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Bikes are marvellous things, they're efficient, light, versatile an often inexpensive (although recent years have changed this a little and the entry cost for a new bike has inflated somewhat).


Once you've bought a bike, you're going to have to do the odd repair in addition to the regular cleaning. Cleaning involves some strong cleaner, in my case I use a citric cleaner which penetrates oil and muck that the drive train picks up over a few rides. This should be done as a minimum as junk in the chain can really hamper throughput from the pedal.


Once you've spent a couple of hours cleaning the bike (yes, it may take this long if you're being really fastidious). The point is, if you're working on your bike at ground level, even if you have it upside down, you're going to start hurting your back, its no fun. If you get a bike stand, they're around £30-40 from ebay/amazon/elsewhere, you've made your life much easier as you can put the bike up at eye level and work stood up. As a hidden bonus, they're more stable and the bike wont move around.

To do a good, quick clean, get yourself a chain cleaner box, they're around £5 from ebay too. Use citric cleaner and follow the device instructions, leave the chain for a few minutes to allow the citric cleaner to penetrate the oil and muck. Whilst this takes effect, get a narrow and deep brush that fits between the rear gear set cogs and work some cleaner around this area too. Then move onto the front gear set and do the same.

Rinse the chain and gears thoroughly. Get a clean rag and dry the components and apply some multi-purpose oil to the chain. Turn the crank work through the gears thoroughly to get the oil on all the contact surfaces that the chain meets. Once you've done this, get a second clean and dry rag to remove any excess. If you've done things right, you'll see oil on the plates of the chain, around the barrels but not any excess on the outer parts that may attract dust.

There is also a sneaky trick you can perform to give your chain a intermediate clean between weekends if you have ridden through very wet conditions and want to degrease. There's little point greasing/oiling a chain that is still mucky from the road or wet. So the best thing here when time is limited is to grab some kitchen roll and, with a little force, remove all the muck from the chain, pulling backwards from the chain ring towards the cassette. Once you have done this along the full length of the chain you should see the kitchen roll begin to go light grey colour. This is a good point to stop, blow away any shards of paper from the chain and then apply a blob of oil to each link. I'm guessing you would use oil now since it's wet outside, in which case dry lube is going to be pointless.

So, once you'd cleaned your bike, what do you need for general maintenance?

Well, most bikes these days need just allen keys to most of the work. Tyres, obviously can't be removed with allen keys, you'll need tyre levers for that. Though if you're out, then all you need carry with you is a multitool which includes allen keys and some tyre levers. If you take an inner tube with you then if you have quick release wheels then you're mostly set if you have a mechanical problem.

Not everything is so easy though. For the rest of the problems you may have then I suggest you get a bike tool kit from the internet, they're about £30-40. You'll find that other bits on the bike can need very specialist tools, such as an extractors for the crank set and a tool for removing the bottom bracket bearing.

Here's one such tool kit on amazon, I have something very similar, this one calls itself a mountain bike toolkit but it looks perfectly suited for work on all bikes that I've seen.

Here's one chap advocating economy bikes do just fine, and that a proper bike fit is perhaps more important than the bike itself.

Retro vs modern bike.

Need help changing inner tubes, ask this guy.

cost of cycling

If you were in any doubt as to the costs of cycling, you should take a look at the AA's mileage calculator. For my journey to work, the calculator estimates it costs me £1.75, we're looking at £3.50 for the round trip. Each day. I make the round trip, perhaps 240 times per year, that'll set me back £840/year.

Now, there's the initial cost of the vehicle, £4000, lets say the car stays on the road for 8 more years (£500/year). The yearly MOT, £40, assuming there is no work to be done. Tax, £120, perhaps, depending on how that sways.

So, without doing any other trips, the car is going to cost £1500 per year, just for work. Without any health benefits. There's also the stress/claustrophobia involved too.

I bet you can cycle to work for a lot less.

Now, lets consider some other factors. Cycling, as a cardiovascular activity helps you to remain healthy, or become healthy if you are not already. Many people in the UK die each year from heart disease, cycling may help you avoid such problems, so you'll live longer. If you live longer, you may draw more pension, so you'll be in less deficit to the government.

Cycling is not without it's own costs. Bikes don't last forever. Good bikes can be sourced for £500-800, you don't need to go higher than that. I paid much more for my digital camera, and I've held it much less than I've held the handlebars. You'll need cycle gear too, and enough to last you for five winter days of commute.

  1. 5x shorts
  2. 5x bib trousers
  3. 5x jerseys
  4. 3x t-shirts
  5. 1x pair of shoes (cleats and matching pedals if you have a road bike)
  6. 1x pair of over shoes
  7. 1x pair of windproof gloves (for cold winter days)
  8. 1x pair of fingerless globes (for warmer days)
  9. 1x helmet
  10. 2x skull caps (to keep cold wind out of your ears)

You may want to give didoo a try for cycle clothing, their thermal range suits me well.

With the above clothing shopping list you should be all set.

You'll need the hardware too, but it is up to you what you buy. Ensure you get good winter tyres if you're commuting during the winter. If you use summer tyres in wet conditions then you'll be more prone to punctures. I use winter tyres all year round. It may be less efficient but I get fewer punctures as a result.

sun glasses

Bought a brilliant pair of prescription glasses for £94 from cyclingspectacles, they're amazing. The glasses come with five exterior covers. The arms can be easily replaced with a strap.


Here lies the body of John O'Day
Who died defending his right of way.
The right was clear, his will was strong,
But he's just as dead as if he'd been wrong.

It does not matter if you're right or wrong, if you put yourself in harms way whilst on the road you're taking an unnecessary risk. Always look forward, always check your blind spot, always keep an eye on emerging traffic.


Above I mentioned a bit about tools. Well, today I found a neat trick to get cables through the down-tube if you have internal cable routing.

I must have spent hours poking gear cable through the down-tube, trying to get it to come out a hole smaller in diameter than a HB pencil. In my sleep the solution came to me. Tie some garden wire to it with thread and put a 90-degree bend in it 5mm from the end. Heck with that I thought, I'll just bend it 5mm from the end. After about 30 seconds of poking it down the tube, once I saw it through the hole I drew it back until it was at the hole, then rotated it until the bend fell through. Magic. I'll make a video later, but I think the description here describes the process.


I didn't want this document to go into the direction of weight loss, calories or anything like that as it's not why I cycle. I cycle because it's fun and good for you. It's great for the planet too as it doesn't produce any toxic emissions. I thought that I'd be binge eating to replace what I burn off during a cycle. However To my surprise, I wasn't doing this. From around 40minutes of cycling I burn around 350calories. That's not a huge amount, but I'm making a trip like that ten times a week.

If all you do is go out for a weekend ride of around 80miles, you'll be burning around 2500 calories.That's around a normal day of calorie intake. But you just burned that in six hours. You're now in calorie deficit! Don't forget to take a couple of flapjacks with you on your ride as you will need to eat something or you may get a little grumpy.

Since May, when I started to ride, I lost quite a lot of weight around my waist, I'm buckling my belt four holes smaller now, and this is without trying. It's really quite accidental. I changed jobs, I didn't want to stop cycle commuting, I just spend more time on the bike and through no deliberate effort I've become more healthy.

One thing I may do differently to others is that I don't like sugary energy drinks, they tend to be fizzy. I prefer electrolyte drinks which replace the salts only and not the sugars. So you'll not be putting calories back into your body with these drinks, sugar drinks don't give you a long burn either, the sugar gets used very quickly. I believe you'll be better off with flapjacks for this and just eat them a little before you feel the burn. For example, I may eat one roughly every 30 miles. The important thing is not to consume more calories than you burn.

cycling fallacies

Ever wondered if the what you hear about cycling is true or myth? Well, there's a good list of cycling fallacies that you can consult, or share.


  1. Hitler looses his Strava KOMs
  2. How to train and loose weight. Don't take calorie consumption too far though!