How to: Buy a Cyclo-Cross Bike with Deniz Erkan

Deniz_Erkan_cyclist_mag

Photo courtesy of ©DenizErkan

During the excitement of GB’s Helen Wyman taking Bronze at the CX World Championships this weekend, I caught up with Deniz Erkan of Hadron Cycles on his tips to buying a cyclo-cross bike. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there, and get muddy!

First things first, set a budget, and stick to it.
You can buy a very good quality bike anywhere from £600 upwards. Between £800 and £1500 gets you a fantastic aluminum frame with high quality components, whilst upwards of £1500 can get a nice carbon frame and top end components. Decide how much you want to spend and get the best bike you can for the money.

Pick a frame material
Carbon is light, stiff and can be moulded into some very interesting shapes. However, it is more fragile, meaning an awkward crash into something hard can mean a new frame is required.

Aluminum technology has moved a long way since the earliest frames. These days you can get some really space age aluminum for very little money. It’s lighter than steel, and a lot stiffer too. It can also take a bit of punishment, so the odd crash is unlikely to destroy your pride and joy.

Steel frames are wonderfully resilient, forgiving to ride but a touch on the heavy side. There are some newer (more expensive) options like stainless steel which ride very well and are closing in on the weight of aluminum bikes, but generally good quality steel frames are heavier than other counterparts.

Titanium frames are expensive. It’s a difficult material to work with. However, they are wonderfully light, responsive and undeniably beautiful. They don’t need to be painted, and are very, very strong, meaning all but the worst of crashes are unlikely to even leave a scratch on your frame.

Component choice
Disc or cantilever? As a general rule, correctly set-up cantilever brakes are going to work just as well as poorly set up cable-actuated disc brakes. For modest budgets, don’t be afraid to go for cantilever brakes, as their stopping power is immense. If you are looking for disc brakes, then where possible, stretch to hydraulic models as these provide the full benefits of disc brake systems (minimal servicing, excellent modulation, unparalleled stopping power.) Cable driven disc systems still need cables replaced every now and then (more frequently on cross bikes) and carry the risk of cables snapping or snagging, rendering the brake useless. Some models are very good, such as the Avid BB7, however, given the choice I’d recommend an upgrade to hydraulics.

Tyres
Most new bikes sadly come with rubbish tyres. Factor in the intended use of your new cyclocross bike and set aside a budget for some good quality, puncture resistant and suitably constructed (size, tread depth, compound) tyres.

The Eastway CX2.0 in action. Photo courtesy of ©DenizErkan

The Eastway CX2.0 in action. Photo courtesy of ©DenizErkan

Groupset
A very personal thing, choose groupset based on ergonomics and usability. Shimano offers shims to adjust lever reach for small hands, whilst SRAMs levers are all independently reach adjustable, making exact, fine-tuned set up. Campagnolo offers something similar, but the ergonomics of having to use your thumb can be off putting for some people. Try each of them out and decide what you like using the most. It’s only really at the shifters where you’ll notice a discernible difference in each of the three brands. The rest is aesthetics and specification. SRAM is usually lighter for the money, whilst Campagnolo is almost always more expensive, and difficult to get hold of. Shimano is ubiquitous, priced in the middle and performs there too.

Pedals
Whilst its entirely possible to ride off road, on road pedals, if you want to get serious about the sport, you’ll need to invest in some MTB style pedals. The difference here is that the cleat (the part of the pedal system attached to your shoe) is a lot smaller than a typical road cleat, allowing it to fit in a recessed part of your shoe. This means the shoe can have plenty of tread and walking surface to get you through the mud safely, with the cleat free of the debris.

Shimano leads the way here with the best value for money in its SPD range of pedals. Alternatives include LOOK, TIME, Crankbrothers. Pick one based on price, weight and aesthetic. They all function in a very similar way.

Accesories
What else do you need to have fun on a cross bike?

Bright lights to light up the trail, spare tubes and a pump are a must, but CO2 inflators are a big bonus when you are cold, wet and just want to get home. Take a tyre boot too (piece of old tyre cut into 1-2 inch strip) for emergency tyre repairs, or buy a set of tyre boots like the Park TB-2. It’s always surprising how much an errant branch can damage even the finest rubber. Other than that, get out there and have fun!

 

Hadron CyclesHadron Cycles is a local bike shop based in Islington who aim to cater for all types of cyclists and run regular weekly rides. Contact them for help in buying you CX bike.

Hayley Davies

Hayley Davies

Writer

Riding since Feb 2011 Hayley is a 30 year old female who loves adventures. If she’s not on one of her many bikes or in the water on a bodyboard/surfboard, then Hayley is probably out looking for something new to keep the adrenaline pumping!
Website: www.hjdonline.co.uk

Review – Women’s Castelli Leggera Gilet

Castelli Gilet

Okay, I will admit it, I have been eyeing one of these up for quite a while. In fact, ever since I bought the full sleeve (rain cape) version in 2012.

The gilet comes with a small bag that means that it can be folded away into a compact size and put back in your pocket – a great idea for those of you wanting something that you can take on and off without worrying that you haven’t got space in your back pocket to keep it.
Leggera GiletBeing 5′ 7″ and a size 10, I struggle with a lot of women specific cycling clothing as it tends to be too short and I often end up “borrowing” my husband’s cycling clothes as they tend to fit much better. Not so with this gilet. It is fairly long in the body and has a scooped elasticated bottom on the back of the jacket to ensure a snug fit.

Sometimes, jackets can be quite tight around the neck, which means that you never end up doing the zip right to the top. Again, there is enough room within the design to ensure that this is not a problem.

It is windproof and breathable, and is great for keeping the chill off at the start of a ride. It is small enough to be packed away until you need to put something on to keep you warm on that descent back down into town.

There is one improvement that I’d look to make – there is no back pocket so it can be a bit difficult trying to get food out of your jacket pocket. Not a major issue, I admit, but with gloves on it can be difficult. Also, the RRP is £55 which could be seen to be quite expensive for a gilet and therefore not a “needs must” purchase but a “wish list” purchase instead. However, the best price we’ve found is at ProBikeKit who are selling them for less than £40, at the moment, which makes them a bit more affordable:

http://www.probikekit.co.uk/sports-clothing/castelli-women-s-leggera-cycling-gilet/10756878.html

 

CastelliGiletReviewRatingIn Summary

    • Fit – 89 out of 100  the gilet fits well, and the elasticated bottom means that it stays in place
    • Quality – 95 out of 100 – I would expect a market leading brand to be high quality, and I wasn’t disappointed
    • Price – 70 out of 100 – £55 for a gilet may prove too expensive for some
    • Value for money – 80 out of 100 – ultimately, high quality doesn’t come cheap but I liked the fit, quality and think it looks great.
    • Overall that’s an impressive 84 out of 100!

 

Would I recommend this gilet to my cycling friends? Definitely!

 

 

 

Ripping up the (January) Blues

January. Month of the blues. That typically means blue fingers and toes. The misery of missing out on our evening sunset rides, the (blue) icy weekend club rides and avoiding the usual club run route thanks to blue stuff (or brown!) running at pace down the street having spilled it’s banks.

But for me, this January has been 2 different kinds of blue. Cyan and the Blue Run.

Clean bike? Clearly not yet started!

Clean bike? Clearly not yet started!

This time last year I started my hunt for a CX bike. I didn’t want to spend a huge amount and would be more than happy with a 2nd hand bike. That’s fine for most, but do a search for new CX bikes at my height (that’s 158cm for those of you that haven’t met me) and it’s a struggle, let alone approaching the second hand market. 12 months on and with the help of a friend in Holland, I finally became owner to another Bianchi frame in some very traditional Bianchi colours.

The Bike Build
With the BB fitted by the local bike store, I was determined to build the rest of the bike myself. OK, I say myself, I had some help! But even then, it was easier said than done. Firstly, it’s the little things you don’t think about, resulting in a couple of trips to and forth from the bike shop to pick up ferrules and cable guides that I hadn’t considered when making my list of components (does such a list exist?).

Fitting the rear derailleur I realise I’m missing a bolt. Being Campag it’s not so easy to replace and so onto eBay to buy an old mech for parts. In the meantime, we fit the brakes, some snazzy Planet-X Frog Bolloxs which should be simple but, what I later learn is called the yoke, snaps as we tighten it. Bugger! Bike build on hold again until I can find a replacement.

Finally with the rear mech fixed and fitted, we attempt the gear routing. Campag specific wire goes through hole A and and comes out hole B….. at least, that’s what the instructions told us to do… did it work? NO! So, a couple of emails to a Campag mechanic friend and some handy tips and tricks shared, the gears are finally working. Rear mech fitted, bike is now working as a fixed gear at least. Just the front mech to complete…. and this is where we hit the wall. The wire is holding perfectly in the shifter, but can we get it to hold at the front mech? Can we heck. Getting a little impatient and really wanting to hit the trails, we give in and I drop the bike into the shop for them to complete the job and check over our work.

So finally, after 4 – 5 weeks of bike building (and a little over budget), I excitedly picked it up yesterday.  Bike number 6 took pride of place in the living room for the evening. But there was something significantly wrong – it was looking too new!

Hitting the Trails
Waking up to icy roads this morning, I jacked in the club ride, packed the car and headed over to Swinley Forrest in Bracknell.  My little brother spent much of his teens riding his fixed jump bike here, but this was the first time I’d ventured over there. I quickly realise what I’ve been missing out on.

The car park is packed with mtb-ers and walkers. I quickly ask a passer-by what state the trails are in – Good luck on a CX! They’re pretty unridable this morning’. Great. Well, I’m here now, so may as well give it a go. After all, my main intention is to get MUDDY!

Stopping to catch my breath at top of the sngle track on Blue Run

Stopping to catch my breath at top of the sngle track on Blue Run

I set off following the signs for ‘Mountain Bike Trails’ and soon come across a comprehensive hub detailing the different routes by distance and technical ability. Not much different to ski runs, the trails are set up from Green Run – 1.2km long with gentle dips on a wide track suitable for complete beginners and families, through to Red Run – 13km of extremely technical terrain of single twisty tracks with boardwalk climbs and lumpy descents, all of which are clearly marked in sections throughout.

New to the trails, CX and my bike, I start off on the Green Run and do a couple of warm up laps. It was great to see a 5 year old girl testing out her new bike skills with some expert advice from her MTB Dad, Helen Wyman’s going to have some competition!

Satisfied with the response of my brakes and gears, and slowly getting used to a different kind of cleats, I move onto the Blue Run.

Moderately graded, the complete route is 10.1km long and designed for novice to intermediate Mountain Bikers. It starts out on a pretty wide (although muddy) path, quickly descending into a single track through the pine forest. With some sections of the trail called “Full Nine Yards“, “Devils Highway” and “Stickler“, it’s not hard to imagine why this isn’t suited to the beginner. I also can’t imagine too many new to CX would be so comfortable either, but sticking to my rule of ‘always commit’ and wearing my ‘Fearless’ nick-name on my sleeve, I managed to weave, descend, jump and climb my way down the run.

I very quickly felt comfortable on my bike – trying to keep my pedal stroke smooth, I powered through thick mud; surprisingly managed to climb up over some steep sections stepped with tree roots, put my BMX lessons to use in the pump sections and only once came off track, luckily getting on the brakes to come to a clean stop before heading awol into some trees.

Other riders were extremely friendly, stopping for a quick chat and happy to sit behind until safe to pass or pull up to let you through. I managed 3/4 of the route before I started to get numb hands, even though I was wearing MTB gloves. Each section intersected by the fire-roads, it’s easy to drop off once you’ve had enough (although funnily enough, I found these harder to ride than the trails as they were so deep in mud!).

It may have been 2 degrees when I set out, but I was anything but cold. The blue run was a success and as I came to the end, part of me wanted to go at it all day. But car parking ticket due to expire, I followed the signs back to The Look Out.

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did and at least expected a fall here or there (who knows what the MTBer was on about when he said it was un-ridable!). With a CX sportive coming up in 2 weeks time, I can’t wait to get back on the bike.

Bianchi & Giro

What I rode:
Bianchi D2 Cross with Campag Veloce 10sp
FSA Omega Compact Road Bar with Deda Elementi Zero1 Stem
Ambrosio WS 23 Wheels with Schwalbe CX Comp Cyclocross Tyres and Planet X Frogs Bollox Cantilever Brakeset
Shimano Deore XT M780 SPD XC Race Pedals

What I wore:
Not much different to my every day cycling kit – bibs, leg warmers, Helly Hanson long sleeve base layer, Bianchi Winter Jersey, Skoda wind & rain proof jacket and a neck buff.

Giro Reva Womens MTB Shoe – these were surprisingly comfy for a first ride!
Specialized BG Gel WireTap Glove (A little big for me, these started to rub where padding meets handlebar)

 

 

 

Hayley Davies

Hayley Davies

Writer

Riding since Feb 2011 Hayley is a 30 year old female who loves adventures. If she’s not on one of her many bikes or in the water on a bodyboard/surfboard, then Hayley is probably out looking for something new to keep the adrenaline pumping!
Website: www.hjdonline.co.uk

Martyn Ashton Road Bike Party 2

We knew when Martyn Ashton released his big hit Road Bike Party video there would be another to come.

I’m sure you will all agree though we weren’t expecting this.

May I also wish Martyn a speedy recovery. We can’t wait for another one.

Enjoy

Cycling Santa’s Little Shopping Guide 2013

Cycling Shorts unleashes Santa’s Little Helpers.
Yes the panic is setting in, so much to get organised and so little time, the Cycling Shorts team have put our collective heads together to give you a list of gift ideas that won’t disappoint even the fussiest cyclist in your life.

We’ve split our choices into four perfect price parcels for commuters, kids, pro’s or fans. Click on the images or text links to visit the retailers (we’ve tried to find the cheapest deals for you). If nothing takes your fancy take a look at last years suggestions by clicking here.

 

Stitch-Mi-Lane Commuter Cowl £30Pegatin Stickers from £9.99Walz Wool Racing Caps from £19 - £23One Life ID Stickers from £9.99The Real Life Ups And Downs Of A Tour Pro from £10Chrome Industries Merino Socks £12Women's Race Training Sessions - £20 for 4 hoursDefeet Slipstream Hi-Viz Overshoes - £13.99Handle Bar Heroes £9.95Coppi: Inside the Legend of the Campionissimo £20Track Cycling Calendar 2014 by Guy Swarbrick £16.99Gecko Grip Bar Tape from £11howies Labrador T-shirt £25One23 Coloured Multi-Tool from £11Scruffy Dog Chunky Bobble Hat £26Brooks Trouser Strap from £14.66Purple Harry Bike Wash & Polish Mitt £5.99Monuments-The Handmade Cyclist Paris-Roubaix Print £25Polaris Evolution Waterproof Cycling Overshoe £25.99Speedplay Cleats from £29Brite Ride MEGA Wipes £19.99Rapha Winter Collar £25Montezuma's Doppio Pips £2.79 - Click to buyOne Life ID Band from £12.99-£18.99Stitch-Mi-Lane Wheel Cushion £28Bell Fraction Kids Bike Helmet from £16V-Sprint Espresso Coffee Set from £18.50Hannah Walker Matrix Mug £16Roths Tourleben Calendar 2014 €19.80The Pain And The Glory Best Price £11.10Rapha Winter Socks £15The Winter Cycling Survival Guide (Kindle) £1.96Rob Hayles - Easy Rider Best Price £11.55The Sufferfest Videos from $12.99The Long Race To Glory Best Price £13.40Podium Pants £25

Secret Santa

Under £30

Elena Bremer:
It would have to be a Handmade Cyclist print or 5. My personal favourite is the Monument Collection, I love the style of them and the little stories behind each print- the dog in Paris- Roubaix, the Chapel in Lombardia. You have to be a bit of a bike geek to really appreciate them! I came across Neil’s work when he provided South West Women’s Race Series with prints as prizes. A great gift at only £25 each or buy the full set of 5 for £100.

Anna Magrath:
If you are thinking about giving racing a go next season, sign up to one of the race training sessions that Cycling Shorts staff writer; Heather Bamforth is coaching – price is £20 per four hour session and is aimed at female riders who are either novices, fourth or third category riders.

Safety on the road is a hot topic at the moment, so I would suggest a OneLife ID Band, these silicone bands come with an etched metal tag with a unique URL and QR code that links to your personal profile where your “in case of emergency” can be stored and if someone enters the pin number on the back of the tag into the website your medical data can be viewed by a paramedic. It’s a highly customisable system, show as much or as little info as you want and it has multiple uses, lost property, ICE or Meditag. You can buy stickers, bands, keyrings and cards. Keeping a loved one easily identifiable in an emergency situation could save a life. If you click here you can see an example of what a profile looks like.
Remember there’s a discount of 15% with xmasgift15 until 11th December!

For the kids two items: the Bell Fraction Helmets and The fun Handlebar Heroes… Giddy Up!

For the Boys: A nice retro wool racing cap, Walz do a great quality cap for a good price, available from Always Riding from £19 to £23. Or maybe some leather trouser straps from Brooks, they have a great new range of bright metallics from £14.66.
howies do some great t-Shirts for men and women but my favourite this year is their mens Labrador T-Shirt.. a bargain at £25

Pegatin provide bike sitckers decals to the cycling stars; a great stocking filler. Choose the country flag and name and you’re ready to go! Starts at £9.99.

Why not treat the track cyclist in your life to a Track Cycling Calendar only £16.99, with photographs by top cycling photographer Guy Swarbrick… or for the track sprinter who likes their caffeine rush why not head over to V-Sprint’s website and order an Espresso Set. V-Sprint have cycling in their blood, owned by European Team Sprint Champion; Jess Varnish’s Dad. If you can’t stretch to a set of V-Sprints custom made wheels go for the coffee hit!

Stitch-Mi-Lane is a brand I’ve only recently come across, I bought one of their gorgeous Bike Twist Snoods recently and it’s getting a lot of wear this winter. I love it, really soft and cosy wool. Coming in under budget though is the Commuter Cowl at £28, or the Snug Spectator Merino Bike Bobble Hat also at £28. Want something for the living room? Why not get a Stitch-Mi-Lane Bike Wheel Cushion… my favourite is the blue and orange colourway, again a snip at £28!

For the lazy cyclist: Brite Ride Mega Bike Wipes £19.99 Or if they are feeling a little more energetic… give it a polish! Get a Purple Harry Bike Wash & Polish Mitt for £5.99, Purple Harry have a great range of cleaning products, check them out!

Hannah Walker:
Hannah Walker Matrix Mug £16
Cool little gift for someone you know who loves cycling, drawn by the amazing Marty McCrossan, this little gift won’t break the bank and it’ll help fund Matrix Fitness RA with part of the proceeds going directly to the team!!

Fancy a read… Rob Hayles: Easy Rider £16.99 – Very funny book which will keep you entertained for hours, and shows you the insights of what it takes to become a Pro bike rider! It’s one of those books you’ll read many a time and have you laughing out loud like I did on a flight to Germany!

Nick Dey:
It simply has to be the traditional Christmas undies under the tree – a three pack of Look Mum No Hands Podium Pants (£25) will bring a smile to the faces of all; simply perfect for your pedaling partner! Why not accessorise with a pair of Rapha Winter City Riding Socks (£15), in pink, of course.
What Christmas wouldn’t be complete without a book to curl up with as the kids clean and prepare your bike for the traditional Boxing Day ride. This year has seen a cycling book eruption. My particular favourites, of which I will select three (the reviews are coming – I promise you readers… and you too dear editor!) have been, in no particular order…
Long Race to Glory – How the British Came to Rule the Cycling World, by Chris Sidwells. A wonderfully written and entertaining history of the many characters and events that have paved the way for the riders of today.
The Pain and the Glory: Team Sky Giro & Tour Diary, by Team Sky, Sir Brailsford and Chris Froome. Another fine tome, packed full off Scott Mitchell’s beautiful photography and supported by a free interactive Augmented Reality App that allows readers to scan selected pictures and then to sit back gazing in wonder as Scott tells you the story behind the photograph.
One for you Kindle folk: The Winter Cycling Survival Guide: How to Cycle through your first Winter – keep warm, get fit & stay motivated (A Beginner’s Training Guide.) by Rebecca Ramsay.
There’s no finer place to circle the important cycling dates of 2014 than in the Roths 2014 Tourleben – calendar (42-42 cm). Full of great photos that capture many of the legends of cycling. You won’t see many of these in the UK. Classy and inspiring.

Cristi Ruhlman:
Here are some of my favorites. It’s so wet over here so some warm wool cycling socks or rain booties—both of which I’d love right now, just to walk the dogs!

David James: Some top quality bar tape makes a real difference to comfort when riding and with so many colours and styles to choose from it should be easy to find something just right.

Heather Bamforth:
The majority of your heat escapes via your head – do yourself a favour and buy a bobble hat – Scruffy Dog Creations are selling like hot cakes at the moment! You can find out more about this brand, which boast handmade knitwear by checking out their Facebook page. If you want to buy one right now, you can purchase them from Victor and Liberty, priced between £26 and £29

Titch Longley:
It has to be the Defeet Slipstream Hi-Viz Overshoes (Pink) RRP: £13.99

Hayley Davies:
Every cyclist needs to keep their neck warm in the winter and this Merino collar from Rapha goes down a treat for both the men and ladies alike. Available in just about every club colour you’d need, it’s understated by over delivers in warmth.
Winter Collar £25

Jon Carver:
Secret Santa could get me a set of Speedplay Cleats. I became a SPEEDPLAY disciple earlier in the year. A little odd at first but once you’re used to them they’re brilliant. The best way I’ve found of describing the Speedplay experience is to say that it’s just like having the spindle of the pedal running through the ball of your foot.
Good prices online, but do what all good riders should do… check out your local shop..£28 in mine.

Loz Bywater:
Domestique: The Real-life Ups and Downs of a Tour Pro – A bumper year for cycling books in Britain – Wegelius’ tale has to be most enlightening book I’ve ever read on Pro road cycling. Click here for my review.

Leigh Marshall:
One23 Coloured Multi-Tool – £11. Perfect for fitting in your pocket or saddle bag. Small, but adds rainbow coloured functionality to an often grey wintery world. Who says multi tools need to be boring.

Stolen Goat Harris Tweed Musette £48Ana Nichoola Star Tights £55Aaron Kuehn Bicycle Typogram Print $99Rapha Cross Scarf £40British Cycling Silver Membership £38Elevate Woodworks Bike Shelf £75.41Velobici Ella Vest & Short Set £66Lezyne Hecto Drive LED Light Set from £41Rouleur Centenary Tour De France £38Louis Garneau Revo XR3 Road Shoe from £79.99Tifosi Roubaix Light Night Fototec Glasses best price £53Velocast Package £99Silver Bicycle Necklace £38Chapeau Etape Cycling Jersey BlackRed £70B is For Bike Framed Print by Anthony Oram £50Michaux Lightsaber Leather Reflective Bar Tape £55Bike Bookends £40RH+ Gloves work with Touch Screens £47 Adidas Response Womens Tour Rain Jacket £85

Santa’s Little Helper

Under £100

David James:
New club kit! Abergavenny RC have great new kit for 2014 and I would be very happy to get some for Christmas.

Hannah Walker:
Adidas Response Womens Tour Rain Jacket £85. Brilliant jacket for training in during those cold winter months or rainy days, it’s great to use as a thermal as its a very warm jacket but also keeps you dry. It isn’t that fluorescent ‘hi-viz’ that everyone hates to wear so they’re seen on the road by trucks and cars, instead it’s still a bright colour just a lot nicer and actually looks cool to wear! It’s unisex however there is a mens version with blue stripes down the sleeves!

Loz Bywater:
Rouleur Centenary Tour de France
Evocative as ever from the lovely folks over at Rouleur. Outlandish quality both in terms of its content and binding. Listen to the most recent Rouleur podcast for a review of the project.

Whilst I must admit I’m not a subscriber to VeloCast’s premium content – with this package on offer its hard not to sign up. If it’s half as good as their work for Eurosport then I’m sure it will be a triumph.

Mel MacRae:
This would be on my Santas list… Limited edition print from Aaron Kuehn. I love this picture, it’s something that I come back to time after time and it’s great for showing folks who are learning which bit is which on a bike. On sale for $99.

Leigh Marshall:
Velobici Ella Vest and Shorts Set – £66 for the set. Designed and made in the UK, this set is soft, durable and discrete. Perfect for the leisure rider, commuter & more serious cyclist alike.

Titch Longley:
Would love to get one of these from Santa – Chapeau Etape Cycling Jersey Black/Red RRP: £70.00

Heather Bamforth:
The only thing that every cyclist in the UK should have is gold or silver membership of British Cycling because this gives you up to £10 million in third party liability cover, with gold membership also giving you personal accident insurance. For peace of mind, buy your loved ones membership of British Cycling.

Jon Carver:
Louis Garneau RevoXR3 – I have two pairs of these and I defy anyone to tell me that £200+ worth of Specialized or Sidi are really worth the extra amount of money. Firm on the sole comfortable uppers and the heel retention ratchet system is superb. Currently £79.99 in Evans.

or Tifosi Roubaix Photochromic glasses. Dont fog up, protect your eyes, go from clear to black in a jiffy. every bit as smart as Oakleys every bit as good, but no poncey price tag.
£53 Amazon.

Anna Magrath:
Everyone is carting some bit of tech around these days, why not use a musette in true cycling tradition but with a modern twist. The folks at Stolen Goat have a Harris Tweed design for £48

Hayley Davies
I LOVE this silver necklace from Oliver Bonas. I never take it off!
Silver Bike Necklace £38
These have been a hit for Ana Nichoola, although you’d be lucky to get your hands on a pair they’ve been so popular. The Star Tights are great for the commuter, the easy-going cyclist and the regular club runner.
Winter Star Tights £55
I don’t want to leave the boys out – Every bike deserves to be treated like a piece of art and what better way than hung on the wall. Bike Shelf £75.41

Nick Day:
Why not let the fine folk at Rapha keep you warm and cosy with their distinctive stripy 100% merino wool Cross Scarf, £40.
I have to agree with Loz. The podcast, jersey and eBook bundle from Velocast is a must have for the pro-cycling fan. I’ve been a subscriber since the early days and honestly can’t think of a better team than Scott and John – full of panache and plenty of chapeaux! Their stock & legend is growing fast. An absolute bargain.

Bike Taxidermy £199Men's Castelli Cafe BibTights2014 Cyclo Cross World Championships around £250Woodguards £150.00 per SetBio Racer Climate Long Sleeve Jersey £109Casco Speed Airo Helmet from £199Castelli Womens Jacket £135Go Pro Hero 3 Black Edition from £190Castelli BibShorts WomensBike Taxidermy Have your memories mounted on the wall £199Ana Nichoola  Hello Yellow Commuter Cycling Raincoat £110Blanket Row Finkle Street Bag Set £165Rapha Hi-Vis Bundle £215Elite Arion Parabolic Roller £153Le Col Mizuro Mens B5 Winter Jacket £249.99Bont Vaypor+ ShoesAssos Ij Intermediate S7 Windproof Long Sleeve Jersey £179.99Retro RondeCycle Fit

Something Under The Tree

Under £250

Heather Bamforth:
I have always struggled with women’s jackets – I am totally in love with all the jackets that Bioracer make because they actually fit and are Italian made but are also well-priced. They also follow the European fashions (the brand is massive in Belgium, Holland and Germany, to name a few!) A good example is the Climate long sleeve jacket.
For readers in the UK, Onimpex are the sole distributors, so you will need to visit their website: www.onimpex.co.uk Retails in the UK for £109.

A perennial favourite, the Garmin Edge 500 is a popular choice amongst cyclists due to its size (small and therefore lightweight).

Hayley Davies:
I love being able to relive the best parts of my season back, and there’s no better way to capture the moment than with a GoPro. The built in WiFi also allows you to connect your camera to the GoPro app on your smartphone. The app allows you to control the camera, play back your recordings and allow share you content.

Anna Magrath:
So your trusty steed has gone to the bicycle graveyard in the sky… you can still have those memories, hang the memories pride of place above the mantelpiece hunting lodge stylee (but with less actual death involved). Bicycle Taxidermy have the answer…. Love it!
This is one for the boys, you can’t beat the quality of Le Col clothing, any man would be happy to receive a stylish Mizuro B5 Winter Jacket, worth the price tag of £249.99.

For the girls… Ana Nichoola hits the list yet again with her fabulous “Hello Yellow” Commuter Cycling Raincoat. Too good just to use for cycling!

For the city cyclist who likes to travel around town with their iPad in understated style. New Yorkshire brand Blanket Row bring you their Finkle Street Bag and iPad sleeve set. This set is hand tooled from quality leather, it sits comfortably across your body, on your shoulder or slide both arms through the adjustable strap and it sits neatly on your back while riding. There’s plenty of room inside for your other accoutrements, it’s a very adaptable bag and currently comes in Red, White and more traditional dark chocolate brown. popular with bot men and women. I’m seeing them pop up everywhere. £165

Titch longley:
It has to be – Assos ij. intermediate_s7 Windproof Long Sleeve Jersey – around £179.99

Hannah Walker:
Bont Vaypor+ and Bont Vaypor Shoes £225
The coolest and comfiest shoe around! With the option to ‘heat mold’ the shoe to suit your feet these shoes are the bees knees with regards to the quality for money. They are well made, cool, comfortable and will last you a long time (if you a person who takes care of their belongings). Now with the option to have a ratchet fastener (buckle) or a dual dial retention system the shoe is suited to everyone. If you want to look like the next Bradley Wiggins look no further as he won the 2012 Tour de France in a pair of these!

David James:
What about a cheap as chips trip to the World Cyclocross Champs in 2014. The £250 would bring fantastic memories and start lots of conversations off for years to come.

Jon Carver:
This is on my list. Do a bit of track? Do a bit of testing? Do a bit of Road? Just like being a tart and don’t care what the club bore calls you?
You need The Casco Speed Airo helmet. First all round helmet for TT,Track and road. Comes with a visor too. Should knock out at around £240 so still under budget, but currently available at Amazon for £199.99.
Want one!

Nick Dey:
A long weekend of vintage steel, cobbled climbs and fantastic Flandrian festivities – the Retro Ronde van Vlaanderen is calling you! One of the most magical events there is. Beer and racing Friday, several cobbled Crit’s on Saturday and the Ronde on Sunday. Be quick, as registration is open and numbers are limited to one thousand.
Book your pedaling pal a full cycle fit at, er, www.cyclefit.co.uk. Two hours spent one-to-one with a fully qualified technician should see them riding in blissful comfort. It changed my cycling experience completely.

Cristi Ruhlman:
I think a good gift is always some fresh cycling clothing as a great mid priced gift.  A new Castelli jacket or a fantastic lined pair of ladies (or men’s bibs) something you’d love to have but really “don’t need”

Leigh Marshall:
Woodguards – £150 per set. These super stylish mudguards are handmade in Edinburgh from re-claimed timber and brightly coloured formica. A piece of lovingly crafted art

Invisible Bike Helmet €399Frog Bikes For Kids from £100 - £300Van Hool Tailor Made CoachStages Power Cranks £599-£799Brompton Folding Bike £865 - £1,475Isla Children's - age 2 to 16 - Bikes £129 - £500Canyon Ultimate CFSLX9.0 LTDTacx Ergotrainer Flow T2200 Includes Computer and Front Wheel Stand from £292Cipollini RB1K Bike from $3130Lotto Belisol BusCarnival By Brian Echerer Glass Recycled Bike GearsInvisible Bike Helmet €399The Bicycle Academy Frame Building Course from £360Sage by Heston Blumenthal the Barista Express 1700 Watt Coffee Machine £549.99Factor BikeKathleen King Zommin Thru - $1,800Airstream Race Air (Triple E) With Di2 best Price £4532.49Trainer Road The Sufferfest Videos from $12.99Go4Cycling Flanders WeekKurt Kinetic Rock and Roll II Turbo Trainer £399

Santa Baby

Dream Gift… The sky’s the limit!

David James:
Similar to last year – I would love to give some bikes to those children who miss out over Christmas. Can you imagine their faces if they received a new Isla Bike or one of the new Frog children’s bikes. To see that would be a memory to last for ever. I borrowed a Brompton from my work this year as they have a couple for staff to use, but if they weren’t available, if I was having something myself I would be very happy with one of those.

Leigh Marshall:
I would buy/own a Scottish women’s UCI registered cycle team. The team would race road, track, mtb & cyclocross.

Jon Carver:
Cippolini RB1K Full Super Record Group other than pedals Which would of course be Speedplay… plus, if you get something like this, give Chris Froome one of your old bikes to help him get African riders racing, or donate to www.re-cycle.org.

Hayley Davies:
Unless you’re millionaire, I can’t imagine there are many cyclists with the Vis Vires Factor Bike on their list… wonder if it comes in my size. Although, for that price, you’d hope it was made to fit!

Loz Bywater:
Canyon’s stock continues to rise as it now supplies two teams at World Tour level and with bikes that look like this you can see why.

Titch Longley:
I’ve just taken my nephew on a Balance Bike Building Course and we have great fun, but I’d love a full on Frame Building Course From The Bicycle Academy £360+ depending on which course.

Nick Dey:
Dreams may come true… Nico and his team at www.go4cycling.com offer a sublime and unrivaled week in Flanders during which you will be waited on hand and foot, ride with legends like Johann Museeuw and Team BMC, participate – with your own support and feed stations – at the Amateur Tour of Flanders, wander the service course and meet the teams as they set up, play Belgium hopscotch as a VIP as you track the pro’s during not just the Ronde but also the Scheldeprijs and Paris-Roubaix (unless Specialized have forced the town to change its name!) it doesn’t end there. Check out their website and then check you bank account. They do offer an amazing weekend too, along with almost every major event you can think of.
My personal ‘best bike’ as test ridden at Eurobike 2013 was the Airstreeem Race Air (Triple E) with Di2. It was fast, very fast, and agile, balanced, smooth and fun. In fact any Airstreeem bike would make me grin.
Here’s my final suggestion: the new Kinetic Rock & Roll indoor trainer – A fantastic bit of kit. I would recommend mashing it up with a few of the excellent, often hilarious, but always leg crushing, training vids from www.thesufferfest.com, a Garmin ANT stick and speed/cadence sensor, and a subscription to www.trainerroad.com. Keep your eyes peeled for a full review of this set up soon. A revolution in indoor training is born!

Cristi Ruhlman:
I went to an event that was at the local art gallery. Bike Art at the Dairy Center in Boulder Some great and inspiring bike art as well as some fantastic gift ideas for the high end.
Carnival by Brian Echerer – Glass and recycled bike gears $700 available at his Etsy shop.
Illustration by a friend of mine Kathleen King – Zommin’ Thru $1800

Anna Magrath:
You may have seen we’ve covered the development of the Hovding Invisible Cycling Helmet on Cycling Shorts and it’s finally hit the market, it’s still pricey at this stage but what a great invention! Yours for €399 Euros.
All cyclists love proper coffee, the stronger the better, get cafe quality coffee with the new Sage Coffee Machine by Heston Blumenthal

Hannah Walker:
Simply a Team Sky bus with all the mod cons, gadgets and extra fittings to make a long transfer as comfy as possible! Imagine rocking up to a womens tour series or national series in one of them or even your local club run (you could have your cafe stop in it at the end of the ride with your club/team mates), instead of it being wrapped in Team Sky change it to Epic-Scott colours! It’d certainly turn some heads and be very cool! Maybe Team Sky will be selling it soon as surely they’ll want a new one in the not so distant future??

Heather Bamforth:
First up we have Stages power cranks, for people who want to have a go at power but might not be able to afford the SRM version. From £599 at most bike retailers – there is a Shimano version and SRAM version too – here is the link to the ones that Evans are selling.

At the other end of the spectrum is a Van Hool tailor made coach for your trips to races and events – imagine the envy when you rock up to your local circuit race in one of these bad boys!!!

Incidentally, Lotto Belisol were selling their team bus (admittedly with 817,000 km on the clock), so if you are interested: www.lottobelisol.be

 

Nothing takes your fancy here? Well take a look at last years suggestions by clicking here.

 

 

 

Frame Building at The Bicycle Academy


When I decided that in November there were no balance bikes on the market that suited what I wanted for my nephew I decided I would build one. Where do you start when building something so simple yet so complex? Of course you could buy some tubes and knock one together in your garage with that old dusty welder of your great grandfather’s that sits in the corner. Or you could go and learn how to off one of the most popular companies offering such courses. I sought out The Bicycle Academy and made a few inquiries, as luck would have it they had space on their course on 2nd and 3rd December. That was it I booked on and arranged the hotel.

A 4.00AM start was not welcomed, however the hot shower was, only to be followed by a tedious 4 hour drive (traffic was awful). On Arrival I had no problem finding the workshop, greeted with offerings of large mugs of tea/coffee, I already felt very welcome. I had to decline this offer being an hour late I didn’t want to disrupt things too much. Andy took me and two other gents (both starting the 2 week advanced frame building course) through health and safety. I was told that I would be taught by a guy named Paul. Really genuine guy that knew what he was talking about he showed me what I needed to do and let me get on with it.

First thing to build was the forks, the tubes had been cut to approximate measurements and given a 45 degree bend, they still however needed cutting and filing to shape to fit the steer tube of the fork. This was done with minimal help other than a pair of tweezers to remove the tiny splinter of metal in my finger.

The next step was to file the hole where the seat tube would fit and then on to making the rear seat/chain stays (neither of which are correct as they don’t connect to seat tubes and also don’t pass through the centre of a chain).

Brazing is an art form and was taught to me by Sam who I must say was very patient and helped tremendously. The overall frame looked brilliant when I finished only due to the help of everyone at The Bicycle Academy.

The course is well run by a team of people that are totally in love with cycling and also have a passion to hand on their knowledge of frame building to others.

The facilities were very good, clean and working areas tidy.

I would highly recommend the course to anyone who wants to learn something that is totally unique.

I was so pleased with the course I will be booking onto their ‘Standard Frame Building Course’ next year.

For more information on course visit: www.TheBicycleAcademy.org

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