Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Seatposts


Seatposts


Under construction. Please be patient. Thank you

Friday, March 10, 2006

Bike Buying Tips

(Extract from WhatMTB.com which was written by me in response to a ‘What Bike?’ question.)

Firstly, the first question to ask yourself is: what size frame will you need? Basically measure your inside leg and then subtract approx 2-3 inches… this is the amount of frame clearance you’ll need. If you try a bike in a shop (which is highly recommended!) the shop assistants should be more than capable of sorting out the sizing. Although buying off the internet is good, and in many cases you can get some great deals, but only really if you are certain about your frame size!

If you need disc brakes:

Buying a Discs equipped bike as opposed to a V-brake equipped bike is a tough one, but generally, if you intend to do any off-road with your bike then disc brakes are a big bonus. The main advantages are:

  • That the brakes are consistent, i.e. it'll stop you no matter what the weather.
  • If you buckle your wheel, the extra tyre clearance will/should still allow you to get home.

  • Disc brake pads generally last longer than v-brake pads.

  • Your rims will last longer as they aren't being touched.

The main disadvantage about discs is the extra weight over V-brakes... but it's a minimal disadvantage for the advantages you get when going off-road. Another one, is that they still use a cable to actuate them, but at around £3.50 every 3-6 months or so, it shouldn't hurt the wallet, especially if you keep on top of the maintenance.

When it come to hydraulic disc brakes, the advantages are better still. There is no need for steel brake cables as the system is sealed and runs on hydraulic fluid. Some run on Mineral oil, like Shimano and Magura, which is kinder to the environment, whereas Avid, Hope and Hayes, all use either Dot 4 or Dot 5.1, which can lead to your paint pealing off your frame. Should be okay if you catch it before it has time to settle though, and a big bonus is that many people use both systems, so be assured that they are okay.

Hydraulic disc brake pads also seem to last a very long time, and it is often seen and heard of that hydraulic discs, providing they are taken care of – cleaned, etc – that they can be ran for over a year maybe two before it has to be bled – where the hydraulic fluid has to be replaced.

More and more, the Hydraulic disc systems are getting better and lighter and sure enough, it is becoming very rare not to see them on a bike costing more than £500.

If however, you intend to ride roads, tow paths or cycle paths, then a set of V-brakes may suffice. The problem is, you may eventually go off-road so having them in the first place will save money. You could always go for a bike with disc ready hubs, so if you do want to upgrade to discs at a later date, then all you'll need to buy, is the discs. Still cost you - even if you do one at a time - about £100.

Pointers:

1) Have a look at what is available to you - can you get the bikes you want? i.e. does your LBS deal with the companies you are interested in!?

2) Take a test ride - a test ride can tell you pretty much everything you need to know!

3) Have a look at the frames - frame quality is paramount. No matter what people tell you, the spec is only as good as what it's hanging off.

4) Spec is good though - if the frames are of similar quality (which is more than likely) - go for the specification that suits you. Things can be upgraded as an when you need, but if it's a while until you might be able to afford it, then try and get the most for your money.

5) Don't be afraid - don't be scared to haggle. Okay, these people who own the bike shops have to make a living, but if the frame is the right size, but the stem needs to be shorter/longer, try and get them to swap it for you... before you buy it and take it.
Also, not all bike shops like to give discount, but they may be able to knock some money off accessories, so it doesn’t hurt to ask. You'll also get - SHOULD GET - a free service/check over around 1-3 months down the line. I know shops who give a free 1 years service with every sale. Depends on the shop you intend to go to.

6) Don't let price be the maker of a deal - if the price is right, but the bike is the wrong size, nothing in the world will change the fact that it is wrong... so please, don't let the price be the decider... let the decision be if the bike is right for you.

7) Keep them happy - going to your local bike shop can help you a lot in the long run. Face to face contact s opposed to the internet can help the decision making process no end. Bike shop staff can be invaluable, and can help you in times of need. So buying a bike - no matter what the budget - can help, as they can truly help making sure the bike is the right size and is the right bike for you. Most employees/owners should, if pushed, will ell you the honest truth about what's right for you and is totally wrong, i.e. they shouldn't push you to an incorrect buy.

8) Quiet!! - try and visit the shop when it's quiet... which in my experience is Mondays, and Wednesdays. Weekends are usually very busy and the shop may be hesitant in letting you test ride. Also, on a quiet day, they should be able to give you their full attention.

9) Safety first - helmets are super important. I'd rather look like and idiot, but at least i know I’m more protected. 4 out of 5 head injuries due to cycle accidents, could have been reduced with a helmet. At least wearing one shouldn't mean you'll be drinking through a straw for the rest of your life.
Helmets nowadays are much better, look better, and are of the strictest law designs around.

Good luck and happy hunting! Remember, buying a bike is meant to be fun, as soon enough you’ll be riding off-road and getting mud on your face!!


This post is still being amended, so apologies if all is not well. The information is good, but it’s not quite finished, sorry.

Bicycles - Frame Companies

Bicycles - MTB Companies

Wheels

Wheels - SingleSpeed & Geared

When it comes to wheels, you have 2 choices. You can either buy a cheap off the shelf wheel, which is made buy a machine or you can get a wheel custom built, i.e. made for you and your riding style.

Obviously, a custom wheel is the best way, and bargins can be had if you look around.
Merlin Cycles and Stif Performance Mountain Bikes are very well known for making great quailty, award winning wheels - in the magazines.

How much should you spend? That is entirely up to you. A good set of wheels that are custom built, can be bought as cheaply as £80 for front and rear, with albeit a basic, but very functional spec.



Wheels consist of a hub at the centre of the wheel - which can hold either ball bearings or sealed cartridge bearings, but this pretty much depends on the manufacturers. Each has their respective flaws, and many people will argue about which is best... but as with everything, it's personal choice which takes precedent. Most riders though, due to ease of replacement, would recommend sealed cartride bearing hubs. Something to consider, but unfortunately, the design and use of cartridge bearings, usully makes hub prices a little dearer than most. Shimano (Japanese Cycle Parts Manufacturer) makes good quality hubs which are made with ball bearings, which is why you'll see them on the budget (£80) wheelsets.



Wheels are also made up of spokes, and rims. Spokes hold the wheels together. They are held (predominantly) at the rim end with a spokes nipple. The spoke nipple holds the spoke in the wheel and contains thread, which is used to tension the spokes to make the wheel straight. Good spokes in my experience are made from DT Swiss and ACI. there may be others, but the above ones are the one i have used. Sorry for the limited choice and information.



The rim is made from an aluminum alloy (an alloy is a mix of metals) and what materials it is made from is determined by the manufacturer. Manufacturers of well made rims are Mavic,
Sun, DT Swiss (not cheap, but very good)
. These in my experience, with good quailty spokes and hubs, can make a strong wheel. at the end of the day though, there are different rims and hubs, which are designed for the different genres of MTBing, so take a look and see what fits the bill best. As with everything, there are cheaper hubs, rims, etc by the manufacturers above, but what i am trying to sau is, that there should be a wheel - within reason - to suit your budget and riding style (genre). You just have to be realistic and realise that not everything comes cheap, but once bought, provding they are looked after, wheels can last a long, long time - depending upon ho much abuse you give them!

Wheels and their Uses (sorry, no links):
  • XC:
    • Mavic XC717 Rim and Shimano LX Hubs = £79.95 - Great price, but with V-Brake Rims and Hubs
    • Mavic XC717 Rim and Shimano Deore Disc Hubs = £94.99
    • Mavic XC717 Rim and Shimano Deore XT Hubs = £109.99 - V-Brake Rims and Hubs
    • Mavic XC717 Disc Rims and Shimano XT Disc Hubs (w/Black Spokes) = £114.99
  • TRAILS:
    • Mavic EX721 Rim and Shimano Deore Disc Hubs = £94.99
    • Mavic Crosslands (Own Hubs, Rims, and Spokes) = £149.99
  • FR/DH:
    • Mavic EX721 Rim and Shimano Deore Disc Hubs = £94.99 - strong, but a budget DH wheel



Note
: prices for the above are subject to change according to if they are sale item or not - please check wheel sites or your local bike shop for their recent prices.


Under construction. Please be patient. Thank you

Tyres

Tyres - Summer & Winter

Under construction. Please be patient. Thank you

Groupsets

Groupsets - SRAM & Shimano (inc. Chains, Split links, etc)

Under construction. Please be patient. Thank you

Pedals - Flat & SPD's (Clipless)

Pedals - Flat & SPD

SPD's

SPD's - Shimano Pedalling Dynamics - coined by Shimano, naming their clipless pedal designs. They can be called SPD's or their nickname SPuD's or the general name... clipless pedals.

First of all: Do you need SPD's?
More than likely, you would have ridden your bike down a slippy section, or had your feet slide off the pedals due to mud being on your feet. Clipless pedals help prevent that. With a plate - called the cleat - that fits on to the bottom of your shoe, it pushes and 'clips' in to the shoe with a click. The pedal can come in various incarnations depending on manufacturer, but it consists of a plate in the pedal, with an area which can securely hold the cleat on the pedal.

Here are a few pictures of some pedal designs:

This is the Shimano PD-M540 (the PD means pedal, and the 540 is the model). It's a great priced clipless pedal at £39.99, but it's not the cheapest. That job is left to the PD-M520 at £29.99.
This is quite a generic design, and frankly, if you intend to convert to SPD's, then Shimanos represent great value, and most importtanly, are some of the easiest to un-clip from, i.e. get out of/remove your foot off the pedal.




This is the M424. At £29.99 it is a great price, and i personally have a set of these which i have been using for 6 years out of a total of 12 years of using SPD's. Comparing the above M5200 with this, you can see that this pedal has an extra cage surroundnig the outside. The reason i chose this pedal, is for 2 reasons. 1) The price and 2) the fact that if my foot comes off the pedal, or i unclip to go around a fast corner, i can find the clip in section easier. In my hunble opinion, the second reason is why i favour the platform-esque design of the M424 and the slightly more expensive version, the M545. The outer cage also gies your foot a little more protection, as the cage stick out more than a standard SPD.


This is the Cranks Bros. Egg Beater. It is a veriation of the clipless pedal which has com up with a rather unique solution to the mud shedding conundrum that plague SPD's and clipless pedals. It's very minimal, and can suffer (intenally) from bad bearings, but it has lots of space and it minimalism allows it a great ability to not it get plugged with mud.



This is the Cranks Bros. Candy C. It's their cheaper offering, but at £45 RRP, isn't that cheap. Again, like the Shimano M424, this has a similar outer cage designed to keep you that little more protected, and it allows you to locate your shoe's cleat to the pedal's clipless area that little bit easier. It has a body made of a fibre composite (thermoplastic, i believe) and steel plates to prevent the cleats from damaging the fibre composite.


Any clearer? No. Okay, no problem.
How about power transfer? Well, clipless pedals, and clipless shoes enable you to increase your power transfer to the pedals more efficiently than a set of standard flat pedals and trainers. This is good if you do longer rides and want to lose less power, and also with the ability of making ure your feet are less likely to slip off, then your get and overall added benefit. Not everyone is likely to benefit from these pedals, but if the above info helps, thn go try some at your local bike shop and see what you think. Although, be prepared, as you'll fall of lots, and find that you are unable to unclip for a little while until you get used to them. As a tip, try and unclip before you need to actually stop. Taking your feet out of the pedals beofre you stop should ensure you experience a smoother transition. Also, if you are new to MTBing, learn to ride your bike before you launch into buying SPD's/clipless pedals. As the saying goes, learn to walk before you run!

Also, float is a consideration you need to take into account. Float is the pedal's ability to allow your foot to move slightly, so that it is not static. If your foot was static, you could easily injure your knee. Pedals range from a small amount of degrees, to a lot of degrees of float, but it depends on the pedal manufacturer.

Now, for the pedals:

  • CRANK BROS.
Although i am not convinced by the Crank Bros. pedals due to the appalling bearings (they don't last very long!), i will suggest them, as they do have their followers. This is mainly down to their mud clearance, not their design in terms of the ability to clip in to them, asthey aren't that comfortable in my opinion.
  • LOOK
    • 4X4 Egg Beaters = £99.99 - Said to be the better better than the company who designed them... Crank Bros.
  • SHIMANO
    • M520 = £29.99 - Cheap and cheerful, but a good pedals for those on a budget, or for someone who has never tried SPD's and doesn't want to spend much.
    • M424 = £29.99 - a great price and a great pedal. One of my favourites.
    • M540 = £39.99 - Their bench mark pedal. Although there is cheaper, this has better bearings!
    • M545 = £49.99 - Super tough pedal, designed for people who are hard on their bike. With a metal cage surrounding it, it makes it a good foot protector for DH/FR.
    • DX M647 = £59.99 - this is designed for BMXers, but would make a great DH/All-Mountain pedal. It also has a strong plastic age, and as it's plastic, is ligher than the M545.
    • M959 = £79.99 - Shimano's top of the line SPD's. Very good pedals, which last too.
  • TIME
    • ATAC XS Carbon = £100 (approx) - great pedals, with lots of mud clearance. These pedals have lots of float and can be a little difficult to get out of a first, but once you are used to them, they are great. Highly recomended from many a user. These pedals were the main rival to Shimano, although, now that's the Egg Beaters job. Up to yuo tough, which one you opt for.

Flat Pedals

If the idea of being strapped to a pedal makes you nervous, or your riding doesn't warrent a SPD - you ride DH/FR, or mud riding means you like to put your feet down wothout thinking - then a flat pedal is for you.

Designs vary somewhat, but what you need to look for is a pedal which will allow you go get a good amount of grip from. Pedals which give the most grip, are ones that in the centre, have a concave shape. The concave shape, allows the foot to bend onto the pedal and thus enables more pressure to be placed on the pins which stick out of them. Now, you have probably noticed the word i just said, was 'pins'. Yep, they have pins in them. This enables the pins to stick into your shoe and decreases the chnaces of your foot slipping. The downside? Yes there is a dwnside, and that unfortunately is that when your foot slips off the pedals, the pins can scrape your legs/shins. It hurts a lot, but can be prevented with a set of shin pads. Pads can get hot though, so some riders use them and some, don't. As always the choice is yours, but as i know what it's like to get the pins in my leg, i'd suggest some form of protection.

Try and get the best you can afford. Companies make good and bad pedals, but as with pretty much everything, you get what you pay for! The more expensive pedals have better bearings - usually cartridge, and replaceable pins, so you can have shorter ones, or stratigically place longer ones, top get the most grip possible - which placing the long pins on the outside would do. Also, pedals with some - approx 8-10 - pins on the whole pedal would give you the best amount of grip as their is more surface area on less pins, which will increase grip.

Here's my list (which will get bigger, as the as i see more reviews and it's recommended by riders more).
  • CRANK BROS.
    • 5050 XX = £64.99 - granted £20 more tha the standard 5050 X's, but the 5050 XX is better than the standard 5050 X, as they have much better bearings with a longer warrenty.
  • DMR
    • V8's = £24.99 - has standard ball bearings, but for the price, these are pretty good. Quite grippy too, without being too grippy.
    • V12's = £48.99 - contains cartridge bearings, and better pins as the can be removed with an allen key. Although, the allen key pins can round off, so if you want to remove them, or add longer ones, do it on purchase.
  • EASTON
    • FlatBoy = £69.99 - approx £100 RRP, these are highly rated among riders who use them. Okay, they aren't cheap, but are well worth it.
  • SHIMANO
    • DX MX 30 = £59.99 - Top class flat pedal from the Japanese Groupset giant. These in essence are a BMX pedal, but still, they make a great flt pedal for MTB's too. Just make sure that if you order some, get the axle diameter of 9/16". You can get some 1/2", but these are the BMX size.

Brakes - V's & Discs

Brakes - V & Discs (Hydraulic & Cable)

V-Brakes

Well set-up V-brakes can be as good as disc brakes. Fact! Where they start to diminish, is in mud, water and general off-road duties. Many riders - myself included - have/had been using V-brakes for many years without fault... except wearing out lots of brake pads in the mud. Not cheap!! tee hee

If you ride a Mountain Bike and you want to use V-brakes, they can work very well - if looked after - and they can stop you on a dime if you so wish. They will never compete with disc brakes, as more and more people convert - as generally, it is only budget which holds them back - more and more you will see less people who ride bikes above £300, buy them with V-brakes. Where they come in to their own though, is on bridle paths, cycle paths, etc. Areas which your bike won't be put into too much off a stressful situation. Alternatively, XC riders use them (again, lots are using disc brakes now though) as they can save a lot of weight on the bike, but as years go buy, the weight advantage is getting less and less, as disc brakes get lighter and brakes pads last a lot longer, with minimal maintenance.

Some manufacturers are designed V-brakes with linkages, and cams, which increases the ability of the brake pads to touch the rims nice and centrally so the brake pads can eek as much power as possible. Companies like the leaders Shimano and Avid, have been using them for years. Shimano's 'Parallel Linkage' and Avid's 'Arch Rival' V-brakes are both designed to increase braking power with linkages. They do make budget brakes which work well, like Shimano's Deore V-brakes at a very reasonable price - £30 front and rear for the V-brakes and £15 for the brake levers. Great price and great brakes!

Here's a list of V-brakes (excluding levers) which i have used, other riders have used and magazines have recommended:

  • AVID
    • Arch Rival = £39.99 each .- not cheap, but very good for a V-brake. Apparently no loner made though, so lucky you if you get some
    • Single Digit 5 = £19.99 each - at £40 for front and rear, again these aren't cheap, but their performance is first rate. Buy the levers to match for £24.99
    • Ultimate Rim Brake = £64.99 each - expensive for sure, but these are lovely to behold. and once on the bike, the power matches the looks... fan-dabby-tastic!!
  • CANE CREEK
    • Direct Curve 3 = £29.99 each - unique design, which works suprisingly well. Hard to come by, but well worth the effort.
  • SHIMANO
    • Deore = £14.99 - total of £30 for front and rear (excluding the levers at £15 per pair), these are some great stoppers. May be better with a god quality set of cartridge brake pads from companies such as Fibrax.
    • XT = £29.99 each - one of the greats. These use Shimano's 'Parallel linkage' and assures that the pads are placed straight and direct onto the rim. Just make sure the pads are straight though, as they'll wear un-even. Lever price is £139.99 but these are integrated, i.e. they gear levers and brake levers and once piece. The bonus about V-brakes though, is you can use pretty much any V-brake lever you wish. But you'd want to use a pretty good one though, as these brakes are nice and are worth a nice set of levers.
    • XTR = £59.99 - some of the nicest looking around... until 2007 that is, when there sure to get a reworking. Okay, at £120 for front and rear, they most certainly aren't for the faint hearted, but if you want light, powerful as you can pretty mcu get for a V-brake... get a set of these! The levers are integrated with the gear levers and cost a staggering £275!!! Again, as with XT, you can use other manufacturers brake levers though.


Disc Brakes
- Hydraulic & Cable (actuated)

First of all, you need to ask yourself if your bike can be upgraded to disc brakes. If it can - i.e. has the caliper mounting brackets, and if your not sure what these are, pop to your local bike shop. Some of the older bikes, approximately Pre-2001 came without them. So please check before you try and spend your hard earned cash.


Or, click here for a diagram ----> photo

Now, do you need disc brakes?
Well, if you ride off road for a few hours per week, then the answer is yes, but, if you only ride your bike on the road, and on cycle paths/cycle tracks, then it more than likely it wouldn't make much difference.

If you have a bike you bought recently that came with disc compatible hubs (wheels), then it's a good start as you can bolt a set of disc brakes straight on and not have to worry about other costs. If not, then unfortunately, you will need wheels which will hold the disc rotor. A decent set of wheels will set you back approximately £80-£100. These would be hand-built (instead of machine built) and will be much better made than cheaper machine built wheels.

To be quite frank, it is very much in your interest for you to purchase a good set of wheels as they will last a lot longer, as they would have been built with good parts and put together by hand and tightened and straightened by a person, not a machine. Check with friends, and ask them who has built theirs and who they'd recommend first before buying yours, as quality wheel builders vary dramatically in their skills.

The second choice that you will have to make, is the choice between Hydraulic Disc brakes or Cable Disc brakes. Each has their advantages and disadvantages, but overall, the opinion is that hydraulic discs are more favourable than Cable discs. Not neccessarily because Hydraulic is better, but generally, they are easier to look after. If you currently have V-brakes and your brake levers and gears levers are one-piece, then you may only be able to get cable discs, unless you are willing to spend a little bit extra and get separate gear levers at approximately £30-£40?

Cable disc brakes are a little more high maintanance than hydraulic as they do at the end of the day, still use a steel cable to actuate the brake caliper to press against the disc rotor. Hydraulic disc brakes are known to be more expensive, but in some cases only by a little as £60 more (£160 RRP for front and rear) versus £100 for cable discs - in some cases the same price if you compare Avid BB5's at £100 for front and rear versus Shimano's Discs at £100 for front and rear (excluding levers).
Also, hydraulic disc brakes are sealed which is good as you have no worries about maintanace as you would a cable disc, but they run on hydraulic fluid, which in some cases are harmful to the envirionment as they use synthetic fluids such as DOT 4 and DOT 5.1 - Hope, Avid and Hayes Disc Brakes spring to mind. Really though, it's entirely how you dispose of it when you do need to change the fluid - for e.g. when you need to bleed the system (release air bubbles trapped in the system, as it can make the brakes feel squishy) or you need to cut the hose as it may be too long for the bike.

As prevously stated, a good hydraulic system can be bought for £160 (front and rear), where as some can be £130 per brake! The higher the price, generally, the more features and the lighter the system will be. Also the more expensive ones can mean you can get a super powerful brake designed for DH, and for people whos rides can include long downhill setions, but plenty of uphills too these are a good choice. There is a lot of reseach that goes into brakes, of which some do it better than others, for e.g. bigger rotors = more power, as they can disapate heat faster (get rid of it quicker) and there is more rotor to bite. Wavey rotors can clear mud from the caliper and smaller rotors are lighter, but can be less powerful. Smaller rotors are generally used for short rides, but in mud, dirt, etc, or for lighter riders who don't want too much power, i.e. XC riders, or Women
Take a look at the following list (updated as soon as possible) and check with your local bike shop or internet shop for latest prices. Prices listed are based on RRP.

N.B. All brakes are priced separate - front
or rear - unless otherwise stated.
  • AVID
    • BB7 (cable) = £75 (each) - like the BB5, except with pad adjustment, i.e. you can screw the pads in closer or further away by an adjuster wheel on both sides - instead of a 5mm allen key on one side.
    • Juicy 5 (hydraulic) = £114.99 - price, like all the avid discs, varies on size of rotor
    • Juicy 7 (hydraulic) = £159.99 - again, like the differences between the BB5 and BB7, it's the same between the Juicy 5 & 7 - except you can adjust the bite point. Screwing a thumb wheel on the lever adjust how quickly/slowly the pads touch the rotor.
  • DIATECH
    • Anchor (hydraulic) = £139.99 (for front & rear) - Great priced hydraulic disc brakes based on the old Hope C2's.
  • HAYES
    • HFX-9 (hydraulic) = £99.99 - nice price... nice brake!
    • HFX-9 DH (hydraulic) = £110 - well priced, super powerful stoppers. Need tlc periodically, but they will give you lots of fun in the mean time.
    • HFX-9 XC Carbon (hydraulic) = £119.99 - Superbly priced XC brake with a carbon lever blade!
  • HOPE
    • Mono Mini (hydraulic) = £119.99 - the power can be a little wanting, if you want need lots of power and modulation, go for the M4. Can be fiddly to set up too.
    • Mono M4 (hydraulic) = £139.99
    • Mono6 (hydraulic) = £179.99 - for U.K. DH. Is pretty powerful, but there is better out there. Very fiddly to set up too, as your caliper mounts have to be as perfectly aligned as possible due to having more than 2 pistons.
  • MAGURA
    • Julie (hydraulic) = £79.99 - Great price and works very well. The new '06 mono 1-piece design also makes them powerful, and lighter than previous years models. The universal fitting makes them easy to set-up too. The lever is short though, so be aware of that.
    • Louise FR (hydraulic) = £130 - Lovely brake of which i personally use. Can be fiddly to fit, but is actually not that hard, and also, the brake is nice and powerful too. There is also a standard Magura Louise, with a 160mm front rotor, whereas the FR version comes with a 180mm front rotor for extra power.
Check out the BikeMagic review of the Magura Louise FR disc discs by clicking here
    • Marta (hydraulic) = £169.99 - Super lovely & light. Not the lightest, but for its size, most certainly on of the most powerful!! The 160mm front discs is powerful, but if you want less weight and extra power, for '06 they now have a 180mm front rotor too. Oh, and they look damn good too!! For an extra £30 per brake, you can get the SL, which has a carbon brake lever
Note: ALL Magura brakes come with a 5 year leak proof warranty!!
  • SHIMANO
    • Deore M535 (hydraulic) = £39.99 - for use with the new Shimano Integrated gear and brake levers - all that is supplied is the caliper/hose and a Shimano 'Centre Lock' rotor, which is designed for Shimano's Centre Lock wheels. Very niche and a bit of a pain if you want to use other manufacturers parts. Deore are bringing out separate levers for it though, so you can use other peoples' shifters, but wheels may only be Shimanos centre lock. Unknown to me as yet, sorry.
    • Deore M525 (hydraulic) = £49.99 - An older model, but still around in larger chain stores and online stores. These are a full brake set and come with lever, hose, caliper and a universal standard 6 bolt rotor.
    • LX M585 (hydraulic) = £49.99 - a good choice, as you can choose between a centre lock rotor or a 6 bolt rotor, which means you can use these with a set of separate brake levers to give you the same idea as Deore M535's. Nice brakes, and a good balance between power and modulation.
    • Saint (hydraulic) = £79.99 - for the nutters in us, and for those who are keen to throw themselves off things or down things, these are a great choice. With the use of the separate XT brake levers or even their LX's - at £19.99 per side (left or right hand), you can choose and use other manufacturers' parts. With the ability to use a 203mm rotor on the front, you'll get the ultimate in power, with great modulation to boot.

Seatclamps

Seatclamps - QR & Bolt-On


Under construction. Please be patient. Thank you

Saddles

Saddles
Saddles are very personal and recommendations are somewhat difficult, but these are saddles that place high in magazine tests and ones that riders recommend. The only true way of finding out which one is best is to either buy one, or see if a friend has one you can try. One recommendation i will make though however is buy a pair of lycra bicycle shorts. They make riding 10 times more comfortable, and with a pair of baggy shorts over the top, no one will notice you're a spandex wearer. lol


  • DMR
    • Jump Seat Elite MkII = £34.95 - great saddles, and pretty strong too! (i had one)
    • DMR Jump Seat Expert - £19.95 - very similar to the Elite Mk11, but cheaper materials and rails bring the price down a tad.

Headsets & Spacers

Headset & Spacers

Headsets come in many different styles, but, whatever they look like they have to do the same thing... allow your bars, forks and front wheel to turn. Again, like Stems, they come in different diameters to fit the headtube - the area of the bike frame, where the forks' steerer (a tube, which is attached to the fork) goes through and allows the stem and bars to attach (see here). As you can see from the link provided, you can see 3 different pictures: this shows 3 different headset designs. The first - blue - is a conventional headset, and is on most bikes nowadays. The second is an integrated headset and is said to be lighter as the parts of the headset are inbuilt into the frame. The third and final picture is an internal headset, which is basically like a conventional headset, but is hidden inside the headtube. Anywho, any other queries, just check out Park Tools USA and they should be able to answer your questions.

Headsets

  • CHRIS KING - the ultimate bling (i don't like that word, but it rhymes)
  • HOPE
    • Headset (original with names aren't they!) = £64.99 - a great U.K. made headset!
  • WTB

Spacers
These sit under the stem, and on top of the headset. Depending on how many you use, and what depth, determines what height your stem will be. Remember though, the stem may already have a certain rise, so make sure that you aren't using too many!
Many bikes already come equipped with these under the stems, but if one day you decide to build up your own like, or you upgrade your suspension forks, you'll get to choose your bars height... in essence, you choose how many spacers go under the stem.
Don't worry if you think you have too many underneath though, or that your bars may be too high... just place the spacers on top of the stem instead - to choose the desired amount!