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.