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Bikes Buying Guide Components News Road Road Bikes

Road Bike Guide

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. 

  1. A lightweight frame, wheels and components.
  2. A drop (curled) handlebar, though some have a flat bar like a mountain bike.
  3. Narrow wheels and tyres.
  4. A composite (carbon fibre) front fork.
  5. No front or rear suspension.
  6. 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/Sportive Bikes

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.

The 9 Best Endurance Road Bikes in 2020

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.

Performance Bikes

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.

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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.

Gravel Bikes

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.

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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.

Groupsets

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.

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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.

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Bikes Maintenance News

Homemade Bike Fit

Do you often find yourself getting back from a ride with a nagging problem or pain? Maybe a finger is numb, or your back is sore, a stiff neck even? Nine times out of ten if you’re feeling discomfort or pain from cycling then you need to look at how your bike is set up. The frame size, saddle height, and cleat positioning all play a contributing factor to how comfortable you are while riding your bike.

If you’re sat there scratching your head and wondering how on earth you can figure this out to the nth degree, you’re not alone, but don’t worry you’re not looking for centimetre perfect. A professional bike fit is expensive for a reason, it takes a knowing eye and a ton of measurements to get you properly aligned and fitted on your bike. However, there are changes you can do at home to get yourself as comfortable as possible while riding, which in turn, will make that daily exercise on the bike that little bit more enjoyable.

Frame Size

This is for people yet to buy a bike or looking for a new bike. It’s important to do your research when buying a new bike, remember, no changing of saddle height or cleat positioning will fix a frame that’s fundamentally too big or small for you. The geometry and frame size will differ for different brands so try and find a sizing guide online or ring the shop and ask for help. Any bike shop worth its salt will help you find the right bike size for you.

Saddle Height

Getting the saddle height correct on your bike can be the difference between making it and breaking it on a ride. What you may not know is that niggle of pain you are experiencing can lead to more serious injuries, overreaching and rocking your hips while cycling is a sign that your saddle is the incorrect height. I’m sure on many occasions you’ve stopped on the side of the road to make minor adjustments to your saddle, just to get back on and huff in irritation as it still doesn’t feel ‘right’. So, let’s look at the steps we can take to get our saddles as close to perfect as we can.

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If you’re more of a hands-on learner then position the crank arms so that they’re parallel to the seat tube (or half-past 12 on the face of a clock). Sit on the seat and put your heel on the pedal. If you can’t reach the pedal, lower the seat until you can; if your leg is bent at the knee, raise the seat just until it’s straight.

For those who prefer a more mathematical approach to set your saddle height (and have cleats) then stand barefoot on a hard floor, back to a wall, with a book snugged up between your legs, spine facing away. Measure from the floor to the top of the book spine. Multiply that number by 0.883 and subtract 4mm (1/8th inch). The result is your seat height, measured from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the seat, along the seat tube.

If you’re out and about and need a quick fix then a rule of thumb is lean over your bike with the saddle tucked into your armpit, stretch your arm down and you should be able to reach the crank bolt with your finger, this should get you there or about.

Cleat Positioning

Your cleats and pedals are key contact points between your body and bike and if positioned incorrectly can cause a world of problems including performance issues and injuries. So, here’s a 6-step process you can do at home to make sure your cleats are positioned to make your ride as comfortable as possible. Make sure you do both feet as they may position differently.

Draw a line
  1. With your cycling shoes on and tightened, you want to find the ball of your foot on both the inside and outside of the shoe. When located mark them with a pen, you might want to put masking tape on your shoes first to stop them from getting ruined.
  2. Now take your shoes off and flip them upside down and draw a line between the two marks and locate the centre and make a mark. The shoes have markings on the bottom so this should help you find the middle.
  3. Take your cleat and locate the centre, most cleats will have an indication where the centre of the cleat, this is the point that sits directly over the pedal axle.
  4. Grease up the bolts before fitting. It will protect the thread from all the water and road debris.
  5. Fit cleat, loosely, aligning your mark with the point on the cleat where the centre of the pedal axle will be, once you are clipped in. Most cleats provide a marker on the side, by way of a notch or line to indicate the centre of the pedal axle, so it is just a case of lining up your mark with theirs.
  6. Move the cleat side-to-side to influence how close the foot sits to the centre-line of the bike. If you ride with your knees wide at the top of the pedal stroke, move your cleats inwards to move the foot outwards. If you ride with knees narrow at the top of the stroke, move the cleats towards the outside of the shoe and the foot inwards.

When you’ve completed all steps make sure they’re adequately tightened and then head out on your bike to make sure that everything feels comfortable. If they’re set up differently from before it may feel a bit unusual to start but you’ll notice an improvement to your pedalling after not so long. If they feel uncomfortable you may want to take them off and try again.

After any changes to your bike, no matter how small, be sure to go round the block once or twice on to make sure it feels comfortable and make any necessary tweaks.

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Bikes Commuting Hybrid Bikes News Road Bikes Safety Training

Exercise Bikes under £1000

The new regulations imposed by Boris Johnson mean that we are no longer able to enjoy the great outdoors as freely as we’d like. We are limited to leave our homes for reasons deemed a ‘necessity’. This includes shopping for food and medicines, work, helping a vulnerable person and once a day for exercise. As I’m sure you’ve all noticed, cycling is mentioned as a permitted exercise and while the details are slightly hazy, cycling is what you should do. The distance or time isn’t specified, however, common sense should dictate your rides. Stay safe, on your own, on routes you know and with all the necessary tools and with the knowledge of how to use them.

Image result for locked inside coronavirus cyclist

France and Spain had similar restrictions in place, unfortunately, cyclists flouted them, riding in groups and long distances. The government came down hard and banned all cycling due to a few unruly riders, with roaming police, strict fines and potential prison sentences to deter anyone from breaking the rules. Let’s not get ourselves into the same position by respecting the regulations and behave responsibly.

Image result for locked inside coronavirus cyclist
Scenes in Italy with police stopping cyclists

In the meantime, do the most to enjoy riding a bike. The sun is out and no one is in a hurry. Head out into the fresh air and take some deep breaths and enjoy the feeling of your legs spinning, the lack of cars and slightly eerie quietness in the streets. If you’re currently bikeless and feeling the urge to get one, there are some great bikes out there for under £1000 and options to finance them over a selected period of time, to alleviate any financial strain. Hargroves have picked a few of our favourite bikes for under £1000 and listed them below:

2020 Specialized Sirrus X 3.0 Hybrid Bike

Available in pink and black the Sirrus X is your ticket to riding more and to places you never imagined possible. It’s a comfortable, capable “let’s do stuff” kind of bike that will inspire you to ride more than you ever have before. With bigger confidence-inspiring tires, a slightly more upright riding position, a super intuitive one-by drivetrain and plenty of mounts for racks and fenders it’s more than just a solid partner on the pavement. Specialized also equipped every Sirrus X with next-level comfort from their scientifically tested and ergonomically engineered shared platform body geometry saddle, handgrips and pedals. Here’s to your new life on two wheels. At £699 and finance options as low £19.40 a month it’s a deal that’s hard to pass.

2020 Cannondale Althea 3 Women’s Hybrid Bike

With its low-standover, mountain-bike-inspired frame, its 700c knobby tires and 50mm suspension fork, the Althea can take you from pavement to dirt, to gravel and back…with a smile on your face. It’s comfortable, popular and looks good. The women’s frame design matches the ruggedness of a mountain bike with the speed of 700c wheels. Super low standover means easy mounting and dismounting. The women’s specific geometry of the Althea delivers the speed and agility of a city bike, with the stability and heads-up comfort of a mountain bike. Currently, with 15% off at £509.99 and finance options available at £14.15 a month, it’s time to snap up the Althea and get the most enjoyment out of your ride.

2020 Ridgeback Avenida 6

The Avenida 6 was built around comfort, with its classic step-through frame design and upright riding position coupled with the swept-back bar and suspension seat post the Avenida 6 puts you in the perfect position to ride all day and step off feeling just as fresh as when you stepped on. Fully equipped with full-length mudguards and rear pannier rack as standard it is more than capable of tackling the morning commute or the daily ride and equipped with 6 speed Shimano gearing means it can handle any route you choose. Available at £449.99 and finance options starting at £12.49 a month.

2020 Cannondale Topstone Sora Mens Gravel Bike

A personal favourite of mine, the Cannondale Topstone, is a capable, versatile gravel road bike. Built for chasing horizons, exploring routes less travelled or accelerating your commute. Its lightweight aluminium frame uses Cannondale’s SmartForm tubing to save weight and engineer comfort, increasingly important on long and off-road rides. Wide tyre clearance allows 700 x 37c tyres to come as standard, which really blurs the lines between on and off-road with their fast-rolling tread yet high volume providing plenty of comforts. Disc brakes, internal cable routing and multiple mounting points for luggage and you’ve got a seriously capable bike on your hands. At £949.99 you get some real value for money and the finance starts as low as £26.36.

2020 Cube Aim Race Hardtail Mountain Bike

If you’re looking for something a bit more fun, look no further than the Cube Aim Race Hardtail. It’s cheap, cheerful and with plenty of play, it’ll keep a smile on your face the entire time you’re on it. Whether you plan to zip around the block, delve into the local park or even a quick single track lap round the local woods this well-equipped, easy-to-handle and reliable trail companion won’t let you down. At £499.99 and starting at £14.95 a month finance you’re not going to find more bang for your buck.

Regardless of what you choose, what’s important is keeping safe, riding responsibly and being careful, but get your exercise in 🙂

To see more great value bikes please visit https://www.hargrovescycles.co.uk/bikes/hybrid-bikes/instock?maxprice=700

Stay safe out there everyone

Hargroves

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Bikes Buying Guide Featured News Parts And Accessories

A beginner’s guide to bike pedals

As one of your three main contact points on a bike, pedals are a vital part to consider when building your dream machine. But with many different types out there, all designed for different disciplines, choosing the ones most suited to you can get a little complicated.

Do you opt for flats or clipless? Shimano or DMR? The pedal market can be an absolute nightmare for newcomers. Fear not, however, for we’ve put together this handy beginner’s guide to teach you the art of selecting the perfect pair of pedals.

Step 1: Choosing the right type of pedals

Many of you may have clicked on this guide to learn which pedals are the best for saving weight, improving performance or generating more grip against your shoe, but before we get into all that technical jargon we first need to identify – quite simply – what type of pedal is best suited to your kind of riding.

If you’re focused on doing lots of climbing or you feel like you want to race your bike, then you’re going to want to dive straight into the clipless pedal market. These pedals, sometimes referred to as ‘clip-ins’, securely attach your feet to the pedals, offering increased control over the bike and better power transfer. It’s a confusing name, so try to remember that in this case, ‘clipless’ actually means ‘clipped in’. And if you’re wondering why this is the case, it’s all thanks to the traditional old-fashioned toe-clips – they’re ‘clipless’ in reference to the lack of toe-clips rather than the clipping together of cleat and pedal.

Clipless pedals will also ensure that your feet are always aligned in the correct position over the pedal axle, enabling more effective power transfer through the pedals and helping you go faster.

Clipless pedals work via a spring mechanism in the pedal that allows you to ‘clip’ the cleats – handy bits of plastic or aluminium securely fastened to the base of your shoe – in and out of the pedals. Most clipless pedal systems are simple to master, just push your toe forward into the pedal and then press down with the ball of your foot until you hear an ever-so-satisfying ‘click’. To take your foot out, simply twist your heel outwards (away from the bike) until the cleat releases. 

MTB-specific clipless pedals look a little different to road-specific clipless pedals – they’re more compact and often not as aerodynamic. One of their main advantages over road-specific clipless pedals, however, is that they’re double-sided, allowing you to clip straight back in with ease.

Flat pedals, or ‘flats’ as they’re more commonly known in the industry, are the kind you most likely had on your first bike. These are the perfect pedals for the more chilled out riders among you, those who aren’t worried about efficient power transfer or perfect ‘above-pedal-axle’ positioning.

Flats are especially good for those MTBers who regularly find themselves riding dicey downhill trails. Flats give you what most clipless MTB pedals cannot: a large stable platform that allows you to move your feet around. Moving your feet helps you to shift your weight around the bike, an essential skill when it comes to riding technical downhill terrain. There may also be moments when knowing you can put your foot down without warning can prove immensely reassuring, for instance, to steady yourself over leaf-strewn trails or on particularly sketchy corners. All that being said, while traditionally, elite downhill racers might not have used clipless (because the amount of pedalling in DH is minimal), even they are moving onto clipless now in pursuit of more speed and stability.

If you really want to nerd out, check this video from Pinkbike where some of the Enduro World Series’ professional riders talk through their own pedal/shoe setups.

Step 2: Key features to look out for

When it comes to MTB-specific clipless pedals most riders opt for sturdier and more robust materials, like aluminium. Pedals with a large degree of mud-clearance are also preferable because you’re going to be throwing up a lot of dirt as you rag your bike around the trails, particularly in the wetter winter months. The DMR V-Twin offers a really nice ‘goldilocks zone’ between the wide platform of a flat pedal and the security and control of a clipless. Ideal, particularly if you accidentally unclip, then struggle to clip back in. You’ll still have plenty of pedal to play with as you push through the technical stuff.

For flat pedals, the more contact area the better. Look for low-profile broad platforms with lots of little pins which will really help you secure your shoes against the surface of the pedal and maintain traction. The Shimano Saint M828 is a truly epic flat MTB pedal that’ll give you loads of grip and control over the bike. 

Step 3: Don’t forget the cleats

If you’ve chosen to go down the clipless route, you’re going to need a pair of cleats. These are pieces of plastic, or aluminium, that attach to the base of your shoe and allow you to clip into your clipless pedals.

You can purchase cleats with differing degrees of ‘float’. Float refers to the amount of lateral rotation you can make once the cleat is clipped into the pedal. For a super-tight and power-efficient bond, go for a small degree of float. If you’re worried about clipping in and out, or just need to give your joints a little bit of wiggle room, opt for a larger degree of float. 

One last thing to remember: Most MTB-specific clipless pedals use a two-bolt system, while road-specific ones us a three-bolt system, so make sure you select the right ones for the pedals you’ve chosen!

Be sure to check out our full range of pedals by clicking here.

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Bikes Buying Guide

Best 2020​ ​Gravel​ ​Bikes​ ​for​ ​up​ ​to​ ​£2,000

Gravel​ ​riding​ ​is​ ​an​ ​exciting​ ​discipline​ ​of​ ​off-road​ ​cycling​ ​– it’s​ ​about​ ​fun​ ​and​ ​freedom,​ ​adventure​ ​and  even​ ​racing.​ ​Gravel​ ​originates​ ​from​ ​the​ ​USA,​ ​where​ ​rugged​ ​drop-handlebarred​ ​road​ ​bikes​ ​specified​ ​for  the​ ​tough​ ​challenges​ ​of​ ​touring​ ​and​ ​exploring​ ​bumpy,​ ​dusty,​ ​unsurfaced​ ​roads​ ​developed​ ​a​ ​great  following​ ​and​ ​spawned​ ​its​ ​own​ ​unique​ ​race​ ​scene.​ ​British​ ​bikers​ ​are​ ​more​ ​than​ ​ready​ ​for​ ​gravel’s​ ​fat,  treaded​ ​road​ ​tyres,​ ​low,​ ​close​ ​gears,​ ​weatherproof​ ​disc​ ​brakes​ ​and​ ​bulletproof​ ​builds.

Like​ ​its​ ​cousin​ ​cyclocross,​ ​gravel​ ​has​ ​caught​ ​on​ ​fast​ ​here​ ​in​ ​the​ ​UK,​ ​with​ ​a​ ​number​ ​of​ ​British​ ​race​ ​series  emerging​ ​–​ ​from​ ​the​ ​north,​ ​Dirty​ ​Reiver​ ​in​ ​Northumberland​ ​and​ ​Grinduro’s​ ​amazing​ ​loop​ ​round​ ​the​ ​Isle  of​ ​Arran,​ ​way​ ​down​ ​south​ ​to​ ​the​ ​CW​ ​Century​ ​on​ ​the​ ​South​ ​Downs​ ​Way,​ ​with​ ​many​ ​in​ ​between.

But​ ​gravel’s​ ​far​ ​more​ ​than​ ​racing;​ ​the​ ​sheer​ ​versatility​ ​of​ ​these​ ​all-year-round​ ​bikes​ ​mean​ ​they’ll​ ​tackle  muddy​ ​off-road​ ​trails​ ​yet​ ​will​ ​also​ ​serve​ ​you​ ​well​ ​on​ ​the​ ​weekend​ ​club​ ​run.​ ​Most​ ​gravel​ ​bikes​ ​boast  mounts​ ​for​ ​racks​ ​and​ ​mudguards​ ​equipping​ ​them​ ​for​ ​commuting,​ ​while​ ​multiple​ ​bottle​ ​mount​ ​lugs​ ​lend  themselves​ ​to​ ​adventure​ ​set-ups,​ ​endurance​ ​events​ ​and​ ​bike​ ​packing​ ​machines.​ ​A​ ​gravel​ ​bike​ ​can​ ​truly  do​ ​it​ ​all,​ ​and​ ​for​ ​£2k,​ ​you​ ​get​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​gravel​ ​bike​ ​at​ ​Hargroves​ ​Cycles.​ ​Here’s​ ​what​ ​to​ ​look​ ​out​ ​for…

Geometry, Tyres & Clearance

Tyre​ ​clearance​ ​is​ ​an​ ​important​ ​consideration.​ ​Most​ ​gravel​ ​bikes​ ​run​ ​the​ ​same​ ​700c​ ​diameter​ ​as​ ​their  road​ ​bike​ ​cousins,​ ​but​ ​they’re​ ​specified​ ​with​ ​more​ ​robust,​ ​wider-rimmed​ ​wheelsets​ ​to​ ​accommodate  much​ ​wider​ ​rubber.

While​ ​road​ ​bikes​ ​generally​ ​run​ ​25​ ​or​ ​28mm,​ ​gravel​ ​bikes​ ​could​ ​go​ ​from​ ​32​ ​to​ ​46mm.​ ​Wider​ ​tyres​ ​with​ ​a  deeper​ ​tread​ ​pattern​ ​are​ ​crucial​ ​for​ ​control​ ​on​ ​mud​ ​or​ ​gravel,​ ​and​ ​fuss-free​ ​tubeless​ ​tyre​ ​systems​ ​are  becoming​ ​more​ ​commonplace.

Room​ ​for​ ​mud​ ​clearance​ ​between​ ​the​ ​tyre​ ​and​ ​the​ ​frame​ ​is​ ​also​ ​important,​ ​so​ ​you​ ​don’t​ ​get​ ​clogged​ ​in  the​ ​worst​ ​of​ ​Britain’s​ ​winter​ ​quagmires!

Off-road​ ​demands​ ​mean​ ​gravel​ ​bikes​ ​need​ ​slightly​ ​different​ ​frame​ ​geometries​ ​to​ ​traditional​ ​road​ ​bikes.  Their​ ​relatively​ ​long​ ​wheelbase​ ​and​ ​more​ ​relaxed​ ​headtube​ ​angle​ ​ensure​ ​stability​ ​and​ ​steadier,​ ​more  assured​ ​steering.​ ​Gravel​ ​bikes​ ​have​ ​a​ ​taller​ ​headtube​ ​for​ ​‘sit-up’​ ​comfort​ ​over​ ​long​ ​days​ ​in​ ​the​ ​saddle​ ​–  referencing​ ​the​ ​controlled​ ​poise​ ​of​ ​MTB​ ​position​ ​–​ ​while​ ​a​ ​low​ ​bottom​ ​bracket​ ​is​ ​part​ ​of​ ​the​ ​‘strong​ ​and  stable’​ ​package.

Materials & Components

As​ ​gravel​ ​bikes​ ​are​ ​intended​ ​to​ ​take​ ​on​ ​many​ ​forms​ ​of​ ​riding,​ ​manufacturers​ ​approach​ ​their​ ​designs​ ​in  different​ ​ways,​ ​so​ ​when​ ​considering​ ​the​ ​material​ ​its​ ​frame​ ​and​ ​fork​ ​are​ ​made​ ​from,​ ​think​ ​about​ ​what  exactly​ ​you’d​ ​like​ ​to​ ​get​ ​from​ ​your​ ​bike.

If​ ​you​ ​plan​ ​to​ ​load​ ​up​ ​with​ ​luggage​ ​for​ ​long​ ​bike​ ​packing​ ​trips,​ ​look​ ​to​ ​the​ ​capability​ ​of​ ​steel.​ ​If​ ​you prefer​ ​a​ ​lightweight​ ​whip​ ​round​ ​your​ ​local​ ​trails,​ ​then​ ​consider​ ​a​ ​CX-style​ ​carbon​ ​build.​ ​For​ ​something  in​ ​between,​ ​aluminium​ ​is​ ​your​ ​likely​ ​choice.​ ​As​ ​with​ ​road​ ​bikes​​ ​it’s​ ​not​ ​unusual​ ​for​ ​an alloy​ ​frame​ ​to​ ​find​ ​a​ ​‘best​ ​of​ ​both​ ​worlds’​ ​partnership​ ​with​ ​a​ ​carbon​ ​fork. It’s​ ​important​ ​to​ ​consider​ ​the​ ​components​ ​that​ ​best​ ​suit​ ​your​ ​riding.​ ​First​ ​select​ ​the​ ​right​ ​types,​ ​then  match​ ​their​ ​level​ ​of​ ​specification​ ​to​ ​suit​ ​your​ ​budget.

While​ ​gravel​ ​bikes​ ​are​ ​available​ ​with​ ​cantilever​ ​brakes​ ​born​ ​from​ ​’cross,​ ​disc​ ​brakes​ ​are​ ​de​ ​rigeur  – and​ ​hydraulic​ ​systems,​ ​more​ ​powerful​ ​than​ ​lighter,​ ​cheaper​ ​mechanical​ ​disc​ ​brake​ ​systems,​ ​are  becoming​ ​more​ ​prevalent.

Gravel​ ​bikes​ ​have​ ​lower​ ​gearing​ ​than​ ​road​ ​bikes,​ ​and​ ​it​ ​varies,​ ​so​ ​match​ ​to​ ​your​ ​intended​ ​use​ ​and  preference.​ ​MTB-style​ ​1x​ ​systems​ ​avoid​ ​the​ ​mud-catching​ ​complexity​ ​and​ ​weight​ ​of​ ​a​ ​front​ ​mech,​ ​while  compact​ ​doubles​ ​–​ ​typically​ ​50/34-tooth​ ​front​ ​chainrings​ ​and​ ​a​ ​cassette​ ​with​ ​11/28​ ​teeth​ ​– give​ ​you  range​ ​and​ ​climbing​ ​ability.​ ​Super-compacts​ ​(48/32​ ​or​ ​46/30​ ​front​ ​rings)​ ​push​ ​that​ ​further.

Meet the Contenders

The​ ​2020 Bergamont Grandurance 5​ ​(£899),​​ ​is your golden ticket to gravel adventures.

The​ ​full​ ​Shimano​ ​Sora​ ​groupset​ ​provides​ ​reliable​ ​shifting​ ​on​ ​a​ ​18-speed​ ​compact​ ​double.​ ​Shimano’s BR-RS305​ ​mechanical​ ​disc​ ​system​ ​provides​ ​predictable​ ​braking​ ​power​ ​to​ ​tackle descents​ ​with​ ​confidence.

A redesigned ultra lite alloy frame finished off with high-grade Syncros components make this a top contender for a more budget conscious rider.

Stepping​ ​up​ ​the​ ​gravel​ ​food​ ​chain,​ ​the 2020 Saracen Levarg SL​ ​(£1,399.99)​ takes Saracen’s MTB dna and moulds it into a true gravel machine.

2020 Saracen Levarg SL

650b wheels & WTB Byway 47c tyres come as standard but the frame can accommodate 700c wheels as well if you wish to change, with a recommended maximum tyre size of 50mm in 650b and 44mm in 700c respectfully.

High quality SRAM/Saracen Custom components deliver a 1x 11 Speed drivetrain featuring an 11-42T ratio cassette and 42T narrow wide chain ring.

Mounts for 3 bottle cages and eyelets for easy mounting of mudguards make this a very versatile bike for any adventure you can throw at it.

Now, to push the budget right to the line with the 2020 Specialized Diverge Comp E5 (£1,949)

“One bike that shreds flowy singletrack gravel and traditional roads with equal authority”

Specialized

2020 Specialized Diverge Comp E5

So what sets this bike apart from the other contenders and why should you spend the extra? Two words. Future Shock.

The Future Shock features up to 20mm of travel, and it’s positioned above the head tube in order to move in a vertical path. So when the front wheel encounters rough terrain, the bike moves up towards your hands and preserves your forward momentum without slowing you down. Another important fact is that, because the Future Shock is positioned above the stem, the bike’s wheels are held together rigidly by the frame. In other words, because the wheelbase isn’t changing throughout the suspension’s travel, like with traditional system, you get the added benefit of extremely predictable handling.

Categories
Bikes Cyclocross

Cyclocross Bikes Explained

So, what is a Cyclocross bike? In it’s purest form, it’s an out and out race bike, essentially a road bike for the mud. If your still confused then you may want to continue reading.

To understand why a cross bike looks the way it does, you will need to know a little about the racing it’s designed for. Cyclocross is a form of racing that typically takes place in the cold, dark, winter months. It’s a predominantly off road discipline with courses often involving obstacles such as stair sets, sand pits, hurdles and many other joys.

 

 

Of course, many of these obstacles cannot be passed whilst mounted which is why many riders will dismount, chuck their bike on their shoulder and run like the clappers. This is why cyclocross bikes have a “boxy” appearance. They have a large front triangle to enable the rider to easily carry their bike on their shoulder, this also gives the  bike a taller standover height, something to bare in mind when purchasing a cross bike.

Riding off road in winter also means mud and lots of it. This is why cross bikes have huge amounts of clearance around the fork and chain stays. In addition to this, they tend to have a higher bottom bracket for ground clearance.

Although disc brakes are only just becoming acceptable to the roadie crowd, the guys and girls riding cross have been using them for years now. As well as providing better tyre clearance, they are also a lot more powerful than traditional caliper brakes, giving more consistent braking in the poorest conditions without chewing up your lovely new wheels.

When it comes to geometry and sizing the best thing to do is chuck a leg over one of these beasts and allow our expert staff to help you find the best fit. For most brands, the sizing is similar to their road bikes. For example, if you normally ride a 52 Specialized Tarmac you will most likely be a 52 on a Specialized Crux. Of course there are exceptions to this and it will vary depending on the individual, so don’t hold on to that statement too tightly.

The fit on a cyclocross bike is quite different to most road bikes. Typically cross bikes have a taller head tube, shorter top tube and a higher bottom bracket. You can of course set it up as close as you can to your road bike. However, a lot of cyclocross riders tend to run a slightly taller front end and shorter reach in comparison with their road bike. This allows the rider to have more control out of the saddle and man handle the bike especially around the many obstacles that they will be fronted with on course.

So you’re not looking to race and you don’t like riding through sand pits? Well you still shouldn’t rule out a cross bike. They make great all rounders and if your spouse doesn’t conform to the N+1 rule, it could be the one bike to do it all. Being born from the mud, cross bikes come equipped with relatively wide tyres with low gearing which enables them to complete most trails with ease. Swap those knobbly tyres out for some smoother road tyres and you’ve basically got a burly road bike. The only potential disadvantage can be gearing, with most brands opting for a 1×11 SRAM setup, they can suffer at higher speeds on the road but given this bike is designed for racing offroad, it still proves itself to be incredibly versatile.

Cyclocross has never been more accessible with more and more races, plenty of local cycling clubs involved and our full range of 2018 Cannondale CX bikes currently on sale, grab yourself a bargain and get cross.

 

“Jack Explains”

Jack works in our Chichester store, is a fully qualified Retul Bike Fitter and whilst he rides all disciplines, it’s safe to say his heart belongs to mountain biking.

Check out Jack’s Instagram for more inspiration to get out on your bike.