How many ways can you save time and money by cycling?

It may be stating the obvious but using a bike as your means of transport really can give your finances a boost. What’s perhaps less obvious, but actually no less accurate, is how much time you can save too.money-in-broken-piggy-bank

Save money on transport

Cycling is by far the most efficient way to get around for the majority of city dwellers in terms of time and cost. Every time you choose your bike over public transport or your car, you are saving money.  For ease of comparison, we’ve done some educated estimates to compare the cost of using the tube and cycling to travel to work in London.

An annual travelcard for zones 1 to 2 is currently going for £1,320. Swapping for a bike equates to about 15 km round trip each day for most people (estimation aided by TfL’s geographically accurate map of of the London Tube and rail lines).

Assuming you are cycling into work 15 km each day, 5 days a week, all year round, you are looking at around £100 bike maintenance cost at most. For that amount of cycling, you will probably get yourself a quality bike along with accessories all for under £400. So for your first year of cycling into work in zones 1 to 2, it’s fair to say you can be looking at a saving of £820! And of course it only gets better from hereon in as you don’t have to buy a brand new bike every year.

If you are travelling between zones 3 and 4 or 2 and 3 instead, your annual travelcard for the tube is cheaper at £988. The practical distance you cover in these zones is around 10 km round trip each day. The bike maintenance cost for the year will be proportionally lower at around £66. Let’s make the (possibly sweeping) assumption that you are less keen on spending as much money on bikes and accessories as well, so might spend £300 altogether. In this scenario, you are still saving a whooping £622 in the first year!

Time is money
By: cea +

Time is money, so save time with cycling

Beat the traffic jam with cycling. Depending on where you live (and this is mostly true in cities), cycling can often get you to places much faster than motorised vehicles can. You don’t even need Bradley Wiggins’ legs or lungs! You can often access shortcuts not open to motorised traffic for an even more tranquil journey.

How about all that time you spend waiting for a train or bus? Without a doubt, using that time getting physical exercise on your bike is of much more benefit. The added bonus is that you are more in control of your journey; you can start your journey whenever you feel like it, know how long it’s going to take and no one will go on strike on you.

Give your health a boost

All the evidence shows that consistent, weekly exercise benefits the health of both body and mind. It’s a great option to combine your commute with exercise, thereby killing two birds with one stone, or you might just want to soak up the endless scenery as you zip along a country road.

Cycling is also a particular favourite for those looking for low impact exercise to limit aggravating overuse injuries from running and squash, for example.

Low cost hobby

You can spend as little or as much money as you want on your bike and cycling specific clothes and accessories. However, going out for a cycle ride costs you nothing other than your own energy! There’s no monthly membership, entry fee or any obligation to use any consumables.

Cycle to Work scheme

Who would have thought you can get tax free transport every day? Your employer just needs to have signed up with the Cycle to Work Scheme. You will then have a budget to purchase your bike and necessary accessories such as lights, locks, helmet, etc which will all be tax free! For exact details and eligibility, visit their website.

What to do with the saved money?Current Logo Blue

What you do with the money you’ve saved is up to you, obviously. You could buy more bike stuff or you could sponsor a bike with the charity we are supporting: The Bike Project. They fix up second-hand bikes and donate them to refugees and asylum seekers. Some of the bikes that they receive go on to be sold through The Bike Shop to ensure long-term sustainability. A bike is also donated to a refugee or asylum seeker for each bike sold. Pass on the cycling love, people!

Beginner’s blog 4: How to avoid a puncture

vittoria rubino failIt’s the cyclist’s scourge, the spanner in the works (if that’s not mixing metaphors). The moment when being your own boss, master of your own journey (not to mention time keeping) goes out the window. But take heart! There’s a surprising number of things you can do to prevent yourself falling prey to the dreaded P-word.

Puncture resistant tyres

Most tyre brands offer options with puncture resistance. They will have features to resist cuts to the tyre side walls and / or resist sharp objects penetrating the entire tyre tread. Depending on where you anticipate cycling, these might be worth investing in.

Check your tyres

Whatever tyres you’ve got, you will still find little flints or stones stuck in them from time to time. Remember that a puncture isn’t about damage to the tyre but to the inner tube inside it. So check your tyres regularly and prise out any flints or other detritus to minimise the chance of them eventually working their way through.

Check your inner tubes

The inner tube doesn’t normally get taken out to be checked on so if you’re changing your tyres and the tubes are coming out anyway, give them a quick visual once over. You may find some abrasive marks that haven’t caused a puncture yet but are a useful warning about debris that has found its way into the rim or tyre. You’ll be far better off sorting out the problem in the comfort of your home rather than by the side of the road on a cold February night.

Get skilled up on changing your tyres and inner tubes

Believe it or not, not changing the tyres and inner tubes correctly is a common culprit of repeated punctures. Do it right to avoid pinching or ripping the inner tubes; make sure there is no debris on the inside of the tyre or rim; check that the offending “puncturer” is out of the tyre and make sure you have the correct size inner tubes to compliment the tyres or vice versa. Treat yourself to our subsidised bike maintenance course here.

Line choice

Think about the common causes of punctures: sharp objects going through the tyres and pinch puncture from hitting potholes. You can avoid these by choosing the line you take on the road or trail carefully. Avoid riding through a gutter full of road grits and often unseen glass and other debris, and be better prepared to steer away from potholes by focusing your vision sufficiently far ahead.

Solid tyre

If there’s nothing to puncture, then it’s job done. Solid tyres is aptly named, they are solid unlike normal tyres which are pneumatic systems. The ride quality will normally be different though so don’t rush to get a pair and think they will ride exactly the same. Some brands are now calling the tyres “airless” tyres instead of solid tyres.

track pump gaugePump up your tyres

This is not guaranteed avoidance advice and probably only really makes a difference if your tyres are really under inflated. But without enough air in the inner tubes, if you hit a pothole, the tube will be pinched between the tyre and the rim. This usually results in a pair of small, clean cut slits on the tube, hence its nickname, the snake bite.

Don’t mention the word p***ture

Call us superstitious but mention the p-word and it will come for you. Don’t gloat about how you haven’t had a puncture in 10 months because you just might wake the sleeping beast.

Don’t ride your bike

100% puncture proof and 100% no fun.

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.