What Bike Checks Should I Make Before a Ride?

Before you head out on a bike ride, there are a number of checks you should make. These all amount to bike safety, in the end, but several of them will also ensure that your bike is performing as it should.

 

If you need to know which checks to perform on a bike, then here are some pointers to ensure that you are checking the most important parts of your bike.

Brake Check

Your brakes are one of the most important parts of your bike. You should ensure that they work properly before every ride. To do this, you should spin both wheels independently of each other, then apply the corresponding brake.

Also, ensure your brake pads are not worn down. When you apply the brake, both pads on either side of the wheel should make contact at the same time, and should only make contact with the wheel, never the tire.

Tyre Check

If your tyres are flat then this can impede the effectiveness of your pedaling. The flatter your tyres, the harder you’ll have to push the bike. Always ensure that your tyres are inflated to the recommended psi – you’ll find this embossed on the side of your tyre.

At the same time, never over-inflate your tyres. This makes them more susceptible to puncturing and that puncture could lead to a blowout that sends you tumbling.

Light Check

Your lights don’t just illuminate your path, they also act as a signal that you are on the road – particularly if you are cycling in the dark. Combined with your reflective gear, lights are a crucial addition to your bike.

Always check that your lights contain a full charge if you are going to need them on your ride. Also, make sure that they are positioned correctly and not obstructed by anything else.

Gear Check

If your bike is prone to locking in certain gears, then it might be time for some maintenance. Your gears should shift smoothly end evenly, both at the front and the back, depending on how many speeds your bike has.

It is a good idea to keep the rings and chain lubricated and, if you want a bit of a tip, oil the underside of your chain rather than the top. This will mean the oil works its way outwards into the rest of the chain, as you pedal.

Important Bike Checks

These are all important checks that should be carried out prior to any ride. They’ll ensure your ride is fun and safe, and will also help you maintain a healthy bicycle. That way, your bike should last you for years.

 

Steven Knight

The 3 Best Action Cams for Filming Your Ride

Action cams are big business, nowadays. They have a wide range of uses for cyclists; from security through to MTB trail filming. It seems as though everyone has an action cam for filming their bike ride.

 

With so many on the market, though, it might be a tough call to decide which action cam you want to go for. What you need is a guide to the best action cams and, luckily for you, we’ve collected three of the best. Here they are.

Best Premium Action Cam

GoPro HERO7

The GoPro brand manufactures probably the most widely-known action cam range right now. The HERO7 is an excellent top-of-the-range camera with a wealth of features but will set you back a fair bit of cash if you decide to buy one.

The HERO7 is waterproof, so will cope with wet, muddy rides down mountainsides no problem. Plus, it films in 4K so anyone watching your footage is going to feel like they’re the ones behind the handlebars.

It has a touch screen but, as you might not want to take your hands off the handlebars, it can also be operated using voice commands. You can even live stream from the camera to your social media channels so that everyone can join you on your ride.

Best Mid-Range Action Cam

SJCAM SJ10 Pro

On the face of it, the SJCAM barely differs from the GoPro HERO7 in terms of the device itself. It, too, has a touch screen and is capable of being controlled with voice commands. It is waterproof as well, so no worries if you ride is blighted by rain. At least your action cam won’t be!

The SJ10 Pro is less expensive than the GoPro. It is still 4K native, so your footage will be of excellent quality. You can capture, edit, and stream any recordings via social media, in conjunction with the SJCAM app, which is available via Google Play and Apple Stores.

Best Budget Action Cam

AKASO EK7000 4K Action Cam

The EK7000 is an awesome budget option. It is inexpensive, for a start, but you also get a wealth of accessories in the bundle. 19 to be exact. These include helmet mounts, a dual battery charger, and a waterproof case.

The EK7000 claims pretty much the same specs as the others, aside from the camera itself not being waterproof (so if you plan to use it for other pursuits too, like diving, then you’ll need to use the included case).

The Best Action Cam for Filming Your Ride

As we said, there are plenty out there, but these are some of the best options to suit all budgets. If you’re thinking about heading out with little ones to film their first proper cycling experience, then check out the best bike helmets for kids to ensure their ride is fun and safe.

Steven Knight

What is an eBike Conversion Kit and Do I Need One?

If you have been looking at eBikes online you’ve probably noticed how expensive they can be. Especially when you have a perfectly functional manual bike sat in your field of vision.

 

In this case, what you need to consider is whether an eBike conversion kit would suit your needs more. They have a range of advantages that could prove more fruitful than buying an eBike.

What Is an eBike Conversion Kit?

 

The clue is in the name, really. An eBike conversion kit is used to transform your existing pushbike into an eBike. It’s that simple! There are several different styles of eBike conversion kits available, each with different advantages and disadvantages.

Powered Wheels

Some eBike conversion kits offer a powered wheel; essentially a motor that sits inside a wheel drum, located at the centre of the wheel. This powers the wheel to move forward. A powered wheel conversion is usually the easiest or most convenient conversion kit to fit. Swytch Bike’s conversion kit is a powered wheel system.

Concealed Conversion Kit

A concealed conversion kit is hidden from view – generally in the seat tube – and this drives the crankshaft directly using a bevel gear. These are generally pretty light, but given the fact that they are so small, you are unlikely to get much range out of one of these devices. Even the more expensive models only give you one hour of assisted riding.

Rear Mounted Friction Drive Conversion Kits

These strange-looking contraptions use friction to help drive your rear wheel. A motor is attached to the back of the bike, and then a wheel attached to the motor drives the wheel on your bike. This is also a fairly simple device but can be quite bulky and cumbersome.

Do I Need an eBike Conversion Kit?

Well, the fact of the matter is that it all depends on what your needs are. Do you want an electric bike but don’t want to ditch your expensive pushbike? Then this is certainly a situation in which you may want to consider a conversion.

 

Likewise, if you’d like to find out if an eBike is for you, then buying a conversion kit gives you a taste of what they are like and, if it isn’t for you, you can just convert your bike back again. Easy!

With all that in mind, it is best to weigh up whether you actually need an eBike, or whether an eBike conversion kit is the way to go.

 

Steven Knight

What Type of Bike Lock Should I Buy?

Bike security is understandably high on every bicycle owner’s list of priorities. With this in mind, you may be left wondering which type of bike lock is most suitable for your needs.

 

Here, we’re going to take a look at the most important criteria you should consider when buying a bike lock and suggest a couple of products that fit the bill.

 

If you want to know which bike lock to buy, then read on.

 

Security

 

Security is obviously one of the most important considerations when it comes to your bike lock. But there are a number of factors to think about when considering security.

For example, you need to know what strength the lock needs to be based on your location and the location you’ll be locking the bike up in. If you live in a densely populated city, for example, you’re likely to require a high strength lock. If you live in a small countryside village then you can probably go for something a little less heavyweight.

 

The OnGuard 8005 Pitbull is a great example of a high strength U-lock. It has recently been awarded the new Sold Secure Diamond status, meaning it is one of the strongest out there and the toughest to get through.

 

Lock Type

 

The next thing to consider is the type of lock you’re using. The come in various configurations, the main ones being U-Locks, cable locks, folding locks, and chain locks. These vary in size and length, and they also vary in thickness so, therefore, strength.

It is not advisable to buy cable locks, generally. They are easy to get through with bolt cutters and don’t secure your bike properly.

 

The Oxford OF801 Monster Chain Lock is certified by both Sold Secure (diamond status) and Thatcham, so you can rest assured knowing this lock has been put through the mill.

 

Lock Brand

 

There are generally considered to be three main brands when it comes to bike locks and they are chosen for their quality craftsmanship, customer service, and price. 

OnGuard makes some really inexpensive locks that are well made. Abus makes expensive locks, but they are probably the best locks on the market. Kryptonite sits somewhere in between OnGuard and Abus in terms of both quality and cost, but they do offer a key and lock replacement service.

 

The Best Type of Lock for You

 

The best bike lock for you depends on what kind of security you need, at the end of the day. There’s no point spending a fortune on an expensive bike lock if you live in a remote village. If you live in a city, particularly if you have an expensive bike, you’ll want to splash that extra cash for peace of mind.

 

Steven Knight

Best Cycling Helmets For Children

With more families heading out on bike rides than ever before, parents can find it a bit difficult to persuade little ones to wear a helmet. However, it is vitally important that they do, as not wearing a helmet puts children at risk of serious injury from a fall from the bike saddle.

 

No doubt you’ve heard the classic “I’m not wearing that, it looks stupid” line passing your child’s lips, but we’ve rounded up a list of the best bike helmets for kids. These helmets will not only keep them safe, but they’ll want to wear them, too!

 

Bern Children’s Bandito Eps Matte Logo Cycling Helmet

If your kid is concerned about looking uncool in a cycle helmet, then the Bern Bandito is one of the coolest designs you’ll find. It comes in matte black with a camo brand logo to the side. In terms of safety, it features a peak to keep the sun out of their eyes. Not only that; it also has a sink fit to cover the back of the head. An EPS foam inner with a tough ABS exterior will provide excellent shock absorption should a crash occur.

 

ALPINA Children’s Radhelm Ximo Flash Helmet

The Alpina Radhelm screams safety. While Alpina may do a range of rather fetching character helmets like Frozen and Star Wars, the Radhelm offers the ultimate all-round safety package.

It has a 3-dimensional adjustment to the rear, ensuring a comfortable, secure fit, and has 12 air vents for breathability. There are reflective strips down each side and, for added visibility, there is a red chevron to the rear which lights up. It also comes in a range of designs, some with cute cartoons.

 

Micro Children’s Deluxe Helmet

While Micro are better known for their scooters, they obviously know a thing or two about injury prevention and their helmets are suitable for both scooters and bikes. Their Children’s Deluxe Helmet is a great option, and it looks cool, too.

It comes in a wide range of designs and colours, has a sizing dial with an integrated light at the back, and is held in place by a pinch-free magnetic buckle so no tears before ride-time.

 

The Best Bike Helmet for Kids

The market for children’s head protection is swamped with all sorts of options, but these are some of the most well-respected names in bike safety. Don’t go for a helmet just because it is cheap, as it may not give your child the correct level of protection and may actually do more harm than good.

 

 

Steven Knight

Keeping Your Family Safe When Cycling

A bike ride is an excellent way to get out and about as a family. This way you can take in some scenery, spend valuable time with each other, and get fit too. Importantly, it also gets everyone out of the house instead of sat in front of the TV or Nintendo Switch.

 

However, on a family bike ride, you must always ensure the safety of each and every rider. This is particularly important if you have small children and you’re taking them on public cycle paths.

 

Here are several things you can do to make sure everyone is safe on a bike ride.

 

Protection

Wearing the right protection is the most important factor when riding a bicycle. At the very minimum, everyone should be wearing a helmet. A fall from a bike can cause serious damage, so head protection is a must.

You should also ensure you are wearing pads for your knees, elbows, and wrists. If you fall from a bike and put your hands out to break your fall, you might also find you end up with a broken wrist. Children in particular should be fully protected from falls.

 

Communication

Communicating with each other is very important when you are on a family bike ride. While the urge may be there to yell instructions, this may frighten and distract small children so ensure you speak clearly rather than bellowing at them.

Likewise, always make sure that other people on the ride have heard you by asking for confirmation. You could even make this a fun exercise for children by having a silly word as their confirmation signal, so you know it was definitely heard.

 

Formation

While it is perfectly legal to ride two-abreast on roads in the UK, consider who you are riding with and where they should be placed in a formation. If you do ride two-abreast, ensure that you are road-side of any children, as they tend to be less able to control the steadiness of a bike.

If you are on a cycle path, then you will need to stay in single file so you don’t stray into the path of oncoming cyclists. If this is the case, have an adult at the front and at the back of any children in the group.

 

Keeping Your Whole Family Safe

It is easy to remember the three PCF points and you must always consider how you can keep your family safe on a bike ride. While bike safety is important for everyone, it is especially important that you maintain a watchful eye on your family as you can’t account for the actions of others on the road.

 

 

Steven Knight

To Gel Or Not To Gel?

Anyone who has ever sat on a bike saddle (or seat) will know that it can sometimes be a painful experience. If you have a poor saddle, you might find that your sit-bones feel bruised after a long bike ride. This can especially be the case for new or infrequent riders.

 

If you’ve experienced that all-too-well-known pain after a day of pedal power, then you might want to consider a gel saddle. Sure, you can get gel saddle covers, but these can slide around and become more of a hindrance than a help.

 

A gel seat is what you need. These offer more stability than a cover, while still affording the rider the same degree of comfort. Want to know more? Then read on.

 

What is a Gel Bike Saddle?

In the grand scheme of things, a gel saddle isn’t much different than a regular bike saddle. However, there is one major contrast that sets a gel saddle apart from a regular saddle and the clue is in the name. That’s right, its the gel.

 

A gel saddle will generally be shaped in exactly the same way as your standard saddle. However, the top of the seat will boast a soft, malleable layer designed for comfort as you ride. This normally sits on top of the regular saddle cushioning, providing more padding for your sit bones.

Should I Use a Gel Saddle?

To be completely honest, gel saddles aren’t suitable for everyone. It all depends on what type of rider you are. If you ride competitively, then the likelihood is you won’t be using a gel saddle as they add extra weight to the bike, which you don’t want.

 

However, if you are a casual rider then this extra cushioning could mean that your sit-bones can cope with a longer ride than with your bike’s standard seat. You also need to consider how often you ride your bike.

 

Gel does suffer from wear-and-tear. So, if you begin to ride more frequently you may find you need to replace your gel saddle as the cushioning will degrade over time and could shift around beneath you once this has happened.

 

In addition, professional riders will tell you that gel can cut off circulation to your nether-regions. Obviously this is no good, so once you have strengthened your sit bones by riding more frequently, you might want to switch to a different seat style.

 

To Gel or Not to Gel

As you can see, gel seats have their pros and cons. You can always go to your local bicycle shop and get a feel for the saddles they have available. Many will offer you a saddle test so you can check them out first.

 

 

Steven Knight

Music for your ears when cycling

There is no doubt about it, music can be a huge help when you’re out cycling. Especially so if you use cycling as part of your training regime. However, you should never wear headphones that prevent you from being able to hear or remain aware of your surroundings.

 

So what headphones should you wear for cycling? Well, the answer lies with bone conduction headphones. These innovative devices essentially send music to your eardrum via a bone; generally your jaw or skull. That way your ear canal is free to hear all around you.

 

If bone conduction headphones sound like something you could use for your rides, then here are some of the best on the market.

 

Best Premium Bone Conduction Headphones

AfterShokz Aeropex Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones

AfterShokz’ Aeropex headphones are both wireless and waterproof. This makes them perfect for cycling as you’ll have no cables getting in the way as you ride. Plus, you can ride in any weather without fear of damage from water ingress (they have an IP67 rating against dust and water).

 

Because they are wireless, you can control music and take calls without having to stop pedaling to take your phone out of your bag. You get eight hours of continuous play, too; perfect for a day out on your bike.

 

Best Mid-Range Bone Conduction Headphones

Vidonn F3 Bone Conduction Headphones

The Vidonn F3 bone conductors have an excellent feature-set at a lower mid-range price. You get seven hours of playback with these ‘phones and they’re IP65-rated; ideal for a long ride in any weather.

 

They’re wireless, so you can take calls and control music from the headphones themselves. Everything is operated via the multi-function button on the side, so operating them is as easy as lifting your finger to your ear.

 

Best Budget Bone Conduction Headphones

Tayogo Bone Conduction Headphones

Tayogo’s bone conduction headphones are a steal, considering their low price point in comparison to the AfterShokz, above. They carry the same IP rating, so are sweat and water-resistant.

 

You can make and take calls using the built-in mic. The only factor that prevents the Tayogo headphones from matching up with the Aeropex is the play-time. These are only capable of six hours rather than eight, so fall short by two hours.

 

The Best Bone Conduction Headphones

These are some of the best bone conduction models you can buy. The best thing about all three is that they ensure you are safe while you ride, and you can’t put a price on safety. Just remember, you should never cover your ears or block your hearing while you’re on a bicycle.

 

 

Steven Knight

Electric mountain bikes are gaining traction

When we think about e-bikes our minds generally focus on electric road bikes or conversion kit e-bikes. There is a reason for this. While driving or cycling or riding our own e-bikes, we are seeing more and more e-bikes on the road. But the road isn’t the only place for e-bikes. Electric mountain bikes, just like e-bikes, are gaining traction and growing in popularity and use around the world. While there are some hindrances, reports indicate E-mountain bikes are the next big thing.

 

The most noteworthy indication of the rise of e-mountain bikes is the brand new Yamaha YDX MORO electric mountain bike line. These things are awesome. They feature a mid-drive e-bike motor and a full-suspension frame. The frame itself is a marvel, splitting down the middle to make room for the battery and rear shocks, while serving as a cage to protect both. It’s a new look for e-mountain bikes, but more importantly it’s setting a high bar for future models. It’s not going to be a cheap bike, that’s for sure, but it’s a nice one that speaks to the growing interest in e-mountain biking.

 

So why would I want an e-mountain bike anyway?

 

For the same reasons you’d want a regular e-bike. You want battery assisted power, except instead of the reasoning being longer distance travel or commuting, for an e-mountain bike you are looking for something that will enhance your ride on rough terrain and hills. This is about adventure. An e-mountain bike is not something that you’ll be cruising on in the bike lane, this is a bike that screams both danger and fun while kicking up the dirt.

 

If you are already used to tearing up the trail down the side of a mountain, then an e-mountain bike will give you a completely different experience. You’ll have more weight to deal with, which changes the entire ride. You’ll have more speed as well, which brings a bit more adrenaline to a downhill. For uphill racing, you’ve got the assist of the battery so that you can save some energy for keeping your balance on the other side. The point is, an e-mountain bike isn’t like riding a regular mountain bike no more than a road e-bike is like regular cycling.

 

The weight of an e-mountain bike, while changing the semantics of your ride, does offer a bit more stability because of the lower center of gravity. Most of the motors are in the bottom bracket with batteries in the downtube. This does create a more centrally located weight distribution, hence the change in center of gravity and stability. This is good for novice riders especially, as it helps with overall balance.

 

If you’ve ever been mountain biking you know that it’s just not about some crazy downhill action. You have to get up that hill too. You have to walk to the spot sometimes and walk back. With an e-mountain bike, assuming the path isn’t too treacherous to not have to traverse on foot, you can ride instead of walk, face those uphills seated instead of lugging your bike on your shoulder. All those muscles that will be strained keeping your balance on the downhill will be that much fresher thanks to the battery.

 

The versatility of an e-mountain bike is why e-mountain bikes are becoming more popular. Riding one results in more time on the bike, more time on trails and more time ripping shreds in the dirt. Sure, an e-mountain bike is more of a leisure time activity (for regular folk, not for professionals) than an e-bike for commuting, but we all could use a bit of that right now don’t you think? Tearing down a hill, dirt and wind in your face, extra power pushing you to your personal extreme… what’s not to like?

 

 

Curtis Silver

How using an indoor bike trainer can improve your ride

There are numerous reasons to use an indoor bike trainer and hundreds of them on the market. A bike trainer is like a bike stand except that using one transforms your bike into a stationary bike. There are three types of indoor bike trainers: stationary trainer (the most common), roller trainer (for professional training) and stationary bikes (like a Peloton). For the purpose of this article, we’ll be discussing stationary trainers.

 

Stationary trainers are solid frame stands for your bike so that you can cycle inside. That’s the gist of the equipement. Many of them have a resistance roller tension system so that you can adjust your ride to simulate riding uphill. You might scoff at riding inside with a tension system when you can just head outside, but there are a few reasons why investing in an indoor bike trainer is a good idea.

 

Train to avoid the weather

 

Regardless if you ride for leisure, exercise or hardcore competition, the weather can be a problem. Riding in the rain or extreme heat can be dangerous and not worth the trouble sometimes, but you still have that desire to ride. While riding inside doesn’t offer the scenery of riding outside, you can binge your favorite show while still clocking your miles. An indoor bike trainer is a great way to beat the heat or any inclement weather.

 

Strength training 

 

A great use of indoor bike trainers is strength training. Maybe you don’t have hills where you live or have been working to tackle the biggest one in the neighborhood. Perhaps you’ve been training for longer distances. An indoor bike trainer offers resistance training with a tension roller so that you can push harder without going further to build yourself up for the next challenge. I have no hills where I live, so I put the tension at the highest setting and pretend that there’s a hill in front of me.

 

Socially distant cycling

 

With the pandemic still permeating in some countries (the UK and US at the top of those lists), trails and bike routes have been packed with people seeking some solace in the outdoors. Of course, the most people in any one place, the higher the risk of becoming a statistic, regardless of fresh air. So biking inside with an indoor bike trainer is a good way to avoid the crowds and still get your ride in. You just might need to open a window to let some fresh air in.

 

For recovery

 

If you’ve recently injured yourself, whether on your bike or not, then an indoor trainer can help you get back into riding shape. You don’t have to worry as much about balance and you can easily adjust your pace without worrying about your environment causing any issues. It’s probably the safest way to ride when recovering from injury.

 

Longer, shorter rides

 

Another benefit of an indoor bike trainer is adjusting the time of your ride without having to track mileage or worrying about raw distance. If you have a goal, you can use a mileage tracker on your rear wheel (it tracks rotations and estimates mileage based on cadence and time) or you can just ride until you don’t feel like riding any longer. You won’t be any further from home than when you started and you’ll be that much closer to a nice cool drink from the fridge.

 

All these things together will only serve to enhance your next ride on the pavement. With an indoor bike trainer, you don’t have to lament being stuck inside during a rain storm or a terribly hot day. You can strength train or just leisurely ride in your living room under the air conditioning. Stationary bike trainers are fairly inexpensive as well (good ones can be had for less than $200). And when you are ready to go ride outside, you can unscrew your bike from the stand and hit the road.

 

Curtis Silver

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