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Bikes Buying Guide Featured Mountain Bikes

Best Hardtails For £1,000

Hardtails have front suspension but are rigid at the rear, and offer plenty of benefits. They’re less complex than full-suspension, so they’re cheaper to make. This means a £1,000 hardtail has better components than a full-suss at the same price, yet costs less to maintain. They’re also significantly lighter, boosting a natural pedalling efficiency for an engagingly fast, sprightly ride – especially if you favour smoother trails.

Meanwhile, a suspension fork adds a lot of comfort and control over a fully rigid bike. But how do you decide what’s best for you with a £1,000 budget?

Hardtails fall into three camps: cross-country (XC) racers, trail bikes and hardcore. XC bikes focus on low weight and rapid acceleration, typically with 100mm of fork travel. At Hargroves Cycles we get a lot of demand for bikes of this type so we’ve shared some of the best new examples with you below. Trail bikes offer longer, slacker and more relaxed geometry, greater strength and 120mm-130mm travel, plus a little more weight. Hardcore hardtails, meanwhile, are a little too tough and heavy for anything other than aggressive descending, and with 140mm-160mm of bounce, they’re incredibly capable. The first thing to decide, then, is what kind of riding you want it for.

At £1,000, the frame is going to be made of aluminium, or possibly steel. Carbon fibre and titanium tend to cost significantly more. Look for a quality air fork (coil forks are heavier and harder to adjust) plus drivetrains and hydraulic disc brakes from recognisable, named series. If it’s Shimano that means Deore at least, SLX and maybe some XT highlights. For SRAM, the equivalent is X-5 and GX, with maybe X-7 or NX highlights.

Single front-ring, 11-speed transmissions are great for trail or all-round use, as they save around 400g, improve ground clearance and mean you’re less likely to drop your chain. They also reduce bar clutter. If you prefer big miles and big, long climbs to woodsy trail hacking, however, twin front rings give you a wider choice of gears.

Tubeless tyres are a great way to save weight and reduce the risk of punctures, so Tubeless Ready wheels and tyres (which can be converted with a simple kit) are a definite benefit. As for wheel size, you have a choice: 27.5in or 29in. Though small on paper, the differences are noticeable on the trails – 29ers roll very well with their shallower angle of attack, and are perfect both for XC and hardtails.

Meanwhile, 27.5in wheels are more agile, stronger for a given weight, and have a wide choice of ‘aggressive tyres’. They usually have the edge for spirited riding (and tend to suit riders on smaller frames better), but you can’t really go wrong if the bike’s intent matches yours.

What about tyre width? The new, mid-volume ‘Plus’ sizes – 2.8in-3.0in, as opposed to regular 2.35in or the 4in-5in of fat bikes – give hardtails valuable extra comfort and traction.

It’s also worth thinking about the potential for future upgrades. Dropper posts are a fantastic boost to performance and confidence, though you’re very unlikely to get one equipped on a decent bike at the £1,000 price bracket, so it’s one to consider adding at a later date.

When you’re looking at hardtails, make sure it’s compatible with a dropper post by checking that its frame takes either 30.9mm or 31.6mm posts (there aren’t many 27.2mm droppers) and has internal dropper routing (‘Stealth’ routing). Check out dropper posts here.

SMALL, MEDIUM OR LARGE?

So you know what kind of riding you do, what style of bike you want and what to expect in terms of spec. What now? The most important thing, regardless of preference or brand, is to get the right size.
We recommend our in-depth sizing guide, and remembering that you must have room to move the seatpost from your personal highest setting (for climbing) to right down out of the way (for steep descending). Seatposts have a minimum insertion point beyond which they can’t stretch. Meanwhile, a too-tall seat tube will stop you getting low enough over the back. XC needs less top tube clearance than trail, but more is always better!

When comparing bikes, look for ‘reach’ measurements (sometimes referred to as ‘handlebar reach’, or more accurately ‘saddle-bar reach’, it’s the distance from the saddle to the bars) as these are directly comparable across all brands.

All other numbers – such as the top tube length (TT) or even the effective top tube length (ETT), which is taken horizontally from steerer tube to seat tube, are influenced by the angles of other tubes. That makes them potentially deceptive.

Each maker gives an average height range per frame size, so it’s best to start there. If you’re between sizes, go for the smaller one, so long as the other measurements still work. Why? It’s easier to adapt ‘up’, altering things such as stem length, seat post offset, saddle and bar position, to make sure you get the right fit and the best riding position.

Need some inspiration? The 2018 model year Cube Acid (available now) is particularly stacked. At £899 it offers 11-speed Shimano XT drivetrains and 100mm Rockshox Recon air forks in both 27.5in and 29in wheel sizes. It’s a pretty amazing price too that allows some room to consider new accessories, or treats such as clothing or protection.

Cube Acid

Meanwhile, Scott’s impressively racy £979 Scale 980 goes for SRAM’s NX cranks on its 1×11 drivetrain, plus other quality kit including 29in Synchros rims and Maxxis Ikon tyres, while Specialized takes the 29er all-rounder route with its £950 Rockhopper Pro. This long-running favourite features a 2×10 Shimano Deore/SLX drivetrain and an 80mm-100mm Manitou Markhor air fork with lightweight alloy steerer.

 

Looking for women’s-specific? Cube’s £959 Access WS SL features an impressive Shimano XT 1×11 drivetrain, Shimano hydraulic discs and Rockshox’ Recon air fork, all in a physique-tailored package. For more on women’s-specific bikes, see our upcoming full guide. 

Cube Access WS SL

Whatever catches your eye, bear in mind the advice on sizing, be realistic about what you might want to do with it, think how far you might want to upgrade in the future, and cast around Hargroves Cycles for what a couple of hundred extra pounds might get you… we got pretty excited about the Cube Reaction Race 2018. At £1,299 it’s a refined, update to an already on-song model with a spec list that boasts SRAM Eagle GX 1×12, RockShox Judy fork, Shimano Deore, Stealth dropper post cable routing, a thru axle rear end, and more!

Cube Reaction Race

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Featured News

Best Bike Lights For Commuting

Ever wondered why more and more people are choosing to commute to work? If you haven’t checked out our Cycling To Work post, it may shed some light. 

So whether you commute to work in a bid to keep fit and healthy, to beat the traffic and get to work quicker or simply if you’re fed up of spending money on petrol and want a cheaper way of travel, cycling to work is becoming more appealing; and better yet, even safer.

And of course, safety when riding should be at the forefront of any rider’s mind on their commute to work… meaning as the days get shorter and the night draws in ever closer, a good set of bike lights should be on every commuter’s hit list.
Bike Lights For Commuting

But if you’re struggling to find the perfect light, don’t panic! We’ve picked out some of our most popular lights from Exposure, Cateye and Moon to help make your decision that bit easier…

Exposure Strada 1200 Front Light – £260.96

Exposure Strada 1200

Delivering remarkable performance without compromising space on your handlebars, it’s no wonder the Strada 1200 is known as the premium road light. With a powerful 1200 lumens available and a max run time of 36 hours, you needn’t worry about riding in the dark anymore. 

The Strada 1200 also features Exposure’s Day Bright technology. You may be shocked to find out that 80% of all traffic accidents involving cyclists happen during the day, which is why this new technology is so popular with safety conscious commuters. Designed to make you visible even in the brightest of sunlight, using a specific pulse pattern and lumen intensity, Day Bright was created to cut through distractions of busy roads, and make you visible from over a kilometer away.

Moon LX760 & Neubla Light Set – £118.79

Moon LX760 & Nebula Light Set

If you’re looking for a mid-range set of lights , these Moon LX760 & Nebula lights are a favourite with commuters looking for a no thrills, reliable set. Providing 760 lumens for the front light and a further 100 lumens for the rear light, this Nebula set has seven modes and offers a maximum run-time of up to 20 hours.

Cateye Volt 800 Front Light – £89.99

Cateye Volt 800 Light

Offering a respectable 800 lumens, Cateye’s Volt 800 really is a great choice for commuter’s who need a reliable light to help get them from A to B. With 5 different modes including three constant and two flashing, the Volt 800 offers undeniable value and for it’s size and weight, you’d be hard pushed to find another light with an output as good as this one.

Moon Meteor- X Auto & Arcturus Auto Set – £56.24

Meteor- X Auto & Arcturus Auto Set

Ideal for your everyday ride, the Moon Meteor- X Auto & Arcturus Auto Set is compact, yet powerful. With an integrated sensor that turns the lights on or off depending on the surrounding conditions, and offering 450 lumens on it’s day flashing mode, this set will keep you seen and safe.

Cateye EL130 / TL135 Light Set – £24.99

Cateye EL130 / TL135 Light Set

If you’re looking for lights on a budget, you probably can’t go wrong with this light set from Cateye. Simple and no thrills, these lights are waterproof, come with three modes and come available with a clothing clip, meaning you can mount the lights where you like!

Cateye Orb Light Set – £17.99

Cateye Orb Light Set

Last but by no means least, we’ve got the Cateye Orb Light Set. Up to 50 hours run time for under £20…need we say anymore? Effective, and simply great value!

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Buying Guide Cyclocross Featured News Tyres

What Tyres For Cyclocross?

Ah yes the age old question: “Which tyres should I use for Cyclocross”. It’s probably the most frequently asked question we get on the topic of Cyclocross here at Hargroves Cycles.

Having raced cyclocross for the last 10 years in pretty much all conditions from sand to mud to ice, Matt Macdonald has firsthand experience of what works and what doesn’t. In this post, Matt shares his wealth of knowledge and experience in the tyre-buying department for the benefit of any newcomers to the sport or those looking to upgrade to a better performing tyre.

Tyres Make a Difference

Cyclocross, like a lot of things, does come down to budget and not everyone can afford 3 cyclocross bikes and endless pairs of wheels to suit every condition. Some people have 2 bikes and those that don’t, get by with a spare pair of wheels. Unfortunately to be competitive in typical winter conditions you would benefit from having 2 bikes.

Tyres are relatively inexpensive compared to other bike parts, but contribute a huge amount to the bikes overall performance. If you’ve ever heard Formula 1 teams go on about their tyres so much it’s because, like cyclocross, they are that important.

Clinchers or Tubulars?

Tyre decision in cyclocross comes down to one important question, clinchers or tubulars? If you’re just starting out or are on a budget then you will probably opt for a clincher. This type of tyre uses an inner tube & the tyre itself sits on the bead of the rim. Some higher-end clincher tyres are also referred to as open tubulars. It’s easy to get confused about the terminology, but these are still clinchers.

Tubulars are used by those who have a slightly higher budget or who really want to maximize the performance of their tyres in all conditions. From my experience, the only time where a clincher could potentially be a better choice than a tubular is when the course is completely bone dry & pan flat with no off-camber sections. When conditions are dry and fast, cornering speeds are often much higher which can put a lot of strain on a tubular tyre. This can sometimes cause a tubular tyre to roll off the rim (which isn’t ideal). It’s also worth pointing out that a clincher can have a slightly more predictable ride as the tyre itself isn’t ‘moving’ around on the rim.

Matt’s Favourite Clincher (Open Tubular) Tyres

My favourite tyre for dry to intermediate conditions is the Challenge Grifo 33 Open Tubular. It’s unparalleled in rolling speed & suppleness and feels quite close to that of a tubular tyre. Closely followed by the Challenge Fango Open Tubular which is geared slightly more to intermediate conditions as it has a more aggressive tread pattern.

For muddy days the hands-down winner is the Challenge Limus Open Clincher which has a very aggressive tread pattern but still a low rolling resistance & superior suppleness to allow for lower tyre pressures.

You may be wondering why every tyre choice here is a Challenge, but these tyres are “unchallenged” in terms of quality & performance every time.

For those on more of a budget a good, all round choice is the classic Schwalbe CX Pro which has decent enough tread to cope with all conditions & performs surprisingly well for its price. The Clement MXP Clincher Tyre also offers good one-tread-fits-all performance & handles most conditions pretty well, except for the mud where most clinchers do falter. Challenge also makes a budget version of the Grifo called the Challenge Grifo Pro, which for its price is still a very good performing tyre.

Tubular Tyres Explained

On to Tubulars for where the real performance gains can be found, but a quick description as to why they are better for certain conditions. The carcass of a tubular tyre is completely sewn together with the inner tube inside and is glued to the rim. Often the sidewalls of tubulars are made of cotton which makes them extremely supple and able to mold to the terrain much better. This, of course, means more grip & better traction on loose terrain. The nature of tubulars allow for you to run them at much lower pressures, which assists in their superior traction.

Terrain, where tubular performance is highlighted the most, is on any kind of off-camber, any type of mud (from slightly wet to very muddy) & rocky/rooty terrain.

Tubulars are excellent through off-camber sections due to their ability to mold to the terrain. At the right pressure, the tread & carcass will follow the angle of terrain as much as possible whereas a clincher will stay rigid. They can be run at much lower pressures too (sometimes under 20 psi) which gives increased traction and tracking around corners especially in muddy conditions. They also work extremely well on rocks and roots due to their resistance to pinch flats. They’re not puncture-proof, but you’ll be worrying less about getting a puncture mid race.

Tubular Tyre Recommendations

As for the products, the greatest mud tubular of all is the famed Dugast Rhino, which has become synonymous with Cyclocross in the mud & has won many a World Cup & World Championship over the last 5-6 years.

Challenge also make a rival for this called the Challenge Limus, which is very close to the Dugast and some would argue better, mainly because its a bit more robust.

For dry to intermediate conditions there are 2 options from Dugast, the Typhoon or the brand new Small Bird. Both are very good tyres, but personally, I think the Small Bird pips the Typhoon to the post as it has slightly better versatility for dry courses for those who don’t want to go for file treads.

Challenge make a slightly cheaper rival for these in the Grifo & Fango patterns both very well suited to dry & intermediate conditions.

On the more budget end of the scale, if you can call tubulars that, the Specialized Terra & Tracer tubulars are good for dry to intermediate conditions.

If you opt for a Dugast or Challenge tubular I would highly recommend using Aquasure to protect the sidewalls from mud staining, impact damage and persistent jet washing abuse. Aquasure, by trade, is a wetsuit repair substance but is used in the ‘Cross community as sidewall protection. It is a transparent rubber material that is applied wet and dries onto the sidewall and acts as a protective layer to increase longevity and durability against constant jet washing and mud staining that can eat away at the sidewall and rim glue. The only trade off is that you add a tiny bit of weight (maybe 20g for both tyres) and it takes away a little bit of the suppleness, but in my opinion, its worth it if you want your tubulars to stay looking new and last for more than one season.

What About Tyre Pressures?

One large area to consider after making your tyre decision is how to set up the pressures on the day, which is another area for great discussion, especially in the car park before and after a race. Buying a fancy Dugast is pointless if you’re running it a 40 psi in the mud.

Some riders are very loyal to PSI readings & digital pressure gauges but I personally prefer the trial & error method of going by feel, as each course has a unique set of demands.

Depending on your weight (I’m 78kg) I start at ~30 psi, ride the course once and make note of particularly tricky corners or bumpy sections that are hard to ride. Let air out until you feel the tyres ‘give’ enough to soak up some of the bumps and still maintain ride-ability through the corners.

In wet and muddy conditions tyre pressures take on a near art form level of precision. When letting air out there will be a point where the tyres will start to “bite” rather than slide and this is where you’re trying to get to, but treat the course as a whole rather than focusing on one bad corner. It’s much better to not be able to ride one corner than to have tyres that run too flat for 95% of the course.

Take note that the role of the front and rear tyres are quite different and would need attention individually. The front tyre you want grip and the rear you want traction, so in the mud you would tend to put more body weight onto the rear tyre through corners so that you can maintain forward momentum while pedalling, and keeping the front end ‘light’ so that you don’t wash out.

Also, take into account any sections of tarmac or awkward off cambers & obstacles that may pull the tubulars off or cause pinch flats.

Sometimes your pressures might be so low that the tyres bottom out onto the rim, but as long as the ground is soft, this shouldn’t matter. If someone is able to ride a corner/section you can’t, chances are they have different pressures or they’re just a better bike handler.

Hopefully, that helps you narrow down your Cyclocross tyre choices!

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Featured News

Introducing the Trade In A Banger Scheme

Throughout March and April, we will be accepting any and all of your old bikes! Not only this, we will be giving you up to £500 off of a brand spanking new 2017 bike of your choice. Now before you start scrambling to get the old bike buried at the back of your shed, let me explain a few things for you.

As long as your bike has all its components, it doesn’t matter if gears, brakes or the wheels don’t work, we’ll take it off your hands. Your old bike’s condition does not affect how much money you save. From there you can pick and choose whichever 2017 model bike you’d like! If you’ve had your eye on that new Cube Acid, you know, the one with the blue and orange colour scheme? Now’s your chance to get £75 off!

The amount you save is dependent on which 2017 bike you’re going to buy. Use this handy table as a guide when you trade in your old bike. For instance, if you’re looking to purchase a Specialized Allez, you’ll save £50. Essentially, the more you spend the more you save! As a famous meerkat regularly says on the T.V. “Simples!”

Another important aspect of our Trade in A Banger scheme is that it is limited to stores only. Unfortunately, we cannot accept trade-ins online. Once you’ve popped into store and traded in your bike, you’ll have to say goodbye to it because we’re collecting all the bangers and donating them to Recycles, a Salvation Army social enterprise. Each volunteer has experienced homelessness and is there to help support others turn their lives around. It gives a safe environment for people to develop practical skills and help out running a small business, and we’re really excited to be helping out Recycles.

Throughout our Trade in A Banger campaign, we’ll be championing out with the old and in with the new, highlighting some fantastic savings on 2017 bikes, and celebrating vintage bikes. Keep an eye out for more Trade in A Banger posts on our social media pages.

 

 

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Featured News

Winter Sale Clothing Top Picks

With our Winter Sale in full swing, we thought we’d put together a nice ol’ list of top clothing picks! From jackets to keep yourself warm, to some rather fetching bib tights that’ll not only look good but keep you streamlined and toasty. Use the code CLOTHING to get 20% off of RRP at the checkout (unless it’s already reduced then you don’t have to worry we’ve done the hard work for you).

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Castelli Espresso 4 Mirage Jacket – £244.99 (£179.99 with code)

The Espresso 4 is a ridiculously comfortable jacket that has some top notch features. Using Gore Windstopper X-fast fabric has been utilised to seal off any cold getting in, and not only that it keeps the water out too. The 4-way stretch construction enhances your freedom, so you can ride in your favourite position and not compromise comfort.

altura-sportive-bib-shorts

Altura Sportive Bib Shorts – £43.99

These Altura bib shorts have been engineered to perfection. With body mapped mesh zones for a more breathable short, to the Altura Dry tech that is engineered to wick away excess moisture from the skin, you can’t go wrong. It also comes in a sweet colour scheme.

castelli-scalda-red-glove

Castelli Scalda Red Glove – £54.99 (£43.99 with code)

What else will keep your mitts warm as much as the Castelli Scalda gloves? Water resistant and windproof to boot, the leather allows you to keep hold of your bars whilst you’re smashing the trails.

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Altura Sportive Team Long Sleeve Jersey in Red – £44.99 (£39.99 with code)

Not only does it look smart, its thermosuede fabric offers probably one of the best thermoregulation in a piece of kit we’ve seen. Not only do you have three pockets on the back, you also have a zipped pocket to keep all your sweets safe. Comfortable and practical (with strategically located reflective trims).

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Gore Power 30 Thermo Bibtight – £119.99 (£95.99 with code)

These bib tights are designed with thermo mesh in the back to keep you comfortable and cosy whilst riding. The seat insert is for that extra padding for the longer rides. Reflective trim and logo on the back will make sure you’ll be seen during the winter months.

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Featured Hot Products News

Winter Sale Top Bike Picks

Our Winter sale is here with a stonking offer of 30% off of 2016 bikes. We have compiled a list of our favourite 2016 bikes that are too good to miss! So treat yourself and start the new year with a new whip. Use the code BIKE30 and get 30% off at checkout.

cube-acid-blogCube Acid – 2016 Mountain Bike – £599 (£559.30 with code)

An exceptionally great entry-mid level mountain bike at an absolute banger of a price. The hardtail frame eats up the trails like nobody’s business. With internally routed cables that give the frame a lovely sleek look, and a frame specifically designed for disc brakes, the Cube Acid is the perfect stead for all your mountain biking purposes.

scott-scale-920-blog

Scott Scale 920 – 2016 Mountain Bike – £1899 (£1678.60 with code)

A carbon frame, a beast of a fork system and an eye-catching colour scheme, the Scott Scale 920 is a powerhouse of a mountain bike. You don’t need to worry about slipping and sliding all over the show, the Scale 920 will keep you grounded in the right places. An excellent cross country bike.

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GT Transeo 1 – 2016 Hybrid Bike – £499.99 (£489.99 with code)

The Transeo 1 has Shimano gearing and is ideal for leisurely rides in the afternoon, or to kickstart burning that Christmas dinner off. This bike is perfect to commute to work or exploring the city, a tidy little bike that is great for getting around.

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Ridley X- Bow 20 Disc – 2016 Road Bike – £649.99

Designed for the best performance and comfort, the X-Bow is a bike that transcends genre. A cyclocross racer, an everyday commuter, a long weekender or a stylish lightweight touring bike. Whatever you put this bike through, you will be surprised with its reliable performance and elegant style.

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Cube Attain GTC – 2016 Road Bike – £925 (£909.30 with code)

The Attain GTC isn’t just extremely light and comfortable, it’s also fast and efficient. An engineered masterpiece of racing tech, designed with vertical compliance in mind so that bumps and shocks from the road surface are minimal to the rider. A smooth ride for a smooth rider.