New to biking in the UK

Anything specific to off-road riding.

New to biking in the UK

Postby Ugo51 » Mon Jun 23, 2014 7:18 am

Hello everyone,
I've just completed the registration to the forum, as I'm looking for some advice on what bike to buy.
I'm looking for a mountain bike, mainly for commuting along a cycle path and to have fun on hills during the weekend.
I have no experience of the bicyle market here in the UK. Is there any brand you would suggest over the others for availability of spare parts? I'm from Italy and I'm used to riding since I was a wee kid, but other there the weather is...how to put this delicately...different so that the bike is not really subject to any corrosion of any sort.
What I'm saying is that, given I'm planing to use the bike all year around, I foresee a great deal of rust to deal with, so what brand offer a good availability of spare parts for when something will have to get replaced (and I'm sure it will...).

I'm looking for a hardtail bike, 26'' or 27.'55, not much fork travel, I'm not planning on doing big time off road. Budget is quite limited so I will be looking for a second hand bike

cheers

Ugo
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Re: New to biking in the UK

Postby hamster » Mon Jun 23, 2014 10:28 am

Spares are fine here, so generally no problems. Kona in particular are very popular and well-suited to the UK, as they have details like the seat tube clamp slot on the front side.

Have a look at www.retrobike.co.uk for good secondhand deals, usually on older machines which sound very suitable for the use you have in mind.
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Re: New to biking in the UK

Postby Bicycler » Mon Jun 23, 2014 4:42 pm

The problem with mountain bikes and uk commuting is the inability to fit full mudguards (fenders). Wet weather and road salt can lead to corrosion problems. The solution unfortunately involves regular cleaning of your bike and components, especially the drivetrain. If you can find one then a single speed or Alfine/nexus hub geared mountain bike might be a better idea than having an exposed derailleur drivetrain.
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Re: New to biking in the UK

Postby Ugo51 » Tue Jun 24, 2014 6:41 am

Thank you for the answers guys!

The retrobike.co.uk website is amazing, I do love retro bikes, although I don't see myself buying a bike online. Not a second hand at least. Anyway it's a good place for info :)

Bicycler, you're right, fenders would be more than useful...I'm really tempted by mountain bikes because it's what I've always had and because I would love to get the chance to do some off-road in the weekends.

Do you reckon it would be possible to fit fenders to a MB if I fit road-tyres?
If I was to take a 27.5 wheeler the diameter would be really close to that of a road bike (700mm, am I right?) and I could fit narrower tyres and fenders. Maybe I could have spare rims with offroad tyres for the weekend, to be used without fenders, of course.
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Re: New to biking in the UK

Postby Mark1978 » Tue Jun 24, 2014 9:59 am

Depends if you really need a mountain bike? Or would the likes of a hybrid suit you better, so you can fit proper full mudguards etc.

Most bikes have components made by Shimano and spares are readily available so I wouldn't worry about that. The main difference from Italy is likely going to be the amount of salt we use on the roads during the winter, terrible for bikes, you'd need to at least wash the salt off your bike once a day to keep it from seizing up.
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Re: New to biking in the UK

Postby Ugo51 » Tue Jun 24, 2014 10:03 am

welllll...a hybrid bike is what I need, a mountain bike is what I want :D

But I see your point. At the moment I'm actually thinking that a cheap (very cheap) hybrid is what I need, just to start easy and see how I like commuting by bike. Then, if I see I like it, I will get a better bike later on...
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Re: New to biking in the UK

Postby hamster » Tue Jun 24, 2014 10:12 am

Bicycler wrote:The problem with mountain bikes and uk commuting is the inability to fit full mudguards (fenders). Wet weather and road salt can lead to corrosion problems. The solution unfortunately involves regular cleaning of your bike and components, especially the drivetrain. If you can find one then a single speed or Alfine/nexus hub geared mountain bike might be a better idea than having an exposed derailleur drivetrain.


Most mountain bikes built before about 2000 had mudguard eyes, hence why a secondhand one is better for the task. I absolutely agree that most modern ones are so over-specialised for off-road that they are much less useful for general purpose riding.

To the OP: I have bought 4 bikes on the retrobike site - there is a very active feedback forum so plenty of supporting information to give trust. If you use PayPal (not Gift) you get your money back if the sale is bad.
For a modern do-anything bike, try a Surly Troll or Ogre.
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Re: New to biking in the UK

Postby al_yrpal » Tue Jun 24, 2014 12:50 pm

Have a look at Bikeradar.com, some knowledgeable guys on there in the mtb forum.
http://www.bikeradar.com/forums/viewforum.php?f=20005

This site is more about touring on roads

Al
Touring on a bicycle is a great way to explore and appreciate the countryside and towns you pass through.
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Re: New to biking in the UK

Postby Bicycler » Tue Jun 24, 2014 12:51 pm

hamster wrote:
Bicycler wrote:The problem with mountain bikes and uk commuting is the inability to fit full mudguards (fenders). Wet weather and road salt can lead to corrosion problems. The solution unfortunately involves regular cleaning of your bike and components, especially the drivetrain. If you can find one then a single speed or Alfine/nexus hub geared mountain bike might be a better idea than having an exposed derailleur drivetrain.


Most mountain bikes built before about 2000 had mudguard eyes, hence why a secondhand one is better for the task. I absolutely agree that most modern ones are so over-specialised for off-road that they are much less useful for general purpose riding.

Oh, agreed. old rigid mountain bikes were often perfect commuting machines. Ugo51 did specify a hardtail though.

Bicycler, you're right, fenders would be more than useful...I'm really tempted by mountain bikes because it's what I've always had and because I would love to get the chance to do some off-road in the weekends.

Do you reckon it would be possible to fit fenders to a MB if I fit road-tyres?
If I was to take a 27.5 wheeler the diameter would be really close to that of a road bike (700mm, am I right?) and I could fit narrower tyres and fenders. Maybe I could have spare rims with offroad tyres for the weekend, to be used without fenders, of course


Clearance for mudguards* doesn't tend to be an issue for mountain bikes (they are built with lots of clearance for mud). The issue with modern mountain bikes is that they don't tend to have the correct frame fittings for full mudguards. You can fit mountain bike clip-on guards to all mountain bikes but they are not as good for road riding. They are designed to keep the worst of the mud from flying at you on the trails (and they do tend to be muddy in the UK!) rather than keeping the bike free of water, grime and road salt.

I wouldn't be put off using a mountain bike. They may not be ideal but many, many, people in the UK use mountain bikes for commuting (sometimes long travel full suspension models still with the knobbly off-road tyres :roll:) All it means is that you have to take care with regular washing and bike maintenance or accept that you will be paying for the replacement of bits which have gone prematurely rusty. If you give your bike an annual service, wash it regularly and oil the chain you will be doing more than 90% of British commuters. Of course the best solution is two bikes; a cheap practical one for commuting and a fun bike for the weekends.

Wheel size: It is confusing how road bikers use the old French system of tyre sizing and mountain bikers use the old British (Imperial) system. Both are used for historical reasons rather than because they give a good measurement of tyre circumference. A road (700c) rim is exactly the same diameter as a 29er mountain bike rim. Obviously you can't put a very narrow tyre on a very wide rim or a wide tyre on a very narrow rim but at similar widths the tyres are interchangeable (29 x 1.5" = 700 x 37c). Some people do as you suggest and squeeze 700c/29" tyres into 650b/27.5" frames. This is only possible if you have disc brakes rather than rim brakes. It is not an ideal compromise and the only reason to do this is that there is a much larger choice of road tyres in 700c than 650b. For this reason I strongly advise you to choose a 26" or 29" bike. There are vastly more bikes available in either of these sizes than 27.5". Every bike shop will have a choice of wheels and tyres (road and mountain bike) in both of these sizes and they tend to be significantly cheaper. 27.5"/650b is only found on specialist mountain bikes and obsolete utility bikes so your local bike shop may well not have what you need or may have a very limited selection. A commuting slick 26x1.5 tyre will happily use the same rim as your weekend knobbly 26x2.0 mountain bike tyre, or you could have a spare set of wheels if you couldn't be bothered regularly changing tyres.

*'fenders' are usually referred to as 'mudguards' in British English
Last edited by Bicycler on Tue Jun 24, 2014 1:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New to biking in the UK

Postby Ugo51 » Tue Jun 24, 2014 1:04 pm

Thank you guys!

I will keep an eye on retrobikes then, I might find what I need :wink:

I would go with 26'' rims. I never tried a 29 (nor a 27.5'', but at this point I'm no longer taking them into consideration).
I also would imagine that if I decide to go with a "retro" MB I will find it easier to get a 26'' as 29 weren't very commons a decade or so ago.

The reason why I like hardtails is because I don't do rough off road so the rear suspension would be just one un-necessary complication.
I also don't like how it looks :mrgreen:
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Re: New to biking in the UK

Postby mjr » Tue Jun 24, 2014 3:08 pm

Mark1978 wrote:The main difference from Italy is likely going to be the amount of salt we use on the roads during the winter, terrible for bikes, you'd need to at least wash the salt off your bike once a day to keep it from seizing up.

Don't exaggerate. Most councils can't afford enough salt to spread it every day ;-)

I think my household did OK over this winter with weekly washes plus a quick rinse and dispersant of the drivetrain after any wet ride. Those bikes have fairly long alloy mudguards (I must have another go at fitting front mudflaps) and I put some silicone wax on the underside of the downtube and BB after washes. I don't know if any of that really helped because I didn't deliberately have a "control" - I couldn't bring myself to be so cruel to a bike :lol:
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Re: New to biking in the UK

Postby Ugo51 » Wed Jun 25, 2014 8:52 pm

I bought it!

It's a Specialized Hardrock...from 1991 :mrgreen:
I saw it on Gumtree and loved it. Got it for a ridiculous price compared to any new bike and the conditions are pretty good, I would ay excellent given it's been kept in the UK!
Almost no corrosion (the guy said it has been lying in a garage for at least a decade) and the mechanics feels pretty sound.

I will open up a thread about my new bike and keep you posted :)
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Re: New to biking in the UK

Postby hamster » Thu Jun 26, 2014 10:32 am

Enjoy!
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