Categories
Components Maintenance News Parts And Accessories

How to index your bike’s gears

No cyclist should have to put up with gears that are slow to shift up and down their cassette. We all know how to change gears, but how many of us know how to maintain them? Today’s post is going to help you bid adieu to your clicking and ticking gears. Indexing gears may seem tricky and the job for a bike shop, however, after this guide you’ll be mastering the mech like a pro.

Know Your Limits

Before we begin its important to check the limit screws – you’ll find these at the rear of the mech, two small screws, often marked with ‘L’ and ‘H’.

The limit screws determine the full range of movement of the derailleur. They stop the chain from falling off the inside of your cassette, and potentially into your spokes (no one wants that) or to stop the chain falling off the outside of the cassette, towards your frame.

To check your limit screws you have to:

  1. Shift the gears so that you are in the smallest sprocket in the rear derailleur.
  2. By hand, push the mech all the way up toward the wheel until it reaches its full range of motion. Don’t push beyond this point or you can and will damage it. Make sure that the mech is directly beneath the biggest sprocket.
  3. Slowly release the mech and check that it lines up perfectly with the smallest sprocket of the cassette.
  4. If the mech isn’t lining up perfectly with either the biggest or smallest sprockets, you need to adjust your limit screws. Depending on the make and age of your mech, this is typically carried out with either a crosshead or Phillips head screwdriver. We have plenty of multi-tools that includes both of these.
  5. You now need to adjust the limit screws so that the mech lines up perfectly at either end of the cassette.
  6. Adjust the ‘H’ screw to adjust the mech when the bike is shifted down to the smallest sprocket. Tune this up until the chain is perfectly in line with the small sprocket.
  7. Turn the ‘L’ screw to adjust the mech when the bike is shifted up to the biggest sprocket. Tune this up until the chain is perfectly in line with the large sprocket.
  8. Hey presto, the limit screws are now correctly set.

Tune it up

Now that you have your limit screws where you want them, its time to tune the indexing of your bike’s rear mech. To do this we must now use the small barrel adjuster, it’s usually located near the shifter or on the derailleur. Road bikes often have an inline barrel adjuster on the cable. It increases or decreases the tension on the cable, which in turn alters how the mech moves up and down the cassette.

  1. Change your gears so that the chain is running on the small chainring at the front and the smallest sprocket of the cassette.
  2. Shift up the cassette (towards the biggest sprocket) and observe how well the chain is moving up and down. You may notice that it takes some time for the chain to get into the next sprocket, or doesn’t shift at all. If your gears are shifting ‘slow’ you will need to turn the barrel adjuster counterclockwise (as you look on it from the back of the bike) until the shift is smooth. Rotating the adjuster counterclockwise effectively moves the entire mech toward the wheel.
  3. From there work your way up the cassette while still in the small ring, making small adjustments with the barrel adjuster as you go until the shifts are all perfect. Turn the adjuster clockwise if you need to move the mech away from the wheel.
  4. When you’re happy that you’ve achieved smooth, fast shifting through the gears when you’re in the small chainring, go through steps 2 to 3 while on the big chainring at the front.
  5. When you’ve completed all the steps you should find your gears running as smooth as they did when the bike was new.

Categories
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.

How to Fit a Triathlon or Time Trial Bike Part 2: The Pelvis ...

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.

Categories
Maintenance News

Bike Cleaning 101

If you’re anything like me you may be going slightly crazy at being confined to the four walls of your house for long periods of time. Our houses, as pleasant as they may be, seem to get smaller and smaller as the days go by. ‘Hmm, I swear this room was bigger’ you may ponder to yourself as you walk through the door to your living room for the 98th time of the day. We’re naturally outdoorsy people and the once-a-day rule, appreciated as it is, is difficult. During this difficult and mundane situation, we thought to keep everyone sane and learn to love our bikes inside and out that little bit more (but is that even possible?) by posting weekly maintenance tips and general bike TLC.

We’re going to start with the basics, everyone thinks they know how to wash a bike. A cloth, some warm water and a bike cleaning kit you bought from Aldi for £4.99. Yet, there are many dirty bikes out there…go figure. So, let’s go through a step-by-step guide detailing exactly what you should be doing and what products you can use to get your bike sparkling clean for that daily outing.

What you’ll need:

  • Bucket and sponge or hose
  • Degreaser
  • Bike wash fluid (preferably biodegradable)
  • Brushes
  • Paper cloth
  • Chainlube
  • Chain cleaning device

How to clean your bike: step by step guide

1. Rinse the frame down

Might sound obvious but start by giving the frame a basic wipe with a sponge and a bucket of water – as tempting as it is, don’t blast it with a pressure washer as this will force water into the bearings.

Spray the bike with a bike cleaning product like Muc-Off cycle cleaner and leave it on for a couple of minutes to break down the grease and dirt.

Then, with more clean water, use a soft-bristled brush (dustbin brush will do) to give the bike a thorough scrub.

Don’t ever be tempted to substitute the bike cleaning product and soft brush with washing up liquid and a kitchen sponge – this can result in a scratched or even colour faded frame.

2. Clean the rims and brake pads

Give the rims on your wheels a good wash and wipe, and (if you’re using rim, not disc, brakes) wipe the pads to make sure there’s no crud on there that could erode the braking surface (whatever you do, DO NOT USE WD40 on any braking surface)

3. Use a degreaser on the derailleurs and chainset

Next, spray the derailleurs and chain set with a degreasing agent (and give them a good (but gentle) scrub. It may be easier to take the chain off the chainring to do this.

4. Use the degreaser on the cassette and chain

Spray more degreaser over the chain and cassette – and give them a scrub. Using a gear brush really helps you to get into the cassette cogs.

If the chain still looks mucky, use a chain cleaner, simply fill the unit with a degreaser, snap it on and rotate the pedal backwards to feed the chain through. Dispose of the degreaser safely when you’re done.

5. Rinse the frame, dry and lube the chain

Rinse the soap off the bike, dry the chain with an old towel or rag and apply chain lube to the chain and the pivot points on the derailleurs. Finally, use a leather chamois to soak up any excess water then buff your bike with a paper towel or soft cloth. This will also help prevent mud from sticking when next out riding.

And voila, you’re bike now looks as good as new and runs that little bit smoother. Remember – if you look after your bike, your bike will look after you.

Come back next week for another great bike maintenance post by the Hargroves Team.

Now, put theory into practice and get out there to give your bike that well-needed clean.

Categories
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

Categories
Indoor Training News Training

The Rise of the Great Indoors

Spain – No cycling! Italy – No cycling! France – No cycling!

Words we never thought to see together in our wildest dreams. The Coronavirus Pandemic has forced governments to take drastic measures in order to reduce the spread of the disease. While the decision may be contentious for some, it hasn’t been made lightly. Us Brits are adamant that these strict regulations won’t reach our waters, however, I believe it would be naive to think that our Government won’t follow suit and introduce similar measures to what our European friends are experiencing. While they may differ slightly and be more lenient, it wouldn’t be surprising to hear that outdoor activities become limited and potentially banned temporarily. France, for example, is allowing it’s citizens to exercise outside, alone, within a 50-metre radius of their homes. Now, I don’t know about you, but cycling 50m up and down the road doesn’t scream ‘a great ride’ to me.

If the United Kingdom does adopt these measures it would be wise and responsible to adhere to them and not flaunt the rules. ‘But…but how would we cycle?’ you may ask. Spring has only just begun and the weather is starting to look delightful. The urge to jump on your bike and go riding is almost too much to bear. There is, however, a solution. It’s been around for years and its technology has improved a tenfold in the past year or so. Turbo Trainers.

While the indoor cycle ride may not quite replicate the great outdoors with the sun in your face and the wind in your hair, it does keep you from going crazy, not to mention maintain your fitness throughout these troubled times. So let’s look at a few options and what you get out of them:

Tacx Flux S Smart Turbo Trainer

The Flux S Direct Drive Smart Trainer is packed with the latest in modern indoor training innovations to keep your edge during self-isolation. Bluetooth and ANT+(FE-C) connectivity is built into the unit and will sync to your smartphone or tablet, letting you relay your RPMs, BPMs and cadence to your device for immediate analysis. Using third-party apps such as the Tacx Desktop app and Zwift, you can also fully immerse yourself in VR rides, adding as realistic a feel to every run as possible. Alternatively, you can ride in stand-alone mode and burn through your own workout, without virtual assistance. Performance-wise, the Flux S features a redesigned internal setup which has improved the accuracy of its power measurements to within 3%, a 7kg flywheel that provides true-feeling inertia and an almost silent motion and a direct drive, easy-access mounting setup that is compatible with bikes with long cage derailleurs. Powerful, intelligent and precise indoor workouts are assured with this terrific Tacx trainer.

Wahoo Kickr Core Smart Trainer

The Wahoo Kickr Core incorporates Kickr Power in a simple but stable design. The Kickr Core is the latest development in Wahoo’s line up of smart trainer’s. It delivers accurate and realistic indoor training in near silence. This is achieved through the proven flywheel technology and advanced algorithms which Wahoo have used so successfully in their other smart trainers. The Kickr Core is built with the durability to withstand all your indoor training sessions and no other brand of smart trainers has greater software training options or apps that are compatible, including Zwift, Trainer Road and Sufferfest. 
As a bonus when you register your Wahoo Kickr Core in the Wahoo Fitness App, you will receive these awesome offers.

Saris H3 Smart Trainer

This H3 Direct Drive trainer is a modern marvel in the world of turbo trainers. This super-quiet model puts out only 59 decibels of sound at 20mph, which is less noise than is created by a dishwasher. Plus, it features an internal cooling system to keep its electronic resistance working at full power with the utmost accuracy and continues to function until your training session is over, or until your legs have given up. Constructed from a high-quality cast and machined aluminium with its inner workings being calibrated with the utmost precision to accurately measure power, speed and cadence. And, it’s immensely balanced flywheel enables this trainer to handle 2000 watts of power and can replicate a 20% climbing gradient.

We cycle for enjoyment and passion, recreating that in your home is always going to be difficult and takes a certain mindset, however, with the wide variety of options now available it’s easier than ever to get the most out of it. Whether you opt for a smart trainer, like the ones described above, or settle for a cheap and cheerful alternative that keeps your legs spinning, it’s important to keep your spirits high.

News that Zwift rival RGT Cycling is now free to all!

We previously put together a blog post highlighting the benefits of Zwift and how it works which you can read here.

View Hargroves Cycles full range of Turbo Trainers here: https://www.hargrovescycles.co.uk/turbo-trainers or pop into the shop and speak to our expert staff if you want any advice.

Categories
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