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    Flat Harry's Cyclery
    31 High Street, Cookham, Maidenhead, SL6 9SJ. View the map
  • Who are we?

    A bit about us

    Flat Harry's mission is to be the best local bike shop in the Thames Valley area, our customer base is broad, attracting cyclists from all the towns and villages around Cookham; in a radius around us that passes through Lane End, High Wycombe and Beaconsfield, onto the Chalfonts, Gerrards Cross, Uxbridge, Windsor and Eton, through Taplow, Maidenhead, Bray and Holyport, and over to Marlow and Henley, our customers are happy to travel to find us, knowing we cater for every and any cyclist. We're mad about cycling and love it when anyone shares our enthusiasm, be they an aspiring fan of the sport, a tech hungry hard rider spinning their best speed machine, a thrill hungry mud lover, a hardened commuter battling the traffic, or a leisurely rider on a modest budget looking to have fun and relax on their bike.

    Whether it's serving coffee and flapjack on the mid-ride break, fixing your tusty steed, performing a bike-fitting or providing you with the right gear for your ride, we do it all and a lot more at Flat Harry's. We are proudly independent and thus only stock parts and brands that we are passionately proud of, and believe are the most suited for cyclists coping with the flint strewn roads and trails in our area.

    Our obsessive temperament, collective knowledge, engineering expertise, focus on quality and debunking of fads are what distinguish our shop, and make our customers return time and time again. Building trusting long term relationships with our customers is really important to us. Simply put, we want to be the place you trust above all others to do the right thing for you. Some folk might try and take advantage of our good nature, but we believe what goes around comes around and we want you to value our approach.

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  • Key Information!

  • 22/12/2017 12:15:51

    Words by Cris Towner

    Gravel Bikes pt.2 - The Enlightened Rides

    3TExploroSmallAdLandscape1The concept of Gravel Bikes has been around forever. In fact the earliest bicycles were Gravel Bikes, as they were designed to be ridden on rough tracks. There were none of these tarmac smoothed roads we are used to riding. It was either gravel, cobbles or other hard pack with a generally loose surface dressing.

    But recently the marketing departments of big bike firms have introduced the term Gravel Bike (also often referred to as Adventure Bikes) to describe multi-surface capable machines, designed to be fast on roads and off-road. Wanting to sell more stuff, they have decided to broaden their horizons and invent a new breed of bikes for riding on loose but generally hard surfaces.

    The first incarnations of the modern gravel bike were pretty boring and not at all radical, as they often were no more than bikes capable of taking 28mm or 30mm tyres and in essence were just reinvented Cyclocross Bikes, or Touring Bikes with panniers and mudguards removed.

    Then the second generation of modern gravel bikes started appearing at the end of 2016 as designers realised that the point of them was to be light in weight, to have bigger tyres, to be capable of riding long distances across varied terrain and surfaces, and to be flexible in how we build them up. On some gravel bikes. You have the freedom to choose whether you want 700c/29” wheels or 650b/27.5” wheels, and whether you want a single chainring set-up, gravel bikes are versatile and very adaptable to a riders style. The biggest hinderance to success was overcome by introduction of off the shelf really good brakes and groupsets capable of being ridden long and hard on very rough trails without failure, or constantly needing tweaking. The last part of the puzzle was the introduction of wide, yet light, tubeless ready wheels with super strong and stiff bolt through hubs and shod with well designed tyres, that roll and grip brilliantly on gravel and tarmac. Design of frames and forks caught up to these developments and now give far greater clearance, allowing use of 40mm (in your average gravel bike) and even 55mm (in special top-end beasts) tyre widths, capable of being ridden at low pressure for technical terrain and pumped up hard, for smooth tarmac riding.

    The pinnacle of this second generation gravel bike concept is in my view the 3T Exploro, designed by the legendary Gerrard Vroomen (who designed the original Cervelo Bikes, before they sold out to a Taiwanese investment firm, but that’s another story...). The Exploro is everything I could ever desire in a bike. You can build it light and flighty, or bold and bruising, whatever suits your style. It’s genius is in its details, the dropped chain-stay that gives such flexibility on both tyre size and chainring size. The frame tube profiles that make it super comfy in the plane of vertical compliance, yet stiff and capable in its horizontal plane of power transfer, whilst being very aerodynamic at the same time.

    Mine is built with SRAM Force 1, the current leader of the gravel group sets, with a single chainring up front and a nice wide ratio 11 speed cassette out back, sized to give me the very same gear range as a normal 34/50 compact chainset and 11-28 cassette. I really don’t notice the jumps in the gears, as I’m equally comfy with my cadence spinning at 110rpm or 80rpm, and I love the lack of chain jumping around on the chainrings, when I’m hammering along rough tracks.

    When I look at the numbers, the frame geometry helps me understand why I love this bike so much. The bottom bracket height sets the scene, as it’s lower than most would design for off road, which sets the riders centre of gravity at a confidence inducing height, allowing high speed over rough terrain rather than making you feel perched high and unstable.

    The Orro Terra C is another revelation. The Orro is slightly different but very similar to the Exploro. It borrows much of the same concept as the Exploro, such as dropped chainstay and bottom bracket height, but it has a few differences. The first and most significance is the price, it’s only half the cost, but in my view it’s at least 80% as good. Which makes it brilliant bang for buck. The 2 bits it looses out on in comparison to the Exploro are the ability to ride super wide tyres, as it’s designed for up to 42mm tyres, rather than big fat 55mm tyres. The second bit being the fact the Exploro focuses on aerodynamic tube profiles, to give you a racing advantage when ridden against the clock. The Orro isn’t that kind of bike, it’s less race oriented and more suited for exploring and challenging your preconceived ideas about what you can do on a drop handlebar road bike with fat slicks on.

    The Orro has another key difference, which is that it is a UK bike designed with UK riding in mind. By this I mean that they know that we ride all weathers, and thus the ability to mount proper mudguards is a big bonus, as it allows the bike to become a dedicated winter road bike, which is also club ride friendly and doesn’t constantly spray water and road detritus all over you or your companions. Another bonus is that the Terra C even has rear rack mounts, meaning it can be turned into a tourer or fast commuting bike in an instant.

    Modern Gravel Bikes are firmly on the rise, with these two second generation carbon lovelies proving that the concept is well thought through and has wide appeal. Due to their versatility, they have the potential to be the only bike you’d ever need, as by simply swapping out tyres you can transform its character and weight to optimise it to ride tarmac (on 25 or 28mm road tyres), or to ride all-road/gravel (on 38 to 40mm Slick gravel tyres ), or even in the 3T's case, swap wheel size and fit 650b 2.1” knobblies and take it off into the rugged wilderness