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Bicycle considerations

Bicycle considerations for stepperiding

A number of aspects of riding around Atyrau are specific to its steppe conditions. It results in a mix of road biking attitude and all-terrain-biking attitude.

An article on riding technique was earlier published.

In general the riding takes place in groups and the surface tends to generally be so-called hard-pressed soil made up of double-tracks. The double-tracks are made by cars that regularly take the same route and can sometimes be perceived as an obstacle and nasty or gnarly to ride. This can originate from cars driving under poor and wet weather conditions that lead to ruts, sometimes as deep as 20cm. Cars driving by during very dry periods cause the double-track to become soft, which may require a lot more pedaling effort and steering capability to maneuver,

With the ferocious steppe winds there is a tendency to ride close together. Similar as to road-riding, we sometimes ride in each other’s wheel to be shielded from wind.

While below write-up may appear subjective, it does reflect a common notion among most people that have ridden a few years and have covered fair distances over time, our so-called regular dust-eaters.

No suspension vs. hard tail vs. full suspension

Most people tend to find that a Cross-Country (XC) bicycle setup and geometry is most suitable for general conditions. Unless you are a racer and super-fanatic rider, modern-day full suspension (with tuning options, lockout possibilitiy and perhaps remote) is just fine and will offer you good speed versus comfort.

Recently there has been a significant take-on in fat-bikes, either with no active suspension at all, or as hard tails. The 4-to-5 inch wide tyres provide plenty of “suspension” themselves and makes for a comfortable ride, allowing to ride softer grounds and hence ride closer towards the sea (that ‘holy grail’ of Atyrauoutdoors). Equally there appears to be a definite advantage for fatbikes during winter conditions, when riding on the frozen Ural river, that regularly has a small layer of snow covering the ice.

Wheel size considerations

The above mentioned hard-pressed tracks can be considered relative easy XC terrain. Hence they scream for larger wheel diameters, as it allows the wheel to roll over those little bumps more easily. There are not many technical features in the terrain (except for perhaps the occasional patch of soft sand), so unless you use the bicycle to also ride elsewhere, larger wheels are better.

Tyres

This definitely makes for a very ambiguous and subjective topic: as many riders as there are, as many opinions have been formulated.

Enough grip for cornering and managing soft sand patches is required. Slicks are definitely not recommended here. Neither are super thick nobbies for full down-hill style bikes.

General XC style tyres suit most.

When winter kicks in, the road ices up and the river freezes over. There is a hard need for everyone to have winter tyres with spikes, otherwise it is technically as good as impossible to ride and stay on the bike.

Tubes vs. Tubeless

Most plants growing in the steppe areas close to the sea are pretty soft and do generally not have many sharp nails. However most of the flats that people have in the steppe are very small simple punctures. Therefor it appears a definite advantage to ride tubeless and have the sealant ‘take care’ of all those punctures. This dramatically improves in-ride experience. It saves a lot of hassle during rides and many regular riders have converted to tubeless.

Pedals

Most people ride clip-less pedals. However if you are technically challenged by ruts or soft sand, then you should consider at least consider pedals that offer both flat pedalling and clip-less pedalling.

Cycling shops choice in Atyrau

Very many people ask what shops there are in Atyrau that sell bicycles , what brands they sell, and what quality bikes are generally available in Atyrau.

Good bike shops have established in Atyrau, some turned bad, and/or vanished from the scene, some not.

In general we find that most local bicycle shops will sell local brands as mainstream bikes, and some will sell some Western European or North American bike brands as their very top end bikes. Most regular riders here will consider the western sold bikes as entry-level against their standards.

In general buy the best you can afford, and more importantly, maintenance and spares is what you need to focus on!

Nearly all of the regular riders bring their own bicycles and internationally source the spare parts they need. Quite a few webshops ship to Atyrau without any issues.

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