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Shimano E-8000 test and review

With Bosch’s domination of the quality E-bike sector it does sometimes feel like the other players have been trying to play catch up for the last couple of years… and they are catching up. A good example would be chaps at Shimano of Japan which is giving it a pretty good go.

Shimano is no stranger to the E-bike world, originally introducing their STEPS E6000 system in 2014 to the European market and having made some small changes over the last few years. The E6000 drive unit is more of an urban utility motor suited to leisure and commuting market offering a lightweight compact design but slightly lacking in torque which does matter for E-MTB’s. Clearly aware of this Shimano went back to the drawing board and came up with an all guns blazing, hill crushing and super compact system designated E-8000. With this E-MTB specific product they have looked beyond just the electro-motor itself at the whole system including drive train componentry and frame geometry.

The idea of having a smaller compact motor is to allow shorter chain stays giving the E-MTB a more natural feel similar to what you would get with any normal MTB. You should get a better handling bike for the tight twisty and technical stuff. Luckily for us we had the opportunity to take an E-MTB running the new E8000 out for rip around Aston Hill and see if the reality matched the public relations talk here.

THE TEST

So we pulled in to Aston Hill’s car park on a chilly spring morning feeling like Christmas had come early, looking out the car window we could see a very slick looking Merida eONE-SIXTY-900E in all its glory.

As we walked over to give the Merida its first proper look it was obvious how much smaller the Shimano motor unit is, and generally how much neater it sits as a package. The next thing I noticed was how clean and neat the cockpit looked, no big screens or bulky levers. Shimano has been clever and tucked the display behind the bar keeping it out of the way and more protected in case of a crash. They have also designed the assistance level selector as a under bar rapid fire shiftier identical to the Di2 unit keeping a zen like feel to your bar area, with minimal exposure to damage in the unfortunate event of a crash.

Once we had got familiar with the controls its was helmets on and time to see what it could do. Riding out the car park towards the red run in Eco mode (three levels of assist Eco, Trail and Boost) I could tell it had something about it, smooth on the power delivery and not a hint of judder when coming off the power and freewheeling.

Straight in to the red run and it was time to see if we could feel any disadvantages to having the extra weight and if the shorter chain stays made a difference. To be honest it was all a bit of a blur and by the time I knew it I was at the bottom of the run with a big smile on my face. I had completely forgotten I was on an E-MTB and just loving every minute, it felt fast in the corners with no hint of extra weight. As far as having shorter chain stays compared to other bikes, well the fact I didn’t notice the issue with handling says it all. It felt pretty much right.

In my opinion this is what a good E-MTB should be doing. letting you ride the descents as you normally would with out being intrusive, and not doubt this was a lot down to Shimano’s motor design and allowing better frame design as a result. Next was the ride back to the top and this was the big test for the motor itself. Cruising along the flat in Eco we came to the start of the climb and i kicked it in to Trail mode, Trail mode gives you adaptive assistance, feeding in different amounts of assistance depending on rider input all the way to 300% rather than giving you a fixed % assistance.

This works well and we suspect this is why why Bosch is also bringing in a new E-MTB mode for their CX motor giving you a very similar adaptive option.

Going up a hill at 13mph when I would normally be doing 4 or 5 certainly puts a different light on climbing. Don’t be fooled though, you still have to work for it and it is no free ride. I could have gone up at 5mph and had a full blown conversation and not a drop of sweat in sight, but that would have been a lot less fun. Now I was taking lines uphill that I would never consider on a normal MTB and I was completely getting away with it and loving every second. Another very cool feature that the E-8000 has is once you have come off the power the motor keeps driving for a second, this helps with picking the bike up and over large obstacles when you may not be able to pedal, meaning you can tackle some big stuff you might shy away from otherwise. Boost mode was only needed with the steepest of climbs and at times when you might not want to put huge amounts of pressure on the cranks but still access the full 300% assistance.

Once back at the top and a little bit of refection I came to the conclusion that Bosch has a real competitor here. Shimano has produced a compact and well thought out MTB system and I will be interested to see how the other brands such as Bosch and Yamaha respond.

Bosch eMTB mode software update July 2017. Our inside view and pre release review

 Automatic Support Level Adjustment is coming! Do we need it? Will it help?

bosch emtb crop1

Bosch E-bike systems have revealed they are getting ready to launch a big software update for the eMTB market this July, and manufacturers will have the option to pre-install the software on their own bikes from 2018 onwards.

So what will the new update do? and how will it work? The material from Bosch says ”The eMTB mode replaces the Sport mode of the Performance CX Line and varies between the Tour and Turbo riding modes. With a maximum torque of up to 75 Nm, the motor will dramatically boost pedal power of the rider between 120% and 300% depending on the pedal force and without changing the mode”.

So what will this give us in reality? In short, less clicking and better riding. With the use of all three on board sensors, speed, cadence and torque, all taking a thousand measurements a second combined, the on board electrical brain can think quicker, react faster and more than likely make a better decision for us while we are concentrating on the next obstacle or killer climb up ahead.

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Support Modes on an eMTB

One of the joys of riding any Pedelec bike is that motor assistance is relative to rider input. This makes the rider feel “bionic” and the feel of the whole thing remains remarkably natural as power remains proportional to effort.

Tour Mode

Tour is the mode which most people use a default mode on Bosch systems . The maximum assistance level in this mode is 120% so…

• If a rider is pedalling very casually at say 80W power then the motor will add 1.2*80=96W for a total of 176W, the power of a normal cyclist working rather hard

• If the rider is pedalling briskly at say 150W the motor will add 1.2*150=180W for a total of 330W which really is quite a lot.

In both cases though the support is progressive. Put in more power and the machine adds power in proportion to your input.

Turbo Mode

The highest power mode on the Bosch System offers up to 300% assistance so if we look at the same two light/brisk riding scenarios as with Tour we get:

• For the casual rider inputting at the crank 80W power the motor will add 3*80=240W for a total of 320W.

• For the brisk pedalling rider inputting 150W the motor should add 3*150=450W for a total of 600W which would be pretty superhuman but motor power is capped at 250W so the motor adds “only” 250W making a total of 400W.

So in Turbo mode the motor is much less sensitive to rider input. It pretty much always chips in 250W regardless of how much power the rider is putting in. This is one of the factors that can make riding in Turbo mode feel less natural. Rather than the rider feeling his power has been amplified it feels more like a constant strong push in the back, largely regardless of rider input.

One compromise which we have used up to now is the use of the in between Sport mode which splits the difference between Tour and Turbo. The new eMTB mode seeks to improve on this.

eMTB Mode

After the update eMTB mode replaces the Sport mode in the old line-up of modes which now becomes: Off-Eco-Tour-eMTB-Turbo. eMTB mode can vary the support level between the 120% a rider normally gets in Tour-mode and the 300% of Turbo-mode. It doesn’t switch between modes but it calculates and appropriate level of support between 120% and 300% on the fly depending on speed, rider behavior and pedal torque. The idea being to maintain the natural progressive Pedelec feeling whilst pitching in power when it is really needed. This without the rider needing to continually switch modes making the the whole thing maintain a natural feeling… while becoming just that little more magic.

Bosch also claim that with “Direct Flow” support when pushing off in mode difficult circumstances, for example up a slope, will be significantly improved as power will be instantly available at push-off without causing traction issues by feeding in too much power at that instant, waiting with the power until the rider has actually started up the slope. We can see this working as it sounds a lot like the Tour-Sport-Turbo mode dance we have done many times but now done automatically, efficiently and allowing us to concentrate on riding.

Bosch’s hash-tag for these systems is #uphillflow. It sounds like a fair description to us.

Coming July 2017

 The update will be available from July 2017 on all Performance CX motors from 2016, 2017 and beyond. All that will be required is a software up date at your local Bosch Service Center

Electric Bike Buying Guide

 

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What is an Electric Bike?

An electric bike is just like a bicycle, but with an electric motor and battery attached. When the assistance is turned on its like having a constant tail wind helping you along, meaning faster, further and sweat free travailing, at the same time on a bike that is great fun to ride but yet practical.

The average UK commute has now risen to just under 9 miles, which most people could easily cycle in under an hour. Electric bikes could do this much quicker, and leave you fresh and ready to work at the other end. Meaning you can go about you normal day without having to sit in rush our traffic or on over crowded public transport, saving you a lot of money and a lot of time. Our E-bikes start from £1100 which is the same amount of money you would spend on fuel for you car if you did a 35 mile round trip to work over a year, but because you are on a bike you wont have the associated costs of running a car like insurance, tax, mot’s, expensive maintenance and parking. All of this leaves you with more money in your pocket, improved fitness and a reduced carbon footprint.

Budget considerations 

One of the things that’s sometimes overlooked when buying an e-bike is the quality of the bike behind the electric gubbins. You need to remember you’re buying a bike which has electrical assistance. If the electrics fail, what are you going to be left with? A decent bike? Or a heavy, odd shaped lump that’s nothing but hard work to ride?

There are two key areas you have to pay attention to: what quality of bike you’re getting, and what quality of electric assistance system you’re getting. Both are equally valid, and will differ hugely depending upon the price.

We searched high and low to find the best entry/mid level e-bike available that offers good value and great quality. With both electrics and the bike itself in mind their was a clear market leader. A UK company that’s been doing e-bikes for over a decade, Wisper bikes are at the forefront of e-bike tec and design. With offerings from as little as £1100 and fantastic build quality they stand out from the rest. Wisper bikes come fitted with with a rear wheel motor, keeping the bike looking traditional, at a glance you wouldn’t think its an E-bike.

For the mid to high end E-bikes we have gone for a house hold name in the cycle industry and with over 40 years of bike manufacturing and expertise behind them Trek bikes is at the forefront of e-bike technology. They have partnered up with Bosch and Shimano to offer the best in motor and battery technology giving you stylish and efficient e-bikes starting from £1850.

bosch-cx-drive-motor-983shimano-steps-ebike-motor

 

What motor system

Motor choice falls into two main types. Either it’s mounted in one of the wheels (hub motor assist) or it’s mounted at the crank and pedal area (crank motor assist) at the bottom of the frame. Typically, crank assist bikes have a reputation for dealing well with steep hills, but can be a little on the noisy side depending upon the brand and type. Hub motors tend to be very quiet, but often don’t handle hills as well as crank assist systems.

Font wheel motor systems 

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This is normally the cheapest option for an electric motor system as you don’t have to worry about building the hub around the gear system. Their are some big draw backs in having the motor at the front, firstly all the power is being put through the part of the bike that controls what direction you go in, meaning it can offer unwanted handling problems. secondly, as the majority of the rider weight is situated to the back of the bike you can find a font wheel motor wanting to spin up on lose ground and leave you with little or no control at all. We have decided not to offer front motor systems as they do not offer the best rider experience and nether offer the best long term solution.

Rear wheel motor systems 

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The rear wheel motor offers a much more user friendly experience and still keeps the cost down compared to the mid drive system. Wisper offer two rear drive systems, a cadence system that uses magnets to sense when the rider is turning the pedals and then applying full power to the rear hub. The other option is a more sophisticated motor that has built in toque sensors that reads how much force you push down on the pedals and then sends the optimum amount of power to the rear hub.

With the toque option being 40% more efficient in battery consumption and a higher power output, along with silent operation and no resistance when riding with the power off there is a big difference between the cadence and toque system. The best way to find out what works for you is to have a test ride, many people say that the torque hub from Wisper is a close rival for the mid motor alternatives.

Center mounted crank motor

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This is the most sophisticated motor option available, with a number of well known brands such as Bosch, Shimano and Yamaha all offering state of the art systems. Center drive motors are well known for their ability to climb hills, they are very torquey, giving you lots of pulling power, or in the case of a bike able to move large amounts of weight with ease. Not only are they high in torque but the drive system is being used through your drive chain, this means it has the advantage of using your gears as you do when under load unlike the hub motor that is just spinning a wheel.

More sensors more efficiency! Crank motors use 3 types of sensors and taking up to a thousand measurements a second allowing the BMS (battery management system)  to be as efficient as possible, resulting in more smiles and more miles :).

Obviously this does come at a cost, but nothing in life is free and the extra grunt and efficiency is well worth the investment. Our mid mount e-bikes start from £1850 and come in a number of bike styles from your round town commuter to high end supper commuters and full suspension mountain bikes. As with any e-bike its all about getting on and having a go.

Batteries

Powerpack_400_F_Performance-2014-battery

Quality

Batteries are made up of cells, and they don’t all last forever. In a good battery pack the cells will be matched as well as possible at the manufacturing stage. This should mean that in the long run all of the cells in the battery pack ‘wear’ at the same rate, giving roughly the same capacity to store energy throughout the life of the battery. In a not so good battery there might be one or two cells that are less well matched, and this will simply mean that the other cells in the battery will be worked harder every time it is used – thus shortening the life of the battery pack. Good batteries made of quality matched cells are important. The worlds leading battery manufacture is Samsung, and that is whats used in all good quality e-bike batteries. The Battery is the most important part off the e-bike as it is its power source, you can have the worlds best motor but it its paired up to a poor battery then you will only have a middle of the road system.

Charge cycles

Batteries only have a certain number of times that they can be fully discharged and recharged. This is called a “cycle life”, and you should expect to get 1000 charge cycles out of a good quality battery and still be able to hold 80% charge capacity. After this most batteries are still good for another 800 charge cycles but with lower charge capacity until they are seen as not usable Eventually their ability to store and deliver electrical energy is degraded to a point where they become more or less useless. Note that this means one complete charge cycle, so if you use half your battery’s capacity, then charge it up, then use half again and charge it up again, that counts as one complete charge cycle despite having charged it two times.

Temperature

Batteries don’t like cold weather. As the temperature drops the chemical reaction that gives us the electrons used to power the motor happens more slowly. This means that the battery essentially can’t keep up quick enough with demand when it’s cold. What we mostly notice as a rider, though, is the drop in voltage the battery can supply when cold. This voltage drop reduces the power the motor can give, and we feel less assistance, as volts x amps = watts, and basically watts is the motor power. It reaches a state where the motor seems to be doing nothing. Hence the feeling of the battery being flat – though technically, it’s not flat, it just can’t supply the demand upon it. Charging your battery indoors where it is warm, and fitting it only when you need to ride out in the cold can reduce the effect considerably. We would also advise getting a neoprene battery cover, this helps to keep the battery warm in the winter.

Types

There are quite a few different battery types out there, but the main two are nickel based or lithium based. Both have their good points and bad points (all batteries have bad points). Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) is a well proven and established battery type, and although it doesn’t have the same energy storage capacity per kilogram as most lithium batteries, it is very easy to predict its service life, and it is cheaper. Lithium based batteries come in quite a few types, such as Lithium Ion (Li Ion), Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4), Lithium Polymer (LiPo), Lithium Titanate (Li2TiO3) and so on. What they all have in common is a high energy storage capacity per kilogram than more conventional battery types – this helps make e-bikes either lighter, or the same weight with more range when compared to other battery types. All modern e-bikes will be fitted with a form of Li-Lon battery.

Sizes

Battery size is important, and we don’t mean its physical size, although that could be a concern if it’s huge. We’re talking about its capacity to store the energy which can be used to do the work of giving you 250 watts of assistance. A battery with a larger capacity will be heavier and physically larger than a battery of a smaller capacity (comparing the same battery materials of course).

Although the difference between a large and a small battery might not sound like much when you measure them and weigh them, there’s a difference in the amount of time it takes to charge them. Some of the better charging systems measure the voltage of each individual cell in the battery, and then discharge the higher ones to match the lowest one. A larger capacity battery will generally have more cells, so it’ll take longer to balance the cells before charging can even begin.

If you want quick charge times and/or only need assistance for a handful of miles each day then a small battery has benefits. If a longer range is what you’re after then you’ll need a larger capacity battery, and you’ll need to learn to manage your energy usage when riding by lowering the assistance level when you really don’t need the full 250 watts helping you along.

Common battery sizing is 300WH 400WH and 500WH with a 500WH battery capable of well over 100 miles on one charge on a eco assistance level.

Test riding an e-bike

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Ultimately, finding your perfect e-bike is all about swinging a leg over and having a go. We encourage our customers to take our bikes out and see what they can do. We challenge you to ride our e-bikes and not smile, easier said than done.

So if you fancy a ride then pop down to Bike Zone or call us on 01865 728877. We can also arrange a test ride with a staff member so you get to try multiple bikes back to back on a local loop.

See you soon 🙂

28 good benefits to cycling

1. You’ll get there faster

Commute by bike in the UK’s major cities and you’ll get there in half the time of cars, research by Citroen shows. In fact, if you drive for an hour in Cardiff’s rush hour, you’ll spend over 30 minutes going absolutely nowhere and average just 7mph, compared to averaging around 12-15mph while cycling. And even in bike-friendly or less congested cities outside of the UK, you’ll still generally get around the city centres faster on a bike.

2. You’ll sleep more deeply

An early morning ride might tire you out in the short term, but it’ll help you catch some quality shut-eye when you get back to your pillow. Stanford University School of Medicine researchers asked sedentary insomnia sufferers to cycle for 20-30 minutes every other day. The result? The time required for the insomniacs to fall asleep was reduced by half, and sleep time increased by almost an hour.

Riding will help you sleep more deeply
Riding will help you sleep more deeply

“Exercising outside exposes you to daylight,” explains Professor Jim Horne from Loughborough University’s Sleep Research Centre. “This helps get your circadian rhythm back in sync, and also rids your body of cortisol, the stress hormone that can prevent deep, regenerative sleep.”

3. You’ll look younger

Scientists at Stanford University have found that cycling regularly can protect your skin against the harmful effects of UV radiation and reduce the signs of ageing. Harley Street dermatologist Dr Christopher Rowland Payne explains: “Increased circulation through exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to skin cells more effectively, while flushing harmful toxins out.

Exercise also creates an ideal environment within the body to optimise collagen production, helping reduce the appearance of wrinkles and speed up the healing process.” Don’t forget to slap on the factor 30 before you head out, though.

4. Boost your bowels

According to experts from Bristol University, the benefits of cycling extend deep into your core. “Physical activity helps decrease the time it takes food to move through the large intestine, limiting the amount of water absorbed back into your body and leaving you with softer stools, which are easier to pass,” explains Harley Street gastroenterologist Dr Ana Raimundo.

In addition, aerobic exercise accelerates your breathing and heart rate, which helps to stimulate the contraction of intestinal muscles. “As well as preventing you from feeling bloated, this helps protect you against bowel cancer,” Dr Raimundo says.

5. Increase your brain power

Need your grey matter to sparkle? Then get pedalling. Researchers from the University of Illinois found that a five percent improvement in cardio-respiratory fitness from cycling led to an improvement of up to 15 percent in mental tests. That’s because cycling helps build new brain cells in the hippocampus – the region responsible for memory, which deteriorates from the age of 30.

“It boosts blood flow and oxygen to the brain, which fires and regenerates receptors, explaining how exercise helps ward off Alzheimer’s,” says the study’s author, Professor Arthur Kramer.

6. Beat illness

Is cycling good for you? Yes! Forget apples, riding’s the way to keep the doctor at bay. “Moderate exercise makes immune cells more active, so they’re ready to fight off infection,” says Cath Collins, chief dietician at St George’s Hospital in London.

Cycling regularly is a surefire way to keep illness at bay
Cycling regularly is a surefire way to keep illness at bay

In fact, according to research from the University of North Carolina, people who cycle for 30 minutes, five days a week take about half as many sick days as couch potatoes.

7. Live longer

King’s College London compared over 2,400 identical twins and found those who did the equivalent of just three 45-minute rides a week were nine years ‘biologically younger’ even after discounting other influences, such as body mass index (BMI) and smoking.

“Those who exercise regularly are at significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease, type two diabetes, all types of cancer, high blood pressure and obesity,” says Dr Lynn Cherkas, who conducted the research. “The body becomes much more efficient at defending itself and regenerating new cells.”

8. Save the planet

Twenty bicycles can be parked in the same space as one car. It takes around five percent of the materials and energy used to make a car to build a bike, and a bike produces zero pollution.

Bikes are efficient, too – you travel around three times as fast as walking for the same amount of energy and, taking into account the ‘fuel’ you put in your ‘engine’, you do the equivalent of 2,924 miles to the gallon. You have your weight ratio to thank: you’re about six times heavier than your bike, but a car is 20 times heavier than you.

9. It’s good breeding

A ‘bun in the oven’ could benefit from your riding as much as you. According to research from Michigan University in the US, mums-to-be who regularly exercise during pregnancy have an easier, less complicated labour, recover faster and enjoy better overall mood throughout the nine months. Your pride and joy also has a 50 percent lower chance of becoming obese and enjoys better in-utero neurodevelopment.

Cycling while pregnant will help both mother and baby
Cycling while pregnant will help both mother and baby

“There’s no doubt that moderate exercise such as cycling during pregnancy helps condition the mother and protect the foetus,” says Patrick O’Brien, a spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

10. Heal your heart

Studies from Purdue University in the US have shown that regular cycling can cut your risk of heart disease by 50 percent. And according to the British Heart Foundation, around 10,000 fatal heart attacks could be avoided each year if people kept themselves fitter. Cycling just 20 miles a week reduces your risk of heart disease to less than half that of those who take no exercise, it says.

11. Your boss will love you

No, we don’t mean your Lycra-clad buttocks will entice your superiors into a passionate office romance, but they’ll appreciate what cycling does for your usefulness to the company. A study of 200 people carried out by the University of Bristol found that employees who exercised before work or at lunchtime improved their time and workload management, and it boosted their motivation and their ability to deal with stress.

The study also reported that workers who exercised felt their interpersonal performance was better, they took fewer breaks and found it easier to finish work on time. Sadly, the study didn’t find a direct link between cycling and getting a promotion.

12. Cycle away from the big C

There’s plenty of evidence that any exercise is useful in warding off cancer, but some studies have shown that cycling is specifically good for keeping your cells in working order.

One long-term study carried out by Finnish researchers found that men who exercised at a moderate level for at least 30 minutes a day were half as likely to develop cancer as those who didn’t. And one of the moderate forms of exercise they cited? Cycling to work. Other studies have found that women who cycle frequently reduce their risk of breast cancer by 34 percent.

13. Lose weight by riding your bike

Loads of people who want to shift some heft think that heading out for a jog is the best way to start slimming down. But while running does burn a ton of fat, it’s not kind to you if you’re a little larger than you’d like to be. Think about it – two to three times your body weight goes crashing through your body when your foot strikes the ground. If you weigh 16 stone, that’s a lot of force! Instead, start out on a bike – most of your weight is taken by the saddle, so your skeleton doesn’t take a battering. Running can wait…

14. Avoid pollution

You’d think a city cyclist would suck up much more pollution than the drivers and passengers in the vehicles chucking out the noxious gases. Not so, according to a study carried out by Imperial College London. Researchers found that passengers in buses, taxis and cars inhaled substantially more pollution than cyclists and pedestrians.

Cyclists breathe in fewer fumes on the street than drivers
Cyclists breathe in fewer fumes on the street than drivers

On average, taxi passengers were exposed to more than 100,000 ultrafine particles – which can settle in the lungs and damage cells – per cubic centimetre. Bus passengers sucked up just under 100,000 and people in cars inhaled about 40,000. Cyclists, meanwhile, were exposed to just 8,000 ultrafine particles per cubic centimetre. It’s thought that cyclists breathe in fewer fumes because we ride at the edge of the road and, unlike drivers, aren’t directly in the line of exhaust smoke.

15. Bike riding means guilt-free snacks

Upping your salt intake is seldom your doctor’s advice, but in the few days leading up to a big ride or sportive, that’s exactly what you should do. This gives you the perfect excuse to munch on crisps and other salty foods you might normally avoid. The sodium in them helps protect your body against hyponatraemia, a condition caused by drinking too much water without enough sodium that can lead to disorientation, illness and worse.

16. Enjoy healthy family time

Cycling is an activity the whole family can do together. The smallest tyke can clamber into a bike seat or tow-along buggy, and because it’s kind on your joints, there’s nothing to stop grandparents joining in too.

Cycling is something the whole family can do together
Cycling is something the whole family can do together

Moreover, your riding habit could be sowing the seeds for the next Bradley Wiggins. Studies have found that, unsurprisingly, kids are influenced by their parents’ exercise choices. Put simply, if your kids see you riding regularly, they think it’s normal and will want to follow your example. Don’t be surprised, though, if they become embarrassed by your tendency to mismatch fluorescent Lycra when they become teenagers.

17. Get better at any sport

Whether you want to keep in prime shape or just improve your weekly tennis game, a stint in the saddle is the way to begin. A recent medical study from Norway carried the title Aerobic Endurance Training Improves Soccer Performance, which makes it pretty clear that the knock-on benefits to other sports and activities are immense.

18. Make creative breakthroughs

Writers, musicians, artists, top executives and all kinds of other professionals use exercise to solve mental blocks and make decisions – including Jeremy Paxman, Sir Alan Sugar and Spandau Ballet. A study found that just 25 minutes of aerobic exercise boosts at least one measure of creative thinking. Credit goes to the flow of oxygen to your grey matter when it matters most, sparking your neurons and giving you breathing space away from the muddle and pressures of ‘real life’.

19. You’re helping others

Many cyclists turn their health, fitness and determination into fundraising efforts for the less fortunate. The London to Brighton bike ride has raised over £40 million for the British Heart Foundation since the two became involved in 1980, with countless other rides contributing to the coffers of worthy causes.

20. You can get fit without trying too hard

Regular, everyday cycling has huge benefits that can justify you binning your wallet-crippling gym membership. According to the National Forum for Coronary Heart Disease Foundation in the US, regular cyclists enjoy a fitness level equal to that of a person who’s 10 years younger.

21. Boost your bellows

No prizes for guessing that the lungs work considerably harder than usual when you ride. An adult cycling generally uses 10 times the oxygen they’d need to sit in front of the TV for the same period.

Even better, regular cycling will help strengthen your cardiovascular system over time, enabling your heart and lungs to work more efficiently and getting more oxygen where it’s needed, quicker. This means you can do more exercise for less effort. How good does that sound?

22. Burn more fat

Sports physiologists have found that the body’s metabolic rate – the efficiency with which it burns calories and fat – is not only raised during a ride, but for several hours afterwards. “Even after cycling for 30 minutes, you could be burning a higher amount of total calories for a few hours after you stop,” says sports physiologist Mark Simpson of Loughborough University.

Riding regularly will help you burn off the fat
Riding regularly will help you burn off the fat

And as you get fitter, the benefits are more profound. One recent study showed that cyclists who incorporated fast intervals into their ride burned three-and-a-half times more body fat than those who cycled constantly but at a slower pace.

23. You’re developing a positive addiction

Replace a harmful dependency – such as cigarettes, alcohol or eating too much chocolate – with a positive one, says William Glasser, author of Positive Addiction. The result? You’re a happier, healthier person getting the kind of fix that boosts the good things in life.

24. Get (a legal) high

Once a thing of myth, the infamous ‘runner’s high’ has been proven beyond doubt by German scientists. Yet despite the name, this high is applicable to all endurance athletes. University of Bonn neurologists visualised endorphins in the brains of 10 volunteers before and after a two-hour cardio session using a technique called positive emission tomography (PET). Comparing the pre- and post-run scans, they found evidence of more opiate binding of the happy hormone in the frontal and limbic regions of the brain – areas known to be involved in emotional processing and dealing with stress.

“There’s a direct link between feelings of wellbeing and exercise, and for the first time this study proves the physiological mechanism behind that,” explains study co-ordinator Professor Henning Boecker.

25. Make friends and stay healthy

The social side of riding could be doing you as much good as the actual exercise and health benefits. University of California researchers found socialising releases the hormone oxytocin, which buffers the ‘fight or flight’ response.

Another nine-year study from Harvard Medical School found those with the most friends cut the risk of an early death by more than 60 percent, reducing blood pressure and strengthening their immune system. The results were so significant that the researchers concluded not having close friends or confidants is as detrimental to your health as smoking or carrying extra weight. Add in the fitness element of cycling too and you’re onto a winner.

26. It’ll make you happy

Even if you’re miserable when you saddle up, cranking through the miles will lift your spirits. “Any mild-to-moderate exercise releases natural feel-good endorphins that help counter stress and make you happy,” explains Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation.

Cycling makes you happy - science says so!
Cycling makes you happy – science says so!

That’s probably why four times more GPs prescribe exercise therapy as their most common treatment for depression compared to three years ago. “Just three 30-minute sessions a week can be enough to give people the lift they need,” says McCulloch.

27. Feeling tired? Go for a ride

Sounds counter-intuitive but if you feel too tired for a ride, the best thing you can do is go for ride. Physical activity for even a few minutes is a surprisingly effective wake-up call. A review of 12 studies on the link between exercise and fatigue carried out between 1945 and 2005 found that exercise directly lowers fatigue levels.

28. Spend quality time with your partner

It doesn’t matter if your paces aren’t perfectly matched – just slow down and enjoy each other’s company. Many couples make one or two riding ‘dates’ every week. And it makes sense: exercise helps release feel-good hormones, so after a ride you’ll have a warm feeling towards each other even if he leaves the toilet seat up and her hair is blocking the plughole again

Trek Super commuter test and review

trek test ride

So we took delivery of our new Trek E-bike range a couple of weeks ago and i have to say i was eager to give the all new Super Commuter a spin. We already had a customer inquiry on the red 8+ so this was a prime opportunity to get out on the road and see what they are all about.

John (pictured ) is an E-bike veteran and with over 10 years of electric bike riding experience and having a number of different makes over this time he has seen the good the bad and the ugly, when he found out that we had stock of the super commuter he was keen to swing a leg over and see what it could do and we couldn’t have asked for a better day in March for a ride. Blue skies and dry roads we set out from Bike Zone towards the first hill we could get to, I was on the stealthy black 9+ using the NuVinci N380 SE gear hub while John was on the very pretty red 8+, first pedal stroke and pow the Bosch cx motor kicked in with unreal power and smoothness, Eco and Tour mode is more than enough for flat and rolling roads.

One of the first things you relies apart from the amazing power is how good the bike itself feels, the 650B 2.4 tyres offer smooth rolling with plenty of comfort even with all the extra weight and ridged carbon fork it doesn’t leave you feeling the need for suspension or more comfort. The first thing John said was how much more comfortable it was compared to his Haibike sduro and that it was easier to pedal without the motor assistance, something you find with many E-bike’s they can feel hard to ride once the motor is off or you go beyond the 25km motor restriction but not with the Trek.

So we started to head out of town cruising past the standstill traffic with ease while cx motor assisted us up to 25km and soon realized the sport and turbo mode is only needed for the big hills or a serious head wind. Coming up to the start of the 1 mile long hill in tour mode we could start to feel the gradient increasing and the effort needed to try and sustain a decent speed, two clicks on the Bosch puron display and your in Turbo mode and it feels like someone just turned on the after burners, in no time we are back up to 25KM and quickly gaining on a road rider up ahead. We soon passed the roadie who was going half the speed and we could happily talk to each other while zooming past. Once at the top we pulled over to have a talk about the bikes and some thoughts, the all round feeling was what an amazing and well put together machine. The bike itself is sublime, smooth, comfortable and sharp handling and with the powerful Bosch cx motor its the perfect match to give you an all around killer E-bike.

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It comes with all the essentials like full mudguards, rear rack, front and rear lights, the front light kicking out a whopping 1100 lumins and rear neatly attached to the mudguard. Something else that should be said is how sleek it looks in the flesh, with a semi integrated battery and smooth welds you could mistake the alloy frame for a carbon one.

We see E-bike’s as the future for alternative transport and if the super commuter is anything to go by then it’s going to be a fun filled future of awesomeness.

If you want to know more about E-bike’s or book in for a test ride then give us a call or drop us a email and ask for Tim. 01865 728877 bikezoneoxford@hotmail.co.uk

Happy riding 🙂

 

Bike Zone goes electric!

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With busier roads than ever and over crowded public transport more people are opting for the humble bike to get them to work or to go about their daily activities. But for some an extra little help could make the difference between being stuck behind the wheel or on a crowded bus and feeling the wind in your hair and flying past the gridlocked traffic.

This is when the E-bike’s come in to play. With the assistance of a electric motor (wheel or mid mounted) you suddenly feel like you have a constant tail wind and that Hill you hate going up suddenly feels like it’s no longer there. You might say that’s cheating, but that’s where you are wrong. E-bike’s still offer a fantastic way to keep you fit and healthy while taking the edge of the nasty stuff. With multiple assistance modes you can decide how much of a work out you want and you can always turn the assistance of completely for when you realy want to push yourself.

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It’s not just your health that you will be improving but your bank balance as well. The running costs of a E-bike are a fraction of what it costs to run a car and even public transport. With the added health benefits and reduction in carbon footprint it’s an all round win.

Picking the correct E-bike can be a minefield for many, this is where we can help. The first thing you need to do is get on one and see for yourself, believe us, you will return with a smile on your face. With a number of motor and battery options available we can talk you through the benefits of each and what will suit your needs.

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Remember it’s still a bike and still needs to be treated as one when purchasing. Getting the fit is still as important and so is the rest of the bike, we have seen many cheap bike’s with bolt on conversion kits, but it’s still a £200 bike that won’t deal with the day in day out year round commute so remember not to overlook the bike itself.

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BIG ROAD SALE

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Get them while you can!!!

We have a number of sale bike’s with up to 30% savings. Come in or call to arrange a test ride and have a look on our clearance page.

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Stay safe and enjoy your ride!

you cant beat a ride on your bike! but with our busy roads it can be a daunting experience for many people. Take note of our easy steps to keep you safe and soon you will be commanding the road.

  • Ride at least 1 meter away from the curb whenever possible, this ensures other road users make a proper overtake when passing rather than squeezing you in to the gutter.
  • Always use the life saver check! A life saver check is the method of looking over you shoulder and behind you when changing direction. This method is taught to all motorcyclists and must be used to pass their test.
  • Stay seen! Hi-Viz clothing is a fantastic way to stand out from the crowd and with so many options on the market there is something for everyone. We even have Hi-Viz jackets with built in rechargeable lights and arm indicators
  • Be bright! always use lights and remember by law you must use a front and rear light that is attached to the bike when dark. We recommend that you also use lights in the day time, you would be surprised how effective they can be.
  • Make sure your bike is in a good working order. We repair over 8000 bikes a year and we have seen it all. Yes you don’t have to have a MOT like a car but by law you must have two properly working brakes. A safe bike means a safe rider and safety for other road users.

Want to know more! pop in to Bike Zone to see our selection of cycle safety equipment. 

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Winter Cycling

Winter is Coming! We have some top tips to keep you cycling through the dark, cold and wet weather.

  • Clothing

Keep warm and dry. For commuting we recommend a waterproof cycling jacket.

For commuting hi-viz clothing is best to be seen. This video shows one of our favourite options by Proviz (although it does remind us of Predator’s cloaking device). Not all cycling jackets are as loud as this one! Our best selling cycling jacket is the Altura Night Vision; available in many colours. The night vision range also offer waterproof overtrousers, overshoes and warm winter gloves.

A full set of winter clothing can at first seem like a large expense, but choosing carefully and layering up can give you a range of clothing to suit a range of temperatures. The right clothing will keep you riding through winter avoiding the oxford traffic and public transport!
We stock a range of arm warmers, leg warmers and headwear which may suit you better if your going for a longer ride.
  • Mudguards

Mudguards help keep you dry(er) especially your feet and legs. In the wet, riding a bike without mudguards is unpleasant. Mudguards will keep the spray away from your face and your friend’s face during group rides; no more brown line flicked up on the back of your coat either!

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  • Lights

It is great to see so many cyclists in oxford using bright lights and were seeing more people using lights in the daytime as a way of highlighting their presence on the road. If you haven’t got lights already or your current lights aren’t up to it, come in and chat to one of our staff members about the options available. Many of the brighter lights are USB rechargable and you may find surprising that a good set of these light won’t break the bank.

Generally during the wetter weather we see a lot more punctures coming into the store. The rain tends to bring out all the debris and glass that usually settles near the curb back into the middle of the road. We recommend puncture resistant tyres such as the Schwalbe Marathon range. If your riding a road bike the Continental Gatorskin offers more grip and puncture resistance than a standard road tyre without loosing too much performance. Keep your tyres inflated to the recommended pressure (usually the number written on the sidewall of the tyre followed by the letters psi) to help prevent punctures.

  • Maintenance
In winter you’ll need to pay particular attention to moving parts, such as your chain, gears, cables, hubs and bottom bracket. Give your bike a regular look over, and try and wash off the accumulated grime regularly. Check for wear on rims and brake blocks, as wet weather can be particularly harsh on these areas, a quick hose and wipe down is usually enough if you do it regularly. Keeping your chain oiled, also it wont hurt to oil your lock whilst the oil is out of the tool box.

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Lock it up!!

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No it’s not a ‘cross race! This is your typical Oxford bike thief! Why is so much bike theft happening in Oxford I hear you ask yourself? Most locks people are using are not sufficiently strong enough for city use. Any of the cable type locks appear secure, but can easily be cut by a pair of bolt cutters.

armouredlockThis (above) shows an armoured cable lock. These locks cost around the same price as a good quality D-Lock (U-lock) but are not as secure. It is tempting to buy one of these cable locks due to the flexibility but we never recommend them.

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Always use a D-lock (U-lock). Above are two of our best selling locks. They take a lot of time and effort to break into, using power tools.

We also recommend you replace any quick release skewers on your wheels for allen key skewers. We also do a range of specialist security skewers which have a unique to a key, a lot like the locking wheel nuts on your car.

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Luckily the bike thieves in Oxford usually only steal the easy targets so make sure you follow our tips and your bike should stay safe. Below we have locking techniques shown by one of our lock suppliers Hiplok, to show you the correct way to use your lock.

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If your bike is stolen you need to give the frame number to the police. This will be written on the receipt for the bike. The frame number is unique to your bike and will help them identify it if it is recovered.

 

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