Bicycle Gear Questions & Answers - 3

Bergamont Sweep 4 in the himalaya

1. A good bicycle helmet for children?

For children it is very important to get a helmet that is attractive to them. That way you won't have to fight the resistance to avoid wearing one. Make your child a part of the purchase process. I think the Giro Scamp is an excellent product at 2,999 available in orange and teal colour. 

2. I have just bought a new bicycle. What accessories should I buy now?

Accessories in order of importance:
1. A helmet that looks good on you. Don't get hung up on the specs. Buy one you like so that there's no excuse to be riding without one. Remember the most expensive helmet will not protect you if it's lying at home.
2. A 100 lumen daylight visible tail light. Something like Niterider Vmax 150 (lumen) is extremely budget friendly and long lasting.
3. A pair of cycling shorts (not bibs) bibs can be bought later when you increase your distance. Start with shorts as they're easier to manage. Heini Sports makes excellent shorts.
4. A phone holder or a top tube bag. I see people fidgeting with their phones in traffic. That is dangerous! Get a decent phone holder to record your rides and use on rides. 
5. Finally a good front light that has a daylight visible flash. My recommendation is always a Fenix Light (read our review of the Fenix BC26R bicycle light).

3. What gravel bike would you buy today?

So where I stand as a cyclist today I think I will like to go back to a steel frame. I use a gravel bike primarily as an exploration tool and for my use, steel works and is the most durable choice. So given this caveat I would love to own a Posst Oblique. I find it the prettiest gravel bike available in India in 2023. To me looks are important, a pretty bike urges me to ride it more.
If my budget was 1L I'd get the Scolarian Mudfest. It has the looks, a robust and wide ratio drivetrain and has the right mix of components that will last.
Both are Made In India!

4. Shorts or Bibs for Bikepacking?

I'm a shorts guy on bikepacking trips. Bikepacking eventually means taking a piss where there are no toilets and shorts are just better and more convenient. Now that I've put that gory picture in your mind. On a bikepacking trip you're not trying to be aero or can't take a break. To me shorts provide decent comfort with none of the drawbacks. Though I always wear a pair of quick drying MTB shorts / bike specific zipp-off trousers over cycling shorts. The idea is to blend in especially in India where covering up is the norm. My goto brands being Van Rysel and Heini Sports in india and Vaude Sport & AGU in the EU.
If the situation is reversed if you're in an endurance race or a 300 km+ brevet where you're spending almost all the time on the bike. Bibs trump shorts in this scenario. If you're interested in bibs do check out Nalini road bibs. Excellent value for money. 

5. Is an aluminium frame bike with carbon fork fit for Indian roads?

I dunno if you have been following my United Bike Gavriil gravel bike posts on instagram. I hope that can convince you. The Gavriil is an aluminium frame with a carbon fork and I've put it to the test in the Himalaya.
However, when it comes to bikepacking, exploring you're not looking to steamroll over bad roads. You take it easy and conserve your body and bike. Getting hurt in the middle of nowhere or breaking down with no help for days ain't no fun. You only abuse both when it's absolutely necessary. 

6. What handlebars for the city? Risers or drop bar? What make / brand would you recommend?

City commutes are not all day rides so I would question the need for risers. Riser drop bars are meant to keep you upright on long rides. The advantage with drops is that they are narrow and therefore easy to swing in and out of traffic especially at lights. The disadvantage is again they are narrow and most people who are not used to drop bars find it disconcerting. 
If you're the kind who rides drop bars then I can definitely recommend the Scolarian SCW MUD adventure bars. They are extremely well priced at ₹2,576, and offer an 18° flare for more control.

My top tip go with bars 2cm wider than you would normally ride on a road bike. Again the idea is not to be narrow and aero but to have more control with slightly wider stance. 

If you're dead set on risers Controltech has a CLS Riser model.

7. Should I lift weights along on the same day as my rides?

Whether you're lifting or doing HIIT intervals the thing to strive for is "quality of workout" not the quantity. I find that doing both on the same day decreases my quality of workout. YMMV given how old you are and your level of fitness. For my own regime I follow up a gym workout (3 days) by a ride day. 7th day is a rest day. 
That being said never underestimate the power of weights. The only way to be a better cyclist is to lift. Period. And this is not me saying that. Scientific literature is unambiguous on this past of training. 


8. What exercises should I do for better control and balance on my bike?

There are numerous ways to achieve better control and balance on your bike. The ones that immediately come to mind are - 

  • Slow races (slowest rider is first)
  • Track stands
  • Tight Cornering
  • Skids (especially if you ride gravel)
  • Avoiding skids (again recognising what amount of torque to put down)

I dunno if you follow Skills with Phil channel on YouTube. But it's the place for the best content on this topic 

9. Can I convert my Bergamont Swep 6  to a drop bar road bike?

While it's definitely possible. I would not recommend it. For one the geometry between a flat bar bike and a drop bar bike is different. If you need any proof check the stack and reach figures for the same sized Bergamont Grandurance and compare to yours. Flat bar bikes usually have a longer reach. Converting them to a drop bar bike will add to that reach.
But I digress. What would be the aim of such a conversion? The Bergamont Sweep 6 is such a sweet ride? If you're looking for more hand positions check out alt bars like the

  • Velo Orange Crazy Bars
  • Jones bars
  • Surly Molokko.

Or even use Surly corners bars while using the same flat bar internals. 

If you're looking to be more aero, slap on a pair of TT bars and you will be far more aero than any drop bar bike. Decathlon Sports India has one that cost under 3k if you want to try them out. 

I would say, sit back take a long breath and avoid turning this jack of all trades into a Frankenstein 🙂