Full chain cases can be fitted only to single-speed or hub-geared bicycles — not ones with derailleur gears. They are quite hard to come by but the best and easiest to fit is the Hebie Chainglider (hebie.de). It costs £35 from dotbike.com.
A range of bike holidays, including epic tours to Nepal, South Africa, Morocco and Guatemala, is on offer at KE Adventure (keadventure.com). The company splits its cycling holidays into three types — extreme mountain biking, less technical off-road biking and classic road cycling — at a cost of about £800 a week, excluding flights but including accommodation, most meals and a support vehicle carrying your luggage. Exodus (exodus.co.uk) offers excellent trips, including in Tanzania, Nicaragua and India, for about £1,000 a week.
Alternatively, many charities promote exciting rides to raise money through participants’ sponsorship. Lifeblood, the thrombosis charity, is organising a 10-day tour of Vietnam this autumn, while CLIC Sargent, which supports children with cancer, is going to Cuba in November. Details of both are at doitforcharity.com.
Seat posts need to be exactly the right diameter for your frame, down to about one-tenth of a millimetre. Yours is too narrow. An easy fix is to make a shim. Aluminium drink cans are ideal for this. With a pair of scissors, cut a strip that is 1in long and half an inch wide, and take care because the edges will be sharp. Remove the seat post from the frame and then reinsert it with the shim between the frame and seat post at the top of the tube.
Thieves are willing to put in a lot of effort to steal valuable bikes. Alwasy use good quality ’U’ locks and secure as many removable parts as you can - such as wheels and saddles. You might consider something like the Bike Vault (£552, bike-vault.co.uk), a large metal crate like a portable lock-up.
It’s expensive but would provide an extra line of security and mean that your bike was less visible — although some thieves follow particularly nice bikes to see where they are kept. The CTC (ctc.org.uk) and the Environmental Transport Association (eta.co.uk) offer cycle insurance.
Rollers allow you to pedal a complete bike on free-spinning cylinders. Because the bike isn’t attached to them (you simply balance the two wheels on the rollers) they take a bit getting used to — some people never manage it. We would recommend turbo trainers. They are easier to use because you strap your bike to the structure and it is simpler to alter the rolling resistance.
The Axiom Rush Air pump is a conventional (if lightweight) pump. However, it is so thin it will easily fit inside the seat tube of many bikes (£19.76, petracycles.co.uk). If you don’t mind a bit of rattling, it is a handy way of carrying a pump out of sight. The main problem is that you will also need to have the tools to remove your seat when you want to use it.
Another option is the BioLogic PostPump seat post. This is a complete seat tube and seat that incorporates the pump into its design (£36.99, tredz.co.uk). It is easy to separate from the bike frame and is used like a foot pump to inflate the tyres. Finally, you might use a CO2 cartridge tyre inflator, such as the Innovations Air Chuck Elite (£17.99, evanscycles.com). There is a knack to using them, and it costs about £2.50 each time you pump up a tyre but they fit in a pocket and take the sweat out of inflation.
Madison (madison.co.uk), a parts distributor, offers a full range of Shimano parts and spares. However, you will need to know exactly which part you need, and that has been made trickier not only by the fact that there is a bewildering array to choose from but also because the names of some gearing systems have changed over the years.
You may be able to save time and effort by visiting your local bike shop, showing the staff the part that you need to renew and placing the order through them. They will usually charge you the same retail price as you will see quoted on the internet — and you will have the confidence of knowing it’s the exact part you need.
The most obvious solution is to put something over the top of your trainers, such as the Craft neoprene bootee (£30/€35, wiggle.co.uk). You might want to find somewhere you can try the bootees on because many are designed for narrow cycling shoes — the Craft ones come in a variety of sizes.
Aldi occasionally sells discount bootees for less than £10/€12 — but it is pot luck whether it is selling them when you need them. Sealskinz waterproof socks (£20-£28/€23-€33) might also keep out a bit more of the wind without making your feet feel too sweaty.
It is alwasy comfortable, and safer, to use a bag that can be strapped to your bike rather than carried on the body – like a rucksack. Weight carried in a pannier is far less noticeable, especially on long journeys. The first thing you will need to fit is a rear rack — which costs about £25. Panniers come in many types and sizes — the Altura Arran 16, at about £30, is suitable for school use.
Be vigilant and check the road surface for ice all of the time — particularly on corners. It is worth considering studded tyres, particularly if you ride year round and your journeys are relatively short. The Nokian Hakkapeliitta W106 tyre (£26.99 each,chainreactioncycles.com) is a bit harder to turn on tarmac but grips much better on ice or snow.