Friday, December 21, 2012

7 Tips For Staying Safe While Cycling

This is a guest post from Jamie Huckstep, a professional acquaintance from Australia. Jamie offers some quick tips here with good perspective.. Learn more about Jamie at the end of the article. Enjoy.


While cycling is generally regarded to be a relatively safe sport, accidents still happen and they can be nasty if you aren’t prepared for the worst.  Here are 7 top tips to help you stay safe while out on your ride.


Always Wear An Approved Helmet

Helmets are subjected to stringent testing in order to meet the Australian Standards guidelines for safety.  Don’t be fooled by cheap imitations that you can buy from overseas, unless it carries the Australian Standards sticker then chances are it will not be safe for road use.  Fit is also crucial in ensuring the safety of your head during a potential impact.  It should be snug but not too tight, and mustn’t move around when you try it on.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Quick Guide: Dura Ace 9000 11-Speed Mechanical Group


There is a lot that is new on Shimano's new Dura Ace 9000-series groups. Both the Di2 electronic group and the Mechanical group got overhauls for this model year.

There are plenty of places to read about the nuts-and-bolts: new lever shape, revised brake lever pivot, new brake calipers, new chainrings; crank arms; and bottom bracket bearings; oh - and it now goes to 11...

But here's what many of us are wondering: what's the bottom line? How much weight do I save and what's it going to cost me?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Shimano RS-80 C24: First Impressions

The natural progression continues...

As it stands at the time of publishing this post; two of my most popular pages are my reviews on the Shimano WH-7850-c24-cl wheelset and the Shimano WH-6700 Tubeless wheelset. I am anticipating that this one will join their ranks rather quickly.

The RS-80 c24, much like the WH-6700 Ultegra Tubeless is a allegorical "shot-across-the-bow" at other major players in the road wheel market. With both of these wheels Shimano is basically saying: "We're doing this be cause we're Shimano and we can." Not that other providers cannot; just that they either don't have the guts or capital (or both) to pull it off without serious stress or anxiety. These wheels possess features of higher priced wheels at prices that you just don't find from the competition. In the case of the RS-80 c24, those features would be light-weight carbon-laminate rims at a price usually below $900. The rims are so light in fact that you cannot get much lighter without going to a full-carbon rim and sacrificing the superior braking of the aluminum brake track.

The RS-80 c24 can be thought of as the "Ultegra" version of the Dura Ace c24-cl. It uses the same rim but merely swaps in a lower grade hub to result in a significantly lower cost and slightly higher weight. Here's the cost/benefit analysis:

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Creation of a Custom 'Cross Bike - in 7 Days

The theory of Creationism states that the universe was created by God in seven days. (Well technically six, because as it's said: "On the seventh day, He rested.") I'd be pooped too, I guess - so a nap is well warranted.

So the creation of a custom titanium cyclocross bike should be no sweat then, right? Not exactly.

In spite of the arguable divinity of Rob Vandermark and the crew at Seven Cycles, they do appear to be limited to some of the finite abilities of mere humanity. Having worked on many custom projects with Seven during my time in Tennessee; I can say that they performed some minor miracles for me and my clients - but in general the custom process usually takes 4-6 weeks.

So even with the VIP status of Mo Bruno Roy's bike; the 1-week turnaround on this is rapid at least and borders on qualification for sainthood at best.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Top Tips for Cycling on a Budget


This is a guest post from Mark Blair. I thought the topic was pertinent and gives a new perspective on some of the tips I have given in the past. Learn more about Mark at the end of the article. Enjoy.
Cycling as a rule is a great activity that can entertain whole families on the weekend for no cost at all. However, they costs that are involved with getting set up with a bike can come at a price that can daunt even the biggest cycling enthusiasts. However, where there is a will there is a way and you can get yourself cycling for a much better price than you may have originally thought.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cheap and Easy Speed?

If you have arrived here looking for stimulants - sorry to disappoint. We don't do that here: this is a doping free zone.

However; if your search is one of looking for "marginal gains" (as the British Cycling Federation has so famously been quoted lately) I may be of assistance.

I've highlighted some articles here before that speak of new testing facilities that have aimed to put some quantitative and objective data behind some of the qualitative speculation many of us cyclists have followed for decades. Most recently; Friction Facts' founder, Jason Smith in Boulder, Colorado has set about doing just that.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Posting resuming tomorrow...

I've chased down the "gap" and the "peloton" is re-forming...
Sorry for the gap - it's been a crazy couple of weeks for us. I'm getting back on track and will have new material coming with a great new post for tomorrow.

Series posts will resume as well...I know there's a few that folks are waiting on.

Check back soon! Thanks for the break :-)

Matt.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Five: Thanksgiving 2012 Edition

I figured that since the "30 Days of Thanks" thing seems to be the cool thing to do on Facebook (but understanding that I have a hard time doing anything for 30 consecutive days...) I'd do a RoadRageCycling version here on the blog. So without further adieu:

5 Bike-related Things I'm Thankful For:


  1. Derailleurs: They open up new roads and trails without making our knees scream out in pain.
  2. Clincher Tires: Modern clinchers are good enough that we can almost forget the old tubulars. Flat changes are so much easier

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Matching Bike Fit to a Second Bike

MULTIPLE BIKE BLUES
If you're fortunate enough to have multiple bicycles; tell me if this sounds familiar: You have spent endless time and possibly funds perfecting the position on your main bicycle. It's flawless. You feel like you could ride on it all day, in all conditions without pain - and then get on it again tomorrow and do it all over.

Then you get on the other bike. And, while you've taken some measurements and tried to match it up to the first one - stuff still isn't right. It could be any number of things that you don't experience on the first bike: Maybe your knees hurt, you have hand numbness, get saddle sores, have after-ride headaches, or just plain don't feel as strong or fast. Maybe it is something else entirely. Whatever it is, you know something isn't right in spite of your effort to fix it. What now?

In a similar post; I gave you an outline of some different bike fit symptoms, what may be causing them, and potentially how to fix it. Ultimately; the underlying theme though was to seek the help of a qualified and professional fitter. I'm going to do a similar thing here: walk through the bike's contact-points and offer some suggestions; but the help of a professional is still priceless here and many shops offer services to help match the riding position between multiple bikes for less cost than having each one fitted individually.

That said: let's move on.  Bikes can seemingly be set up to fit identically when you measure them; but there are a variety of small details that govern why your body may not be sliding into the same position when you ride the others. Let's take a look, starting with some standards:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What’s More Important Diet or Exercise?


This is a guest post from Jamie Knop of Electric Bloom. I thought the topic was pertinent given that we're entering the off season where we think a lot about our diet! Enjoy.




In order to be healthy and look good, we need a mixture of both a good diet and exercise. Some of us prefer to diet whereas others prefer to just exercise and eat what they want. A big question that many have is what’s more important?
What’s your goal?
In order to answer this question, it really depends on what your overall goal is. Whether it’s to lose weight or just tone up. It should be apparent based on your end goal as to which is more important to you.
In a perfect World
Ideally you should do a combination of both, as they are both equally as important. It’s also important to have a mixture of the two for your overall health.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday Five: November 9, 2012

Five Ways to Avoid Ruining Your Bike!

We are seemingly bombarded by all the things we ought to be doing to our bikes to help them last longer - I'm as guilty as anyone else! And if I were to try to turn all of those into a Friday Five topic - well, it would take weeks!

So let's make it simple: What should you not do? Give these a try:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

How To Buy the Right Cycling Shoes

Part of my new "How To" series

Some may have read my guide on helmets, and if you are in that group you will likely find this guide a little familiar. It's just because I'm getting lazy and I don't feel like writing more - so I just copy and pasted the content below. Just replace the word helmet with shoe and you'll be good.  Have fun!

Kidding! It's not because I'm lazy, it's because the theory is actually pretty similar. Both items are something that you'll wear potentially for hours at a time and how well they fit will determine whether you're distracted and have a miserable ride or can enjoy your ride without thinking about your gear. (I've said before that the right gear is the kind you don't notice. Saddles, shorts, gloves, helmets and yes: shoes.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Friday Five: November 2, 2012

Five Myths About Bicycle Maintenance

There are a lot of little maxims, guidelines, and rules-of-thumb out there about taking care of your bike. Some of them are founded in mechanical truth and good to go by (maybe that could be another "Friday Five"...) while others are founded in perception and ought to be ignored or forgotten.

Here are five that fall into the latter category based on my years at the repair stand in 3 major bike shops and now my own operation. Enjoy:
  1. New Chains need re-adjustment after a few rides due to "stretch".
    Chains do stretch. I've covered that before in a few places on the blog. (Here, and here) However, the stretch is slow - or slow-ish depending on the conditions you ride in and your maintenance habits.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

PDW Full Metal Fenders: Tested

You may be fortunate enough to live in a climate where fenders for your bike are a laughable diversion from reality - I know my years living in Nashville were a fender-free utopia compared to Portland. But here in the Pacific Northwest; where people have "rain bikes" and "sunny-day go fast" bikes, we take our fenders seriously as they are our ticket to riding more than 3 months out of the year.

Seriously - it rains almost 9 months of the year here! You can't get any reasonable saddle time from October through May or June - outside at least - if you don't have rain gear and fenders.

So - you'll learn a thing or two about fenders when you come to Portland. Think any ol' thing will do? Nope: those mud guards and easy on/off fenders are like a mere hand-towel after a long shower - not nearly adequate. Think fenders only belong on old beach-cruiser ladies bikes? Wrong again: we'll put them on anything here (and make it look cool to boot).

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Greg LeMond: Industry Revolutionary

Greg LeMond is perhaps best known recently for being an outspoken critic of Lance Armstrong and his claims to clean cycling. Even recently, Greg offered an open letter to the UCI's Pat McQuaid asking him to resign and citing (in summary) willful ignorance when it comes to the purported doping system that Armstrong and U.S. Postal Pro Cycling allegedly ran according to the USADA's recent Reasoned Decision.

But my opinion is; having met the man on several occasions and having some mutual friends, this sells Greg very short (as most generalizations tend to do). And to go a step further - Greg is more than the first (only?*) American to win the Tour de France and the guy who popularized clipless pedals, carbon frames, and "aero bars" for road race time trials.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Road Frame Testing: Interesting Video

Giant has posted a video explaining frame testing protocol within the bicycle industry and it is really rather fascinating.

You have to wade through a bit of manufacturer propaganda, but many of us have heard it all before (and I rather like Giant's road bikes) so it's not that bad. Once you sift through the subjectivity you'll see that there are some cold hard facts and some interesting insights into how all these data points that we are bombarded with are actually created - and why some companies test the way they do.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Five; October 26, 2012

Five things you should have done on your 6:00 a.m., 37 F degree, rainy ride back from the auto service center after dropping off your car.

I was reminded of all of these things yesterday morning... :) These are actually good tips for any early-morning fall ride though.Thought I'd share.

  1. Pump your tires up the night before - 'cause you know you don't have time in the morning.
  2. Wear the winter wind-proof scull cap that covers your ears and not the euro-chic cycling cap. Regardless of how tough you think you are - it's cold out there!
  3. Wear the wind-proof gloves too. It may be a short ride, but your hands will get cold.
  4. Charge your headlight battery the night before - having your light begin to run low on juice near the end of the ride is not luck; it's poor planning.
  5. Take your own advice and just do your pre-ride check the night before. I mean come on, Matt - you're smarter than that! :)
It was really cold; I was freezing; and to top it off I also had stolen a few CO2 cartridges out of my seat pack on the last MTB ride I did - so I was riding without any flat-changing capacity at all! In the rain, on tires with lower-than-ideal pressure: a sure recipe for a flat. That's right; I do stupid stuff too.

Have a great weekend, everyone - and run through that pre-ride check tonight before your ride tomorrow a.m.; o.k.?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

How To Buy a New Bike Helmet

Part of my new "How To" series

My latest series of posts is focusing on things that I frequently helped people learn during my years in bike shops.

That is to say that these are some of the things that are sort of considered "tribal knowledge" - you don't necessarily know them until you've been at it a while and made some mistakes. Well, I've never felt that was fair and I've always enjoyed demystifying the bike industry for people. So; here's the next tip to help you along your journey to better enjoying your cycling experience:

HOW TO BUY THE RIGHT BIKE HELMET

Wow - that was formal...

So I'm going to focus on two areas primarily with a third area which is really less important - sort of like 2.5 steps to a better bike helmet. These should also serve to help set your priorities as you shop and try them on since I'm listing them in order.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wall street Journal's Humorous Online Look at Who Gets Armstrong's Tour Titles

Photo: online.wsj.com
It's a bittersweet time in pro cycling right now. Sad to see one of the greatest icons the sport has ever had go down for what may also be the sport's biggest doping charades. However, there may be fresh air being breathed into the sport as the dark cloud of "omerta" (cycling's version of  see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil) is possibly being driven out of the valley; clearing the atmosphere around the peleton.

I don't make it a big habit of sending you to outside content - I figure you've probably already seen it. But this was too good not to share. Whichever side of the issue you come down on; this lighthearted take may lift your mood a little.

Thanks to my friend and fellow musician and cyclist; Jim Watson, for the tip.

Meet Your New Tour de France Champ - wsj.com

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

CycleOps Magneto Pro: Tested

 As a cycling-fond resident of the rainy Pacific Northwestern U.S., a Certified Bike Fitter, parent of 3 young boys, and a Manager of three different successful bike shops; I've come to know and love a thing or two about indoor trainers. (See my tips & tricks post for more general info)

I have logged many hours around trainers - riding, fitting, sizing, and putting bikes in and taking them out. Just a blind estimation: I have probably installed and removed somewhere over 10,000 bikes from trainers in my career. Not that someone out there hasn't done more...but it's certainly enough to develop an understanding of what makes a decent trainer.

Now if you have read any of my other writing on trainers, you'll know that I have a certain affinity for two things: 1) Fluid resistance trainers and 2) Kurt Kinetic brand trainers. This comes from my years of using them and I have found these to be among the best.

However, this trainer: CycleOps' Magneto Pro may be softening my heart a little...

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Five: October 19, 2012

Five reasons the 2003 Tour de France will still be one of the greatest ever.

Hard to believe that this next July will mark 10 years since this epic edition of the Tour. Even in light of the current Lance debacle, there is no denying the grand scale of the race that would become his fifth victory* in 2003. Even with the knowledge that the contenders were doped to the gills; here are five reasons why this edition of the grand tour will always be one of the most dramatic and enjoyable to watch:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

How To Wear Bike Shorts

AND I WILL ANSWER "THAT" QUESTION...
Yes, after all this time online, my new "How To" series has finally moved this topic off the To Do list and onto the blog.

In all my years in managing bicycle stores; this was probably the topic that was the most difficult to address and that customers and salespeople alike knew the least about. My intent here is to take my experiences and put them down in a fashion that you can use it as a buying guide for your first few times around the block buying padded cycling shorts.

I'll address every topic here (and if you think I've missed something or still have questions; leave a comment and we'll address that too...), but still keep it G rated as is my style. So no worries; go ahead and read this at work. :) That said; let's begin:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"How To" Series

There's myriad topics I have happily helped people learn to do themselves in my decade managing bike stores. This series is designed to address some of the toughest and most common. I hope this somewhat limited and unidirectional medium can allow me to help you too!

(If there is no link to the topic; check back soon - it's coming!)

How to:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

How to Lock Your Bike Properly

Part of my new "How To" series

If you ever have had to leave your beloved bicycle unattended anywhere other than safely secured within your home you've had that thought: "I hope it doesn't get stolen."

Me; I love my bicycles so much that it is a rare occasion that I let them out of my sight when using them to run errands or making a stop to refuel on a long ride. There are times, however, that I must leave my bike and take proper precautions. While I believe that there is no longer anything that could classify as theft prevention there certainly are some great deterrents, and any longer the secret is for your bike to be locked up better and made less attractive to thieves than the one next to it. So; let's delve into that.

One of my favorite websites, Lifehacker.com recently ran a story on how to lock your bicycle properly; featuring a lot of the advice of the legendary late Sheldon Brown. The article certainly was good - and I'm definitely not one to pick a fight with Sheldon; who is more of an expert on all things bike-related than I, but I did feel that there were some things that could be addressed better along with some tips and methods that I have learned or developed which I would like to pass along.

LOCK IT OR LOSE IT...
The article suggested a couple of ways to lock your bike with a U-Lock: First; running the lock through your rear wheel inside the rear triangle then around a secure object...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday Five, October 12, 2012

Five things your bike shop might be getting wrong...

Don't take me as a hater; I did the bike shop thing for 10 years, I am still one of their biggest advocates, andI run my own independent operation. However - unless you're one of the rare folks who frequents a bike shop staffed by cyborgs - the mechanics are human and even the good ones make mistakes from time to time. So, this post is not meant as a knock to bike shops; but a guide to help us all stay safe and comfortable.

Here's what I see most frequently:

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bike Tools: The Top 11 You Need Most

WHAT'S IN YOUR TOOLBOX?
Cyclists have a tendency to want to be self-sufficient. Think about it: there are a lot of areas revolving around cycling that you'll hear a cyclist say something like "I want to do that myself someday." Riding a century or a multi-day tour; racing, climbing the nastiest hill in the area (or tackling the scariest descent); or moving up to the "fast group" in the Tuesday night group ride. You want to take that next step and say "I did that."

Working on your bike seems to be no different. There are many things that I have happily helped cyclists learn to do themselves. Having a simple mechanical understanding of how to take care of your bike is a big key to enjoying your cycling experience and gaining some security and self-sufficiency. Changing a flat; adjusting your brakes or shifting; properly tightening a bolt or adjusting a saddle; and installing new parts are all things we long to learn to do.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

USADA's Reasoned Decision Against Lance Armstrong

So it appears as though the house of cards is collapsing.

Download the full ~200 page .pdf document here...

I've written some about doping in the past on my blog (here, here, here, and here) but have stayed away from it as a topic for quite a while now as it is a very polarizing topic due to the names associated with the various scandals. While I may have come down on the wrong side a time or two with certain riders; the fact still remains that cheating is cheating whomever you are, whatever you have been through, and whatever you have accomplished.

In the scope of many of the drugs, methods, and masking agents; the side effects are often quite harmful to your health. (Let's just toss this out on the table for consideration now: One of the potential results of EPO use is Testicular Cancer...)

While I love and enjoy the spectacle of the sports encompassed under the umbrella of professional cycling; for the sake of the riders' health and the legacy they leave to the young aspiring cyclists following in their footsteps, I am a major advocate of clean competition.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Interbike 2012 - Cool New Stuff From Shimano

 Now, it's no secret to most of you that I am a huge fan of Shimano - I almost exclusively ride their components; I have sold off all my cycling shoes that don't carry their blue logo; and whatever bike parts of mine don't have Shimano part numbers, I mostly wish they did... (like my Speedplay pedals...)

In my days as a retail buyer, Shimano was often the first appointment I'd set at the trade show. I'm still most excited to see what they roll out and try to make them an early stop on my walking tour if the show when I'm there.

The latest version of Dura Ace (9000) has rightfully gotten some due attention - so let's take a closer look at some of the stuff sitting in the limelight.

WHEELS
Each generation of the Shimano wheels makes me a bigger fan.  The early iterations fell short; but they have caught up big time and are definitely a "tone-setter" for much of the industry now. The fact that Zipp saw fit to try to slow the introduction of the carbon/aluminum laminate Dura Ace wheels with litigation a few years ago should be testament to Shimano's innovation and influence in this category.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday Five: October 5, 2012

This is the first in a new series I'll post every Friday (and honestly, an idea I stole from another blogger in a different genre...)

Five things to think about, to do, to get, to check, to see, places to go, or otherwise. Some of it should be fun or though provoking. Some of it might be sobering or sad. We'll see.

Come along and let's take this somewhere. Have an idea for a Friday Five topic? Leave a comment!

Today: Five Things You Must Do Before You Call Yourself a Cyclist:

  1.  Shave your legs at least once. A bigger deal for guys obviously, but still a rite of passage. It will also not be left unsaid that this step also requires wearing shorts to a public, non-cycling event.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Specialized Purist Water Bottle Review

Nasty, funky, water bottle.

We've all probably had one. That bottle that no matter how much you washed it just wouldn't seem to come clean or stop stinking like foot. If you're lucky its just that this bottle seems to always taste like that energy drink you used a while back. Whatever it is; your average water bottle has a tendency to become "funky".

The solution: replace it - you will likely never get that stain or stink out. However, while we used to have to settle for replacing the funk bottle with the same kind of bottle with the same propensity to get nasty. Specialized Bicycle Components has presented a solution though and I think it is a good one.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cyclocross Disc set-up Tips


This post is part of a series on Cyclocross Tips...

The tide is turning a little in the bike industry and brands are listening to consumers then building designs around their desires more than ever. An excellent example is the adaptation of disc brakes in the cyclocross and road segments. 
With new designs; even if it's merely an adaptation like adding disc brakes to these segments - new issues are bound to arise and new techniques are developed to deal with them. It is no different here and there are some great ways to get your brakes working well and ready for race season - even if you're not immediately familiar with the nuances of disc brakes on a cyclocross frame.  Let's start at the beginning:

Thursday, September 27, 2012

My "Cheap" Steel Single-Speed Cyclocross Bike

 I had originally intended to write a post covering how to put together a single-speed 'cross bike on the cheap. They're great bikes for running errands; riding with your family; and of course - racing if you wish. They can give you a great change of pace from the regular ol' road bike to if you should happen to need one.

Then I realized that my bike isn't a great example of doing it on the "cheap" - except that it didn't cost me too much since a lot of it was from parts I already had... However; you may still get some ideas from this, and I'm proud of it - so I'm posting it anyway... :)

OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN...
First in any bike build is the frame - and this one; well - this is what made the whole project possible.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Indoor Trainer Tips & Tricks



SPINNING BUT GOING NOWHERE...
Yes, it’s that time of the year again – and with the cold snaps we often see during the holidays; some of us may be driven off the roads by weather sooner than usual. If you already have a trainer; I’ll try to offer some tips that might be helpful.  If you’re shopping for a trainer; here you’ll also find a great guide for what to look for and how to use it for your greatest success.  Read on…
 
SHOPPING? THINGS TO CONSIDER:
1.  Quieter is better,
 but tends to cost more.  
Aside from the irritation of noise (especially if you’re using it at night and have kids or close neighbors…); a quieter trainer makes it easier to apply some of the tips you’ll read later on.  Wind trainers are the loudest.  Avoid them if noise is a great concern.  Other types of resistance are considerably quieter – but this varies by brand.  In general the fluid-type resistance units will be the quietest.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Swiftwick Merino Socks - Tested


SPRING, SUMMER, WOOL...
Here in the Pacific Northwest we've had a couple of late-Summer heat waves so it's hard to imagine - but Autumn is right around the corner and with it comes wool sock season. What is wool sock season? Here in Oregon and Washington it is about 7 months of cool to cold, wet, drippy, rainy, slushy and generally overcast weather that the rest of the country might refer to as Winter. 

With these conditions it is the little things that brighten your mood and make you more comfortable. One of those little things for me is a good pair of mid-weight merino wool socks. Not the thick, heavy, itchy "ski" socks that we all remember from days gone by; no, there is no reason to wear that stuff any more. They would get so water-logged if your shoes or boots got wet that you would be carrying around what seemed like an extra pound or so in your shoes and then your feet would get cold. Not to mention that they itched; stretched out and got saggy; and were just generally bad socks. No, these new generation of wool socks are blends of newer materials like polypropylene, lycra, spandex, olefin, and other comfy, stretchy, and quick to wick and dry materials which make them far more functional and comfortable.
But, many of you who have not tried them yet (or have not read my other Swiftwick review...) may still be asking yourselves; “What’s so great about some socks?”  Well, Swiftwick has your answer.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Headlights for Cycling - Are There Better Options?


As I was riding my bike down dark neighborhood streets to my weekly pick-up basketball game last night I got to thinking: Are lighting options for the bike industry keeping pace with other industries?

I had decided to use my NightRider MiNewt light this time as it is now dark enough that I need more than the simple “blinky” I had been using. The MiNewt was a good light for its time and I feel pretty safe with it. Lighting options have improved lately though – getting brighter with longer battery life and some new options. But how do we compare to other industries needing lighting for similar purposes?

I turned to the ATV industry; as I had seen a friend’s setup on his Polaris Ranger and I figured they deal with similar speeds and in the case comparing the needs of lights for mountain biking they encounter similar environments and obstacles.  My search for Polaris Ranger accessories led me to SideBySideStuff.com and particularly to a page for lighting products. Among their respectable selection of lights; the ones I found that mimicked what we see in cycling were the Rigid Industries Dually LED set.

These were possibly a little heavier than many of us would choose – at 1.25 lbs a set – and they need a separate power source. But, at just under $200 for 1300 lumens with two different reflector patterns available I’d say I’m impressed.  Many features we see in the bike industry’s leading products are present – but I think we’re a little behind on brightness.

What do you think? How do we stack up? Who could we learn a thing or two from? (Or could we teach some other industries a thing or two…) Leave a comment and let’s discuss…

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Bike Mistakes - Part 2.5: Chain Lubrication

This is part a series on common mistakes on your bike...  and is a follow-up to Part 2: Chain and Gears
TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING
And hopefully by now I'm not referring to this series of posts...

We are all guilty of it at one time or another in our "cycling career". If some chain lube is good - then more chain lube is better; right?

Or perhaps you're on the other end of the spectrum: "You mean I'm supposed to put something on that thing that goes around and around when I pedal?" (I've been there too...don't worry.) Since we didn't talk at length about the specifics of lubrication in the last post; I figured that would be a good subject to cover before we move on to other topics.

TRUE; OIL AND WATER DON'T MIX...
...and this is important for several reasons as you'll soon discover.

First, what not to do:
Don't use WD-40.  This has long been a "go-to" which gets applied to bicycle chains often because we've been trained to think of it as a lubricant since we put it on anything that squeaks around our house. The truth is it's not a lubricant;

Friday, September 14, 2012

Specialized buys Retul - Big News in the Bike Fit World

As a dedicated and certified bike fitter; I'll say that the changes we have seen in the last decade in the tools and technology available have infinitely improved our ability to really, truly fit someones bicycle to their unique body structure and needs. The news of the last few days stands to drive the industry to take another big step forward - which is great news for cyclists everywhere.

Fresh on the heels of Cannondale Cycling Group's announcement that seems to hint an a purchase of Canada's Guru Bikes; Specialized drops their own (and in my opinion; a characteristically bigger) bomb by announcing their purchase of the Retul fitting system.

Post-Bike Ride Checklist

Part of my Bike Maintenance Made Easier series... 

GUILTY OF NEGLECT?

Nick Legan; former Pro Tour mechanic for Team RadioShack, et. al. and a tech writer for velonews.com recently made a great comment in answer to one of the questions from his Ask Nick column. He said:
"...it amazes me how much attention bike racers will give their training, their nutrition and their pre-race routine while ignoring a major part of the equation: their bikes!
What makes a pro team mechanic a pro team mechanic is actually very repetitive in nature: inspection. By paying daily attention to a bike, a good mechanic can prevent virtually all on-the-road problems. "
While many of us long for the meticulous care of having a pro team mechanic maintain our machines; what we don't realize is that the biggest difference - systematic inspection - is something that is easy for us to do ourselves. Here I will outline for you the steps that I take after a ride in my quick little inspection to hopefully give you a framework for your own routine. You are more than welcome to use mine, of course.

This routine is meant to be pretty brief - because I know I'm tired after a ride and usually ready to take a shower and start recovery; and I'm sure you're probably like me in that respect. So these steps shouldn't require a lot of time and should allow you to put the bike away and get on with your day pretty quickly.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

PRO Vibe-7s seatpost - tested

POST-HASTE
How excited can one get about a seatpost?

Well, if you're a regular reader; you already have a certain expectation about just how overboard I can go in my excitement about little things...  Additionally, as a certified bike fitter; I have my hands on a lot of seatposts - and honestly; they can be a bit of a frustration point for me - some are easy to use and adjust while others are an absolute pain.

You see; like many components on your bike, the seatpost is more than just that necessary part that connects your saddle to your bike. And while we forget about it quite often, the function and ease of operation of your seatpost has a great deal of influence over the comfort and ride characteristics of your bicycle. So; let me discuss how the Vibe 7s performs in these categories.

THE SETUP
So, if you've read any of my reviews on a lot of the components I choose for my own bike you know that there is a little bit of a superficial element to my selection: yeah, it has to look good first. (Hey, at least I'm honest about it.) After that - it's all about function: how easy is it to set up and can I leave it alone once everything is set to go.

The Vibe 7s certainly fits into that category: set it and forget it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Soma Steel Core Tire levers

LEVERAGE IS EVERYTHING
A good tire lever can make the difference between a good ride and a miserable one.

"That's a bold statement, Matt"; you say? Well, stay with me for a moment here. Ever been stuck on the side of the road or trail with a flat tire that is difficult to remove from the rim or re-install? How about being stuck with a flat tire because you broke your last or only tire lever and now you can't remove the tire at all? In the rain. And cold. Oh yeah, and it's getting dark too.

Yeah, neither have I - but I'm more about prevention than cure anyhow. That said; I've broken my fair share of tire levers and uttered my fair share of foul words and phrases - of which I'm not proud - at those difficult tires. A small price for prevention certainly goes a long way toward a better experience. And, not much can sour a ride faster than a bad experience changing a flat tire, right? See what I did there? :)

Enter the Soma Steelcore Tire Lever. This had solution written all over it when I first saw it - figuratively, of course.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Swiftwick Socks: Tested


SOCKS? REALLY?
I am actually amazed at the amount of gear that I have had for a long time that I have never written about. To say the least - it's been a busy few years and I haven't been writing as much as I would have liked. My Swiftwick socks certainly fall into that category.

My experience with Swiftwick socks goes back quite some time. If I had to guess I would say it was sometime around 2005 or 2006 when one of the owners of the company walked into the bike shop I was running in Brentwood, Tennessee (suburb South of Nashville and Swiftwick's home town). He handed me a sample set  claiming they'd be the best socks I'd ever worn and said he'd check back in a few weeks to see how I like them. Well, long story short ('cause I can be long-winded); I still own the socks, they get regular use, and not only are they still holding up but they are among my favorites. Additionally; I have spent a decent amount of my own  money acquiring more (the photo above is just the pairs that aren't in the laundry at the time...and there are 6-pair pictured.)

THE DETAILS
So what's the deal? What makes these so great? Well, as much as I'd like to start off with materials and technobabble - I think what is at the core of the greatness here is good old fashioned attention to detail.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

What Do I Carry on a Ride?

ALWAYS BE PREPARED...
I mentioned in my Pre-Ride Checklist post that one of the more important things I do is to do a quick check of the items I carry in my seat bag or hydration pack to be sure I have everything I need. I was never a Boy Scout, but Murphy's Law would dictate that the one time you forget to do this is when you'll be missing that crucial spare tube, CO2 cartridge, patch kit, or multi-tool - so this step can be considered to be "Murphy Insurance". O.k., that's a little cheesy...but it's true.

I have also advised many customers that it's no excuse to not carry this stuff because you don't know how to use it. Always carry what your bike needs whether you know how to use it or not - because if you have a problem and don't have what you need; it's possible that I might come along - but I may not be able to help if you don't have these items with you.

BEING PICKY
But how do you determine what to take with you anyhow? (And some of you might still be asking a different question: "I'm really supposed to take stuff along with me???")

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Cyclocross Tips Series

I get a lot of traffic looking for info on Cyclocross. Fitting, tires, and other set up tips are among just some of the topics that bring people here.

So, with that in mind; I have compiled all of my 'cross posts in one place and will be adding more as time progresses. So - here you go: one stop shopping!

If you have questions or suggestions for a topic; leave it in the comments and I'll address it as best I can. Thanks for your loyal reading!


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pre-Ride Checklist



Part of my Bike Maintenance Made Easier series...

"PREPPING" AIN'T JUST FOR ZOMBIE ATTACKS...

I was preparing for a ride the other day when it occurred to me: there's a lot of things that I just "do" before a ride without thinking about - however they can be rather crucial to the success and enjoyment of the endeavor. A lot of this ritual are things picked up along my journey as a cyclist from others and some of it is because of experiences I have had and developed a way to prevent disaster on subsequent rides. There's nothing magical about it; but it is actually a little bit of a ritual. That's good though as it keeps me from missing a step or forgetting to do something before I head out the door.

All told; while it might seem like a lot of steps - it really only takes probably 10 minutes total ( not sure really - I'm not analytic enough to time myself...). The trick to this or any checklist you might develop for yourself is to make it a routine and you'll soon find yourself accomplishing everything rather quickly and smoothly. So; here's the details with some description following so you know why I might do what I do - or when I do it.

You might also note that I allude to some post-ride rituals too...I'll post some on that that soon; but it's just as important and can be very quick and easy.

PLAN MY ROUTE: I do this for safety's sake: so I can tell my wife where I'm going since I ride by myself most of the time.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Get Road Rage Cycling on your Mobile Device

I just got around to putting the Android operating system on my HP Touchpad tablet (which is a different blog post for a different blog; but anyway); and while downloading new apps I stumbled upon Google Currents; a service that offers free subscriptions to many top publications in one place so you can easily get the news and content that is important to you. With less than 24 hours to play with the app; I have subscribed to way more content than I can ever hope to read!

But it also got me thinking: I wonder how I can use this to make Road Rage Cycling more accessible?
Turns out it is very simple and so I'm happy to introduce: Road Rage Cycling on Google Currents! Now you'll have access to the blog in a quick to access, mobile-specific format.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Road Bike Disc Brake Troubleshooting

Slow down, turbo...
As disc brakes become more common on road bikes (this current model year saw many models finally hitting bike shop inventories) there is myriad new issues for us to address. Some of them have been dealt with in the mountain bike world for years while others are new and unique.

Lennard Zinn; a tech writer for VeloNews and the author of many authoritative bicycle maintenance books (not to mention a framebuilder - where does he find the time?), wrote an excellent piece in answer to a reader's question and it appeared at velonews.com this morning.

Here's the exchange which I thought was too good not to share:

Dear Lennard,
Do you have tips for setting up disc brakes on road bikes? I’m using Avid BB-7 road calipers with XX 160F, 140R rotors with stock pads and standard cables/housing with Ultegra Di2 brake levers. They seem to be short on stopping power; the MTB versions I’ve tried have been much stronger.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Do I need a torque wrench?


Getting torqued off?
That sound...if you've heard it before; you already know what I'm talking about. The subtle crackle of a carbon handlebar or seatpost bowing to the pressure of an over-torqued bolt. Or perhaps you heard the sharp snap of an aluminum stem clamp or steel seat clamp bolt - either way they're all unpleasant but preventable.

One could argue that the Torque Wrench has become the most valuable tool in a bike mechanic’s toolbox.  Can you assemble or fix a bike without one?  Absolutely.  But, what other tool helps you complete that work with the confidence that you’ve got every bolt tightened to manufacturer’s specification, without being so tight you’re damaging the parts?  That’s where the value lies: A torque wrench is cheaper than replacing a $200 seat post or $350 carbon handlebar!
You see, today’s ever-lighter aluminum and carbon components are still strong, but less tolerant to improperly applied torque. Historically, our frames and parts were so strong that the bolt was the weak part.  More seasoned riders will remember having to regularly replace seat binder bolts (and I even carried a spare in my seat bag on my first road bike).

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tubeless Cyclocross Tire Tips


Part of a series I'm calling Tires 101 with lots of great info to consider when looking for new tires.

GOT LESS (TUBES)?
There have been lots of comments back and forth between my readers about switching to tubeless for road and cyclocross. This is a guest post of sorts - an acquaintance was nice enough to write his thoughts down and share his info with us.
With cyclocross season right around the corner you might find this info helpful. There are tons of different combos of rims, tires, and tubeless products. We hope his insight into what worked for him last season for him will help with a few questions you may have. Here's what he had to say:
This year I have been racing cyclocross on road tubeless Shimano Dura Ace 7850sl wheels.  Just a quick search on Google will show that while Shimano is silent on using their road tubeless system wheels for cyclocross, there are plenty of others either talking it up, or talking it down.  What I will try to do here is describe the problem, tell you what has worked for me, and perhaps more importantly, tell you what hasn’t worked — and the lessons I learned from the experiments.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Dura Ace PD-7900 Pedals - First Impressions


Less weight, same great pedal A quick update before the weekend. Shimano’s latest pedal offering arrived last season – the new Dura Ace PD-7900 in carbon composite.  Now that we've had our hands on them and they've seen some miles; here's our thoughts. Published weight is 248 grams per pair (124 g. each) which officially enters Shimano into the light-weight pedal game.  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Bike Mistakes - Part 2: Chain and gears

This is the second in a series on common mistakes on your bike...

SPINNING WHEEL, GOT TO GO ROUND...
One of the big ideas behind this series is to pass along solutions to the things that we commonly see in a shop; many of which can end up costing a lot of money to fix if left unattended. This time of year, as bikes are being brought back out of storage (many of which having been ridden hard and put away wet...) one of the things we see commonly is a worn out drivetrain.

So, the causes of worn drivetrains vary - but can all usually be traced back to a stretched chain. As you ride your bike; the chain stretches and the distance between the pins gets greater and often the bushings will wear as well. Over many miles of hard riding, the chain wears the gears to match this new spacing. Dirty, dry, or otherwise poorly maintained drivetrains only accelerate this effect.

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All content - except where otherwise noted - copyright 2006 - 2013 Matthew Magee. Do not use without permission.

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