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Bike Buyer's Guide

Welcome to the Tweeks Cycles Bike Buyers Guide
Road Bikes
Hybrids & City Bikes
Women's Specific Bikes
Hardtail Mountain Bikes
Full Suspension Mountain Bikes
29er Mountain Bikes
650B 27.5 Mountain Bikes
Kids Bikes
BMX Bikes
Jump Bikes
Electric Bikes
Cyclocross Bikes
Fixies & Track Bikes
Touring Bikes
TT & Triathlon Bikes
You might have guessed from the name that here at Tweeks Cycles, we sell quite a few bikes - and if you’re new to cycling, you’d be forgiven for feeling a bit bewildered by all the different types available. Fortunately we’re kind souls, and we’ve written this guide to help you pick your dream machine. If you already know a headset from a bottom bracket then this might not be for you, but if you don’t, then read on!
Whilst some of us like to stop to take in the sights and sounds (and smells!) on a bike ride, there are those amongst us who only care about getting to point B as fast as possible. Clad in lycra, only one type of bike will generally be enough for these speed freaks - the road bike. These bikes can be incredibly focussed - with every inch of the top racing models screaming speed and performance - and they often feature an unbelievable amount of components made from exotic materials like carbon fibre and titanium, as well as aerodynamically designed parts including frames and rims. Whilst top mountain bikes often include long travel front and rear suspension, you’ll almost never see features like these on a bike designed for road racing - where rigidity and light weight are of fundamental importance.

The aerodynamic obsession doesn’t stop at the manufactured components of your bike, and many racing-oriented models feature frame geometries which place the most important component - the rider - in a low position towards the front of the bike, in an effort to reduce drag. For everyday use, many people consider this to be a bit much - so bikes are available designed for mere mortals with what’s called a ‘sport’ geometry - allowing for an easier, more relaxed ride. ‘Flat bar’ bikes are another example of this - which eschew the traditional drop handlebars in favour of a more upright stance, which provides further comfort.

If you’re thinking of buying a road machine, then one thing to bear in mind is that they’re not really that versatile when compared with other styles of bike. Skinny tyres and a lack of mud clearance in many components mean that you’d have to be a little bit mad to try and use a road bike for anything but the lightest off-road track - so you need to make a commitment to the black stuff if this is going to be your only bike. If you love the idea of a road bike, but still want to be able to do a spot of trail riding when the mood (or your route) takes you, then you should definitely take a look at a Hardtail mountain bike (ideally with 2 sets of wheels), a Hybrid bike or a Cyclocross bike - as these are essentially road bikes which have been modified to work off-road.

Overview: No compromises (unless you want them).
  • The best all-round choice for riding on tarmac.
  • Not suitable for off-road riding.
  • A range of geometries available - from race to relaxed.
Let’s face it - who wants to sit in traffic on the morning drive to work? It makes your stress levels rise at nearly the same rate as the price of fuel (although it’ll take more than a cup of peppermint tea to get the latter to go back down!), you arrive at work all flustered, quite possibly late, and worst of all you’ve actually had to pay for the privilege!

At Tweeks, we love nothing more than the feeling of zipping through traffic on our bikes, and arriving at work with smiles on our faces. Granted, there may be the odd fly or two that needs picking from our teeth, but we are generally a much healthier, happier bunch for it. With that in mind, you’ll be pleased to know that cycle manufacturers are paying close attention, and have come up with a number of bikes aimed specifically at people who want to use them as a more affordable, eco-friendly way to get to work. These bikes tend to be no slouch in the specification department - with features like all-condition tyres, strong brakes and suspension forks meaning that many will also handle a spot of light trail riding at the weekends.

Because these bikes are designed specifically for urban riding, you’ll find that many come straight from the factory fitted with useful features like mudguards, luggage racks and chain guards, and whilst many have features and geometry similar to mountain bikes, most tend to be considerably lighter - meaning that you won’t end up feeling encumbered riding it every day. In a lot of ways, hybrids and city bikes can be considered as less ‘racy’ alternatives to Cyclocross bikes - which are essentially road bikes that have been modified to go fast off-road. In this sense, hybrid bikes especially can be considered to be mountain bikes which have been modified to go fast (and to be much more comfortable) on a road. Because they are built for comfort rather than speed (and consequently tend to avoid using racing components), you’ll also find that bikes in this category give you a lot for your money - with the prices of some very capable machines ranging from just a few hundred pounds upwards.

Overview: The best of both worlds?
  • Designed to be the perfect commuter machines.
  • Still a viable choice for light trail riding.
  • Built for comfort, not speed.
Traditionally, cycling has been a male-dominated pursuit. There has always been a lack of women competing at a professional level, and this was mirrored in the number of women who tended to take up cycling as a hobby. But things are changing. More and more women are now getting involved in cycling at all levels - which can only be a good thing for the sport. Because women are physically different to men, this places a different set of demands on a bike - and manufacturers are producing an increasing number of bikes specifically designed to take this into account.

Women’s specific bikes tend to have a number of differences to those designed for men, but some of the most obvious tend to involve the points at which your body makes contact with the bike. Instead of the unisex saddle fitted to many bikes, women’s specific bikes tend to have a version which takes the female anatomy into account - making them much more comfortable for serious or long-distance riders. Handlebars are another area where these bikes differ, and manufacturers have a tendency to include bars with a smaller diameter (few women have gorilla-hands, after all!). The handlebars will generally also be mounted lower and closer to the body than on a man’s bike - courtesy of a shorter stem and lower headset (the two parts responsible for joining the handlebars to the bike’s frame). Frame geometry is also taken into account here, and frames are designed to include angles that are generally more suited to female proportions. The days of women’s bikes being limited to ‘step-through’ frames (the type of bike with a steeply sloping top tube) are well and truly over - with this style now generally being limited to bikes designed specifically for comfort. Women’s specific bikes are available right across the cycling spectrum - and we stock suitable machines which range from just a few hundred pounds, right up to professional level racing bikes.

Overview: A perfect fit.
  • Saddles, handlebars and geometry to suit a woman’s anatomy.
  • A full range of bikes available - not just ones with step-through frames!
  • Much comfier for women when racing or riding long-distances.
Hardtail mountain bikes have suspension on the front forks, but not at the rear of the bike. Fortunately (or unfortunately?), they do not actually have a tail.Although rear suspension is a great thing to have, it tends to be a heavy and costly addition to a bike, and as described in the section on full suspension bikes, can cause headaches with things like pedal bob.Hardtail bikes cut out all of this complexity - which makes them lighter, and means that you get more for your money than you would with an equivalent full suspension bike.

Nobody likes getting sore wrists, and fortunately with a hardtail you have cushioning where it counts the most. This means that you’re going to get a lot less tired over the course of a day’s trail riding than you would riding a completely rigid bike. Even though they can ride pretty much anything they want, a lot of pro cross country racers ride hardtails rather than full sussers - which just goes to show that more squish isn’t always better. In these situations, the light weight of a hardtail is considered more important than the extra comfort and improved handling capabilities of a full suspension bike.

If you’re looking to spend a moderate sum of money on a bike, but still want something that’s going to perform nicely, then a decent hardtail is definitely something to have a look at.You can pretty much guarantee that things like the suspension forks, gearset and brakes are going to be of a higher specification than they would on an equivalent full susser - and the bike is also likely to weigh less.

Overview: Bang for your buck.
  • Cheaper and lighter than a comparable full sus bike.
  • Still the fastest choice for cross country racing.
  • Possibly better for beginners.
Out of all the mountain bikes we sell, some of the most drool-worthy are the ones with full suspension. Not only do these bikes look mean as hell, but they’re also functional - with their sprung rear ends capable of improving your comfort, speed and control off-road. Whether you’re into trail, downhill, or even cross country riding, it’s likely that you could see some benefit from a full suspension bike. Different disciplines put different demands on a bike - and that’s why you see everything from short-travel full sussers designed for things like cross country, through to medium-travel all mountain/trail bikes, and long-travel monsters designed to soak up some serious downhill abuse.

One of the technical challenges in designing a full suspension bike involves eliminating so-called ‘pedal bob’. This is nothing to do with your unloved uncle Robert - and is in fact the name given to unwanted movement of the rear end of the bike when you’re pedalling hard - especially on hard climbs. Manufacturers have come up with a number of ingenious solutions to counteract the evil schemes of pedal bob (sorry about that, Bob) - with the simplest involving nothing more than a manual lockout on the rear shock - where you can essentially just turn it off when you don’t want it to do anything. More sophisticated solutions involve the manufacturer cheating the laws of physics with clever frame geometries which are less prone to bob in the first place.

Basically, what we’re trying to say is that if you’re going to spend a reasonably large amount of money on a mountain bike, then you may want to consider going for a full suspension model. It’s by no means required - and in fact a lot of top cross country riders actually do the business on hardtails (no rear suspension). If you’re going to be putting in some serious miles on the trails, or pushing the limits of your bike on some mental downhill tracks though,full suspension is definitely something to look into.

Overview: Twice the bounce, twice the fun?
  • Models to suit all riding styles - from trail riding to downhill and cross country.
  • A comfy ride, even over rough terrain.
  • Can help you to ride a lot faster, given the right situation.
Please note that due to nobbly bits, the actual outside diameter of mountain bike tyres can vary between brands and models.

If you’re thinking about buying a mountain bike, then one thing you might not have considered is wheel size - after all, why would you right? Well actually, in the past few years manufacturers have been offering mountain bikes with a few different sizes of wheel alongside the more traditional 26 inch size. The largest of these are called 29ers, and have (wait for it) 29 inch wheels. There are quite a few reasons why you might want one of these- and that’s what we’re going to discuss below.

At first, some manufacturers were quite vocal in their opposition to the 29 inch wheeled (or 29er) bikes - stating that it was a passing trend and probably wouldn’t catch on. Many of those same manufacturers now offer 29ers of their own however - which just goes to show how well-cemented this style of machine has become within the mountain biking community.

But why is it that so many people are buying 29ers nowadays? Did everyone have a sudden growth-spurt? Not quite - in fact, a short person might nothave as much to gain from a 29er as someone taller. One of the most important reasons for this trend involves the way that 29ers handle the rough stuff - and a simple way to visualise this is to consider the analogy of a monster truck and a family hatchback. If both were driven over rough terrain, the driver of the monster truck would hardly notice a lot of the bumps - whereas the poor sap in the hatchback would be shaken about like mad. A lot of this would be to do with the fact that the monster truck’s much larger wheels would ‘ignore’ a lot of the ruts in the ground due to their size. The same is true of a 29er mountain bike - although the differences are less exaggerated. Larger wheels can also improve traction in certain situations, and the more vertically inclined of you will be pleased to know that taller riders often find that 29ers give them a more natural fit, due to their differentframe geometry.

Overview: Why does size matter?
  • Smoother over rough terrain and improved handling of large obstacles.
  • Improved traction on some surfaces - e.g. mud and sand.
  • Taller riders often find 29er geometry more comfortable.
  • Throw a set of thin slick tyres on a 29er and you’ve got a quick road bike too.
Please note that due to nobbly bits, the actual outside diameter of mountain bike tyres can vary between brands and models.

Once upon a time, there was a land with no mountain bikes. When the people of the land decided that they wanted to ride their bikes off-road, they began to experiment - and eventually the mountain bike was born. The mountain bikes had 26 inch wheels, and were just great - until someone had the idea of putting 29 inch wheels on them that is. The 29 inch wheels were brilliant for riding over bumps, and the people rejoiced - for they disliked bumps. But some complained that the big rims dulled the handling of the bike, and that they missed their 26 inch wheels. It wasn’t long before the people had reason to rejoice once more,however, because a visitor to the land brought with him a new wheel - a ‘Goldilocks’ wheel - which wasn’t too big or too small, but just right. Thus, bikes began to be fitted with 27.5 inch wheels, and the people lived happily ever after...

27.5 inch wheels (or 650B as they’re often called) are a fairly new development in mainstream mountain biking. Because they’re halfway between 26 and 29 inch wheels, they offer a lot of the benefits of each, whilst limiting the drawbacks. So although they roll over bumps more easily than 26 inch wheels, they retain a lot of the same lively handling characteristics. 27.5 inch wheels also give manufacturers a bit more leeway when designing the bike’s frame than 29 inchers do - especially if it’s going to have a lot of suspension travel. So 27.5 inch wheels are perfect if you’re looking for an alternative to a 26 inch wheeled bike, but don’t want to go as extreme as a 29er. Some physically smaller riders also find that a 650B bike’s geometry is better suited to them than a 29er, so this might be worth considering if you’re vertically challenged.

Overview: Did 650B eat all the porridge?
  • Has many similar benefits to a 29er whilst limiting the drawbacks.
  • Allows manufacturers more flexibility in terms of frame geometry than a 29er.
  • Possibly more suitable for shorter riders than a 29er.
Two-wheeled fun isn’t just for adults, and most of us here at Tweeks have fond memories of bikes that we had whilst growing up. Our warehouse is stocked with a full range of bikes specially designed for kids - whether it’s a balance bike (one with no pedals) suitable for ages 2 and up, a bike with stabilizers for kids who are ready to pedal, or a full-blown racer for a budding Victoria Pendleton or Bradley Wiggins, we’ve got something that’ll be perfect.

Many kid’s bikes nowadays feature specifications that would have been unheard of on all but the most expensive adult bikes a decade or so ago - including powerful disc brakes (like a car), full suspension and lightweight frame materials. Of course one of the most important decisions when choosing a kid’s bike is what colour it will be, and you’ll be pleased to know that our range contains a wide variety of these too - so you won’t be stuck when it simply has to be retina-melting lime green!

Sometimes, learning to fall off is as important as learning to get on, so as well as a bike, one thing that every kid should have is a helmet, and we carry a full range of safety tested (EN 1078) headgear from trusted brands like Bell, Giro and MET. It’s very important that helmets are correctly sized - so you need to make sure that you get an accurate measurement of your child’s head circumference before you make a decision here. Once you purchase a helmet, you should then spend some time fitting the supplied padding to ensure a comfortable and snug fit.

Another important safety tip involves the size of the bike - simply put, you’re never really safe unless the bike you’re riding is the right size - and this is especially important for kids. It’s pointless buying them a bike that’s too big so that they can ‘grow into’ it if they are too frightened to ride the damn thing because of its size! Remember that to ride a bike with confidence, you should be able to stand over the top tube (the horizontal bar at the top of the bike) with your feet flat on the floor - but equally, a bike shouldn’t be too small.

Overview: From training wheels to mini racers.
  • Bikes available for kids of walking age upwards.
  • Incredible specifications and a full range of colours.
  • Safety equipment a must.
If you care about practicality in a bike, then you should probably skip this section. BMXs are great, but practical they ain’t. If you care about dirt jumping and tricks more than you do the morning commute, then you’re in the right place. Small wheels and fixed gears ensure that these bikes are perfect for a rip around the local jump track - but not so good for long distance riding or entering in Le Tour de France. If you simply must use your BMX at a top-level sporting event, then you should probably gun for the Olympics(!) - with BMX having been introduced as a full event at Beijing 2008.

BMXs are obviously pretty basic machines, and use relatively few raw materials when compared to something like a mountain bike. This means that you needn’t break the bank to get a very capable bike - with many niceexamples being available in the low hundreds. You’ll still pay a premium for top-shelf machines - although prices aren’t quite as eye-watering as they are for cutting-edge road or mountain bikes.

Although BMXs aren’t the most practical thing to ride, you shouldn’t discount them off hand. Given their small price-tags and storage requirements, BMXs can make perfect second bikes for people who fancy something a bit different to play with at the weekend- especially if you live in an urban setting, where these bikes have traditionally been right at home.

Overview: Why is small beautiful?
  • The classic choice for tricks and stunts.
  • Relatively inexpensive.
  • Great for short rides around town.
As we’ve mentioned, BMXs are great for jumping. Unfortunately, their single gears and small wheels mean that they aren’t so good at riding up big muddy hills - which is exactly where many of us like to build jumps. Those of us on the larger side of things also tend to find that we end up looking a bit like an elephant on a unicycle if we try to ride a BMX!

As more people began to realise these things, the jump bike category was born. Generally smaller than a normal mountain bike, these bikes often have rigid frames, and have geometries that are tweaked to allow you to make the most out of jumps and tricks (or at least try to!). Gear ratios are another area where these bikes generally differ - although a full range of options are available in terms of gearset - from single speeders, right up to multi-chainring setups.

If you look at a few pictures of jump bikes (click the link above), you should be able to see the BMX DNA straight away. These bikes tend to have riser handlebars, smaller wheels than a normal mountain bike, a short stem (the part that connects the bars to the frame), and short chainstays (the bar connecting the pedal area to the rear hub). All of these things are intended to make the bike as easy to launch and perform tricks on as possible. Because jumping is hard on a bike (especially when you fall off), jump bikes tend to be built to last - with simplified and beefed up components in areas like the forks and cranks.

Overview: Come fly with me.
  • Built to jump.
  • Many are still fairly capable trail riders.
  • Toughened components mean that it shouldn’t break easily.
Given that the government and media are always talking about how unfit we’re getting here in Britain, you’d think that there’d be bikes everywhere as people attempt to reverse the trend in their rapidly expanding waistlines. But we’ve always lagged a bit behind our continental cousins in this regard - and even with the high cost of fuel, bicycle commuting is growing quite slowly here. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could go out and get some exercise without all the, you know ... effort ...?

Well, the good news is that you can! E-Bikes are bicycles that use an electric motor to provide assistance to the rider - a system that provides lively acceleration at very little cost to the rider in terms of effort. Government rules mean that in Great Britain, electrically-assisted bikes don’t need to be taxed, insured or registered, and you can ride one at 14 years old without a licence. In order to qualify for these exemptions, your bike needs to conform to a list of requirements available here.

Although e-Bikes aren’t particularly cheap to buy, when you think of the money that you could potentially save in tax, insurance, maintenance and of course, fuel, leaving the car at home starts to look like more and more of a tempting proposition. Whilst some hardcore cycling types do consider e-Bikes to be cheating a bit, when it comes down to it, the bike won’t work without some form of pedal input - and who cares if it’s cheating if you leave them for dust at every set of uphill traffic lights you come across? Although assistance legally has to cut out at 15mph, this doesn’t mean that you can’t pedal faster - and 15mph is really plenty of speed for the majority of urban riding situations that you’re likely to encounter.

Overview: Hey, that’s cheating!
  • No licence, tax or insurance necessary for bikes up to 200W.
  • Much more fun to ride than you’d think.
  • Perfect for older riders and people with impaired mobility.
Cyclocross bikes are designed for a sport known as (drumroll), Cyclocross. In Cyclocross, riders are required to negotiate a course which is generally between 1 to 3 kilometres long, and which places a strong emphasis on bike-handling skill, athleticism, and cowbells (for the fans at least; who seem to love them). The thing that really sets Cyclocross apart from sports like cross-country mountain bike racing is that courses will generally contain obstacles which deliberately force riders to get off their bikes and carry them. This means that Cyclocross bikes tend to be lightweight affairs - really having more in common with road bikes than anything else (with drop handlebars and the lack of any suspension being the biggest giveaways). So if you fancy going crazy on a nobbly-tyred road bike, Cyclocross is probably the sport for you!Do be aware that Cyclocross events tend to take place in winter (the off-season for road bikers), so you’ll have to enjoy getting cold and wet!

Because of their road genetics, Cyclocross bikes can also make brilliant commuter machines - being as good at pressing hard down an A-road as they are negotiating muddy obstacles. This means that you can quite happily use the same bike for riding to work during the week and for off-road excursions come the weekend. Although a dedicated road bike will still be better for all-tarmac use, a Cyclocross bike is perfect for someone who doesn’t want to limit themselves to just one area of cycling - especially if you buy a spare set of rims and fit them with road tyres.

Overview: The ultimate go-anywhere racing machine?
  • Road bike heritage means that Cyclocross bikes are at home on tarmac or trail.
  • Lightweight by design.
  • Can be as useful for transport as they are for racing.
Sometimes, simple is better. Sure, complicated gear systems, brakes and suspension are great, but wouldn’t it be nice just to be a part of a simple system without all of that sometimes? (On second thoughts, perhaps we’ll keep the brakes!) Fixies are bikes which do away with frivolities like this, in exchange for what is almost certainly one of the purest riding experiences that you’re likely to experience. These bikes aren’t for the inexperienced or faint-hearted - given that you can’t just stop pedalling, due to the lack of a freewheel hub on true fixies. This does mean that you can brake simply by resisting the motion of the pedals though - and skilful riders have been known to deliberately lock up the back wheelin order to stop suddenly. Just don’t get lazy and forget!

If you don’t want to commit to the full fixie experience just yet, some bikes are available with a ‘flip-flop’ rear hub. This allows you to take the rear wheel off and flip it around -generally giving you a choice between being brave and riding a full fixie, or pretending to be brave and riding a single-speed bike with a freewheel hub.

Fixies have developed a cult following amongst bicycle couriers and other urban cyclists, and races are now held in many cities where you’ll need a fixed gear in order to enter. These races are often free-form - allowing you to show off your knowledge of your surroundings by taking the most direct route - although their legality varies, so it’s best to check! Fixies are actually descended from track bikes - which are the ones you see getting pounded around Velodromes in the Olympics - so although racing them might seem a bit odd at first, there’s certainly enough racing heritage in their blood (oil?) to justify it.

Overview: The two-wheeled embodiment of the KISS principle (keep it simple, stupid).
  • Fixed gear drivetrain makes for a unique ride.
  • Look out for bikes with flip-flop rear hubs if you don’t want to ride fixed all the time.
  • Not recommended for inexperienced riders.
As bike lovers, we never like to stop riding. Unfortunately, due to various constraints - the need to actually sleep or to eat something other than energy bars for instance - at some point we generally have to. Some of us do like to get as close as possible to never being off the bike though - making mammoth trips all over the world entirely on two wheels. Touring bikes are designed specifically with these epic journeys in mind, and place reliability, comfort and practicality above all other concerns. With this in mind, it should be obvious that you don’t need to be considering riding through the jungle or across the Himalayas in order to benefit from what a touring bike could give you.

With luggage racks, mudguards and lighting systems all being common inclusions, touring bikes tend to have a spec list similar to that of a commuter bike in many ways. Touring bikes do tend to have more in terms of sheer reliability and ruggedness, however - which is never a bad thing! These bikes often feature things like hub gears (where much of the gearing system is sealed inside the rear hub, out of harm’s reach), disc brakes (which keep your brakes safely out of muddy puddles) and reinforced wheels. The frames of touring bikes are often pretty different too - with the steel alloy ‘chromoly’ (so-called because it contains chromium and molybdenum) seeing a lot of use. Chromoly is strong, whilst still allowing for a degree of flexibility - which makes frames produced in it both strong and comfortable. The actual style of a touring bike can vary quite a lot from model to model - with some displaying a clear road bike heritage, whilst others are focussed more around an off-road design. Touring is also an area where Cyclocross bikes can excel - assuming that suitable modifications are made first.

Overview: You’ll go far.
  • Designed for long distance riding.
  • Reliability, comfort and practicality more of a priority than speed.
  • Many also make great commuter bikes.
Although some have ‘TT’ in the name, and they often get referred to as superbikes, TT and triathlon bikes actually have nothing to do with the latest offerings from Yamaha or Honda. ‘TT’ in this case stands for ‘time trial’ (‘triathlon’ should need no introduction) - and these are specialised road bicycles designed specifically for racing. If you want a bike that you can safely ride on the public highway - or even in a tightly packed road race - then you should probably look elsewhere, because these bikes are designed with aerodynamics as their primary concern - braking and everything else comes second. Because their aero handlebars put your arms out in front of you in a ‘superman’ type position, quick access to your brake levers is not really possible - and high speed manoeuvring is also affected. This is obviously far from ideal if you might have to take evasive action at any point - so these bikes are only really suitable for clear tracks.

In the right situation though, these bikes can help you to reap massive benefits. Not only are there the obvious advantages you can gain from being more aerodynamic, but these bikes will generally allow you to maintain such a position in comfort for much longer than a normal road bike. In a longer race, this could easily mean the difference between victory and defeat - and is also important in triathlon, where cycling is generally followed by the running phase.

To be honest, if you’re after one of these bikes, then you probably already know it! Whilst they’re certainly the world’s fastest bicycles (on a smooth surface at least), the ride and price-tag are not for the faint-hearted, and their focussed nature is likely to cause problems outside of specialised race situations.

Overview: The superbikes of the pedal-powered world.
  • The fastest road bikes available - given the right conditions.
  • Not generally suited for use in traffic.
  • The cutting-edge of technology.
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