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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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?
Going tubeless is a great way to find extra grip and confidence on the trail, with the added bonuses of weight savings and will seal most punctures! Any bike can be converted to tubeless, some conversions may be more involved than others so please check before you start. A lot of bikes now only require the purchased of a set of valves and the sealant itself, with Stan’s being the go to brand. You can browse these here.
Protect Your Eyes
The trail can be a dangerous place for your eyes! You only have one pair of eyes so it’s worth investing in their protection especially with stones, dirt flicking up and branches to dodge and avoid. Basis clear wrap around style glasses can be had for under £20, or the latest tech and styles from Oakley.
Drop It Low
Getting a dropper post could be one of the best things you do! No more saddle in your way on the downhills or endless stopping to put the saddle to the right height for the next bit of trail. Some say they don’t see the point, but once you’ve tried one you won’t be without it! We have access to a wide range of dropper posts to fit your bike and needs.
Setting Your Suspension
Spending a bit of time becoming familiar with your bike’s suspension adjustments and fine tuning your set up will reap the rewards on the trail. While our instore experts can get you up and running with the correct air pressures and fundamentals of how your suspension works, there is no substitute for some real world testing! Our top tip is to find a bit of your favourite trail that has a mix of everything in it i.e. with smooth, flowy and rough, rocky sections and ride it back to back in different settings/adjustments. This is the best way to find out how much is too much or too little rebound, or if you need an extra token in your Pike’s! All of this still gibberish to you? Get in touch with us and we can help find the perfect set up for you.
Check Your Brakes
Are your pads wearing out really quick? Find you don’t have enough bite? Then a simple, but an often overlooked area to upgrade is the brake pads! Swap out your pads for a sintered version that is harder wearing and cope with heat better. If this still isn’t enough then consider going up a disc rotor size. We’ve got a huge range of brake pads that are just waiting to get fitted onto your bike!
Keep It Clean
The best way to keep your pride and joy running smoothly is to keep it clean and lubed. After every ride, make sure you treat your bike to a little TLC with our Muc Off products.
Feed me up!
Nothing worse than the running on empty feeling as you hit that last big steep climb! Make sure you fuel yourself accordingly for the ride ahead. There is no substitute for a good square meal an hour or so before riding, but it is important to take them energy boosting gels or bars with you on the ride. Planning an all-day adventure? Prepare to take energy drinks, bars and gels with you. See our selection here. Caffeine added gels are great for when your flagging on a longer ride.
Following on from our Road Bike guide, we’re going to be looking at probably the most important part of the bike, the wheels! Mountain bikes have a variety of sizes, and it can be quite a minefield to navigate for a beginner. You could be gearing up to tackle those woodland trails, yet haven’t even thought of the correct wheel size! There are so many decisions to make from the standard 27.5-inch wheels to the more extreme Fatbike wheels. Do you want a smooth ride or one that can accelerate and keep its speed whilst going downhill? Well look no further we’re here to help you find the right size and fit for your mountain bike.
26 Inch Wheels
One of the smaller wheels you can fit on a mountain bike, these used to be standard among the mountain scene before the larger 29inch became popular. These wheels are the lightest, offering great acceleration along the single track trails. At high speeds, the 26 inch doesn’t sacrifice on the control in taking a corner. You can rip through the woods, dodging and diving between trees and really cut those seconds of your time. Though they are still knocking about, the 26-inch wheel has been replaced more often than not by the 27.5 inch.
Our pick: The Mavic Crossride Wheelset – our only wheelset that still provides for the 26-inch wheels. Now with a wider and lighter rim, that really generates speed downhill.
27.5 Inch Wheels (650b)
The 27.5 inch, is the product of marrying the 26 inch and the 29er. It’s a great combination of both, offering lighter weight than the 29er, and handles like a 26 inch. It’s the perfect wheel for your mountain bike, so much so that it has now pretty much replaced the 26 inch as the standard for MTB. Don’t get confused by the 650b, that is a common name for the 27.5 inch with the 650 being the diameter of the wheel itself, and the letter b – the width (the name originates from the French way of sizing wheels).
Our pick: The Mavic XA Elite Wheelset – Strong, light and it doesn’t compromise on strength. Tubeless ready for better traction, comfort and reduced risk of those pesky flats.
29 Inch Wheels
The biggest size wheel we have, the 29er is the wheel size that stole the throne from the 26 inch. Giving a larger surface area, allowing for improved traction whilst on those trails. The 29er is one of the best wheels for giving a smooth ride, rolling over the bumpy ground like it was a rolling pin. The 29ers carry their speed well and giving you such good stability you may not have found in other bikes or wheel sizes.
Our pick: The Mavic Crossmax Elite Wheelset – A perfect mid-range wheelset, that has all the benefits of a strong, light wheel. This is perfect for upgrading your bike from your stock 29″ wheels.
27.5/29 Inch Plus
These are quite new on the scene, fitting mostly on 26-inch wheels (with quite wide rims). These tyres offer a completely different riding experience, without really compromising on performance. With the Boost standard (this refers to the front hubs, which are 10mm wider than standard and the rear hubs are 6mm wider), this allows for stiffer wheels which equal increased handling and with the plus tyres, you don’t lose out on the grip. The plus tyres’ cushioning is top notch, giving you a smoother ride.
Now if you want massive tyres, that relentlessly tackle any terrain thrown at it then you should consider a fat bike. These bikes were originally invented and used for crawling over snowy forests and sandy dunes. Yet they have found their way to normal trails, and offer such a different experience from other mountain bikes. The bigger tyres and the low pressure within them, are all the suspension you need, but that doesn’t stop the bikes themselves having front fork suspension. Fatbike tyres look like they’d be heavy and hard to roll, when really the low psi (some people go as low as 15 or 12 psi, whereas most MTB riders using 650bs are running on 25 psi) feels like you’re riding on a balloon. Probably the only downside is they are much heavier than your standard mountain bike, but then again it always comes down to the rider’s preference.