Category Archives: News

Road bikes have been popular in cycling for longer than any other type of bicycle.

New road bikes are more comfortable and more capable than ever before

by John Brown,

Road bikes have been popular in cycling for longer than any other type of bicycle. For example, many would remember the iconic dark green colored Schwinn Varsity, as the bike that hung in the garage 50 years ago. As time went on Schwinn road bikes made way for the lighter European and Japanese bikes. Furthermore, thanks to celebrity involvement and exceptional product, road cycling has seen a resurgence in the last quarter century. Read on to wade through a century of history and countless products for the right road bike for you.

What’s New In Road Bikes

Road bike fit

A professional bike fitter dials in the position for a rider (left). The typical aggressive position in this vintage image on the right.

For too long, road bikes were designed with tradition in mind rather than riders needs. Regrettably, it was the job of the rider to conform to the bike rather than the other way around. Thanks to a lot of market requests and a lot of work by manufacturers, we now have road bikes with drop bars that fit all types of riders.


Newer road bikes are far more efficient and comfortable than ever before. Newer road bikes have more lateral stiffness than older bikes and transfer more force into forward motion. They do this through intelligent design and updated materials. Additionally, while being laterally stiff, newer bikes are also vertically compliant. This vertical compliance limits the amount of vibration that is transferred from the road into you. So a new bike will go faster and be more comfortable than anything from even 10 years ago.


road bike adventure

As bicycles have become more efficient and comfortable, people are seeking new and more difficult terrain. Wider tires are being used to add traction as these new territories are being explored. Additionally, braking systems have become more powerful to aid in control. No longer are you confined to paved roads, now all those amazing dirt and gravel roads are available to you as well.


Steel tubes have been used for making bicycles since the late 1800’s. Steel was an ideal material because of its strength and cost. Currently, steel frames are usually found on high end frames built by custom builders. As a matter of fact, steel frames today use high quality tubes that are very strong and light. With that in mind, the benefits to steel frames are that they are very strong and naturally flex to absorb vibration. This makes steel bikes incredibly durable and comfortable.

Aluminum has gained prominence in frame construction because it is light and stiff. Being light helps the bike accelerate under the rider and being stiff transfers your energy efficiently. The downside of aluminum is that it can transfer vibration effectively from the road into the rider. Happily, bicycle designers have found ways to manipulate the tube shapes to offer a more compliant ride with current aluminum than bikes made in the past.

The newest material used in bicycle frames is carbon fiber. Carbon fiber frames can be laterally stiff, very efficient, vertically compliant, comfortable, and incredibly light. These characteristics make carbon an ideal material for bicycle frame designs. The only downside to carbon fiber bike frames is that they are more expensive than steel or aluminum bikes, and less durable to impact.

Types of Road Bikes

Competition road bicycles position the rider in the most efficient orientation possible. The rider’s position on these bikes is focused on aerodynamics and bio mechanical efficiency. Typically positioned with the hands and back low, this position is an effort to cheat the wind. Competition bikes also incorporate design features that transfer as much of the riders effort to forward motion as possible.

Endurance road bikes are designed for long miles and maximum comfort. To that end, they use all the same efficiency designs as the competition road bicycles, but incorporate a higher bar position to be more comfortable. In addition to efficiency features, endurance road bikes use design features to increase the comfort of the rider. These designs absorb exceptional amounts of road vibration, leaving the rider feeling better after a day in the saddle.

Adventure and touring bicycles are a growing category rooted in the most traditional aspects of cycling. With that in mind, these bicycles are ridden through terrains not possible for competition or endurance road bikes. Some are equipped with tires typically found on mountain bikes, creating greater traction and stability. These bikes are capable of long rides well past the end of the pavement. If you plan an overnight adventure, these bikes are capable of being loaded with racks to ensure you can bring everything you need to enjoy your adventure.

How Do I Figure Out What’s the Right Bike for Me?

Try them out. Test ride as many bikes as possible by going to your local bike shop ready to ride. If you have them, bring your helmet, shoes, pedals, and wear your cycling clothes. The difference in road bikes can be very subtle, so only by riding many bikes can you discern the difference.

Start off with a bike that is your correct size. In brief, take a 10-15 minute test ride to get a very good feeling of how the bike handles. A good course for a test ride will include some hills, a long flat section, and some turns that can be taken at speed. Focus on how the bike accelerates, climbs, descends, and turns. After you ride enough bikes, the right choice should present itself to you.

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Every so often, I run across a product that is truly unique. The Ergon ST Core bicycle saddle is one of those products. Read on to see why the Ergon ST Core is both unique and great!

Out of the box review of a revolutionary bicycle saddle

By John Brown,

Every so often, I run across a product that is truly unique. The Ergon ST Core bicycle saddle is one of those products. Before we go any further, I know what you are going to say, “Unique isn’t always good john”. Fair enough, but in this case the unique features of the Ergon ST Core saddle immediately jumped out to me as a great idea!

What makes the core bicycle saddle different?

The Core saddle is actually two saddles in one. As an example, a typical saddle is made of 4 parts, the rails, the base, the padding, and the cover. The rails are the metal part that attaches to your bike. The rails need to be ridged in order to hold the saddle stable on the bike. Next, the base is the plastic portion of the saddle that holds the rails and padding. It also needs to be ridged. The padding mounts to the base and the cover holds the whole thing together. Basically, traditional saddles rely completely on the padding to keep you comfortable while protecting you from the ridged rail and base.

The Ergon Core saddle is similar but adds a new dimension to comfort. like a standard saddle, It has a ridged rail and base as well as padding and a cover. However, Ergon inserts an all new concept in saddle comfort – “the Core”. The core is made up of what appears to be a closed cell foam and a flexible plastic base material. Effectively, Ergon has isolated the seating portion of the saddle from the ridged base in order to make a more comfortable saddle.

Core saddle

The traditional saddle on the left is made of four pieces. The Core saddle on the right adds an additional base and foam layer.

How it works

By isolating the rider and padding from the ridged base, the core saddle does two things a traditional saddle cannot. First, the Core saddle can oscillate from side to side, equalizing pressure, as you pedal. This limits the pressure on your sit bones that can increase from side to side as you pedal. The second thing it does is absorb road shock. The isolating foam does an amazing job of eliminating road shock.

As pressure is increased on the right side of the saddle, the Core can accommodate.


While the Core saddle offers more comfort than other saddles, it still needs to fit you. In an effort to fit riders best, the Core comes in four sizes in total. There are two sizes for men (Smalll/medium & Medium large) and an additional two for women. The shape of the saddle is changed to meet the different anatomies of men and women.


I am really excited to try this product out. Additionally, I was measured out to fit into the large and will be commuting on it through our Minnesota spring thaw.

Round, straight and fast, wheel truing makes riding easier

by John Brown,

Wheel truing is a great way to take care of your bike while making it easier to ride. However, when you start adjusting your wheels, it’s important to know where to start. Please read on below for details on what makes your wheels work, and how to make them work better.

Wheel Truing and The Wheel Parts

Wheels are made up of four parts, the rim, the spokes, nipples, and the hub. The rim is the outside portion of a wheel that the tire mounts to. Nipples fit into the rim and thread onto the spokes and are the part of a wheel where you can adjust tension. Spokes are wire supports that stretch from the rim to the hub. Finally, the hub is where the wheel attaches to the bike, it houses bearings, supports the gears and in some cases a brake.

A wheel truing works by means of spoke tension. The tension on spokes is the force that suspends the hub (and by extension the bike and rider) inside the rim and tire. Spokes are attached to a centerline on the rim and one of two hub flanges that sit a few inches apart. Splitting the spokes between the left and right hub flanges triangulates the wheel’s tension and gives the wheel rotational and lateral stiffness. Splitting spokes between left and right flanges also allows rims to be “pulled” left or right by spoke tension to straighten a wheel.

Tools for Wheel Truing

Truing a wheel requires one special tool – a spoke wrench. Spoke wrenches are sized differently depending on the size of spoke nipple you have. When buying a spoke wrench, measure the nipple (standard square nipple sizes include 3.23mm/3.3mmm/3.45mm/3.96mm) or buy a multi-sized spoke wrench. Additionally, a truing stand is helpful (It’s a jig that holds the wheel in place and offers a gauge to help straighten the wheel) but not required.

Rim Material

Rims can be made from Wood, Steel, Aluminum, and Carbon fiber. Each material works differently and has its own pros and cons. Most likely, your rim is aluminum, which is a good thing. Aluminum is the easiest and most forgiving material to true.

Rim Condition

Truing a wheel is possible if the rim is in repairable shape. Things like large dents, cracks, excessive wear, and large bends make it impossible to straighten the wheel properly. By contrast, Small dings or warps of the wheel can easily be sorted out.

The Rim on the left has a small dent that could be repaired, while the rim on the right is beyond repair

Spoke Condition

Spokes are almost always made of stainless or high tensile steel. Because spokes are made of steel, they are incredibly durable and small bends or scratches aren’t a huge concern. In contrast, if you see large gouges or drastic bends, it’s best to replace that spoke (something I recommend you have a local bike shop do). Additionally, if there is excessive corrosion, the spokes may be too weak to support the rider. Also, be cognizant about uneven spoke tension. For example, if one side of the wheel has a high tension while the other side is loose, the wheel will be very difficult to true.

Nipple condition

Spoke nipples are made of either chrome plated brass or aluminum. Corrosion is one of the main concerns with spoke nipples. If a nipple is highly corroded, it might be difficult to turn, and eliminate the option of adjusting spoke tension. Before wheel truing bike, drop a small amount of oil where the spoke meets the nipple. Letting that oil soak into the threads will make truing your wheel easier.

How to True a Wheel


Start by finding where the wheel is out of true. This can be done in a truing stand, or more easily between the brakes on your bike. Spin the wheel slowly to see where it gets closer the brake pads. To move the rim away from a brake pad you need to tighten an opposite side spoke, or loosen a near side spoke (see image). Also, when looking down on the rim, you will be turning the nipple to the left to tighten a spoke and the right loosen it (opposite of lefty loosy). Start by working in ¼ turn increments, meaning, don’t turn any nipple more than ¼ turn at a time. Work around the wheel, starting at the valve, and go around repeatedly until the wheel is straight.

Truing your wheels

To move the rim to the left, tighten the right side spokes and loosen the left side spokes


While you are working to make a wheel straight, be aware of how round it is as well. For the hops and dips that appear on a rim you should work in pairs of spokes (1 right, 1 left). Tightening spokes to eliminate hops, and loosen them to relieve dips.

by tightening a pair of spokes you can “pull” a hop out of a rim (left) and by loosening them you can correct for some dents (right)

Good Enough is Good Enough

Once a wheel becomes knocked out of true it is no longer perfect. Therefore, it may not be possible to bring it all the way back to being perfectly again. Once spokes become very tight or very loose, that’s an indication you have reached the end of a wheel’s adjustment range. Until you are very comfortable truing a wheel, work slowly and deliberately. By making small changes, you are more likely to catch any small errors before they become large problems. Take your time and have fun with it.

When you were a kid, wearing a bicycle helmet was probably something you tried not to do. They were heavy, hot, and never fit well.

The bicycle helmet: what it does and how to find the right one for you

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking,com

When you were a kid, wearing a bicycle helmet was probably something you tried not to do. They were heavy, hot, and never fit well. Now you’re older, wearing a helmet isn’t just a logical safety choice, but it is also very comfortable. Read on to learn how helmets protect you better, have become lighter, fit better, and are more comfortable than ever before.

Ensuring a Bicycle Helmet’s Impact Protection

bicycle helmet impact testing

Any bicycle helmet sold in the US must pass the same 4 CPSC tests to be sold legally (3 impact 1 roll off). Each of the 4 tests are completed in cold, warm, hot and wet conditions. The varying conditions ensure that the helmet will still do its job regardless of the environment.

New Focus on Rotational Forces

bicycle helmet Mips impact testing

Some manufacturers are also incorporating testing that exceeds what is legally required. These helmets use what is called MIPS (Multi-directional impact protection system), which helps the helmet protect against both impact and rotational forces. The theory goes that while experiencing a sudden bicycle dismount, you could be experiencing rotational forces. Any sudden stop to these rotational forces (impact with the ground) could stop your body but allow momentum to continue rotating your brain and cause damage. MIPS helmets isolate the outer shell of a helmet from the inner portion. This isolation allows the outer shell to absorb rotational forces during impact. Most helmet brands now offer products with MIPS and without.

The Right Fit

Happy tron helmet


The biggest concern with purchasing a new bicycle helmet is comfort. You’re more likely to wear one if it’s comfortable, so be sure and test out different brands to find the right one. It should feel snug around your head without any lateral movement, and should not have any individual points of pressure.


Different helmets will have different ways of being retained on your head. Some low-cost models will use a one size fits all retention device (it works a lot like the dial sizing of a hard hat). The more expensive models usually have multiple sizes and retention devices that can be adjusted for diameter and height. The size specific helmets are usually more comfortable. In all cases, the helmets pads and retention device do a great job absorbing and managing perspiration, keeping you more comfortable.


Ventilation of helmets vary greatly. A more complicated production method is required to get larger vents and better ventilation (cooler) while maintaining impact protection. The more ventilated a bicycle helmet is, the more expensive it becomes. With each passing year, helmet manufacturers are bringing the cost of high ventilation down, so If you are replacing a 4 year old helmet, chances are the new one will allow more airflow.

A helmet’s weight is also important for overall comfort. The most comfortable models will often time be the lightest. What you give up with that light weight is durability. It is not uncommon for commuters and casual riders to pick heavier helmets with hard plastic covers over lightweight mostly foam versions. The added weight of a hard plastic shell helps protect the helmet from impact. It’s important to understand that that shell doesn’t make the helmet any safer, but it will be more durable when knocking around the trunk of your car, or hanging off your backpack while in transit.

Adjusting Your Helmet

Once you have picked the best fitting model take a few minutes to dial in the fit.


Helmet retention device

Retention in action!

Start by placing the helmet on your head so it is level. Adjust the retention mechanism (in the back) so the helmet is snug on your head (you should be able to lightly shake your head without the helmet falling off or shifting). If the retention mechanism sits too low for your head (or hair) to be comfortable, look inside the helmet to adjust the retention up if possible.


Having the toggles below the ears, buckle tight, and still being able to speak comfortably means that your helmet is adjusted properly

In tandem with the retention device, the straps hold your helmet in place. Start by adjusting the side toggles on the straps so they sit just below your earlobes. Once the toggles are in place, tighten the buckle enough so it can’t be pulled past your chin when closed. Be sure to not make the straps so tight that they choke you when you open your mouth.


All bicycle helmets will have a production date on the inside. Pay attention to that date, because most manufacturers recommend you replace the helmet every 3 to 5 years after production. With time, the padding and foam inside a helmet can degrade, leaving it unable to absorb impacts adequately.

Follow the above tips and you’ll find the kind of head protection you need. You’ll be on your way to a safer, more enjoyable ride.

Being visible is paramount to staying safe while riding and there are many different types of lights available to help with that pursuit. But, the king of them all is the Dynamo light.

A Dynamo light is an upgrade you should consider for this spring!

by John Brown,

Being visible is paramount to staying safe while riding and there are many different types of lights available to help with that pursuit. But, the king of them all is the Dynamo light. Dynamo lights use a bicycle mounted generator for power, staying lit while riding at night and low visibility times of the day. Read on to learn how Dynamo systems work and why they are so dependable.

Dynamo Light: Where Does The Power Come From

With no battery, you generate power with your motion. For a Dynamo light to work, you need to attach a generator to your bicycle. Generators are rated for either 3.0 watts to power both a headlight and tail light, or 2.4 watts to power just a headlight.

Generator types

The two main generator types are hub type and bottle type. The hub type is built into a front wheel and generates power as the front wheel spins. Bottle type generators mount onto a bikes frame or fork. Bottle generators have a small wheel that rests against the tire and generates electricity as the tire spins the wheel. Typically, the hub type generators have lower resistance than the bottle type and won’t wear out a tire as quickly. Bottle type generators are typically less expensive and can also be installed on your bike without rebuilding or replacing the front wheel. Another benefit of bottle type generators is that they can be disengaged during daylight hours so you can ride resistance free. That being said, as hub generators become more efficient and less expensive, the bottle generators are becoming less common.

Hub generator from Shimano and wheel generator from Busch + Müller (photo Courtesy of Busch + Müller)

Front Light types

Of all the light types on the market, high output LED headlights rule the roost. These HLED lights use very little power to deliver a ton of light. While we are talking about light, most headlight’s power are measured in LUX. The differences in power can be seen below. In addition to light while riding, most headlights have a capacitor to store power and allow the light to shine for a small period while the bike is stopped.

dynamo light

This is the same section of road under 20, 50, and 100 LUX lights

dynamo light

A few headlight options from Supernova and Busch + Müller

Rear light types

Rear lights use LEDs and blink while you ride. They can be mounted to the bicycle’s chainstay, seat post, or fender. These rear lights are typically wired from the front light, across the bike, and to the rear light. While it’s easy to run wiring through a bike built to accommodate them, it is difficult to cleanly run wiring on bikes not made for them.


Lighting in general is one of the most important aspects of safety on the bike. While you don’t need a dynamo lighting system to be safe, they do offer some advantages over battery powered lights. First benefit is you can jump on your bike and go because you never need to charge a dynamo light like you do a battery system. Also, dynamo systems can be upgraded to charge products via a USB port. Finally, Dynamo lighting systems enjoy the feature of being extremely durable.

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Quick and easy tips for adjusting your bicycle’s v-brakes

by John Brown,

For those who don’t have disc brakes, the V-brakes on your bike are your greatest single source of control. Take a look below for some tips and tricks on how to adjust your V-brakes.

What Condition is Your V-Brakes In?

Before diving into adjusting your V-brakes, be sure to inspect the brake itself. First thing to check for is excessive corrosion. Highly rusted bolts or springs can break resulting in a crash. Also look for any bent or broken parts. The cradle on the left brake arm is there to hold the brake noodle. If either the v-brakes noodle or cradle are bent (see picture), your brake might not function properly. Also review the brake pads. The easiest way to do this is to remove the wheel. Most pads have lines on them to indicate when they need to be replaced (see picture). Also inspect the pad surface for bits of metal that can damage the bicycles rim.

Cable condition

There are two parts you need to inspect. The Brake cables, and the brake housing. The cable is the wound steel cable that moves when you squeeze the lever. The brake housing can come in many different colors, but is almost always rubber coated and has the cable run through it. Check the cable for rust, frays or kinks and replace if needed. Check the housing for cracks or splitting. Finally, check that the cable moves through the housing freely without resistance.

Rim condition

Spin the wheel and check to see that your rim is straight and round. A wheel should not touch either brake pad as it rotates. It also needs to remain as round as possible. If the rim moves up or down too much, the brake pads can hit the tire, or run off the rim entirely. If the wheel isn’t straight and round, be sure to take it to your local bike shop to have it trued. The other concern when checking the rim is wear. Most rims now have a wear indicator built into the rim in the form of a recessed dot, or a recessed channel around the rim. Once the rim wears past the dot or channel it is time to replace the rim.

Wear line

Rim Dent

Pad placement

V-Brake pads get adjusted by way of a 5mm fitting on the back side of the brake pad. The pad sits on a pair of conical washers that allow the pad to be pivoted up to 20 degrees. I find the easiest way to adjust the brake pad is to hold the left brake with your right hand (or the right brake with your left hand) and place your pointer finger along the bottom of the pad (see image). Loosen the 5mm fitting with your hex wrench and use the wrench and your pointer finger to align the pad. To properly align the pad, you want to center the pad between the top and bottom edge of the rim. The pad should be positioned so that no part hits the tire or misses the face of the rim.


Once the pads are placed properly, the next thing to do is center the brakes. Centering the brakes entails adjusting the brake springs to ensure the pads are both an equal distance from the rim. Adjusting the brake springs is as simple as tightening or loosening the set screws at the bottom of each brake arm. I like to start on the brake arm that has the most adjustment. I determine the amount of adjustment by how far in or out the adjustment screws are in the brake (see image). The only real tricky part of centering the brake is remembering that screwing the adjustment in will move the pad away from the rim (the opposite of what you might expect).

Cable tension on v-brakes

Once the pads are adjusted and the brakes are centered, you need to make sure that the brake engages with the right amount of lever pull. I have found the easiest way to do this is to position the end of the cable noodle on the end of the brake cradle (1), loosen the cable pinch bolt, pull the cable tight, tighten the cable pinch bolt, then position the noodle correctly (2) and you are set (see image).


Once you get done, and test the brakes you may encounter some common problems like Squealing and grinding noises, or just no power.  A few simple tricks will resolve most of these issues.

  • 1- The brake pads may appear to be in great shape, but due to age, be to hard to operate properly. Switching out the old pads for new ones can help quiet noisy brakes and add power
  • 2- Pads that are exposed to long descents can generate a hard glaze over the pad surface. A few quick brushes with a flat file can knock off the glaze and quiet the brakes.
  • 3- The rim surface can get contaminated over time. Rubbing it down with sandpaper or steel wool can go a long way to increase braking power and reduce noise.
  • 4- Depending on the brake condition, there can be excessive flex in the brake arms. In order to combat noise you can “toe” the brake pads by having the leading edge make contact with the rim first.
  • 5- Finally, you can apply a little grease or oil to the brake cables where they enter the housing.

Travel bike basics and how to pick the right one for you!

John Brown,

I have had the pleasure of owning a travel bike for the past ten years. When I bought it, I was traveling a few times a year to different bicycle industry events around the country. Those events all followed the same script; Get off the plane, take a shuttle to the hotel, then take shuttles to event locations within five-miles. Beyond the feeling that I was being moved like cattle, it also bothered me that I wasn’t riding my bike at these bike events! To escape this cycle, I decided to bring my own bike along on the next trip. Trying to bring my bike on a plane was a too expensive for the small amount of saddle time I was going to get. So I started to look into the options for a travel bike.

Travel Bike Options

Taking a standard bike on an airplane inexpensively, means you need to get it into a suitcase that is airplane certified. Packing your bike in a full-size bike case is also an option, but you pay steep airline fees to do so. To get your bike small enough to fit it into a case, it needs to either fold, or use couplers to split in half. I was looking for a frame that could split, because I planned to build the bike with spare parts and the parts I had wouldn’t work on a folding bike. Couplers work by replacing a portion of the top and downtube, and allow them to come apart.

travel bike couplers

The two major players in couplers are Ritchey, and S&S. Ritchey makes complete coupler frames that include a case, pads, and cable splitters as a package. S&S couplers are modern day fine art but sold as couplers only. The downside for S&S couplers is they are expensive because you need have a custom bike built, or have them installed on an existing steel frame by a frame builder. For me, having a custom bike built was too expensive and labor intensive, so I picked a Ritchey.

travel bike frame

Outside of those coupler bikes there are packable and folding bikes available from other companies as well. The most packable bike is built by a company called Moulton. Moulton uses a cool truss design to create stiff, light, packable bicycles.  I didn’t consider these bicycles only because their frames are built for small 20” wheels, and the spare wheels I had were larger. Folding bikes are also a great option we have covered here on but would also require smaller wheels.

The Bike

Ritchey makes complete road and cyclocross coupled frames under their “Breakaway” series. Because I wanted a bike that could handle the widest range of conditions, I opted for the cyclocross frame. My new Ritchey Steel Cross Frame arrived in its black suitcase and I couldn’t wait to get it open. Moments later I had freed my orange and grey beauty from the packaging that had imprisoned it. I quickly built it up and took it for a spin. I was surprised at how efficient the bike felt. Somewhere in my mind I must have assumed that because it was a travel bike, there would be additional flex, more weight, or just some sort of compromised ride. The reality was that the bike rode just like a bike without couplers.

How Does It Work

travel bike packed

It is easy to pack the Ritchey by removing the wheels, handlebar, seat and seatpost, and decoupling the frame. The resulting six parts fit neatly into the supplied Ritchey suitcase with enough room left over for a helmet, shoes and some bike gear. The supplied padding Velcros in place to protect the paint on each tube and even includes a small bag to protect the rear derailleur. To close the suitcase, just zip it up and compress the contents with the 3 exterior straps.

Is a Travel Bike Really That Easy?

In the years I’ve owned my bike it has treated me to thousands of miles over far away roads. I have built it in airports, hotel rooms, and conference rooms across the globe. Assembling it is easy and quick with just a folding set of hex wrenches. Even though assembly is easy, don’t forget to have the bike routinely maintained at your local bike shop. While it’s not necessary each time you travel, packing and unpacking a bike can accelerate the need for maintenance.

I hope you have a similar, positive experience with your travel bike. Bringing a familiar “two wheeled friend” along on your bike journeys is the best way to explore.




Folding bikes are an essential bicycle for anyone with limited space, a multi-mode commute, or the desire to travel with a bike.

Folding bikes are easy to use and fun for a ride or commute

Folding bikes are an essential bicycle for anyone with limited space, a multi-mode commute, or the desire to travel with a bike. Many companies make great folders that are easy to transport, featherweight and easy to use. Read ahead for tips on how to choose the right one and for information on all the benefits of a folder.

Types of folding bikes


Wheel size is the major differentiation between folding bikes. They range from 12” wheels, like the wheels you find on a kid’s bike, up to 700c full size adult wheels. Most folding bike frames are sized as one size fits all. The Seat and handlebars can usually be raised and lowered almost infinitely to fit any rider. The most noticeable part of different wheel sizes is comfort and stability.


There are many different brands out there. The major players are Dahon, Tern, and Bike Friday. Each have models that are oriented toward road riding, off-road, or touring. Tern and Dahon make their bicycles in Asia out of aluminum or steel. Bike Friday on the other hand, produces all their bicycles in Eugene Oregon out of steel. There are many other brands that make folding bikes as well, but these are the three most readily available in bike shops.


Folding bikes are great because of their size. For storage, having the ability to fold a bike up into a suitcase sized package offers a lot of options. These bikes can fit under a bed, into a closet, or the trunk of your car.


A barrier for many people to enter into bicycle commuting is distance. For some, it is just not possible to ride 25 miles to work. A folding bike can help split up a bicycle commute. By being folding, you can ride the bike from your home to the bus or train, ride public transportation and then finish the trip to work on your bike again.

Wheel size

Most folding bikes use smaller wheels than their non-folding counterparts. Those small wheels are great when it’s time to fold the bike up, but while riding, they can be a bit harsher than a full size wheel.

Unique parts

Folding bikes use proprietary parts in order to fold as small as possible. Most of these parts are specific to each folding bike brand and are designed to make the bike as fold-able as possible while also being very light. The downside to unique parts is getting replacements can be an issue. Overall, these parts aren’t usually wear items, so the instance of replacement is low.


Folding bikes use smaller frames in the pursuit of getting as small and light as possible once folded. The side effect of a small frame is low stiffness. This flex would be appreciated if it were in a vertical plane, as it would absorb road vibration, but sadly the lateral flex of a folding bike only robs the rider of efficiency.

Tips to buying

Trying before you buy can be difficult because most shops don’t stock a large selection of folding bikes. Start by making a few calls to local shops to see what’s available to ride. Because of that scarcity, focus on testing two things – Wheel size and frame material. The wheel size and frame material have the largest effect on the ride quality of the bicycle. If you can solidify the wheel size and frame material you prefer, you can then determine the other features without riding them.

Travel Bikes

Travel bikes are full sized bicycles that can be deconstructed to fit into a suitcase. While they offer the same ride quality as a standard bicycle, they do not disassemble quickly. I would recommend a folding bike over a travel bike if you plan to make frequent short trips with the bike. If you plan to travel longer distances, and ride more miles, a travel bike is great.

In most cases a bicycle rack for your auto is a necessity if you want to transport your bike safely. Here are a few tips and facts about choosing, buying and installing the right bike racks.

Getting a bicycle rack will protect your car and your bike!

by John Brown,

In most cases a bicycle rack for your auto is a necessity if you want to transport your bike safely. Consequently, by trying to transport your bicycle in the trunk, you can create serious damage to it. In light of that, here are a few tips and facts about choosing, buying and installing the right bike racks.

What is your bicycle rack going to haul

bike rack

The first choice in picking a bicycle rack is deciding what you will be transporting. Most trunk racks can only accommodate 3 bikes, so if you plan to carry more, that leaves you with roof or hitch racks. Furthermore, If you plan to carry kayaks or skis, that leaves a roof racks as your only option. So before picking your rack, be sure you know what you are carrying.

Roof racks for bicycles

Roof racks mount exactly as you would expect, on the roof of your car. Typically, they are made up of three parts; Load bars, feet and bicycle tray. The load bars are sized to match the width of your car and span from one side of the vehicle to the other. The feet, hold the load bar and mount onto the vehicle. Feet are specific to your vehicle and can mount to the rain gutters, factory roof rack, or door wells. A bike tray mounts to the load bars and holds your bicycle. Different bike trays can hold your bike by its fork, downtube, or wheels. Considering roof racks are the most complicated type of rack, they are also the most expensive. However, once you have a rack system, the individual attachments for bikes, skis, kayaks or any other product are relatively inexpensive.

Hitch racks for your bicycle

bike rack

A hitch rack fits into a receiver installed on the back of your vehicle (see image below). The receiver doesn’t need to be rated to pull a trailer, just hold the bike rack. Hitch racks are made to carry up to 5 bikes, all on the back of the car. Some versions require you to remove the bikes to access your trunk while some others can swing away from your vehicle with all bikes installed. Additionally, hitch racks can be locked to the car and bikes can be locked to it. The great thing about hitch racks is the cost starts very low.

Trunk racks for bikes

bike rack

Trunk bicycle racks, also known as strap racks, mount to the back of a car, by way of fabric straps and rubber hooks. The hooks fit into the gap between your car and its trunk. The attached straps get tightened down to secure the rack into place. Trunk racks typically have a maximum of 3 bikes. Due to the fact that they use fabric straps, trunk racks are not a good resource to lock your bike. They are however very inexpensive and easy to store when not in use.

Installing a bicycle rack

The tough part about bike racks is that there are almost as many racks as there are cars, and each car requires a different fit. Sadly, there is no one best way to install a rack. With that being said, rack manufacturers like Thule, Saris, and Yakima publish a fit guide to help out. Most of these brands are displayed at your local bike shop, so stop in and check them out. Remember, if you are going to install the rack yourself, follow the manufacturers guidelines for trouble use and to make sure your equipment is safe.

Rear bike rack visibility

Any time you attach something to the back of your car you can obscure visibility. Thankfully you can get around this by placing the bikes on the rack properly, and using your side mirrors. What you can’t get around is obscuring your liscense plate and tail lights. For that issue there is a handy product that solves the problem – The Auto Rack.

The Auto Rack is a tail light extension system that offers motorist behind a clear view of the operators intentions.

The Auto Rack is a tail light extension system that offers motorist behind a clear view of the operators intentions.

The Auto Rack is a patented auxiliary system that easily mounts to the last bike placed on the rack. Selecting either the aluminum or hard plastic frame model extends the visibility of your rear lights. Both models uses a standard 4-pole flat trailer light connection to transmit the stop, turn and tail light functions. They both have a mounting platform for your vehicle’s license plate also. So, by using a Auto Rack system, accidents can be prevented and there is less of a chance of being pulled over by police.

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The best way to stay dry is to wear waterproof clothing. While most synthetic fabrics still insulate when wet, being wet diminishes their ability to keep you warm.

Staying dry with waterproof clothing is a sure fire way to stay comfortable

by John Brown,

Biking in the rain as spring arrives, staying dry is the most important and difficult part of riding. The best way to keep dry is to wear waterproof clothing. While most synthetic fabrics still insulate when wet, being wet diminishes their ability to keep you warm. Therefore, a waterproof jacket and pants are a great way to start, but waterproof socks and gloves make the outfit complete. While a lot of materials are naturally waterproof, once perforated with stitching, zipped closed with generic zippers, and left to be loose at all the cuffs, their waterproofing goes out the window. Before you go out and buy anything labeled “waterproof,” read on to understand that all waterproofing is not the same.

Waterproof Clothing and Gear To Stay Dry

To keep water out, look for waterproof clothes that have sealed or welded seams (see image). Also, 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 tight against your skin.

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

A waterproof garment is measured in mm of fluid. For example, a fabric that were 5,000  mm waterproof is tested as follows. Fabric is placed over the end of a long tube. Following that, the tube is filled with 5,000 mm of water and the fabric needs to support the pressure without leaking. Take a look at the table below for an quick reference.

RatingResistanceWeather Conditions
0 mm – 1,500 mmWater resistant/snowproofDry conditions or very light rain
1,500 mm – 5,000 mmWaterproofLight to average rain
5,000 mm – 10,000 mmVery WaterproofModerate to heavy rain
10,000 mm- 20,000 mmHighly WaterproofHeavy rain

 Breathe Sweat Out

In addition to measuring waterproofness, textiles are also measured for their ability to breath water vapor out. Breathable means that water vapor (sweat) being produced by your body can escape through the fabric. Breathable fabrics work because water vapor is smaller than water droplets. In order 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.

Breathability is important because, as far as insulation is concerned, it’s just as bad to get soaked with sweat as with rain. Therefore, 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.

Breathability is expressed in terms of how many grams (g) of water vapor can pass through a square meter (m2) of the fabric from the inside to the outside in a 24 hour period. To that effect, the larger the number, the more breathable the fabric. For example, a coat with 5,000 gsm breathablility, 5,000 grams of water pass through a square meter of the fabric.

Waterproof even when it isn’t raining

During the spring thaw snow melts during the day and freezes again at night. In my commutes during the thaw I focus on wearing waterproof clothing to keep warm. The rivers of salty water I end up riding through would soak any non waterproof clothing rendering it useless.

When Waterproof is Not Important

As the temperature rises, waterproofing becomes less and less important. It’s less important because at a certain temperature, waterproof materials cannot breathe enough to keep you dry. Therefore, if it rains hard enough, and it’s warm enough, you’re going to get wet.

In the spring and fall, be sure to have your waterproof gear ready. The cool temps and wet conditions can be very dangerous if you aren’t prepared. Being dry is the #1 way to maintain your comfort and safety while riding in inclement conditions.