Please bear with us while we have a moan about rubbish bikes and poor shops. (On the other hand you could always skip the next few paragraphs and make a cup of tea instead!).
In the era of the bike-in-a-box from the local supermarket/ toy shop/mail-order/internet/car boot sale etc. etc. we actually take pride in being a little bit different to the mainstream. We will give you sensible, honest advice and if you just want a little chat to help understand the differences between all the bikes then that is fine by us.
We will NEVER sell you a bike without thoroughly assembling and adjusting it to make sure it is completely ready to ride. When you look on a bike box you'll often see a drawing of two or three everyday tools supposedly needed for assembly, the implication being that building the bike up is really no more difficult than putting together a bit of flat pack furniture. The reality is that most people will not be able to set up the bike properly, even if they spend all day on it. Most bikes are about 80% or 90% assembled before they are boxed up, but they are often put together very quickly on the production lines. You can find numerous components wrongly adjusted, incorrectly fitted and of course sometimes damaged in transit. We will typically spend one and a half hours setting up a new bike, and we have spent our lives learning the cycle mechanic's craft!
At the top quality end of the market some of the models can be extremely high-tech and need very careful setting up and fine tuning.
Cheaper bikes are not so high-tech, but because the components are not such high quality they can sometimes take longer to adjust up properly.
At the popular, high-volume, cheap end of the market there is, sadly, a downward trend in quality as the brands battle it out on price, and all the mechanic's skills are needed to make them good. Often the quality of some of the components, for example the brakes, is so poor that it is actually impossible to adjust them properly. Another problem can be the fitting of incompatible parts, for example a gear lever and a gear mechanism that were not designed to be fitted together on the same bike. Again, it will be impossible to make the gears work properly without changing one of them.
The cheapest bikes are so bad that they cannot be made good however long a mechanic spends on them. We will NOT stock and sell this cheap rubbish. Unfortunately there are a lot of shops out there that will sell almost anything if they think it will make them some money. The really cheap bikes are usually sold in a box or thrown together by a youngster who hardly knows one end of a spanner from the other. It is not viable for a skilled man to spend his time on a bike that sells for £79.99. The equation simply does not work.
Some of the major high street chains are also prone to selling the rubbish bikes. Their mechanics (assuming they actually have any) would probably rather not touch them, but such things as stocking policy are decided by management executives in head office, not by the poor unfortunates who have to sell the bikes and deal with all the complaints afterwards!
We avoid stocking any bikes of dubious quality, but our crystal ball isn't always spot-on, and occasionally we will have problems. If we do have problems with a bike, but we know we can fix it, we will persevere and make it good. If we can't, then we will send it back to the manufacturer. If we get repeated problems like that we will stop stocking that model and even the whole brand if necessary.
Whatever the quality of the bike, a lot of shops are careless about their bike builds, either because their mechanics are not skilled enough, or because the management puts pressure on the mechanics to rush the bikes through the workshop quickly. What could actually be a very good bike can be let down by bad work in the shop. This is why we say that where you buy is just as important, possibly even more important, than what you buy.
OK, end of the rant. Thanks for putting up with it!
So, back to............
Choosing a Bike
Well to take the last question first, it isn't a problem if the bike you fancy comes with a horrible looking saddle, because we will be happy to swap it for one that you like ! .
Do you need a mountain bike? Broadly speaking, if you are expecting to do off-road riding in a hard, possibly dangerous manner then yes you definitely do need a mountain bike.We talk about mountain bikes in the next section.
On the other hand if you want a bike that will let you explore country lanes, bridleways and
farm tracks but you expect to ride in a more gentle, controlled way then a hybrid is probably the bike for you.
They are a cross between mountain bikes and road bikes. Because they don't need to be as strong
as a mountain bike they can be built a little lighter, and this together with thinner tyres makes them easier
to ride on the roads. They are however quite capable of being ridden on reasonably good off-road surfaces
at high speeds, and can cope with quite rough surfaces if used sensibly.
Unfortunately, although most bike shops routinely use the term 'hybrid', the bike manufacturers nearly always choose to call them something different. Some call them 'Trail Bikes'. Marin,one of our top brands, call them 'City Bikes'. But you wouldn't want it to be too straightforward, would you ?
Confused yet? You soon will be! For some years now, there has been another category of bikes - the Comfort Bike.
Still hanging on? Right - Try this one!
If some of the newspaper adverts are to be believed you can buy a mountain bike for £79.99. - You know the sort of thing....."Effortlessly ride up any hill with these 18 speed mountain bikes" etc. etc. On the other hand you can see bikes for sale at over £3000! We'll try to help you through the mountain bike maze......
Avoid the £79.99 bike. If you read our opening paragraphs you'll know what we think about them!
Most people in the cycle trade regard £350 as roughly the price at which you get a mountain bike which has both the strength and lightness to be considered for regular off-road usage. On the other hand, if you don't mind a heavier bike, and don't expect too much refinement in the general componentry you can get some good value for money bikes below £250, but they will not stand the hard riding that the dearer bikes will take.
In recent years disc brakes have become a feature on many mountain bikes. The cheaper systems are cable operated but the dearer ones are hydraulic, just like those in a car. Broadly speaking, the pros and cons of discs are as follows:-
With a cable operated disc system, the power advantages are less, but they are typically only half the price of a hydraulic.
It looks like we can't make our mind up whether maintenance is worse or better with a disc brake! The truth is it can vary a lot from one bike to the next, and from one owner to the next. It is very important to clean the disc calipers regularly, particularly in winter when there is road salt about. If the caliper gets corroded and the pistons stop moving freely, it can be quite time-consuming to sort out. Also,if you are unlucky and suffer leaking seals then again you can incur a big bill. Having said that, the majority of owners don't suffer big bills, and are very happy with disc brakes. They are certainly the system of choice for most serious riders now.
Suspension front forks used to be a luxury that only appeared on top grade mountain bikes
but have become so affordable that they now come as standard equipment on most mountain bikes. They make the ride more comfortable and let you go faster
over rough ground. On the minus side they make the bike heavier and require extra servicing,
but these are penalties most people are happy to accept.
Before you see our mountain bike ranges , a bit of terminology needs to be explained.....
Originally from the States, this name refers to any bike with a rigid rear end, with or without front suspension.
Standing for Front and Rear Suspension, FRS is a convenient term for full suspension bikes.
Just as new categories of off-road bikes have appeared in recent years, so we have gained more categories of road bikes, too:-
Dropped handlebar racing bikes
At their lightest, modern road bikes are pure, tarmac-only, drop-bar speed machines, such as you will see with our Trek and Wilier ranges. These bikes will not carry luggage, and cannot accomodate full-length traditional mudguards, but they are very, very light and very, very fast!
Lightweight, straight-bar road bikes
For riders who don't particularly want the head-down, drop-bar riding position, and who would welcome the potential for better mudguards and possibly some luggage, then the new breed of lightweight straight-bar road bikes may be the perfect answer.
The Peak District
How to find Us
Choosing a Bike
Hardtail Mountain Bikes
Gravel & Touring
Hybrid, Comfort & Straight-Bar Road
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