A tale of two halves

Those who know me and follow me on Twitter will know that I’ve recently started riding my bike again. It’s a bright orange Trek 6500 that I bought 4 years ago – a model that is very well equipped with quality Shimano components and a ‘Super Light Racing’ aluminium frame. Admittedly the garish colour wasn’t my first choice, but I’ve always liked Trek bikes and it was heavily discounted as a previous seasons model when I bought it. Despite being well geared up for it (literally) it’s never seen any serious off-road use – much like I suspect most ‘mountain’ bikes I pass on the cycleways and footpaths.

Last week I got suited and booted, or rather slipped myself into the lycra ready for a wee 10 mile blast and went to grab the Trek from the shed, only to discover a completely flat front tyre. Bummer. I proceeded to attempt a repair, but unfortunately the inner tube had, for want of a better word, “exploded”. With no spare tubes (lesson learned) I had to get back out the lycra and resign myself to riding another day.

I had already been thinking about commuting once or twice a week, and was eyeing up ‘hybrid’ bikes which, being honest, with their bigger wheels and faster rolling tyres would be better suited to my current riding routes. The puncture made me look into tyre options for my MTB which has the biggest, fattest, knobbliest tyres you’re ever likely to see on a bike (unless of course, it’s got an engine). I found a Continental tyre which claimed to combine high speed road use with reliable grip on off-road terrain – the ‘Double Fighter II’.

I decided these would be a sensible purchase given most of my riding is on cycle paths (or the roads) and I wanted to try commuting, so I bought a pair and fitted them late yesterday before going out for a short spin. Now I know it’s common sense, and I’m well aware of the difference it makes to a car fitting good quality tyres, but I was completely unprepared for how much difference it was going to make to my Trek having these slightly thinner, ‘hybrid’ tread tyres fitted. Before even making it out my street I could appreciate these tyres were faster, smoother and much quieter.

As mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been using the excellent SpringGPS app on my iPhone to track my walking activity over the past six months, and I’ve started using it for my cycle trips too. I knew I was spinning faster last night with the new tyres, but was still very surprised to note when I got home from my 7 mile run and check the stats that my average speed had increased from 10.2mph last time out on the knobblies to 12.8mph on the new Continentals. That’s a huge difference.

So, do you have a mountain bike? Do you go anywhere near a mountain? I didn’t think so. There’s a tyre for every ride, and whilst my new Continentals won’t be all that great if I get buried in mud trying to climb a steep hill off-road, I’m delighted with them. Do yourself a favour and think about where you ride your bike, and if necessary, investigate the ‘hybrid’ tyre options that might just suit your riding habits far better than the rubber you’re currently using.

But I said there were two halves to this tale, right?

Well the second relates to the actual purchasing of said tyres. My mother-in-law is always moaning about how certain offers are only available ‘online’ and since she isn’t, she is missing out. OK, she’s not got a mountain bike that needs new tyres, but she does have a point. I got her an old iMac a few Christmases ago in the hope that it would open up the world of the internet (and it’s many, many bargains) to her, but sadly, it’s never been switched on. I did my bit. Really.

Anyway, my search for tyres led me to a certain high-street chain who’s corporate identity is as orange as my bike. The Continentals were available at a special web price of only £14.18 (reduced from £18.99) and not only that, the inner tubes I also needed were only £4.49 (in-store price of £5.99). All in I saved 27% just because I had internet access, and was prepared to reserve and collect.

So the moral of the second half of today’s tale is check online first! Web prices aren’t a new thing – I purchased a camera online from Jessops using my iPhone whilst actually inside a Jessops store a few years ago to save money. There are also increasing numbers of ‘voucher code’ websites where you can find promotional codes to use when shopping online. Perhaps not much use if like mother-in-law you don’t have internet access… but then again, you’re reading this aren’t you, so you’ve got no excuse 😉

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