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Richmond Cycles Journal:

Seven ways to improve bike riding for your kids

December 12th, 2016

Kids will keep doing things they enjoy and the more they do something, the better and more confident they will become. So how can picking the right bike help? Here are a few of our top tips, but please come by the shop to discuss what’s right for your child.

  1. Always bring your child in to try a bike before you buy a bike. Your kids are unique and the bike should be set up to fit them not the other way round. And trying on a helmet to find the right one is just as important.
  2. The lighter the better. Struggling to control a heavy bike saps enjoyment at best, at worst it makes cycling dangerous or even downright impossible. A couple of kilos difference could be like asking them to pick up 10% of their own body weight!
  3. Balance is the first skill you need to ride a bike. Stabilisers confuse kids’ natural balance, delaying and frustrating the progress to a regular bike. Aimed at children between 18 months and three years old, a balance bike gives a kid the confidence to be on two wheels. Using their body weight to balance and feet to stop without becoming dependent on extra wheels that will ultimately be removed will give them a massive head start.
  4. Bin the stabilisers. If your kid is already using stabilisers and is struggling to make the step to riding without them, try taking them and the pedals off.  Using their bike now as a pseudo-balance bike encourages them to use their body weight and feet to stabilise and get their confidence back before putting the pedals back on… and the stabilisers in the bin.
  5. Make your first pedal bike a single speed. We carry the Early Rider belt drive and the Trek Superfly. The chain stays on a 16inch wheel bike are too short for derailleur gears to function properly in any case and simplicity of use leads to greater confidence and enjoyment for young riders.
  6. Go for function over features. Some brands put on all the features of an adult bike without weighing up the benefits. Our 20” wheel Trek Superfly  has a light frame and wide-range 6-speed cassette and a single front chain ring. More gears can confuse and the likely result is that the rider never changes gear. On a similar note, suspension forks or rear springs add huge amounts of weight without bringing anything to the party – kids are too light to make it work properly anyway.
  7. The Trek Kid’s Neko and Kid’s Dual Sport are absolutely the best bikes on the market for older children. The kid-size cockpit means that most young riders can skip past a heavier 24” wheel mountain bike and ride further and for longer. It’s a scaled down version of the same high quality, super versatile bike that we recommend to their parents and carers as the best way to explore Richmond Park, the tow-path and the school run.

Optimise your performance with the Trek Domane

November 21st, 2016

Trek’s carbon fibre road bike range contains three different families of performance machine. For the aerodynamic speed freaks, there is the Madone. For the climbers and slender types, the Emonda is one of the world’s lightest frames. Then there is the bike designed for the very finest return on your effort despite bad roads, cobbles or many, many hours in the saddle: the Domane.

Richmond Cycles are all over the Domane. There is a broad range of bikes, including a completely redesigned women’s alternative under the banner of Silque. From the rarified atmosphere of their team issue bike so beloved of Fabian Cancellara, they go right down to the stunning quality of the £1400 Domane S4.

The real defining feature of the Domane is kits use of Trek’s clever IsoSpeed couplings, designed to dramatically increase comfort without any loss of power or steering quality.

Not willing to take them at their word (sorry Trek) we took our Domane SLR 6 up to the wild, bouncy roads of North West Scotland to see if it works.

The first thing we notice is this, despite all the extra technology and additional comfort, is a seriously light bike. This 52cm demo weighs in at a fraction over 7kgs on our scales.

The rear IsoSpeed is adjustable, with a smart and intuitive rod system that is easily tweaked via a bottle cage bolt. Even with gloves on – it was cold up there – it was a simple operation.

The SLR 6 also wears a front coupler to take the sting out of the bumps before they hit your hands, shoulders and neck.

So, the question is: does it work?

In response, we were reminded of where bears do their business or what the Pope wears to keep his hair dry. It’s really, really excellent. Without any noticeable change in the feel of the road surface beneath us, a quick glance down shows the rear IsoSpeed working overtime to eliminate the buzz. The front took a little more getting used to, but once we realised that we could hold the bars firmly without having to worry about them bouncing over the rough stuff, it was a dream ride.

Riding over the constant ups and downs of the Applecross Peninsula roads before tackling the six-mile 2,000ft ascent of the Bealach-na-Bá proved that this is a bike that climbs just as well as many supposedly more rigid machines, while descending terrible roads as if they’ve had invisible Trek tramlines fitted for our own personal benefit.

It’s back in Richmond now. Come and have a go and see for yourself.

JOHN’S BLOG: A biking weekend in the Highlands

November 15th, 2016

We’re lucky in Richmond to have so many lovely roads we can ride from the front door. But there is a shortage of plunging vistas and a distinct lack of wilderness, mountain or coastline.

In the course of writing 12 Months in the Saddle with Phil Ashley a few years ago, we visited some pretty wonderful riding destinations – Ventoux, Tuscany, Flanders etc – but our unanimous choice of best chapter was the weekend we spent in North West Scotland.

This area has received a little more attention in recent times with the establishment of the North Coast 500, a circuit of the top half of the country. But is it still quiet enough to get that feeling of other-worldliness? Can Britain’s own Stelvio, the Bealach-na-Bá, still be conquered without avoiding coach parties on every corner?

We arrived at Inverness Airport on a Thursday night in October with a regular day at work under our belts and a bunch of bikes and kit in tow for testing (thanks for not breaking anything EasyJet). Scotland has a real “waist” here at the top end of the Great Glen, meaning you can cross the country very quickly on fast roads. You may decide to head south west into Lochaber or further north past Ullapool into Coigach and Assynt. That area is home to the ludicrous Mad Wee Road that the NC500 misses out. If you ever find yourself in that most remote corner of this island, you must ride it. But make sure you’ve got gears… 30% inclines aren’t rare there.

We went there on our last northern weekend, so this time we’re concentrating on Applecross, the peninsula that juts out into the Inner Sound opposite Skye, reached by scaling the Bealach. The little road around Applecross was only completed in the last quarter of the 20th Century and in our opinion is the most fun you can have on a road bike. Check out these pictures and see for yourself.

With a great B&B looking out over the Sound and the finest pub in Britain on the doorstep, we felt we’d been away for a month. In actual fact, it was one day’s annual leave, a cheap evening return flight and a couple of days’ car hire.

Pop into the shop if you’re thinking of going and we’ll help you plan.

Enigma Etape

Let the Enigma Etape catch your imagination.

October 27th, 2016

Enigma are renowned for their exquisite titanium frames, but one bike seems to catch the imagination more than the rest: the Etape.

When we were looking at new brands to bring to Richmond Cycles, one conversation struck a chord. We were talking to our friends at Bicycle Works in Edinburgh, who told us the Enigma Etape was unique.

“The guy who wants class and quality. Something that will last. Something he can use to smash his pals on the Sunday club run. Something that will carry him round the Marmotte or the Maratona without breaking him. But he can also sling a pair of mudguards on it, tyres with a bit of bite and ride it from Cornwall to Sutherland without touching a main road. That guy will buy an Etape, because there’s nothing like it.”

To find out for ourselves, we took the Richmond Cycles demo Enigma Etape to Belgium to ride the Tour of Flanders race route.

We’ve ridden aluminium, steel and carbon over these roads on the first weekend in April many times, when the cycling world descend en masse for the Ronde van Vlaanderen and its preceding sportive. This will be the first time we’ve attacked the route on titanium, though. And not just any old titanium. The 3/2.5 AL tubing that Enigma shape so lovingly in East Sussex into the Etape is magical stuff. It’s ridiculously strong. Yes, you could snap it if you rode it into a wall or dropped a holdfull of baggage on it, but look after it and it will not – cannot – change, soften or degrade, no matter how long you ride it.

We’re always taught that comfortable bikes are flexible and stiff bikes are a hard ride. Granted, the best carbon fibre bikes continually challenge that equation, but a metal bike? Surely not.

The trick is that the absorbency is inherent in those titanium tubes. Build them strong, build them stiff, build them light, but they’ll still soak it up. The Etape floats over the pavé in a way we’ve not thought possible. And when we get to the super steep little cobbled hills, it’s clear that the comfortable ride is not compromised by any loss of power.

Among many tests over the special route we’ve devised to bring Flanders’ highlights together, the Koppenberg is unsurpassed for gradient. Unbelievably, the Etape flies over the treacherous lip halfway up that has been the graveyard of ambition for many thousands of cyclists over the decades. In fact, so easy was this feared moment that we question if we’ve maybe remembered it wrong, and the worst is yet to come. But no, the brief respite of the open fields, the steepening up to the cottages at the summit, and it’s behind us as quickly as it arrives.

That long wheelbase encourages craziness on the serpentine descent back to the Schelde Valley, trust put in Continental rubber fully justified. The Etape is smooth, fast and anything but boring. Zing. That’s what it’s got.

A short Sunday ride taking in the secteurs of pavé around Haveluy in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais including the dreaded Arenberg Forest is enough to remind us that a) Paris-Roubaix really is the world’s hardest race, and b) the Enigma Etape really can go anywhere.

Come and have a go yourself. You’ll see what we mean.

John’s Blog: Cobbles were made for titanium

October 21st, 2016

First stop, Flanders

Armed with our demo Enigma Etape, we made a journey that we’re very familiar with at Richmond Cycles. M3, M25, M20, Eurotunnel, A16/E40 and into the heart of Flanders.

This particular pair of legs has been over the bergs of the Tour of Flanders nine times – not always in the saddle, it must be confessed. Sometimes the gradient, the cobbles and the sheer relentless intensity of the repetitive short hills just gang up on you and far better riders than this have found themselves walking. As veterans of this particular humiliation, we favour mountain bike shoes and SPDs for Flanders. At least then, if we have to walk, we can walk.

Technique is everything on the pavé. Stay relaxed, take more weight on your feet by riding a slightly heavier gear than usual, and focus on the distance to stay steady and smooth in your style.

When we were here in April the roads were jammed with aspirational cyclists tackling one of the globe’s best known sportives.

In September we have the Flemish lanes to ourselves. From the tarmac main roads to the rhythmic “gerdunk” of the concrete slabbed side streets to the cobbles of the ancient farm lanes. Come here on that certain spring weekend and you might find your way up the Koppenberg blocked by a thousand weary sportive warriors walking up the 22% cobbles. There will be no excuse for us on this bright, warm, early autumn afternoon.

First, we head along the backbreaking drag of Kerkgate in Mater. A couple of kilometres of cobbles designed to destroy the unprepared, the Enigma shoots over the crown of the pavé in a way that surprises us. Having ridden here so many times, we think we know what to expect, but not today. The long wheelbase gives us extra comfort and stability, the extra clearance allows big tyres to squidge easily over the setts and the zip and power that flies up through the frame when we churn a big gear rockets us forward.

The Oude Kwaremont comes and goes without a hitch, as does the shorter and sharper Paterberg. Ahead in the distance, the blocky outline of Oudenaarde’s church shows us where we’re headed, but first we need to make that ridiculous dead right hander and tackle the Koppenberg from a standing start.

The first time we encountered this hill more than a decade ago, the slope was so intimidating that we were off and walking before we even got to its foot. Determined to beat it today, we select the 28 sprocket, lock our elbows, sit deep in the saddle and grit our teeth.

Pit-stop, Paris-Roubaix

Any drive home to Richmond from Flanders ought to detour south into France and a look at the altogether more sinister cobbles of Paris-Roubaix. We’ve got time to ride a couple of secteurs, so we park up at Haveluy and head into the featureless farmland that characterises the department of the Nord. Although it’s only the view that’s featureless… the ludicrously damaged farm tracks that criss-cross the landscape were never laid with bikes in mind, but it is their place in the world’s most famous one-day race that make it so memorable.

The sections are long – you can be on a stretch of pavé for 20 minutes if you’re as slow as us – but you need to keep up your intensity for the whole effort. One pause or drop in power and you might as well stop. All the same techniques you honed on the other side of the border count here, but the challenge is far greater. Churning a big gear and letting the bike bounce below you is still the aim but it’s easier said than done.

No visit to Paris-Roubaix is complete without tackling the Arenberg Trench. The preserved huge pulley wheels that mark the extinct coal mines at Wallers loom up before us, telling us that we are approaching the entrance to the forest. Ahead: one and a half dead straight miles cut through the trees on the worst cobbles known to any vehicle, let alone a racing bike.

We only rode for an hour, yet it is the hardest ride we’ve done this year.

Back in Black

August 25th, 2016

Oh, it’s good to have those doors open, the shutters up, the new bikes in stock… it’s even better to have people to talk to, some come on in and say hello. We’re the new guys and we’d love to meet you.

Thanks for your patience, it took us longer to hoover in those difficult-to-reach corners than we anticipated, but we’re here now.

Looking forward to meeting you.

Hold on, we’re coming

July 22nd, 2016

runner-looking-at-watchWe’re sorry that we haven’t been around for you lately. We know that Richmond and Twickenham rely on us – we’ve been serving the local community for the best part of 40 years now – so being shut for a while has been painful.

The good news is that we’re nearly ready to rejoin the land of the living.

We’ll have new people, new bikes, new kit and new ideas, but with a traditional respect for the history and values that Richmond Cycles has always stood for.

So watch this space. Any minute now. Wait for it. Wait for it…

Sam’s Trip to Morzine

July 17th, 2015

11742761_10153457422147090_6390919729253253041_nOn the 4th of July I left England for a trip that had been a few months in planning, 9 friends and I were off to Morzine, France, to ride bikes for a week. After ‘Operation Stack’ at the Euro Tunnel had eaten up 5 hours of our journey, we finally made it to France for our 10-hour drive to the French Alps.

Being my first ever Mountain Biking trip outside of the UK, I had no idea what to expect other that what I’d seen in videos and photos, and what friends had told me. What a place, a small town littered with amazing bike shops and burgers joints, slap bang in-between some colossal mountains.

Our first days riding was amazing, although I was a bit rusty I must admit. I have never ridden trails that were so determined to rip the handlebars straight from your hands, but once the knuckle pain had started I knew it was there to stay, so I pushed it to the back of my mind and headed to the chair lift for my next run.


We covered a few of the local mountains briefly, but upon leaving it felt like we’d barely scratched the surface. Everywhere you looked there were trails, winding in and out of trees, jumping across fire roads, suspended in the trees on ‘North Shore’ style ladder bridges. It would have taken us months to ride it all. We started out at Morzine (Or Super Morzine, as the chairlift suggests) before heading on to Les Gets, Chatel and Les Linderats as the week went on. By far my favorite trail of the holiday was ‘Canyon’ at Les Gets, a mixed black and red run that as the name suggests, winds and drops and crosses through an old river canyon.

We spent most of the time just holding on for dear life, going flat out across routes and boulders, splashing through streams and whispering the odd bit of foul language to ourselves as we came flying towards objects with no hope of stopping. Luckily we all made it out with minimal injuries, the usual cuts scrapes and bruises, but that wasn’t going to stop us having a blast.


The bike I took for the trip was a 2010 Trek Remedy, kindly lent to me by a good friend, it was a great choice of bike in my opinion, The perfect middle ground between a Trail bike and a Downhill bike. Awesome little machine! Although it was completely outnumbered on the slopes by hundreds of brand new, top of the range downhill bikes. Me? Jealous? Not at all!

All in all, it was a fantastic trip and couldn’t recommend it any higher. The other huge treat was of course the Chairlifts! Miles and miles of perfect downhill trails, and you don’t even have to ride back up!

Can’t wait to go back next year!