Riding Street BMX

Nothing to ride? Skate parks to busy? No excuses, ride the streets. If you find yourself getting annoyed at how busy Skate Parks are these days and how many parents seem to think the Skate park is a children’s nursery then maybe you should consider riding the streets.

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It may at first seem like there is nothing to ride in the streets either but you will soon get an eye for the streets and unlock your creative spot creating potential. You can see in the picture above how putting a restaurant A frame on a set of stairs gave us something to jump over and hours of pleasure. You need to be observant and be willing to put effort in to making spots work.

CULTURE/COMMUNITY

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Street Riding allows you to build your own community without restrictions. Nobody is judged, everybody is there to have fun and ride their bikes. It doesn’t matter where you come from and what you do. You can see here how we bumped in to some mountain bike riders and teamed up with them to make a ramp with some pallets and we ended up having a great jam. There were people of different faiths and backgrounds but we could all come together and enjoy what we created.

RIDE ANYWHERE

One of the benefits of Street riding is that you can literally ride anywhere (even a flat concrete space). You can see here how we used my friends flat rail on the pavement outside his house for a morning warm up session. What im trying to say is you can basically ride next to your house bin if you really want to.

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STYLE/CREATIVITY

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Riding Street allows each rider to have individual style. Everybody sees spots differently and some riders will ride spots that other riders wouldn’t even consider to be possible to ride. You can have 10 riders at the same spot but you can be sure each rider will execute his own tricks and lines. This is nice to see as the skate park tends to generate a generic style of rider.

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Winter bike maintenance tips from a bike mechanic

All over the internet you will see sets of winter tips, I thought I would do something slightly different, these few things are what I think not only will keep you out on the road through the winter but keep your bike rolling smoothly as it’s no fun riding a squeaky seized up bike.

 Mudguards

Every article on winter cycling says get mudguards, they do this for a good reason you will ride your bike more over the winter if you have a good set and you won’t spray your mates in the face with all kinds of road spray for the duration of the ride. However from a bike mechanics point of view they are also essential for keeping all that rain, mud, grit, cow dung away from delicate moving parts on your bike. That constant spray of cold water that’s going up your back without mudguards is also going directly into the moving parts of your rear brake, your front mech and a load of other parts that will eventually seize up and stop working, so fit a decent set of mudguards and not only will your mates want to ride with you again you will extend the life of parts of your bike and also be able to change gear and brake.

Barrel Adjusters

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Those twisty bits on your frame, mechs etc, they, especially the ones on the frame will seize up if you never move them. They do have an important job, adjusting your gears so don’t go twisting away if you don’t know what you’re doing but give them a little twist and return them to the original position every now and again and they won’t fuse themselves into your frame leaving us to spend ages drilling and re tapping the threads in your frame trying to get them out.

Cables

Are your brakes stiff to pull or is your gears slow to change down the cassette? Then you will be wanting a new set of cables, It’s not a big expense but your cables take a kicking on winter bikes and even the extra cleaning will leave more water than you want in there which causes them to corrode, go to the bike shop (preferably this one) and get them to change your cables, you brakes will be much easier to pull and your gears will shift much more precisely.

Oil

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Summer and winter place very different demands on your chain lube, I have always used a good wet lube in the winter this is thicker than what you would want to use in the summer so that it doesn’t get washed off in the first 30 mins and your mates don’t have to listen to your squeaky chain for the remaining 5 hours of a ride. For summer though however you want to use a thinner lube on your chain as a thick winter lube will attract dust and muck which will cause premature wear on your drive train and also give you serious risk of getting a 4th cat tat on the back of your leg and all your mates will laugh at you!

Headset

An often overlooked part of the bike and one that gets a direct line in spray from a bike with no mudguards. We quite often get bikes in the shop for repair with a bars that are reluctant to turn and the bike has orange residue streaming down the forks, that’s rust and water coming out from where there should be grease. Greasing the headset regularly helps prolong the life of your headset but also sometimes its worth replacing it as new bearings will have your bike running much smoother for a small outlay.

Tyres

Winter is grim, its cold dark and wet and the last thing you want to be doing is to be stood on the side of the road freezing and soaking wet fixing a puncture so generally in winter it’s a good idea to sacrifice a bit of weight and put some heavier tyres on with more puncture protection than the light weight summer tyres. Another problem with winter is that its slippier than summer so you will be wanting tyres with better grip, this will help you to keep the bike rubber side down but it will also help with braking. Whichever tyres you choose to use its a good idea to regularly check them for slices and nicks, full wrap mudguards are great but they do conceal any problems with your tyres and it’s much better to find the hole in your tyre in the warmth of you house and 40 miles away on the side of a cold bleak country lane in the rain after your tyre has blown.

Keep It Clean

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The best thing you can do to look after your bike is to clean it regularly, It may sound quite obvious this one but as well as extending the life of literally everything that moves on your bike from your brake blocks to your jockey wheels when your cleaning your bike you spend a long time just looking at every little bit of your bike, this is where you will notice any problems with broken parts, loose bolts and even a broken frame and as I’ve said above, it’s much better to find these problems at home where you can have a nice brew whilst you fix it rather than on a baron Welsh hillside in the rain/wind/snow/hail etc

Gear Problems After Fitting Racing Wheels

Do your gears stop working as well when you fit your race wheels to your bike? This is because different hubs have the cassettes in slightly different places relative to the dropouts, this can cause the gears to shift slowly at best and at worst can cause the chain to jump off the cassette and into the frame or spokes.

Adjusting your gears is really easy and only takes 10 mins or so, but please don’t do this for the first time the night before a big race, practise makes perfect.

A Bike stand helps for this as you can pedal the bike but if you can find something to hang the saddle on so the rear wheel is off the floor that would work just as well.

First things first when your swapping your wheel always have it on the smallest cog

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With your racing wheel fitted once again put it in the smallest cog, here we are checking the limit screw for this end, spin the cranks and the chain should spin smoothly, if you hear a ticking here your gears are out and will need adjusting.

There are two cross head screws on the back of your mech, these are the limit screws one will stop your mech from going too far and throwing the chain off the bottom on to your frame and the other stops it from going off the top of the cassette into the spokes.

We start with the mech on the smallest cog and adjust the top screw in or out until the clicking stops and the chain is running smoothly.

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Now we want to get the right tension in the cable, the correct tension is a bit “goldilocks” not too tight and not too loose. From the smallest cog shift up to the biggest cog then back down again to the smallest, if its slow going from a smaller cog to a bigger one it’s too loose, if its slow coming down from a bigger cog to a smaller one it’s too tight. Assuming your gears were working fine before on your old wheels there shouldn’t be too much adjustment needed and you can do this with the adjuster on the mech where the cable goes in, twist it a quarter of a turn at a time out if it’s too loose and in if the cables too tight.

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Once the cable tension is set correctly and the gears are shifting well we now need to check the other limit screw, to do this shift the mech so that it’s in the biggest cog. You then want to tighten the other screw to the one you tightened before. Tighten this screw only a fraction of a turn, you should see the mech move in at this point if it doesn’t it will need adjusting so that the screw butts up against the stopper. Once you have done this check that you can still shift into the biggest cog, if you’ve over tightened that limit screw you won’t be able to shift into the biggest cog.

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Now while you’re at it it’s a good idea to check the other bolts on your mech are tight so using the correct Allen key check the cable is tight and that the mech is tight on the frame.

 

Last of all its a good idea to check that your mech hanger is straight, they can easily get bent in a crash or even by putting your bike in the car

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Don’t whatever you do though try this the day before a race for the first time, practise at home first and make sure you’ve got the technique down, take the bike for a spin and make sure all the gears work and if you are unsure bring your bike in to see us and we will sort it out for you.

Frank Morgan Memorial RR – Taking the camera instead of the bike

Due to a 120 mile ride on Good Friday over the cat and fiddle to Buxton I didn’t feel much like going out on my bike Sunday and so decided to have a rest day, I chose instead to take the camera out to the Frank Morgan memorial road race in Kirkby.

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The weather forecast for the day was for heavy showers and they weren’t wrong, at one point I had to seek refuge in my car, winding the window down to take photos when the race came past.

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The eventual winner Barnabus Purbrook riding for London Dynamo, with an  incredible show of strength rode away from the bunch with 18 laps to go and there he stayed until the end winning with a comfortable gap of 1 minute over a small group of chasers who were off the front of the main bunch. A bit of Strava stalking shows the winner averaged a mind bending 373w for the race, this goes to show the strength needed to keep a bunch of North West heavy hitters at bay.

Click on either of the pictures or follow this link for the full set on Flickr.