks will help absorb the bumps on the road or track and a saddle that incorporates gel padding has an obvious benefits and if you are looking for complete comfort a suspension seat post will offer you a smoother ride at the rear! These are obvious visible comfort features but less obvious are can be found in the detail these include Comfort handlebar grips and even comfort inserts in your brake levers that will make a difference on a long ride.
Battery Operated Bikes ( Electric Bikes )
These bikes are becoming very popular with commuters and leisure cyclists because they offer assistance to the rider which is particularly useful when ascending hills or in strong winds. Battery technology has progressed and as a result you can travel reasonable distances on a single charge.
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Many junior bikes are designed by experts in toy marketing, who understand what features attract children to different products, for example chunky frames and shiny steel components and shiny graphics. These make the bikes eye catching but unfortunately many lack the attention to detail that will make the bike work efficiently and fit correctly, in short these bikes are completely impractical for anything more than playing on street corners.
If you are buying your child a bike with the intention for him or her to take part in cycle rides with the family it is important that you ensure the bike fits correctly and has the design features that will make the cycling experience one that your child wants to repeat.
Important points to consider when buying a bike for your child
Buying a bike that is too big is often the mistake that most make because they naturally want the bike to last as long as possible. This is understandable but care should be taken to ensure the bike you have selected is safe and your child can reach the floor with both toes whilst sitting on the saddle.
The most common problem caused by bikes that are too big is the rider can’t reach the brakes, which has a very detrimental effect on confidence as well as an obvious safety risk. If the bike fits the child he or she will be more confident, safe, and more likely to want to repeat the cycling experience. For size guidance please refer to our Bike Size Guide
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