There’s always one that’s difficult to buy for. So they’re into cycling, but what do you get them?! To help you out we’ve pulled together a list of Christmas Gift Ideas to suit each budget.
Is the Xplova X5 EVO Actually Any Good?
We unboxed the Xplova X5 EVO and took it on a road trip to the Italian lakes so you can decide for yourself.
Keeping your bike clean and well lubricated will ensure it runs smoothly, quietly and correctly and should save you money in the long run by lessening wear and tear on the drivetrain components in particular.
Never is caring for your bike more important than in poor weather and when you’ve ridden through rain or particularly dirty or dusty conditions, but it should become part of your routine all year round. If you leave dirt to build-up on your bike parts can wear out much quicker and other issues can go unnoticed.
Which is a better workout, an exercise bike in the gym, or an outdoor ride on a proper bike? For us at Ribble, there’s no contest – getting out in the elements on your favourite route beats quite literally going nowhere on a trainer bike every time!
Sure, the weather or darker winter months may force you to cycle indoors, or you could use an indoor trainer for specific interval training, but our preference is nearly always to get outdoors.
Is there any science behind the idea that outdoor cycling is better for you? We’ve taken a look:
Outdoor cycling uses a wider range of muscles
One factor people tend to forget is that when you’re riding a bike on the road, you’re not just using your legs to pump the pedals – you’re also using your whole body to keep the bike balanced, particularly when you’re going fast.
Core muscles like the stomach, back and abdominal muscle groups get a greater workout when you’re keeping a bike balanced, and if you stand, lean or duck while you’re negotiating hills, your shoulders and upper body are taking the strain too.
While you might get some degree of the same workout on a fixed-down exercise bike, you don’t have the same impetus to do so – i.e., keeping yourself upright! So you’re less likely to use as many muscles as you do on the road at the gym.
Riding outdoors pushes you harder
Some argue that you’ll train harder in a gym setting, inspired by the other people around you, than if you were out on the road on your tod – however, at least one study suggests the opposite’s true.
The University of Nebraska at Omaha asked 12 keen cyclists to ride 40km on two separate days: one indoors on a training bike, the other outdoors on flat roads. Although they were asked to put the same amount of effort into both, researchers found they exerted up to 30% more power and worked up higher heart rates on the outdoor ride.
It’s unclear why this is – maybe riding outdoors, with the scenery rolling by, cycling harder doesn’t feel like as much work as it does in the gym, where you’re more focused on your energy levels. Either way, it’s another point in favour of the great outdoors.
You’ll feel the benefit in cold weather
Most gyms maintain the same air-conditioned temperature all year round, but Mother Nature isn’t quite so forgiving. But do you actually burn more calories in cold weather training?
There’s no clear consensus on this. We know the basal metabolic rate (the calories you burn while doing nothing) increases slightly in the cold, but this is hardly likely to make a noticeable difference. It’s also thought that people have more “beige fat” (which burns more easily) in the winter months than in summer.
However, researcher and endurance athlete Michael Joyner MD says cold conditions help your body regulate its temperature better, enabling you to exercise longer and harder than you would otherwise. So while the cold might not do the work for you, it can help you push yourself further.
Finally, it seems intuitive that exercising in the freezing cold outdoors helps develop greater resilience and mental toughness than pedalling away in a climate-controlled gym… but we might be biased.
Best bikes for your improved workout
So hopefully we’ve made our case for why you should ditch the gym membership and get out on the open road for your daily workout or commute to work. With that in mind, here are some of Ribble’s recommended bikes for fitness training and getting out there out on the road:
The Ribble Evo Pro (pictured above) is our popular entry-level carbon sportive road bike. This model has often been a first step into the world of cycling or maybe a cyclist’s first experience of the lightweight responsiveness of a carbon bike so we have acknowledged that by increasing the head tube for a more upright and comfortable position. The Evo Pro is the perfect weekend bike but could also be used for fast commuting and riding sportives and challenge rides.
The Ribble CGR is a light yet robust 7005 aluminium bike with disc brakes and clearance to take 35mm tyres. The key to to the CGR (above) is it’s versatility as a road commuter and all-round bike capable of everything from winter riding to summer trips along the towpath. This cleverly designed frame could easily become the key do-it-all bike that you are looking for.
This is a design classic we’re rightly proud of. The Ribble 7005 Winter Audax (above) is the bike that thousands of UK club racers turn to for their training sessions. With a 7005 aluminium frame and carbon bladed fork, together with mudguard and rear pannier mounts, it’s also a popular choice with commuters and tourers.
Limar provide helmets to the Astana professional cycling team who during May competed in the 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia. The team use Limar Ultralight+ helmets and also have the option of 007 Superlight Aero helmets (below) for time trial stages. Feedback from the world’s top cyclists help Limar develop and improve their innovative helmets.
Stage ten of the Giro was the first of two individual time trials and Astana’s Luis Leon Sanchez impressed taking fourth place wearing the 007 Superlight Aero which helped him average 46kph (28.59 mph) for the 40km stage.
The eventful queen stage of the Giro was stage 16 (Rovetta to Bormio) featuring a double ascent of the Stelvio. Early in the stage the famous Passo del Mortirolo had been named as the “Cima Scarponi” and it was Sanchez who crossed the summit first and moved into second place in the King of the Mountains classification.
Team Astana’s Giro d’Italia was tinged with sadness after the team tragically lost their colourful road captain Michele Scarponi, who was set to lead the team, in a road traffic accident two weeks before the tour started. Astana raced with eight riders and as a mark of respect to Scarponi, they did not name a ninth rider replacement for him.
After winning the “Cima Scarponi”, Luis Leon Sanchez said, “I’m honored to receive this special prize in honour of a team mate, a friend and a great person. I took to the podium but I think it is well deserved by the entire team. Each one of us gave 100% and more to honour Michele.”
The Astana team fought hard throughout the three-week Giro to honour Michele Scarponi and for the young, promising Kazakh rider Zhandos Bizhigitov, in his first Grand Tour, it was extremely hard.
Zhandos finished the queen stage a long time after the winner having raced for over 7 hours: “I’m destroyed, really, really tired!” said the Kazakh. “At the moment I’m just focused on rest and recovery, but it has been an important experience for my future. I’m happy that Luis Leon was able to win the award on the Scarponi climb, it is a very good thing for our team,” he concluded.
Sanchez was perhaps Astana’s stand out rider in the Giro – alongside Dario Cataldo – and for much of the three-week race he was in second place in the Mountains classification, but unfortunately couldn’t catch Sky’s Mikel Landa.
Countdown to the Tour de France
Astana, led by Oscar Gatto, also joined Limar’s other professional team Direct Energie racing at the Tour of Belgium. Direct Energie’s Bryan Coquard won the opening stage sprint wearing an Ultralight+ helmet (below) whilst Sylvain Chavanel narrowly missed out on winning the individual time trial using the 007 Superlight Aero helmet.
Both teams now start their final preparation races ahead of the Tour de France in July. Astana are hoping that their Grand Tour leader Fabio Aru is fully recovered from the injury, which prevented him from racing the Giro, and he can challenge for the top honours in Le Tour alongside team mate Jakob Fuglsang. The countdown begins!