Topic: News

Winter Bike TLC

You'd be amazed how much money you can save in the long run by giving your bike a pre-winter service and a little TLC during those long winter months.

Due to salt, diesel, swarf and general debris on our roads, and adding water in to the mix makes the perfect grinding paste to eat away at our pride and joys. What can you do about it? Ideally cleaning/wiping down your bike a couple of times a week and re-lubing it can pay dividends the other side of winter. Also keeping you tyre pressures at an optimal level can help minimise punctures, help with grip, prolong the life of the tyres and keep your wheel protected from the road.

The small amount of products you need you need to do this are easily available and just an hour of your time each week can saves loads in servicing/parts costs. Apart from bike specific oil and grease, you can use a few items from around the house or from the local shops. Baby wipes, clean rag(s), old toothbrushes, WD40 are a few of the items you can use, you just need the know how and time!

You can use our step by step guide below for more detail or pop by one of our stores to enquire about our Bike Kitchen evening where we can teach you the gaps in your knowledge. If you're ever in doubt about any mechanical issues with your bike, always ask your local bike shop for advice first before committing to a potential error.

What do I need, how long will it take?

1. Baby wipes

2. Clean rag(s)

3. GT85 or WD40

4. Bike Wash / Degreaser

5. Bicycle specific lube for either wet or dry conditions.

6. Bike specific grease.

7. Aerosol Degreaser (non teflon coating type) or Disc Brake Cleaner.

8. Wet & Dry super fine sandpaper.

9. Soft nylon bike cleaning brush(es) or household equivalent (old toothbrush, dust pan brush).

10. 1 hour of your time.

What am I cleaning, paying attention too?

1. Braking surfaces – Rims.

2. Brake pads – rim type.

3. Chain.

4. Cassette.

5. Chain rings / crankset.

6. Derailleurs/mechs, especially jockey wheels.


Method – Rim brakes

1. Use the baby wipes to clean the braking surface, this may take a few times round the rim using multiple wipes. Once clean, check rim surface for wear and tear. Rims have a limited amount of material, so if in doubt please ask your local bike shop for advice.

2. Now if you can, release the brakes so you are able to clean them using the baby wipes again. Removing any muck and debris suck in there. Once done, re-attach the brakes.

3. Optional step – you can now use the fine sand paper to rub lightly across the rim surface, to prep it for better bite.

4. Finally, wipe down the rim surface with a clean rag.

Method - chain/cassette/chain rings.

1. If you don't have bike wash / degreaser or access to outside water, you can use a bucket of hot soapy (washing up liquid, not to much as it contains salt!). Either spray bike wash on the drivechain (cassette, chain, chainrings) in good quantity or use a soft nylon brush to apply the hot soapy water. Once coated leave for a few minutes to start working.

2. Once the degreaser has had time to start working, use a soft nylon brush to scrub all the moving parts, if you have a bucket of water, frequently use this to wash off the muck that’s already come off the drivechain. If you have aerosol bike degreaser, use this to get any stubborn or hard to reach grime. Remember the moving parts are the whole drivechain and don't forget to scrub on the flipside of the parts

3. Once you are happy that you have removed as much grime as possible, gently sluice the washed parts with clean water.

4. Bounce the bike carefully to dislodge any standing water, tipping each end up to help aide getting as much out as possible.

5. Use your clean rag now to wipe the remaining excess water from the bike.

6. Attach the nosal straw to the WD40 or GT85.

7. Shift the chain into the middle of the cassette and middle or lower chainring.

8. Aim the straw at the chain from the rear of the bike and move the cranks backwards as you spray. You should only need to rotate the crank 10 times. Leave the solution to work.

9. Spray the straw end at the other moving parts including both mechs but try to avoid contaminating the breaking surfaces.

10. Return to the chain with a clean dry rag, hold lightly on to the chain with the rag and pedal the crank so you remove any excess WD40/GT85, Keep moving the rag about. Use the clean cloth to remove excess from the other places you sprayed.

11. Lightly lube the chain. You only have to lube the chain as it will coat the cassette and chainrings as you change gears. Apply the lube to part of chain that comes directly into contact with other moving parts. Do this by moving the crank arm backwards around 10 times and dropping the lube on the chain as it moves. Wait a few minutes and wipe off any excess lube.

There are much more tips but they would be better served in person, especially for disc brake systems. Ask in your local shop for best practices.

Christmas opening Hours

Bath, Bristol and Trowbridge opening hours:

Saturday 23rd December – 9am –1pm

Sunday 24th December – Closed

Christmas Day – Closed

Boxing Day (Tuesday 26th) - Closed

Wednesday 27th - Friday 29th - 9am – 5:30pm

Saturday 30th - 9am – 1pm

New Years Eve- Closed

New Years Day (Monday 1st) - Closed

Tuesday 2nd Jan onwards – Normal Opening Hours

Exeter opening hours:

Saturday 23rd December – 9am – 5:30pm

Sunday 24th December – Closed

Christmas Day – Closed

Boxing Day (Tuesday 26th) - Closed

Wednesday 27th -Saturday 30th - 9am – 5:30pm

New Years Eve- Closed

New Years Day (Monday 1st) - Closed

Tuesday 2nd Jan onwards – Normal Opening Hours


What tools do I need to maintain my bike?

Below are two lists of the tools you'll need for home and for taking on the road with you. Even if you have a short journey by bike, a mechanical issue that sees you ending up walking, can add time to your day and a bit of stress.

There a lot of tools you'll never need to buy, as they are expensive and would be only used by you in the home once a year at most. Ultimately, knowing how to use these tools will help, luckily we provide a regular bike kitchen on the 2nd Wednesday of each month. For £15 you get access to our big stands, big tools and our mechanics knowledge, after hours. You won't get a full strip down and rebuild of your bike in that time but you will gain a lot of knowledge for specific jobs. We can also accommodate on Saturdays with prior notice and a group size large enough.

Tools for the Road

· A decent multi tool (with chain tool optional)

· Tyre levers

· A hand pump and/or CO2 cartridges. You'd be surprised how much volume a decent mini pump can push! Most mini pumps will fit to your bike with a supplied mount or are small enough to fit in the bag

· An inner tube for your wheel/tyre size. Always try and avoid fixing a flat when you're out, just replace the tube (after finding out & removing what caused it), then fix the puncture in the warmth of your home!

· Tyre boots. These are like large heavy duty versions of puncture patches. They are designed for tears in your tyre.

· Puncture repair kit or decent pre-glued patches (we only recommend Park Tool pre-glued patches).

· Optional but essential in our minds; a mobile phone and a means of cash to make that emergency call for a lift.

Tools for home use

In all honesty, all this kit below will set you back around £200+ but you can buy it slowly to grow your kit, and maybe give ideas to friends and family for present ideas. Pop by the shop and ask us what brands we use personally to get some insight

· A decent set of allen/hex keys. Preferably a separates set with a ball end for hard to reach areas, but not putting the final torque in though.

· A chain wear checker. The most important tool in your stash for saving money.

· Decent flat head and Philips screw drivers in multiple sizes.

· Pliers and snipe nose pliers

· A set of snips and a high quality cable cutter.

· Correct sized or set of spoke keys.

· A chain tool with the correct size pin for the speed chain you use.

· A chain whip and locking ring tool.

· the correct bottom bracket tool for either cartridge or external. Press fit bottom brackets require specialist tools and a careful technique, so we do not advocate you do this yourself unless you have a high level of competency.

· A torque setting tool. Remember you do not have to go to the maximum stipulated on the part.

· Chain oil, bearing grease and fibre grip gel for carbon parts.

· A small soft rubber mallet.

· Bike friendly cleaning products from degreasers to disc brake cleaners and brushes.

· A track pump with a gauge.

· A decent work stand (Optional)

· Plenty of rags!

Celebrating small business saturday

It's Small Business Saturday on 2nd December and we wanted to celebrate by saying thank you to everyone who chooses to shop with us rather than larger commercial stores. Your custom means we are able to carry on supporting the work of Julian House and to provide you with our top quality service.

We are really passionate about keeping you on your bike throughout the year. We are happy to give best practice advise on what kit to use, based on our collective years cycling the U.K and the world.

We are also a fully professional Bike Workshop alongside selling new and refurbished bikes. Whether you have a 1950's clunker, Modern Hybrid/MTB/Road Bike and beyond, we can help.

We look forward to meeting you, and remember - "The Internet can't fix your bike, but we can..."

We've put together some of our favourite items we sell, that we think are all perfect gifts for the cyclist in your life and essential to most.

In our Bath Store:

Selle Royal Ergo-Saddle £45, Support and comfort for everyday bikes and long distances machines. "Proper cush for your tush"

ETC City Light Set £25.00. "Be safe, Be Seen" City lights for riding in the city with street lighting. Battery operated.

BrightSide Helmet Light £30. Perfect for creating that extra visibilty on the road with front and rear lights in one unit. Lithium Ion rechargeable battery and mounts included.

Xeccon Link 300 & Mars 30 Rechargeable Light Set £53.00. The Link 300 lumen front light is a perfect compliment to the cyclist who rides beyond the city in unlit areas such as country roads and canal path, The Mars 30 Lumen rear light can be used in day or night time situations for pertinacity on the road. Both rechargeable and have multiple settings for different situations.


Altura Sonic 25 Pannier Bag £60. The Sonic 25 is a super water tight, tough, roll top pannier bag. Similar in construction to the Ortlieb range and holds 25ltrs of kit easily.

Altura Urban 20 Pannier Bag £65. The Urban 20 is a padded, waterproof 20ltr pannier bag which is perfect for the city commuter who needs compartments for organisation.


Kryptonite Series 2 D-Lock & Flex Cable £40.00. Sold Secure rating silver, this is our best selling mid security level D-Lock. The addition of the flex cable means you can secure your front wheel or extra bikes for short stops to your bike..

Truflo Home Track/Floor Pump £25.00. No cyclists home should be without a Floor Pump. Topping your tyres once a week keeps your tyres in good condition, give your wheels extra structural support, minimise punctures and get you too & fro quicker.

Cateye Bicycle Mirror £10.00. One example of the many mirrors available for different bike types. Has become an essential for the commuter on roads and shared paths.

In our Exeter store the Bobbin range of bikes are a particular hit with many people happy to be buying something a little different; Bobbin is British based brand producing well made and relatively inexpensive bikes.

Simon, the store manager said:

"A strong motivation for customers buying from us, is the fact that we are a social enterprise. It is something that local people are very much in favour of, and they like to see that their money is going to a great cause. We often say to customers that we are a normal professional bike shop with a different social outcome."

If you have any questions about any of these products or any other bike relate issues please get in touch with your nearest store.


Exeter Bike Workshop Challenge Ride

120 miles; Trowbridge > Exeter

On April 8th, a group of cyclists took on this 120 mile sponsored ride, raising money to launch our new social enterprise bike workshop in Exeter.

This ride was part of a campaign that crowdfunded £16k from generous local people and businesses.

12 riders took part, all keen amateurs aged 25 and up. Some of the group were old friends and some were new acquaintances. It was great to see the cause working to bring everyone together.

After a chilly start, the weather put on a great show and, what's more, there wasn't a single puncture!

You can see the routes detail here - highly recommended for it's scenery and for passing the excellent King Alfred Inn in Burrowbridge!

Critchill School Build a Bike Project

Critchill School's new cycle workshop provides vulnerable and disengaged students with the opportunity to learn new skills, develop self-confidence and gain a sense of achievement, as well as begin to build work-related skills such as team-working and problem solving.

Students from Oakfield Academy were the first group to undertake this new and exciting project. Bicycle maintenance is the primary focus of the provision but students can also learn about healthy living, nutrition for exercise, planning cycle routes and preparing for different weather conditions, cycling proficiency and health and safety in the workplace.

As part of the initiative students are able to keep their fully refurbished and safety checked bike that they have worked on, at the end of the project if the agreed contract has been fulfilled.

The project is led collaboratively by a qualified teaching assistant from Critchill School and an experienced cycle mechanic from Julian House Bike Workshop.

Emma Thomas AHT at Oakfield Academy said “Pupils from Oakfield Academy had a fantastic opportunity and have noticeably grown in confidence whilst learning lots of new skills. It has been a hugely successful project.”

Sophie Addison DHT at Critchill said “We are really excited that this new collaborative venture has had such a positive start and were keen to roll it out to other students.”

First trainees complete Build-a-Bike in Trowbridge

THE first graduates from a new Build-a-Bike training course run by the social enterprise Julian House Bike Workshop in Trowbridge received certificates to celebrate their success this week.

Jake Butler, Matthew Joyce and Thomas Robson-Carter were awarded certificates by Julian House chief executive Peter Denning at the bike workshop in Duke Street on Tuesday (April 7) after completing the six-week course.

The course, which is the first of its kind in Wiltshire, is targeted at individuals with a history of homelessness, addiction offending or long term unemployment, who would benefit from being independently mobile.

It is funded by the Wiltshire Community Transport Fund and during the course, participants learned to strip and refurbish a donated second-hand bike, including how to remove, refit and replace parts on the bicycle.

Mr Butler, 24, who found out about the course through The Amber Foundation, said: “I really enjoyed the course and I learned a lot about bicycles over the six weeks.

“We had to dismantle the bikes and then put them back together using parts at the bike workshop and it provided me with great experience and some useful new skills.”

The course is aimed at boosting self esteem and providing participants new skills and work place disciplines. They are allowed to take their refurbished bike at the end, giving them more independence and freedom.

Simon Brand, the social enterprise area manager for Julian House, said: “Even though we have experience of doing something similar in Bath there’s still quite a bit of organising to launch a new course in a new workshop.

“The structured programme has worked really well and the feedback from our inaugural students has been very positive.

“We are indebted to the Community Transport Fund for their support and to the various referral agencies who have been directing clients towards the course. I’m pleased to say that the next course, which starts in April, is already full.”

For more information about the course, contact support worker Mark Brown on 01225 354780 or email Alternatively, visit the Trowbridge workshop contact page.

New Julian House Bike Workshop in Bristol

On Saturday 15th November 2014, Julian House opened their third social enterprise bike workshop. Stephen Williams, the MP for Bristol West and Undersecretary of State for Communities and Local Government, was there to open the workshop.

The bike workshop in Bristol is closely modelled on similar Julian House social enterprises in Bath and Trowbridge. Vulnerable individuals, mainly with a history of homelessness and/or addiction issues, are given the opportunity to gain job skills and specialist training on bike maintenance. Donated second-hand bikes are carefully refurbished and sold to the public – along with quality second hand parts and accessories. All profits are either reinvested into the business or used to provide other front line homeless/addiction services.

Simon Brand, the charity’s Social Enterprise Area Manager, is excited by the prospects for Julian House Bike Workshop in Bristol – “Our original bike workshop started out in a very modest way – a few bikes were renovated in the back yard of our offices. It was something that the clients enjoyed and where possible we allowed them to take the machine away – very empowering when you are at the bottom of society’s pile. From there it developed into a business which now gives lots of clients valuable work experience. Customers should feel justifiably proud that their support will give real opportunity to some of the most marginalised members of society and help to fund other front line homeless and addiction services.”