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Spenny Cycles

Cycling for the Family

Spenny Cycles Ltd
Cycle Tech Solihull

Phone: 01564 781800

Mobile: 07795 195975

Email: mike@spennycycles.co.uk

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Basic Advice


Probably the most important simple thing to sort out on your bike is the saddle. Get it level so you don't slide forwards or backwards, and get it the right height. Also, soft gel saddles do help, especially those with recesses for, ahem, comfort. Try and sit on the bones in your bum towards the rear of the saddle (the saddle can usually be loosened and slid backwards and forwards).

For a beginner, the surprising thing is that if you can put your feet down while sitting on the saddle it is too low. The starting point is to put your heel on the pedal, when your leg is straight, the saddle is about right. Press the pedal on the ball of your foot, and there will be a slight bend in your leg.

When you stop, you need to learn to hop off the saddle. If you are not confident, start with the saddle low, and then every ride, raise it a small amount until it is at the right height. You will find cycling much easier as you raise the saddle and you can stretch you legs out.

When we return your bike, we can discuss this with you if you like.

Safety - See and Be Seen

One of the handy accessories we like that few cyclists seem to have is a mirror - you wouldn't drive a car without a rear view mirror, why ride a bike without one? We stock two sorts: ones that fit on the handle bars and ones that fit on the frame. The frame fitting ones are quite effective and are less prone to being knocked about, but as you are looking through your legs they take a little getting used to.

We strongly recommend wearing hi-visibility (bright yellow) cycling jackets. Not all clothing stands out on the roads, and it is better to be visible than argue that the driver should have been paying more attention.

Most cyclists wear helmets and there are few good reasons why you shouldn't. We aren't convinced of the more obscure arguments, such that drivers (or riders) take more risks when cyclists wear them. A helmet might come in useful for those times you don't think of the risk: riding down a lane with a low hanging branch you haven't spotted, or when you take a tumble after stopping and trip over - it's always good to avoid a bang on your head. Helmets are inexpensive (less than £15), light and comfortable.

Aside from being illegal to ride at night without them, a good set of lights is important at dusk and after dark - all year round. Modern LED lights are bright and inexpensive - less than £15 for a set, and the batteries last a long time unlike old fashioned bike lights. There are two sorts of front lights: "be seen" LED, and then beam lights for cycling down dark lanes. Under street lights there is no need for beams, but for cycling back from country pubs as an example, we recommend more powerful lights.


Don't be afraid to change gear as often as you feel uncomfortable, whether pedalling too fast or too slow. You shouldn't need to stand on your pedals for general cycling, even up steep hills if you have a modern bike with lots of gears.

When changing down to the very low gear (small) at the front, make sure you have first changed down at the back to a low gear (the bigger ones) - this helps avoid the chain suddenly being slack and jamming.

Try and change gear while pedalling reasonably quickly. If the chain is not moving very quickly, gear changing doesn't work well.

When coming to a halt, remember to change into a lower gear for starting off again - just like a car, (though derailleur gears don't change when not moving).


Pump your tyres up to the correct pressure. The tyres have the right pressure written on the side. For home use, get a good "track pump" with a gauge - a tall pump that stands on the ground - they are much easier to use.

Keep your bike clean. You can hose off your bike as long as you avoid squirting water at the hubs (the centres of the wheels) and where the pedals join the frame, and then apply a spot of oil to the chain and other moving parts. Modern cleaning agents like Muc-Off are very effective and reasonably environmentally friendly.

Use proper bike oil - and lubricants have moved on since 3-in-1, so don't assume that any old can of oil from the dusty recesses of the garage is good enough.

There are two main types of chain oil - "wet lube" and "dry lube". Wet lube is best for wet weather as it resists being washed off better, "dry lube" is better in good weather as it does not pick up dust and grime.

Most brake handles have a screw device to allow you to tighten the brakes. If your brakes reach the handlebar, they are too loose and potentially dangerous. Call us for advice!

Spin the wheel and see if they wobble. There are two main reasons wheels wobble - both can normally be fixed. First is simply the tyre is not on correctly; the second is that the wheel is out of true - this can usually be easily fixed. It is important to true the wheels for a better ride, and for safe braking on traditional brakes.


Even if you can't change a puncture, carry a spare inner tube with you - if you are stuck, the chances are another cyclist will pass by who will be itching to show off his repair prowess!

If you do get a puncture, always make sure you find the source of the problem. Also, the chances are that if you've picked up one thorn, there might be others, so take the time to check the whole tyre thoroughly.

Broken things

Bike wheels are very strong and when properly made, last for years without attention, so if you do break a spoke (you'll know because you'll have a wheel the shape of a pringle) repeatedly, then let the repairer know, as there are a number of things that can cause this.

Steel bikes bend before they break so are quite forgiving. Alloy bikes tend to break more suddenly, the alloys don't bend so readily. Carbon is extremely strong, but very difficult to know when it has been damaged. Don't get a carbon bike for rough usage, where it might get knocked about. The main clue of a problem with a carbon component (aside from x-raying it!) is creaking, especially where the carbon has been joined to metal components.

Buying a Secondhand Bike from eBay

You are entirely dependent on the seller's description, but even an honest seller may not understand the condition that they are selling a bike in.

When buying a bike, use a payment that gets you cover from eBay's protection schemes. Never, ever, spend any significant amount of money on a bike without riding it. It only takes a short ride to tell if a bike is working. Ride the bike in every gear - all the sprockets at the back and all the rings at the front, and put a reasonable amount of pressure on the pedals - there should be no skipping. Check the brakes work. Disc brakes are expensive to maintain if they are not working properly. The odd poor gear change is likely to be a minor issue to fix, but might indicate a lack of interest in more fundamental maintenance.

If the bike has been ridden a lot, you can assume that it will need at least new chain, and if one isn't fitted, you could be looking at a new cassette and possibly chain rings. On a 10 speed bike, a cassette and chain will cost upwards of £60 and chain rings can soon double that.

The other part that is expensive and is prone to wear is the bottom bracket (the support for the pedals). Grasping the crank of the pedals, see if they move relative to the bike. The two most recent eBay purchases presented to me each required spending more than £100 on them to make them useable.