Freedom Day, Monday 19th July ‘21 – A light at the end of the tunnel?

As many of you know, we have continued to work throughout the Covid pandemic keeping you and your bikes rolling. Often working long hours to get your bike done and you out on the road/trails again. We thank everyone, customers old and new for your continued support. Bikes are our passion and we hope we’ve done our part in inspiring you.

With having the larger premises now we are going to be able to offer more. We’ve dabbled with bike sales over the years. However due to the difficulties regards sourcing them at the moment all our efforts have been towards Service/Repair and custom bike builds. Bikes may not be in stock, but we can preorder. We do also sell many accessories, tyres, tubes and components for different types of bike. All curated by cyclists who still ride. We don’t stock what we wouldn’t use ourselves.

We are professionally trained Cytech) and time served. With nearly 20 years of experience. We are fully insured, to protect your pride and joy. We all make mistakes (rarely😉) and we don’t want you to be disadvantaged in any way. We’ve been insured since day 1. Read our reviews on social media, google or our website. The heart of our ethos is the simple intention to help and inspire our local community and beyond.

Only with your continued support will we be able to continue offering the best independent bike shop services and advice. The pandemic has been tough on us all and continues to challenge businesses all over the north east. Where it is possible please support your local businesses and services. This money often goes back into the local economy. We spend in local shops where possible, supporting and protecting local jobs. Loyalty is a rarity these days but if we can encourage you to keep supporting those local businesses and Services that would be awesome. (Us included-of course)

We are fortunate in our geographical location, so much variety on and off-road Something for everyone. We have some of best and most beautiful countryside in the country on our doorsteps Get out on your bikes and appreciate it at a slower pace. Take in what life normally has you accelerating past.

We have messages coming from many different sources in this Information Age. When I grew up in the seventies there was a community spirit. During the pandemic I think some of these values have returned. That’s a good thing right? Looking after each other, being kind, shopping local. It seems that we are emerging from the restrictions but we still need to be kind and look after our nearest and dearest.

From Monday 21st and due to our concerns for yours and our continued safety.

We’d like to politely ask if you would still; observe wearing face coverings, hand washing, if there are two customers in the shop, please wait outside until at least one person leaves.

Use contactless payment methods or BACS transfer (details are in our emailed invoices).

We’ll continue to wear gloves while working on your bikes and regularly washing our hands.

Please do not come past the counter unless invited to do so by staff.

We respect your right to follow the above rules or choose not to as there will be no legal requirement. If there are other customers in the shop, please respect their right to be safe and well too. By working together in our community and beyond and supporting others we’ll get through this together.

Stay Safe , Stay Active – on 2 wheels of course, Stay Well, get your Vaccine, it really isn’t that bad. Look after yourself and others

Steel Town Cycles – Here to Serve

Steel Town Cycles is small independent bike shop based near Durham in the north east. We set up as a bicycle service and repair shop. Though we are now in our fifth year, our mission has remained very similar. To deliver the best in service and repair County Durham.

We are a small operation, but aim to treat every bike like our own. Due to this we may have longer turnaround times than most shops, however we are not a typical shop.

We provide the best advice that we can to help you get the most out of your cycling, wether it is helping you to choose the right tyres up to helping you to build up your own bespoke bike. We are by no means an elitist experience. All bikes no matter what brand or type are serviced.

We are working towards sourcing sale bikes, though this may not be in 2021 as many of our suppliers are out of stock or have long lead times. Preparation is the key at the moment. If you want a new bike for this year plan ahead and be prepared to wait.

We have a fully equipped workshop and can do most bike servicing and repairs. We are fully insured to work on your bikes. This is critical to ensure that you, the customer, have confidence in leaving your pride and joy with us. We are also members of the trade body; the Association of Cycle Traders and have Cytech Accredited shop status. We have an in-house wheel builder and we can supply all the parts for your perfect custom wheel set, whatever your requirements may be.

One of the services we offer is custom building of a cycle. We help you select the perfect build for yourself, depending on your requirements. It could be the ideal commuter bike, road or gravel/adventure bike. We can build any bikes. Though we specialise in Road, Gravel and Hybrid bikes. Mainly due to the area we live in and the scope of terrain on offer.

This is one our latest projects, a Kinesis Tripster ATR V3.

The customer supplied some well loved Campagnolo parts, a particular favourite of ours. We run Campagnolo on one of our own bikes and have 15 years + experience of working on and repairing this high end manufacturers equipment. This was quite a high budget build, however the spend is entirely up to you. We’ll make our recommendations and then build to your specifications.

So, wether it’s a bell you want, a puncture repair, getting an old treasured bike back in working order, a full refurb or a custom built masterpiece. Steel Town Cycles are here to serve our community and beyond. Go on treat your bike well this year.

More information can be found at our website https://steeltowncycles.co.uk/

Bikes, Commuting, Maintenance and avoiding the rogues

Cycling……. the affordable alternative to car ownership. Discuss

Our infrastructure might not be as good as Holland or even as cycle savvy as York. There’s no denying that bicycles are more popular than ever. But have many of you thought about using your bike as a means of transport to work? For the best part of 17 years I commuted from Consett to Wallsend by bike. It wasn’t always easy, more of a choice. With the right clothes it’s not so bad. My preference was always towards the journey in. I’d mix it up at times by taking a different route back when time allowed.

Now I hear you say it’s too far, I’m not fit enough. But you’re going to get fitter by doing it. Catch 22 right? By no means am I suggesting that you consider doing it every day. A friend of mine who id meet at Derwenthaugh Country Park, near Swalwell, used to drive and park up, then we’d cycle the remaining 9 or so miles together.

However the majority of commutes are much shorter than this. There’s a statistic somewhere that puts it between 3-5 miles. Around 30-45 minutes from the average person. If we replaced 2 journeys of this type a week, we’d be healthier and save money to boot. Cycling with your kids to school or of course persuading the secondary school kids that it’s beneficial would help us all.

The area formally known as Derwentside has the advantage of having many bridleways and quite roads to travel along. When I’m trying to get an idea of what type of riding folks visiting the shop I often ask them for the type of cycling that they do and enjoy. This informs me of the level of service proportional to its future use. There are some exceptions to this. If a bike is in too bad shape I may have to declare it uneconomical to repair.

Because cycling has become so popular, there’s a huge problem with supply and demand. Bikes are still being produced, but lead times are very long. Also some essential service items are also very difficult for us to source too. It’s never been more important to look after your bike. In particular the drivetrain; That is the Chain rings, at the front attached to where you pedal, the chain and finally the cassette or sprockets in the centre of the rear wheel on the right.

The above diagram is a simple bike check. This should take no more than a couple of minutes and should be performed before you ride the machine off down a hill for example.

The chain is the main item that we need you to look after. Keeping it oiled with a good quality bike specific lube, no that doesn’t necessarily mean expensive-our most popular is £6. But realise that the oil that’s keeping everything running smoothly also attracts dirt. Over time this build up, if it’s not removed will form a very effective course paste which will wear out the very things that are difficult to source at the moment.

Chainset- The spiked rings are the chain rings
The rear wheel showing a freewheel/cassette

So what are you to do. At the very least, wipe the chain off once a week. This can be achieved by turning the pedals backwards wiping off the chain with a rag

So, very briefly a warning of sorts. We’ve noticed a rise in the number of home made bikes or Frankenstein’s. These are generally assembled from a collection of parts. On a lot of occasions by people that are trying to cash in on the popularity and low availability of new bikes. Unfortunately in the majority of cases these people have very little if any professional or shop experience. This will almost certainly lead to parts being fitted to a cycle which are not compatible.

What you will get from coming to a independent bike shop is good advice. We are aware of a few of the dubious sellers on Facebook and can save you time, money and heartache. These people don’t care that the bike you just bought isn’t safe. An independent bike shop or Insured professional mechanic will be able to advise you.

We don’t always get it right first time, but we’ll always work together with our customers to provide the best impartial service.

Half Term High Jinx

Steel Town Cycles will be closed during the half term holidays. We’ll be talking the opportunity to recharge our batteries.

It’s been very busy since January, and we are taking a short family break. We’ll be back soon. Have a great holiday week.

Steel Town Cycles will reopen on Monday 7th June.

Getting ready for small group rides 😁

Over lockdown we have had to put the rides group on hold due to the restrictions and social distancing. Some of our group have been getting out on Solo missions

We are looking forward to getting out again and enjoying the social side of our rides group. Thank you to the guys that have continued to post and share their routes and experiences.

The group was set up to encourage us all to get as much out of cycling as possible in and around our beautiful area. Of course everyone has different things that they want to get out of cycling. The competitive cyclist, The radonneur, leisure, fitness and family cyclists.

The aim of the group was/is to bring all these guys together and enjoy rides, both on and off-road but with a no drop policy. This is at the heart of out ethos. Cycling is accessible to all!! That’s as true now as it was 29 years ago when I bought my first Mountain bike with my own money. Of course you get out of it what you put in.

Cycles have become more advanced in many ways but the same classic design remains. The cost of such machines has gone up and up and continues to do so. When I bought my first domestique level road bike in 1993/94, I’m old I can’t remember quite which year I was a shock to be spending so much on a bike. As I’m sure many have justified it to themselves, friends and family- including the fibs about how much they spent- Yes, that’s you!!

Anyway, enough of my reminiscing. The important thing is that we all get more active to relieve stress on an overburdened health service. The finest in the world, so we’re told. A conversation that could be expanded on, but that’s beyond the scope of this blog.

Cycling has been part of my life for 35 years or more. It’s made me strong, it’s been a support when I’ve needed it. I’ve gained some really great friends from it. Some are scattered to the four winds, some close by. I’m looking forward to getting out with you all again. Cycling is both a solitary and group activity. I’m passionate about it. I fall in and out of love with it. But I always come back.

When the rides group restarts, I’ll be looking for a few reliable ride leaders. Mostly for the week day evening ride. These would be the same as before 1 1/2 hours using the network of Sustrans cycle routes. I’d hope that these would be suitable for most abilities, but depending on interest and numbers we could divide the group into beginner and intermediate for example The structure will develop over time. The weekend rides will be mostly on road during Spring/Summer. Duration and difficulty will depend on the group and will be tailored on the day. If there’s enough interest in these rides we’ll extend into autumn, weather permitting.

Finally, I want to tell you all that the reason that I started Steel Town Cycles was to be a hub of the local cycling community. A source of advice as well as the shop side of things. The very first bike shop that I went into with my dad as a kid was in Blackhill and years later here I am trying to bring a little tradition back into a fast moving world.

Thanks for reading. This is an ongoing journey for me and it’s cost me more than money. To my customers, friends and family I am truly blessed.