No matter what type of cyclist you are, whatever age, safety should be your top priority. The humble bicycle helmet is the one bit of safety gear that transcends all cycling disciplines and skill levels. For such a relatively simple thing it’s undoubtedly one of the most important and can quite literally be a lifesaver. Even with the best will in the world sometimes accidents happen, and when they do it’s crucial that you have the right helmet that fits correctly. Here’s are guide on how to get the perfect fit when choosing a helmet.
Before you start to look around for a new helmet we recommend you measure your head (or the head of the person you’re buying for). Almost all helmet manufacturers size their helmets based on the circumference of the wearers head. This measurement is taken from just above the eyebrows and around the back of the head at its largest point.
When it comes to taking the measurement you’re going to want to use a fabric or flexible tape measure. If you don’t have a flexible tape don’t worry. You can use something like a piece of string to mark the length then measure against a ruler or non flexible tape measure.
You want to have your measuring device about 2 inches above your eyebrows and around the widest part of your head to take your measurement.
Try a few out
When selecting your new helmet we recommend trying a few out. The one that you initially think looks good might not feel the most comfortable. Comfort is incredibly important, you’re going to be wearing your helmet everytime you ride so you want it to feel right. Some helmets may be the same size as others on the packaging or label but feel completely different when they’re on, so it may take some trial and error before you find the perfect fit for you.
If you can pop in to your nearest Hargroves Cycles then trying out a few options isn’t a problem. For our online customers we now offer free returns with helmet purchases so you can get the helmet that fits you best.
If you aren’t sure which brand to choose or which cycling helmet is best for your riding style, then check out our other Helmet Buyer’s Guides.
Most helmets will have a couple of points of adjustment to aid with comfort and more importantly to keep you safe. Once you have found the right helmet adjust the straps and rear adjuster until the helmet feels secure but isn’t too tight.
Make sure the the helmet covers the majority of your forehead. If you put your index and middle finger together and sit them above your eyebrow that should be where the helmet should sit.
Next, twist the adjuster at the back of the helmet if there is one. The helmet should feel comfortable and neither too tight or too loose.
Do the same with the chin strap. The chin strap should be comfortable on both your face and chin and shouldn’t cut or dig in anywhere – the helmet is too small or the strap is too tight if this happens. The V of the straps should also sit around your ears – if these are on top of your ears, then you’ll need to adjust the straps again or get the next size up.
Test the Fit
Once the helmet feels comfortable it is time to test the fit. Push the helmet forwards and backwards as well as side to side. If the helmet can move in any direction more than about an inch, it needs to be adjusted again or it could be too large. The helmet should be able to move a bit, if it doesn’t move at all it’s probably too tight. If everything seems ok then you should be good to go. We do recommend checking the adjustment of your helmet regularly to make sure things haven’t loosened overtime.
If your helmet gets damaged or is involved in an accident you should always replace it as the safety of a helmet can be compromised by any damage it has sustained.
Let us get back to basics. Changing a tyre and/or fixing a puncture is something that every cyclist, no matter how experienced, will have to face at some point. You may have the best tyres, do your utmost to avoid potholes and meticulously prune your tyres for undesirable objects, however, the day will come where you have to come to terms with the fact that you have a puncture. Maybe you’ve cycled over a carelessly disposed glass bottle or caught the end of a spiked vine, whatever the case you’ll start to feel as if the bike has suddenly become almost… sluggish, as if it’s somehow consumed a good few pints. You survey your surroundings, eyeing your tyres suspiciously, trying to determine whether it is, in fact, a puncture or you just didn’t pump your tyres up pre-ride. Then the moment comes when you finally concede to the reality that your slowly losing air. At this point (post swearing), it’s best to find a safe spot to pull over and set about fixing the thorn in your side (or tyre).
Now, if you’re the type of cyclist that prepares an ’emergency kit’ prior to heading out, you will have a full puncture repair kit which consists of – tyre levers, a piece of chalk/crayon, a spare inner tube, puncture patches, glue, sandpaper and a pump/co2 canister. But for argument’s sake, let’s say you have no spare tube, so you’re resigned to fixing the puncture and continuing on the same tube. While tyre levers are not a necessity for removing a tyre, it certainly helps and keeps your fingers from getting sore, we’re going to assume that you have a pair.
Getting your bike set
Puncture in the rear? Make sure you change gears until you’re in the small ring at the back (this is better for your bike when you remove the wheel). Then flip the bike upside down, this isn’t essential but helps considering you’re riding solo. Make sure it’s rested on the saddle and handlebars.
Removing the wheel
If you have rim brakes you may have to undo your brake to remove the tyre. Sidepull brakes have a little lever on the calliper that opens the brake further. With V-brakes, the J-shaped metal ‘noodle’ unhooks from the yoke. With cantilever brakes, the cable unhooks from one brake arm. If you’ve got disc brakes, you don’t have to do anything. Remove the wheel by undoing the quick release and pulling the wheel smoothly out, if it’s a rear-wheel, pull the derailleur back out of the way and lift the wheel up and out.
Tyre off and innertube out
Insert the first tyre lever under the edge of the tyre (the bead) and work it off the rim. Either hold this lever or slot the end behind a spoke. Insert the second tyre lever about 10cm away on the same side. Lever up the bead, then run the second lever around the rim, lifting off the tyre completely on one side only. This may take a few tries to get it right. Remove the valve cap and locking ring, if any, then remove the tube.
Finding the puncture, fixing the puncture
If you’re…erm…lucky! You’ll be able to see the offending hole that caused the puncture, however, it might not be so easy. The best bet is to pump up the tube and move the tube around listening carefully for a soft hissing sound. When you think you’ve found it place a finger over the hole and feel for the releasing air, mark the hole with a cross using the chalk/crayon and grab the sandpaper. Rough up the area and spread the glue over an area that’s larger than the patch with your finger, and then leave it to dry for at least five minutes. Don’t do anything else until it’s totally dry – otherwise, you won’t fix your puncture. Peel off the foil backing, apply the patch, making sure it’s centred over the hole. Press down firmly for a minute, and then remove the backing, being careful not to lift the edges of the patch. Inflate the tube and make sure there’s no air escaping, if there’s a hole under one edge of the patch, remove it and start again. You’ll need to roughen the tube more thoroughly, and let the glue dry for longer.
Check the tyre, check the tyre, check the tyre
CHECK THE TYRE. I for one have experienced the sheer frustration of fixing my puncture, putting everything back together only to ride 500m down the road and get another puncture because I hadn’t removed the original culprit. Run your fingers carefully inside the tyre to see if the sharp object is still there. If so, remove it – a knife helps. If you don’t find anything, feel around the rest of the tyre just in case. Hopefully, it’s already fallen out.
Putting it all back together
Place the inner tube back in the wheel with it half-inflated. This will help the process of putting the tyre back on the wheel and not catching the inner tube between the tyre and rim – something which will save you time and the frustration of another blown tube. Work your way around the tyre, holding one hand at a point and working the tyre into the rim. If your tyre is being stubborn turn the tyre levers over and leverage the tyre back over the rim, being careful not to pinch the inner tube against the rim. After some exasperating noises and lots of elbow grease, you’ll have it back in place ready to pump up and put your wheel back on.
This is the best way to fix a puncture on a commute. A brand new inner tube will have your bike good to go again in no time (no need to take into a shop for a service). However, there may be times where you get a puncture and you don’t have a new inner tube on you.
Disaster averted, following these easy steps you’ll be a master of changing a tyre or fixing an inner tube in no time. Saves those embarrassing phone calls to the other half or best friend, begging for a lift ‘Yeah, you know the roundabout near the layby? The one near that place we had a roast in once? Erm, you know the one, it had the dead badger on the road?’ Nah, neither do we.
The Fix Your Bike voucher scheme has been set up by the Department for Transport and Energy Saving Trust to help more people rekindle their love of cycling.
The scheme is open to anyone who has an unused bicycle in need of repair, getting them back in the saddle and on the road, by providing a £50 voucher covering or towards the cost of a bike service and repair*.
Hargroves Cycles are proud to give our full backing of the scheme by offering a bike service and full safety check designed specifically to get your bike back on the road costing £50. Additional parts and labour beyond this value will be chargeable.
To participate in the scheme, all you need to do is follow an easy three-step process:
Apply for your free £50 voucher using the online platform, where you will need to provide some basic details about yourself and your bike. You can do that >>> here
Get in touch with your local Hargroves store and book a appointment
Bring your bike into the store along with your unique voucher code and two forms of ID** and we’ll do the rest
What is included in the service:
A clean down of the frame and forks
Brake check, making any necessary tweaks
Realign the gears
Measure and apply oil chain
Tyre and wheel inspection
Full safety check
Provide full diagnostics reports, suggesting any parts that may need replacing
*Up to 2 vouchers redeemable per household. One voucher per bike.
**Accepted forms of ID include: valid driving licence photo card with address OR passport; national identity card (non-UK); residence permit; AND one of the following documents in hard copy or electronic form, (provided that the document is less than 3 months old): utility bill, council tax bill, mortgage statement, council/housing association rent card, benefit book.
Vouchers must be valid at the point of redemption. The bike owner must be 18 or over. Repairs must be necessary to make the bike roadworthy and fit for purpose.
If you picture a road bike you are probably thinking of sleek, expensive and fast bikes that are ridden by lycra-clad pro’s and ridden in famous races like the Tour de France. You might also be thinking that this is not exactly the type of riding you wanted to do, fear not, the once limited options available to you have increased tenfold. The market has divided into subcategories and there are now a variety of ‘road’ bikes that suit every cyclist needs, a road bike is not simply a road bike these days.
So, with all these variations and bike jargon, how do you know what road bike is right for you? Below we’ve listed the many different styles of road bikes now available and what that means for you.
First, here is a quick list on what typically sets road bikes apart from commuting, touring, mountain and hybrid bikes.
A lightweight frame, wheels and components.
A drop (curled) handlebar, though some have a flat bar like a mountain bike.
Narrow wheels and tyres.
A composite (carbon fibre) front fork.
No front or rear suspension.
Men’s and women’s styles and a wide range of sizes.
The first thing to decide is what type of riding you want to do. Are you aiming to race? Do you want to tour? Will you be seeking out back roads and rough trails? At the end of the day, virtually any road bike can be ridden on any bit of road, but depending on what you want to do most of the time might mean that a particular style of a road bike would be more suitable than another. Let’s have a look at a few:
Endurance road bikes, otherwise known as sportive bikes, are designed with comfort in mind. The relaxed geometry is aimed at keeping the legs fresh and the posterior pain-free. This makes for a friendlier introduction to road riding if you are new to the activity. Endurance road bikes also tend to be designed to have a little more ‘give’ in the frame, without sacrificing much efficiency, this ‘give’ helps absorb the lumps and bumps of the British roads, keeping the vibrations in the bike and out of the bones.
Several features of an endurance bike’s geometry should make it comfortable for riding long distance over bumpy terrain. Mainly being a taller head tube and slightly shorter top tube, this means you’ll be riding in a more upright position. The less stretched out you are, the less likely you are to suffer from neck and backache.
Comfort, however, is not everything. You still want a bike that can respond and give a fast and exciting ride when you want to put the power through the pedals. You may not be hitting all the KOM’s or beating any land speed records, but rest assured, manufacturers will have balanced out comfort and speed capabilities, so you get the best of both worlds.
Where the Endurance road bikes are designed for comfort, the Performance road racing bikes are designed for speed, above all else. They are ideal race machines with geometries that allow for more aerodynamic body positions, the most dynamic handling, and punchier accelerations. Praised by professional riders and the most dedicated athletes, these bikes are most at home scaling formidable climbs, hurtling down steep descents, or attacking (this means catching and overtaking, not physically attacking) the group of riders ahead of you.
Performance road bikes will possibly sacrifice some strength for even less weight (making it even less suitable for rough surfaces). On top of this, the geometry may be borderline uncomfortable for people just starting to get into cycling. However, for an experienced rider, this reduction in weight and more aggressive geometry can increase performance. For a rider who does race, or values speed above all else and is willing to put the training in to become better, the Racer is ideal.
In the past year or so there has been a rise in popularity of riding extreme distances over mixed terrain, in races such as the Trans-Continental, for pleasure under the term bike-packing and in the exploits of one Lachlan Morton and co, in Rapha’s EF Gone Racing films. This has led to gravel type bikes being designed by the majority of big bike brands to excel in this type of riding, focusing on providing comfort and efficiency over long distances, and versatility.
The riding position is relaxed and features stable handling, while the frame will often feature mounts for various accessories like racks and panniers. The components on these bikes are also designed with more strength in mind and can handle some light off-road riding (single tracks, bridleways and forest tracks) thanks to thicker set tyres. Some riders opt for tubeless set-ups as they offer a number of benefits for gravel riding. The most advantageous being able to run lower pressures without risking pinch flats improving ride comfort and traction.
The biggest advantage of riding a gravel bike is the absolute freedom you have at your toe tips. Suddenly, road sections aren’t the same draining drags that they can be on a mountain bike. The off-road sections won’t jolt you into the chiropractors waiting room when you do hit the dirt. This new-found freedom will have you pouring over online mapping apps such as Komoot, creating that new perfect route that you’d probably never ride on a mountain bike, definitely wouldn’t on a road bike but are perfect for a gravel bike. This bike is ideal for the adventurer, someone who wants to explore roads and everything in between it.
So, you’ve decided what type of road bikes suits the style of riding you want to do. You’re scrolling through the different brands, reading the descriptions and spec sheet and most of it’s making sense, except one little thing…the groupset. If the word is alien to you, worry not, a road bike’s groupset refers to any mechanical or electronic parts that are involved in braking, changing gear, or the running of the drivetrain. That means the shifters, brake levers, front and rear brake callipers, front and rear derailleurs, crankset, bottom bracket, chain, and cassette.
There are three main manufacturers of groupsets and bike components. Shimano is the largest and best known, while the other two of the “big three” are Campagnolo and SRAM. All three manufacturers offer a range of groupsets at competing for price points.
Shimano Road Bike Groupsets
Shimano is synonymous with road cycling, producing and introducing some of the most fundamental technologies in cycling today.
Shimano’s road groupsets range from Claris (R2000) as the entry-level road-specific groupset, all the way to the professional Dura-Ace (R9100). The 11-speed options begin with 105 (5800), which offers most of the top-level performance at a more wallet-friendly price point, and even the 10-speed Tiagra (4700) is a solid option for the enthusiast cyclists. For near top performance with a small weight gain is the Ultegra (R8000) groupset, following closely to the recently updated Dura-Ace (R9100), and sharing much in terms of design and technology.
All Shimano groupsets come with their own rim brakes, and from Tiagra upwards, are available with disc brake options. These hydraulic disc brakes provide greater stopping power in any weather conditions (especially wet) compared to rim brakes.
SRAM Road Bike Groupsets
Rather than using two shifter arms for each hand to control the gears, SRAM’s DoubleTap® uses a single-arm under the brake lever to shift. To choose a higher gear in the rear, a short push is needed (one tap) is needed, while for a lower gear you need to push the shifter arms further, which actuates the second tap, shifting into a lower gear. This is revered for the front gears.
SRAM offers all but their RED® groupsets in both 1x and 2x variants. This is to cater to hybrid bikes, gravel and adventure, and cyclocross race bikes that prefer a simpler 1x setup. SRAM is the only of the three big groupset manufacturers to offer three different kinds of braking options: cable-operated rim brakes, hydraulic rim brakes and hydraulic disc brakes.
Campagnolo Road Bike Groupsets
Campagnolo road groupsets combine style and performance with a long history of road racing. As Campagnolo is very much a racing focused brand they don’t offer a budget level groupset. Rather, they begin in the middle, at the level where riders are looking for race capable components. Campagnolo is a heart over head brand, that has passion running through the core of their components.
All Campagnolo groupsets now come in 2×11 speed setups with the recent reintroduction of their entry-level Centaur groupset. Above Centaur is the Potenza groupset, followed by the Chorus groupset, which offers high-quality materials like titanium and carbon for weight savings, strength and precision performance.
No cyclist should have to put up with gears that are slow to shift up and down their cassette. We all know how to change gears, but how many of us know how to maintain them? Today’s post is going to help you bid adieu to your clicking and ticking gears. Indexing gears may seem tricky and the job for a bike shop, however, after this guide you’ll be mastering the mech like a pro.
Know Your Limits
Before we begin its important to check the limit screws – you’ll find these at the rear of the mech, two small screws, often marked with ‘L’ and ‘H’.
The limit screws determine the full range of movement of the derailleur. They stop the chain from falling off the inside of your cassette, and potentially into your spokes (no one wants that) or to stop the chain falling off the outside of the cassette, towards your frame.
To check your limit screws you have to:
Shift the gears so that you are in the smallest sprocket in the rear derailleur.
By hand, push the mech all the way up toward the wheel until it reaches its full range of motion. Don’t push beyond this point or you can and will damage it. Make sure that the mech is directly beneath the biggest sprocket.
Slowly release the mech and check that it lines up perfectly with the smallest sprocket of the cassette.
If the mech isn’t lining up perfectly with either the biggest or smallest sprockets, you need to adjust your limit screws. Depending on the make and age of your mech, this is typically carried out with either a crosshead or Phillips head screwdriver. We have plenty of multi-tools that includes both of these.
You now need to adjust the limit screws so that the mech lines up perfectly at either end of the cassette.
Adjust the ‘H’ screw to adjust the mech when the bike is shifted down to the smallest sprocket. Tune this up until the chain is perfectly in line with the small sprocket.
Turn the ‘L’ screw to adjust the mech when the bike is shifted up to the biggest sprocket. Tune this up until the chain is perfectly in line with the large sprocket.
Hey presto, the limit screws are now correctly set.
Tune it up
Now that you have your limit screws where you want them, its time to tune the indexing of your bike’s rear mech. To do this we must now use the small barrel adjuster, it’s usually located near the shifter or on the derailleur. Road bikes often have an inline barrel adjuster on the cable. It increases or decreases the tension on the cable, which in turn alters how the mech moves up and down the cassette.
Change your gears so that the chain is running on the small chainring at the front and the smallest sprocket of the cassette.
Shift up the cassette (towards the biggest sprocket) and observe how well the chain is moving up and down. You may notice that it takes some time for the chain to get into the next sprocket, or doesn’t shift at all. If your gears are shifting ‘slow’ you will need to turn the barrel adjuster counterclockwise (as you look on it from the back of the bike) until the shift is smooth. Rotating the adjuster counterclockwise effectively moves the entire mech toward the wheel.
From there work your way up the cassette while still in the small ring, making small adjustments with the barrel adjuster as you go until the shifts are all perfect. Turn the adjuster clockwise if you need to move the mech away from the wheel.
When you’re happy that you’ve achieved smooth, fast shifting through the gears when you’re in the small chainring, go through steps 2 to 3 while on the big chainring at the front.
When you’ve completed all the steps you should find your gears running as smooth as they did when the bike was new.