Monday, 1 December 2014

Giant Defy Composite 2 2014 - a Staff Long Term Review

What can I say about this bike that hasn’t been said before?? A full carbon, Shimano 105 equipped road bike for less than £1500. Amazing performance at a great value price.

Let’s go back to March 2014.......
I am stoked to get my hands on my bike (finally). Only ever had a basic road bike before, a Giant Defy 4 – Aluxx Frame and fork, Shimano 2300 groupset. This svelte carbon bike should be fun....
Eight months later and I’m still feeling the same. The Defy has been a pleasure to ride. Comfort and compliance, a geometry that suited me and my ability, and great reliable kit. All in, a fantastic package. The first few rides enabled me to fine tune the ride position, and get used to the new gears. After that it was time to put the miles in....

So the first few rides were my daily commute, 5 ½ miles each way. Not anything super exciting, but enough to get me started. Within a few rides had my times down to under 20 minutes (just). I was impressed with the way the bike rode and handled. Even with my near 17 stone weight on it, the Defy was still lively and nimble. It climbed really well also, even with my lack of fitness at the time. With the summer approaching and that ‘little’ race coming to the area, I decided to start pushing the distances a little bit. By adding on a bit extra to my ride home, I was able to get up to 20 miles easily. Even with my level of fitness I was able to push more and more on the bike. 

No matter how hard I pushed, or how fast (and badly) I descended and cornered, the Defy never felt out of shape or control. By the time the Tour de France had its Grand Depart here in Yorkshire I had got down to 16 stone and felt much better about riding longer distances. So much so that the day of the second stage, I decided to ride out to our VIP area, and then put in a few extra miles after. By the end of the day, I had ridden nearly 50 miles. That was unheard of for me, and I felt I could have ridden more, if not for failing light, failing legs and lungs, and the wife (boss) wanting me home again.

From then I tried to get out for a longer ride once a week, which was an absolute pleasure. Usually 15 – 20 miles on a Friday evening, along roads giving some fantastic views across Yorkshire. Pure riding heaven.  As the year drew to a close, and the nights got darker it was time to think ahead to winter and 2015. 

The new Giant dealer book landed, and all of the staff started rifling through it to see what was new for the next season, but more on that in a later blog.

Overall I have been very impressed with the Defy Composite 2. It is a fantastic bike to ride. For me it opened up a whole new world of riding. For the new season I have decided to try something new.

 A cyclocross bike. A bit of a change from the road, but more suited to my needs. Most of my riding is commuting, with the occasional longer ride, often with my Wife, along quiet roads and the canal towpath. The Defy was fantastic on the roads, but that’s not where most of my riding will be. If I was out for longer rides every weekend, or entering Sportive rides, the Defy would be perfect.  

It didn’t work out as the ideal bike for me, but it proved to be a blast to ride and I would recommend it to anyone looking for an endurance/sportive bike.

 With a TCX on order for me now, all I have to do is not look at the catalogue for 2015 and fall in love with road bikes again. At least not yet.....

Monday, 17 November 2014

A Cumbrian Cracker

Sunday the 16th November saw nearly 900 riders setting off on the annual Cumbrian Cracker sportive run by Epic Events.

All Terrain Cycles at Cumbrian Cracker
Starting in Grasmere the 57 mile route climbs steeply up over Red Bank before settling down to a delightful run south alongside Coniston before crossing the A590 and down to the half-way feed at Cartmel before climbing back north and into Grizedale with a final plummet into Hawkshead and a fast run back to Grasmere.

All Terrain Cycles at Cumbrian Cracker
The event was really well organised with a comprehensive pre-ride e-mailed briefing which covered, in great details, all the requirements and the route was well signed and marshalled. Timings were courtesy of front hub-mounted timing chips and results were published the evening of the ride.

A good spread of riders from beginners on mountain bikes to well-practiced club riders meant the times varied from 2hrs 54 to 8hrs+, but of course, it’s not a race is it…………?!

The weather was brilliant with mist lingering in the valley bottoms, patchy sunshine and calm lakes, with the autumn leaves still clinging on it was a real belter of a day.

This was my first run of this event and I was pretty happy with a 3hr 50 time especially as my riding partner for the day managed a 3rd place in her Cat.

Overall a great sportive for riders of all levels and at £20 good value.

The SwissSide Gotthards worked at treat !

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

PDW FULL METAL JACKETS – Are these the most expensive road bike guards we have ever seen?

When I first saw these guards and saw the price tag I nearly had a heart attack, I thought wow these may be the most expensive guards I’ve ever seen.

One year later and I’ve managed to finally fit a set of these beautiful PDW Full metal jackets mud guards to my winter bike. PDW also known as Portland Design Works make these guards in house in Portland and have pretty much thought of just about everything when it comes to design.

Whether you have mud guard eyelets or not PDW full metal jackets will fit pretty much any top end road bike along as you are using 23c tyres. They do say that 25c tyres can be used on some bikes, But if your bike is a full on race bike with standard road callipers you will need 23c tyres to get them to work beautifully. Most high end road bikes don’t have the ability to fit full length guards due to not being designed with mud guards in mind and this has always caused problems in fitting to my trusty winter stead.

I can hear you say “well if you were riding a proper winter bike you would have mud guard eyelets and 57mm drop road callipers” This is true and you are not wrong. But myself and another team rider bought our Giant TCR aluminium winter training bikes for one simple reason to emulate our race bike position, so when spring finally shows it’s head we wouldn’t have to re-adjust to our racing bike position quite as much. Not only that the bike would handle and ride similar even though it was aluminium rather than carbon.

Fitting these guards was an absolute pleasure and that is saying something. If you have ever fitted mud guards on a weekly basis, you often find it drives you up the wall. The amount of times you have to re-adjust the guard or it rattles or consistently rubs or sometimes won’t fit due to the callipers or space as it passes through the frame/fork. Most of the time you just want it to be summer all year round, so don’t have to deal with the stress of fitting guards.

The weather has finally turned here in Yorkshire and in the last few weeks I’ve been able to test these guards in some pretty nasty conditions. If you have ever road in Yorkshire throughout the winter it can be pretty wet. These guards really do protect you from the elements. Not only that they don’t rattle like most plastic mud guards or rub even under hard pedalling. These guards really do inspire you to get out ride no matter whatever the weather.

Once fitted these guards are so stiff and even without the guides to hold them in place they hold their shape. Quality is written all over these guards from the build and finish to the design, everything has been thought about and no stone unturned. The bracket that passes over the rear brake to hold the guard in place is perfectly designed not to interfere with the brake even when using standard drop road callipers. These guards are very easy to adjust up and down with a 2mm Allen key. The guide arms are designed beautiful and fit with ease and hold the guard in place. The guards come with protective stickers that stop the mounts marking the guard itself.

I honestly cannot find a bad thing to say about them. The only grumble is they only come in one colour, a gun metal grey.
These guards are worth penny of the £75 price tag and will keep you dry and make your winter bike look and feel great. 

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Trek Training Day!!!

Whenever anyone asks me about working in the Bike industry, I always get the same question asked “It must be awesome to ride bikes all day and get paid for it!”
As anyone who works in a Bike Shop knows, most of our time is spent selling bikes, fixing bikes, sorting replacement parts to customers and generally stressing about the lack of time we have to do repairs and new builds, or about the state of the shop floor.

Honestly, some days you get home and think “Id be happy if I never saw another bike in my life!” However, occasionally (and I do mean occasionally!), the monkeys are given a free pass and sent somewhere (normally cold and wet) to ride bikes for a day, and I will tell you now, the odd trip out here and there really does make all the, stressful days in the shop worth it! Myself & partner in crime Tom, as well as Dan from our new Wetherby shop, were lucky enough to be invited up to Glentress last week to try and destroy, sorry “test” Treks new range of 2015 bikes,and all 3 of us jumped at the chance to go and see what they have to offer.

So we packed our bags, left work early on the Wednesday night, picked Dan up from Wetherby and set off on a 3 ½ hour journey full of inappropriate comments, banter and many coffee stops!!!

Eventually we rolled into Glentress lodges, our home for the night and start unpacking the car and setting up camp. Tom has other ideas so by the time me and Dan had the car unpacked,Tom set up and lit a fair sized fire so it was beer o’clock!

After some ribbing each other some more, talk turned to the next day and what bikes we all wanted to try out. Both Tom and I wanted to go down the 27.5” route, however Dan was very much committed to the 29er, so as it hit midnight and the fire died down, it was time for some kip as it was an early start in the morning.

8am, everyone’s up and ready, a quick trip into Peebles for breakfast and then back to the Pod to eat and get our riding kit sorted for the day.
After a lovely, crisp, clear night, the Riding gods have not looked upon us favourably and decided to make things a bit more interesting, so it’s tipping it down!!

Waterproofs on, winter gloves and Sealskins socks
are dug out of kit bags and were off bright and early to get the pick of the bikes. Where the first lot there, so like kids in a sweetshop, we had pretty much every bike and size at our disposal, so Tom goes for a 2015 Slash 9, I grab a Remedy 9 and Dan goes for a Remedy 9 29er.

Trek have come on leaps and bounds in the last couple of years with their bikes and this year’s range looks stunning (even caked in mud from the previous day!!).
Trek have very much stuck with 29” wheels through their range as well as 27.5” for 2015. It seems everyone else has been jumping ship and going down the 27.5” route. I can understand the commitment from a lot of brands going with 27.5” over 29” as they are nimbler through the tight, twisty stuff and to be really blunt, most people are scared to death of changing to a 29er as they think it will limit them on the trail, especially anything over 120mm, as unfortunately the rise of the dreaded forum and many armchair experts have demonised the 29er as a thing reserved for the XC whippets and the quirkier riders. I’m going to tell you now that’s absolute rubbish!

Treks range of 29ers are some of the best I have ridden, and I’m very much a convert of the smaller wheels (something to do with a DH background I guess!) but with the offset crowns used on their 29” bikes, they handle like they have a much smaller wheel and after last year’s demo day at Coeyd y Brennen, I was very much sold on the 29ers (ask Dan at Wetherby for confirmation, he spent his cold hard cash on a 29er remedy this year!), but we didn’t really get a chance to test much in their 27.5” range last year as they were few and far between, but for 2015 that has all changed!

So all 3 of us set off for the long, soggy, cold slog to the top. Tom and Dan are off like missiles, I hang at the back (as usual!) being the unfit mess of the group. As predicted, Dan’s 29er is by far the best climber of the 3, the bigger wheels are always going to help him on the climbs and even with the ground sodden, he’s not struggling with lack of grip on the closed woodland climbs. Toms off like a rocket too, but starts to ease up a bit halfway to the free ride park as the slash he’s on is a big, slack bike designed for going down rather than up, but surprisingly he gets it up to the buzzards nest before Dan.

My 650b Remedy is a big surprise. It climbs very well for a 150mm travel bike and even through the steeper switchback climbs, the front end feels planted. It has all the traits of the 29er I rode last year going up, but as we get to the free ride park, I’m getting tetchy to give it some stick.

Tom and I decide to mess about for half an hour on the jumps and drops and as predicted the Slash didn’t disappoint. From the looks of things, Tom had a blast on the bike through the table tops and berms, but I’ll let you read his review further down for more on the Slash.
Dan made the decision to catch a breather and laughed at us sliding our way down the jump line, probably a wise decision as it was pretty lethal on the rocky sections and wooden boxes.
My Remedy rode like a dream, no matter how sketchy my landings were after some rather shonky whips, or dodgy line choices through some slippery rocks, the bike felt stable, planted and very forgiving. As soon as I got to the bottom, I was running back up for another go!!!!
Eventually the other 2 prised me away from the playground and we continued our accent to the top! After a couple more heart attacks and a small stroke, I crawl into the picnic area at the top of the red route. The other 2 are already there having a bite to eat and look fresh as daisys!! I catch my breath, have a moan about how cold it is, ring out my beard and then start to perk up realising its all downhill from here!!

We barrel into spooky woods at a fair rate!! The trail’s hard packed up here and were not fighting for grip even though there is a river running down the top section. I keep my distance from tom, don’t fancy having a tumble on the first decent so all 3 of us are keeping a fair bit of room between us, but were flying! The remedy is light, nimble and sticks like glue to the berms, rollers and small jumps on the top section. Through the berms I wasn’t even covering the brakes because the bike felt so stable I was rolling through them and using the berm itself to moderate my speed. It’s rare I can be on a bike for less than 2 hours and feel comfortable enough to do that, but in the wet I don’t think I’ve ever ridden a demo bike like that. This is shaping up to be a good decent!

We pop out at the bottom, have a quick breather and a drink and then into the next section.
Once again hardpack trail, fast open, corners and more pushing the bikes harder and harder.
The next section is a little different. We drop into the woods and straight away we are greeted with mud, polished roots and rocks. It wouldn’t be so bad even in the wet, but it is dark, and I mean really dark. We slow it down and pick our lines very carefully. At lower speeds the remedy still feels stable and even though it’s got a pretty slack head angle, I found I could muscle it through the technical sections without any hassle. I felt so at home on it, at one point I got a bit sloppy with my line choices and ended up straight lining a section of polished roots and ended up in a tangled muddy mess on the floor! Very much pilot error rather than the bike not being able to handle it. Dan had the same idea as me, slow and steady in the dark woods, Tom on the other hand was his usual gung-ho self and was hitting everything with a real do or die attitude, which seemed to pay off! I was the only casualty of the day, but I’m sure the other chaps had a couple of hairy moments but I doubt they will admit it!!
As we rolled back to treks tent, caked in mud, cold and hungry we all had smiles on our faces!

Next stop, food.

Over dinner, we had a talk about the bikes we’d ridden and decided to go out for a go on the new 27.5” fuels which Trek have brought out this year, we were already covered in mud so we might as well go out and try something none of us were too bothered about last year.
We decided a trip to the halfway point was a wiser move as it would be late by the time we got back if we did the full loop, so off we went on the shorter travel bikes for a bit of a play.

The Fuels are a good option for the UK, as they are slack enough to really enjoy the descents, but not too slack as to limit you on the climbs. If I was to buy a bike to ride the natural trails around west and north Yorkshire, this would be at the top of my list!!!! They climb like mountain goats, and even with my lack of fitness and how tired I was, I actually enjoyed the switchbacks up to the halfway point. It didn’t want to lift its front wheel, it was easy to manhandle over rocks and roots and had a nice comfortable riding position.
The real surprise was on the down!  The fuel feels like it has a hell of a lot more travel than it actually does!!! This partly due to the DRCV RE:AKTIV shocks trek use on some of their bikes and this year. I won’t go too much into the technology in this review, but I advise looking at this link and watching the videos on the DRCV and RE:AKTIV shocks.

What I will tell you about the shocks is that they do actually do what they say on the tin. I never really used the climb setting on either of the bikes as I found that even in the middle “trail” setting, both shocks were stiff enough to climb on, but if like me, you get caught up in the moment and forget to switch back to the “decent” mode, the bike won’t try to kill you and your suspension will work as is meant to even on rough descents. I know there is a lot of people in the industry developing specific shocks and forks for their own suspension platforms, and a lot of them don’t live up to expectations, but trek have nailed it this year, and that’s a pretty big statement from me as I am unbelievably fussy with my suspension set ups!

So, in a nutshell, Remedy or Fuel? For me personally, it’s still the remedy. I love the fact I can beat the bike up on everything I throw it at and it takes it in its stride. I’ve always loved the full floater suspension platform and Active Braking Pivots trek have used for years, I think they are one of the most forgiving rides on the market, but the DRCV shocks on the longer travel bikes have always been a bit wishy washy, sometimes you find you are using all your travel when you don’t need too.  A linier stroke on a longer travel bike isn’t always a good thing, I always find a little ramp up does make the bike feel sturdier and you’re not quite as worried you’re going to bottom out the bike. 

The RE:ACTIVE shock changes how the bike feels at the top end of the travel and never once did I bottom it out, or even feel close to doing so. I think the only change id make would be the front forks on the Remedy. I would have gone with the Rockshox Pikes myself as they have a much better feel than the 2015 Fox 34’s, but once again, that’s personal preference.

Now for the shocker…..
The Fuel really is the bike I'd suggest buying for most people. I can imagine taking it out of a trail centre setting and up onto the natural terrain and moorland round here it would be in its element. The only reason I would have the Remedy is due to how I ride a bike, as I said I tend to want something that I can really throw around and will do the bigger jumps and drops, but for your weekend warriors, trail centre riders and dare I say it, the XC guys who want just a bit more, I think the Fuel is the better option. The 27.5” wheels with 120mm forks really is the best option for most trail centres in the UK, but with its climbing capability’s and relaxed, but not too relaxed geometry (I hope that makes sense!!) it is the Perfect UK trail bike.

It’s not about how much travel your bike has, but very much how the frame and shock work together as a platform and for me, and I hate to say it, the Fuel does it better than the Remedy!

Friday, 7 November 2014

Get your bike ready for Winter

It’s that time of the year where it’s finally time to get your pride and joy out of the garage and serviced. Whether it’s just a general check over of your winter bike or a full advanced service of your summer race bike. Here at All Terrain Cycles our dedicated team of mechanics can dust off those cobwebs and get the wheels turning once again no matter how large or small the job is. 
As winter approaches it’s the perfect time to get your summer bike stripped down and prepared for the new season. There’s nothing worse than storing your summer bike over the winter to find that when you finally pull it out in the spring and it’s not quite working the same as how you’d left it. 

You can solve this problem by having a full strip down and clean before putting it away. Most bicycles suffer when not in use as water/dirt and grit can sit inside the bearing’s and cause corrosion and sometimes cause products to seize in severe cases. Stripping the bike down and re-greasing all components and setting back up is the best way to keep your bike running and the wheels turning.

The Advanced service that we offer at All Terrain Cycles 
includes a full strip down of all components, full degrease of components, re-grease of headset, bottom bracket & hubs, new cables fitted (inner/outer), fresh bar tape and a full brake and gear service. We can add extra parts on to this as requested. After a hard year of use most bikes need the chain/cassette/ chain rings replacing depending on your size, weight and how well you look after your transmission.

Getting you’re winter bike prepared for the more extreme weather can make all the difference and save you money in the long run. Even if it seems to be working fine, most people over look headsets, bottom brackets and the importance of degreasing your drivetrain. A quick strip down and re-grease of these components can help extend the life of the bicycle. Bearings, chain’s, cassettes often get blasted with muck and dirt, that combined with a build of oil can cause havoc on the drivetrain. Make sure this components are degreased on a regular basis. We offer a wide range of different servicing packages to suit ever riders needs and budget.

It’s also the perfect time of year to get some Mud guards fitted
This not only protects the rider or riders from the elements it can stop water, salt and grit from hitting your frame/forks and keep your transmission running smoother for longer. Comfort is one of the biggest problems to overcome when doing long winter miles. Having guards fitted to your bicycle can make winter riding more pleasurable and keep you the rider dryer and this can make all the difference to keeping you warm when the temperature drops. If your riding in a group your fellow riders will thank you for not spying them with water.

Day in day out we get asked this is a question on a regular basis “why do I need a winter bike?”. The reason we don’t ride our summer bikes in the winter is all down to the state of the roads conditions when the weather finally turns and the light disappears.

As the temperature drops and mother nature throws everything it’s got at you from Rain to wind from ice to snow. This can make a nasty mess of bikes and components. This can make for dangerous riding conditions. Leafs, rain and ice can leave the road feeling like your riding on an ice skating rink not a road. The last thing you need is to crash your carbon race bike. This could hit your wallet harder than buying a basic aluminium road bike. Winter time is a time to work on base miles and recover from a hard season of racing.

 Why not consider a bike for winter it need not cost you the earth.
We sell entry level road bikes from £495 that is just £11.69 per month on 0% finance.

Having a winter bike can help you ride slower and enjoy the scenery rather than smashing yourself building strength and enjoying the odd coffee or two.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Coffee, cakes and good friends, what more does a cyclist need?

I decided to join in the last fast fun ride of the season, an un-official race "The Prologue Café bash 2". It's the last real blast on the race bike before winter really kicks in. As Andy North and I arrived at the Café there was a buzz of riders, Drinking coffee and chatting preparing for what was to come a tough day in the saddle. There was a great turn out with lots of riders from Albarosa/ Harrogate Nova and a couple of pro's for good measure. Unofficially this wasn't a race! It was a ride out from the Café with friends who can ride fast. A 45mile jaunt in to the country and back again. Doing a loop high above Harrogate up to summer bridge then on to Ripon and back. The course was lumpy, but not totally as flat as most people where suggesting. There's not many rides in Yorkshire where you don't have to climb a hill or two.

9am was fast approaching, we all grabbed our bikes and prepared Garmin's and final touches to our bikes and waited to hear the rules of the ride. It was going to start steady and roll out towards penny pot lane, straight after the round about the ride would really start. The peloton of 60-70 riders made it two or 3 miles, before it split in to three massive pelotons just crossing one of the main roads that leads back in to Harrogate.
 Both Myself, Matt Clements were in the 3rd group and had to push extremely hard to bridge gap back to the lead group who by this point where well up the road. This Took us 3 or 4miles at maximum effort all the way to into summer bridge to get across. By this point I was very deep in to the red, with a steep short climb this made it difficult for me to get across, other riders also trying to hang on to the front group but starting to feel the strain of the pace. Matt made it across with a last surge of effort just before the road levelled, I wasn’t so lucky I was 5 bike lengths off with the peloton pressing on. Myself and another rider worked hard for what felt like miles trying to bridge the gap. The road was fast but lumpy with every rise being felt in my legs as a burning sensation. One final effort I got back on for 10secs and just as the road started to rise again, I had gone too hard, I was deep in to the red and totally blew up. It's disappointing to say the least after putting so much effort in to getting back on. But Deep down in my mind I patted myself on my own back and was proud that I had even managed to make it back on even if it was for only seconds. With that kind of effort especially at this time of year I knew that at some point I was going pay for it.. it was November.

I Road solo until parts of the second group caught me. I Managed to recover slightly and ride the back end of the course with some top lads. It was hard graft, at times my legs screaming for me to chill out and ride steady. My body was still in shock, I knew I had nothing to prove, but at the same time I didn't want to give up. I knew there were still plenty of riders behind me. The wind was strong and without other riders around me I would have found it harder. We worked together as a unit and we all had a common goal and that was protecting each other from the head/crosswind. I managed to get to the edge of Harrogate just before Scott Thwaites caught me with another pro. It gave me strength to push on and as the second group finally split and splintered. I Went with them for as long as I could but with traffic and lumpy road's my legs started to fail as we approached Harrogate. Everyone was now suffering, I ended up riding the final few miles solo in to the finish.

I arrived back to the café with a wave of smiles all round. No matter how fast or slow you had ridden every rider had pushed them self's to the max at some point. The smell of coffee made it all worthwhile. Everyone could be proud of how they had ridden and the achievements of making it back in one piece to tell the story. Matt Clements was on form for All Terrain Cycles and finished in second place on the Strava segment leader board. All in all I was happy to have survived the last real blast of the season. Top ride, Top riders, nice Café, Roll on the 2015 edition.

Monday, 27 October 2014

We're sponsoring Ripley Castle Cyclocross

We’re really excited to be involved in one of the region’s newest cycling events. Cyclocross is a great sport which is growing in popularity as more people discover the fun of taking to two wheels in some testing conditions. The Ripley Castle race is the perfect way to blow away the Christmas cobwebs and get 2015 off to an exhilarating start, whether you’re an experienced rider, a complete novice or just fancy watching everyone else getting muddy!

All entries are via the British Cycling website:
Entries will close on 26 December although the novice and children’s races can be entered on the day.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

12 months into owning a Giant TCX SLR 1

12 months into owning a Giant TCX SLR 1 and its time to sum up my time aboard it...
Cross biking had always been something that interested me, but never made it any further than that until I was offered a year’s riding aboard one.

The back ground I come from has always been mountain biking into the middle of nowhere with the hope not to find anyone, but find some nice flowing single track instead, hence the cross bike being of interest rather than a road bike.

The first and lasting impression I got from riding the bike was how much distance could be covered along bridal ways at ease, and how it effortlessly glides along hard pack trails.

Over the last year the bike has seen a multitude of different types of rides, anything from a quick commute to work through the woods to going exploring into areas I have never been tempted to before due to heavier, slower bikes. The advantage of the cross bike is that it is such a versatile bike that really can turn its hand to anything, although I kept getting reminded that it was a rigid skinny tired cross bike when I tried mountain bike speeds down some rocky descents!!

The first few rides really enticed me into the whole cross scene, this had a lot to do with having hydraulic brakes which helped when things got a little too fast, but unfortunately they didn’t remain on the bike for too long due to an international recall because of a machining error in factory. This led to me using some avid BB7 brakes for about 8 months which in their own right do a good job at stopping, but compared to the hydraulic stoppers really did make me wind my neck in when it came to descending. Luckily they are back on the bike and I can get myself back up to speed ready for some winter slop to grace our trails.

For anyone who wants to get the miles in over winter, but doesn’t fancy playing with the traffic I couldn’t recommend the Giant TCX more.

Tom Markham
All Terrain Cycles Salts Mill

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

My first 60 minutes racing in Belgium - Peter Barusevicus - All Terrain Cycles Team Rider

The Garmin’s timer had just rolled over one hour.
I had covered twenty-eight miles in my first sixty minutes of racing in Belgium. The peloton fanned across the road as it approached the corner, with riders bracing themselves for the onslaught that lay across the other side. I was positioned well, maybe a little bit too far back that I’d like, around 30th place, but still ahead of seventy other riders. The squash came, the brakes where applied, lean into the corner, watch the head of the race accelerate out, wait for your turn, chase frantically after the wheel in front. Except there was one problem. The wheel in front was slowly drifting away. And now other riders where motoring past me. I looked at my Garmin again. It said 38mph.
 I looked again. 37.5. Still riders were sailing past me. I looked behind and saw the meandering tail of the bunch whipping across the road as riders held on for dear life. They all came past me. I put in a final effort to catch the coattails but to no avail. I had been dropped. I waved the ambulance through; I wasn’t ill, I just wasn’t good enough. I waved the broom wagon through; I could still finish the lap. Begijnendijk kermesse was my first race in Belgium and I lasted only an hour in a contest that lasted just under three. Racing in Belgium now looked much more daunting than it did before. My Belgian adventure starts back in November 2013 when The Dave Rayner Fund announced its roster of sponsored riders for the following year. Looking down the list of former National champions and junior series winners I felt a little bit out of my depth. From November, I had only to train and race till the following summer, easier said than done when I’d had just moved to University in a different city with the bike as my only form of transportation.
Nevertheless I put down roots and starting finding the local groups to ride with. That winter, as you may know, wasn’t great with a ridiculously large amount of rain and snow. One memorable ride saw me caught in a freak blizzard at the highest point of the Cat and Fiddle road in the Peaks. Needless to say, motivation was hard to come by and come spring I felt I hadn’t done enough to warrant funding and was considering withdrawing from the Fund. Luckily in March I had a weeks riding in the mountainous Costa Blanca region of Spain. Form shyly stepped forward towards the end of the week and was followed by confidence. I decided to stay on the fund for the time being. In May I won a local criterium from a bunch kick that was a much needed confidence kick.
 My mind was now set on Belgium and I emailed the Rider Liaison at the fund, Jocelyn Ryan to sort out all the technicalities. Belgium welcomed me on a sunny day with blue skies and calm winds in the first week of June. After dragging my suitcase and bike box half way across the country from Charleroi airport to my new home just north of Leuven (the home of Stella Artois), I said hello to my housemates. Stoyko Bussarov was a very international Bulgarian would lived near Cambridge and was now racing in Belgium.
He was my first friend out there and I’d like to say thanks for letting me use his espresso kettle and giving me lifts to the brutal 1.12a races over at Aalst. My second housemate was an Australian from Adelaide, George Tansley, former national Madison champion and a recent signing to the Lotto-Belisol U23 team.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Our new mobile website has arrived and it’s smarter and sleeker than ever!

Whether you’re out riding or sat in the office, you can access All Terrain Cycles quickly and easily, directly from your mobile device.

After we noticed that customers had been accessing our new webshop increasingly more over the last 6 months, we decided to implement a new website just for mobiles. The website is optimised to fit to the width of the users screen and show products in the best possible way.

We have had many glowing reviews of the new mobile website since launching last month. Click here to view if you're on your mobile.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Big in 2015!

With the Eurobike cycle show in Germany at the end of August, the Interbike show in Las Vegas mid-September, and the UK’s very own Cycle Show at the NEC next week, we’re getting a good idea of what next year’s bike market is going to look like.

In road bikes there are a couple of very obvious trends coming on stream: hydraulic braking; and quicker frames with lighter weights and increased aerodynamic efficiency. We’ve looked at SRAM’s range of hydraulic brakes — both disc and rim — here before, but in the international bike trade it’s probably no surprise to discover that Shimano is taking control in 2015. The Japanese giant’s electronic Di2 groupset-only R785 hydraulic disc brake is the most popular option — appearing on a huge range of 2015 models — but its new R685 hydraulic discs, which are compatible with old-school mechanical groupsets have had a very positive first year, too, and their influence on the market can only grow wider.

When it comes to which road brands have adopted the idea of disc brakes with most gusto, Cannondale looks to be leading the way. Seven models in the Synapse range of sportive-style bikes alone come with disc stoppers, either hydraulic or cable operated. For example, the entry model — the Synapse Tiagra Disc 6  — comes with an aluminium frame, Shimano Tiagra 10-speed gears and Promax Render mechanical disc brakes for £845*. Meanwhile, the Synapse HM SRAM Red Disc has a cutting-edge high-modulus carbon frame, SRAM Red 22 gears and matching hydraulic disc brakes, for £4,495*. 

One thing that can be easily forgotten when talking about bikes with disc brakes is that they need complementary wheels fitted with disc brake rotors, too. To that end, it’s a significant step to see wheel specialist Mavic releasing a disc version of its entry-level favourite, Aksium wheelset. For people wanting a bit more refinement and less weight, Mavic also has a disc brake-compatible Kysrium Pro wheelset coming out in 2015.


Light and aero

With the road bike-buying general public tending to be guided mostly by what the pros use, you’d think manufacturers would be constantly trying to reduce the weight of their products. However, with cycle sport’s international governing body, the UCI having a strict 6.8kg (14.99lb) minimum weight limit for complete race bikes, and with that limit being easily achieved these days, the ‘pro influence’ has actually rather hampered development when it comes to bike weights.

So it’s probably not coincidentally that at the same time that the UCI has suggested it will relax or reconsider that 6.8kg limit, some of the most famous race bike brands have brought out new, ultra-lightweight frames. The most exciting for us — particularly as we have them in stock already here at All Terrain Cycles — is the brand new Emonda from Trek.

Another speed-influenced trend that has gained more ground is the promotion of aerodynamic efficiency. So you’ll see more bikes in 2015 with bottom bracket-mounted rear brakes, even more bikes with internal cable routing, and some quite exciting carbon frame shapes. Comfort hasn’t been forgotten either. Time has revealed a new-for-2015 ‘Aktiv’, which uses an internal automotive-inspired mass damper to help absorb road vibrations.

If you want to see next year’s bikes now — including ATC brands such as Trek, Giant, Raleigh and Cube — then this year’s Cycle Show will be taking place at the NEC in Birmingham on September 26-28. Adult tickets cost £13 in advance and children under 14 can enter for £1.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Let’ talk about sets… chainsets!

Of all the parts of a bicycle — from the frame and wheels, to the derailleurs, gear levers, and even brake calipers — the chainset is possibly the least exciting. It’s really just a few relatively simple bits of metal, attached together, which do nothing more than spin. Yet, in terms of the mechanics of how you interact with your bike, it’s a surprisingly crucial component.

The chainset is made up of three elements. There’s the spider, which is the drive side crank arm to which you attach chainrings and the right pedal; the non-drive side crank arm to which you attach the left pedal; and the chainrings, on which the chain runs.

One very obvious personal consideration — although one many cyclists might not think about enough — is the length of the crank arms. The relationship between crank arm length and the rider’s leg length will determine the range of motion that the rider’s leg will travel through during each pedal stroke. If a crank arm is too short, it was thought (as we shall see, erroneously) that the rider wouldn’t be able to generate the same amount of pedalling power. If it is too long, the rider’s legs will experience a potentially uncomfortable pedalling action.

On modern road bikes most manufacturers have decided upon a range of crank arm lengths between 170 to 175mm. Very generally speaking, you find 170mm cranks on small bikes, you might find crank arms of 172.5mm on medium bikes, and there’ll be 175mm cranks on large bikes. On custom order bicycles you may be able to specify a different crank arm size, but it will still probably be limited to between 165mm at the very least and 180mm at the most.

Why this choice of lengths? They’ve actually been settled on fairly arbitrarily, although the general idea is that they offer a decent compromise between leverage force and range of leg movement for average sized riders. In truth, though, that notion of bigger cranks helping transfer leverage force is misplaced, and there is a growing body of opinion that suggests smaller crank arms offering a smaller range of leg movement may be considerably more efficient.


Lord of the rings

The second aspect of chainsets that affects every rider is the choice of chainrings. In days past, road riders had just two options: a triple chainset with three rings of something like 52, 42 and 30 teeth; or a double chainset with two chainrings, normally of 53 and 39 teeth. The triple chainset offers a broad range of gears, including very low ones — so is great for applications such as cycle touring — while the double is lighter and quicker, so great for racing.

But just as in the last few years road bikes with drop bars have subtly veered away from being purely race bikes so, too, chainsets have adapted and the most popular option on new bikes is the compact chainset. Like the double this has just two rings — normally 50 and 34 teeth — but if combined with a suitable cassette at the back — say one ranging from 11-28 teeth — you can achieve a spread of gear ratios to almost rival a triple. So ‘compacts’ offer easier gears than an old-school ‘double’, very similar top gears to a ‘double’, and have essentially the same weight.

Another development in cycling over the last 10 or 15 years has been the accepted efficiency of higher cadences — pedalling faster. This puts less strain on the leg muscles, meaning less build up of lactic acid. Components such as ‘compacts’, which allow for easier, higher-speed pedalling are a perfect complement to this approach.

Compact chainsets aren’t for everybody, but for most leisure road riders — especially those who take on hilly sportives — they are a great compromise. In fact, team a 34-tooth inner ring with a 32-tooth biggest sprocket on a wide-range cassette at the rear, and you should be able to climb a brick wall!



Thursday, 11 September 2014

Money no object? What bike do you buy?

We all know you can buy perfectly functional road bikes for less than £500. Equally, at about £1,000 you can find really decent aluminium bikes with good equipment, or carbon offerings that might require some compromises on the spec sheet. From £1,500 to about £2,500 you’re in the realms of excellent dedicated sportive or race bikes. And at more than £2,500 it becomes a question of top-end components, famous brand names or hi-tech frame designs.

That’s all very well, but what if you’re a Russian oligarch who wants to buy something really special? While the car trade has hot hatches, coupes and sports cars for relatively normal budgets, for the truly rich and ostentatious there are the six-digit supercars. But what is cycling’s answer to McLaren or Bugatti?

For personalisation and comfort, you could buy an old-school made-to-measure steel frame from one of Britain’s legendary builders, such as Mercian or Roberts. But that won’t have all the cutting-edge technology of a true ‘super-cycle’. Meanwhile, although there are custom carbon bike builders out there, none of them have the household name status of, say, Ferrari (in fact, even dedicated cyclists would be pushed to name a custom carbon frame builder). If you want to spend more than £10,000 on a bicycle, even if only to show off, it’s actually almost impossible. Should you succeed in finding something, you’ll most likely be looking at a bike with historical value, rather than something with modern cachet.

So let’s forget about symbols of exclusivity, luxury and wealth. Thankfully, if it’s pure performance and visual excitement you want, the big bike brands can supply it — albeit without hitting a five-figure price tag. Here at All Terrain Cycles we have some incredible top-end options. Let’s examine the three most expensive — one each from Trek, Giant and Cannondale — to see why they’re so good.

Trek Emonda SLR 9 H1 (ATC price: £7,795)
Trek’s Emonda frame is new for 2015 and with a claimed weight of just 690g (unpainted) it’s officially the lightest production bike in the world. Trek says it also set out to create the best riding bike it’s ever made, so the Emonda has undergone three years of research and development, including strenuous testing with riders from the Trek Factory Racing team. It even comes with a lifetime warranty; for a brand new ultra-lightweight carbon bike — not normally the most robust of products — how’s that for confidence? This top-end model is fitted with full Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 electronic gearing, Dura-Ace brakes, Bontrager wheels, and a selection of Bontrager carbon finishing kit. Is this the most exciting road bike of 2015? Very probably.
Giant Avail Advanced SL 0 (ATC price: £7,245)
We reckon big-name cycle manufacturers can create top-end bikes with supercar-matching looks, and this Avail Advanced model from Giant does it for us. Giant might have invented the compact frame, but we’ve never seen one quite so extreme as this. In fact, that ultra-compact women-specific frame coupled with Shimano’s hydraulic disc brakes means that at first glance you’d be mistaken for thinking somebody had stuck a set of drop handlebars on a mountain bike. But this is pure road machine, with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 electronic gearing, super-strong PowerCore bottom bracket and even an appreciable amount of comfort via the integrated D-Fuse (see what they did there?) seatpost. A truly modern bicycle, not least because it proves that female riders can have the best, too.
Cannondale Super 6 Evo Nano Black (ATC price: £6,995)
Cannondale might have been one of the great exponents of aluminium frames but until recently (in fact, until the Trek Emonda came along) it also boasted the lightest mass-produced carbon frame in the world, in the Super 6 Evo Nano. Despite being lightweight, this rides like a very stable and surprisingly comfortable bike thanks to Cannondale’s BallisTec carbon set-up, which puts the strength exactly where it’s needed. The SuperSix also has proven competition success, being used in the world’s biggest bike races by riders such as Ivan Basso and Peter Sagan in the Cannondale Pro team. This Black model comes with a full Shimano Dura-Ace 11-speed mechanical groupset, some high-end ENVE carbon bars, stem and wheel rims, and is finished off with a Fabric ALM TiCarbon Buffalo Leather saddle.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Clipless pedals explained

Even when you’re comfortable in the saddle and regularly racking up big miles on your bike, you might find there is one last hurdle to overcome: clipless pedals. For some reason, it’s the one aspect of modern cycling that seems to unnerve the uninitiated. However, clipless pedals used in conjunction with stiffly-soled shoes will make your pedalling significantly more efficient and — once you’ve had some sensible practice getting used to the clip in and clip out system — really aren’t that scary. 

First of all, why do we call them ‘clipless’ pedals when you have to clip them in and out? Well, they don’t require toe-clips and straps like old-school racing bike pedals did — and those you really couldn’t get your feet out of without some difficulty!

Although there are many different makes of clipless pedals available, they all work in essentially the same way. On the bottom of the cycling shoe is a cleat, which is pushed into the spring-loaded jaws on the pedal. To remove the cleat, the rider simply twists their foot to one side, and the cleat will disengage. Most pedals will allow you to adjust the spring tension so that the forces needed to engage and disengage can be set to suit you.

There are two general types of pedal and cleat: road specific or those suitable for mountain bike, touring or commuting. Road bike pedals and cleats offer a broader and more secure platform, allowing you to get more efficient power out, but road bike shoes with cleats are harder to walk in. Mountain bike, touring and commuting pedals might not be quite so efficient, but they tend to be easier to use and the cleats are often recessed into the shoes, allowing decent ‘walk-ability’ off the bike.

If you’ve never used clipless pedals before, we’d probably suggest starting off with a relatively inexpensive pair of double-sided clipless pedals suited for mountain biking.

Getting started
Once you’ve bought pedals and cleats, you will have to fit them. Putting on a pair of new pedals is easy enough — just remember the left-hand pedal is reverse threaded, and it’s also a good idea to put some grease or PTFE tape on the thread so they’ll be removable in years to come. Then you have to fit the cleats to your shoes. This is important to get right, but also quite easy:

1. Find the ball of your foot and mark it on the side of your shoe.
2. Line up this mark with the middle of the cleat.
3. Now sit on a table edge so that your hips, knees and ankles are 90 degrees to each other. Look at the angle your feet hang at and try to position your cleats so this is replicated on the bike. You may well find that your feet aren’t pointing straight ahead, but don’t worry, if that’s natural for you, go with it.
4. Screw in the cleat bolts nice and tight once you’re happy you’ve got the cleats in the right position. When you go out for a ride if you find your foot position isn’t comfortable or natural, don’t be afraid to tweak the cleat position.
Before heading out on the open road for the first time it’s very important to get used to clipping in and out of your pedals safely. Clipless pedals are nothing to be afraid of, but the busy highway is nowhere to be testing things out! Try to find somewhere safe, perhaps on a slight downhill slope, to practice on. Locate the cleat by sliding your shoe forwards and down the pedal. Once you’ve positioned the cleat onto the sprung mechanism on top of the pedal, push down with the back of your foot, and the cleat will force the spring open. The cleat will lock into place with a ‘click’. To disengage, twist your heel outwards.
The easiest way to start is to make sure one foot is clipped in before you pedal off. You can then catch and clip in to the other pedal as it comes round. This is why it might be a good idea to use double-sided pedals to begin with — you don’t have to worry about having the correct side of the pedal facing upwards.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Make your road bike fit you just right

Having a well-fitting bicycle is vital for two reasons. Firstly, to fully enjoy your time in the saddle without creating injuries or falling into any bad cycling habits. And secondly, to maximise your power output. Setting your position does take a little bit of time, but it will provide a solid basis from which you can adjust things as your riding develops.

Before even buying a road bike, though, it’s crucial to have some idea about what size you’ll need. That’s not quite as easy as it sounds, because different road bike brands can use different ways to measure their bikes. Some use the traditional method of seat tube length: where a ‘57cm’ frame would refer to the distance between centre of bottom bracket and top of seat tube. Others use effective horizontal top tube length: where a ‘57cm’ frame would refer to the distance between centre of seat tube cross-section and centre of head tube cross-section. Others use strange hybrid systems.

Once you know what effective horizontal top tube length you need, it’s probably best you use that as your reference size and consult the geometry charts you’ll find on bike manufacturers’ websites to choose the model that suits you most closely. Then, to get your bike to fit you absolutely perfectly will require a process of subtle tweaking. However, follow the pointers below and you will quickly come close to having a well-fitting bike.


Start tweaking

Comfort on a road bike, especially when it comes to long rides, is all about reach. There’s a very simple way to see if you are too stretched or too hunched up: get on the bike, take hold of the bottom of the drop handlebars and look down. If the bars are set correctly, you shouldn’t be able to see the front wheel hub because the bars will be in the way. If you can see the hub in front of the handlebars, you’ll need a longer stem; if the hub’s behind the bars, you’ll need a shorter stem.

Handlebar height is a much more personal preference. If you’re new to drop-handlebar road bikes you may feel more comfortable being slightly higher, whereas experienced riders might appreciate the added speed that comes with being lower. In any case, handlebar height is an easy thing to adjust by altering the position of stem and spaces on the steerer tube.

Having the correct saddle height is often seen as the most important thing on a new bike — setting it correctly will fully utilise all the power generated by your legs and prevent injury. According to triple Tour de France winner Greg LeMond, one way to do that is to measure your inside leg from crotch to floor when not wearing shoes, then multiply this by 0.883. The resulting figure provides a rough idea of your ideal measurement from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the saddle.

Once you’ve set your saddle height using the ‘0.883 of inside leg’ formula, you can hone its position further. Ask a helper to watch from the side while you pedal on a turbo-trainer (or pedal backwards while stationary). Ideally, with your foot at the bottom of its stroke you want to have a very slight bend at the knee — it must not be locked straight. Then ask your helper to watch from behind. If your hips are rocking from side to side, the saddle is too high — ideally you want your hips stay nice and level — however, having the saddle a fraction too high is better than having it too low.

Ultimately, though, great bike fit is about personal comfort, so do experiment a little. Adjust things only by very small increments each time and see what works for you.