Author Archives: John Brown

How to fix a flat tire on a bike is a skill every rider should have

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

One inevitability of riding a bicycle is that you will get a flat tire. With a little practice and planning, you will be able to fix a flat tire and finish your ride, without a problem. To be prepared, you will need a few tools and to practice how to fix a flat on your bicycle a few times to get it down. Read below for a step by step on how to change your first flat.

Learning how to fix a flat tire is a part of bicycling.  With a little practice and planning, you too can fix a tire and finish your ride.

Needed items to fix a flat tire

To easily fix a flat tire be sure to carry the following items:

Pump

fix a flat pump

Pumps come in many shapes and sizes. Most are portable in a jersey pocket or on the bike. Be sure to look for a pump that is capable of meeting your tires pressure.

Tube

Fix a Flat tire tire size

Tubes are sized specifically to tires. Find the right size tube for your bike by looking on the sidewall of your tire. Common sizes are 700×23 and 26×2.1″. Tire sizes above are underlined in red. Tires size may also be molded into the sidewall of the tire.

Patch kit

Fixing a flat patch kit

Patches seal small holes in innertubes. There are glueless versions and versions that require glue.

Tire lever

fix a flat tire levers

Tire levers come in many shapes and colors, but almost all of them include the same features – A shovel shaped end to scoop the tire bead off the rim, and a hooked end to secure the lever onto the wheel.

FIX A FLAT: Getting Started

The first step to fix a flat is to remove the wheel from your bike. Consult your bicycles owner’s manual for the proper way to remove the wheels.

Begin by removing all the remaining air from the tire. Depress the valve while squeezing the tire until all remaining air is out. Also try to push the bead of the tire into the rim well, doing this will make it easier to remove the tire from the rim.

Taking the Punctured Tube Out

Fixing a flat terminology

Tire, Rim, and Tire Lever Terminology

With the wheel in one hand and the tire lever in the other, try to position the shovel end of the tire lever under the bead of the tire. (see picture below)

fix a flat tire lever in action

Once the lever is positioned beneath the tires bead, push the hook side of the lever down (using the rim as the fulcrum) and lift the tires bead. Once you have lifted the bead with the tire lever, you should be able to push the lever around the perimeter of the rim, freeing one bead from within the rim. (See Video)

 

Some tire and rim combinations are too tight to allow this method. If you can’t make headway pushing the tire lever around the rim, use the hook side of the tire lever to capture a spoke. Use a second tire lever a few inches away from the first to remove the bead, the bead should be loose enough to remove easily at this time (see pictures below).

Remove the innertube and either patch it or take out a new one. Before installing a new innertube, run your fingers along the inside of the tire while inspecting an area a few inches in front of your fingers.(See Video)

You are looking for the object that caused the flat. You won’t always find something in the tire, either it fell out, or stayed in the road.

Installing a New Tube

When putting the innertube back in the tire, inflating it a little helps. Add enough air to give the tube shape, but not so much that it doesn’t fit into the tire

 

Start by putting the valve through the valve hole in the rim, then feed the rest of the tube into the tire.

Once the tube is in the tire, begin moving the tube into the rim well.

Begin at the valve, and feed the tire bead back into the rim well. It will be easy to get the bead moved over the edge of the rim initially, but will get progressively more difficult as you get farther away from the valve. It is normal for the last few inches of bead to be the most difficult to seat, don’t get discouraged and don’t attempt to use a tire lever to put the bead back. Tire levers can pinch and puncture innertubes. Instead of a tire lever, use your thumbs and the heel of your palm to force the bead back onto the rim. (See Video)

 

Once the tire and new innertub are reinstalled begin airing the tire up. Once there is a small amount of pressure in the tire, check to see if it is seated properly. A quick spin usually tells you visually if everything is even. (See Video)

If you are sure the tire is seated evenly, bring the tire up to pressure completely. Tire pressures are usually marked on the sidewall of the tire if you aren’t sure of how much to put in. Put the wheel back into the bike, reengage the brake, and you are off.

Wearing a cycling jersey isn't a requirement for riding a bike, but wearing a jersey does make for a more comfortable ride.

Wearing a cycling jersey can make your ride more comfortable

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Wearing a cycling jersey isn’t a requirement for riding a bike, but wearing a jersey does make for a more comfortable ride. What’s so special about a cycling jersey? The answer is in its material, the fit and the features.

Cycling jersey material

Cycling Jersey material

How breathable fabrics work

Cycling jerseys are made from moisture moving fabrics that pull perspiration off your body. Once off your body the moisture evaporates quickly, keeping you dry. By keeping you dry a cycling jersey will keep you cooler in warm temperatures. In the case of fall and spring riding, long sleeve Jerseys are built to both move moisture and insulate. Cool weather jerseys will keep you warm and dry.

The Fit

Cycling jerseys are cut to follow the natural lines of your body while riding. They use grippers around the waist and sleeves to stay in place as you move around the bicycle. Long sleeve jerseys will actually have longer sleeves than normal clothes, those sleeves will maintain coverage even as you reach out to hold the bars.

The Features

Cycling Jerseys back

Visible, Reflective, and Functional

Many jerseys have pockets to help you carry things like food, phones, or tools. If you are a fan of listening to music as you ride, a lot of Jerseys also incorporate ports that let you run earbuds inside the jersey rather than having them flap around in the wind. For safety, Many jerseys include some reflective features making you more visible while out on the road.

Finding the Right Size and Fit

Cycling Jerseys

A few of the many different styles of cycling jersey

Some may be wary of wearing a cycling jersey, because they’ve only seen the tight ones that look as though they were made out of spandex. Well, times have changed, and there are now many styles and materials to choose from. Looser, Jerseys offer the same moisture wicking material, cycling cut, and features without the form fit look.

When trying on a jersey, consider a few things:

  • When standing bolt upright, the jersey will feel short in the front and long in the back. It’s important to lean over a bit and try to replicate your cycling position (try putting your hands on your knees). If the jersey still feels too short or long, then look for a new size or fit.
  • Costs will vary widely based on the material and complexity of the construction. From synthetic fibers to natural ones with every combination in between, jerseys use different materials to create something that is both functional and comfortable.

Keep these tips in mind when looking for the jersey that’s right for you. With hundreds of brands and thousands of styles to choose from, you are sure to find something that you love.

 

Balance bikes are sweeping the world as the best way to teach children to ride bikes. What is a balance bike and how does it work? Balance bikes are designed to teach kids the most difficult portion of riding – Balance.

Balance bikes are a great way for kids to adapt to a life of riding

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Balance bikes are sweeping the world as the best way to teach children to ride bikes. What is a balance bike and how does it work? Balance bikes look a lot like a normal bike with two wheels, frame, seat and handlebars. What you won’t see on a balance bike is a crank, chain and pedals. Balance bikes are designed to teach kids the most difficult portion of riding – Balance.

Balance bikes for fitness and fun

The best way to get kids excited about their balance bike is to make sure it fits them and it’s fun. To adjust the fit, start by loosening the seat and dropping it all the way down. Next, have your child stand over the bike and lift the saddle until it makes contact with their backside. Tighten the seat at that height. Once the seat height is set, adjust the handlebars to a comfortable position for your child. They should be able to reach out normally and hold the grips. If they look as if their arms are too high (this will fatigue them prematurely) lower the bars. Inversely, if the child is reaching too far down, raise them.

balance bike sizing

So once the bike is fit right, be sure to make it fun! In short, make sure the bike is what the child wants it to be. Stickers, colored tape, bags, bells or horns work great to customize your child’s balance bike for them.

Saftey

A balance bike is a bike and should be treated as such. This means, you want to practice in a flat safe area free of traffic, wear a helmet and be careful of obstacles.

Start out fun

Starting out on the balance bike can be intimidating for your kids. Try to keep it fun. Kids love motorcycle sounds and wheelies. In my 15 years working in a bike shop, I never once ran into a kid who didn’t like getting pushed around on a bike while making motorcycle noises. If you can add a wheelie to the mix, all the better. Even if the first rides aren’t very long, be sure to stop as soon as it’s not fun. 5 – 10 minute rides may seem short, but are totally acceptable.

Support the child not the bike

While helping your child with their balance bike, remember that the goal is for your children to understand how to balance WITH the bike. This is different to balancing ON TOP of the bike. A great way to help this is to support the children by the shoulders rather than holding the seat and handlebars. If you support the child, they will learn to use the bike to help them balance. If you hold the bike stable, the kids have more trouble feeling what real bicycle balance is.

Pedals aren’t all bad

All our talk about balance makes it sound like pedals at the young age are a bad thing, That’s not the case. Bikes with training wheels or tricycles have a great place in teaching kids how to pedal. The action of pedaling forward is not as difficult to learn as balance, but the frustration of not being able to do it can hamper a child’s move from balance bike to pedal bike.

What age

Balance bikes come in many different sizes. The smallest sizes can accommodate kids as young as 18 months. Before picking a bike try to have the child stand over it. You want some clearance between the child and the bike, and a comfortable distance from the seat to handlebars. Most Balance bikes will top out sizes for kids around 6.

Transitioning to a full size bike

In a few stories you will hear about the kid who got off his balance bike, onto his pedal bike, and pedaled away. It’s a great story, but not too common. Transitioning to a pedal bike takes a little effort. Start in a similar fashion to the balance bike – Fit and Fun. Adjust the pedal bike’s seat and handlebar. Next step is to explain how the bikes brakes work. With a balance bike kids can become accustomed to stopping by dragging their feet, so it’s important to show them how the pedal bike stops. Next step is to let them ride while supporting them by the shoulders and let them pedal around. Once they feel comfortable pedaling, you can let go. You will find they have almost no issues riding and the transition from balance to pedal bike will happen within a day.

Make your bike a balance bike

After all this you’re probably asking yourself “Why can’t I just pull the pedals of my child’s bike and use that as the balance bike?” The truth is, you can do that.

Pulling the pedals off a bike will give you a lot of the same benefits as a balance bike. The shortcomings of doing that are pedal bikes are wider than balance bikes and make it more difficult for the child to push off. Pedal bikes are also heavier than balance bikes. Pushing around the extra weight of a pedal bike can be difficult for smaller riders.

However you choose to teach your kids to balance, keep it fun.

If you want to be more efficient on your bicycle, few things are as effective as the combination of clipless pedals and cycling shoes. Additionally, clipless pedals add to overall bike comfort.

A simple 1-2-3 guide to using clipless pedals and shoes

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

If you want to be more efficient on your bicycle, few things are as effective as the combination of clipless pedals and cycling shoes. Additionally, clip-in pedals add to overall bike comfort. As an example, there is a simple equation that always holds true: control = comfort. In the quest for more control of your bicycle, by securing your feet to the pedal your muscles work more efficiently. Connected to your bicycle more directly, you relieve excessive strain on your feet. Read on to see how easy it is to learn to ride “clipless”.

If you want to be more efficient on your bicycle, few things are as effective as the combination of clipless pedals and cycling shoes. Additionally, clipless pedals add to overall bike comfort.

If you want to be more efficient on your bicycle, few things are as effective as the combination of clipless pedals and cycling shoes. Additionally, clipless pedals add to overall bike comfort.

History of Clipless Pedals

Why would you call a pedal that you clip into “clipless”? To understand the name, it’s best to talk about what came before it. Before the clipless pedal, riders would install baskets and straps (toe clips) on their pedals (see below). A toe clip offers a lot of control but are difficult to get in and out of. In the 1970s a company called Look used ski binding technology to create a pedal that would retain a rider’s foot, giving them control, while also allowing them to free themselves easily. This invention was called the “clip-less” pedal because it did away with the need for toe clips.  Today, there are many clipless pedal designs. Each one is suited for a different riding style, but function similarly. When trying clipless pedals, find one that fits your needs.

Trying Clipless pedals explained

A pedal with toeclip (left) as well as a few brands of clipless pedals (right)

Pedal Benefits

A clipless pedal opens like a little jaw to accept a cleat that is mounted to your shoe. The pedal then closes tightly around that cleat, and releases only when the cleat is rotated. Being “clipped in” is helpful because you can train yourself to exert force downward, upward, forward, and backward as you pedal. Being able to control your pedal stroke completely adds efficiency and control. When it’s time to be free, a twist is all it takes to get out.

Shoe Benefits

A common discomfort among riders is something called “hotfoot”. “Hotfoot” is best described as a painful, burning sensation, or numbness in your foot while riding. Hotfoot is usually caused when two small bones in your foot, the sesamoid bones, (below) get compressed under pedaling forces.

To help alleviate this compression, cycling shoes have a very stiff sole to disperse pedaling pressures along the entire length of your foot. Cycling shoes also use a cycling-specific insole that counteracts your foots natural tendency to flatten under pressure, further equalizing force along the length of the foot. In contrast, normal sneakers and standard pedals centralize most of your pedaling efforts onto the sesamoid bones, causing a lot of discomfort.

How to Use Clipless Pedals

Getting In

The first hurtle when trying clipless pedals is clipping in. To clip into your pedals:

  • Step down onto the pedal with your heel slightly raised (Figure 1). The front of the cleat should be just under the ball of your foot and fit into the pedal first.
  • Next, press the ball of your foot down, and lower your heel to engage the pedal. You should hear a “click.” (Figure 2).
  • Million dollar tip: Don’t look down. You can’t see the bottom of your foot anyway, and clipping in is far easier if you feel your way. Looking usually makes the process more difficult.
Trying Clipless pedals engageent 1

Figure 1

Trying Clipless Pedals engagement

Figure 2

Getting Out

To clip out, kick your heel away from the bike. Try to keep your foot as level as possible. If you lift and kick your heel, it makes it more difficult for the pedal to release. While the motion needed to release a clipless pedal is not entirely natural, if you practice before and after your normal ride, it will be second nature in no time.

Trying Clipless pedals release

Clipping out

Practice

Find a quiet piece of road or path you are comfortable with then clip in completely. Pedal 10 feet, stop the bike, clip out and step down. Repeat this process for ten minutes then go for your ride. Once you get done with your ride, take ten minutes and do the same thing again. Keep doing this exercise for the first 30 rides. After that time, clipping in and out of your pedals will be second nature.

How to Get the Most Benefits from Clipless Pedals

Clipless pedals allow you to put more effort into each pedal stroke by pressing down as well as pulling up. To learn a complete pedal stroke try these exercises:

One Leg Drills

Find a piece of flat road or path, clip one foot out, hang that foot away from the bike, and pedal entirely with one leg. Initially you will find it difficult to go more than a few seconds per leg, but don’t get discouraged. Focus on the muscles it takes to turn those pedals around with only a single leg. When both legs are clipped back in, try to use those muscles in your normal pedal stroke.

High Cadence Drills

This drill is easiest to complete on a very gradual hill. Get into a gear that takes very little effort and try to pedal as quickly as possible. While pedaling, concentrate on pulling up on the pedals and keeping your upper body as still as possible.

When trying clipless pedals for the first time, the information above and practice will have you riding faster, longer and in greater comfort quickly.

With winter showing signs of ending and roads soon beginning to clear of snow and ice, we all look forward to venturing out into the world on two wheels. The following should help you find the right cycling clothes for that #NextBikeAdventure

How to pick the right cycling clothes for any condition

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

With winter showing signs of ending and roads soon beginning to clear of snow and ice, we all look forward to venturing out into the world on two wheels. The following should help you find the right cycling clothes for that #NextBikeAdventure. Even though the weather is improving, true summer temps are still a ways off, so take a look at these tips.

Layering Up with Cycling Clothes

As we swing closer into spring finding the right cycling clothes for an early season bike ride is important as temperatures fluctuate.

As we swing closer into spring, finding the right cycling clothes for an early season bike ride is important as temperatures fluctuate.

Your perceived temperature as well as the actual ambient temperature can change while you ride. In order to get the most flexibility, and stay comfortable, layered clothing offer the most options. Listed below are the many items that make up a complete wardrobe of cycling clothes. However, depending on your geography or personal preferences, some items may not be required.

     -Jersey

A cycling jersey isn’t a necessity for riding, but it sure does make things comfortable. Jerseys come in lightweight sleeveless versions for the hottest summer days, or insulated long sleeve versions for cold weather riding.

     -Base Layers

They come in short and long sleeve versions. They’re usually made of a polypropylene material that keeps you dry by moving moisture off your skin quickly.

     -Shorts

Cycling shorts are the most important piece of clothing when it comes to comfort. There are tight versions as well as baggy ones, but all have a pad to help make your saddle more comfortable.

     -Arm Warmers

Arm warmers fit snugly from your wrist to just below your shoulder. The ability to roll them up or down while you ride makes them ideal for rides that have a large change in temperature.

     -Knee Warmers

Like arm warmers, knee warmers offer great flexibility on days with a large shift in temperature. They can be easily packed in a jersey pocket for use when needed.

     -Gloves

Gloves range from half fingered summer versions to heavy, windproof, winter versions and everything in between. The most important thing about glove is to find something that fits comfortably.

     -Tights

Tights are an essential piece of clothing if you want to be comfortable riding as the temperature drops. They help you retain body heat while not being bulky and interrupting your ability to ride comfortably.

     -Jackets

Cycling jackets are noticeably thinner than a standard winter jacket. The reason they don’t need as much loft is because as you exercise, you create enough heat. Most good cycling jackets use a windproof material to stop heat from being pulled off your body by the air moving around you as you ride. Some higher end jackets are windproof as well as waterproof.

     -Wind Breaker

As it sounds, this jacket or vest’s main job is to stop the wind from pulling heat away from your body. They are usually lightweight and can be packed into a very small bag for easy transport.

     -Hats

Cycling caps are usually thin enough to fit under a helmet and vary in insulation depending on the material used. Warmer caps are usually made from fleece with a windproof membrane, while summer caps are made of nylon.

     -Booties

Booties are thick neoprene covers designed to fit over your shoe and ankle. They do a great job of insulating while still allowing you to wear you comfortable cycling shoes. If you plan to do a lot of winter riding, you may want to invest in a dedicated winter shoe, rather than booties.

What to Wear

Now that we know about cycling clothes, let’s talk about how they fit into the game. Everyone’s temperature threshold is different, so you may find it comfortable to wear slightly more or less clothing than recommended below. After a full season of riding, you will figure out exactly what works for you and where you may need some more clothing options.

Above 65 Degrees

Winter riding above 65

Jersey, shorts, gloves, and socks should be comfortable.

65 Degrees

Winter riding at 60

Add knee warmers, arm warmers, base layer, and light full finger gloves.

55 Degrees

winter riding 55

The addition of a vest keeps your core warm.

50 Degrees

Winter riding 45

Trade the arm warmers for a long sleeve jersey and swap out to thicker socks and gloves.

45 Degrees

winter riding 45

Swap knee warmers for light tights, short sleeve base layer for long sleeve, and add a hat.

40 Degrees

Winter riding 45

A wind breaking coat and booties keep you toasty.

35 Degrees

Winter riding 35

Trade light tights for winter tights, light hat for winter cap, and full finger gloves for winter gloves.

30 Degrees

Winter Riding 30

A heavy winter coat replaces the windbreaker and long sleeve jersey.

Stay Dry

With the simple breakdown of cycling clothes above you should be able to comfortably ride throughout the spring and deep into winter. If it rains, all bets are off. With rain on top of cold, the most important thing is to stay dry. Most synthetic insulating fabrics will still work when wet, but the wet greatly diminishes their ability to keep you warm.

In the rains of the fall and early spring staying dry can be a difficult task. The best way to stay dry is to wear waterproof clothing. A jacket and pants are a great way to start, but socks and gloves make the outfit complete. Before you go out and just buy anything labeled “waterproof”, understand that all waterproofing is not the same.

In their most basic form, a lot of materials are waterproof, but as soon as they are perforated with stitching, zipped closed with generic zippers, and left to be loose at all the cuffs, their waterproofing goes out the window. On top of the issue with letting water in, basic waterproof materials don’t let water vapor out. It’s just as bad to get soaked through with sweat as with rain as far as insulation is concerned.

     -Keep Water Out

To keep water out, look for waterproof cycling clothes that have sealed seams or welded seams (see image). Pay close attention to the zipper. Look for waterproof zippers (pictured) or large flaps that prevent water from driving through the zipper. Make sure all the cuffs are adjustable enough to be snugged against your skin.

Examples of cycling clothes with taped seams (Left), welded seams (Center), and a waterproof zipper (Right)

     -Let Sweat Out

To let the sweat out, waterproof materials should also be breathable. Breathable means that water from the outside cannot penetrate the fabric, but that any water vapor (sweat) being produced by your body, can escape through the fabric. Breathable fabrics work because water vapor is smaller than water droplets. To breath, the material will be perforated with holes small enough to stop water droplets from getting in, but large enough to allow water vapor to escape. Using a breathable material in tandem with base layers designed to pull moisture off your skin is a sure fire way to stay dry and warm.

You cannot beat the changing scenery of fall riding or the feeling of rediscovering riding in the spring. Hopefully, with these tips and a little experimentation, you will find comfort and enjoyment riding outside, even when the weather is cool.

No matter your level of bicycle riding skills, bike lights are essential to make sure you have a safe ride, day or night. Bike lights aren't only needed when the sun goes down.

Bike lights will help to keep you safe day and night!

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

No matter your level of bicycle riding skills, bike lights are essential to make sure you have a safe ride, day or night. Lights aren’t only needed when the sun goes down. In fact, lights are super helpful when riding in conditions where traffic may be present or their is limited visibility. That’s where proper lighting comes in. Plus many states, like Minnesota require you to have lights on your bike. The two types of bike lights on the market are lights that allow you to see and lights that allow others to see you.

Bike lights that Help You See

Lights that help you see are usually high output LEDs that cast a focused beam of light in front of you. These lights start at 600 lumens and increase in output from there. Their size and run time depend on the battery. As an example, rechargeable and battery-operated lights are usually larger, while lights run by a generator are smaller.

So, how do you know which one is best for you? It all depends on how often you plan on using it. The battery-operated kind work well as backups in the rare chance you get caught in the dark. The rechargeable kind are best if you plan to use them on a regular basis, and want to save on the cost of buying batteries. If you ride long periods of time in the dark, then it’s hard to beat a generator-powered light. Any of these lights will be great for unlit roads, trails, or paths.

When you look to buy a light, they are all compared by the lumens they produce. What’s a lumen, you ask? Well, lumens are the most popular description of brightness. In the past, lights were measured by the amount of energy they consumed (watts), but with the creation of LEDs that get more light output with less power consumption, measuring brightness with watts has become impossible. Simple rule, more lumens equal brighter light. As a comparison, the iPhone flashlight is less than 10 lumens.

Bike lights to Help People See You

The lights designed to be seen use an LED to flash intermittently when turned on. surprisingly they can be as small as a few coins stacked on top of one another, and have run times in the hundreds of hours. Additionally, they are usually easy to move from bike to bike if needed and are great for city streets and well-lit paths. Some riders are now finding added security in running these lights during the daytime.

Reflectivity

Another great way to ride safe in the dark is to use reflective products. Thanks to advancements in reflective technology you can find clothing that is completely reflective, looks like normal fabric, and glows when hit by light. There are reflective stickers you can adhere to your bike, and reflective bags you can mount behind the saddle or on your handlebars.

How to be Seen

Visibility is about safety so it’s best to use a belt and suspenders approach. A headlight will allow you to see and be seen from the front. Match that with a reflective jersey and you become visible from the sides as well. Mount a rear blinker and you become visible from 360 degrees.

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You can't be with your bike at all times. Therefore,  you'll have leave it unattended once and a while. Read on for some info on the different type and style of bicycle locks and other tips to ensure your bike's safety.

Bike locks vary, how to pick the right one for your bicycles safety

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

You can’t be with your bike at all times. Therefore,  you’ll have leave it unattended once and a while. That doesn’t mean you can’t take precautions to protect it. Read on for some info on the different type and style of bicycle locks and other tips to ensure your bike’s safety.

Types of Bike Locks

Not all situations require the same level of security. Also, there isn’t a lock in existence that a motivated person can’t get through.  Therefore, there are many different types of locks for different situations. Picking the right lock should dissuade a potential thief from even trying to take your bike.

U-Lock

The strongest bike locks are U-locks. They consist of a steel bar, bent in a ‘U’ shape, that fits into a straight locking mechanism. These locks are also resistant to bolt cutters and hacksaws, and a potential thief would need a lot of uninterrupted time and loud tools to get through one. Many U-locks offer an insurance program where the lock manufacturer will pay you to replace your bike if it is stolen. All you have to do is register your bike.

 

Chains

Chain locks are also popular. While some chains can be cut with bolt cutters, some versions rival the strongest U-locks in durability. Chains use hardened steel links and padlocks to keep your bike secure, and offer a lot of flexibility in what you can lock your bike to. Look for versions that have some sort of covering over the chain (either rubber or fabric), because it goes a long way in protecting the finish of your bicycle.

Cables

The least secure lock is a cable lock. Cable locks use steel cables with built in key or combination mechanisms to secure your bike. These locks are great for stopping someone from grabbing your bike and running off with it. But if a thief is prepared and motivated, they can cut through these locks in a few seconds. However, cables do offer the greatest flexibility in what you can lock your bike to.

How to Lock

Location, Location, Location

First and foremost: Lock your bike in a secure location. The ideal location is in plain sight with a lot of traffic. The more conspicuous a thief needs to be stealing your bike, the lower the chance is of them trying to take it. And always remember to lock your bike to something secure. For example, a parking meter might look secure, but if an industrious thief has removed the hardware that secures the meter to the post, they can quickly slide your bicycle and lock up the post and be on their way. So search for immovable objects like a bike rack that’s bolted to the ground.

lock it up rack booby trap

This bike rack was cut and taped back together by a bike thief. Be sure what you lock to is secure.

Protect Your Bike Parts

Bikes are built with quick-release wheels and seats. It’s fine to lock the frame, but a thief might just take a front or rear wheel if available. If you are using a cable or chain, lace it through both wheels, the frame, and whatever you’re locking the bike to. If you’re using a U-lock, then remove the front wheel and place it next to the rear wheel. Then capture both wheels and the frame when you lock it up. Many manufacturers make component-specific locks that secure your wheels or seat to the bicycle frame.

Lock it up Frame and QR lock

Frame locks, and locks that replace your wheel’s quick-release levers are common on commuter bicycles

If you follow these tips then you’ll be on your way to making sure your bike isn’t stolen, and it’ll be one less thing for you to worry about.

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No matter how brave you are sometimes weather conditions keep you from conquering those trails. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to have fun with indoor biking.

Indoor biking is fun and effective training through the winter

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

No matter how brave you are sometimes weather conditions keep you from conquering those trails. This is especially true as the mercury drops and turns our beloved Earth into something reminiscent of the Russian front. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to have fun with indoor biking.

Indoor Biking with a Spin Class

Most gyms offer spin classes. These classes use a stationary bicycle, music, and instructors to guide a class through about a 1 hour workout. Spin classes are a source of indoor biking, and it gets you out of the house.

There are, however, a few downsides with spin classes to keep in mind. One issue is that a spin bike won’t fit the same as your own bike. To fix this, many riders will install their own saddle and pedals on a spin bike before each class. The other potential problem is that the classes are not tailored toward your personal goals. The classes are usually high tempo, high effort workouts that might not fit with your training plan. Some riders find they like the community of spin class but not the specific ride, so they opt in or out of certain portions of the wworkout.

Riding your bike indoors spin class

Indoor biking with a spin class

Using an Indoor Trainer

Riding an indoor trainer has gotten much more popular for riders of all ability levels, and it’s the kind of indoor biking where you can use your own bike. A trainer is a device that holds your bicycle upright, creates resistance when pedaling, and simulates an outdoor ride while riding your bike indoors. Using an Indoor trainer, you can ride from the comfort of your own home, or in a group setting (most bike shops have trainer nights through the winter).

Riding you bike indoors trainer class

Indoor Trainer Group Ride

There is usually a leader when riding with a group, but if riding alone, you can still have fun. It’s best to start with a plan. If you intend to just get on the trainer and ride for 60 minutes while watching TV, I hate to break it to you, but that quickly gets boring. So how do you keep the ride fun? First, you cannot rely on terrain to supply stimulus so you must create your own intrigue. There are no hills, descents, turns, or beautiful vistas to keep you interested. But you can use your trainer to mimic the efforts of a great outdoor ride.

How to Build a Ride

As an example, let’s describe a normal outdoor ride, then create a workout to mimic that ride on the trainer. The ride starts by carving through a neighborhood on our way to open roads. Snaking through our neighborhood would require some turning, braking and acceleration (a great natural warm up), so on the trainer you would do something like:

  • Pedal in an easy gear for one minute
  • Then for the two subsequent minutes, increase your pedaling speed (called Cadence)
  • Follow that by slowing that cadence down over the next two minutes.
  • Repeating that two or three times is a great way to get your legs moving

The next obstacle on our imaginary ride is a hilly section of road. To mimic hilly terrain when riding your bike indoors, try the following:

  • Shift into a harder gear and pedal at 80% of your maximum effort for 2 or three minutes
  • Followed that by one or two minutes of soft pedaling (hard effort for the climb, followed by no effort on the descent).
  • Repeat this type of interval in groups of three.

Finally, our ride concludes with a series of city line sprints (earn those bragging rights over your friends). To simulate this action, try the following:

  • Shift your bicycle into a difficult gear
  • Ride at 80% effort for one minute
  • Then sprint all out (max effort) for fifteen to twenty seconds.
  • Follow each effort with some soft pedaling.

Workout Example

A written cue sheet of this ride would look like the following:

5Min warm up

1Min 50% effort low cadence                                                                                                                       1Min 50% effort medium cadence                                                                                                           1Min 50% effort High cadence                                                                                                                 1Min 50% effort Medium cadence                                                                                                               1Min 50% effort low cadence                                                                                                                                     Repeat 3x

4Min soft pedal

3Min 80% effort                                                                                                                                             2Min soft pedal                                                                                                                                                          Repeat 3x                          

4Min soft pedal

1Min 80 effort                                                                                                                                               15Second sprint                                                                                                                                             45Second soft pedal                                                                                                                                                  Repeat 4x                           

9 min Cool down with drills

A ride like the one above takes one hour, keeps you moving, and only involves hard effort for ¼ of the ride. By switching up different intervals of effort and rest, indoor biking can be beneficial and very fun.

Trainer Pitfalls

Time on the trainer can be very beneficial to your riding, but it can also be very hard on you if done improperly. When riding outdoor, you have natural portions of rest while coasting or descending, but on an indoor trainer you cannot coast. People tend to pedal at effort on a trainer throughout the entire ride and overdo it. A good rule of thumb is to balance high effort with rest at a three to one ratio. If a ride calls for 10 total minutes at 80% effort, be sure to include 30 total minutes of low effort work.

riding your bike indoors tired

Too Tired!

Low Effort, High Benefit Drills

How do you keep the ride interesting without effort? Try including drills like one leg drills, high cadence drills, spin up drills, top only drills, and toe touch drills. These require very little effort but build new skills.

bike indoors

One leg Drill

  • One leg drills – Like they sound, these drills are done with one leg (see above). Clip your right leg out of your pedal, hang it away from the bike, and pedal with only your left leg. Try to get the pedal stroke to be as smooth as possible, without any noise or bumps.
  • Spin-up drill – With your bike in an easy gear, try to spin the pedals as quickly as possible. Keep increasing your cadence until your upper body begins to bounce, then taper back to a normal speed. Repeat, each time trying to get faster while keeping your upper body still (this whole drill takes about 30 seconds per spin-up).
  • High-cadence drill – With your bike in an easy gear, spin at the fastest cadence you can without your upper body bouncing. Hold that cadence for one or two minutes.
  • Top only drills – Try to pedal using light effort and attempt to keep the top of your foot in contact with the top of your shoe throughout the pedal rotation. You won’t actually be pressing down on the pedal during this drill, but instead pulling up.
  • Toe touch drills – While pedaling, attempt to touch your toe to the front of your shoe at the top of each pedal stroke. While this isn’t possible, it will help teach your body to begin the pedal stroke earlier in its rotation.

With a little research and a little experimentation, indoor biking can keep you satisfied while you wait for the weather to get better.

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Quick and easy tips for proper bicycle maintenance

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 safe 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 a Bike’s Optimal Condition 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 pullies. Alos, 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 right bike seat is essential to enjoying your next bike ride. Finding the right one that allows you to spend more time on your bike comfortably can be easy with the following tips!

Choosing the right bike seat is easy with these few tips!

John Brown, HaveFunBiking

The right bike seat is essential to enjoying your next bike ride. Finding the right one that allows you to spend more time on your bike comfortably can be easy with the following tips!

Find Your fit with the right bike seat

Before you get too far into determining what the right bike seat for you is, make sure your bicycle fits properly. Having a professional ensure your fit is correct, or checking it yourself (Bike fit) will make the process of finding the right seat a lot easier.

Bigger isn’t Always Better

A bigger saddle is not always more comfortable. In fact, a saddle’s shape determines more of the saddles comfort than the size. With that being said, the ideal saddle shape depends on where a pelvis contacts the saddle. Typically, riders sit on either their sit bones (Ischial Tuberosity) or pubic arch (see diagram).

      – Sit Bones

Your sit bones are the pointy ends on the bottom of your pelvis. They are situated just below your gluteal muscles while riding. If you have an upright seating position, your pelvis is positioned so that your weight is placed on those sit bones. For a sit bone rider, a saddle with a flat profile from left to right typically ends up being more comfortable.

      – Pubic Arch

Riders who lean forward toward the bars and rotate their hips forward usually rest on their pubic arch. For these riders, a saddle that is curved from right to left offer a more comfortable perch on which to sit.

How do You Tell the Difference??

The easiest way to figure out which saddle might work for you is to view the saddle from behind (if it were on the bike you could look down the length of the saddle and see the handlebar). Is the saddle shaped in a constant curve from right to left, with no flat sections, or flat? (see pictures)

The right seat curved the right seat flat

More Shapes

Saddles will also have other shapes that contribute to the comfort. Lots of saddles will have holes or depressions down the center of them. These shapes are designed to relieve pressure on areas with both nerve clusters and sensitive arteries. For some riders, these shapes make all the difference, while for others, there is no difference.

The right seat with cutout

Time for a Test Drive

Once you find a few saddles that match your riding position, try them out. Most local bike shops offer some sort of service for saddle fitting to help you out. Install the saddle on your bike for a test and focus on how it feels. It’s a good sign if you can rest in one spot comfortably. Keep in mind, although the new saddle may feel unfamiliar, you should feel evenly supported without any one localized point of pressure. If you find yourself shifting around frequently to find a good spot, that saddle probably doesn’t fit too well.