Cool Products

 

Latest Product Reviews

Wheel truing is a great way to take care of your bike while making it easier to ride. When you start adjusting your wheels, it's important to know where to start.

Demystifying the Mysterious Task of Wheel Truing Made Easy

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Wheel truing is a great way to take care of your bike while making it easier to ride. When you start adjusting your wheels, it’s important to know where to start. 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

-True

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

-Round

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.

How to Adjust Your V-Brakes for More Control and Safety

How to Adjust Your V-Brakes for More Control and Safety

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

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.

Centering

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).

Troubleshooting

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.

How to Get the Right Bike Rack to Carry your Bicycle Easily and Safely

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

A bike rack is a necessity if you want to transport your bicycle 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 Bike Rack Going to Haul

bike rack

The first choice in picking a 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 hitch rack as your only option. So before picking your rack, be sure you know what you are carrying.

Roof Bike Racks

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 bike 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 Bike Racks

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 Bike Racks

bike rack

Trunk 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.

Bike Rack Installation

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.

Learn How to Care for Your Bike Tires for a Comfortable and Safe Ride

Emergency Repairs: Fix a Flat Tire

One inevitability of riding a bicycle is that you will get a flat tire. With a little practice and planning, you can fix a flat tire, and finish your ride. To be prepared, you will need a few tools and you should practice how to fix a flat on your bicycle at home a few times to get it down. Read below for a step by step on how to change your first flat.

Needed Items

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.

Routine maintenance and cleaning will keep your bike in optimal condition and make it safe to ride when you need it with these is informative tips.

Keep Your Bike in Optimal Condition with Some Routine Maintenance Tips

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Like any other mechanical device, routine maintenance and cleaning will keep your bike in optimal condition and make it safe to ride when you need it. But 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. A hose forces water in and lubricant out, leaving your bicycle susceptible to corrosion and excess wear. Instead, fill a bucket with warm, soapy water (Dawn dish detergent works well) and use a large sponge or washcloth 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 (the gears, chain, and the little pulley wheels on your
derailleur) and want to get it sparkling you will need the following:Bike running smooth supplies

 

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

 

  • First: Start by applying a liberal amount of degreaser to the chain, gears, and derailleur pullies (pay close attention not to direct degreaser toward the center of either gear set, this could 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 seals do a good job of keeping lubricants where they are supposed to be. It also means that the only areas of a bicycle that can be lubricated without disassembly are the chain and cables.

 Lubricating the Chain

bike running smooth lubrication instructions

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.
  • 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. 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 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.

bike running smooth cable lubrication

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