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All About The Bike (And Computers…. And Cycling Apps… And Maintenance…)

In this section of the blog, you’ll learn about:
– how to choose your first sportive bike (or perhaps your next one)
– bike components, including the gears and pedals
– bike computers and GPS devices (Garmins and the like)
– cycling apps for your iPhone/Android (Strava, MapMyRide)
– indoor cycling and turbo trainers
– stuff you need to maintain your bike in tip top condition
… and much more …

So you’ve decided to take the next step towards cyclo-service self sufficiency. You need to take your cassette off the bike, either to clean it or to replace it. It is one of your core principles that you don’t knowingly elect to shred your fingers whilst undertaking bike maintenance. You therefore need a chain whip […] Read More

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For most of the last two centuries, the best place to buy a bike (whether that’s road bike or a vélocipède) has not been online. Once production moved out of the LB (local blacksmith), sales activity moved to the LBS (local bike shop). In more recent years, LBS sales have come under threat from bike […] Read More

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The Ultimate Guide To Pedals For Sportive Cyclists 2017

The Ultimate Guide To Pedals For Sportive Cyclists 2017 thumbnail

Well that’s a bold statement to start things off with – to suggest that I’ve identified the best road bike pedals out there. (“Oi cock! This Grimper fella reckons ‘e’s got the ‘ultimate’ guide t’ “, “Nah, tha’s collops mate.”) Fair point. This post is unlikely to represent the last word written on the subject. […] Read More

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Shimano Dura-Ace vs Ultegra: Clash Of The Groupset Titans

Judging by the popularity of my other posts comparing different rungs on the Shimano road gears product ladder, I thought it high time that I looked at the tippity top of the company’s groupset range, Shimano Dura-Ace, and how it compares to Ultegra. So, behold, here are my considered musings (alright, ill-considered musings).

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Garmin Edge 820 vs Edge 520: Battle Royale (No Holds Barred)

Garmin Edge 820 vs Edge 520: Battle Royale (No Holds Barred) thumbnail

My brother-in-law’s Edge 500 has finally given up the ghost. He’s in the market for a new bike computer. We both have a sense that he should be looking at either the (spankingly new) Garmin Edge 820 or the (still vibrantly youthful) Edge 520. I have form for researching bike computers on this ’ere blog. […] Read More

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Join me as I investigate the best power meters available for road cyclists in the glorious year of 2017. Now I don’t own a power meter. I keep hoping that if I write about the topic enough, one of the power meter companies might notice and send me a free one. Fat chance. At some point […] Read More

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Service Course: In Which Our Hero Starts To Upgrade From Shimano 105 To Ultegra (And May Need To Buy New Wheels) thumbnail

I am pleased to report that my gallant Trek Domane has been in for a service. I am less pleased to report that I have been guilty of a little bike neglect. But there is a silver lining to every cloud. In this case it’s an Ultegra lining. And this nimbostratus may even have a […] Read More

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Shimano 105 vs Ultegra: Is It Worth It To Upgrade?

Shimano 105 vs Ultegra: Is It Worth It To Upgrade? thumbnail

There comes a time in every road cyclist’s life when it becomes clear* that the quickest way to progress to professional standards of performance is to splash more cash on a random bike component. (*Not all that clear) That time occurs before you buy your bike, roughly a week after you’ve bought your bike, then […] Read More

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Torque To The Hand (Or What’s The Best Torque Wrench For Bikes?) thumbnail

It feels like spring is starting to agitate in its loins (as Keats would say). It also feels like I need to show my bike a little TLC after it has spent the winter doing a ‘good job of work’. And as every beautician will know, performing some serious TLC requires a serious torque wrench. […] Read More

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First Impressions Of TrainerRoad: Upgrading The Paincave

First Impressions Of TrainerRoad: Upgrading The Paincave thumbnail

I have this sense that there is a secret to training that, if I crack it, will result in my becoming a stronger/faster/more stylish cyclist. If not instantly, then at least overnight. It is this inner inkling that prompts my fascination with power meters (“If only I had a power meter then a programme of […] Read More

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What Is The Best Garmin Edge For Cycling in 2017?

What Is The Best Garmin Edge For Cycling in 2017? thumbnail

Updated February 2017. Great question. And one I’m going to attempt to answer. The purpose of this post is to give you an overview of the Garmin Edge range of cycling GPS devices as we stand (ride?) here in the first months of 2017. My aim is to give you an idea of what each […] Read More

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Duotrap in position

I’ve got some pretty interesting ideas (interesting to me) as to how the Sportive Cyclist blog will evolve and improve in 2016 (I know, I know, you’re struggling to see how it can get any better). Unfortunately, before then, I’ve some more, er, esoteric posts to publish. It’s either that or bin them. And the bin […] Read More

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Garmin Edge 520 vs Edge 510: Another “10” – What Gives?

Garmin Edge 520 vs Edge 510: Another “10” – What Gives? thumbnail

So you’re in the market for a mid-range Garmin cycling GPS device and are considering whether to go for the Edge 520 or the 510? Good, well you’ve come to the right place. The Edge 520 is one of the newer additions to the Garmin cycling range and, as the ‘520’ number-clature suggests, it similar […] Read More

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cheap grease gun for speedplay pedals

This post is not going to interest everyone, but if you have a strong desire to make precision insertions of oil into certain parts of your bike, then I’m about to blow your mind. (Sort of). I have found (and used) ((and liked)) an alternative to the ludicrously expensive Speedplay grease gun. And I’m going […] Read More

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Garmin Edge 510 Long Term Review

Garmin Edge 510 Long Term Review

For some people, cycling is all about getting on a bike, getting out into the great outdoors, freedom, speed and cakes. For me, cycling is also about recording data. Not an excessive amount (I don’t – yet – have a power meter), but enough. Enough data to see where I’ve been. How fast I’m going. […] Read More

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Speedplay Zero Stainless Clipless Pedals: A Long-Term Review

Speedplay Zero Pedals

I’m about to give some of you some tough love. (An enticing prospect.) Here it comes…. If you’re currently not using clipless pedals, and instead use flat ‘platform’ pedals, you need to stop procrastinating and make the leap. Your legs will thank you. Your sportive performances will thank you. (For those of you already using […] Read More

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Shimano Tiagra vs 105: Which One Should I Buy?

Shimano Tiagra vs 105: Which One Should I Buy? thumbnail

When it comes to choosing which make and model of gears for your first road bike (or your first ‘proper’ one), chances are you’ll be deciding between a and a . For those that already ride with Tiagra, 105 seems the natural upgrade path. But which is best, given the price difference? Is it worth upgrading […] Read More

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From Mountain Bike To Road Bike

Occasionally, Sportive Cyclist readers will write in requesting advice. Sometimes it is bike-related. Kevin is one such reader. He sent me a nice email containing the query below. I thought I’d have a go at answering it publicly (with Kevin’s permission) and thereby supplement my own pearls of ‘wisdom’ with the contents of the Sportive […] Read More

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Elite Race Workstand

It’s time for me to, once again, apply my razor-sharp analytical skills to the assessment of a piece of cycling equipment. I’m going to ‘review’ the Elite Race Workstand. In other words, I’m going to waffle a bit, show you some photos and a couple of videos and try to help you decide whether a […] Read More

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Road Bikes For Beginners

Road Bikes For Beginners

Wazoo!! I’m glad you’re here. No, really. I am. You want to find out more information about road cycling? Who can blame you? It’s a cracking sport, activity, thing to do. Whatever. In this post I’ve answered a bunch of questions you might have about a road cycling. If I’ve missed anything, let me know […] Read More

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Welcome To My Pain Cave: A Review Of The Elite Crono Fluid Elastogel Indoor Trainer thumbnail

I’ve owned my Elite Crono Fluid Elastogel turbo trainer for over a year. I’ve used it to prepare for RideLondon, to attempt to maintain some semblance of fitness over the winter (hashtag fail) and to complete the 30 Days of Cycling Challenge in June. To be honest, at the moment, I’m on it most evenings. […] Read More

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The Sportive Cyclist’s Guide To Turbo Trainers 2017

The Sportive Cyclist’s Guide To Turbo Trainers 2017 thumbnail

I’m sorry to be the one that has to break this to you, but winter is approaching. The opportunities for riding outside start to dwindle. Work day evenings become dark and cold. Day time riders will gamble with rain, wind and, before too long, dangerous icy roads. But fear not. Help is at hand. An […] Read More

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Garmin Edge 1000 vs Edge 810: Battle of the Bike GPS Heavyweights thumbnail

Morning campers. If you’re not lusting after your next bike (I know you’ve got your eye on something), chances are you’re lusting after a bit of bling to attach to your handlebars (no, not a diamante-encrusted bike light). Blingiest of the blingiest in the GPS bike computer stakes is the . Being at the top […] Read More

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How To Create And Upload A Route To A Garmin Edge 510

How To Create And Upload A Route To A Garmin Edge 510 thumbnail

As you may know, I’ve owned a Garmin Edge 510 for over a year (here’s when I ‘unboxed’ it; here’s where I compared it to an Edge 500). In that time, I have been woefully bad at learning how to use all but its simplest features. I’ve done little more than use it to record […] Read More

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Best Saddle Bag For Road Cyclists 2017 – Buyers Guide

Best Saddle Bag For Road Cyclists 2017 – Buyers Guide thumbnail

I’ve bust my saddle bag. Which is a bit of an (under) arse (storage issue). So, since I’m researching my buying options for its replacement, I thought I’d write a post to share my findings. To be clear, I’ve not seen any of the following bags in the synthetic material flesh (or if I have, […] Read More

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Trek Domane 4.3 compact

I sometimes wonder if bike manufacturers get slightly embarrassed about making road bikes for those riders of a more ‘recreational’ persuasion (which is you and me, duck). They wrestle with promotional language to try to make it clear that whilst a bike might look like a professional racer’s bike, it is in fact built for […] Read More

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Hybrid vs Road Bike: What Is The Difference? (And Can I Use A Hybrid For A Sportive?!) thumbnail

Some experienced cyclists might scoff at this question (though surely not you, noble reader of Sportive Cyclist). I think it’s a perfectly valid one. I haven’t done a survey (perhaps I should), but I can’t imagine many prospective sportive cyclists wake up one day, having not ridden a bike in 20+ years, and think, ‘I […] Read More

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Sportive bike vs road bike

A sportive bike (try to ignore the mess in the living room)

January is upon us. Not quite the traditional time to get into road cycling, at least in the northern hemisphere (what with the ice, snow, surprising new lake locations etc). Still, you want to rid yourself of that pesky extra tyre. You want to get fit. You want to get out there and DO SOMETHING. […] Read More

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What Is A Bicycle Tracker (And Do I Need One)?

Bicycle tracker secret squirrel

Tracking systems have been around for cars and motorbikes for years. With cycling growing in popularity, and with what feels like a greater number of more expensive bikes on the roads, tracking systems for bikes has to be a growth area. Never let it be said that the Grimpeur doesn’t like to investigate interesting growths. […] Read More

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Garmin Edge 500 vs 510

In this post I’m going to compare the characteristics and features of the Garmin Edge 510 versus its predecessor, the Edge 500. The eagle-eyed (or perhaps elephant-memoried) amongst you may recall that I am the proud owner of the 510 version. I did seriously consider purchasing the 500, despite the newer model being available, but […] Read More

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How To Make Your Bike Lighter

How To Make Your Bike Lighter

As a Grimpeur Heureux reader, I’m sure you’ve already achieved your optimum cycling body fat percentage, so this post is going to look at how you can make your bike lighter. Let’s face it, for finely-honed athletes such as ourselves, the weight of our bike (and associated equipment) is the remaining final frontier before we […] Read More

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MapMyRide vs Strava: A Detailed Comparison

MapMyRide vs Strava: A Detailed Comparison thumbnail

The purpose of this post is to compare the popular cycling apps, Strava and MapMyRide, in some sort of app-ocalyptic battle to establish which is best. Ahem. Sorry about that. Both Strava and MapMyRide are based on a similar principle. You take a GPS device out on your ride to capture where you went. When […] Read More

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Sportive Bike vs Road Bike – What Is The Difference?

Sportive bike vs road bike

A sportive bike (try to ignore the mess in the living room)

In this post I’m going to look at what features go to make up a ‘sportive bike’ as opposed to a bog standard road bike. You can participate in a sportive using any bike you want. On most sportives you’ll see the odd hybrid commuter or mountain bike. In many cases, those bikes are ahead […] Read More

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How Does Strava Calculate Power Data?

How Does Strava Calculate Power Data? thumbnail

In this post I’m going to look at how Strava calculates the power generated over the course of a ride, specifically where the rider (like me) doesn’t have a device attached to the bike for measuring power. Dedicated power meters are still an expensive addition to your bike. Is it worth spending that extra money […] Read More

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Trek Domane 4.3 compact

In this post I am going to review the Trek Domane 4.3 road bike. Or rather, I’m going to wax lyrically about it, ignoring any sort of protocol that requires me to be impartial and objective. I purchased the bike in early July, as part of a bike fit / new bike / new knee […] Read More

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This is the second in a two-part account of my search for the perfect bike fit. So far in this epic quest (which you can read about here), I discovered that my trusty Dawes did not fit me at all, that bike frame sizes bear very little relation to the size of the person riding […] Read More

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After much talk of potential new bikes and having a bike fit, I’ve finally got round to taking some positive action. Ooo-rah! If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know that my training efforts have been hampered by a recurring knee injury (and a general lack of structure, focus, etc). I knew […] Read More

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A Cyclist’s Guide to Bike Frame Materials: Wood

Er, pardon, wood? Surely no-one makes bikes out of wood any more. But, of course, they do. And not just the sorts of people that make dresses out of meat (fireplaces out of cheese, whatever…). Wood is an entirely viable, albeit unusual, material out of which you can fashion a bike. This post is the fifth […] Read More

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More About Bike Gears: A Short Treatise on Chain Rings

If you read my post about how bike gears work (if you didn’t, you can find it here), you may recall that I discovered that there was more to the subject than could be covered in a single outing. It turns out (because, yes, sometimes I write these introductory sections AFTER I’ve written the body […] Read More

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A Cyclist’s Guide to Bike Frame Materials: Titanium

Welcome to the third post in my series looking at the materials used to build bike frames. Here are the links to the previous articles: A Cyclists Guide to Bike Frame Materials: Steel A Cyclists Guide to Bike Frame Materials: Carbon **UPDATE: The full list of ‘materials’ posts can be found on my new page […] Read More

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How Do Strava and MapMyRide Determine Cycling Climb Categories? thumbnail

As an avid pro-cycling fan, and particularly of the Grand Tours, I have always been fascinated by the classifications given to the climbs along the route. The sight of one or more Hors Catégorie climbs on the route profile for the following day’s stage means that I’ll have to clear my schedule for an afternoon spent […] Read More

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Garmin Edge 510: What’s In The Box?

Last week it was my birthday (34th). I was lucky enough to receive a Garmin Edge 510 as a present from my wife. It would have been spectacular if my wife had selected the Edge 510 without any assistance, or if she had purchased it as a result of reading my Which Bike GPS post. […] Read More

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Bike Gears: How Do They Work

Gears are a pretty fundamental part of the modern bicycle. In fact, as the handlebar-moustache-sporting, Victorian gents amongst you will know, the introduction of gear rings and chains spelt the end for the Hi-wheel (the Penny Farthing to you and I) and other direct drive bicycles. By varying the size of the chainring at the front and […] Read More

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A Cyclists Guide To Bike Frame Materials: Carbon Fibre

Welcome to the second in my series of posts on the materials used to make bicycle frames. **UPDATE: The full list of ‘materials’ posts can be found on my new page dedicated to bike building: How To Build A Bike ** Readers of my previous article (which you can read here) will no doubt have […] Read More

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A Cyclist’s Guide To Bike Frame Materials: Steel

Most people with any interest in bikes will have at least a passing familiarity with the materials that are used to make them. The sculpted, wind tunnel-honed lines of pro peleton bikes are unmistakably formed from carbon fibre. The skinny  road bikes of old evoke images of bespectacled engineers in oil-stained overalls, squinting at steel tubes […] Read More

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Which Bike GPS Device: The Ultimate Buyers Guide

Which Bike GPS Device: The Ultimate Buyers Guide thumbnail

In this post I will describe what a bike GPS device is and what it can do for cyclists. I’ll talk about the difference between a dedicated device and using the GPS functionality of your phone. Finally, I’ll share with you a table that I have compiled, which compares the various characteristics (functions, size, weight, […] Read More

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I have a very warm regard for my bike. As a Yorkshireman, that’s about as close a declaration of undying love you’re going to get. But it’s time to consider an upgrade (it’s always time to consider an upgrade!). My bike has been with me for more than 8 years, since I snap-purchased it whilst […] Read More

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Best cycle app: Strava or MapMyRide?

Best cycle app: Strava or MapMyRide? thumbnail

I like to look at maps. I like to plan routes. I am quite obsessed with knowing where I have been. Not all who wander are lost – JRR Tolkien When I first moved to London, I used to walk excessive distances on a weekend, taking delight in piecing together seemingly disjointed sections of the […] Read More

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Grimpeur Heureux goes to the London Bike Show

Willier fixie track bike

One of many attractive retro bikes on show

As the title suggests, this Saturday I went to the London Bike Show. I had intended to cycle, but the ‘London Death Snow’ (translation for snow-familiar foreigners: a light dusting) put paid to that idea. I was therefore unable to bask in the smug glow emanating from those attendees I saw dressed in full on […] Read More

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