We showcase some great gear to help you make the most of riding on two wheels
Cycling has grown massively in popularity in recent years and cycling has become a booming leisure industry. We've just had the first Welshman to win the Tour De France and some exciting road racing on our own soil with the Tour of Britain. So we thought this was the perfect time to share with you some great products to help you get the most out of your time on two wheels.
There's no better time to get into cycling. It's a great way to get fit or get around town. You don't need to dress up in full lycra unless you're into that sort of thing, or trying to shave a few seconds off your morning commute.
There are some great budget bike options to get you on the road.
B-Twin Triban 520 Road Bike
We've been checking out the B-Twin Triban 520 which would be considered an entry level road bike. The specialist bike press has been raving about this bike so we thought this would be a great bike to feature. At £500 this isn't the cheapest bike on the market, but it is a great price point where you get a lot for your money and a really good quality bike capable of taking on any demands you throw at it. It's also got many features which you would find on bikes significantly higher in price.
The carbon forks provide an agile ride with reassuring control and comfort. Moving up to the handlebars these have integrated brakes and gear levers giving you access to all the controls at your fingertips. The ride is lively enough to make it fun yet reassuring for novice riders. This bike isn't as light as some of the more expensive bikes but light enough to make long rides a pleasure and help you get up the climbs.
I've done over 100 miles on this bike now and have a really good feel for the bike. It took a bit of time to get it setup to my body dimensions and I did end up investing in a slightly shorter stem to bring the handlebar to reach back a bit. Other than fitting some clipless pedals (it comes with standard ones) this bike is ready to go out of the box.
My road bike experience is pretty limited, but I have had a go on much more expensive bikes and to be honest the degrees of separation aren't significant for the novice rider as this bike provides all that you need to get on the road and enjoy road cycling. It's a really good bike and I've been pretty dismissive of road cycling for many years and more motivated to ride trails on my mountain bike, I have to say I'm warming to it. I've found it pretty easy to ride 15-20 mile rides averaging around 16 miles an hour, which I couldn't dream of doing on my mountain bike. It makes longer distances much more obtainable in a shorter time and I've found I've been able to fit in reasonably lengthed rides during a break for lunch throughout my working week.
I'm riding a lot more than I would have done with my mountain bike as I'm able to get away for quick rides rather than having to drive to a local MTB trail. It's also pretty exhilarating to be able to hit 30 miles an hour on even modest hills. So will I be joining the lumpy lycra brigade? Not likely! I still have my dignity and the drag created from my t-shirt is not a significant performance constraint when you're carrying this much timber! I'm going to keep pedalling and hopefully head towards doing 50-mile rides before the end of the year!
If you're looking to get into cycling it's worth checking your eligibility for the ride to work schemes as these can contribute much of the cost.
Alongside the bike I've also been checking out some really cool tech for riders who are looking to track their activity and also navigate their routes. Garmin have been at the forefront of cycling and general health tracking for many years and their latest bike computer is pretty much as good as it gets for this type of device. We have been checking out the Garmin 1030 bike computer and have been putting it through it's paces.
Now it's worth mentioning that this is the top of the range bike computer and has doubled the value of my bike by fitting it. It's also able to offer much more functionality than an amateur rider like me would ever need, so for this write up I'm going to focus on the features which are more suited to all riders rather than pro competition riders.
So what does it do? It's a GPS bike computer capable of tracking your ride and providing real-time information like speed, distance, average speed and location. It has a partner mobile app which allows you to connect to other ride tracking tools like Strava. I've round it really easy to link up with Strava and import routes I've previously created. Once you have a route planned the device will provide navigation prompts for the ride in a clear and easy to understand format. I've never used a dedicated device and been happy tracking my rides on my mobile phone in my pocket using the free Strava app.
But I'm a true convert now and wouldn't go back to using that method as the ease of use and the clarity of the information is much better. The unit is also rugged to the elements and I feel much less concerned about strapping this to my handlebars than I would my mobile phone! The 1030 Garmin really is the Rolls-Royce of bike computers and will link with many other sensors to give you in-depth insight into your ride style, power output, heart rate.
It will even track specialist pedal sensors so you can see how effective each leg and each pedal rotation is which could be a great benefit to those who are looking for that level of insight. The screen is super clear to read even on bright sunny days and the battery life is around 20 hours giving you enough juice for even the most demanding rides. Garmin has a wide range of GPS enabled computers so if you don't want to spend £500 on a device there are more options for all budgets.
Chrome have been making top-notch gear for cyclists for 20 years! Famous for their reputation to make indestructible bike focussed messenger bags, they have expanded their range to include bags of all shapes and sizes, clothing and footwear for anyone wanting strong and reliable gear on or off the bike.
The Niko F-Stop, is a bag focussed at those wanting to carry photography or film equipment around and it does a brilliant job of doing that! It's perfect for urban travel, globe-trotting, blogging and Instagramming, even pro photographers would be very happy with this to lug their gear around in.
Rear zipped access to the camera compartment is perfect for those who are travelling in more hostile urban cities and want the anti-pickpocket features of a bag that's almost impenetrable once on your back! The dividers are all adjustable so you can make sure the bag fits all your gear perfectly.
This bag is pretty compact yet still seems cavernous and carries so much stuff. I managed to get two DSLR Bodies, three lenses, all my go-pro rig, microphone, batteries, chargers, 15" MacBook Pro (although it's a snug fit and more suited to a 13" laptop) plus a large notebook, rain jacket, water bottle and spare memory cards in with still some room spare! It still had space on the outside to put a tripod (or Skateboard). The bag even when fully loaded with heavy camera gear is very comfortable and with its bike focussed ergonomics sits high on your back to ensure unrestricted movement on the bike!
Sticking with bike focussed bags, we've got another high-quality bag from one of the most iconic British bike manufacturers. Building their reputation on some of the most durable saddles used by many long-distance cyclists Brooks have adapted their functional design into an exciting range of bags and accessories.
The Pitfield is a Flap-Close Backpack, designed for urban cycling. Made from durable, waterproof materials, the Pitfield is an ideal bag for the everyday, all-weather cycle commuter, and includes a padded laptop compartment, aquaguard zips and a unique, stretchable compartment for a helmet and other items.
This is a really well thought out bag, with loads of storage pockets including a stretchy pocket which can hold a bike helmet. Brooks reputation for building really high-quality kit shines through in this bag as the level of engineering is simply stunning, you know you have a very well made bag when you hold it and while I've not subjected it to any really nasty weather it looks more than capable to keep your stuff dry.
Keeping your road bike gear clean during the wetter seasons or cleaning the mud off your Mountain bike after a muddy day on the trials can be a real chore. Thankfully Kaercher have come up with a fabulous portable cleaning system which you can take with you as it holds water and is operated by a rechargeable battery unit. While it's not going to replace a mains powered pressure washer it does pack enough of a punch to clear
It's a pretty compact unit which easily fits into your car boot, so perfect to take on trips to the local Mountain Bike Trails and ready to clean the bike before you head home. It's got a built-in lithium Ion Battery so it's ready to go and can be used however far off the beaten track you may be. It's even good for clearing a muddy dog before you let them back in the car or cleaning your boots after a muddy trek in the hills! We found the only limitation of this unit to be the size of the water reservoir. If you're planning on getting your bike really muddy then we would suggest taking a small water carrier to reload the water.
We couldn't really do a bike gear review without featuring this! Our Aussie readers will be delighted to see their national flag being represented in this stylish bit of bike clobber suited to the larger lad! Fat lat at the back make cycling gear that's designed to fit well enough to cover even the most portly of riders and still look good out on the road.
With StayFresh Antibacterial fabric, with soft Lycra sleeve cuff. It's really comfortable, and with antibacterial and wicking it will keep you cool and dry and looking great. I wore this on a very hot day at the Lee Vally Velodrome and it kept me cool and fresh despite getting rather sweaty.
Liv are a brand dedicated to making cycling more enjoyable for women with specially tailored products for women cyclists. With a huge range of MTB's and Road bikes along with a comprehensive clothing and gear range, it's one of the only companies in the world to focus purely on catering for women.
Signature Womens Short Sleeve Jersey
This short sleeve jersey offers a great fit, a TransTextura™ fabric which offers great wicking and heat distribution.
Dakine are one of my favourite MTB clothing brands as they offer hardworking kit which is fit for the trail or for everyday use. I live in my Ridge shorts when the sun's out and have owned two pairs so far. The Vectra Jersey is a great fitting trail top which provides enough space to fit protection underneath if your planning on hitting the trails hard. The Sentinal gloves are comfortable and offer huge levels of protection from knocks and crashes. With the suede grip they offer really assertive control and the mesh backs offer enough ventilation to keep your hands cool under pressure!
Dragon Alliance - Enduro X Sunglasses
These Enduro X Glasses are a great fit and perfect for cycling or trail running. They come with striking red anodised lenses and have lots of great features like vents to prevent that sweaty build up and fully adjustable nose bridge and temples to ensure a snug fit. I even wear these when paragliding and they never let me down.
Clug bike clip
Sometimes it's the simplest design that's the most effective and this bike stand clip from Hornit does exactly what you want it to do. It claims to be the smallest bike rack in the world. It's effectively a "c" shaped clip with hard plastic on the outside and a rubber gripping material on the inside. It comes in both sizes to suit MTB's and road bikes. Find out more >
Overboard waterproof pannier
Overboard make some of the best waterproof bags on the market. I've used their waterproof camera bag for years and trusted it with thousands of pounds worth of camera gear and it's never let me down. I swam through a sea cave in Thailand with it and my gear was bone dry at the end! This bike pannier is made of the same stuff with the classic roll-top design and universal pannier mounts it's the perfect companion for your bike trecking needs. Find out more >