SRAM launched the latest in their Mountain Bike component series yesterday, the GX Eagle AXS wireless upgrade kit. SRAM’s high-end AXS technology has trickled down to their mid-range groupset, meaning flawless wireless shifting for the masses at an affordable price point. Retailing at £554.00 for the upgrade kit which includes everything you need to make your existing Eagle drivetrain wireless. Backwards compatible with both their original and expanded range Eagle Cassettes, making it a no-brainer for anyone looking to upgrade or replace tired components.
Featuring SRAM’s proven AXS wireless technology and renowned, rugged durability of the GX range while mirroring the performance of their XX1 and X01 Eagle AXS derailleurs, the GX Eagle AXS rear mech doesn’t disappoint. Paired with the GX Eagle AXS Controller which has incredible levels of customisation this is a winning combo that makes for effortless shifting. Not only is there the option to assign different touchpoints using the SRAM AXS app but you can also swap out the paddle shapes should you feel the need. With SRAM’s AXS technology at the heart of this setup it also leaves the option open to pair a RockShox Reverb AXS dropper post with the system.
Using ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity, the AXS system allows you to pair with a multitude of devices such as a Garmin or smartphone. Fire up the SRAM AXS app and you can fine-tune the setup to your heart’s content, you can also check the battery life of your components via the app, not that it’s something you need to worry about with around 20 hours of run time thanks to the AXS Battery. If you do drain the juice you won’t need to wait long before you can hit the trails again however with a charge time of around an hour. The shifter uses a button cell battery which has a run time of 2 years, allowing for a fit-and-forget approach.
Another amazing feature of the new GX AXS derailleur is the double-clutch mechanism system. The Overload Clutch protects your investment in the event of an impact, the mech senses this and disengages the motor gearbox. This allows the derailleur to move out of harm’s way, before instantly returning to its position allowing you to get back on the gas! The second roller bearing clutch keeps the chain under tension preventing chainslap.
If you have a mechanical SRAM Eagle drivetrain and the components are in need of a freshen up or you’re just eager to see what all the fuss is about with wireless shifting then the SRAM GX Eagle AXS upgrade kit is right up your street! Available in-store or online, giving you the option of having our team of qualified technicians fit that for you or go down the DIY, home mechanic approach.
Living in the UK our bikes need to be versatile, after all the weather in the UK can be grim at the best of times. Let’s face it we get about 3 months of sun every year, the rest of the time we spend battling the elements.
When it comes to cycling, especially road riding the best way to combat the inclement weather, protecting yourself and your bike from the relentless road spray is often to fit a set of mudguards. Wider tyres tend to favourable with those who like to ride right through the very worst of the weather. While modern endurance-orientated road bikes do tend to allow for this, sportier bikes certainly don’t. That’s where a winter bike comes into its own and we’ve found that Gravel Bikes make a perfect year-round bike here in the UK for training and generally enjoying the great outdoors. Hear me out…
Tyre Clearance One of the key features of a gravel bike is the clearance for large volume tyres, typically 40mm and above in width on a 700c wheel. While this is ideal for gravel riding when it comes to pounding miles on the road you might want something a little narrower. The beauty is though while you may not need the tyre clearance it allows you to fit full mudguards in place and still a nice wide tyre.
Disc Brakes Disc brakes offer far more consistent braking regardless of conditions, that paired without having to worry about wearing rims out lend towards all season riding. Come rain or shine you’re not likely to notice a dip in braking performance. Hydraulic discs offer superb modulation which can be crucial on slippy lanes and you don’t have to worry about them clogging up with mud.
Mounts One thing that gravel bikes tend to feature is mounting points. This opens up a range of possibilities for attaching all manner of accessories from mudguards to extra bottle cages or even pannier racks. It’s always handy to carry a few spares, there’s no harm in being over-prepared.
Geometry While gravel bikes may look to the eye to essentially be a road bike with bigger tyres, they typically have a more relaxed riding position. A slightly slacker front ends helps to aid stability which can prove hugely beneficial in ferocious winter crosswinds. This can also help with reducing the change of toe overlap when you’ve fitted mudguards! With a shorter reach than your typical road race bike, gravel bikes are more akin to endurance bikes, so you can ride all day in comfort.
So if you’re considering a gravel bike but aren’t quite convinced yet, we certainly think they’re worth their while. Even if you won’t be riding miles of unpaved tracks, they’re equally at home on the road with a few minor adjustments and might just make the ideal winter training bike. That being said, they’re certainly no replacement for an out and out road bike but do provide a huge level of versatility.
For 20 years Specialized Epic’s have been putting racers on top of podiums. One of the most successful Cross Country Mountain Bikes available, with renowned athletes piloting the bike around World Cup circuits. Utilising the experience gained by racing at the very top tier, Specialized make race-ready bikes available to buy off the shelf. The Epic Hardtail Comp is a perfect example of this.
What’s new? The lightest production hardtail on earth is also the most capable and comfortable racing machine they have ever created. Specialized have used their featherweight FACT 11m carbon to create a dropper-post friendly frame which is only 140 grams heavier than the elite level, S-Works equivalent. The handling is more confident thanks to a slackened head angle, reduced fork offset and increased reach. Paired with Rockshox‘s Reba RL fork to soak up the bumps with a steady hand.
The full Shimano SLX M7100 series groupset ensures the Epic Hardtail Comp strikes a perfect balance between performance and reliability, all at an accessible price point.
Epic good looks Dressed in the iconic Specialized Flo Red that has adorned Specialized bikes for so many years, the Epic Hardtail Comp comes to life in the sun thanks to a special ghost pearl addition to the paintwork. This thing really needs to be seen to be appreciated properly.
Epic in name, epic in nature The Specialized Epic Hardtail Comp is a thoroughbred race bike, every turn of the pedals catapults you forward at a rate more akin to a gravel bike, this thing is seriously quick! Thanks to the pedalling efficiency of a hardtail, the Epic really feels like it’s going to take off when you get on the gas, even in the heaviest of slop, synonyms with the classic British Winter we’ve grown so accustomed to. Nimble over roots, the Specialized Fast Track CONTROL tyres provide ample grip when required while carrying the necessary speed to rip uphill and on the flats. You’ll spend most of your time in the saddle dropping a cog and finding ways to go faster.
The Specialized Epic Hardtail Comp is a carbon XC mountain bike that makes you want to ride all the time. It’s a straight forward no-nonsense bike that’s going to prove to a reliable and hassle-free partner for miles to come, owing to the carefully selected equipment that it’s specced with. We’re a huge fan of the Specialized Epic here at Hargroves Cycles and we’re certain you will be too.
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.
With Christmas a matter of weeks away are you still struggling with what to get your cycling mad friend, relative or partner? Or have you been landed with a secret Santa for a colleague who loves nothing more than being on two wheels? Don’t panic, we’re here to help.
We’ve put together a list below of gifts ranging from perfect stocking fillers for under a tenner right up to the ‘money is no object’ dream bikes. As cyclists, we have selected some products we would love to see under our Christmas Trees. These gifts are suitable for the majority of cyclists whether it be Mountain Biking, Road Cycling, Gravel Riding or anything in between.
As a cyclist, you can never have too many drinks bottles or ‘bidons’ as we call them. With the Elite Fly Water Bottle, the cyclist in your life can Sip like a pro from the lightest bidon ever made! With a 550ml capacity and sitting well under the £10 bracket, it’s the perfect stocking filler.
This time of year the roads and trails are filthy and as cyclists we like to keep our bikes looking their best! This Muc-Off Clean, Protect & Lube Kit comes with the three steps needed to keep any bike in tip-top shape without posing a threat to the environment. With state-of-the-art formulas that are fully biodegradable their bikes will be gleaming all year round. At under £20 we think this is a gift any cyclist would be happy to unwrap.
Unfortunately, things can go wrong when you’re out cycling and although it’s impossible to carry your whole toolbox with you it’s certainly handy to have some essentials. That’s why the Park Tool MT-30 Mini Fold-up Multi-Tool is the perfect take-along tool for on the go repairs. It has some essentials such as Allen key and Torx drivers and packs away neatly to fit in any bag or pocket. Weighing in at just 153 grams and well under the £50 mark, this lightweight tool packs a mighty punch as a present. We certainly never leave home without ours!
This time of year, the days are short and even during daylight hours visibility can be at a premium. It’s certainly worth being safe and being seen. This premium and lightweight Exposure light set will certainly do the trick. Featuring USB charging, a choice of 6 burn times, DayBright pulse pattern and side illumination for 360 ̊ visibility this light set is packed with technology that’ll light up their face when they open this gift. At well under the £100 price point we think this makes the perfect gift for any keep cyclist.
Us cyclists love our data, constantly sharing and comparing our rides through various platforms. The Wahoo ELEMNT Roam is the most advanced computer yet, building upon on the success of the original ELEMNT. Compatible with all the popular cycling apps such as Training Peaks, Strava, Best Bike Split, Today’s Plan and all Wahoo Smart Trainers and most smartphones making it the perfect stand-alone bike computer and gift for any keen cyclist. This really is the gift that keeps on giving with turn-by-turn route guidance, crystal-clear 2.7” LED backlit display, huge battery life and wireless connection they can keep you updated with every kilometre they ride! It comes with everything they need to get out and ROAM and comes well within the £500 budget.
The ultimate cycling gift
While there’s nothing better than getting outside and riding your bike that’s not always possible. There’s plenty that can go against you whether it be the elements, time or even dreaded injuries. That’s why Turbo Trainers are an essential piece of kit for any serious cyclist.
Our favourite is the Wahoo KICKR, providing the ultimate indoor experience. Compatible with most gravel, mountain or road bikes and with state-of-the-art wireless technology getting connected couldn’t be smoother. If heading outside isn’t an option they’ll certainly be glad to have this high-tech training partner at their disposal. It’s particularly good at pairing with Zwift which means the recipient of this incredible gift can meet their riding buddies in cyber space and keep up the social aspect of their rides from the comfort of their own home.
The Wahoo KICKR will certainly take up a bit of space under the tree and we don’t know any dedicated cyclist who wouldn’t be over the moon with this incredible present which is we think this makes the ultimate cycling gift.
The money no object cycling gift
We can all dream and this year top of our Christmas list is the Specialized Aethos Expert Carbon Road Bike. A bike that Specialized used every ounce of experience they`ve gained over the past 46 years and built a bike made simply for the love of riding. What could be better than a bike that is designed to straddle the line between perfect ride quality, extreme lightweight, and undeniable style. With quick-shifting, low-maintenance Ultegra Di2 electronic shifting and hydraulic disc brakes paired with DT Swiss R470 Disc wheels if money really is no object then the Aethos is the perfect gift for the cyclist in your life this Christmas. Imagine the joy on their face when they open this up on the big day, the only problem you’re going to have is figuring out just how to wrap it.
The gift for the cyclist that has everything
We all know that person that is impossible to buy for. The person that has everything, but do they have an electric scooter? This years must have gift for kids and adults alike. Electric Scooters are the gift that makes getting from A to B quick, affordable, fun and easy. Any of our range of E-Scooters are guaranteed to make the recipient smile and provide unlimited hours of fun.
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.