Q: I’m looking for a bike lock that I can take on rides. When we stop at cafes, we try and sit outside or with a window seat, so we can keep an eye on our bikes, but this isn’t always possible. The bike lock tests that I read in the past basically state that the big heavy locks are the best. They might be and these are the ones that I use in the garage, but I don’t want to carry 3kg of metal around in my Camelbak. At the opposite extreme there’s the Abus Combiflex type of locks. They’re very light, will stop someone just walking off with our bikes, but won’t take many seconds to cut. Can you advise what’s the best compromise lock to take on a ride?
Phillip Nicholson, e-mail

A: As you say, decent security generally carries a weight penalty. A mid-range £30 D-lock from any brand – that use a non-cylinder type lock – will offer a reasonable amount of protection and a substantial weight saving. Locking two or three bikes together around the top tube should be easy enough if they are top and tailed. If they are far enough from vehicular access, connecting the bikes together should be more than enough deterent to the opportunist thief. If the café is roadside or next to a car park, then it is worth attaching them to something solid to prevent the whole lot being bundled into a van.
There is another option. If you regularly ride with the same folk, you could get a gert big lock, and swap it around between you. Even up the weight by splitting up tools and food between the riders who will benefit from the extra security.


Q: A few months ago I had a high speed accident coming off on my way down from Edale cross. Although I had a few cuts, grazes, bruises and a lot of missing skin the thing which most concerned me was my semi-conscious state as a result of the crash. Also upon further examination of my Six-Six-One All ride helmet I found it took a massive part of the impact just above my left temple. I’m convinced it save my life, thanks Six-Six-One, however I am a little concerned that this helmet along with many others don’t seem to give adequate protection to the temple regions of the head and so I’ve started to look around for a little better protection.
I am interested in the MET Parachute as it seems to provide the kind of protection I would like without going the whole full face route and the chin guard seems like a good way of avoiding some of the facials experienced on your “Old Blokes” section. However I have read in an online review that the chin guard can snap and cause further injury to the face.
I wondered if you could give me your opinion on this and any similar helmets, as I really do want to protect my head (I need it). I mostly do XC although living next to the Peak District a lot of it is very steep and very rocky bridleway.
Mark Butterworth, Poynton

A: When we hit the trails we see more and more “XC” riders wearing full-face lids, so you are not on your own when it comes to worrying about facial/cranial protection.
The Met Parachute, and its competitors, such as the Casco Viper, offer a half way house. While the clip on chin guard is not as protective as a proper full-face helmet, it can save you from injuries. True the guard could snap in a big off, but if an impact causes the helmet to crack, imagine what damage it would would done to your jaw if the helmet had not dissipated some of that force?
“Piss-pot” style dirt jumping helmets offer more protection to the temple than an XC lid, as do helmets such as Giro’s Zen and Semi MX lids. All of these will be hotter than a regular `XC’ helmet, but seems a price you’re happy to pay for improved safety.

Q: As an avid reader of your superb magazine albeit I cannot find the issue in which you tested wheels! I am looking for some advise on purchasing a new set of wheels for my 2004 Spesh Enduro Pro as I have now bust the rear rim and spokes numerous times. I appreciate this is down to my style of riding mostly at Glentress (black route) or Kirroughtree.
I am looking at either a set of Mavic Deetraks or Mavic Crossmax Enduro. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Scott McIntyre, email

A: You’re right, it has been a while since we did a big wheels test, but that should be remedied in the next couple of months, so keep ‘em peeled.
In the mean time I’ll deal with the direct comparisons between your choices. The DeeTrax is a burly wheelset. A 10mm solid rear axle with good old-fashioned 15mm wheel nuts — a bolt through front hub and a 28mm wide rim, similar to the XM329. The Crossmax Enduro, is a lighter wheel altogether, and nowhere near as strong. The weight saving though, is massive. The DeeTrax would alter the way your bike rides, loosing the nimbleness. The heavier wheels would not accelerate as fast and it would take more energy to change their course.
The New Crossmax SX – an new category for Crossmax wheels — is tougher than all previous versions which Mavic now bracket into a “Cross Mountain” category. The SX’s are Enduro/ FR wheels that fit precisely between the two choices you put forward and may suit you down to the ground. They will be retailing for £508/ pair. Another choice would be DT’s EX1750 wheels at £495/pair. DT’s world-renowned hub reliability, wide and light 5.1d rims and Triple butted spokes. The Pimpy white finish will certainly make you stand out from the masses.


Q: I’ve recently built myself up a new bike, due to my old NRS being stolen (actually my car was stolen with the bike inside but hey ho). On your reviews, other reviews and friends experience I went for a VT frame, which I put in a custom build around. All the parts brand new I managed to put together a great spec, great to ride bike for a mere £907 plus £50 for my lbs to build it for me. Awesome.
Anyhow enough slapping myself on the back, the reason I’ve gone for such hardcore brakes and wheels is because I’m trying to push my riding further and at 15 1/2 stone I’m hardly light on the bike. The problem is it weighs in pretty heavy compared to my old NRS and I’m starting to really feel it on the long steep climbs, I know I could do with starting on myself but thats a slow process and in the mean time I want to get easier climbing fast. I figure that the main problem is the rolling weight of the ultra strong but ultra heavy ex 729 rims and I’m looking to change them out. Bearing in mind my weight and that I’m starting to chuck in some larger drops (although nothing more than around 4ft right now) have you guys got any suggestions as to what would be a good wheelset to swap the chunky 729’s for and any other suggestions as to what may make my bike as enjoyable on the way up as it is on the way down.
Deano, Leeds

A: A proverbial moon on a stick question! You want a bike that feels fast uphill, and can take a 15 stone man landing four-foot drops. To be honest, it ain’t gonna happen!
Sure there are light wide-ish all-mountain rims; Sun Singletrack, Mavic XM329 , DT Swiss 5.1D, but none of these will be as strong as your EX729’s. You will have to make a choice, based on what is more important to you, getting that drop done, or getting up the hill. Sorry, but four foot drops are just not good for cross-country wheels and, as they are the only thing that feels fast uphil, its time to choose sir!


Q: I was recently given a Univega SL3, a bike I’d never heard of until I received it as a gift and it is equipped with a Fastrax ARL rear shock that is supposed to have a lockout on it, unfortunately me being a big fat copper and the wrong side of 15 stone the lockout will not hold but just sinks to nearly bottom out, I’ve pumped more pressure into the shock to the maximun but alas it will not hold. When I get off the bike the shock rides back up to normal.
The question is what can you tell me if anything about the shock because I haven’t got any gumpf on it and can’t find out anything on t’internet. I know the answer would be to replace it with a decent Fox of similar shock but the crap wages I get for being punched, kicked and spat on in London won’t cut it and anyway the minister for War and Finance (wife) would spit her dummy out and file for divorce if I spent anything on a bike!
Karl Moynes, Dunstable

A: You do not say whether you were given a shock pump with your bike. If you are trying to inflate the shock with a standard pump, you will be unable to get enough air into the shock. Shock pumps, are specifically designed to work with the tiny air volumes, and prevent air escaping when you disconnect them. This may explain the shock’s reluctance to perform correctly. Pootle along to your local shop and have a play with their pump to see if it solves the problem. If so, a simple £20 pump will be all you need.
If this is not the case, then you may be a little scuppered. Fastrax shocks are not sold as aftermarket items, only as OEM. That is they are sold directly to manufacturers to spec on their bikes, hence the lack of service information. It may be a simple problem to fix, but unfortunately, the shock would need disassembly to find out and remedy. This can be difficult without specialist tools.
One option would be to remove the shock and replace it with a block of two-by-two. This would solve the sag problem, but over time you would bend the connecting bolts and possibly damage the shock mounts.
Its time for a decision either; accept that you have a bike that cost you nothing initially and to reap the rewards (and even ‘er indoors will get the reward of a fitter, healthier, more vigorous partner) there may be some outlay — or simply use the bike in its present state and live with the reduced performance. A shock service would cost around £60-70, and a new shock from £100.