Disc Brakes vs Rim Brakes


I am often asked “When buying a bike should I have disc brakes or standard rim brakes?”. This is a question that has brought up a fair bit of debate in the industry so I thought I would talk about the advantages and disadvantages of each variation.

There are two types of disc brakes available on the market, your budget will play a part in what type you chose

Mechanical Disc Brakes

Mechanical disc brakes use a standard lever to operate a cable that pulls the calliper to engage the disc rotor.


  • Lower cost to purchase
  • Easy to adjust
  • No specialist tools needed
  • Perform well in wet conditions



  • Less powerful compared with hydraulics
  • More maintenance compared with hydraulics
  • Hydraulic Disc Brakes


Hydraulic disc brakes


Hydraulic disc brakes use a lever filled with hydraulic fluid that is pushed down a hose in to a callipers pistons that then press together to engage the disc rotor.


  • Powerful braking system
  • Often self adjusting
  • Low maintenance
  • Perform well in wet conditions



  • Higher cost

Disc rotors come in a few different common sizes 140, 160, 180 and 203mm. They also have other uncommon sizes available on the market but are rarely seen on a standard bike. Generally the bigger the disc rotor the more stopping power.



Rim Brakes

Rim brakes are any braking system that engage the rim of the bike. Common types include V brakes, U brakes, cantilever brakes, pivot brake and horse shoe brake, all of these braking systems work by using a standard lever to operate a cable that pulls the calliper to engage the rim. Each brake is used for different styles of bikes however the V – brake is becoming the norm on many of today’s bikes.

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V Brakes           U Brakes        Pivot Brakes     Side Pull Brakes    Cantilever Brakes



  • Low cost to purchase
  • Easy and low cost maintenance
  • No specialist tools needed



  • lose some braking power in wet conditions



I hope this post was of help to you please get involved and leave a comment if you have any questions.


What to look for when buying a second hand bicycle


Looking for a second hand bike can be difficult, you need to make sure the bike is not damaged or stolen and this is made even harder if you don’t know what you should be looking for. This post is to arm you with the information you need to avoid getting ripped off.

Here are a few useful tips to make your choice that bit easier.


Is the bike damaged?

When looking at any second hand bike there are a few quick and easy ways to make sure you’re not buying a bit of junk that will cost more to repair than to replace. Complete the check list below to evaluate the bike.


Check that the frame is not bent, dented or cracked in anyway. If a frame is damaged it is unlikely that it can be repaired and can be dangerous to ride.

Wheel bearing check:

Grab the wheel with one hand and try to move it side to side, if the wheel moves at all there could be a problem with the wheel bearings which can be costly to put right.

Headset bearing check:

First move the handle bars as if you were steering the bike this shouldn’t feel stiff or rough. Next with one hand pull the front brake lever and place the other hand on the headset cup as seen in picture above, rock the bike back and forward, you are trying to feel for any movement in the headset cups. If there is play or stiffness then there could be a problem with the headset bearings this can be a costly problem to fix.

Bottom bracket bearing/ Chainset check:

Look at the teeth on the chainset, the teeth should be flat at the top not sharp like picture two. Pedal the bike with you hands it should not be stiff or feel like its grinding, whilst pedalling the bike look down at the chainset to make sure the cogs are not bent as they turn (picture 1). Next grab the crank arm and try to pull it side to side (picture 3), if you feel any movement in the shell you could have bearing issues which could be costly to repair.

Tyres/ Wheels:

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Squeeze the spokes in the wheels to make sure none are broken or really loose whilst doing this check that the tyre is not balding or cracking then spin the wheel to make sure they are not buckled or dented, wheels can be expensive to replace but tyres are relatively cheap.


IMAG1454[1]  IMAG1445[1]
Checking the brake system is fairly easy first pull the brake lever to make sure the cables are moving freely with no rust or splits, then look at the brake pads wear line as pictured above if the pads are worn past this line than they will need replacing, pads and cables are relatively cheap if its just one or two parts to replace.


To check the gear systems on a bike first operate the gear shifters to make sure the cables are moving freely with no rust or splits, then check that the derailleurs are not bent or broken, they should line up with the cogs as pictured above. Cables are relatively cheap but derailleurs can be expensive to replace.


chainring  20140502_205312[1]

Checking a chain can be a difficult without a chain checking tool however if you look at the chain on the biggest front cog and the chain is not sitting on the teeth of the cog properly as in picture one then it is worn, picture two is how it should appear. You should also visually inspect the chain for rust or damaged links. Chains vary in price but a standard chain is relatively cheap to replace however if the chain is badly worn than the chances are the chainset and cog are worn as well.


Is the bike stolen?

500,000 bikes are stolen every year so when you think of buying a second hand bike you need to make sure you’re not buying stolen goods. There are a few simple ways to check a bike to limit the chances of this happening to you.

  • Flip the bike upside down and check the bottom of the frame for a frame number, it will be stamped into the frame itself. If the frame number has been filed off this is a sign the bike has been stolen.
  • When you find the frame number of the bike you can enter it into a bike checker, if the bike has been reported as stolen on the site then it will inform you of it.
  • As above if the bike has been registered on the bike register then you can check to see if the person selling you the bike is the owner of the bike using the frame number.

Follow the links above to use the checker or register a bike.


If it sounds too good to be true than it probably is. If you see someone selling a top of the range racing bike for £50 then the chances are that the bike is either badly damaged or stolen.

Once you have purchased a bike I recommend you do two things.

  1. Getting it serviced to make sure the bike is fully ready to ride.
  2. Get your bike registered on the online bike register and get your bike security marked by the police. Both registering and security marking are free.


I hope this post was of help to you and if you have any questions please get involved and leave a comment.


Essential kit for you first bike

Once you have got your brand new bike there are a few purchases well worth considering before going out on your first ride.

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Always remember safety first and when it comes to bike safety the one thing you want to protect is your head. Although it is not law in the UK, always remember to wear a helmet, a helmet could one day save your life if you fall off your bicycle and hit your head on the ground. The protection from your helmet may stop you ending up with a serious injury.


Lights are an essential accessory to have on your bike for night riding. It is law in the United Kingdom to have both front and rear lights fitted if you are riding at night and failure to comply with this law could see you with a fine for every light missing. Lights can be purchased in various forms from a standard £20 a pair set to an £150 high powered single light.


Locks come in different forms and levels of security dependent on how much you pay, as a rule of thumb generally the more you pay the stronger the lock. The main types of locks are cable and D-locks both have their advantages and disadvantages. A cable lock is lightweight and easy to transport however not as secure whereas a D-lock is a solid strong lock but can be heavy and troublesome to transport dependent on your frame so when purchasing make sure you buy the lock most suitable for your needs. Some high end locks also come with free insurance in case the lock is broken and the bike is stolen.

Reflective Clothing

Reflective clothing can be a great asset when riding at night so you are seen by other road users. You can purchase many different types of cycle clothing such as jackets, arm bands, belts, helmet cover, vest and much more. Remember the more visible you are the safer you are.

Seasonal Clothing

Its a good idea to get a good set of seasonal clothing such as jackets and waterproofs for the harsh winters and shorts and jerseys for those baking summers. You will find there are many different types and brands on the market for clothing so it would be best to get what best suits your tastes and budgets.


There are two main types of gloves full fingered and fingerless. Full fingered gloves are good for grip and warmth if used for winter but can make your hands sweat in heat. Fingerless gloves also have good grip mainly on the palm of the hand, these gloves are idea for summer use as they keep you hands cool.


Pumps come in a range of designs and capability’s, you will find the easiest pumps to use are floor pumps or foot pumps as they do not require as much effort as small hand pumps. Floor or foot pumps can cost upwards of £15 however these pumps are hard to transport and are best kept for home use. Hand pumps generally cost upwards of £5, it would be a good idea to keep a hand pump to carry in case you get a puncture.


It is a good idea to carry some basic spares such as tubes, tyre levers and a multi tool when you ride to help you if you get in trouble. Punctures can be a common problem when riding and it is easier to change a tube rather than trying to patch one. These items cost very little and are easy to transport on your bike.

Additional Extras

After you have been riding for a while you may start to want more comfort and convenience for your ride. There are products that you may also want to consider such as

  • Mudguards – help keep mud off your face and back.

  • Bottles and Bottle Cages – great for long rides.

  • Kickstand – so you don’t have to drop your bike on the floor.

  • Saddle Bag – ideal for carrying tools and tubes.

  • Rack and Pannier Bags – excellent choice for a city commuter.

  • Speedometer – great for checking your speed and mileage.

  • Saddle Covers – helps reduce discomfort.

  • Mirrors – helps you see without having to turn around.

I hope this was helpful to you please leave a comment if you liked this or email me for any further advice.

The Five Simple Steps That Will Prolong Your Bike’s Life.

Step 1: Pressure

Always check the pressure is correct in your tyres. Pressure ratings can be found on the sidewall of your tyres.You should be checking your tyre pressures at least once a week if you ride regularly. If you ride occasionally, check your pressures before you ride. This will save energy as underinflated tyres will slow you down and damage your rims.

Step 2: Lubrication

Lubricating your chain with a good bike oil will prevent your chain from rusting and collecting dirt, if a chain is not lubricated regularly you will find your gears do not shift as smooth as they should do.

Step 3: Cleaning

Cleaning your bike will help prevent dirt and mud getting in the components and stopping them working. When cleaning your bike it is not advised to use a jet wash as spraying water directly at the bike may push out the grease from the bearings in your wheels, headset and bottom bracket resulting in costly damage. There are many specific bike products out on the market to clean your bike with safely.

Step 4: Maintenance

Maintaining your bicycle is key to prolonging its life and as a general rule if you are using your bike on a regular basis like commuting or racing you should get your bike serviced every six months, if you are using your bike occasionally like going to the shops or for a weekend forest ride with the family you should get your bike serviced at least once a year. Regular maintenance will still be required throughout the year if issues arise.

Step 5: Storage

A big contributor to a bicycle becoming damaged are the elements, when rain gets inside your cables and on your chain they will begin to rust, this will make cycling your bike difficult and will cost money. Make sure you store your bike away from the elements ideally under a cycle cover or in a dry place like a shed or your home.