How to get stronger legs for cycling

While cardiovascular fitness is a must for high-level cycling, improved leg strength can help with a more balanced physique.

Try these four exercises to build thighs, quads and calves of steel that German track cyclist Robert Förstemann would approve of.

Related: Exercises you can do off the bike

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Related: How to build overall strength for cycling

1. Squat jumps

Doing squats is beneficial for cyclists because it helps to keep the hamstrings balanced by working them in a different way to the pedalling action.

2. Lunges

3. One-legged pedalling

4. Calf raises

You can read more at BikeRadar.com


Source: Bike Radar

The best entry-level road bikes of 2016

If you’re looking for good advice on buying your first road bike, you’ve come to the right place.

We’ve tested six of the biggest-name road bikes for around $1,000 / £650 / AU$1,300: the Cannondale CAAD8 Sora 7, the Trek 1.2, the Merida Ride 200, the Giant Defy 3, the Focus Cayo Al Sora and the Specialized Allez E5 Sport.

To get a good feel for these machines, our four-rider Australian test team rode these bikes on a regular test track near Sydney’s Northern Beaches. With sharp pinches and sustained climbs, dead and bumpy road sections, twisting descents and scenic views, it’s a road bike-testing playground.

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We get to grips with the highs and lows of each below. Given that these six are drawn from some of the biggest and most renowned global brands in cycling, it should come as no surprise that there are no truly bad choices to be had here.

Of the group, our testers felt the Specialized Allez E5 Sport rode particularly well – and made it our Editors’ Choice for 2016. That said the Cannondale CAAD8 7 and Giant Defy 3 gave it a serious run for its money. Read on to find out why…

Take a look at our test here, and read in more detail below. We’ve also provided complete reviews of all the contenders – just follow the links.

What you should look for

Slammed low, or upright and comfortable?

Winching your way up the hills

The kit choices that matter

Specialized Allez E5 Sport 

  • Highs: Balanced geometry, ride comfort, contact points, solid brakes, wheels
  • Lows: Heaviest on test, saddle has slight sharp edge beneath it
  • Price: $970 / £750 / AU$1,399
  • Weight: 9.41kg (20.75lb)
  • Frame size tested: 54cm (effective top tube: 549mm)
  • Head tube: 144mm
  • Gearing: 11-32
  • Tyre width: 28.2mm (25c claimed) 
  • Outer rim width: 24.5mm

Cannondale CAAD8 Sora 7

  • Highs: Proven CAAD frame, sorted geometry, prestige image
  • Lows: Brakes, narrower gearing range, price
  • Price: $1030 / £700 / AU$1,299
  • Weight: 9.24kg (20.37lb)
  • Frame size tested: 54cm (effective top tube: 545mm)
  • Head tube: 154mm
  • Gearing: 12-27
  • Tyre width: 25.5mm (25c claimed) 
  • Outer rim width: 21.45mm

Giant Defy 3

  • Highs: Progressive frame design, ride comfort, full Sora drivetrain, padded contact points, price
  • Lows: Narrower rims, weak brakes, blocky aesthetics
  • Price: $920 / £649 / AU$1,099
  • Weight: 9.32kg (20.55lb)
  • Frame size tested: Medium (effective top tube: 545mm)
  • Head tube: 164mm
  • Gearing: 11-32
  • Tyre width: 25.2mm (25c claimed) 
  • Outer rim width: 19.90mm

Merida Ride 200

  • Highs: Comfortable ride, full carbon fork, premium frame quality
  • Lows: Slow front shifting, brakes, perhaps too upright ride
  • Price: $N/A / £N/A / AU$1,249
  • Weight: 9.31kg (20.53lb)
  • Frame size tested: 52cm (effective top tube: 540mm)
  • Head tube: 169mm
  • Gearing: 11-32
  • Tyre width: 25mm (25c claimed) 
  • Outer rim width: 18.90mm

Focus Cayo Al Sora

  • Highs: Quality frame, full carbon fork, component choices, fast ride
  • Lows: Ride rattles in both comfort and sound, brakes, saddle needs to go
  • Price: $TBC / £599 / AU$1,299
  • Weight: 9.12kg (20.11lb)
  • Frame size tested: Small (effective top tube: 537mm)
  • Head tube: 128mm
  • Gearing: 11-28
  • Tyre width: 26.5mm (25c claimed) 
  • Outer rim width: 21.7mm

Trek 1.2

  • Highs: Proven frame geometry with balanced handling and position, quality wheels, saddle
  • Lows: Tyres, brakes, tight handlebar bend, and did we mention tyres?
  • Price: $930 / £650 / AU$1,299
  • Weight: 9.25kg(20.39lb)
  • Frame size tested: 52cm (effective top tube: 534mm)
  • Head tube: 139mm
  • Gearing: 11-28
  • Tyre width: 24.2mm (23c claimed) 
  • Outer rim width: 23.00mm

You can read more at BikeRadar.com


Source: Bike Radar

(Don't wanna be a) Monkey Wrench: Get your bike ready to ride

Time to ‘fess up – not all of us on BikeRadar are expert bike mechanics. While some staffers have spent years wrenching in shops, others are less… handy. So when the opportunity came to spend the day one-on-one with Rob Weekes, workshop development manager at UK mega-retailer Halfords and formerly a technical centre manager for SRAM, I grabbed it in the hope I might learn something.

Hours later, dirt grimed under the fingernails of my dainty office worker hands, I can safely say that I did. Being a big believer in learning through doing, Rob kicked off with the ‘M-check’. Not a pre-concert rehearsal for everyone’s favourite white rapper, this is the basic safety check of all the main working parts of a bike, from the front hub backwards. 

We then moved through replacing gear cables, wrapping bar tape and even truing wheels. Given that new tennis racket grips have previously defeated me, I didn’t have high expectations for any of this, particularly the bar tape – but, incredibly, my bike ended the day fully fettled and bedecked with new cables and tape. This was a testament to Rob’s patience (I’ve a nagging suspicion he may have fixed a few mistakes when my back was turned).

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Related: How to wrap bar tape

‘Is that right?’

Rising standards

So is bike servicing an important earner for Halfords? You betcha, and it’s growing too: the firm has more than 400 trained mechanics at stores around the UK, and around 300 higher-level technicians; this number will continue to grow as Rob and his team put more employees through the dedicated training scheme.

The M-check

1. Front wheel

  • Is the quick release tight? 
  • Does the rear wheel spin free and straight?
  • Is the tyre inflated correctly?

2. Handlebars

  • Do the brakes work correctly, front and back?
  • Does the steering operate freely, with no excessive play at the headset, or obstruction by cables?

3. Crankset

  • Do the front gears change properly?
  • Are the pedals fitted correctly and tightly?

4. Saddle

  • Is the saddle fitted and at the correct angle?
  • Is the seat clamp tight?
  • Is the frame free from rust, damage or cracks?

5. Rear wheel

  • Do the rear gears work correctly and change smoothly?
  • Do the cranks spin freely with no ‘side-to-side’ play?
  • Is the tyre inflated correctly?
  • Is the quick release tight? 
  • Does the rear wheel spin free and straight?

You can read more at BikeRadar.com


Source: Bike Radar

Cannondale CAAD8 Sora 7

When we think of alloy road bikes, there is one series of bike that comes to mind first – the Cannondale CAAD. There are none more iconic, and where most brands forgot alloy and focused on carbon, Cannondale continued to refine its CAADs. Despite its price-point focus, the CAAD8 rides with a familiar attitude that we continue to love about the American brand’s road bikes.

We tested the 2016 Cannondale CAAD8 Sora 7 against five other budget road bikes.

Read on to find out why this bike finished with a silver medal and is our first pick if you’re seeking a race bike.

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The 2016 Cannondale CAAD8 Sora 7

Once a racer, always a racer

If you’ve ridden on before, jumping onto the CAAD invokes a familiar feeling. Out of the six bikes tested, this is the one that rides the closest to that of a premium racer. That said, a bike that feels similar to a high-end racer is not necessarily the best thing to choose for your first road bike.

The frame is everything here, and some components suffer as a result

Conclusion

You can read more at BikeRadar.com


Source: Bike Radar

'This Girl Can' campaign overcomes fears of judgement for millions of women

With slogans such as “I jiggle therefore I am,” and images of every-day women running, cycling, swimming, working out and generally being active, TV campaign ‘This Girl Can’ captured the attention of women around the world when it launched in early 2015. Now, the campaign’s founders Sport England have released data that clearly shows the impact it’s had, one year on. 

Consisting of an inspirational video that was broadcast on TV and shared extensively online, posters, billboards, videos and supporting website and social media channels, the campaign featured women of every size, shape and ethnicity enjoying a variety of different activities. The message was clear – it doesn’t matter what you look like, what you do or how good you are, just have fun doing it. The This Girl Can video itself was viewed over 37 million times since then, and the number continues to grow.

Independent research commissioned by Sport England indicates that 2.8 million women aged 14 to 40 have done “some or more” activity as a result of the campaign, with over half of respondents saying they’d started exercising. The website and social media channels highlight various sports – everything from cycling and running to boxing and roller derby – and have built a huge following, with over 540,000 fans and followers. There have been more than 660,000 tweets using the campaign hashtag #thisgirlcan over the course of 2015. 

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Sport England is the English Sports Council, a public body that is part-funded by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport with a focus on developing sports engagement and participation. ‘This Girl Can’ was initiated in response to a gender gap in sports participation that Sport England uncovered and quantified, which indicated that 2 million fewer women aged 14 to 40 played sport regularly when compared to men in the same age bracket at that time, yet 75 percent said they wanted to be more active. Sport England were concerned with identifying and overcoming the barriers that prevented these women engaging. 

“Before we began this campaign, we looked very carefully at what women were saying about why they felt sport and exercise was not for them.” said Sport England CEO Jennie Price.  “Some of the issues, like time and cost, were familiar, but one of the strongest themes was a fear of judgement. Worries about being judged for being the wrong size, not fit enough and not skilled enough came up time and again. It is that fear of not being ‘good enough’ in some way, and the fear that you are the only one who feels like that, that we want to address.”

Eye-catching slogans include “I jiggle therefore I am”, “Damn right I look hot” and “Sweating like a pig, looking like a fox.”

You can read more at BikeRadar.com


Source: Bike Radar

Mountain bike sizing: what size bike do I need?

Choosing the correct size of bike is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Don’t buy until you’ve read our advice so you can get the perfect mountain bike setup for maximum comfort and a reduced chance of injury.

A bike that fits correctly is a joy to ride, while one that’s too small can cause handling problems and be uncomfortable on longer rides. Read on for some advice on what frame size to go for, especially if you’re in any doubt about it.

Looking for a guide to road bike sizing instead? That’s also something we can help with. 

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Related: Road bike sizing: what size bike do I need?

Anatomy of a mountain bike

We all come in different shapes and sizes, and so do most mountain bikes, so we recommend using the information below as a starting point and a guide. First, it’s good to know the anatomy of a mountain bike, as we’ll be referring to these some of these terms. 

Frame sizes

Seat tube length and standover

Top tube length and reach

  • XS: Bike size 13-14in: generally for riders between 5ft and 5ft 4in
  • S: Bike size 14-16in: generally for riders between 5ft 4in and 5ft 7in
  • M: Bike size 16-18in: generally for riders between 5ft 7in and 5ft 10in
  • L: Bike size 18-20in: generally for riders between 5ft 10in and 6ft 1in
  • XL: Bike size 20-22in: generally for riders over 6ft 1in

Frame size problems

  • A sore back from overreaching on long rides
  • A lack of standover clearance, leading to some particularly wince-inducing experiences
  • A lack of control of the bike
  • Injury on longer rides from a too cramped position
  • Potential toe overlap problems (where your foot clips the front wheel)
  • Too much standover clearance, leading to back problems when sitting down on longer rides

More fit adjustments

You can read more at BikeRadar.com


Source: Bike Radar

AngryAsian: Goodbye, cruel world

I’ll never forget the turn my life took in March of 2005. I was finishing up a graduate program in the materials science department at the University of Michigan, basically breaking stuff and trying to figure out why (which, ironically, is essentially the same thing I do now).

I’d soon have my ticket to guaranteed riches in my hand and if all went well, my choice of job prospects in the oil and gas industry – one of which promised months of adventure at sea on a floating rig (“I’m on a boat, yo!”). I always did like dinosaurs as a kid.

Related: AngryAsian: Things you should never say to your bike shop mechanic

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Bikes had long been an integral part of my life at that time, too, however. I started spectacularly losing races as part of my high school club team in 1990, landed a part-time job at a bike shop three years later building lovely Ross Mt. Washingtons, launched a mountain bike suspension-focused web site in 2000 basically on a whim with no business plan whatsoever, and would continue wrenching and riding on bikes throughout my adult life, much to the chagrin of my mom who was still waiting for the return on the four years of college she had paid for nearly a decade earlier (to this day, she still doesn’t understand what I do for a living).

The bike thing didn’t always make sense then but as you all well know, bikes aren’t always logical.

So you can imagine my reaction when I received an invitation from the then-tech editor of Cyclingnews (BikeRadar’s sister site) to do some freelance writing, basically in response to me sending a smartass email pointing out some esoteric technical error in a pro bike profile. I had always voraciously consumed bike magazines and web articles but never thought much about how that content was created (magic seemed plausible at the time).

You can read more at BikeRadar.com


Source: Bike Radar