Bicycle sales have exploded as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. There's a been a record rise in the numbers of used and new bikes flying out of shops, partly thanks to the UK government's Fix Your Bike Voucher scheme - launched in June.
Haynes has also noticed the trend for more of us to hop on our bikes in preference to using public transport, with demand for The Bike Book (which you can buy with the Fix Your Bike vouchers) rocketing by 566% since lockdown started in March.
The book, which provides invaluable guidance on all aspects of bike care, is an essential tool for anyone getting to grips with cycling. It’s packed full of vital hints and tips for anyone looking to tackle regular maintenance, running repairs and even major overhauls. For those looking to cycle to work or wanting to improve fitness to help overcome coronavirus, the also book features expanded coverage on choosing the best bike, from endurance road bikes to downhill mountain bikes and even triathlon bikes.
The Bike Book author James Witts says: “Finding a new or second-hand bike is like gold dust right now, with many facing long waiting lists which extend into the new year. What’s more, with the boom in bike sales, many bike workshops are now inundated with bookings. The challenge is many people don’t know where to begin with bike maintenance but whether new or old, these are essential skills to learn – along with having knowledge of the Highway Code.
“Of course, many of us will have long-forgotten about bikes lurking in sheds, garages and other storage areas which are ripe for repair and ready to be turned back into roadworthy bicycles once more. It’s surprising how easy it can be to get your bike back up and running, so rather than being tempted to ditch your wheels, why not have a go at fixing up your bike yourself? With the Bike Book and a little skill, all cyclists can have the confidence to keep their bikes in a safe condition.”
James’s top tips for maintaining your bike this autumn
1 Clean machine
Your pride-and-joy takes a battering during the winter, so regular cleaning’s vital to keep things running smoothly. Wash your bike with a bike-specific cleaner – grime accumulates rapidly on wet, dirty roads – and check your brake blocks for the increased wear and tear of autumn and winter riding. Keep your chain and cassette nicely lubed to extend their lifespan.
2 Guard-ian angels
Okay, some might not think they’re uber-cool but mudguards are arguably your best winter friend. Broadly, there are two types of mudguard: those for frames that feature mudguard eyelets called ‘fixed mudguards’ and those for frames without, called ‘clip-on mudguards’. They not only keep you cleaner and dryer but, if you have one, your riding companion, too.
3 Beat deflation
Autumn means brisk Sunday-morning rides, golden leaves and a layer of broken twigs that’s fertile ground to deflate your chances of an unbroken adventure. That’s where a set of winter tyres comes in. These usually feature some form of puncture protection beneath the surface and chunkier sidewalls to deflect sharp objects. If it’s raining, drop the tyre’s pressure to around 80-90psi to increase grip.
4 Light up your life
“Get yourself seen. At night, make it white. In the dark, make it light…” That ditty’s taken from an 80’s campaign for cyclists to make themselves visible. That sentiment’s still true today, though we’d plump for fluorescent yellow or pink clothing over white. Lights upfront and outback are essential, their strength dependent on whether it’s more important to be seen (urban riding) or to see (country riding).
5 No such thing as bad weather
Clothing choice is vital to enjoy cooler rides. Layering’s preferable to one heavy garment, so start with a base layer to wick away sweat and provide insulation. A short-sleeve polyester top comes next before finishing off with a waterproof or windproof jacket. Wear bib longs or commuting trousers down below. And a quality pair of gloves are essential.
Bike Repair Guide app
For more hints, tips and video tutorials to help you fix your bike, download our Bike Repair Guide from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.