Why didn’t I think of that?

I recently had one of those “Why didn’t I think of that?” moments while searching for innovative products for Bicycle Nuts . I had come across the Bottlefix Ahead adaptor which allows the attachment of a water bottle cage directly to a threadless headset.

The Bottlefix Ahead is pure simplicity itself: You just attach it to a bottle cage using the two included screws, then replace your headset cap with the assembled Bottlefix and cage.

 

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I was already familiar with adaptors that allowed the attachment of water bottle cages to handlebars, but I have always been a little wary of metal clamps damaging the paintwork or clamps working loose. So finally a neat solution!

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The Bottlefix adaptors are already flying off the shelves in Germany where they are both developed and produced by Rixen & Kaul, and now I think its time we got to try them ⇒ here ⇐

WingLights

For those of you who still haven’t heard about WingLights, they are lightweight, shockproof & waterproof directional LED indicators for Bicycles, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some  after watching the team behind them (Cycl) make a successful pitch for investment on Dragons’ Den.

After the WingLights arrived in the post it took just a couple of minutes to securely attach them to the handlebars of my bike before I hit the road for the first trial run.

As darkness fell I had arrived in the busy town centre, which offers plenty of junctions, roundabouts and multiple lanes of traffic to enjoy. Operating the WingLights was a cinch; they turned on or off by pressing a button positioned on the end of each device, and whenever I forgot to turn one off it would automatically turn off after 45 seconds. After over an hour of riding around town I hadn’t encountered any problems at all; as far as I could tell other road users knew exactly which direction I was turning whenever I used the WingLights.

The following evening I recruited a friend to follow me in his car while I cycled around the neighbourhood so that I could hear firsthand just how visible WingLights are to motorists. Afterwards I was pleased to hear that my friend could tell which direction I intended to turn every time a WingLight flashed. Unfortunately though not all motorists are as observant as my friend, so I will occasionally still use hand signals to reinforce the use of my WingLights.

There are currently two types of WingLight at the time of writing, one is magnetic and the other is fixed. As a mountain biker I wanted to make sure my WingLights would be extra secure, so I opted for fixed.

Needless to say I really like my WingLights so have decided to start stocking them in the Bicycle Nuts shop

The day my stabilisers came off

During a recent visit to my parents house, mum (as usual) dug out the old photographs, you know, the embarrassing ones. Now I have to admit I do enjoy reminiscing over old family photos but nothing could have prepared me for one of them. Mum had discovered a long lost photo of me riding my very first bike, taken on the day my late grandad removed the stabilisers. Not only did I already have vivid memories of that day, but now I have the photograph to go with them.

The bike was bought for me by my grandad when I was 5 years old, and I rode that thing up and down our road all day every day. I knew at some point I needed to be brave and have the stabilisers removed and by the end of the first week that time had come. Grandad came over spanner in hand and whipped those stabilisers off and I was good to go. I cautiously mounted the bike while mum had hold of the seat and I slowly started to pedal along the path. As I started to pick up pace I hadn’t realised that mum had purposefully let go of the saddle and was running alongside me, and it was only when I noticed her running alongside me that everything got a little wobbly. However, incredibly I didn’t crash and before long I was riding on my own, and the rest as they say was history.

Please feel free to share any memories you might have of your early attempts at riding your first bike in the comment section.

Voodoo Bizango review

Voodoo Bizango review

Due to so many commitments I found myself out of the mountain bike scene for 5 long years, then finally in 2014 I was ready to dive back in. I knew from my TREK 830 days that I didn’t need to spend big bucks in order to keep up with the race leaders, so I gave myself a budget of £600 and let the research begin. I test rode several well know bikes in my price range but they all disappointed, they had clunky suspension forks and weighed a ton. Then I started hearing talk of the new Voodoo Bizango 29er, so I started investigating further. The Bizango was getting positive review after positive review, mbr named it hardtail winner of the year. It looked like I had found my new bike, and after a test ride there was no doubt.

First outing 

I decided I was going to christen my bike by cycling over to Holmbury Hill, which is approximately 11 miles from home starting with a 4 mile tarmac dash to Newlands Corner. The first thing I noticed as I hit the road were those 29 inch wheels, it felt like I was riding an agile monster truck and nothing could get in my way. I also noticed that the bike freewheeled faster than my previous mountain bikes, no doubt because of those giant 29ers. My only slight frustration was running out of gears on fast descents, however this is unlikely to be an issue off-road.

Following a 2 mile ascent I arrived at Newlands Corner cafe, my regular pit stop before hitting the trail. So after demolishing a bacon bap and taking a caffeine hit it was goodbye tarmac and hello dirt. The last time I rode this particular trail I was on a very different bike: V-brakes, coil forks, 26 inch wheels and heavy chromoly frame, all a distant memory now. I hit the first trail (a steep 1 mile singletrack descent) at speed, skimming over roots and deep ruts like they weren’t even there thanks to the giant wheels and fat Maxxis Ardent tyres. I did experience a fair amount of noisy chain slap on the rougher terrain though so I certainly recommend a buying better chainstay protector than the existing flimsy adhesive one, I use the Lizard Skins Neoprene type. Ten miles later and I couldn’t have been happier with how the bike was performing on the trail. At this point there really weren’t any issues to report short of the chain slap.

Eventually I arrived at Holmbury Hill and tried out a few of the MTB trails. One thing that was immediately clear was how confident I felt on this bike, especially going down some of the steep heavily rooted banks which always used to be my week spot. Gear shifting was fast and precise, which is very useful on terrain like this which alters in the blink of an eye, however one slight concern was the amount of times my feet touched the front tyre during tighter turns.

By now it was getting quite late in the day and didn’t have my lights to hand, so I decided to be sensible and head home by road before it became too dark.

The following week I decided to take things up a notch and headed for Swinley Forest.

Swinley Forest

I can’t recommend Swinley Forest enough. Miles and miles of purpose built trails catering for various skill levels: Green Trail – easy / Blue Trail – Moderate / Red Trail – Difficult. There’s also a dirt jump and freeride area.

As usual we started with the Blue Trail and before long we were digging in as we started the first ascent. The front end felt nice and light as I took on the many deep roots of the uphill section, my only concern was the number of times I was still catching my  feet on the front tyre during tight turns (more on this later), but apart from that it was so far so good.

Now the downhill sections are what it’s really all about and the bike shined as expected. The 120mm Suntour Raidon forks soaked up the bumps which filled me with the confidence to push myself harder than ever before downhill. The Suntour Raidons might be classified as a budget fork but they certainly don’t feel it, and to this day mine haven’t required any servicing and there has never been any bushing knock.

The most challenging riding of the day for me was the Labyrinth section of the red trail, which is a very narrow twisty turny single track in the densest darkest part of the forest. The challenge for me was to get around the Labyrinth without putting my foot down once despite the fact that my handlebars are wider than much of the track and large roots are a plenty especially in the bends, unfortunately though I lost my balance half way round resulting in the least spectacular crash of my life, toppling sideways at 1 mph. Unfortunately I did experience the recurrence of my feet hitting the front tyre on those tight twisty turns which I initially thought might just be because I still wasn’t used to the 29ers, however 2 years on and its still happening and from what i’ve heard from other Bizango owners, it appears i’m not the only one to experience the problem.

Following a fantastic days riding it was time for my first bike inspection. I was a little disappointed to discover that my brake and gear cables had eaten all the way through the paintwork at the top of the suspension fork after only 2 days of use, however that was the only problem to report and an easy one to rectify after slapping on some frame protection stickers.

Today

The bike is still in very good health 2 years on despite seeing plenty of action, although admittedly I tend not to take it out when the weather is truly horrendous or when the trail is too boggy. I also clean the bike religiously, so despite a few scratches here and there the bike still looks like new. Going forwards I will be replacing my rather warn handlebar grips with the popular Acor Skull design grips and I might treat myself to a dropper post at some point, but that’s about it unless something breaks.

First blog post

What is Bicycle Nuts?

As a keen mountain biker for many years, I starting the ball rolling in October 2016 with Bicycle Nuts, a retail business supplying popular and innovative cycling accessories and components to fellow riders.

Where am I with Bicycle Nuts at the moment?

There are a number of popular product lines in the Bicycle Nuts eBay Shop and those lines are slowly growing. In addition to the eBay Shop, Bicycle Nuts will soon have its own standalone web store. Going forwards, one day I hope to open a Bricks and Mortar store. Watch this space!

My cycling history

First off I’ve been mountain biking since the late 80’s, so expect to see some MTB related content in my blog, starting with a review of my current bike.

My introduction into mountain biking was a Marin Muirwoods which was given to me for my 15th birthday. After the Marin was a Trek 830 which saw me through several cross-country  races in the early 90’s, which I actually did pretty well in considering the 830 was rigid. After my racing stint I brought myself a Trek 930 in 97 and that kept me happy for 10 whole years before I eventually sold it on to a mate who in turn sold it again some years later. Rumour has it my old 930 is still being ridden to this day. Jumping forwards in time I now ride a Voodoo Bizango, and that is the bike I will be reviewing in my next post.

Before I discovered mounting biking I did dabble a little bit with road bikes, but alas that was short lived as I just couldn’t keep away from the dirt.

Then of course there was my childhood. If you are, like me, of a certain age then you too may have owned the following bikes: Chopper, Grifter, Raleigh Burner and perhaps even a Falcon Prostyler, happy days! I did recently manage to persuade my nephew to let me have a go on his BMX, after all its only been 30 years since I last rode one. Whoa, BMX’s sure are easy to chuck about when your all grown up. Before long I was popping Wheelies and Bunny Hops just like the old days, however for the sake of my face I avoided Endo’s.

Please can I now have a BMX!