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Buyers guide

Product guides

We've racked our brains to try and come up with some guides to help you

Our guys know their stuff and are quite handy at pelting you in the brain with their experience, thoughts and sometimes you'll even get a funny story thrown in for good measure

If you need to know something more specific you can give us a call on 0141 332 2705 and one of our guys will will fill you with bikey goodness


Road Bikes

Road bikes, also called racing bikes are designed to be ridden on tarmac roads as quickly and efficiently as possible. They will have drop handlebars to allow the rider to achieve multiple riding positions for a combination of comfort, speed and aerodynamics. Gearing will be higher, (harder) than hybrid or mountain bikes to allow for greater top speeds on smooth roads.

Although the standard shape and design of a road bike has not changed in many years, they can also come with the most up to date, high quality parts, such as carbon fibre frames and forks, electronic gearing and disc brakes.

If you want to ride on roads as quickly as possible and cover long distances, these are the types of bike for you.

Road bikes are easily divided by price and type into two categories and styles:


Road bikes priced from £500-£1000 are usually equipped with an aluminium frame, which can offer a good mix of performance and comfort at a reasonable price point.

Some models will come with a carbon fibre fork, which will save weight whilst adding compliance by tuning out some vibration felt from the road.

Some manufacturers will produce aluminium bikes at a higher price point for riders who prefer the way it performs to carbon fibre.

Carbon Fibre

Bikes priced from £1000+ can frequently come with carbon fibre frames and forks.

Carbon fibre is often lighter, stiffer and more comfortable than aluminium bikes.

As mentioned above, carbon fibre can absorb vibration from the road, but will transmit the riders power from their legs to the rear wheel very effectively, to give the perfect balance of comfort and performance.

The only perceived downside of carbon is in the higher price, which many riders will ignore in their search of speed.

Road bikes are now divided in various types, to suit different riders and events:


Sportive, or sport road bikes are a more relaxed take on the racing bike.

They have a reasonably upright position to relieve strain on the back and neck. Gearing is usually "compact", giving the rider a good range of easy gears to tackle hills.

Some models will have clearance for wider, comfier tyres to deal with rougher road surfaces.

These bikes are the perfect introduction into road cycling, and can be used at any level, from commuting and training, to club runs and etapes.


These bikes place the rider in an aggressive position to promote speed and aerodynamics.

Frame design will be similar to those used by elite athletes or even professional riders. Some will be equipped with taller gearing than sportive bikes, allowing riders with a greater level or fitness to reach higher top speeds.

Some of these bikes can be sub-catergorised as "Aero" bikes, which are designed in wind-tunnels to slip through the air as quickly as possible.

Racing bikes are particularly good for club riding and competitive events such as criterium races.

Triathlon & Time Trial

Although very similar in appearance, Tri and TT bikes are subtly different to reflect differences in the two sports.

The most notable addition over Sportive and Racing bikes are the "aero" bars, small additional handlebars which allow the rider to adopt a very aerodynamic pedalling position.

Triathlon bikes are designed for the multi-discipline races of Triathlon.

These rides must cover large distances, sometimes up to 112 miles, and then transition to running for the remainder of the race.

With this in mind, triathlon bikes are designed to push the rider forward, saving their hamstrings and reserving some energy for running.

Time trial bikes meanwhile are designed to help riders get as much strength and power from their legs as possible, and complete the course with nothing left in reserve. They are also often heavier, but stiffer and more aerodynamic than triathlon bikes.

Mountain Bikes

A mountain bike, or MTB for short, is a bicycle designed for off-road riding on rough tracks or paths. They are usually equipped with wide, grippy tyres, some form of suspension and strong frames. Mountain bikes can also be pressed into service for other purposes, such as commuting or touring, but they are most at home on winding, rough, single track paths and gravel fire roads.

If you want to ride quickly off-road, explore muddy and/or rough terrain or visit popular UK mountain bike trail centres, this is the type of bike for you.

Mountain bikes were first seen in the early 1980's as modified "clunker" style bicycles, with rigid forks and coaster brakes. Since then they have been developed into a range of bicycles for the multiple off-road disciplines. Disc brake systems for confident stopping, suspension forks with 4 or more inches of travel for comfort and wide handlebars for extra control are seen on almost all new mountain bikes.

Hard Tail

Bikes with front suspension only which cost £300+. These are ideal first bikes, offering good value for money, and performance with comparatively low maintenance costs.

Full Suspension

Bikes with separate suspension for both the front, and rear wheel.

Quality full-suspension bicycles cost £999+ and offer increased traction, comfort and speed off-road. However, they are more expensive to buy than hardtails and the rear suspension linkages can require more maintenance.

As well as the two main types of mountain bike listed above, MTBs can be sub-categorised into different styles of off-road riding.

Cross Country (XC)

Designed to be efficient and lightweight, so you can ride as quick as your legs let you. Many of these bikes are race-ready, to tackle gruelling multi-lap off-road races.

Since they are very efficient, they are also good for casual riding on forest paths and canal tracks. These bikes are usually limited to 100 millimetres of suspension travel.


These bikes are like cross-country machines on steroids.

Usually equipped with 100-140 millimetres of suspension, they are often heavier and less efficient than XC bikes, but are more stable at speed and can tackle steeper, rougher terrain.

Trail bikes are perfect for the adventurous rider looking to improve their skillset and explore exciting new red and/or black graded trail centres routes.

Enduro/All Mountain (AM)

Enduro is a quickly growing type of racing which involves extended climbs followed by racing timed downhill sections.

Riders require a bike which can pedal efficiently uphill and also cope with jumps, drops and rocky, rooty sections of trail. These bikes will 150 millimetres or more suspension travel to deal with the rigours of this type of riding.


These bikes are specialist machines for descending very steep, extended trails as quickly as possible.

They are usually heavy, with limited gearing and are not suitable for general purpose use.

For the advanced thrill-seeker, these bikes can tackle the worst off-road terrain, like the downhill runs at Ae or Fort William.

Hybrid Bikes

Hybrids are general purpose bicycles designed for leisure, fitness, commuting and utility. They will combine elements of road, touring and mountain bikes, hence the name "hybrid". Hybrid bicycles will offer comfortable seating positions with a wide range of gearing to tackle both road and off-road riding. Hybrids are aimed at new cyclists, family riders and commuters.

If you're just looking for "a bike", a hybrid is usually a safe bet. If you ride for leisure, fitness, commuting or any combination of the above, this is the bike for you!

Below are a list of types of hybrid bike. It's worth noting that many models can be used for different styles and types of riding.


Bikes with no suspension for simplicity and weight saving and tyres offering a mixture of speed and grip typify the fitness and leisure bike.

Usually supplied with no accessories, they can be dressed up with mudguards and pannier racks to better suit year-round commuting or utility use in Scotland.


These bikes will be equipped with a suspension fork to allow the bike to ride smoothly over rough, potholed roads, canal paths and gravel trails.

Although often slower and heavier than leisure and fitness bikes, path bikes can offer greater comfort and choice of terrain to ride. Most path bikes can also be fitted with mudguards and racks to become more practical machines.


Comfort and style are a range of bikes designed for a "sit up and beg" seating position, a frame that is easy to mount, and comfortable quality of ride, through wide tyres of short travel suspension forks and seatposts.

Women's models will often have a very low frame to allow the rider to "step through" rather than over to climb aboard.


This range of bicycles are similar to the fitness/leisure machines above, but come ready to go with valuable accessories like mudguards, pannier racks and kick-stands.

This means they can be immediately pressed into service for cycling to work, touring across distance and using around town.


Folding bikes are quite simply, bikes that fold. Through clever hinge mechanisms, these bikes can be made smaller to fit onto trains, buses and into the boots of small cars.

Equipped with smaller wheels to reduce their size, folding bikes are not as efficient as full size hybrid bikes. Folding bikes are usually more complicated, and therefore more expensive than standard bicycles.

For those with limited space, their usefulness cannot be overlooked.

Kids Bikes

Kids bicycles are small bike to suit riders aged 3 years and up until the early to mid teenage years. They are divided neatly by wheel size to suit different heights and ages of rider. Although we offer general guidance on what age they are designed for, the height and confidence level of the child can also be just as important when choosing size.

All bikes sold by Dales Cycles are fully assembled, safety-checked and ready to ride. We do not sell anything heavy or clunky like the supermarkets and toy shops. Any bike from Dales Cycles will ensure your child gets the best possible start in cycling!

Listed below are the different sizes available.

For extra information, please get in touch by telephone or e-mail.

Balance Bikes

Balance bikes remove the pedals and drivetrain and are designed so little riders can sit comfortably with their feet on the ground.

This promotes confidence and allows the child to raise their feet, "scoot" along and learn how to balance.

These bikes have become incredibly popular over the last few years, and many parents now begin their children on these rather than larger bikes with stabilisers.

12" Wheel

Aimed at 3-5 year olds.

Unlike balance bikes, these will come equipped with a drivetrain and allow the child to learn how to pedal.

Although supplied with stabilisers, some children may not need them fitted if they are progressing from a balance bike.

These bikes only have one gear to keep the process as simple as possible.

16" Wheel

For at 5-7 year olds.

Larger than the 12 inch wheel bikes, but still usually with one gear and supplied with stabilisers unless otherwise noted.

20" Wheel

For at 7-9 year olds.

Usually these bikes are equipped with 5-7 gears, so the child can change to easier gears to climb hill and harder gears to go faster on the flat.

These bikes are not supplied with stabilisers and many do not accept them.

24" Wheel

For 8-11 year olds.

Similar to 20 inch wheel bikes but larger.

Again, they are not supplied with stabilisers and can have anything from 7-21 gears to allow for longer rides on varying terrain.

26" Wheel

For 12+ years.

For older, or taller children, an adult bicycle in a small, or extra small size can be a good option and allow for more growth than a childrens bicycle.

See the relevant adult buying guide for the type of bicycle you require.

BMX Bikes

BMX, or Bicycle Motocross, originally meant a bicycle for racing on dirt tracks. It now includes bikes for park, dirt, race and street use. BMXs are unique due to their small size, large handlebars, single gear and super strong frame, cranks and wheels. 20 inch wheels remain the industry standard and is by far the most popular choice. Some smaller BMXs are available with 16 inch wheels for junior riders. Almost all BMXs are made from strong Chromoly steel, although some racing options are available in aluminium.

For stunts, jumps, skate parks and dirt track racing, a BMX is the perfect choice.

BMXs only have one gear, and so it can be difficult for a rider to keep up with family and friends on larger more efficient bicycles. They are usually also heavier, being overbuilt for strength, and younger riders can struggle with this extra weight.

However, for stunts, jumps and tricks, a BMX is built to take the abuse that would quickly destroy larger, more complicated bikes.

Although there are various types of BMX riding, most options sold by Dales Cycles are suitable for multiple disciplines, unless otherwise stated.


These BMX bikes are often heavier and stronger than other BMXs to cope with the heavier hits of tarmac and concrete landings.

They are usually equipped with stunt pegs on the axles to allow the rider to "grind" along sufaces.

Many street BMXs will be designed so that the front brake is removable to allow the rider to spin the bars without tangling the cables.


BMX bikes for racing are usually lighter, with higher gearing than other types.

Although they cannot take the big hits of other styles, they are equipped for fast rolling dirt race tracks and are usually supplied with front and back brakes.


These bikes have wider tyres with extra tread to allow the rider to tackle softer routes with looser surfaces.


Park BMXs are lighter than street BMXs as they are for use on smoother concrete or wooden ramps and bowls.

Many have no brakes, as they are not designed for use in traffic and only in safer, enclosed environments.

Cyclocross Bikes

Cyclocross (CX or Cross for short), is an off-road racing discipline featuring muddy, hilly courses with sections designed to force the rider to pick up and carry the bicycle for short distances. Races are usually held in the Autumn and Winter seasons. Although sometimes viewed as sometime for road cyclists to do in the "off-season", Cyclocross is growing in Scotland and the UK to match the popularity of road and mountain bike events.

Cyclocross bikes look similar to road bikes, but are designed for wider mud tyres and lower gearing. They can be divided into two types, those designed exclusively for racing and training, and "Cross" bikes, which are less race-orientated and more suitable for commuting and touring.

If you're looking to race Cyclocross through the Autumn and Winter or choose a fast bike for use both on, and off-road, these are the bikes for you.


CX racing bikes are lightweight, with tyres designed to offer grip in loose, muddy conditions.

They need to be lightweight so riders can carry their bikes over obstacles. Frequently, they have no fixtures or fittings for mudguards and/or pannier racks and so are designed solely for racing and training.

Because they have lower gearing designed for muddy race use, they are not as suitable as road bikes for open-road events.


Cross bikes take the off-road abilities of a Cyclocross bike and offer the rider a more relaxed seating position for comfort and add the ability to accept mudguards and pannier racks to increase their versatility and usefulness for day-to-day cycling.

These bikes can be seen as the modern interpretation of the classic "touring" bike. These bikes are perfect for commuting to and from work, and for touring the countryside with pannier bags full of luggage.

Single Speed/Fixed Gear Bikes

The single speed or fixed gear bike is designed to be low maintenance and low weight whilst offering high levels of enjoyment and style. Single speed bikes can be comfortable and relaxed, or aggressive and fast. By removing the gears, there is less weight and less to go wrong. Fixed gear bicycles take this a step further, removing the freewheel element, and while the rear wheel is turning, so are the pedals. There is no option to coast along.

If you're looking for value for money, and don't like to adjust or fiddle with gears, this could be the type of bike for you!

Single Speed

A single speed bike removes the gears found on most other modern bikes.

This makes the bike lighter, simpler and cheaper than geared alternatives.

As there is only one gear, the rider will need to work harder on the hills, but will benefit from extra reliability and lower servicing costs. This can really benefit commuters who ride a large number of miles every day.

Fixed Gear

Similar to a single speed, a fixed gear bicycle also removes some of the moving parts from inside the rear wheel to make the bicycle as simple as possible.

There is no ability to coast, when the wheel is moving the rider has to pedal, even down hills. Some riders find that this gives them a greater feeling of connection to the bicycle and to the road, but takes some getting used to!

Track Bikes

Track bicycles are fixed gear bicycles designed for use on indoor velodrome tracks, which feature wooden raceways with high, banked corners. Track bikes do not have brakes, as they are only for use in a controlled environment and not in traffic.

If you'd like to emulate the great Sir Chris Hoy by giving track cycling a go, these are the bikes for you!

A fixed gear means that when the wheel is turning, so are the pedals, there is no ability to coast or freewheel the bicycle. Tyres are narrow, and run at a high pressure for speed and efficiency. Many track racers run tubular tyres which can be inflated to very high pressures. A true track bicycle will never come with brakes and cannot be used safely outside of a velodrome. Track bikes will also adhere to a strict set of design guidelines handed down by the UCI (track legal), allowing their use for racing. Since there is only one gear, riders will have to swap chain rings and/or rear sprockets to make the bicycle easier, or faster to ride.



Arm & Leg Warmers

There are times when we need just a little something else to keep is warm and comfortable, perhaps not as much as the Long sleeved jersey or the full length tight, but something to cover our arms and/or legs, this is where the arm and legwarmers come in handy.

Consider them to be as simple as the arm or a jersey, or the lag of a tight, that we can wear with our summer weight shorts and short sleeves.

Great for getting you started and once you have warmed up, they can be removed and stored in a pocket or bag.


Base Layers

The Base layer is the first part of the three-layer system; this is the layer that deals with your sweat.

In order to make you more comfortable, this layer will move (or wick) the moisture away from your body to keep you warm, or even cool, during your activity.

Base layers will come in different styles and weights, using many different fabrics. Most are fairly light, worn for only wicking away sweat but some can be heavier, providing insolation for colder conditions. Some might even have windproof properties.

There are even those which will use natural fabrics, like Merino wool, which has a high warmth to weight ratio and great odour resistance.

Whether you wear your base layer beneath a long sleeved thermal mid-layer, a short sleeved cycling jersey or even beneath your outer layer, the base layer is a versatile piece for any cyclist’s wardrobe.


Body Armour

Accidents do happen! When tackling rough terrain and encountering numerous obstacles the odds are not in your favour.

Although armour can restrict movement somewhat, there are times when this is preferable to serious injury.

Body armour can come in different styles for different places on the body, protecting your arms or legs. Some armour can be lighter in weight, increasing manoeuvrability with the expense of protection. You will even get some armour that can be soft, but will harden on impact.


Casual Wear

When going out on the bike, we don’t always want to be head to toe in Lycra, sometimes we want the appearance of our casual wardrobe, but with a cut and fit, designed with a bike riding in mind.


Gilets & Vests

Perhaps it’s for increased visibility, or maybe it’s to take off a little of that wind-chill, or maybe it’s both? Gilets and vests are a sleeveless option for bike riders


Glasses & Goggles

Whether you are on the road or the track, on the trail or the decent, it’s important to see where we are going, to notice that upcoming hazard before it is too late.

For most, optics will be used to keep bright light from restricting what we can see before us, causing us to strain and squint through the glare.

Optics are not only used for those sunny days, the right lens can increase contrast on those overcast, flat to low light days, allowing us to see more clearly. Some lenses are designed for different environments, helping you to spot a root or rock on the trail or avoid those potholes on the road.

There will be optics which have superior optical clarity, keeping our vision clear and sharp and insuring what we see is accurate and objects are not shifted. There is nothing worse than getting something in your eye when out for a ride, glasses and goggles can protect your eyes from inconveniences like fly’s and dust and dangers, like high velocity impacts. They look cool too.


Gloves & Mitts

Our hands can be steering, operating breaks, shifting gear or just holding on for dear life when we are out on the bike, so it is important that our gloves keep our hands comfortable and protected with freedom to move and the grip to hold on.

Some gloves are like jackets designed to keep off the elements, like the wind and the rain.

If you are doing some serious off road, maybe consider a glove with some kind of armour, protecting those tiny bones from impact.


Hats & Caps

You have to protect your precious brain, but in colder conditions, with a close fitting helmet, how are you supposed to wear a woolly hat or beanie?

Skull caps are designed to cover your ears and provide some insulation for your head, but thin enough to fit beneath your helmet.

When the cold conditions pass and the sun comes out, why not try a cotton cap, with a small peak, to keep the bright light out of your eyes?



The Jacket is our weather defence, our outer layer to protect us from the elements which affect our comfort and performance.

Cycling jackets can come in many different forms, they may be waterproof, tapping the stitched seams to protect us from rain. Others might be windproof, more breathable than the waterproof, designed to reduce wind-chill. Perhaps the jacket is lighter in weight and more packable or maybe it’s heavier and tougher.

Many jackets these days will use Softshell fabrics, materials which offer the comfort and freedom of movement of a mid-layer, but with the elemental protection of an outer layer. Depending on the fabrics used, some jackets will can be more waterproof and more breathable than others.


Jerseys & Tops

Just as there are many types of cyclist, so too are there different types of cycling jerseys and tops.

The short sleeved jersey can be worn almost as you would a T-shirt, by its self, or beneath a jacket. But where a cotton T-shirt can chafe and be uncomfortable, a short sleeve cycling jersey will use a technical fabric designed to wick away sweat from your skin, or even from a base layer.

Long sleeved jerseys are often designed for warmth and are used as a mid-layer between a base layer and a jacket. These long sleeved layers will come in different weights and provide different levels of insulation, and although they use pretty good wicking fabrics, they perform best in when paired with a base layer.

Some jerseys may even have windproof properties. Weather an off-road cyclist in a more upright position, wearing something with a looser fit, or a road racer, in a far more aggressive position, wearing something much more fitted.

The cycling jersey has the riders cycling position in mind.



Most cycling shoes are designed to be as well ventilated as they can, which might be great on the warmer days, but when it gets colder, sometimes a thicker sock just won’t cut it.

Overshoes are like a jacket for your feet, designed to go over the top of your shoes in order to cover those vents and protect you from the elements. And much like jackets, they will come in different weights, some warmer, some cooler, some waterproof and some windproof.

As there are many different kinds of cycling shoe, so too, are there different types of overshoe, designed with different cuts to fit with specific kinds of cycling shoes.



When we cycle, the power from our legs goes to our heel, but we want that power transferred to the ball of our feet where the pedal is.

Having a stiff sole between the heel and the ball of our feet means that less of that power is lost, increasing our performance and comfort.

Many cycling shoes are designed to clip into a special kind of pedal, meaning that when clipped in, we can lift the pedal up as well as push it down for a more efficient pedalling movement.

Just as there are different kinds of bike, so too is there different kinds of shoe. Some shoes, like road cycling shoes, might be designed for on the bike only, specifically designed for an increase in performance and efficiency. But others, like mountain bike shoes, may sacrifice that, in order to be able to walk more easily and step over obstacles.



Saddles are not the most comfortable things in the world to sit on, that’s where padding comes in.

Worn next to skin, the pad is designed to sit between you and the saddle, and comes in all sorts of sizes and shapes, some designed for shorter rides, some for longer. Cycling pads will use different densities and materials to increase the riders comfort and performance.

Cycling shorts can be close fitting Lycra, perhaps with what’s called a Bib for a superior fit, distributing the weight across the riders’ shoulders. Others will be a baggy outer short, perhaps for durability, weather protection, pockets or just a more casual look.



Whether it’s lightweight and cool for hotter days or heavier with thermal properties, the right sock for the right conditions can increase a riders’ comfort.

Some Socks will even have waterproof properties.


Tights & Trousers

Much like the Lycra cycling short, cycling tights are generally designed with a padded insert and are put together with the riders’ comfort in mind.

Just like the cycling short, cycling tights will often come with a bib, for a superior fit, distributing the weight across the rider’s shoulders.

Tights are used for warmth, not only will they cover your legs, but they will use different materials designed for insulation. Some will even have windproof panelling to reduce wind-chill. Some riders prefer a pair of tights without a padded insert, so they can wear a pair of Lycra cycling shorts beneath the tight.

Baggy cycling trousers can be used for a few reasons, perhaps it’s for protection from tumbles, or even the weather, or maybe it’s for a casual appearance.



Although not a legal requirement in the UK, it is recommended to wear a cycle helmet whenever and wherever you ride, even a low speed impact could have severe consequences depending on what you land on. According to medical research, cycle helmets can reduce or prevent most cycle related head injuries. Helmets are designed to protect the head against impact and distribute the force applied to the helmet in the event of an accident. Please remember that children must remove helmets before climbing on playground equipment or trees, a helmet could get snagged and cause choking.

We stock a range of helmets starting from small 44cm options for little ones, right up to large sized adults’ helmets at 63cm in circumference. They can be gender specific or unisex, as well as age specific. So once we have identified age range and gender, we can look at riding style, commuter helmets often come with reflective elements and are available in brighter more visible colours. Road cycling specific helmets tend to come without a peak at the front so they don’t obscure visibility, if you’re down on the drops the visor will obscure your view. Road helmets tend to be lightweight with many vents. Mountain bike specific offerings are often deeper at the rear to protect the base of the skull; they have peaks at the front to keep things out your eyes too. For more extreme mountain bike riding we have full face helmets to protect the face and jaw. BMX helmets have a sturdier polycarbonate shell with fewer vents, often “no frills” with variable thickness padding supplied to allow you to tailor the fit and fill any gaps. Some helmets are available in size specific (S/M/L) or in a universal fit, they usually have and adjustable retention system enabling the user to get as secure a fit as possible.

When trying a helmet on, it should sit level on your head and cover as much as possible, it should feel comfortable like a hat would, avoid anything that feels slightly uncomfortable or too tight as this will be aggravating as time goes on and may be off putting, resulting in the helmet being left at home. We all have different shaped heads with the odd lump and bump here and there, so helmets come in different shapes and sizes depending on brand and style, it’s very important to get one that is well fitting. Once securely fitted, it shouldn’t be easily removed by shaking your head or pulling/twisting it.

Typically, the more you pay, the lighter and better the ventilated the helmet is, fit often improves along with styling too.

Safety Standards

Our helmets meet reputable standards, with at least BSEN1078 being met. "EN" signifies a European standard (or "Norm") adopted by BS (British Standard). Some of our helmets meet the Snell Foundation B90 standard (or higher), this is an even greater standard. A "CE" marking indicates that a helmet meets the requirements of the European Economic Community (EEC) Directive (89/686/EEC). This is a mandatory directive; therefore, all our helmets meet this standard.

Among the CE markings for action sports helmets are:

  • EN 1078 Bicycle helmets
  • EN 1080 Impact protection helmets for young children


Using sports nutrition products correctly can help maximise performance and allow a rider to get the most out of their ride. Optimising fluid intake, as well as intake of carbohydrates, electrolytes and protein, before, during and after rides will help reduce losses in performance, too much can be a bad thing, as can too little. We stock a range of drink product to be mixed with water and a selection of energy gels, bars, chews and even waffles, all with a view to maximise performance and aid recovery.

Many of our sports nutritional products contain a mix of simple sugars, including glucose, fructose and sucrose, these sugars release their energy quickly, more complex carbohydrate polymers such as maltodextrin provide longer release energy.

Research suggests that consuming over 60g of carbohydrates per hour is a waste as it won’t be absorbed. Some manufacturers add fructose so that more can be absorbed.


Water on its own won’t deliver any energy or replenish minerals lost though exercise, therefore, if planning longer rides it is beneficial to add electrolytes and carbohydrates to water. Electrolytes are salts that include sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium. They can be lost through sweat and exhalation and must be replaced for normal cellular function. Carbohydrates are one of the main types of nutrients, and are the most important source of energy in our bodies. Many of our sports drink powders contain a good balance of electrolytes and carbohydrates.

If dieting or minimising calorie intake, we have effervescent electrolyte tablets which don’t contain carbohydrates, this makes them more favourable. One such product we sell is the High5 Zero Tabs, these are supplied in a tube and don’t take up much space, so they’re easy to store when out on your bike, it can be relatively easy to find a source of water, however finding these electrolytes can be trickier so best take some with you just in case!

Some of our products contain caffeine and taurine, great if you’re looking for something that will give an extra helping hand when you need to dig deep and are approaching the end of an event or a very steep hill!

To aid the recovery process post exercise, we have protein recovery drinks, these help speed up the recovery process and replenish the body’s stores. Most contain protein, carbohydrate and electrolytes, consuming these after prolonged exercise will help refuel your body.


Energy gels are a very convenient way of refuelling yourself on the go, they’re fairly small so can be stored in an energy caddy mounted on the frame, putting them within easy reach.

Gels are great for longer rides such as sportives and triathlons.

They come in various flavours and also different consistencies depending on style and brand. For example, isotonic gels from manufacturers such as High5 are very thin and almost watery in consistency, they don’t need to be washed down with water like others. Some can be thicker and more syrup like, requiring a few mouthfuls of water to wash them down, whilst brands such as Torq are known for their almost yoghurt like consistency, quite palatable if you like yoghurt.

We have gels which contain guarana giving a natural caffeine turbo boost when required!


Energy bars can not only satisfy your appetite, but also supply valuable nutrients offering energy on the go.

We also have recovery bars which contain protein and other nutrients, helping replenish and repair muscle damage which can arise though rigorous exercise.

Other bars focus more on energy with the intention of helping you ride for longer by topping up your energy levels and sustaining the body. Like gels, bars are very portable and a handy way to supply the body with carbs, protein, fibre and other nutrients when exercising.


We have chewable semi-solid energy products which are great for endurance athletes or for anyone needs to top up their energy levels.

They usually contain carbohydrates and some electrolytes, as with drinks and gels, some also contain caffeine.

It’s usually best to consume a little water after eating chews, which is also the case with gels. They give a quick blast of energy and are easily consumed. They come in some interesting flavours including pomegranate and passion fruit, pink lemonade and tropical punch.

As you can see, there’s lots to choose from

Sometimes it’s best to experiment with a variety of energy products and find out what works best for you.

We wouldn’t recommend trying a brand new product before an important event as some products don’t agree with everyone.

Many people have their tried and tested combinations, you often need to experiment to get to this stage though.


We know there are some technical and sometimes old words on the go in cycling, hopefully we've managed to explain what they mean below if you've ever noticed them on site and were a bit confused

Bike Specifications


The frame is the bicycle's skeleton, onto which all the parts are bolted.

Frames can be designed to be strong or lightweight, aggressive or relaxed.

Frames are built from aluminium and steel for a combination of value and performance, or from carbon fibre to ensure low weight and performance at a higher price.


Rear Shock

High quality mountain bikes will come equipped with a rear shock to ensure rear wheel traction in rough off-road conditions.

Shocks will vary in the amount of travel they offer dependent on the type of use they are designed for.

Some are coil sprung, with a metal spring, but most are now air sprung and can be adjusted to suit different weights of rider.

See the mountain bike buyer's guide for more information on types of off-road riding.


A suspension fork will feature on path bikes and mountain bikes.

They allow for greater comfort and speed when riding on rough tracks, but are heavier and more complex than rigid forks.

Bikes designed for more aggressive riding will have forks which offer more travel.

Cheaper forks will be coil sprung, and more expensive models will be air sprung and adjustable to suit the weight of the rider.


The headset includes the bearings which allow the rider to turn the handlebars to steer the front wheel.

Some are external, which means the bearings sit outside the frame, others are internal to hide the bearings away.

Cheaper units use loose ball bearings for value and more expensive units use sealed cartridge bearings for smoother action and greater lifespans.


The stem connects the handlebars to the bicycle, and can help determine in what position the rider sits on the bicycle.

Stems can be changed to alter the comfort of the bicycle by raising or lowering the handlebars, or bringing them closer or further from the saddle.


Handlebars allow the rider to control the bicycle.

Hybrids and mountain bikes use flat bars for maximum control, whilst road bikes use drop handlebars to offer multiple positions for greater efficiency and aerodynamics.


Grips cushion the riders hands when riding the bicycle.

Some models will be softer for comfort and others will be grippy for more control.

On road bikes this is replaced with bar tape, which is wrapped around the handlebars for comfort.

Front Brake

The front brake does the majority of the stopping.

Cheaper bicycles will use rim brakes, which grip the wheel surface to slow the bike. Higher quality mountain, hybrid and road bikes will use disc brakes for extra confidence and control.

Rear Brake

As per the front brake, but on the rear wheel.

The rear brake can be pulled with no fear of upsetting the balance of the bicycle, but can skid the rear wheel if used in isolation.

Brake Levers

Brake levers are designed to allow the rider to slow the bike with their fingertips.

On hybrid and mountain bikes these will be separate units.

On road bikes they will be built into the gear changing mechanism.

Front Derailleur

The front derailleur moves the chain up and down the chain rings to allow for different gear ratios.

This allows the rider to climb up hills in a lower gear, and ride back down in a higher gear.

Rear Derailleur

The rear derailleur moves the chain up and down the cassette to further vary the gearing.

Some bicycles have front and rear derailleurs, some only rear.

Shift Levers

The shift levers allow the rider to control the derailleurs from the handlebar and alter the gears to suit the terrain.


The cassette is the block of sprockets on the rear wheel.

Racing bicycles will have a closely spaced cassette for efficiency at speed, mountain and hybrid bikes will have a wide ratio cassette to allow the rider to comfortable tackle different grades and surfaces.


The chain takes the riders pedalling power and transmits it to the rear wheel to propel them forward.

The chain works in tandem with the chain rings, cassette and derailleurs.

Crank Set

The crank set connects the pedals to the chain rings.

Crank sets will have 1, 2 or 3 chain rings depending on the intended use.

Chain Rings

Chain rings push the chain to result in forward motion.

Road bikes have larger chain rings for speed, and mountain and hybrid bikes have smaller chain rings for ease of climbing hills.

Bottom Bracket

The bottom bracket is the bearing units which allow the crank set to turn with little friction.

Sometimes the bearings are external, sometimes they are press-fit, meaning the bearings are hidden inside the frame.


The pedals allow the rider to push the bike forward with their feet.

Some pedals are flat, for use with normal shoes. Some pedals are designed for clipless (SPD) riding and connect to the riders shoes through a cleat system.

This results in extra power and efficiency, but can take a little practice to avoid falls.


The rims are the hoops of the wheels and can be designed to be narrow and lightweight for road racing, or wide and strong for off-road use.

Lighter options use fewer spokes and stronger options use a higher number.

Front Hub

The front hub is the centre of the front wheel.

Cheap hubs are heavy and slow to turn due to friction. Expensive hubs are lighter and turn more smoothly for greater speed.

Most use quick release axles to allow the wheel to be removed quickly.

Some wheels use oversize axles to achieve greater levels of strength and stiffness for extra control.

Rear Hub

The rear hub is the centre of the rear wheel and mounts the cassette.

Higher quality rear hubs have more points of engagement for quicker response when pedalling.

Most are quick release, but some mountain bikes use larger through axles for strength.


The spokes connect the hubs to the rims.

Lighter racing wheels have fewer spokes, stronger wheels for commuting, touring or off-road riding have extra spokes for additional strength.

Front Tyre

The front tyre takes care of steering and grip in corners.

Narrower harder tyres are faster on tarmac surfaces and wider softer tyres give greater grip off-road.

Most tyres use an inner-tube to hold the air, but some are now tubless and are filled with sealant to seal any punctures.

Rear Tyre

The rear tyre deals with acceleration and braking.

Like front tyres they can be narrow or ride, with tubes or tubeless.

Inner Tubes

Inner tubes fit inside the tyres and hold the air to inflate the tyres.

Different widths of tyre and sizes of wheel require different inner tubes.

Some use Schrader valves, like a car, some use smaller Presta valves.

Some tubeless tyres no longer require inner tubes to function.


The saddle offers a resting place for your backside.

Wider, softer saddles can be more comfortable, but can get in the way when pedalling.

Many saddle are now grooved on the surface to allow greater blood-flow and cut down on pain and numbness.

Seat Post

The seatpost connects the saddle to the bicycle.

Some are made from aluminium for strength, others from carbon fibre for weight saving.

Some mountain bikes use dropper seatposts to allow the rider to lower the saddle at the press of a button.

Seat Binder

The seat binder, or seatclamp allows the rider to raise or lower the saddle.

Some use an allen key, and some are quick-release and can be adjusted by hand.


See crankset and chainrings. The chainset is the collective name for the crankset and chainrings.


Storage. Water. Air. Tools. SWAT is a technology on some Specialized brand bicycles to allow the rider to carry accessories without the need for a backpack.

BB Set

See bottom bracket.

Weight in Kg

The weight of the bicycle in metric kilograms. Lighter bikes are easier to pedal and carry.

Weight in Lbs

The weight of the bicycle in imperial pounds.


Cables which operate the brakes and/or gears. Some high-end bicycles use electric gears and/or hydraulic disc brakes and do not require cables.


The freewheel is an older fashion cassette, whereby the bearings and ratchet mechanism are attached to the cog, rather than hidden inside the rear hub.

The freewheel also describes the ratchet part of a rear hub.

Remote System

As well as brakes and gears, some other functions of a bicycle can be controlled from the handlebar.

Suspension lock-out and dropper posts frequently have remote levers on the handlebars.

Other Features

Various other features of bicycles which are classed as an add on, such as mudguards, pannier racks or lights etc.


A growing range of electric bicycles will use an electric motor for drive.


A controlled converts battery power to the motor for driving and electric, pedal-assist bicycle.


A computer display can be found on the handlebars of bicycles using electronic gearing or electric pedal assist.


Batteries are used to power electric bicycles and are rechargeable.


Electric bicycles will have estimated ranges they can go before the battery runs out.


Some bicycles are supplied with lighting, which can be powered by batteries or hub dynamos.


Some bicycles have locks built in to add to their security and practicality.


Also known as a pannier rack, the carrier allows quick fixing of pannier bags to the bicycle to carry luggage.

Chain Guard

A chain guard can protect the riders trouser leg from the grease, oil and dirt on the bicycle chain.

Front Wheel

The front wheel collects the rim, hub and spokes described above.

Rear Wheel

The rear wheel collects the rim, hub and spokes described above.