As a total beginner; what information will I need before going into my local bike shop and what questions should I be asking the sales person.
You will need to have an idea of how much you want to spend in total, including the bike and also accessories. You need to know what you intend to use it for. What sort of bike are you after or at least what type or riding you will be doing. Also how often you intend to use it and any other information such as, where will you be keeping it, will you need to have a child seat on it. These are all questions the sales person will probably ask you.
What mountain bike would you recommend for a female who’s new to mountain biking? An entry level bike, as I can’t afford to spend much – I just discovered my bike has been stolen from my bike shed! So, this is my opportunity to try another brand!
It depends on exactly how much you want to spend. Work out your budget and then you can narrow it down to a few models. Then when you have a shortlist of 2/3 bikes the best thing you can do is test ride them. The range of women’s specific mountain bikes is much bigger now and although they all have similar differences to male bikes they are all different.
I am about to retire and want to go back to cycling after many years break. It will probably be mainly green roads and cycle tracks. I fancy a bike with full suspension to ease the strain on my old bones! However, these seem to be aimed at the more extreme end of the market. What would be the pros and cons of such a choice?
Full suspension mountain bikes cover a wide range of price brackets and riding styles. I know plenty of people who buy a full suspension bike for comfort. Improved designs and reducing prices mean that full suspension bikes are available to everyone. While it will be more comfortable for you even on roads and cycle tracks you need to bear in mind that they will be a bit more expensive compared to a ridged equivalent specked bike, in the long run they will require more maintenance and can sometimes be a bit heavier. The best thing you can do is test ride a few different bikes and compare them.
How often should you service your bike?
This does depend on how often you use your bike and also how well you look after it. If you keep your bike clean and make sure the chain is clean and lubricated, tyres pumped up and brake pads correctly adjusted the time between services will lengthen. If you are using your bike 5 days a week to commute say 5 miles each way, expect to have your bike serviced every 3 or 4 months.
When I try to climb a steep ascent on my bike the front wheel lifts off the floor, what am I doing wrong?
When climbing steep trails you need to get your balance right. Too much on the seat and the front wheel lifts, out of the saddle and the rear wheel spins. What you need to do is get the balance between the two right, weight forward but enough on the rear wheel to make it grip. By sitting on the tip of the saddle and bringing your upper body forward over the front wheel you tend to get the balance right but it does depend on the climb. It’s all down to trial and error and will come with experience.
Have you got any tips to stop me from getting so saddle sore?
First of a good quality pair of lycra shorts. They are all different so if you aren’t getting on with a pair of shorts maybe it’s time to try another brand. Then it’s a good idea to use some form of chamois cream. Traditional chamois creams were intended to help soften the chamois in cycling shorts. Now though they act as a lubricant to prevent saddle sores and irritation from sweat. They are designed to be used with the synthetic inserts found in cycling shorts. This will help reduce friction on the longer rides. Or like they do in SA use Udder cream! As weird as it sounds milking cream for cows does work!
How do non-puncture tyres work?
Well I don’t think any tyre is completely puncture proof, just puncture resistant to a more or less extent. These puncture resistant tyres work by having a reinforced strip in the tyre to resist anything coming through the tyre. Some use Kevlar, some use a gel and some use a harder form or rubber. Some of the reinforcement strips also cover all the way down the side of the tyre
Do red bike bits really make you ride faster?
As a rule of thumb red is 3 seconds faster than any other colour.
I have used the Cycle to Work scheme and make the journey to work on a regular basis which is approximately 5 miles and can make the journey on cycle pathways and road depending on conditions and time of year. This is probably the same for many commuters using this scheme and I believe we would all like to know: What’s the best way to optimise getting fit and improving your cycling stamina using this relatively short journey?
The best thing you can do on a short ride is to do some more intense sprints, use sign posts to sprint for, traffic lights to sprint away from and mix it up a little. Any little rises or hills, use them to sprint up. But also remember to have some slower relaxed rides in so your body can recover.
And the winner is…
Well done Richard, your voucher will be winging it’s way to you shortly! Don’t forget to check out our bike reviews before you decide on which bike to go for.