How to save money on cycling

Ok, so you’re cycling already and you didn’t know you had to buy all these cycling accessories and gadgets. Next thing you know, your local bike shop tells you that parts need to be replaced and the job will cost you a fortune.broken-piggy-bank
There are ways to save money so you can carry on cycling without breaking the bank.

Sales

Let’s start off with the obvious one. There are bound to be sales on, whether that’s in a bricks and mortar shop or an online retailer. Catch the end of season sales or warehouse clearouts. Some brands do sample sales at pop up shops too. Think twice before passing on signing up to newsletters next time; you might miss the sales or the sizes of clothing you want.

Second hand bike

You might need a new bike. Why not shop for a second hand one instead? You should have some knowledge about bikes to avoid disappointments or surprises and if you don’t, take someone with you who does.

This may sound counter intuitive at first but buying another bike could save you money. If you’re a  recreational cyclist who cycle a lot and commutes by bike, think about buying yourself a second hand bike as your run around town bike or a dedicated bike for the winter. It will bear the brunt of the wear and tear so replacing parts will be cheaper than on your ‘better’ bike to save you money in the long run.

Upcycle

You might be tempted to buy all sorts of cycling accessories but there are many ways to upcycle old bike parts to save you from spending more money. Wheel spokes are the most versatile of the lot, you can bend them to shapes like hooks for hanging your cycling gears to dry, letters/ words/ shapes to go into a handmade card to your cycling friends or file them into picks to pick out bits stuck in your tyres. Old inner tubes can be used to rewrap tool handles or used as elastic cord to fasten loads on your pannier. You can make all sorts of homeware too like wheel shaped clocks, bike chain photo frame and small key rings.

Maintenance skills

I can’t say it often enough: “regularly maintain and clean your bike”. Your bike will work better for longer with regular TLC. Some maintenance jobs tend to be reserved for bike shops but you can do a lot yourself at home! Check out our must haves for home mechanics blog to get your tool box set up.

Meet like minded people

Last but not least, like minded people should be able to point you in the right direction for any of the above points. Sometimes they might be using something you thought you wanted but their honest review will help you avoid a huge disappointment. There’s always something spare they want to sell cheaply or a tool you want to borrow to use just once.

 

Must have’s for home mechanics

Allen keysRegular checks and maintenance of
your bike are highly recommended. And the good news is you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to do it yourself. Pick up the necessary skills at our maintenance classes and then all you will need is a set of tools. Here are some must have tools for basic maintenance jobs to keep your bike healthy.

Allen key set

All the other tools will be jealous of a set of allen keys
because they will be the clear favourite. Most components and accessories on your bike are held by bolts. Although the most used sizes are 4 and 5 mm, getting a set instead of buying one allen key at a time will be worth it for that one time when you need the 2 mm one.

Screw drivers (JIS)

You probably refer to your cross head screwdriver as a Phillips screwdriver but it’s not necessarily the one you need. If you’ve cursed at the apparent incompatibility between your Phillips screwdriver and the limit screws on your Shimano derailleurs, then brace yourself for a mind blowing revelation.

Shimano uses Japanese Industry Standard (JIS) screws on their derailleurs and Phillips screwdrivers don’t engage with these screws properly and “cam” out. Get yourself a JIS screwdriver and you will thank me for it.

track pump gauge

Tyre levers

Changing tyres should be one of the first maintenance skills you acquire and punctures strike when you are least prepared so have these at the ready.

Track pump

If you are committed to changing tyres yourself at home then treat yourself to a track pump. Get one with a pressure gauge too while you’re at it.

Cable cutter

I’ve tried to cut brake and gear cables with a pair of cutting pliers before; we learn from experience. Use a good quality cable cutter for a clean cut in milliseconds and minimise the fraying on a new cable.

Chain breaker

Changing the chain can breathe new life into your bike and you will need a chain breaker. Here’s a little tip: get an unused, round spoke and cut it to about 6 cm in length. Use a couple of pliers to bend hooks on both ends and you’ve got yourself a device to hold the loose ends of the chain together whilst you connect it back up.

Chain oil and lubricants

Clean your bike often and reapply chain oil and lubricants where appropriate and your bike will love you for it (you’ll know by the lack of squeaking, crunching noise from the drivetrain).

Rags

Sometimes even the charity shops don’t want your old t-shirts. Worry not because your bike does. Use them to clean your bike, wipe off excess chain oil / lubricants, wipe clean the drivetrain or rims. I normally give up washing the rags after a couple of attempts; I’ve got a stack of old t-shirts queueing up to be sacrificed.

Workstand

A workstand can be a bit of a luxury but it you are like me and want to avoid back pain at all cost then it becomes essential. You’ll need to find a balance between cost, sturdiness and portability when shopping for a workstand but it’ll change your whole experience of home mechanics.

 

Do you have a tool at home that you rely on that is not on this list? Let us know in the comment section!

 

How to breathe new life into your bike

We all grow attached to our bikes, sharing some great cycling memories with our trusty steeds, but they can become the worse for wear. Some say the frame is the heart of the bike so without changing the frame, here are some suggestions of how to breathe new life into your bike.

Handlebar tape

This is in front of you all the time and can make a bold style statement. Get yourself some new handlebar tape for a refreshing grip. This is your chance to experiment with a new colour or pattern. Maybe you want to try a different level of cushioning or material too?

Saddle

This is another contact point between you and the bike. If you ride your bike a lot and wear padded shorts, you are probably on a fairly firm saddle which will soften over time so it will need replacing. If you are very much on the side of sitting on plushy saddles then you probably don’t need to replace it for a while.

Tyres

Often overlooked but they can transform your ride quality. Get some new tyres and this is your chance to choose if you want to go for wider tyres for more comfort, more puncture resistant tyres or different tread if you go off road sometimes. This is another place you can add some bling to your bike with different coloured tyres now widely available.

Cablescable stop

Ok, we now have hydraulics to contend with but that generally has longer maintenance intervals. If you are still using cable actuated brakes and gears then replacing them should give you more responsive braking and more accurately indexed gears.

Chain

Old, worn chains present many problems which get worse the longer you ignore them. A new chain will help indexing your gears and reduce wear on the rest of the drivetrain. It should also mean you’ll enjoy a much quieter drivetrain.

Cleaning

You might have noticed that the suggestions so far involve buying something new. Cleaning your bike will surprise you with how different your ride feels afterwards. Shifting cfire hosean become more effortless, the drivetrain should be quieter and braking is more responsive. More regular cleaning intervals will make the job easier and also give you the chance to spot faults on your bike components before they catastrophically fail. Think about using bike specific degreasers to dislodge the more stubborn grime that soapy water is too weak to tackle.

Maintenance

This should go hand in hand with cleaning your bike. If you waited too long before cleaning it then the brakes and derailleurs will probably need adjusting. Replacing the parts mentioned in this blog also requires skill and tools which are essential if you are thinking of going on long rides or touring. If you are not sure about what to do, we run council subsidised maintenance classes regularly that can help you get started; check out our upcoming classes.

Watch out for next week’s blog about the Must have’s for home mechanics; you will need some of these tools to help you with the maintenance jobs we’ve mentioned in this blog. What do you do with your bike to give it a new lease of life? Let us know in the comments section.

 

Tell tale signs of cyclists off their bikes

Cyclists walk among us and here’s how to spot them hiding in plain sight. You may find out one of your friends, family or colleagues next to you right now is a secret cyclist!

The helmet hair

This one is no secret. The dreaded helmetmessy hair
hair is particularly noticeable if the helmet goes on wet hair. Not everyone can actually fit a helmet on their head but if they do, there’s a high chance they’ve just molded their hair style for the day. There are some exceptions here: slightly curly, short hair may allow you to go undetected and really messy hair is immune to helmet hair syndrome.

Helmet strap line

This is a seasonal feature and it’s hard to notice if you don’t know what you are looking for. It’s a tan line from the helmet straps running down from in front of the ears to the jaw.

Thigh tan lines

These appears on lycra clad cyclists. When they are in their casual shorts, you should find definitive tan lines somewhere above the knees. These are also a seasonal feature but they can outlast the winter ready to be reinforced again in the next summer. (If you are one of the lycra-clad then you will and know what to do with the gripper placement, and if you don’t, you will be introduced to The Rules in due time.)

Funny walking

No I am not talking about the result of long hours in the saddle. Some cyclists wear shoes that clip into their pedals that makes walking a little difficult and usually noisier (though some manage to be less noticeable). But there’s no mistaking it if you see someone walking like a penguin and sounding like they are tap dancing as they go.

The splash

Your colleagues probably didn’t have a toilet accident on their way into work. The chances are that they cycled into work on a rainy day on a bike without mudguards. They know full well it will happen and generally bear the splash marks on their lower back with a kind of biker’s bravado.

Road Sign

Local geographical knowledge

They will know the names of obscure local villages, shortcuts or only know the names of the hills rather than the road names. If they start making reference to Strava segments then they are just showing off or they have a partner in crime who’s equally Strava obsessed.

Their waterproof jackets

I will leave you with the rarest sign but it’s a sure sign. Most cycling tops (jerseys, gilets, jackets) have pockets on the lower back for easy storage and access to food and other accessories during a ride. While not many cyclists wear these tops with casual clothes, you do occasionally spot them. And if you do, give them a high five because cyclists are awesome!

If you don’t cycle and these don’t put you off then you should probably join us. We will welcome you with open arms one arm because we always keep the other one firmly on the handlebar.

 

Cycle Confident provides Cycle Skills and Family Cycle Skills sessions and are FREE for people who live, work or study in selected boroughs. If you want to go on leisure Led Rides, they are FREE or subsidised.