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... :)

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

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…
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

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 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
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.

...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... 


Nick Legan; former Pro Tour mechanic for Team RadioShack, et. al. and a tech writer for recently made a great comment in answer to one of the questions from his Ask Nick column. He said:
" 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

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.

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

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

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.)

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?

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.

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!


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

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