Off-road riding

  1. Check out this lovely gravel bike build from Park Tool

    Check out this lovely gravel bike build from Park Tool

    If you had to pick one thing that the guys and girls from Park Tool are pretty good at, it would probably be building bikes. A bike tool brand being good with bikes is as expected as water being wet. But still, it's always very satisfying to watch someone who's really good at what they do doing it really well.  That someone here is Truman from Park Tool, who's building a very nice gravel bike in what looks like a very nice workshop. It also includes a bit of head tube and bottom bracket facing, which definitely isn't something you see every day now that the vast majority of mid- to high-end bikes are carbon.  So sit back, relax and watch as a build comes together... 

  2. Here's some early year ride inspiration from Shimano

    Here's some early year ride inspiration from Shimano

    Sitting here in January with the temperature hovering around freezing, it's definitely the hardest part of the year to muster up the motivation to get out and ride your bike. So while we're all waiting for Spring, we've posted a couple of great videos from Shimano's YouTube channel below that just make us want to get out and ride our bikes. You can even watch them while you're on the indoor trainer if you want.  The first video is about riding in and around Beijing on bikes made right there in the Chinese capital. . We'd never really thought of Beijing as a two-wheeled destination before, but after watching the below Made In: Beijing video we're now extremely jealous of the hugely varied terrain that's on offer. So now we're going to have to book a riding holiday there, which will be expensive. Wonderful. 

  3. The Knog Oi bell is all we want for Christmas

    The Knog Oi bell is all we want for Christmas

    One of the most interesting (read: frustrating) things about being a cyclist is the stuff you get given for Christmas. There are very few other hobbies where people fixate on giving you things that are not directly related to said hobby but have pictures of the hobby on them. Like socks with bikes on. Or t-shirts with bikes on. Or mugs with bikes on. Basically lots of things that depict cycling but 99% of which are not actually usable in the performance of cycling.  So to cut to the chase, if you want to get the cyclist in your life something nice (really very nice) that will actually aid in the cycling that person does you should absolutely consider the Knog Oi bell. There are multiple reasons for this: first, it's a bell and you be surprised how many people don't have one on their bike. Second, even if they do there is no way it's nicer than this one unless, in fact, they have an Oi already, in which case we're totally out of ideas. Sorry.  There are two types

  4. Saracen Ariel 60 Pro wins Singletrack Editors' Choice Award

    Saracen Ariel 60 Pro wins Singletrack Editors' Choice Award

    Winning awards is always a nice thing. But when the award you win is from the UK's best-loved and most respected MTB magazine, then it's even better. We're incredibly happy and proud that Saracen's fantastic Ariel 60 Pro has been chosen as a winner of a Singletrack Editors' Choice award for 2023. They test and ride a huge number of bikes every year, so to be picked as one of the very best is a real testament to the hours of planning and development that went into bringing that bike to fruition.  The favourite bike of Madison Saracen DH Race Team's Matt Walker, the Ariel 60 Pro is designed to be Enduro capable while also pedalling well enough that you can be your own uplift if that's what you fancy doing. The steep seattube and efficient suspension design handle the pedalling side, while the 160mm Fox 38 Performance Elite forks and matching

  5. Everything you need to beat the winter weather by riding indoors

    Everything you need to beat the winter weather by riding indoors

    Riding indoors is a world away from what it used to be. Turbo trainers have changed hugely from what they were just a decade ago, and the advent of things like Zwift means that you can virtually ride with other people in groups, compete in races or simply have something more interactive than just staring at a garage wall or your TV screen for hours on end.  The flip side, of course, is that while things have become significantly smarter and more interesting the price of indoor training has increased proportionally so that if you really want the most comprehensive setup you can then it's going to cost you. What we have here are three potential indoor training setups at various price points and different levels of interest. So whether you just want to keep the pedals turning in the dry or commit fully to indoor training there's something here for you. 

  6. Aeroe's new Pannier Spider Rack turns any MTB into a commuting machine

    Aeroe's new Pannier Spider Rack turns any MTB into a commuting machine

    aeroe's rear rack is an incredibly elegant piece of engineering. It's stable, good-looking and perfect for any adventure. But here's the thing: not every ride is an adventure, and not everyone has multiple bikes to use for various different purposes. That's why aeroe has adapted their Spider Rear Rack into the Spider Pannier Rack, for those trips that are a little less adventure, and a little more necessity.  That doesn't mean you can't go off-road with the pannier rack, mind you, as the below video demonstrates. The best part is that it's designed to be compatible with any panniers on the market, so you can take any you already have and just clip them straight on. You also dont have to buy a whole new rack if you're using the current Spider Rear Rack, as the receiver on the top simply swaps out so you can leave the rack in place and switch between that and the cradles for the aeroe dry bags. It really is one system for both send and sensible.  If you don't believe

  7. Defy the Elements this Winter with Madison Clothing

    Defy the Elements this Winter with Madison Clothing

    Riding outside all winter is the dream. No matter how good indoor riding gets it just can't compare to the fun you have riding in the real world. That's especially true for off-road riding where  95% of the fun doesn't come from the actual pedalling, but from navigating the terrain.  But to stay outside for as much of Autumn and Winter as possible, you're going to need kit that'll keep you warm and dry. Warm is the easier of the two as that can be achieved through layering but dry require quality kit that actually keeps the water out properly, not stuff that 'keeps water out as long as it's not raining that much and doesn't keep up for more than about 20mins'.  Madison Clothing's DTE collection (which you wont be surprised to find out after reading the headline stands for Defy the Elements) aims to help keep you riding outside for as long as you want. The main pieces - bib trousers, pants and 3-layer waterproof jacket - are serious, heavy duty items of clothing

  8. We can't stop watching these amazing short clips from DT Swiss

    We can't stop watching these amazing short clips from DT Swiss

    Call it ambient, atmospheric, ASMR or anything else you fancy, there's no doubt that videos of 'stuff just happening' are very popular right now. Maybe it's because life is so busy that sitting back and watching something relaxing is really fulfilling, or maybe it's just fun to watch interesting things. Probably best not to psychoanalyze it.  No matter what the motivation for watchers, DT Swiss is in on the action with a series of seven short videos that shows how their spokes are produced on the incredible machines in their factory. Each individual video is only around 16secs long, but we just can't stop watching them. They're pretty mesmerising and we've been watching them all morning here, especially the one with the machine that forms the J-bend heads onto the spokes, that's our favourite (video number 5, if you're interested).  DT Swiss is one of the very few wheel manufacturers that make everything in house, from rims to spokes, hub shells, internals - every

  9. Knog's Blinder Pro is a front light you can rely on

    Knog's Blinder Pro is a front light you can rely on

    As a bike rider or commuter in winter, there are a few things that just make your heart sink. One is rain, because nothing makes the cold less pleasant quite like getting wet. Another is punctures, because getting cold and wet is one thing but then having to change a tube really is insult on top of injury. The third is getting ready for your ride home only to find that your lights dont have enough charge, thus begins the classic game of 'front light chicken' where they may or may not have enough juice left, so it becomes your legs versus the light battery to see which fails first.  What we're trying to say is that a quality front light is an absolutely essential piece of kit for anyone who intends to ride in poor light conditions, whether that be early morning/late evening rides during Spring and Summer, or basically any time of day in the UK in Autumn or Winter.  Coming in 600, 900 or 1300-lumen varieties, the real beauty of the Blinder Pro is the battery technology

  10. Brake bleeding FAQ from the guys at Park Tool

    Brake bleeding FAQ from the guys at Park Tool

    Hydraulic disc brakes are one of the best things to have become widespread on bicycles in the last decade. They're powerful, have great feel and require very little maintenance when setup correctly due to being a sealed system. Setting up hydraulic brakes is called bleeding, and it's the process by which you remove air from the system. The reason you need to do this is that air is compressable while hydraulic fluid is pretty much the opposite, so the more air there is in the brake system the more inconsistent and 'spongy' your brakes will feel.  The trouble is, bleeding is often seen as a one-size-fits-all solution to almost any problems you might have with your hydraulic brakes. But in reality there are only certain situations that you need to bleed the brakes, while other symptoms will actually require other remedies (like changing the pads, for example). In the below video Truman and Calvin from Park Tool talk you through 5 things that mean you need a brake bleed and five

  11. Nail the details on your bike build with Wheels Manufacturing

    Nail the details on your bike build with Wheels Manufacturing

    If you're building your own bike, one of the nicest parts is figuring out all the little things that will really make the build. Sure, the frame, wheels and groupset are the glamour items, but the smaller bits like bottom bracket, derailleur hanger, thru axles, top cap and seat clamp are the parts that turn a good build into a great one. One brand that's earned an excellent reputation by making just these sorts of things is Wheels Manufacturing (or Wheels MFG) who made their name by making top notch bottom brackets and a huge catalogue of mech hangers to fit almost any bike. Oh, and possibly the best-looking bearing presses that money can buy. That's not all they do, though, and one of their latest creations is a variety of beautifully machined thru axles that will make any bike look that little bit better.  Almost all disc brake frames

  12. New things we like from Park Tool

    New things we like from Park Tool

    There are multiple ways to cope with internal routing. The first way is to buy a bike that doesn't have anything routed internally, which immediately solves the problem but bikes like that are becoming increasingly difficult to find so might be more effort than it's worth. Second is to come up with some kind of home-made fix to get those wires, cables or hoses through the frame. Again, absolutely nothing wrong with this one (and we've done it ourselves in the past) but it generally requires a fair amount of trial and error, and if you need to route a bike more than once a year you're definitely going to want something a little less frustrating. Which brings us onto option three: the Park Tool IR-1.3. The 'IR' in the name stands for internal routing, and the '1.3' signifies that it's the third version of the tool, one with a few very helpful upgrades over the previous (called the IR-1.2 would you believe).  The first new addition for the IR-1.3 is a connector for Shimano's EW-SD300

  13. Shimano GRX goes 12-speed and adds a huge gearing range

    Shimano GRX goes 12-speed and adds a huge gearing range

    New groupset day is our favourite day, and last week Shimano lifted the lid on their latest GRX groupsets. With multiple different configurations over two levels (800 series and 600 series), GRX is one of the most versatile groupsets around and has options to cater for almost any kind of off-road or all-road riding you can think of. For an in-depth dive into the new groupsets, you can head over to Cyclist or BikeRadar who have had their hands on the new components for a while, or read on below for a top-line run down of what's available.  First of the new GRX groupsets

  14. Ride back to school with Nutrak kids' tyres

    Ride back to school with Nutrak kids' tyres

    Back to school is right around the corner, and what better way to start the day than riding your bike? Knowing that thousands of kids nationwide will be taking to two wheels at the start of September, Nutrak has a fantastic range of kids' tyres that are tailored to suit young cyclists' needs. With three distinct tread patterns and sizes ranging from 12 to 26”, these tyres offer a fantastic blend of performance and safety, ensuring an enjoyable riding experience for kids of all ages. For the adventurous souls who crave off-road exploration, the Meteor off-road tyre is the perfect choice. Its rugged tread design offers superior traction on uneven surfaces, making it an excellent companion for young explorers who love venturing into the wild. On the other hand, the Asteroid semi-slick tyre strikes a balance between on-road efficiency and off-road capability. With its versatile tread pattern, it provides confident grip on both smooth surfaces and light trails, making it an i

  15. Science in Sport's Protein bars are a tasty, easy-to-eat protein hit

    Science in Sport's Protein bars are a tasty, easy-to-eat protein hit

    If you think protein is just for weight-chucking, gym-loving strength athletes then think again. While protein - and, we can't stress enough, nurition in general - is a vital component of weight training programmes, it's just as important for endurance athletes but for a slightly different purpose. While weight lifters use protein to fuel muscle growth (aka trying to make muscles larger and stronger), endurance athletes also need protein to aid muscle recovery after training and a similarly important role in energy supply and muscle maintenance.  Basically, after around 90mins of endurance exercise the body's glycogen stores are depleted and it looks for other ways to supply energy. One of the first things the body looks to do is called gluconeogenesis which is in this context (in a wildly oversimplified and unscientific explanation) basically the breakdown of your muscles to supply that energy. Having a good quality protein source supplies the body with the amino acids that

  16. After the neatest bike rack you've ever seen? aeroe has the answer

    After the neatest bike rack you've ever seen? aeroe has the answer

    People have been using bikes to carry things for almost as long as bikes have been around. Bikepacking also isn't new, it's pretty much just an evolution of what used to be called touring. What has changed significantly, though, is the variety of bikes used for things like bikepacking, the way that racks look and mount and the general vibe of the whole experience. Where racks used to be big, clunky things that allowed you to carry bags but generally made the bike worse, they're now light, sleek and fit in with the aesthetic of a machine that's precision engineered and, generally, quite expensive.  Basically what we're saying is that bike racks dont always mean compromise these days. It's not a case of you can either enjoy the ride experience or carry stuff with you but not both. Right at the forefront of this idea of 'nice racks for nice bikes' sits aeroe, a brand that have taken form and function and blended the two together to make something rather good indeed. 

  17. Organise your life with Thule's fantastic RoundTrip bag

    Organise your life with Thule's fantastic RoundTrip bag

    Organisation is one of those skills that you either have or you dont. If you think that you're 'sort of' organised, it probably means you're not (sorry if that feels like an attack) and while it wont pack itself for you, Thule's RoundTrip kit bag is exactly designed for people who think they might be sort of organised but in reality need a little helping hand.  The best part about the RoundTrip is that even though it's incredibly well organised its 55L capacity means you don't actually have to be all that organised when it comes to what you're taking with you and what you're leaving behind. A bag this large can easily fit 3-5 days' worth of riding kit so there's no problem with taking a few extra bits just in case. The main compartment has an expandable segemented organiser section which is perfect for rolling up jerseys, arm and leg warmers, socks and any other soft goods you want to take with you. There's also a specific compartment for shoes with a tarpaulin liner to make

  18. Spare two minutes? Watch this DT Swiss dream wheel build

    Spare two minutes? Watch this DT Swiss dream wheel build

    Most of you are probably familar with the idea of a dream build video by this point. Basically, it's a person building a bike with either very calm music in the background or only ambient noise as the soundtrack. Well DT Swiss have taken that idea and built on it with the help of Jean Brun in Switzerland to make a dream wheel build video. It's exactly as it sounds - man builds gravel wheels onto the latest DT Swiss 350 hubs while you sit there and admire both his handiwork and the loveliness of the video in general. It doesn't need much more of an introduction than that, to be honest, so sit back and enjoy. 

  19. Things to pack in your saddle bag (aka getting home when the worst happens)

    Things to pack in your saddle bag (aka getting home when the worst happens)

    Before anyone gets hung up on our use of the term 'saddlebag' this isn't just about neatly organising whatever you hang off your saddle rails. It's about what to take with you in whatever you use to carry spares be that jersey pockets, a hip pack, frame bag, bar bag, hydration pack or any other form of storage short of a team car.  Riding bikes is great, but every now and then - just like with cars - something unfortunate will go wrong and require some kind of on-the-fly repair. Fortunately bikes are much easier to fix by yourself than motor vehicles, and 90% of things can be at least temporarily mended by the road or trail side.  So here we're going to discuss what it might be nice to have with you to cover the greatest variety of potential mid-ride issues from punctures to bolts to chains and back again. Here we go...

  20. Downhill is back. Celebrate by checking out these amazing Saracen Mysts

    Downhill is back. Celebrate by checking out these amazing Saracen Mysts

    If you've never watched downhill mountain bike racing, then you've really been missing out. As far as pure excitment goes there's almost nothing better and the terrain the athletes cover - combined with the speeds they're going - is probably the most astonishing in the whole world of bicycle racing.  World Cup downhill returns this coming weekend with the racing in Lenzerheide, Switzerland and the Madison Saracen race team will be in action with Matt Walker and Greg Williamson in the men's elite event. Qualification is on the 9th and the race itself on the 10th. With that in mind, we figured that now is the perfect time to have a look back at some of our favourite Saracen downhill race bikes - called the Myst. Check them out below. 

  21. Watch Calvin from Park Tool build a bike

    Watch Calvin from Park Tool build a bike

    If there's one man on planet Earth that knows his way around a bike, it's Calvin Jones from Park Tool. More years in the business than he'd care to remember, more bikes built than you could possibly count and still more enthusiasm than almost anyone else we know. This is a slightly different video than the standard fare that Park Tool upload in that it's not directly instructional on any single part of bike building or maintenance. Instead, it's Calvin building a bike and talking his way through it for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy. 

  22. Throwback Thursday: Genesis Mantle

    Throwback Thursday: Genesis Mantle

    Ah nostalgia, it's just not what it used to be. Looking back fondly on the past is big business these days - just look at the sheer amount of throwback jerseys available for every sports team ever - and so we figured we'd get in on the action by taking the occasional look at bikes we've loved that are no longer with us (in the range, that is, they haven't all been banished to the big bike shed in the sky). First off is the Genesis Mantle, a carbon XC race bike with the speed to back up those oh-so-tempting looks.   These days, though, unless you're an actual XC racer, the lines between what is an XC bike and what is a gravel bike have blurred together further than ever. It's left pure-bred XC bikes like the Mantle in a difficult position becuase although they're incredible fun to ride they dont have the same on-road/off-road capability that a gravel bike does, and a lot of trail riding in the UK lends itself to something longer, with bounce at both ends like the Saracen

  23. The Ryder Luberetta is a tiny piece of genius

    The Ryder Luberetta is a tiny piece of genius

    Of all the bike-related tasks that are both essentially, boring and potentially messy, chain lubrication might be the worst. And maybe the only one too, but that's not the point. Anyway, the perfect way to lube a chain has been a hotly-debated topic for about as long as chains have been a key component of the bicycle (so forever, basically). But what if we told you that someone has developed a cheap, mess-free and very smart way to make sure your chain is clean and lubed thoroughly. Interested? Yeah, us too.  Enter Ryder Innovations, a South African brand with a well-deserved reputation for making very smart cycling solutions at even smarter prices. Dont believe us? Well the product we described above is called the Ryder Luberetta and it costs just £5.99. How does it work? To start, the Luberetta has a 15ml capacity that you

  24. Fly over the trails with Vittoria's Air Liner Light

    Fly over the trails with Vittoria's Air Liner Light

    Puncture-proof tyres - that's the dream, right? Well tyre inserts are a relatively recent invention that helps to bring that a little closer to reality. Vittoria's new Air Liner Light is a tyre insert designed for XC, trail and down-country riders to give them that run-flat capability without adding too much weight to the bike.  Working with mechanics and riders from the BMC MTB Racing, Santa Cruz FSA and KTM-Vittoria MTB teams, Air Liner light has been developed to be extremely light and fast while still providing rim protection and run-flat performance.  Just 50 per liner, it's shaped to be a perfect fit with rim channels between 25-30mm wide. That fit means that the insert is always properly fastened to the rim so there's no additional rotating mass moving around inside the tyre.  One other smart of the Air Liner Light is the enhanced suspension characteristics it brings to the bike. Basically, the insert allows for the progressive compression of

  25. The all-new Saracen Levarg is a gravel bike for MTB riders

    The all-new Saracen Levarg is a gravel bike for MTB riders

    The Levarg is a gravel bike, but a gravel bike done the Saracen way. This isn’t one of those road bikes masquerading as a gravel bike, that’ll spend half it’s life with skinny tyres in. This is a bike designed for off-road, with the geometry and spec that’ll turn your mind to trails and adventures rather than tarmac or commuting. The new Levarg comes in three different models: The Levarg, Levarg SL and Levarg FB. All are based around the same Series 2 custom butted and hydroformed 6061 alloy frame and UD carbon fork with 12mm thru axles front and rear. The base model Levarg features a 2X setup in the shape of Shimano’s 10-speed Tiagra shifters paired to GRX400 mechs and mechanical TRP Spyre C brakes.

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