Our regular columns are very popular with our readers, and this month we are pleased to announce the arrival of a new one! 

Richard Crawford has been in the bike trade for over 25 years, having previously been the Managing Partner of the UK’s largest Raleigh Cycle dealership, then for the last 11 years as Managing Director of The Bike Shop Leeds Ltd.  He has a wealth of experience and is a keen cyclist travelling many miles at home and abroad. Richard will be sharing with our readers interesting stories and information about cycling each month!

Are you still looking for a new bicycle?

In the twenty-six years that I have been in the cycle industry I must have sold in excess of 200,000 bikes. When I started, it was a fairly simple process and every customer wanted either a drop handle bar road bike or something for getting to work on – “The All Steel Raleigh Bicycle” for which Raleigh were famous.

Things have changed; a quick look around our Leeds showroom will show more than twenty different styles of bike. Of course there are racing bikes and mountain bikes, but there are also Hybrid’s, folding bikes, Electric bikes, BMX’s and many more. The most recent addition to our range is the Fat bike, a rapidly growing craze from the USA.

Most adult bikes come in four or five different sizes. Buying the correct size and having it properly adjusted can seriously improve your enjoyment of cycling and avoid unnecessary discomfort or even injury.

Many of our customers are new to cycling, they have read magazines, surfed the net, visited forums and asked all their cycling friends what sort of bike they should have. Some have already purchased on-line and then, realising their mistake, sent their purchase back. They arrive on our doorstep so confused that they really do not know what they want. Fortunately, our experienced staff can cut through the confusion and identify the type of bike most suitable for the customer.

You need to consider how much you are willing to spend, what you expect for your money and where you want to ride. As a general rule we do not recommend that an adult spend less than £200 on their first bike. Bicycles below this price are known in the trade as “BSO’s” or “Bicycle Shaped Objects”, they are generally supplied flat pack for assembly by the purchaser.

To the untrained eye it is not easy to spot BSO’s from better quality bicycles, if in doubt speak to a specialist before parting with your hard earned money.

Beware of Boxed Bikes

You do get what you pay for; do not get sidetracked by clever marketing, if an offer looks too good to be true, then it almost certainly will be. The products available in an independent store are often widely available making price comparison relatively straight forward.

Items for sale in multiple retailers are regularly only available through those outlets, making price comparison impossible.

Remember the price quoted in a bicycle store, such as ours, will include the pre-purchase advice, building up of the bike from its delivery box, in-store adjustments and the all-important first service. Online prices do not include any of this and you can easily incur between £50 and £100 of extra costs building and adjusting a bike, purchased through such channels, before it is suitable and, more importantly, safe to ride. It may also affect the warranty of the bike if not built by an authorised bicycle technician.

Despite the twenty or more styles of bike, our customers will normally choose either: a Hybrid, A Mountain Bike or a Road Bike in the price range of  £200 to £600. Budget a little extra for the essentials including a helmet, a pump, a lock etc.

Hybrids are extremely versatile and a true jack of all trades. My work colleagues and customers will have often heard me say, “ If you only buy one bike, buy a Hybrid”. They can be easily adjusted and are very comfortable. My current hybrid is a Whyte Ridgeway and is regularly used for cycling alongside the canal to Saltaire or just to the local shops or pub. My wife has a Specialised Ariel.

Mountain Bikes are probably what many of you think about when you think of a bike, because they are heavily advertised at cheap prices, remember my warning about BSO’s. A proper mountain bike is a hardy machine capable of some extreme use. It will almost certainly have a front suspension fork, a good range of gears and powerful brakes. My Saracen Mantra is a mountain bike and is at home in the woods and trails around Temple Newsam House and the more extreme routes in Dalby Forest. My two sons have a Marin Bolinas Ridge and a Specialised Rockhopper. My daughter, who doesn’t like getting muddy, has a Dawes XC24 for occasional outings.

Road bikes, such as the light weight machines seen around Yorkshire in last years Tour De France, can cost in excess of £10,000 each and require an elite athlete and support team to get the most out of them.  Most riders will be more comfortable on a Sportive or Endurance road bike with a more relaxed geometry and slightly wider tyres, prices start from around £350. My Specialised Roubaix is an Endurance road bike; my wife and daughter have similar bikes from the Orbea range. We have used them on the Coast-to-Coast ride in the UK, and hired similar bikes when touring in Majorca last year.

Easter is here, the days are getting longer. If you have been thinking about a bike, now is the time to do something about it. Why not call in to see us at the Bike Shop? We are open 7 days a week and have a late night on a Thursday.

78-84 Crossgates Road, LS15 7NL

0113 232 8483



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