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

Advantages

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

 

Disadvantage

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

 

Hydraulic disc brakes

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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.

Advantages

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

 

Disadvantage

  • 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.

imagesCA543NXUimagesCADIS2VAimagesCAZC65N5untitled 4      41561

 

V Brakes           U Brakes        Pivot Brakes     Side Pull Brakes    Cantilever Brakes

 

Advantages

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

 

Disadvantages

  • 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.

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What to look for when buying a second hand bicycle

 SAM_5643

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.

Frame:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

IMAG1448[1] IMAG1455[1] 20140502_205514[1]

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.

Brakes:

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.

Gears:

 IMAG1447[1]20140502_205021[1]IMAG1446[1]
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.

Chain:

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.

 

Why Drive When You Can Ride

I was recently talking to a few people about commuting, they told me that for a number of reason they don’t ride to work but would like to. These were the most common reasons they all said.

 

  • Need to transport things

  • Not feeling fresh after riding to the office

  • Need to get there quick

  • Not wanting to feel tired

  • Not wanting to get wet

 

These are issues I hear all the time and it got me thinking that maybe some people are just unaware that if you ride a properly prepared bike you can overcome all of these things and save money. So today lets address these commonly raised issues and discover some interesting ways to overcome them.

 

 

I need to transport items long distance

This one is indeed an issue when you think of a traditional bike however there are two very simple and common products on the market that are available to overcome this problem.

 

Pannier bags

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Panniers are bags that are designed to fit on a bicycle rack that is mounted to either the front or the back of the bike, they are relatively cheap items to purchase and come in many styles that can hold a variety of items like tools, food, documents and laptops.

 

Bike trailers

ImageBike trailers are basically storage units on wheels, they come in a few different designs that normally attach to the rear wheel axle or seat post of your bike and are pulled along as you ride. Although the bike trailer is generally the more expensive option of the two they have a greater storage capacity.

 

 

 

I don’t feel fresh after riding and there are no showers where I work

This is an annoying problem as most work places do not have any shower facility however there are ways to over come even this problem and the two most common are

 

Change of clothes

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I have found myself in this situation before however a bit of pre planning can get you out of it, as long as your bike has some luggage carrying facility’s you can ride to work in some suitable clothing like cycling jersey if its warm and carry your work clothes in your bags, as long as there is somewhere to change like a toilet this will work well.

 

 

Shower in a can

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Don’t worry this is not literally a pop up shower, this is a foam based product that comes in a can. It allows you to have a dry show without the need for water or even a towel, (although I would still recommend to carry a small towel) it works by killing odor germs on your skin making you feel fresh and stopping you from smelling bad.

 

 

 

I need to get to work quickly

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Although a bike is not going to out race the car any time soon any person that works in a city or built up area like London knows that the traffic on the roads and public transport in rush hour can be jam packed. However for a bike these are not issues and using a bike can shave a large amount of time off your commute, as with anything getting the right type of bike will make a difference to your speed and comfort. Depending on your route and style preference these are the most common types of bikes for commuting.

 

Hybrid bikes

Hybrids have many variations on there design to suit your needs but as a rule of thumb the thinner and lighter the bike the quicker it will be on road, bikes build for comfort are generally wider design and can come with suspension.

 

Road racing bikes

Road racing bikes are easily identifiable by the drop down handle bars, these bikes are the quickest on the road however what you gain in speed you may lose in comfort.

 

Mountain bike

Mountain bikes are designed for off road riding so if your route goes though a forest or rough ground then this is the type of bike for you, these bikes can be used on road but their added weight and thick tires can slow you down.

 

 

 

I think after riding I will be tired

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Many people say to me “but I will be tired before I even start work” although riding can takes up some energy depending on the route you take. I find that when I ride compared to driving, I get to my destination more awake, ready to work and generally feel happier because I have taken in fresh air and have increased my fitness a little. Whereas if I chose to drive to the same location I am stopped in traffic a lot of the time in a hot car which makes me feel tired and decreases my fitness a little.

 

 

 

I don’t want to get wet

ImageThe British weather is not always very predictable and sometimes it rains, however we are resilient and there is a vast range of waterproof clothing on the market now days meaning you can buy anything like overshoes, jackets, gloves and trousers that will keep you dry and warm in those winter months.

 

 

 

Additional Benefits

So other than the above there are even more advantages

 

Health: Riding helps maintain a fitness level, keeping your body healthy and meaning you don’t need to spend as much time (if at all) in the gym.

 

Friendly cycling community: Becoming a commuter cyclist means you are joining the cycle commuting community and some of my friends have met friends and partners just by riding the same route as them to work. So if you want to meet some friends (and possibly a partner) this is where you need to be.

 

Money: Riding saves money, you can see a clear financial benefit to riding when you look how much public transport and my car would cost me to commute per year.

 

These figures are worked out from my average commute of 2400 miles a year

 

Driving my car – Fuel cost for a year = £312 (this does not include tax, MOT, insurance or maintenance)

 

Public transport – Oyster card per year = £672

 

Riding my bikeTravelling cost = £0 (only cost is two services a year £80)

 

 

 

So jump on your bike, join us and spread the word.

 

If you have any other queries please get involved and leave a comment.

 

 

A Comprehensive Guide To Buying Your First Bike

                                SAM_5852

When choosing your bike it is important to make sure it fits your riding needs be that on road commuting or off road trails riding. Please answer the questions below to identify your perfect type of bike.

Where will I be riding?

Decide where you will ride either solid surfaces, parks or off road.

Riding on solid surfaces would best suit a bike with a thin tyre and little tread, if you are looking for a comfortable ride then maybe consider a bike with front suspension.

Riding in parks will require a bike with a slightly wider tyre and a bit more tread than a bike designed for solid surfaces, front suspension would also be an asset here as parks can be uneven.

Riding off road will require a wide tyre with maximum tread for grip in mud and loose surfaces, it also may benefit you to consider a bike with front and rear suspension for maximum comfort, bear in mind this will make your bike heavier.

What will I use it for?

There are three main reasons people ride bikes commuting, leisure or sport. Decide which of these suits your needs.

  • Commuting to and from work may require optional extras such as racks, baskets and bags you may also want a bike for either comfortable or fast rides dependent on riders personal preference and mileage. 

  • Leisure riding may require an upright riding position and suspension for maximum comfort and optional extras such as racks or baskets dependent on riders personal preference and mileage.

  • Sport riding may require a more specialist bike and extras to suit your chosen sport and preferences.

Am I looking for a bike for comfort or speed?

  • Bikes engineered for speed are designed light weight, aero dynamic, rigid designs and high speed gearing.

  • Bikes engineered for comfort are designed reasonably light weight with wide, flexible designs and an upright riding positions. Gearing can vary from a large range of gears to non at all.

What is my budget?

  • Up to £200 a bike at this price range will be very basic with basic parts fitted ideal for only short journeys. Bikes at this range tend not to last very long due to their quality.

  • £200 to £400 a bike at this price range will be a fairly good bike, ideal for longer journeys with good to mid range parts fitted. You would expect a bike at this range to last a good few years.

  • £400 to £1000 – a bike at this price range will be a good bike. Expect this bike to last you a long time, mid range to high end components fitted ideal for long journeys.

  • £1000 onwards a bike at this price range will be an excellent quality bike. This bike would be ideal for long journeys, high end components fitted, ideal for cycle sports competition.

How do I know what size I need? 

Bike sizing can slightly vary from brand to brand however there are some simple pointers to start you off.

  1. Stand over the bike with both feet flat on the ground the bar should pass between your legs with at least 1 inch clearance between you and the bike (only applicable on bikes with a straight top tube).

  1. With the seat post at its lowest point, sit on the saddle of the bike with the balls of your feet on the ground and your heals raised as if you are tiptoeing. If you can not achieve this the bike frame is to big for you.

    There are many ways to set up the perfect riding position this is just a quick guide to get you started on the right path.

Main Bike Groups

Please note there are many different variations of bike designs and these are just the main groups of them.

Hybrids Bikes

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The best way to describe a hybrid bikes is to think of it as a cross between a mountain bike and a road racing bike. The hybrid bike uses the thin 700c wheels and tyres of a road bike and the upright riding position of a mountain bike.

Common hybrid variations and their key features:

  1. Leisure Hybrids – great on comfort with its upright riding position and curved handlebars. These bikes typically have little or no gears and are often fitted with optional extras like baskets and mudguards.
  1. Commuting Hybrids – good on comfort with its slightly hunched riding position and riser handle bars. These bikes typically have a vast range of gears and are sometimes fitted with suspension forks for added comfort. It is common for commuting hybrids to be fitted with optional extras like mudguards, racks and baskets.

  1. Rapid Hybrids reasonably comfortable with its slightly hunched riding position and flat handle bar design. These bikes are typically lightweight with a rigid frame and fork combination for speed. It is common for these bikes to have a large range of gears and to be fitted with road calliper brakes. 

Mountain Bikes 

                                   saracen

Mountain bikes are primarily designed for off-road use, ideal for riding in forests and parks however many people use them on road for their comfort and are generally cheaper to purchase then other types of bikes. These bike are normally designed with front and sometimes rear suspension for comfort on uneven surfaces and wide tyres with lots of tread to grip loose surfaces.

Common mountain bike variations and their key features:

  1. Hard tail bikes are mountain bikes with front suspension only, these bikes are good on comfort with slightly hunched riding position and wide handle bars for maximum control. They are reasonable weight with large climbing gears to get you up forest hills. It is common for these bikes to be fitted with optional extras like mudguards.

  1. Full Suspension bikes are mountain bikes that have both front and rear suspension with a slightly hunched riding position to maximise on comfort. These bikes have wide bars and a large number of gear for excellent control. Full suspension bikes perform best on trails with lots of rough ground and jumps.

  1. Rigid bikes are mountain bikes with no suspension and riser handlebar to give you a slightly hunched riding position. These bikes are ideal for light forest and park use however due to the lack of suspension they are not as comfortable as other mountain bikes. Rigid bikes tend to be reasonably light weight which is a bonus when going up hill.

Road Bikes

                                 Roubaix

 

Road or racing bikes are designed to be used for events and competition riding on solid surfaces however many people use them for commuting as they are incredibly fast bikes, they are engineered to be an aerodynamic riding position with drop styled handlebars and very thin tyres with little to no tread.

Common road bike variations and their key features:

  1. Road/Racing bikes are designed to be very light weight and perform best on solid surfaces. These bikes are engineered with very stiff frame and thin tyres with little or no tread to ensure you are fast on the road. Road bikes have small handlebars with curved drops so you can get into an aerodynamic position and under the wind.

  1. Touring Bikes are very similar to road bike design however there frame is not as stiff and are primarily designed to tour across country. These bikes are fitted with both normal and STI drop bar brakes and normally come with mudguards and a rack to carry luggage.

  1. Cycle-cross bikes are designed like a road racing bike but with a more flexible frame design and tyres that are wider with more grip to go off road. These bikes are often fitted with canter lever brakes and sometimes additional levers.

Other bike types commonly found are:

Folding bikes are designed to have small wheels and fold down to be carried or stored easily. Folding bikes normally comes with very few gears and performs best for commuting and leisure riding. These bikes are normally lightweight and good on comfort.

Electric bikes are designed like any normal bike but are fitted with an electric motor so that you can use a throttle or pedal assist when you no longer want to pedal. Electric bikes are great on comfort as they have an upright riding position and sometimes suspension. These bikes are designed with strong wheels to support extra weight of the motor and battery. Cost can vary however in our experience electric bikes under a thousand pound tend to develop problems often.

BMX bikes are designed for stunts and perform best at skate parks and in the street. Frame and forks manufactured from steel, normally twenty inch wheel, high rise bars, single speed.

Fixed wheeled or single speed bikes are solid frame bikes designed for use on solid surfaces, flat and thin bar design, thin tyres and wheels with little tread, single speed.

Which ever type of bike you chose we advise you to purchase from a bike shop and have the bike professionally assembled. It is best to avoid buying bikes in boxes as they are more likely to have issues and need repairing which could cost you money.

I hope this guide helped you and watch out for our post on essential kit for your first bike, please leave a comment or email to let me know what you think.

If you need any further advice please contact us.