We’ve been busy…

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Every week we make some changes to the shop. Some big, some small. This week we made a big change. We haven’t been able to offer a good selection of clothing due to the lack of an organised space. We also haven’t had a great area for customers to try on clothes.

So we fixed it. We now have a clothing section and a changing room.

I wanted to share with you some of the pictures I took of the work in progress.

This area was used for parts and accessories storage and had a bike display table in front. This was all removed.

Clothing section 1 Clothing Section 2

The walls were then covered in rough cut timber and the structure of the changing room built. This took most of the day to get to this stage. The grid wall was then trimmed to the correct size and installed.

Clothing Section 3 Clothing Section 4

After this was the big clean up. The clothing was then merchandised in colours, size order and gender.

Clothing SEction 6 Clothing image A

Clothing Section B Clothing Section C

We hope you enjoy the changes we have made to the shop and we look forward to helping you select the right jacket, jersey, base layer, whatever it is you need.

The Cycle Centre

http://www.cyclecentreuk.co.uk/m2b130s0p0/CYCLING-ACCESSORIES/BONTRAGER

Why should you buy a bike from Cycle Centre?

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How about ten reasons why you should buy a bike from Cycle Centre!

  1. A free tune up after 8 weeks, normally £30
  2. A 10% discount card for use on accessories, valid for 12 months
  3. 48 hour priority workshop turnaround on menu services with Cycle Centre bikes, if we let you down we will give you a £10 voucher for your next visit.
  4. Priority invites to Cycle Centre events and promotions
  5. Access to our Saturday morning social rides
  6. All Cycle Centre technicians are qualified and Brompton certified
  7. A 10% discount card for refreshments from our friends at the Cycle Hub
  8. We will get you set up on your new bike and make sure you are ready to ride
  9. We will fit any accessories bought with your bike free of charge
  10. We all ride bikes at Cycle Centre, BMX, mountain and road and we commute most days so we can advise you on what new bits and pieces we are using.

All this and I didn’t mention the top brands we stock!

We look forward to seeing you instore soon.

The Cycle Centre Team.

Top 5 Essential Kids Bike Accessories

So you’ve got the new bikes planned for your little ones this Christmas and you know exactly how you’re going to wrap it up to keep it a surprise, but do you have all the correct accessories? Well if you’re not sure what you need never fear, we are here to help. Check out our Top 5 essential kids’ bike accessories that will make your child’s cycling experience much safer and great fun.

1. Cycle Helmet:

kids bike accessoriesIt goes without saying that of all the kids bike accessories available the helmet has to be the most important. Remember to get ensure the helmet fits properly and ask an expert if you’re not sure. If you’re in Byker, Newcastle we are always happy to help in the shop. Buy the best you can afford and make sure your child likes it too as they’re more likely to wear it then, of course.

2. Cycle Lights

kids bike accessoriesNow you might think these aren’t necessary for your child’s bike, and for a younger child maybe they’re not that important. For the slightly older child, who is maybe riding their bike to and from school they are an essential for the Winter. You might have seen us mention the debate on altering British Summer time recently but it’s not going to happen very soon so do make sure your child’s bicycle lights are in good working order.

3. Bike Lock

kids bike accessoriesAgain, maybe not something you’ll need for a very young child, but the older child will need to keep their bike safely locked when they are out and about. A good bike lock is another of our essential kids bike accessories.

4. Bike Bell:

kids bike accessoriesNow here’s something the younger children will adore. Don’t forget to get them a brand new bike bell for their brand new bike. They come in all shapes and sizes and the kids will just love annoying you with them. Seriously though they’re a good habit to get into and will help your child develop safe bike riding skills.

5. Bike Saddles

kids bike accessoriesDo make sure your bike has a comfortable saddle. It can help younger children feel more confident on their bike, and of course the older children might benefit from one if they’re riding their bikes for longer periods. Again they come in all shapes and sizes so get one that suits your child.

Would you add anything else to our essential kids bike accessories list? Maybe some streamers and stickers for the young kids, or paniers or baskets for the older ones? Do take a look at our online store for more ideas and to purchase all those suggestions we’ve mentioned above.

Mini-reviews: TF2 Extreme Lubricant and Altura Progel gloves

Our Family Bike Guy, Henry,  is back with two mini-reviews on some popular products we gave him to test. 

Mini-reviews: Why am I writing mini-reviews all of a sudden I hear you ask. Well the answer my blog reading friends is quite simple: there is only so much I can write about chain lube, gloves and energy bars before I either start to repeat myself or you get bored and go somewhere else.

Mini-review 1: TF2 Extreme Wet synthetic lubricant.

Now, before I delve into that TF2 lube review I want to just clarify some [common] confusion about lubricant, grease and water displacer. A lubricant, either wet or dry (I’ll get to the difference in a minute) is lighter and less ‘sticky’ than grease and is designed to minimise friction in exposed moving parts like a chain. A grease is a ‘heavy’ substance that typically has to be applied directly rather than dripped and is designed to reduce friction in high load high heat moving parts like the bearings in your bottom bracket or hubs. A water displacer or teflon spray, like WD40 or GT85, is aerosol based and lightweight that can be used to clean as well as displace water from moving parts. These sprays are useful but should not be used in place of a proper chain lube and if used excessively can flush out grease and lube from your drive chain and bearings, the results of which aren’t much fun!

Wet vs Dry lube.

This is a very confusing distinction for those new to bike maintenance as both types of lubes are in fact liquid and therefore both wet! What the descriptions are really referring to is what happens after the lube is applied. Basically, a wet lube will stay wet once on your chain. A dry lube utilises a wax component that is supposed protect your chain by preventing dirt from adhering to it and yes, you guessed it, dry lube dries (to an extent) after application.

The right lube to use is entirely dependent upon the type of riding you do and the kind of conditions you normally ride in. Again, in general terms, a wet lube is best for muddy, wet or winter conditions and a dry lube for summer and dusty conditions. Ideally, if you ride all year round in a variety of conditions you should have both in your maintenance kit.

TF2 Extreme wet lube

Wet Lubricant from TF2

TF2’s wet lube does a great job. It goes on easily, stays on in wet conditions and keeps the  drive chain moving nicely. As it is a wet lube, if you ride in dry dusty conditions you’ll find your chain will be very dirty and gloopy after a ride. This would be a good time to switch to a dry lube or get into the habit of cleaning your chain properly after each ride and then re-lubricating. In fact, one thing I did find out was that applying TF2 Extreme to an already dirty chain wasn’t a good idea. The dirt prevented the lube from adhering properly and it then splatters all over your frame and legs when you next ride!

So, as long as you apply TF2 to a clean(ed) chain it works great and I’d definitely recommend it.

Mini-review 2: Altura Progel fingerless gloves. s.r.p £19.99

Altura glove

Cycling fingerless glove from Altura

If you are enjoying a bit of road riding this summer (I use that word in the broadest possible sense) or you are getting into road riding then a decent pair of fingerless gloves is definitely worth investing in. Why, you might ask. Well, there are two main reasons to buy this type of glove. The first is the gel padding on the palm. Road riding is tough on the whole body but especially on the main contact points of the bum, hands and feet. A good pair of padded shorts are essential to protect one’s derrière and likewise good padded gloves help to reduce vibration fatigue in the wrists and arms. The gel pads in these Altura gloves are located on the main load bearing points around the peripheral of the palm and are quite thick without being cumbersome.

Altura Progel gloves

Gel pads on palm of Altura Progel glove

I noticed an instant increase in riding comfort with these gloves. The other benefit, is the fingerless construction. No fingers helps to keep your hands cool and avoid a build up of perspiration. They also mean there’s no interference with brakes or shifter levers, which is something I’ve encountered with a full glove.

The tops of the Altura Progel glove are a single skin of lycra that is both comfortable and cool. I probably shouldn’t have gone for the white version as they are bit trick to keep clean but they matched my bike better so I’ll just have to put up with that!

For the price, I felt these gloves were great value, providing excellent levels of comfort. I’ve ridden around 200 miles wearing these gloves and they are not showing any sign of wear.

Written by Henry Aarvold, Family Bike Guy

No monetary payment was received for this review. Both products tested were kept by the  reviewer.

Review: Shimano R520 Pedals and M064 Shoes

This week our ‘family bike guy’ Henry takes his first step (or is that pedal?) into the world of cleats and clipless pedals. We gave him an entry level pair of Shimano shoes and pedals to use whilst reviewing bikes for us and thought it would be interesting to hear how he got on with them. 

The Review

SPD pedal compared to track pedal with toe clip

common or garden variety track pedal with toe clip on the left, Shimano R520 on right

Considering that I’ve been riding bikes for over thirty years it might come as a surprise to learn that I’d never tried an SPD pedal and shoe combination before now. Truth be told I’d always felt that it was too much hassle, too dangerous, too costly… I had all the excuses in the world, put it that way. I’m pretty sure that this is not a unique perspective either. I’d be willing to bet that hundreds of men and women getting back into cycling (or trying it for the first time), spending money on a road bike, mountain bike, touring bike etc. don’t even consider clipless pedals. Well, after about 100 miles of riding with cleats, I am a convert. I really want to encourage anyone out there cycling with toeclips (or bare pedals)l to give the SPD’s a try.

SPD stands for Shimano Pedalling Dynamics in case you were wondering. They are often referred to as Spuds too.

The clipless experience

The first thing to bear in mind is that the system requires an SPD pedal and shoe fitted with a compatible cleat. The cleat clips into the pedal, holding your foot securely. So if you want to upgrade your current bike, you’ll need to change the pedals and find a pair of shoes that fit. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be expensive. The pedals and shoes featured in this article are available from the Cycle Centre for less than £80.

Shoes – M064

Shimano Shoes

Shimano M064 Shoes with R520 pedals

These entry level shoes from Shimano are a great all rounder. They work on either an MTB or an entry level road bike. I certainly didn’t feel daft using them on either. The sole of the M064 has a recessed cleat with decent tread all round, so you can walk on slippery surfaces without worrying about falling on your behind.

English: Shimano SH-56 SPD (Shimano Pedaling D...

Shimano SPD (Shimano Pedaling Dynamics) bicycle cleat attached to a Shimano  cycling shoe. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Velcro straps allow for an easy and comfortable fit. There isn’t much padding on the insole so you definitely have to wear a decent pair of cycling socks though. These particular Shimano SPD shoes seem to be quite a narrow fit and wear on the small size, so I would definitely recommend that you try on a pair (with the right socks) before buying. The other great thing about these shoes is that came with a pair of cleats in the box. I’m led to believe that this isn’t normal and a pair of cleats for the SPD system normally cost around £16.

Pedals – R520

The pedals look tiny when you first get them out of the box. Especially if you’ve not used them before. These particular SPD pedals are duel sided, in that they have a spring loaded clip on both sides, so it doesn’t matter which way round your pedal is, you just clip in and go. Each of the four clips (two on each pedal) is adjustable, in that you can change the amount of tension in the spring thereby changing the degree of force needed to clip out. For riders new to cleats, setting it on the loosest setting to begin with is definitely recommended. Although the R520s are definitely not the lightest of SPD pedals they are reasonably durable and as long as you don’t leave them covered in rain and mud all the time (if you do, the will rust) they should last you a while.

The Experience

I have to be honest here. I am now a total convert to the SPD pedal. I still ride my town bike with regular pedals but I hate it. SPDs rule! Why? Well, it isn’t to do with “getting more power down”. This is a common misconception about clip-less pedals. They do not make you more powerful or faster. What they do is hold you feet (assuming you have have them set up properly and have your bike fitted properly to you) in the optimum position all the time. What this means is that your pedalling is more efficient, so any power you exert is delivered to the chainset without waste. Interestingly, I was surprised to find that my feet were not held ridgid by the SPD system but allowed for ‘wiggle’. This helps to prevent fatigue and injury I’m told but it also makes it feel more natural. Unclipping from the pedal is done by rotating your heel away from the frame. At first this is a bit odd, but became second nature extremely quickly. I do recommend that you practice clipping in and out on your bike whilst static – I used my kitchen as I can reach a bench on each side of my whilst in the saddle. If you’re still not sure, try practising on a lawn, so if you do fall over you won’t bend your bike or your self. Most riders do experience the ‘zero speed fall’ at some point as a result of not being able to unclip but you’ll probably only do it once!

All in all I’d say investing in a comfortable pair of SPD shoes and a pair of (entry level compatible) pedals will be one of the best investments you’ll ever make for your bike. This is especially applicable if you are getting into road cycling, cyclocross or have a fitness hybrid.

Written by Henry Aarvold

I was allowed to keep the pedals and shoes reviewed in this article.