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How to….


Rear gear set up

Gears may need just a small occasional adjustment, or if the cable or derailleur are replaced more adjustment will be required. This clear video will help you to achieve smooth changing gears.

How to set up your rear gears – video link

A loose head set

A head set may come loose for a variety of reasons. Here’s how to identify if it  is loose and tension the bearings up to prevent further damage.

How to tighten a headset – video link

Chris’ Winter bike setupMaking winter mountain biking more bearable!

Let’s be honest, when it’s so sticky and slidey does it really matter if you have the latest wheel size or suspension? Reliability and durability are the key to enjoying rather resenting a winter of British mountain biking. Woodbury Common in the wet can play hell with the moving parts on a bike, so I have a low maintenance bike that I ride when conditions are bad (every ride just now). I have made a few changes to make it even more winter proof. Some very cheap, some a bit more luxurious.

 Winter tyres – big knobbles with wide gaps between will shed the mud quickly and dig down to find traction (£50 pr)


mudtyreThese are not winter specific tyres, but I find them suitable for the common. If I spent more time in less well draining areas a narrower tyre with even more raised knobbles would cut in and be less draggy

 Rear mudguard – make sure it’s wide enough and long enough to at least keep your bum dry. (£15)

 Front mudguard – a crud catcher type on the down tube (£10), and a neoguard or homemade version blocking the gap between the over wheel brace and the crown, the bigger the travel the bigger the gap. At speed it sprays up and forwards only for you to then ride straight into it. This simple fix with keep 99% of spray off you, no need even for glasses. (free or £15 for a neoguard)


neoThis is a simple easy fix. Cut an old tube to fit the gap, punch holes in 4 corners then hold in place with light tension. Welcome to mud free eyeballs!

 Frame seat clamp slot – if it’s backwards facing water will get into the frame. I stop this with a small patch of neoprene tucked under the seat collar that hangs down over the slot. Or slap some thick grease in there, even some tape. (£0.01p)


tongA tiny tongue of rubber to shield the slot, I will leave it there all year.

 Fork – I have fitted a rigid fork, (only really an option on a hardtail) mine’s a light carbon one, but it saves a massive amount of winter wear and tear on the internals and stanchions and about 3 lbs in weight. The darn mud and water will inevitably get in, and at £90 plus for a fork service it’s worth considering. If your fork has seized up it’s like going rigid anyway. Going rigid will improve your bike handling skills too! (from £80 to £350)

 Gearing – 1 x 9,10 or 11– Go down to just the middle ring on the front, perhaps a 32 tooth. Get rid of some weight, more moving parts, simplify! You might need some washers to space out the chain ring bolts, perhaps a chain retention device, but right now I am using my front mech locked in place over the chain ring to keep the chain on. The thick thin single speed specific chain rings also do this. The bigger teeth also wear more slowly so worth a thought. You will find yourself standing more while riding, and working a little harder, but it’s all good for keeping you warm! (cost from as little as a few pence).


singleSimple single ring set up, with the mech holding the chain in place using the stop screws. No cable or shifter needed!

 Clothes    you’ll have a waterproof coat already no doubt,  but if not a light packable jacket is best with a long drop down rear, a wicking long sleeve top or two, a spare one perhaps in your bag, perhaps waterproof shorts or ones with a waterproof seat area. I find long trousers overheat me too much, and 3/4er’s can snag on my knees when they get moist. Full length short as great with a ¾ Lycra short beneath to help keep your knees warm.

 Footwear – A difficult area in winter, cold feet can ruin a great day out. Waterproof boots, or some £20 overshoes keep water and cold off pretty well. I have further enhanced my boots by making simple gators from an old inner tube. See photo – the flap goes under the shoe strap then I wrap it round my ankle and close on the Velcro strip. The seal on my lower leg and stops the water running down my leg into the boot. Custom made for my Shimano boots (cost 20p for a small Velcro strip). On my last ride the trails were totally sodden, but my feet stayed bone dry!!


gatorsRubber solution will bond bits  together, so with trial and error you can create your own custom gators.

 Dropper posts – Almost an essential item these days, if you haven’t tried one yet you really should. However they are prone to ingress of dirt and water because of where they are in relation to the rear wheel, a dropper that won’t drop or worse won’t rise. A rear guard will help but I have partially encased it in an old inner tube to shield it from the aim of the mud slinging tyre.


dropperA narrow inner tube slid on from the bottom, cut away a section to leave a protective flap.

 That’s about it, I hope you have found my winter bike tips useful. My riding is still just as bad as ever. If come up with a solution to wet roots I will pass that on too.

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