Author Archives: John Brown

As a cyclist or a safer driver you become aware of what drivers of both bikes and cars are doing and learn how to keep yourself safe - observe and practice.

Being a safer driver is easy with a few lessons learned on your bike

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking

Riding a bike is both a fun sport and mode of transportation if done safely. One of the main concerns while riding your bicycle when traffic is around you is, what to do? As a cyclist, you become aware of what drivers of automobiles are doing and how to keep yourself safe. Now, what happens when you get back in your car? Take some of the lessons you learned while riding your bike and use them to become a safer driver of an automobile.

Know where you are as a safer driver

When you are driving in your car, safety concerns change with the surroundings. Traffic signs like deer crossing, children at play, and school zones offer a great indication that you should be paying close attention to what’s off the road as well as what’s on it. In residential areas, be aware of cyclists on sidewalks, in driveway as well as on the road. Pay particular attention to children as their behavior can be a bit more erratic than an adult.  In the case of adults, look for hand signals to alert you to their changes in direction.

Passing as a safer driver

To be a safer driver pay close attention when passing a cyclist. Take the time to do it right, and by that I mean, literally take the time! Slow down, allow the rider to know you are approaching, ensure that the road ahead is clear for you as well as the cyclist and pass at a safe distance. Even if you need to wait a few minutes to pass safely, be sure not to act too aggressively when the opportunity does arise to pass. See new law revisions when passing a bicyclist in Minnesota.

safer driver

A safe driver when passing gives the bike rider plenty of room and you plenty of time to deal with any oncoming traffic.

safer driver

Too little room can force a rider off the road and into a bad situation.

safer driver

Look down the road and ensure you have ample room and time to pass safely.

Turning as a safer driver

Most cyclist will ride to the right side of the road and in doing this they put themselves in danger for cars turning right. To be a safer driver, pay close attention to bike riders on the shoulder of the road. As you pass them be sure to offer plenty of room before you begin to turn your car in front of them. Sadly, many drivers will look forward for a clear road while turning, but not off to their right. This leads to cyclists possibly impacting the right side of a car.

Give cyclists ample room to stop or slowdown if needed.

Opening Your Door As A Safer Driver

Just like turning, when opening your car door be sure to look behind you. Riders use the right side of the road, so when you park on the street, you can do serious damage to a rider and your vehicle if you accidentally “door” them. A moment to look in the rear view mirror can save you and those around you a lot of pain and trouble.

Pay close attention to what is behind you before opening your car door when parked on the street.

Distractions On Your Bike Or In A Car

We live in a digital world and it is difficult to unplug with all the distraction. Please make the pledge to yourself to use your digital devices as little as possible in the car or on your bike. Other distractions can be music that is too loud, children that are excitable (I struggle with this one) or GPS devices. Try to plan your route in advance, limit the digital distractions, and remind your children of the dangers of distracted driving.

We should all hope that the same care we take while riding on our bike goes into our driving habits and vise-versa. Being more aware of our surroundings, more aware of others, and less distracted goes a long way to make you a safer driver of both your car and your bicycle.

Lets Share the Road!

Tubeless tires are one of the best upgrades you can make to your bike. This is the HaveFunBiking guide to tubeless tire setup and troubleshooting.

Tips and tricks for setting up your tubeless tires on your bike

By John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Tubeless tires are one of the best upgrades you can make to your bike. They are more resistant to flats, ride better, and are lighter. With all their benefits, the fear of setting them up keeps many riders from enjoying the tubeless world. If you are still refusing to take the leap for fear of having to care for them, read on. This is the HaveFunBiking guide to tubeless tire setup and troubleshooting.

Are tubeless tires compatible for your bike wheels?

First step in setting up your tubeless wheels is to verify you have all the right parts. First, verify with the manufacturer that your bike rim and tire are tubeless ready. Review the rim and tire for a tubeless ready designation. Common terms for Tubeless are “Tubeless ready”, “TLR”, “TCS”, “Tubeless Easy”, “TNT”, and “TR”.  Once you assure that the rim and tire are tubeless ready, you can move on to getting your wheels and tires ready.

tubless tire

Vittoria’s TNT tubeless logo

Tubeless tire

Schwalbe’s Tubeless easy logo

Prep

First, take the wheels off your bike. Once they are off remove the existing tires and tubes off the wheels. For the next step, you need to verify what type of rim tape you have. Rim tape is the barrier in the center of the rim that holds the innertube’s pressure from pressing into the spoke holes. If you have cloth tape or a nylon belt, you need to remove it. If there is an adhesive plastic tape applied to the rim (frequently yellow or blue), leave it in place. Next, clean the rim thoroughly with soap and water. Also clean the beads of you tire with soap and water.

Yelow Tubeless rim tape is well applied here

Tubeless tire bike tape

If you had to remove a nylon belt or cloth tape, you will need to replace it with a tubeless rim tape. There are many different brands and they all work well, the only thing you want to make sure of is that the rim tape matches your rim width. I like to pick a tape that will cover the inside of the rim from edge to edge. That means, if the rim has a 23mm inner width a tape with a 23mm width fits perfectly ensuring an airtight fit between tire and rim. When you install the tape, start opposite to the valve hole, Stretch the tape slightly as you go, and overlap the end by at least four inches. Once the tape is in place, use your fingers to burnish it down into the rim.

tubeless tire

Installing tape on a clean bike rim.

Installing the valve

Now that the bike rim is taped and ready for a tire, you need to install the tubeless valve. A tubeless valve looks just like a standard presta valve except instead of being attached to an innertube, it has a small seal at the end of it. To install the valve, first locate the valve hole in the rim and pierce the rim tape. I like to use an awe that has a diameter just a bit smaller than the tubeless valve. Once you pierce the tape, push the tubeless valve through it and tighten it into place with a valve nut. You can also dip the valve’s seal in a little tire sealant before you install it to maximize the airtight seal.

Tubeless tires

Valve installation process

Seating the tire

Installing a tubeless tire is almost an identical process to installing a standard tire, except there is no tube. Start by installing one side of the tire bead onto the rim, before installing the second bead, you can add sealant (more about this in the next section) or just put the tire all the way onto the rim dry. I urge you not to use a tire lever to install the tire. Quite often, tire levers can damage the tire or tape, limiting their ability to hold an airtight seal.

Sealant

The tire sealant I mentioned in the last section is the fluid that goes into your tire, that helps everything stay airtight. There are heaps of sealants on the market, but for the most part they all get installed one of two ways. You can either pour the desired amount into the tire before it is completely installed, or you can inject the sealant through the valve. Sealant can dry out within the tire over time, so you should plan to add more sealant to the tires on a quarterly basis. To add sealant through the valve, you will need to remove the valve core from the tubeless valve, and use an injector to force fluid into the tire

Sealant in the tire. You can see the dried sealant on the tire

Airing it up

One of the most difficult parts to installing a tubeless setup can be getting it to hold air. I know this sounds strange, but with all the different rim and tire manufacturers out there, getting consistent tolerances between the two is difficult. This variation in tolerance is what can lead to some difficulty airing the tires up for the first time. Thankfully, as an industry, tolerances are getting closer every year.

There are two schools of thought on airing up the tire initially: with sealant or without. While there are benefits to both ways it breaks down to this. With sealant in the tire, you stand a better chance of having the system seal initially. Without sealant, if there is any issue with the tire seating, you don’t need to fool with the mess of sealant correcting the issue. Overall, I like to be careful with my prep, tape application, and valve installation so I can air up the tire with sealant.

With Sealant

To air up the tires with sealant in the system, ensure the tire is seated on the rim well. Inspect that the tubeless valve is sitting inside the cavity of the tire (it I possible for the tire to be sitting completely off to one side of the valve on wider rims). Then, with a good floor pump, start adding air as quickly as you can. It is ok if the system leaks a bit of air and fluid at first, but after 30 seconds of pumping you should have a tire that is beginning to hold air well. I like to bring the tire up to max pressure initially to guarantee it’s seated completely, then I lower the pressure down to my desired PSI.

Flatstopper sealant poured directly into a tire

Without Sealant

Airing the tire up dry follows the same procedure, but after the tire is seated, you must release the air pressure, remove the valve core, inject sealant, then re-inflate.

tubless tires

Sealant being added through the valve.

Common issues and fixes

Wont air up – It is totally possible that regardless of how much you pump, the tire won’t take air. There are a few things you can do to help. First thing is to hang the wheel by the rim, rather than having it sit on the ground. Often time, taking pressure off the tire completely will let it seat. Also, you can use more air. I find a compressor or floor pump with a reservoir works exceptionally well. If both these things don’t work, you can remove the valve core from the tubeless valve and try again (it allows slightly more air to get into the tire).

Leaking fluid – Depending on the tire you use it’s common to see some fluid weeping from the area where the tire and rim meet, or from the actual sidewall of the tire. In both cases, I find it helps to lower the air pressure and allow the sealant to dry. Pressures that are too high will often time keep fluid weeping faster than it can dry and seal. If you see fluid leaking through the base of the valve, or through the spoke holes, chances are you have a valve that isn’t airtight or rim tape that isn’t sealing. Like the sidewall, lower the pressure and see if it seals. If it continues to leak, you may need to tighten the valve, or worse yet, replace the rim tape.

I think with these tips and a little practice you will find that installing tubeless tires is a breeze. Also, you will find that the ride quality and flat prevention benefits are well worth the slight learning curve.

Discovering how things work here is a group of neighborhood kids learning about bicycle maintenance. 

Teaching your child the ancient art of bicycle maintenance

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

As a parent and tinkerer, one of the most fun activities I share with my boys is teaching them how things work. Now that my older son is riding more and helping me reviewing a bike for HaveFunBiking, the time has come to teach him how a bike works. Almost everybody gets the basics, but after 20 years working in shops, I want to give as much of my experience to him as possible. Take a look at my plan for teaching my son bicycle maintenance.

This father, son team assemble a bike for a school program.

Here this father, son team assemble a new bike for a school program.

Safety first in bicycle maintenance

Like wearing a helmet when riding a bike, working on a bike has safety gear as well. Eye protection is a must. With safety glasses on the next step is to show your child the danger zones on a bike. Spinning wheels, spinning brake rotors, along with the crank, chain and cogs are all dangerous to little fingers. Teach your children to stay away from those areas when the bike is moving. On that subject, it is also important for kids to wear clothing that is snug fitting. Loose clothing can get caught in moving parts.

bicycle maintenance

Caution areas are highlighted in red. These are the places fingers can get pinched.

Tools of the trade in bicycle maintenance

The next step is to teach your kid what the tools are and how to use them. Bikes only use a few different tools like, metric hex wrenches, screwdrivers, and metric box wrenches. First show you child how to hold each tool for best leverage, and what part of the tool engages with the bike. Then, show them where each tool fits on the bike before beginning the fix.

bicycle maintenance

Hex wrenches, box wrenches, and screwdrivers used by professional bike mechanics across the country.

Having fun with bicycle maintenance

Now that the safety and instruction portions are over, make the process fun! Your kid is more than likely dying to get their hands (and wrenches) on the bike as quickly as possible, so let them have at it. Considering you gave them the safety and function basics already, their exploration of the bike will be safe and enlightening. Once they play a little, ask your kid to teach you how the bike works! Have them exercise their brain and logic by explaining how the bike functions.

Teaching a little at a time

It’s easy for parents to get overzealous when teaching. If you are mechanically inclined, sharing that gift with your kids can be exciting, but try not to overwhelm them. Feel comfortable stopping the lesson when they loose interest. I like to start teaching with the rear brake (assuming it is a rim brake). The rear brake usually needs adjustment, and is a rather simple example of how the rest of the bike functions. Once the rear brake is dialed, and your kid is comfortable with the process, have them adjust the front brake.

Next, I start teaching about how to adjust the shifting system. Hopefully you and your child had a good conversation when they “taught” you how the shifting worked, because that conversation is a great baseline for teaching how to adjust the shifting. Because of the barrel adjuster on the rear derailleur, start with the rear shifting first. Once they get the hang of that move to the front derailleur.

After the bike is functioning properly, teach your kids how to adjust the seat, bars and controls. You may ask why I would recommend the simple adjustments last? Simple answer, these adjustments require the most leverage and are best saved for once your child is practiced at using the tools.

Test ride

Once you child completes the adjustments, it’s time to take a test ride. Have your kid test ride in a supervised area away from traffic (like a driveway). Once the test ride is complete, make any additional adjustments needed, and be sure all the hardware is tight.

bicycle maintenance

Test rides are fun!

Learn through mistakes

Most of the fun of learning to work on bikes (or anything for that matter) is the process. Nobody gets it right on the first try, and all of us learn from the mistakes along the way. In fact, the mistakes are more valuable than the successes. So the most important part of teaching your kids to work on bikes is to let them make mistakes and be a resource for the solutions if needed.

It's Saturday, you know what that means! Miles of Smiles Saturday is here again! This is the last weekend of March! April is quickly approaching!

Making your next group ride fun and safe with these tips

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

With summer now here, I hope you have plans to ride with family and friends over the next few months. As you get your bike ready, before heading out on a group ride it is a good idea to brush up on your local traffic laws. Bicycles are given the same rights and requirements as cars in most municipalities. This becomes even more important as you ride in a group. Be cognizant of stopping at all traffic lights, stop signs, and crosswalks. Ride with the flow of traffic in a manner that is as safe and predictable as possible.

Group ride rules

What to expect on your group ride – Know the rules!

Group rides are typically categorized by speed and distance. If you are joining a ride, investigate the route and ensure that the group will be riding at a speed you can manage. In the case where you are organizing a group ride with friends, it is helpful to share the route and expected speed with all riders beforehand. Additionally,  many rides are categorized as “No-Drop” rides. A  “No-Drop” ride is one where everyone rides together for the duration of the ride. If a ride is not categorized as “No-Drop” the group is under no expectation to wait for riders who cannot keep up.

As a side note for people putting together their own rides with friends. Try to find riders who are all about the same level of fitness and have similar interests. Similar interests help foster great conversation and similar fitness maintains the group connection.

It’s not a race

The best part of a group ride is the shared experience of rolling through the countryside together. Whereas there are some group rides designed to see who is king of the mountain. But most are designed to use the strengths of a group to add to safety and efficiency. Trying to go at full speed and drop all those around you will only do damage to a great group ride and freindships.

Hold your line

group ride turning

In a group ride, you are responsible for the safety of yourself and those around you. Those around you are also responsible for your safety. Consider the group before You make decisions or change direction. While riding solo, you naturally carve through the apex of a turn to maximize speed and maintain momentum. In a group, you cannot cut the corner like this. You need to offer as much space as the rider to the right or left of you needs to complete the turn.

Ride close

group ride two by two

Ride to the right. Two by two.

This is probably the most important tip for riding in a group. Ride two by two, side by side as close to the other riders as you and they feel comfortable with. By riding in this formation, you can be more efficient while still allowing traffic to move seamlessly around you.

Give warning

Unless you are first in line, you can’t see what obstacles may be coming down the road. As the rider up front it is your responsibility to let the riders behind you know if the group encounters grates, potholes, other riders, pedestrians or automobiles. Usually a simple hand signal will work, a quick waive of the hand lets riders behind you know what’s happening. As a rider who is following, it is requisite of you to signal to riders behind you the signals you see ahead. You can call out the obstacle but in many cases the riders behind you may not hear your voice.

Ride confidently and sSafely

As you ride with a group more and more, natural confidence and comfort will develop. Stay alert, as you become more comfortable in the group it’s possible to lose focus on yourself and those around you. Always remember to pay attention and follow the tips above.

Ready for his tenth annual used bike sale, Rick Anderson has over 400 bikes primed to ride for your #nextbikeadventure

Bicycle maintenance and cleaning will keep your bike in optimal condition

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Like any other mechanical device, routine bicycle maintenance and cleaning will keep your bike in optimal condition. Additionally, routine bicycle maintenance will make your bike safer to ride when you need it. Where do you start? What do you use? Well, here are a few tips to put you on the right track!

Tip 1: For optimal bicycle maintenance stay away from the hose

Bike running smooth hose and bucket

Angry hose and happy bucket

Every moving part on your bicycle needs lubrication to stay in optimal condition. The pressure of water coming from a hose will forces water into areas that need to be lubricated. The water will displace grease and leave your bicycle susceptible to corrosion and excess wear. Instead of a hose, fill a bucket with warm, soapy water (Dawn dish detergent works well) and use a large sponge to clean all the parts of your bicycle. Rinse all the soap and gunk off with fresh water, and let the bicycle air dry.

Tip 2: Focusing on the drivetrain

If you have a particularly dirty drivetrain* and want to get it clean you will need the following:Bike running smooth supplies

• Degreaser
• A stiff bristled brush
• Rubber gloves
• Protective eyewear

 

*(the gears, chain, and the little pulley wheels on your derailleur)

  • First: Start by applying a liberal amount of degreaser to the chain, gears, and derailleur pulleys. Also, pay close attention not to direct degreaser toward the center of either gear set. Doing so will drive degreaser into bearings that need to remain lubricated.
  • Second: Once well saturated, begin freeing up dirt and debris by scrubbing back and forth with the stiff bristled brush.
  • Third: After you have broken up all the contaminants, rinse the drivetrain with a warm soap/water solution.

Tip 3: reapply lubricant

Most areas of a bicycle are protected from the elements with rubber seals. Those rubber seals do a good job of keeping lubricants where they are supposed to be. Furthermore, it also means that the only areas of a bicycle that can be lubricated without disassembly are the chain and cables.

 Lubricating the chain

bicycle maintenance

Proper lubrication is essential to keep your bike in optimal condition

  • First: To lube the chain, prop your bicycle up so you can freely backpedal. While backpedaling, coat the chain evenly with lubricant like in the image above.
  • Second: Fold a rag around the chain between the lowest pully and the chainrings. Next, backpedal with your right hand, while holding the rag in place with your left. You want to try and remove all the excess lubricant you can. When complete, the chain will feel almost dry to the touch, and thats OK. Even though the outside of the chain seems underlubricated, there is still ample amounts of lubricant between the chains links and within the rollers.

Lubricating the cables

If shifting of braking feels rough at the lever, you may need to lube the cables. Here’s how to do that:

  • First: Apply lubricant in small doses where the cable enters the housing (see below).
  • Second: Cycle the gears, or squeeze the brakes until capillary action draws the lube into the cable housing.

bicycle maintenance

Making sure your bicycle is clean and properly lubricated is essential to make sure your bike is in optimal condition.

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The second most common mechanical problem to a flat tire, is a broken chain. Read on to learn the causes of and quick remedies to fix your chain.

Causes of a broken chain and the quick and easy ways to fix it

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

The second most common trail side mechanical problem to a flat tire is a broken chain. While it could be the end of an otherwise great ride, with a little preparation you can easily fix the chain and get your bike back on the road. Read on to learn the causes of and remedies to a broken chain.

Why is a broken chain common?

Wear

Chains break for a host of reasons, but most common is wear. For example, if a chain has been ridden for 2500 miles, it will actually stretch out. Correspondingly, a ridden chain will be longer from link to link than a new chain. Because the chain is stretched, the metal fatigues is more susceptible to failure. Additionally, as the chain wears the chainrings and cassette (gears in the rear) will wear out as well. Combine all those factors, mix in one bad shift and you have a recipe for a broken chain. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have your chain checked by your local bike shop at least once a year.

Impact

Chains, like anything else on your bike, can be damaged if it gets hit hard enough. While not as common, chains can break if they are involved in a rock strike or other impact. Impact damage to chains can be more difficult to repair than if the chain breaks due to wear. The reason being, wear will typically only break one chain link, while impact can damage many.

The parts of your bike chain

Your chain is made of only four pieces; the outer plate (A), inner plate (B), roller (C), and rivet (D) and every link contains two of each.

How to fix a broken chain

To start, you need find and remove the broken link. How much of the broken chain you remove depends on how you are fixing it. Usually, you need to remove a complete link (one set of outer plates, inner plates, rollers and rivets like in the picture above).

To repair, replace or adjust the length of you chain you need to purchase a chain tool. A chain tool is a device that pushes the rivets into and out of a chain. Generally speaking, most bicycle multi-tools will have chain tools, but you can also buy them individually.

broken chain

Pedros multi tool on the left and Park Tools CT5 on the right.

To use the chain tool, position the chain into the lower tines (see image below). Once the chain is positioned, begin threading in the rivet tool (see image) until it forces the chain rivet almost all the way out. As you can see, the chain will easily come apart. Repeat this process until all portions of the broken chain are removed.

Removing a broken chain link and shortening chain

For older chains you can remove the broken link and mend the chain back together one link short. Keep in mind, the chain length is very specific for the function of the drivetrain. If you shorten the chain, you will lose the ability to shift into the largest cogs safely. Therefore, have the chain properly sized and repaired at your local shop once you get home. With the broken link removed you will need to put the chain back together. Start by pushing the two links ends together and placing them in the chain tool. Force the rivet back into place with the chain tool. Done!

Install a quick link

Quick links come in many different sizes depending on the amount of speeds your bike has. From 8-12 speed, chains will all use a different quick links that are not cross compatible. If only the outer plates are broken, you can cut them out, install the quick link, and ride off as if nothing happened. If an inner plates break, you must cut 1-1/2 links out of the chain before installing the quick link.

Install a chain pin

Installing a chain pin is necessary for all Shimano brand chains. Like quick links they are speed specific (ie. 8,9,10 speed etc.), and not cross compatible. To install a chain pin, remove the offending link and the rivet completely (see image below). Then, put the two chain ends together (held in place by the chain pin) and use the chain tool to press the pin into place. Once the chain is installed break off the portion of the pin protruding from the back of the chain.

Ongoing maintenance

Breaking a chain is rarely an isolated incident and more frequently, it is the sign of a larger issue. If you do break a chain on the trail, be sure to get your bike to a professional for inspection. Additionally, if you need to replace the chain be prepared to replace the cassette, and possibly chainrings as well. Considering all the parts of your drivetrain wear together, attempting to to introduce a new part into that group might not function well.

We hope this information is helpful, both for situations when out riding and when you need to bring your bike in for servicing. Have Fun!

 

We now have: 24”, 26”, 27.5”, 29”, 27+ and 29+ wheel sizes for mountain bikes. Take a look below to see the pros and cons of each size.

Mountain bike wheel sizes: past, present and future explained

by John Brown, 

Here is a brief history and a look into the future of mountain bike wheel sizes. Once the 29er revolution took over, many companies started looking at even more sizes. Therefore, we now have: 24”, 26”, 27.5”, 29”, 27+ and 29+ wheel options, with another new dimension on the horizon.

The Mountain Bike began it’s commercial success in 1978 in the mountains around the San Francisco bay area. A group of friends started racing down mountain roads on trash-picked Schwinn Excelsior cruiser bikes. Quickly, riders demanded a more durable bicycle that could not only bomb down the hills, but turn around and ride back up. To that end, Joe Breeze of Breezer bikes was happy to oblige by building the first ever Mountain Bike. Considering there were only 26” balloon tires (like the ones on the Excelsior) That is what he used for the first Mountain Bike, setting the tone for all Mountain Bikes built over the next 25 years.

Tire Size

Breezer #1 (the first Mountain Bike) and the Schwinn Excelsior “klunker” both with 26″ wheels

Early changes to wheel sizes

By the early 90’s, mountain bikes had exploded. There were professional mountain biking events all over the world, a prime-time TV show (Pacific Blue anyone?) and mountain bikes in every garage in the country. On the wave of MTB excitement bicycle brands started investing serious money into new technology development, and one of the areas of interest was wheel size. Starting things off was Cannondale with their long heralded “Beast of the East” that used a 24” rear wheel. The benefit of a smaller wheel is better acceleration and the ability to make shorter chainstays.

tire size

Cannondale “Beast of The East” with 24″ rear wheel

On the other side of the country, in Petaluma California, a different idea was being hatched. Based on the development of the 700x48c “Rock and Road” tire by Bruce Gordon, A custom builder caller Willits, started making mountain bikes with 700c wheels. The owner of Willits, Wes Williams, was well connected within the cycling industry and became the advocate for what would be called a 29er. From Wes’ influence, Trek, the largest bike brand in the world, launched production 29ers through their Gary Fisher brand. At that point 29ers were in the main stream and now with so many wheel sizes take a look below to see the pros and cons of each size.

 

tire size

Rock and Road tire that was the start of the 29er movement

It all started with a 26” wheel size

The 26 inch wheels have existed for over 100 years. Furthermore, the critical dimensions of these wheels haven’t changed. Therefore, you could theoretically fit a tire from 1930 onto a rim of today. In an industry that releases new products every year, that consistency is amazing. Currently, 26” wheels are used primarily on department store Mountain Bikes or cruiser bicycles. Therefore, 26″ replacement parts can be found easily and inexpensively.

27.5” and 29” wheels

While 29ers led the way for new wheel sizes, 27.5” wheels were also popular in the initial wheel size change. The reason 29ers took hold so quickly was, in comparison to 26” wheels, they roll over objects easier and have better traction. Conversely, the downside to larger wheels is more mass to push around. In fact, The issue with mass is why 27.5” wheels became popular. A 27.5” wheel has similar traction and roll over to a 29er with much less weight. Therefore they accelerate and change direction more easily. You will now find 29” and 27.5” wheels on almost any mountain bike sold in bike shops. Typically, you see 27.5” wheels on smaller size bikes and 29” on the larger sizes. Also, full suspension bikes use 29ers on the lower travel options and 27.5” on longer travel bikes.

wheel size

A fun chart Giant Bicycles released to compare wheel size and angle of attack

Plus wheel sizes

Plus sized tires are a new development in the cycling industry. In detail, they use the same rim diameter as 29″ and 27.5” bikes, but the rims and tires are wider. For example, a standard tire width is around 2”, while plus tires are 3” wide. As a result,  plus sized tires puts a lot more rubber on the ground, and gives you amazing traction. With a plus sized tire, you can expect to climb up almost anything with ease. Therefore, once difficult trails become easier, and it feels as if every turn has a berm. The penalty for all that traction is additional weight. Additionally, having large tires increases the tire’s overall air volume and makes finding the right pressure a bit more complicated. If you are interested in plus tires, your bicycle has to be built to accept their additional size. Usually, it’s just best to buy a complete bike.

wheel size

Plus tire angle of attack

The future wheel sizes

The development of wheel sizes has slowed down a bit for the cycling industry. With that being said, the movement has shifted to tires. The most recent buzz is coming from the 29” x 2.5” size tire. This “Big 29” tire is looking to be the new size of the year. The reason that size is getting attention is because it blends the speed and agility of a standard 29” tire with the gravity defying traction of plus tires.

What wheel size is best for You

I would love to say it’s easy to measure the pros and cons of each wheel/tire size, cross reference that information with your personal preferences and decide what is the right thing for you. Sadly, that doesn’t work. In reality, the best way to see what is going to work for you is to test ride them. Test rides are the best way to match your riding style with one of the many options available today.

Brown's Bicycles service area/teaching center

HaveFunBiking’s product editor has opened Brown’s Bicycles!

Over the past two years HaveFunBiking (HFB) readers have enjoyed reading many product reviews, how-to articles and helpful tips by John Brown. Now, John has opened a bike shop of his very own, called Brown’s Bicycles. Located a few miles west of HFB, the shop is at 2323 W 66th Street, right here in Richfield Minnesota. Don’t worry, he will still be contributing to the HaveFunBiking blog, but this new development gives our HFB readers the chance to continue learning about bicycles through print as well as face to face!

Brown’s Bicycles continues to educate

John has designed the layout of Brown’s Bicycles specifically to continue educating riders about the joys of all things bike. The open service area is purposefully modeled to operate as a functioning repair area as well as classroom.

A full service bike shop!

While Brown’s Bicycles is founded on the concept of educating riders, they still offer a complete line of new bicycles from Giant, and Jamis as well as a rotating stock of used bicycles. If you need accessories or parts, Brown’s Bicycles offers a curated selection of the best products available. If they don’t have what you need in stock, your special orders are usually available within 24 hours.

As a thank you to the HFB readers, Brown’s Bicycles is offering a tune up special! Mention HaveFunBiking for $20 off your next Basic Tune Up or $25 off a Deluxe Tune Up until June 15th. Additionally, in at stop the new shop for a Richfield bike map not found in the 2018 Minnesota Bike/Hike guide!

Riding with young kids can be fun and easy with these options

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Spring has sprung and you may want to get out with your kids for a ride. For younger toddlers who aren’t riding yet or are still on tricycles, riding more than a few blocks is unfortunately not possible. Don’t be deterred though, there are many different ways to get out, ride and bring your young ones along.

Rear mount baby seat for younger kids

Rear mount child seats have been around forever. They are mounted to the back of a bicycle, typically on a touring rack, over the rear wheel. They are great for kids between one year and up to 40 or 50lbs depending on brand. Thanks to the height of these seats, they offer a great view. Additionally, most of these seats can recline slightly to allow the child to be comfortable. They also have at least a three-point retention and a cross bar to hold the child in place. These seats offer safety by having a tall, ridged, back rest that wraps around the child protecting their head and body from the sides and back. When using these kids seats, remember, It can be tempting to allow the kickstand to hold your bike and child, but they don’t offer enough stability to be safe.

Rear mount baby seat kids

Front mount baby seat

Front mount baby seats attach to the handlebars of you bicycle. Because of that, they give your kid the very best view of what’s going on around them. Unlike the rear mount seat, front mount seats don’t have a tall protection around the child. Also, by being mounted to the handelbars, they have a more negative effect on control than the rear mount seat. Again, be sure to hold the bike rather than relying on a kickstand.

Kids trailers

Trailers are the top end as far as child carrying is concerned. They can hold up to two kids and a maximum of 100 pounds. Beyond just carrying the kids, trailers can carry a lot of stuff for the kids as well. They offer at least a 3-point harness and a ridged roll cage that goes around all the way around the children. Trailers offer tons of accessories that include, rain shields, sun screens, and attachments that can turn the trailer into a jogger when detached from the bike. They are usually fold-able and pack-able. Additionally, Trailers will stay upright even if the bicycle towing them falls over, another reason they are the safest.

Kids Trailer

Tag-along bikes

Tag-Along bikes turn your standard bicycle into a tandem with your child following behind. They are attached to the seatpost of your bicycle and can be quickly removed if you are planning on doing a solo ride. Tag-Alongs are fit based on wheel size, with the 20” version being for smaller kids and the 24” being for the larger ones. Kids get comfortable with balance and speed of a tag along, and transfer that feeling into their own bikes. Consequently, these bikes help teach kids to ride their own bikes. If you are concerned about drag, know that they don’t have a brake (so your kids can’t squeeze a brake and act as an anchor).

Kids trail a bike

However you plan to get your kids out riding, remember to keep it fun. Pack lots of snacks, encourage them to explore, and try to choose a destination that interests them.

Family rides are the perfect time to teach your kids about riding safely.

Demonstrating safe riding practices teaches kids valuable skills for life

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

The summer months ahead will play host to countless hours of family riding fun. During these bicycle outings its the perfect time to teach your kids about riding safely. All things considered, there are just a few topics to teach. Please read below for the details.

Safe riding starts with a helmet

First and foremost, a well-fitting helmet cuts down the risk of serious injury by half. As a result, helmets are the single most important piece of cycling gear for kids, and sadly one that is not used by many riders under 14. As an example, a well-fitting helmet will be snug on the rider’s head. Additionally, the strap toggles are located about ½ inch below the ear lobe and the chin strap is tight enough to hold the helmet on your head, but not so tight it chokes you. Furthermore, be sure to consult the manufacturers recommendations for when to replace your helmet. Important to realize, is that helmets lose effectiveness over time, so review it’s production date.

Helmet fit

Be sure that your child is comfortable on their bicycle and it is sized properly. Bikes that are too small or too large are difficult for children to control. As an example, good fit is when your child can stand over the bike with 2-3 inches of clearance between the top tube of the bike and them. Also, the kid can easily sit on the bike and pedal without their knees raising so high it impedes their ability to ride. Additionally, a child should also be able to hold the bars without stretching so far they cannot confidently handle the bicycle. If you have concerns about the fit, visit your local bike shop to have the bike adjusted.

Bike function and riding safely

Verify that the brakes work, tires are inflated and controls are tight. Be sure that your child can squeeze the brake levers easily and stop the bike. If they struggle to squeeze the brakes, have the bike serviced at your local shop. Additionally, keeping proper air pressure in the tires will limit flat tires and aid in control.

Visibility and Riding Safely

Kids bikes are required to be sold with reflectors on the bars, seatpost, wheels, and pedals. Those reflectors should be considered the most basic level of visibility. Add to that visibility, by having your kids wear brightly colored clothes, installing lights and a flag on the bike. With young kids try to avoid riding at night or at twilight.

Riding skills

If your kids are better riders, they will be safer. Teaching basic skills can be fun and easy. Find a flat section of low grass (like a high school football field) and have them practice riding with one hand off the bar. Use the Board Trick to learn how to handle riding over obstacles. Another great way to learn riding skills is to enter into bicycle rodeos (many local shops put these on).

Learning to signal

When riding a bicycle on the road, you are required to follow posted traffic laws as well as signal your directions. Teach your kids the basics of signaling turns and navigating on roads.

Sidewalk and Bike Path Courtesy

Riding to the right is the most basic rule of riding on sidewalks and bikepaths. What is more important than that rule is the courtesy of riding around others. If you are trying to pass a rider you should verbally signal where you are passing. A quick “on your right” is all it takes, wait for the rider ahead to move over and allow you to pass safety. When being passed, be sure to yield the path by moving over and allowing the overtaking rider to pass safely. If you are stopping on a bikepath look for a wider section of trail or a clearing. Make sure that all members of your group are off the side of the trail and leaving ample area for others to ride past. Being courteous is the best way to make sure everyone has fun.

Ride with them

Kids learn a lot from the example set by their parents. Ride with your kids, show them the right things to do with your actions and teach them the right things to do with your words. Make safe riding part of the fun.

Keep senses clean

It’s tempting for kids to try and bring a phone or iPod on a ride with them. They may want to be able to check their texts, listen to music or just have their digital device with them. Those distractions are a detriment to your child’s safety. Keep your digital toys in a backpack or better yet at home and focus on the world around you.