Family Bike Maintenance for Spring

Do you need to do some family bikes maintenance after a Winter stored in the shed? Are the kids itching to get out on their bikes but you really need to check the brakes and raise the saddle? Never fear, we are here with a definitive guide to sorting out the family bikes ready for the better weather.

Family Bike Maintenance for the Spring

Just keeping the family bikes in great condition is really simple and there are just a few things you need to check to ensure the bikes are safe and road worthy.

Muc off1. Hose Down and Clean Up

If you have managed to get out on your bikes with the kids over the Winter, it’s likely that the bikes are now covered in mud and dirt. That’s to be expected, and the sign of a good outing! You do need to clean this all off though, to ensure the bike stays in tip-top condition. We have a good selection of bike cleaning kits available in the shop.

If you’re really serious about cleaning up your bike, and you have done some pretty serious cycling over the Winter, this video has some great tips.

2. Check for Size

What do we mean here? Well get the children to hop on their bikes and check how much they’ve grown. You’ll be surprised how much the saddle and handlebars need adjusting! When kids are learning to ride, it’s important for them to be able to put their feet flat on the ground to aid balance, but as they get more proficient you can raise the saddle so they just have their tip toes on the floor. If you want more precision, take a look at this saddle height calculator for more information.

3. Puncture Repairs

bicycle-tires-236931_640It’s likely that when you haul the bikes out of the shed, at least one of them will have a puncture. If you’re lucky and they don’t, you still need to check the tyres and pump them up correctly. Invest in a few puncture repair accessories so you always have the correct parts to hand, and for a step by step guide check out this great guide from Rutland cycling. Be careful not to over-inflate the tyres, as this can make the ride uncomfortable and dangerous, in fact. Identify the correct tyre pressure, which is usually written on the side of the tyre or from the manufacturer’s handbook, then removed the dust caps from the valve and attach the pump. Start pumping, and remember to test the tyre pressure once you’ve finished to ensure the correct levels. Then replace the dust caps and make them finger tight.

4. Brakes

Check the brakes pads are properly aligned, and are hitting the bike rim evenly. Inspect the brake pads and ensure there’s nothing embedded in them. Use a knife or sharp object to remove any dust and so prevent the pads becoming unduly worn, or the grit scratching the rims.

5. Oil the Chain

Finally, take a good look at the chain and apply the appropriate lubricant. Use a lightweight oil specially designed for bikes but if you’re not sure, drop us a line and we can help.

So now the bikes are all ready for the Spring! We hope you have a great time out on the bikes with your family.

Do you have any other family bike maintenance tips?

The Pros and Cons of British Summertime

pros and cons of daylight savingIt’s a well-known fact that more accidents occur on our roads, many of them involving cyclists, during the Winter. Once the clocks change, as they have recently and our evenings are darker earlier, the danger to cyclists on the roads increases. Of course it’s not just cyclists that are affected, the elderly, children and motorcyclists are all at greater risk from the darker evenings.

You may be aware of a proposal to alter what we know as ‘British Summertime’. The SDST or Single/Double British Summertime proposition would mean adopting GMT+1 in the Winter months with GMT+2 in the Summer. The clocks would be 1 hour further forward than they are now in the Winter, and 2 hours further forward in the Summer. The result would be fewer accidents on the roads (effectively our Winter daylight hours would be the same as our current Summer) because of lighter evenings all year round. However, it’s not just the roads that would benefit, it’s thought that significant benefits would be felt economically, environmentally and to general health too. The change would also align us with Central European Time Zone so aiding business transactions and business travel.

The Pros to SDST:

The biggest advocate of altering the time in this way is ROSPA or the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. They have very compelling evidence that this change would result in fewer accidents, particularly in the evenings when there is currently a road accident peak. Many factors affect this increase, including the fact that motorists are more tired and less focused after a tiring day at work. Of course, the flip side is that SDST would mean darker mornings and so slight rise in accidents, but they predict an overall drop.

Other benefits include the ability to trade with Europe at the same time of the day, a reduction in Co2 due to less car pollution, an extended Tourism season, and an increase in outdoor leisure activities across the whole year. Gardeners would benefit too with the UK experiencing an average 55 extra minutes of daylight every day.

We are sure there are lots of cyclists out there who would welcome the change, particularly if it makes the roads a safer place. But what is the downside to SDST? Surely if it was all good we would have seen it implemented by now?

The Cons to SDST:

The biggest downside to changing the clocks in this way is having to deal with much darker mornings. An experiment back in the very early 1970’s saw the clocks altered in this way yet it didn’t last long and was cancelled after just 3 years. Farmers for example are greatly affected, with much of their work being done in the early mornings. If milking finishes at 7am when it’s just starting to get light, SDST would mean a whole morning working in the dark, with the potential for more accidents. And what about Scotland and northern parts of England. One of the main reasons the 1968/71 experiment was called to a halt was because of an increase in child-related accidents in the mornings. ROSPA does say, however that the report at the time failed to mention a decrease in child-related accidents in the afternoons.

So what happens next? Well SDST as a proposal has been around for some time but it has yet to make it to the Commons for debate. In 2012 the Daylight Savings Bill failed to make its passage through Parliament and no further action was taken.

For Cyclists, many we’re sure would welcome the change, but there are negative consequences to several communities and so it’s unlikely we’ll see it happen anytime soon.

What do you think? Would you welcome a change to Daylight Saving hours?

Don’t forget to wear your high visibility clothing to help you be seen in the dark. Lots of options in our online store!

Image: Outsider

Cycling when Pregnant: Yes or No

We all know it’s really important to stay fit and healthy during pregnancy for many, many reasons. But some women believe that exercising during pregnancy can be dangerous and harmful to the baby, and so prefer to sit it out on the couch, eating for two and piling on the pounds. Now we’re not saying that every pregnant woman should jump up and do a 10 mile cycle ride everyday, indeed the decision to exercise or cycle when pregnant is a very personal one and you should be give careful consideration to your own situation.

cycling when pregnantSource

So why Exercise when Pregnant?

Well Claire Mockridge, a pregnancy fitness expert says:

“The benefits of exercising during pregnancy are numerous.  It helps you combat excessive weight gain, keeps you fit, keeps back/pelvic pain at bay, helps you sleep you better, prepares your body for labour/motherhood, decreases the symptoms of morning sickness/nausea, and at the end of the day, it sets a great example for your unborn baby too.”

And the NHS advises, “Keep up your normal daily physical activity or exercise (sport, running, yoga, dancing, or even walking to the shops and back) for as long as you feel comfortable. Exercise is not dangerous for your baby – there is some evidence that active women are less likely to experience problems in later pregnancy and labour.”

Ok, so who wouldn’t want to give their baby the best start in life? Of course we all would and if you’re already cycling and want to continue throughout your pregnancy it can be done, just listen to your body, take advice from your health professionals and do what feels natural and right for you.

Top Tips for Cycling when Pregnant

The Total Women’s Cycling website has some great ideas and tips for cycling when pregnant and is well worth a read. Tips like, you’ll often feel more energetic in the morning during the first trimester, even though you’ll be very tired during this period. And also as your bump grows you’ll need to raise your handlebars to accommodate your changing shape.

An article on the CTC National Cycling Charity website talks about how cycling to work relieved one person’s morning sickness, stopped her ankles swelling and relieved back pain. It’s worth noting though that neither the NCT nor the NHS recommend cycling when pregnant because of the risk of falling, so do talk to your midwife or GP before continuing to ride once you find out you are pregnant.

The best tip anyone can give a pregnant cyclist is of course, if you don’t feel right cycling and your body is telling you it’s not happy, then stop. The most important thing is that you enjoy cycling, whether you’re pregnant or not and if that isn’t happening it’s not worth continuing. Put your cycle away until the time is right again another time. Do your research and find out how others got on, what the risks are and how you and your baby can benefit. Weigh up all the information and decide if cycling when pregnant is the right thing for you.

Bikeability: The New Cycling Proficiency Test

bikeabilityIt is incredibly important that your children learn to ride their bikes safely. In the old days when we were children it was all about the cycling proficiency test, but now there’s a new scheme called Bikeability – Cycling Proficiency for the 21st Century. Designed for both adults and children, it’s a fun scheme that aims to give you the confidence to deal with modern road conditions.

The Bikeability Scheme:

In order to give the next generation the skills and confidence to tackle riding their bike safely on the roads, the scheme is split into 3 levels. Level 1, often offered to Year 5 children or those just turned 10 years, involves learning to control and master a bike effectively usually in a safe place away from cars and traffic like a school playground. Once completed children are awarded a red badge and should be able to do things like handle their bike with one hand, put on their own helmet and ride their bike using the gears.

Level 2 takes place out on the local streets, usually in groups of 3-12 and gives you the skills and confidence to tackle short cycling journeys like riding to school or to the shops. Children will also gain a better understanding of the highway code at this stage, particularly around road signs. Once completed, children are awarded an orange badge and will be able to do a U-turn, react to hazards in the road and decide if a cycle lane will help their journey. Both Level 1 and 2 are usually completed when the children are at Primary School.

Bikeability scheme

Completing Bikeability:

Once at Secondary school they are able to tackle the more complex Bikeablility Level 3. The aim here is to enable adults and children to be able to tackle more challenging road and traffic conditions. It is often delivered on a one to one basis or in groups of up to 3 people so ideal for tackling individual needs and concerns. Once you’ve completed your Level 3 and have been awarded the Green Badge, you’re able to cycle almost anywhere safely and confidently.

Delivered by the Department for Transport, Bikeability schemes are set up all over the country. The Bikeability website will give you lots more information and help you find your nearest scheme. You may well find that your own school runs the scheme so do ask them first.

With today’s challenging and complex road conditions it is never more important that we give our children the skills to ride their bikes safely and confidently. For this reason alone it is worth investing the time in a Bikeability scheme and becoming a proficient cyclist of the 21st Century.

Have you done your Bikeability yet? We would love to know how you got on!

Cycling Safety: Be Safe and Be Seen this Autumn

Be Safe Be SeenImage: Julian Menichini

With the weather changing dramatically now, we seem to be heading faster and faster towards Autumn. The nights are starting to draw in and with that comes a cycling safety concern: are you doing enough to be safe and be seen on the roads?

We all know cycling is a great way to stay fit and healthy as well as being environmentally friendly, but lots of us tend to forget what we can do to ensure we stay safe on our journeys. With far more challenging weather conditions on the way, and increased hours of darkness, it’s important that you do all that you can to be safe on the roads. With that in mind, Cycle Centre has put together it’s top tips and advice to help you be safe this Autumn and Winter.

Cycling Safety: Be Safe and Be Seen

  • Always wear a correctly fitted helmet that meets the British Standard and don’t forget to ensure you have the correct children’s helmets fitted too.
  • Wear high visability clothing especially a high vis jacket when cycling in poor light. Ideally you should have reflective clothing during the day, and reflective clothing and/or accessories at night.
  • Ensure that all of bike’s lights are in good working order and if they need replacing do so now. Legally your bike must have front and back lights, reflectors do not count as lights so make sure your bicycle is safe and has the correct lights fitted. You can see a good range of Bicycle Safety products here.
  • It goes without saying that you should never use your mobile phone when cycling.
  • Never wear headphones during a cycling journey.
  • Remember not to ride on pavements unless there is a sign saying that this is permitted.
  • When you’re cycling on the road, remember to keep a good distance from the kerb and stay away from parked cars.
  • Observe the Highway Code at all times and stop at Traffic Lights and Stop junctions.
  • Give your bike a service before the weather becomes more challenging. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for then take it in to your local bike shop for some advice. We’re always more than happy to help and willing to offer our knowledge and expertise to ensure you are cycling safely on the roads.

If you follow these guidelines you’ll be safe and you’ll be seen this Autumn. Cycle safety is of the utmost importance to us and should be to you. Do all that you can to make sure your journey is a safe one.

 

Cycling to School

Cycling to School

 

If you live in an urban area and you have children (older than 2), chances are you’ll be faced with doing the school run on a regular basis. There are many ways to get your offspring to school but walking or riding have to be the most convenient, with cycling being the quicker option. Even a 10 mile+ round trip stands a good chance of being quicker on a bike than it would in a car or on public transport. If you are lucky enough to live within a few miles of your child’s school then cycling has to be just about the best option there is.

 

With this in mind we thought a brief post about some of the ways in which you and your child can get to school on two wheels might be useful.

 

If you already own a suitable bike and your child isn’t old enough to ride safely to school on their own bike then a either mounting a seat onto your bike or using a towed trailer or a ‘half-wheeler’.

 

Child seat mounted to rack.

Want to cycle to School? A child seat mounted on a pannier rack is a simple solution

 

The rack mounted child seat is the cheapest and easiest way, assuming you already have a rack and a bike strong enough to carry the weight. It does raise the centre of gravity of your bike a fair amount so you do have to be wary of this. Also, if you’re child starts moving about a lot it can be a bit alarming!

 

Cycling Oxford

Two up. Cross bar mounted forward facing child seat allows for one adult to ride with two children, as long as one is still quite little.  (Photo credit: tejvanphotos)

 

A toddler trailer buggy solves the stability issue and removes any concern about bike strength. They can also be towed by any bike (although we wouldn’t recommend towing a trailer behind your £2k carbon road bike) so aren’t restricted to those with racks. Ordinarily the trailers have two wheels and a forward facing seat with a light weight canopy similar to those found on prams and push chairs. They do increase the width and length of your bike and are therefore less suited for those needing to ride on the road alongside motor vehicle traffic.

 

 

 

Bicycle Trailer Recall

Towed Bicycle Trailer  (Photo credit: USCPSC)

 

The Half Wheeler is definitely the better option if you have a child old enough to sit safely (and hopefully peddle) on a normal saddle without any security. Generally we’d only recommend this option if your child is already riding a proper bike safely. The benefit is that you don’t have to ride at their speed or stop when they do (all quite important for the school run). Although bike length is increased, width is not so you don’t encounter problems with bollards or gates etc.

 

Half Wheeler "is a kids bike that hooks u...

Half Wheeler “is a kids bike that hooks up to an adult bike to help teach kids to balance” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

If none of the above options is right for you or they’re just too “normal” then take a look at these two ideas. Before you ask, no, we don’t stock either of these bikes.

 

High street-Oxford Adult and two children cycl...

High street-Oxford Adult and two children cycling with cargo load with trailer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

A Burley Piccolo behind a triple tandem

A Burley Piccolo behind a triple tandem (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

If you’d like advice on the various “child friendly” bike transport options for the school run (or any other family activity) come and have a chat with us in the Cycle Centre. If you’d like an assesment on what would work best for your existing bike, then just bring it in.

 

Cycling Safely

Through our local network we got word that two cycling friends had been involved in separate “road traffic incidents” this weekend whilst riding. Fortunately neither person suffered serious injury but it did get us thinking about the dangers we all face when riding on the public highway and what advice is available to reduce the risks.

First off, a little bit of Googling revealed the following, rather disconcerting, facts:-

In 2011, 19215 cyclists were injured or killed on British roads. The fatalities were for that year were around 1 every three days! Serious injuries were occurring at the rate of 10 a day!

One fifth of those seriously injured or killed were children. 75% of all accidents occur at or near a road junction and 80% occur in daylight.

sources:

Collisions Involving Cyclists on Britain’s Roads: Establishing the Causes”, TRL Report PPR 445, 2009

Road Casualties in Great Britain: Main Results 2011”, Department for Transport, 2012

Considering this data we thought it might be worth sharing a few links that provide advice on safer cycling.

The first is a government website aimed at helping children learn to be safer on their bikes, with interactive content, including loads of games and some easily understood advice:

Tales of the Road

This next website is part of the NHS’ online advice and covers some useful tips for adults riding on Britain’s roads:

NHS cycling safety advice

Sustrans also have some great advice for helping to turn your kids into safe cyclists:

Cycling Safety for Children

Cycling Oxford

Cycling Oxford (Photo credit: tejvanphotos)

If you’d like any advice on bike safety clothing, helmets etc. then please do pop in to The Cycle Centre and have a chat with one of our team.

If you are involved in an incident whilst on your bike, we do recommend that you report it to police if there’s a criminal act involved (like a speeding motorist or someone driving without due care and attention). Alternatively, you can get in touch with Newcastle council’s Cycling Office Anne Clark on 0191 2778907 or at anne.clark@newcastle.gov.uk

 

The Countdown to Summer Begins!

Gallery

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At last, British Summertime is fast approaching.  Coinciding with the Easter Holidays, the lighter nights couldn’t come sooner! Get set for your Easter Break with our fantastic range of accessories: Tifosi Glasses starting from £25, A super colourful range Polar … Continue reading

Just Five More Days to Go!

Christmas 2012 is very nearly here!

fnfn

 

If you need some stocking filler ideas, pop in to see us.  We have a fab range of Cube, Giant and Raleigh accessories as well as great gifts for the kids from Crazey Stuff Helmets to Hello Kitty Bells!

Check out our on line Click and Collect service too at http://www.cyclecentreuk.co.uk

Or give us a bell on 0191 2651472.

Unwrapped and Good to Go!

Here at Cycle Centre, we take the time to make sure all of our bikes leave our store fully safety checked and ready to ride.  That way, when the day comes and your little one unwraps their bike, it’s all good to go and in full working order.

Looking After You and Your Bike

Looking After You and Your Bike

There’s nothing worse than that sinking feeling when you’ve toiled through the night on Christmas Eve, working, and reworking, out which bit goes where, finally reaching the completion stage just before dawn… only to find ‘another bit’ winking at you from across the room!

Our experienced mechanics do all the sorting out to help you avoid such a calamaty on Christmas morning.  So you know that when their faces light up in excitement as they unwrap their new set of wheels, that they can safely ride away and happily try out their new skills (and hopefully burn off some sugar fuelled giddiness at the same time!).

So that everyone can keep on enjoying their bike, we also offer a free service withing the first 3 months after purchase, a half price service within the first year and reduced rates on future services.

And we are always at the end of the phone to help you with any questions you may have on 0191 2651472.  Or call in to have a chat any time at 250 Shields Road, Byker, NE6 1DX