Thursday, 24 June 2010

Ladies Bikes

When somebody mentions the words "ladies bikes" perhaps the first image that springs to mind is one of those old, really heavy ladies bikes with a very low top tube - to make it easy to mount, even wearing a long skirt - and maybe with a wicker basket attached to the front. Actually this is a fairly outdated image. The woman riding this particular ladies bike is probably middle aged or older. The truth is that there is a huge range of different women's bicycles on the market these days, and many look just like men's bikes to the untrained eye; these are the road racing bicycles that may have a shorter, slightly lower top tube, or narrower handlebars.

The question remains though, are ladies bikes a necessity, or is it just as good for a woman to ride a bike designed for men? The answer is that it really does not matter; what is important is that the bicycle fits you. After all, all women are not built exactly the same - of course, certainly they are all different from the men! What is perfect for one woman might be a horribly uncomfortable cycle for another.

Nevertheless, the average woman will have longer legs, a shorter torso, shorter arms and smaller hands and feet than the average man of comparable height. This means that there are certainly some beneficial modifications that can be made in the design of ladies bikes. As mentioned briefly above, the top tube can be shortened and made to slope downwards from the handlebars to the saddle tube. This has the effect of bringing the handlebars closer to the saddle, which makes them easier for a woman to reach. On many cruiser bikes, the top bar attaches so low to the saddle tube that they look like those vintage ladies bikes where the rider can simply step over to mount while wearing skirts or summer dresses.

Another change that is apparent on the women specific design (WSD) bikes is narrower handlebars often made of thinner tubing to accommodate a woman's smaller hands. The brake levers are generally close-reach for the same reason. These modifications all make for a safer ride, both because they stop the female rider from having to stretch in order to steer, which makes pulled muscles a high possibility; but also because maintaining a comfortable riding position allows better overall control of the bike.

On the subject of comfort, ladies bike saddles are also different to those made for men. They are wider to better support a woman's sitting bones and generally have a cutout in the center to provide a more comfortable riding experience. In some of the leisure bikes, the saddles are also padded or have their own shock absorbers.

So ladies bikes are not a "must" have for women, as it pays its own rewards for each individual to find the best bike for herself. However, the frame geometries and other women specific modifications to these bicycles probably does warrant labelling them a "should" have.

Nic Stemson is an avid cycling enthusiast, writing about all things bike-related, from why a ladies bicycle is a great idea for women; to how to personalize vintage ladies bicycles; to what kind of fashion to wear while out on the road to achieve velo chic.

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Bike Review

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Balance Bike UK

Balance Bikes, often called Running Bikes or Pre Bikes, are very simply bikes with no pedals. Designed for young children, their aim is to give the child an opportunity to learn how to ride without the complications which come with traditional toddlers bikes. They provide a fun and relaxed approach to what can often be a difficult skill to master.

The Benefit of Balance Bikes - The theory behind a Balance Bike is to focus on learning how to balance and then letting steering come naturally. Once these two concepts are mastered, children will find it far easier to learn how to pedal at the same time, and because of this, balance bikes have no pedals. This leaves the child free to concentrate on learning the art of balancing by sitting on the seat and propelling themselves forward, keeping one or two feet on the ground at all times. Additionally, this style of training bike has no stabilizers, a device considered by the designers of Balance Bikes to hinder a child's ability to learn because stabilizers alter the movement of a kids bike to resemble a tricycle making the balancing technique different to an ordinary toddlers bike.

There are additional benefits to a kids prebike as well. Simple things, like the fact that it doesn't have a chain which means no messy oil stains on clothing. Also, bikes with no pedals are much easier to put into the boot of a standard family car, and parents won't have to worry so much about maintenance of their child's training bike because there are so few moving parts.

The History of Balance Bikes - The original balance bike UK was invented by a German woodworker called Rolf Mertens, which explains why the original design was made from wood. His concept in bikes, which he branded LIKEaBIKE, has been manufactured by a company called Kokua based in Roetgen, Germany since 1997. This German idea for training bikes took off across Europe and then reached as far as the USA and China. Today, these prebikes are still making headlines worldwide, with major brands like Specialized and Norco jumping at the chance to add a running bike UK to their kids range.

Types and Brands of Balance Bikes Available in the UK - The original training bike from LIKEaBIKE was made from wood but increasingly designers and manufacturers are turning to tubular steel frames for the construction of these bikes for two very important reasons. Firstly, kids bikes need to be durable and hardwearing, and secondly they need to be lightweight. Toddlers can have difficulty learning to manoeuvre a heavy prebike, and it's important that their first learning experience is as enjoyable as possible.

The choice of balance bike available to the UK market is still fairly limited. You can find a kids bike with no pedals through manufacturers such as Hudora, Islabikes and Norco but there are still a large number of bigger named companies like GIANT who don't market a running bike in the UK. Plus, although many of the bigger brands have designed a training bike of their own, there are very few companies who specialize in first bikes for kids. One company which does provide this service, and which produces one of the most advanced kids training bikes on the market, is Strider Sports, a USA based company with sales in the UK via it's sister website It's version, the Strider PREbike, is perfectly designed to achieve its aim of helping children teach themselves how to ride a bike.

Strider PREbike - The Strider PREbike is the most unique design for a toddlers running bike on the UK market today. Designed by Ryan McFarland, a father and keen biker himself, this enhanced style is lighter than every other well-known manufacturer's design available to buy in the UK and comes with some distinctive features. Whilst other training bikes either have hand brakes or no brakes at all, the Strider PREbike has a foot brake. Ryan McFarland worked from the principle that when children panic they are much more likely to stamp down with their feet than grab a brake with their hands. This design allows kids to stop their training bike swiftly and safely, without crashing over the handlebars.

Another important element is the use of footrests. Some toddlers bikes either have no place for kids to put their feet or have space in front of the seat like a moped. Neither of these designs teach kids the ability to balance on a bike in the way a Strider PREbike does. This design has footrests directly beneath the seat so that kids can stand up when they like, in much the same way as you can on an ordinary bike. It gives kids that little bit more control over their training bike.

And then there are the puncture proof tires. The Strider PREbike has foam filled tires designed to cope with off road terrain, a design which surpasses the traditional pneumatic tire and gives the functionality you really want with in a Toddlers first bike.

Melanie Thomas (CEO Melrose Kids Ltd) is a mother of two boys and lives in London, England. Melrose Kids Ltd are the official distributor of the Strider balance bikes in the UK and Ireland. The Stride PREbike™ bike is a revolutionary new learning vehicle for 1-5 year old children. It provides great fun and exercise, teaches steering, balance, and co-ordination and builds self-confidence. It comes in 6 great colours.

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cannondale bike

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Mountain Bike Brakes - Disc Brakes Verses Rim Brakes

When choosing a mountain bike, there are many options to consider. Probably one of the most important is the choice of Disc Bike Brakes or Rim Bike Brakes. So, which one is better? The truth is that it depends on what kind of riding you're going to be doing. So let's take a look at both options and weigh the Pros and Cons.

Rim Bike Brakes:

The major pro for these Bike brakes is their weight. If you're trying to rig up the lightest possible bike, rim bike brakes are a must-have. In basic conditions (road or very light trail riding) they are fine. They'll stop you when you need to and shouldn't cause problems. Also, they're considerably cheaper than their disc cousins. Rim bike brakes are especially good for cheap or beginner rigs.

However, they simply don't have the durability of disc bike brakes. Should your rim get bent or damaged, even slightly, you'll notice a drop-off in rim bike brake performance. Similarly, wet or muddy rims can severely hamper their effect. Even worse, if you're doing a lot of riding, rim brakes slowly wear the rim down and can even puncture it completely, causing a potentially dangerous blowout.

Disc bike Brakes:

Overall, these are the more consistent and reliable option. Quality disc brakes will stand up in even the toughest conditions, and can stop faster, even in wet or muddy conditions (an important consideration in off-road biking). They come in both cable and hydraulic varieties, both of which work reliably well. They require less force and work even if the rim is bent or wet. They'll stop your bike even if the rim or wheel is thickly coated in mud or dirt.

There are certain drawbacks to disc bike brakes, however. The biggest issue is that they're simply heavy. A mountain bike can be a pretty hefty piece of equipment no matter what, so the additional weight of discs is something you'll notice. Depending on the bike and bike brakes, they often add anywhere from 100 to 400 grams - not huge, but enough to make a difference.

Additionally, disc bike brakes are more expensive than rim brakes. As with all things, you pay for quality and reliability.

Bottom Line: Per our recommendations, if you're serious at all about mountain biking, you should go with disc brakes. What they lack in lightness they easily make up for in reliability and performance. Also be sure to check out our great selection of Mongoose mountain bikes.

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24 bike

Monday, 21 June 2010

Which Bicycle Tracking GPS is Right For You?

If you are looking for a bicycle tracking GPS, you are probably looking at various models of the Garmin Edge. Which one is right for you?

All of the these units offer navigation functionality, virtual partner training capability, and courses where you can compete against your prior cycling sessions. All also offer the ability to use Garmin Connect and Training Center software.

GPS features vary between models. The 605 and 705 come with basemaps, the ability to add more maps, and the option to use a microSD card. The 500 does not allow for saving waypoints or routes. The 205 and the 605 do not come with barometric altimeters.

Options for bicycle tracking your workout also can differ between these devices. The 205 and the 605 do not have a heart rate monitor or cadence sensor. Other models offer these features on at least some versions. All models except for the 500 can maintain simple workouts where you set items such as calorie goals. If you want the ability to set advanced workouts and bicycle track workout goals, you will need a 605 or 705. The interval training feature where you can program in rest periods is not available on the 500.

If you would like to use third party ANT-enabled power meters, then the 500 is the device for you. Do you want to share data with your friends who are using the same device wirelessly? The Edge 705 will let you do this. The lower-end models have a few hours less average battery life than their pricier siblings.

Any of the these systems would be an asset to your bicycling workout. Consider what features are most important to you when selecting between the various models.

Is a Garmin Edge 705 or 605 best for you? Take the quiz at Garmin Edge 705 Get the latest reviews at GPS for bicycles.

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