Getting Into the Saddle

Cycling is a booming sport and Bridge Cycles in Diep River, to the east of Cape Town, has ridden that boom to develop a highly successful business with more than 1,000 bikes in stock and brand new, two story headquarters.

Founder Fazal Osman has built the bike business out of what was originally a corner café selling samoosas and pies. He has used Gumtree extensively to expand the footprint of the business over the past decade – bringing a far broader market within his reach.

Fazal admits he is not a cyclist himself but his cousin Aneesa, who assists him, is passionate about a sport which he says “is a reminder of what it’s like to be a kid again and can be done on every level from family fun to serious competition.”

He warns that many people begin with the bare minimum of equipment and chances are that, as a result, they won’t enjoy it. “Invest a bit more in comfort and quality and you will more likely be hooked for life.”

Aneesa has some key recommendations for kitting out to get started on cycling.

  1. Decide whether you need a road bike or a mountain bike. Don’t immediately opt for the versatility of a mountain bike if you’re going to be on the road, especially doing events like the Cape Town Cycle Tour or the 94.7, because they are harder to ride in that environment and everyone on proper road bikes will be zooming past you.


  1. A decent entry level road bike is the Cannondale Caad 8 at around R14k with Shimano Tiagra 10speed components.  It’s a good quality, fairly light weight bike.


  1. Suspension really matters on mountain bikes. The more suspension, the more you pay. A decent entry level mountain bike capable of tackling not too aggressive trails is the Cannondale Trail 5 at around R8500.


  1. Invest in a safe, strong and comfortable helmet and ride with it every time …. no exceptions. The Bell Traverse is a universal size and has enough ventilation at R650 or the Bontrager Starvos is an upgrade at R999.


  1. Front and back lights and high visibility clothing are also safety essentials. And a decent pair of cycling gloves will add to the pleasure of the ride while also protecting you from injuries if you fall. The Cyclogel glove offers a bit of gel padding at R225.  For something a little lighter, you can look at the Giro Jag glove which retails for R350


  1. Proper padded cycling pants are mission critical for a comfortable ride. First Ascent’s Domestique are good quality lycra shorts at R825.  For extra comfort they also do a version with gel in the chamois, called the Pro Elite.  For long road rides, bibshorts are now popular with straps that go over the shoulders and no pressure on the waist from the elastic waistband. And some mountain bikes aren’t keen on the tights and prefer padded boardshorts (or baggies). The Indola Perennial with Enduro padding are a solid choice at R965.


  1. Buy a saddlebag, a compact toolkit and a mini-pump, and learn how to fix tyres and chains out on the road. Minor maintenance issues should not wreck your ride.

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