Our cycling agony aunt Sara Robin helps readers with their cycling problems...

Q: I find my bike very hard work to ride, what can I do? I would love to ride more but get put off by what an effort it is.

A: First check your wheels if your bike is hard work, starting with the tyres. Make sure the tyres are well pumped up and are not too soft. You will have far more resistance to your pedalling with soft tyres. Keeping the tyres well inflated makes cycling more efficient and prevents cracks in the side of the tyres. It is worth getting a decent pump or even a track pump. If there are a few bikes in a household a track pump can be a great investment. When we opened York Cycleworks in 1980 we didn’t have a track pump and getting one was a revelation. However we got carried away and pumped up some tyres so hard they exploded! Check the suggested pressure on the side of the tyre and check the pressure if you have a gauge on your pump. If you plan a lot of cycling or going for longer bike rides and you have heavy wide knobbly tyres on a mountain type bike it can be worth changing to lighter narrower tyres.

York Press: Having the right tyres can make cycling easierHaving the right tyres can make cycling easier

Next spin the wheels and check they aren’t rubbing on the brakes, mudguards or frame. This is sometimes easy to deal with by straightening a bent mudguard, or it may mean a trip to a bike shop. If the wheels aren’t rubbing anywhere but do not spin easily this could be a problem with the bearings in the centre of the wheel and probably does need fixing by a bike shop. Next have a look at your drivetrain which is everything that your chain goes over. A chain that is dry and rusty or very worn and old will make cycling harder work and some of your energy will not go into turning your wheels. Also make sure that you can change gears easily. Cycling UK which used to be the CTC or Cyclist’s Touring Club has some guides to basic bike maintenance which are free to download and might be useful https://www.cyclinguk.org/article/simple-bike-maintenance-guides

Finally check your saddle is the right height. Your leg should be straight with your heel on the pedal when your pedal is at its lowest point. A saddle that is too low means that you can’t use the full power of your legs, too high, and cycling will be uncomfortable.

If you have checked everything and cycling is still hard work, a trip to a bike shop to test ride a lighter bike or to get work done to lower your gearing will be the next thing to do.

Happy cycling!

About Sara

Sara has been riding her bike in York and further afield since 1980. She initially got into cycling in Australia and worked as a mechanic in two bike shops in Sydney. When she moved to York Sara was a founder member of York Cycleworks which was set up as a workers coop in 1980 and she worked there in many roles until 2002. She rides one of her bikes most days and would love to encourage more people of all ages to ride bikes for getting around, shopping, commuting and leisure.

Do you have a question about cycling? Email maxine.gordon@thepress.co.uk and we will pass your question on to Sara