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Featured News

Hello, is it spring you’re looking for?

‘What’s that?’ you say, as you spot an odd and unusual occurrence through the gap in your curtains. You throw them back and the light of day pours in, your face shines with joy and hope. It’s blue sky, beautiful, clean blue sky. And what’s that there? It’s the sun! Oh, the sun, how we’ve missed you. The month of February has been a cruel mistress to all those who enjoy the two-wheeled hobby that we call cycling, the wind and rain and grey skies and misery. Even the hardiest of cyclists, having braved and battled through the storms, shed a tear as the first light of spring rises from the horizon, greeting them like a long-lost friend.

Due to this phenomenon you may find yourself lingering on gravel bike collections, finger hovering over the ‘buy now’ button, eyes glazed over with desire and lust, you’re not alone.  Ideas are formed with the coming of spring, a sense of pining and adventure grips us. Sitting at work, daydreaming about exploring the curves and camber of the great outdoors. Lunch breaks spent route planning, google maps poured over, squinting at lines on the screen determining whether your 28mm tyres are up to the task or should you bite the bullet and drop £2000 on a new bike? (24-month finance doesn’t even count as buying does it?)

Let’s, for arguments sake, say you went on to purchase your new gravel toy. You come home one day to the unmistakably large box that signifies a new bike. Once opened you gaze upon it in wonder, the shape is alien yet so familiar and the knobbly tyres cause an intake of breath in anticipation, the weekend can’t come quickly enough. You envisage yourself flying down tracks, the flash of greenery invading your peripheral vision, mud clinging to the tread of the aforementioned knobbly tyres. Life is good when you’re out and free.

As you excitedly cram your bike packing bags with spare clothes, gels, tools and tubes you can’t help but feel like a pioneer ready to discover the undiscovered, joining the list of explorers who set out with nothing more than a change of clothes, a route and a pre-determined destination with a booked hotel and a few local restaurants saved on your phone. Your riding clothes are neatly laid out next to your bed, shoes cleaned, and bike primed, feeling like a young child preparing for their very first day at school. Just one more sleep.


Saturday. Eyes open, instantly alert. It’s the day. Alas, a dreaded sound is coming from the window, a window that presented so much joy a mere few days ago has betrayed you. You slowly draw the curtains and feel your heart sink as the full extent of the weather becomes apparent, the rain and wind have seemingly returned with vengeance. You furrow your brows in determination and slowly change your clothes for a more weather appropriate getup, trudge down for breakfast and brace yourself for the worst. What else are you supposed to do? It’s a non-refundable hotel.

To view Hargroves selection of gravel bikes – https://www.hargrovescycles.co.uk/bikes/road-bikes/gravel-bikes
Bags, packs and paniers – https://www.hargrovescycles.co.uk/packs-and-luggage

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Cycling Guides Featured News

Winter Miles, Summer Smiles

It’s always hard to motivate yourself to ride at this time of year; its cold and wet outside, you’re in the middle of a gripping new TV series and the overindulgent eating and drinking throughout the Christmas period has left you feeling sluggish and unfit. Your New Year’s resolutions to be more active and eat healthier are already sat on the shelf growing dust while the sofa is becoming a lot more familiar. Despite this, you must resist the temptation to put it off until the better weather arrives in spring. As the age-old cycling proverb goes, ‘winter miles, summer smiles’, and as clichéd as it sounds, it represents the truth.

Peloton racing in the rain

We, as cyclists, want nothing more than to ride the sweeping contours of stunning roads surrounded by sunlit vistas, sweating up climbs and coasting down hills, our faces fixed with a countenance of joy.

What we don’t want is to experience all of this while staring down at our stems, desperately gasping for breath and counting down the minutes until it’s time to stop for a break. In order to maximise the enjoyment of summer rides we must persevere through the uncomfortable winter months. So, that requires you, yes you, to leave your castle of comfort, throw on a few layers and get out into the cold to clock up some essential miles.

Even Zwift riders experience the snow

For those of you that aren’t keen on the great outdoors in the winter months and the seemingly constant deluge of rain then keep those Zwift miles high. Admittedly, indoor trainers don’t quite replicate the experience of spinning down country lanes with the wind blowing you all over the place. However, they’re the next best thing and will help you build/maintain your level of fitness until the sun starts blessing us with its presence.

Climbing one of the notorious Yorkshire hills

Without doubt those first few miles are going to be tough. The cobwebs are clinging to your muscles for dear life and those previously well-oiled joints are creaking and moaning in despair, you may even feel sunk, like riding underwater, but it’s time to dig deep and push on. Have a plan, ride with an achievable distance, don’t get ahead of yourself and set out for a century unless you’ve maintained a good training programme throughout December. A steady 50 miles, or even 20, with some rolling hills and a good climb to get you back into the motions is what you need to get your year on the bike kick-started.

The hard work you put in now, slogging through the grey and cold countryside, will pay dividends when the darling buds of May start to bloom and you can keep those legs spinning for hours, so what are you waiting for?

Views like these is what every cyclist wants to see.

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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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Featured News

The game changing Turbo Levo SL

Specialized call the all new Turbo Levo SL a game changer and it’s not hard to see why. E-MTBs have improved in popularity almost exponentially since Specialized last delved into the electric trail bike sector, so much so that they have now brought out a range suited for every rider. With the powerful SL 1.1 motor doubling your power output, Specialized promise more time on the trails, less lung-busting when climbing and more time soaring through the air. That can only be a good thing, right? The Specialized motto for this range is “it’s you, only faster,” and with its powerful motor and range extender add-on, the Turbo Levo SL it certainly backs up this promise.

In this blog we take a look at the models in the range that we have at Hargroves Cycles and the other power assisted adventure and mountain bikes we stock.

Turbo Levo SL from Specialized

It’s easy to see where Specialized got the inspiration for this one – hallmarks from their popular Stumpjumper bike can be seen throughout. It looks, feels and rides like it too, only it’s got a bit more oomph, and with a lightweight battery, even when the motor isn’t engaged it handles like a dream. The Expert Carbon weighs in at 17.3 kilograms, making it a super lightweight power-assisted bike, which means you can take on the trails, hills and tracks faster than ever before. 150 millimetres of suspension are provided by FOX’s 34 Performance fork and DPS shock, and SRAM Eagle GX drivetrain polishes of the quality components on this top-notch bike. 

Perfect for day-long riding and adventures, the Turbo Levo SL is your introduction to the world of e-MTBs. 

The next model down is the SL Comp Carbon. As with the whole range, this still comes with 150 millimetres of travel, only the provider is slightly different – this time it’s FOX’s RHYTHM 34 fork and DPS shock compared to the Performance on the SL Expert. The motor has a maximum speed of 20mph – enough to get you up that tricky climb and then some.

Specialized have also brought a budget option to the range for riders who want the benefit of a power-assisted bike without paying the premium for a carbon frame. The SL Comp is the perfect option for such a rider. With an aluminium frame, it may not be as light as it’s siblings, but it retains the robustness and performance associated with a Specialized trail bike. It also doesn’t cut any corners when it comes to performance. RockShox provide 150 millimetres of front and rear suspension which, combined with the motor, still gives you all the fun of the fair just like the other bikes in the range. An added perk is that all the new Turbo Levos can be synced with the Mission Control App so that the rider can tailor the motor to their specific riding style. This budget SL Comp is perfect for first time e-bike riders.

Other e-MTBs

Here at Hargroves Cycles we also stock e-MTBs from Cannondale, Bergamont and Scott. These models are a bit closer to the SL Comp and Comp Carbon than the SL Expert, which stands head and shoulders above its challengers.

That being said, Cannondale’s e-MTBs offer premium performance at a respectable price. The Habit Neo 2 range for 2020, for example, has 130 millimetres of rear and 140 millimetres of front suspension allowing it to perform on the trails with that added kick of the motor.

The E-Trailster from Bergamont also rides like a quality trail bike and boasts a powerful 75 Nm of torque thanks to its integrated Bosch drive unit.

Scott have also dipped their toe into the world of e-trail bikes with the Spark eRide 910 which gets its power from a 500Wh internal Shimano battery. With a dropper post, quality components and respectable travel, the Spark eRide is an aluminium trail bike of the highest quality.

There we have it – your introduction to the new range of e-MTBs from Specialized as well as a look at the other brands we stock. Why not come down to one of our shops, compare the bikes in person and start your electric trail bike journey with us? Our friendly staff will help you find the right bike to fit your riding style.

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Featured Indoor Training News

What is Zwift?

Looking for a way to make those indoor training sessions more engaging? Feel like time stands still when putting in the winter hours? Or simply looking for a year round training platform that will give you extra motivation to go the extra mile? Zwift was created to tackle all of these issues. Here is everything you need to know if you are thinking of giving Zwift a go.

So What’s it All About?

Zwift is an online interactive training and racing platform that links your turbo trainer up to your computer (PC or Mac), iPad, iPhone, Apple TV or an Android smartphone or Tablet. This allows you to ride with others cyclist in multiple virtual worlds often based on real life places. As well as just riding with others you can also complete specific training sessions that have been designed by professional coaches. These can be completed on your own but also with others. This is done by signing up to group workouts via the app or the companion app. The benefits of this over completing these sessions outdoors is there are no external factors that will impact your session. For example, weather, traffic and the terrain around you. It is also great for those that have time constraints as you can get in a high impact session in a small amount on time.

There are seven different worlds to ride with two worlds available to ride each day. The worlds available to ride depend on what day of the week it is and is published on a calendar each month by Zwift.

For those looking for some competition, there are also races you can enter over varying distances and terrain to suit the length of session you want to do and the time that you have available. These are split in to categories based on your FTP (Functional Threshold Power) in w/kg (Watts per Kilogram), so you will always be able to find a race and level that suits you.

There are multiple gamified elements to Zwift which include unlocking bikes and clothing to encourage you to ride for longer and harder and over hillier terrain. There are also challenges often based around total distance ridden and metres climbed which give you access to some of the fastest equipment in the game once completed.

How does Zwift work?

Zwift uses ANT+ or Bluetooth to connect to your devices. These can be either a power meter, a smart turbo trainer (such as the Wahoo KICKR and Tacx Neo 2T) or just a speed/cadence sensor as well as heart rate monitors. To connect via ANT+ you will need to purchase an ANT+ dongle for your computer so the information can be sent between your devices and the computer. For Apple TV and other phone/tablet based devices connection is via Bluetooth which is usually built in. This data is then used by Zwift which is translated in to speed on the virtual course. It takes in to account your weight, power or calculated power, the road gradient and the draft, or lack of, from other riders.

Below is more on the various ways you can get started on Zwift.

  • A dedicated indoor trainer bike, such as the Tacx Neo Bike and Wahoo KICKR Bike – this is the most expensive option and one for those really committed (and have the cash lying around).
  • A smart trainer – these require you to use your existing bike and can be wheel on (Wahoo KICKR Snap) using the resistance of your rear wheel on a drive unit or a wheel off trainer (Wahoo KICKR/Tacx Neo 2T) that require you to remove your rear wheel and place your bike on to the trainer. These measure power and sometimes cadence and transmit this directly to Zwift.
  • A power meter – with a power meter you can use any indoor trainer or rollers and data will be taken from your power meter and transmitted to Zwift. With this option you won’t get the simulated gradient changes and controlled workouts that you get with the indoor training bike or smart trainer.
  • A speed/cadence sensor – this is the most basic option and allows you to use a regular bike with no power meter and a standard wheel on trainer. Zwift will then use the numbers (cadence and wheel speed) to estimate your power. This is not the most accurate or realistic option but it is the cheapest and is a great way to get started on Zwift.

How much does Zwift cost?

Some indoor trainers come with a free trail period, for example 30-days, for Zwift so you can give it a go without having to commit to start with. You do get a free 7-day trial when you first sign up for Zwift if you haven’t got a longer trial period with a trainer purchase. After the free trail it costs £12.99 a month but you can cancel and re-join anytime and you will keep your progress and unlocks that you have achieved so far.

How do I get started?

To get started first you need to sign up for an account. On a Mac or PC you can do it online at Here On a phone or tablet device you can download the Zwift app from the relevant app store and sign up through there.

If you are using a computer or Apple TV to use Zwift it is highly recommended to download the Zwift Companion app. This adds a number of convenient features such as being able to message other Zwifters, enter events and changing the direction of your avatar.

Once this has been done you just need to pair your devices and choose the world you want to ride in. You are then ready to experience next level indoor training!

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Bikes Buying Guide Featured News Protection

MTB Helmets 101: What’s the differences and why you should care

We all know that a helmet is one of the most crucial bits of kit to remember for any ride. If you have been involved in an incident that meant your lid was used for its intended purpose, at whatever level of collision, you will know all too well the importance of this often lifesaving bit of kit.

It is widely regarded that a helmet – without a collision – should be replaced every five years, as the spongy protective EPS layer gradually loses its volume. At Hargroves Cycles, we stock a large number of helmets, but what is the difference between them? And why should you care about wearing the right helmet for the right discipline?

Mountain biking, in particular, is a broad church. There’s a huge gulf in requirements between easy trail riding and breakneck DH racing, and as such there are a wealth of helmet options than sometimes be a little bit bewildering. First, let’s look at the technology underpinning MTB helmets.

MTB helmet tech explained – MIPS

MIPS is the industry leader in helmet technology. They’re not a manufacturer of helmets, so much as a third-party technology supplier used by other brands to make their products safer. Like how The North Face and Berghaus use Gore Tex in their waterproof jackets.

MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System and it pretty much does what it says on the tin. The way we crash on bicycles is not a simple case of linear impacts, we crash in all sorts of unpredictable ways and thus, the impacts to our noggins can come in at all sorts of angles. MIPS helmets reflect that and protect you from it in a way that older helmets that just use foam do not.

Having MIPS in a helmet often adds a little bit to the price tag, with some major brands releasing their top-end lids in a ‘with MIPS’ and regular version. Look out for MIPS’ bright yellow branding if you’re ever unsure as to whether a helmet is equipped with this brain-saving tech.

ANGI

From an industry-wide technology to one pioneered exclusively by a single brand, ANGI is Specialized’s way of measuring the linear and rotational forces that typically occur during a bicycle crash. Big S is putting ANGI (Angular and G-Force indicator) into its top-end bike helmets as a sort of extra safety system. The sensors communicate with an app on your phone and, should the worst happen and you end up eating some dirt, the app will notify your emergency contacts that you’ve taken a tumble. The benefits of this when you’re out riding solo away from civilisation are obvious. For more, visit this FAQ on Specialized’s site.

Another emerging safety tech is the rise of better helmets with detachable chin bars. The first full-face helmets were pretty uncomfortable to ride for any length of time at any level of intensity because they didn’t really breathe well and ended up feeling like riding with a swampy bucket on your head. Many riders opted to have two different helmets, only wearing the full-face when they absolutely had to – and for only short periods of time – and favouring their open-face option for any sort of all-mountain riding.

A detachable chin bar eliminates some of that rigidity by allowing you to switch your full-face lid to an open-face one when you don’t need that maximum level of protection. It adds massive versatility to helmets offering full-face protection, without compromise on the safety aspects.

The MET Parachute MCR is a perfect example of this growing sector.

Best helmets for MTB

So which are the best MTB helmets for different disciplines?

For enduro, we’d recommend the aforementioned MET Parachute. It sits at the top of the category with its magnetic chin bar removal system, MIPS protection and – like all MET helmets, it’s beautifully styled with that Italian flair for design.

Looking to save some cash but still get maximum protection? Look no further than the Giro Switchblade. It’s also packing MIPS protection and comes with 20 vents around the helmet body to keep you cool. The chin bar is removable.

Looking to explore some trails without the competitive element or extreme speeds of enduro? We love the Specialized Ambush for trail riding and all-mountain exploration. It comes with the ANGI technology discussed above as well as a really clever integrated fit system.

Similar in performance and protection offered is the MET Roam, winner of a 2018 Design & Innovation award. The Italian brand describes it as an all-mountain helmet and it really is versatile – we’ve seen it used in everything from trail-riding to gravel racing.

Looking for the thrill that only comes from pelting full-tilt downhill? You’ll be wanting a proper full-face helmet to do that, and you could do much worse than the category-leading Specialized Dissident. Present in the range for almost a decade, the Dissident has had a lot of facelifts in its time, but has preserved that essential commitment to being “the lightest, most-ventilated and technically advanced carbon fibre full-face mountain bike helmet out there.” 

Now that you know everything there is to know about the types of MTB helmet we stock, why not come down to one of our shops and try one for size? Our friendly staff will help you find the right style, size, make and design for the type of cycling you do.