Taking up cycling in the New Year

If you’ve decided that this year is going to be the year you start riding a bike, we’re here to support you. If you’re anything like me, you may not have even attempted to start your New Year’s resolution, but when it comes to riding a bike all you have to do is get on! Many of us haven’t cycled since we were children, if that’s you you’ll need to take the time to properly choose the right bike for you.

How to choose the perfect bike

Depending on what you’re planning to use your bike for, this will determine the type of bike you need. There are a few different types of bike to choose from:

Road bike

This is the term used for a traditional bicycle. As the name might suggest, these bikes are designed for good performance on roads. Two types of bikes fall under this category, racing and touring bikes. Racing bikes are designed for speed and performance, whereas touring bikes are designed sustained comfort.

cycle safe

Choosing the right bike for you

Mountain bike

These bikes are designed for off road use. The difference between these and road bikes is that mountain bikes have compact frames and higher handle bars, giving the rider a more upright position. There is a selection of different mountain bike types such as downhill or cross country.  A mountain bike is generally seen as a good all-rounder as they can be efficient on roads.

BMX bike

These are low profile bikes with 20 inch tyres. BMX bikes are used in competitions on trails and courses.

Once you’ve decided on the type of bike you need, you’ll have to make sure you get the correct size to fit you. Getting this right is essential as different bikes have different dimensions for varying body types. When trying out sizes, you’ll need to make sure that the straddle height isn’t too high so that mounting and dismounting is easy and comfortable.

Try before you buy to get a feel for your new bike and once you’ve purchased pay for a professional to assemble it. Now you have your bike, it is also a good idea to get some training on bike maintenance, so you know how to take care of your bike yourself.

Now all that is left is to go out and enjoy yourself!

How to clean your bike

With the wetter weather your mountain bike rides on off road and on trails are becoming muddier than ever. Cleaning your bike, just for it to get muddy again may not make a lot of sense but it’s certainly the best thing to do, if you want your mountain bike to stay in a good condition and run smoothly.

Get prepared for a dirty job with the correct cleaning supplies

To clean your bike, there are a few supplies that you will need:

  • 1 bucket
  • Hot water
  • Washing up liquid
  • Sponges, brushes and cloths
  • Chain scrubber
  • toothbrush
  • Chain lubricant
  • Degreasing solvent
  • Repair stand (if you have one, makes cleaning the bike much easier)

Time to clean? Where to start?

Clean

The first thing you should do is remove items such as leaves that may have gotten caught in your bike. Wipe down the entire bike with soapy water and apply a degreaser to the drivetrain. Gently use your sponges, brushes and cloths to get rid of any mud and grit. Scrubbing too hard could damage your bikes paintwork. If you have a repair stand, use this to remove the wheels and clean these separately.

Use a toothbrush to scrub the chain and rear cassette, use a rag to wipe the chain clean and remove any excess dirt. Once you have done this backpedal the chain through a rag covered in degreaser.

Wash the rest of your bike with a soap and water mix and rinse it down with an ordinary garden hose. Do not use a high pressure hose or power washer on your bike, as water may push itself past the bearing seal and this may cause corrosion.

Lubricate

When your bike has dried, you will need to lubricate the chain, cables, levers, shifters, derail pulleys and pivot points. Never use an ordinary household lubricant on your bike, you should always use a lubricant purposely made for bike chains. In autumn weather a wet condition lubricant would be the best choice for your bike, due to the amount of rainfall that usually occurs. Make sure any excess lubricant is wiped off the bike as this can attract dirt.

While you are cleaning your bike, it’s a good idea to check for signs of damage on wheel rims, spokes, spoke holes and tyres. Now is a good time to give your bike a general inspection and feel free to give the bike frame a good buff, to get it shining. Once you’ve cleaned your bike, you’ll be surprised at how good it feels to get back on it, not only will it look great, it will certainly feel it too.

The perfect place to carry out that necessary bike maintenance

You will need to have a decent amount of outdoor space to clean your bike and doing this inside obviously isn’t an option, unless you like mud coloured carpets! Having somewhere to store all of these bike cleaning and maintenance items is also a good idea. A garage is a good place to store all of your bike maintenance equipment, accessories and of course your bikes. If you don’t have a garage, there are a variety of garden bike sheds and cycle storage units available on the market. The bike maintenance garage by Asgard has been designed to do just that! This is a large cycle garage that can hold up to 6 bikes, with shelves and hooks to maximise storage space and it is large enough to carry out necessary bike maintenance. The cycle garage is made from strong weatherproof steel, so your stored items will be safe and dry. Having all of your bike items stored under one roof is a lot less hassle than traipsing in and out of the house every other minute for items you’ve forgotten.

How to prepare for cycling in the dark

With winter drawing near it is important to make sure you are prepared for the dark mornings and nights, if you are commuting by bike.

Around 17,000 cyclists are killed or injured in road accidents each year. Statistics have revealed that there is a higher rate of cycling casualties between October and February. During these months the sun rises much later, usually after 8am and the sunsets much earlier from any time after 3:30pm. This means that people who commute by bike are likely to spend most of it in the dark.

25% of cycling accidents occur due to the cyclist having a lack of safety equipment. Don’t cycle in the dark, without the proper equipment and lights. Make sure you can be seen.

Staying visible in the dark

Wear bright colours so you can be seen.

Wear bright colours so you can be seen.

  • Wear bright-coloured or fluorescent clothing, or a high visibility vest.
  • Wear reflective accessories, such as a belt or arm/ankle bands.
  • Ensure your bike has a reliable white front light, rear red light, rear red reflector and amber pedal reflectors.

Cycling safety

Many of you will already know how to keep safe when cycling on the roads, you will also know how difficult this can be on congested routes. However there are many new cyclists on the roads, who lack the confidence and skill. If you are scared and lack confidence, hopefully this guide will help you to cycle safely.

Cycling is statistically safe, however it is easy for new cyclists to be scared by horror stories. Per year there are 10-15 fatalities on bikes, without any other vehicle being involved, this is a relatively small number. Even when considering the role that other vehicles cause in cycling collisions, the figure is still relatively small when compared to other types of road accidents.

Take a look at these top tips for safer cycling:

Learn the skills

Cycle training is available for people of all ages and if you’re lacking in confidence, this could be just the thing for you. Training is available that covers everything from basic bike control to complex urban journeys.

Move away from the kerb

Don’t cycle in the gutter. This may make you feel safe, but hugging the pavement makes you less visible to moving vehicles. You should always cycle at least 50cm from the kerb. If you position yourself in the middle of the lane, this will force cars to overtake you when it is safe to do so.

cycle safe

How to cycle safely on busy roads

Make eye contact

Making eye contact with drivers, lets them know you’re there. This is particularly useful at traffic lights, turning right and approaching junctions. This simple act will help avoid the ‘sorry mate I didn’t see you’.

Signal

It is important to signal, so that other road users know your intentions. Check over your shoulder early, so you have time to change position smoothly.

Roundabouts

When it comes to roundabouts, on your approach make sure you take your lane. This will make you visible to all road users, avoiding any accidents. Before leaving the roundabout, check, signal and exit.

Traffic lights

Don’t be a red light jumper, this is dangerous to not only yourself but to those around you. Wait behind the advance stop line and take your lane. This will let all the drivers behind you, know that you are there. You’ll also be safer in the middle of the lane as nothing will be able to squeeze past you or cut you off as they turn left.

For safe cycling make sure you:

  • Don’t weave in and out of traffic.
  • Use cycle routes, advanced stop lines and cycle boxes when you can.
  • Give pedestrians priority.
  • Use your bell to inform others of your presence.
good-looking-bike-security-solutions from asgard storage

Keep your bike locked securely

If you’re new to cycling and have purchased your first bike, make sure your bike is kept protected from the threat of theft. Asgard metal bike sheds offer fantastic security and protection for bikes. These storage units are made from weatherproof steel and are fitted with a number of security features such as tough locking systems and integral metal floors. These bike stores are available in a range of sizes and colours to suit all needs.

Tour de France 2014 Countdown

The Tour de France 2013 is over! Big congratulations to Chris Froome, this year’s winner. But now that the Tour de France 2013 is over, the real excitement for many can really begin! Next year, the Tour de France 2014 will be hitting the UK, with the Grand Depart set to take place from West Yorkshire the home of Asgard Secure Steel Storage.

The Tour de France 2014 is Yorkshire’s chance to shine and everyone is getting involved. For thousands of UK cycling fans this is the moment they have been waiting for, chance to not only watch but to also be involved in the biggest cycling event of the year.

The Tour de France 2014

When it was announced that the Tour de France would be coming to Yorkshire, the Le Tour Maker campaign was launched. This campaign was launched to recruit volunteers to help out and show the world just how brilliant Yorkshire really is! So far a phenomenal 15,000 people have signed up to become Le Tour Makers, proving just how much people want to get involved with this prestigious sporting event.

Not only has the Tour de France encouraged people to volunteer, it has also encouraged more and more people to start cycling. From the moment Bradley Wiggins won the Tour De France in 2012, the people of Britain have been hit with the cycling bug and this has only been amplified by Chris Froome’s recent 2013 win.

Cycling activities across the UK have increased across, with more cycling festivals, cycle clubs and organised events popping up everywhere. More cyclists also means more bikes on the roads and more bikes unfortunately means a bigger threat of bike theft. If you’re one of the many new cyclists out there, make sure you make bike security a priority. Bike thieves are adapting and becoming smarter and using new tactics to find higher priced bikes to steal.

If you are concerned about the security of your bike, check out the Asgard range of bike sheds. Asgard is a UK Manufacturer based in West Yorkshire; we are company full of cyclists who are looking forward to the Tour de France landing on our door steps. Asgard bike sheds made and sold by people who love bikes, so you know you’re getting a product that works.

Insurance approved bike storage

Secure bike storage from Asgard

These bike sheds are made from strong weatherproof steel and are fitted with heavy duty locking mechanisms, depending on your chosen model, which are designed to help keep thieves out and leave your bikes safe. These bike storage units are available in a range of sizes for 1 up to 8 bikes. With a little help from Asgard, you’ll be able to enjoy cycling without putting your bike at risk.

The effect of rain on your bike

I think we can all agree that the weather this summer has so far been pretty glorious. The temperatures are soaring and the sun is shining. However, we have had the occasional torrential downpour with thunder and lightning. With heavy downpours like the ones we have seen recently, it is important to make sure your bike is protected from the wet weather.

What happens when bikes get wet?

Many bikes just simply aren’t designed for outdoor living and need protecting from the elements when they aren’t in use. If you leave your bike out in the rain for long periods of time, without giving it any love, care or attention, your bike will start to suffer and this could end up costing you a pretty penny. When your bike is constantly exposed to wet weather conditions and you don’t keep on top of your bike maintenance, you may find that your bike begins to rust and have mechanical faults.  This is because when it rains, water will find its way into every little crevice.  If your bike doesn’t have stainless steel parts, this process will be accelerated further.

Clean your bike after heavy rain.

Clean your bike after heavy rain.

If your bike happens to get wet what should you do?

Whenever your bike gets rained on you should do the following to keep it in tip top condition:

  • Dry your bike.
  • Clean the chain, chain rings and cassette.
  • Lubricate the drivetrain, brakes and cables.
  • Store your bike somewhere dry!

How can you store a bike out of the rain?

If you need somewhere to store your bike and keep it protected from harsh weather conditions, there are two options that will keep your bike protected.

  1. Bring it inside.
  2. Get a secure bike shed.

Depending on the space you have available, one of these options may be better for you than the other.

Storing a bike inside the home isn’t ideal for many people as this could mean dragging dirt throughout your home or tackling stair cases. You may think that keeping your bike inside your home won’t take up much space, but what about all of the cycling gear and equipment? However if you don’t have any outdoor space, this could be your only option.

Alternatively you can store your bike outside and still keep it protected from the weather. There are many different bike storage units available on the market today, but Asgard metal storage units are weatherproof and have been proven to keep the rain out.  What’s even better is that these steel bike sheds are available in a number of sizes, so even if you only have minimal space you’ll be able to find the perfect bike storage unit for you. With outdoor storage, security may be your other concern.

Garden security bike shed

Garden security bike shed

The Asgard range of storage units offer fantastic garden security, as pick resistant locks and a variety of locking mechanisms have been used on these units to help keep your bikes and accessories safe.  With help from Asgard you can now keep your bike outside, leaving it safe and dry until your next ride.

Top Ten Places to Go Cycling This Summer

1.Swinley Forest.

Variable distances

Situated to the South-West of Windsor Great Park, Swinley forest comprises over 2600 acres of woodland. There are numerous trails to choose from so you can find one appropriate to your ability. Recently there has been a lot of investment into new facilities so it’s well worth a visit.

2. TETBURY TO SHERSTON, COTSWOLDS

Approx. 13 miles

This route takes you through quite country lanes and plenty of beautiful scenic pubs to stop at on the way. With few hills and little traffic this is a good ride for most of the family.

3. Kennet and Avon Canal, Bath to Reading

85 miles

Britain’s most popular long distance waterside cycle route passes through areas of outstanding natural beauty and features aqueducts, tunnels and historic buildings. Riders can do this in a day but less experienced cyclists can split this into 3 sections.

4. Mawddach Trail Cycleway, Wales (Dolgellau to Barmouth)

10 miles

A disused railway line, stunning ride running below the foothills of Cadair Iris and tucked away in the south of the Snowdonia national park this is an idyllic ride suitable for all the family.

5. Tarka Trail

31 miles

This route is renowned for its wildlife along the way there are “discovery posts” with information on the wildlife around that area. You could be lucky enough to spot an otter on the river bank! This is a great way to explore rural Devon.

6. Grizedale Forest

Variable distances

With 8 routes to choose from Grizedale is perfect for the family with lots of facilities including a bike hire shop where you can hire normal bikes as well as adult tag along bikes and trailers for young children.  Once you’ve finished cycling there is a café, playground and shops.

7. Causeway Coast Cycle Route (Giants Causeway to Benone)

23 miles

The route has fine sea views over as well as a railway path to the Giant Causeway Visitor centre which is a World Heritage site created by a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago. Refreshments and toilet facilities are available at towns throughout the route.

8. Tweed Valley

Variable

One of the most visited tourist attractions in Scotland. The trails are graded so it’s good for beginners as well as more experienced riders. Bikes are available for hire as well as tuition at the ‘Dirt School’ where groups are split into different abilities.

9. Purbeck Ride, Dorset

47 miles

Rural scenery and costal views with a few historic landmarks along the way; this route is mainly on roads with a few steep hills and is ideal for confident riders.

10.The Camel Trail, Cornwall

18 miles

Based on an historic railway track passes through beautiful Cornish countryside. It goes along the coast as well as through areas of forest and is relatively flat so perfect for families.

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It’s not always easy when you’re away from home to keep your bike secure. So take a look at one of Asgard’s bike storage units so you know your bike is safe from theft!