Tag Archives: mountain bike

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

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

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

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

Why is a broken chain common?

Wear

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

Impact

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

The parts of your bike chain

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

How to fix a broken chain

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

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

broken chain

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

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

Removing a broken chain link and shortening chain

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

Install a quick link

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

Install a chain pin

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

Ongoing maintenance

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

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

 

Many times, riders will assume that because the weather is cool or a ride is short they don’t need to bring water with them on a bike ride. Truth be told, the biggest drain to your energy while riding can be related to dehydration.

Don’t forget to bring plenty of water on any length of a bicycle ride

Many times riders will assume that because the weather is cool or a ride is short they don’t need to bring water along with them on a bike ride. Truth be told, the biggest drain to your energy level while riding can be related to dehydration. Stay hydrated by bringing water or a sports drink along on all rides.

Yeah water, bring plenty along!

Yeah water, bring plenty along!

Stay hydrated before, during and after your ride!

Here are five tips on how much to drink and what to drink when biking:

1. On days that are going to be hot, first thing in the morning drink at least a pint (20 to 24 Fl. OZ.) of water. If you have a lemon handy, squeeze some juice in with the water. This combination wakes up your metabolism and replaces lost water from sleep. Plus the vitamin C from the lemon helps build resistance to catching a colds.

2. Then, one to two hours before heading out on your bike consume another pint of fluid, an hour before you start riding. This is particularly important on the hotter days.

In colder weather, try to avoid consuming large amounts of fluids in the morning before your bike ride. This is because in cold weather your body will want to reduce the supply of blood going around your body. It will do this by making you want to go to the bathroom to get rid of excess fluid.

3. On longer rides when you are out riding for several hours replace fluids an electrolyte drink. Evidence shows that people hydrating only consuming water don’t replace electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and chloride. This will result in a dramatic drop in performance and create fatigue. With several brands on the market use a richer mix during the winter (because you are drinking less) and a weaker solution during summer (because you’ll be drinking more).

On longer rides consider mixing one of your water bottles with an electrolyte drink mix and grapefruit juice. Or, for a high carbohydrate burn rate use gels with water.

Drink before you get thirsty

4. The main thing to remember when cycling, drink before you get thirsty. Sip on the water and the electrolyte drink on those hot days. Ideally target to take a couple sips of fluid every two or three miles on really hot days. Everyone is unique so this still might not be enough on really hot days. However, it is better to consume plenty of fluids early on in the ride to help reduce the chance of hydration issues later on in the day.

5. Hydrate and replenish after each and every bike ride. Do not just get home and have some water! You need to replace protein, carbohydrates, electrolytes and water alone wont help your body recover quickly for that next planned activity. A quick recovery drink alone isn’t enough, you have to pay attention and keep hydrated the rest of the day too

Remember – Staying hydrated is unique to each individual. So please experiment with the steps above and the products available on the market to find out what works best for you. If you feel faint, dizzy or start to get a headache while out riding please stop and seek shade or an air conditioned room) and call medical assistance ASAP.

So, stay hydrated and have fun no matter how hot it gets!

Remember - Drink water before you get thirsty!

Remember – Drink water before you get thirsty!

 

 

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

Mountain bike wheel sizes: past, present and future explained

by John Brown, 

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

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

Tire Size

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

Early changes to wheel sizes

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

tire size

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

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

 

tire size

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

It all started with a 26” wheel size

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

27.5” and 29” wheels

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

wheel size

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

Plus wheel sizes

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

wheel size

Plus tire angle of attack

The future wheel sizes

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

What wheel size is best for You

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

A pair of cycling gloves are one of the few pieces of apparel that make direct contact with both your body and the bicycle.

How to choose the right cycling gloves for miles of pain free riding!

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

A pair of cycling gloves are one of the few pieces of apparel that make direct contact with both your body and the bicycle. They help you maintain proper grip on the bars when things get hot and sweaty, they protect your skin in the case of an accidental dismount, and they can help alleviate soreness and numbness in your hands.

However, like any other type of cycling gear, you can’t just grab any pair of gloves off the shelf. The gloves have to be the perfect fit for you. Below is some information to help you find the right pair.

The importance of cycling gloves to the ulnar nerve

Through the palm of your hand runs a nerve called the ulnar nerve. It’s the nerve responsible for the shock you feel when you hit your funny bone. It’s also responsible for the sensation in your pinkie, ring finger, hands, and any subsequent discomfort when riding. By holding the handlebar, pressure is placed on the ulnar nerve, sometimes creating numbness or pain.

cycling glove ulnar nerve

The ulnar nerve and the critical pressure point

At the location where your hand, the ulnar nerve, and the handlebar make contact is where cycling gloves offer relief. Many gloves include padding on the palm to disperse the force being applied to the Ulnar nerve. The pad acts as a little bridge over the nerve, eliminating hand discomfort, and allowing you endless miles of comfortable riding.

Cycling Gloves Ulnar nerve correction

Ulnar nerve being protected by pad

Finding the Perfect Pair of Cycling Gloves

When trying on cycling gloves, focus on the webbing between your pointer finger and thumb. The webbing will give you a great indication of fit when holding a handlebar. If the glove is snug enough to avoid scrunching up and chaffing, then it’s a good fit. However, if the glove is too tight through the webbing, then holding the bar will only intensify that pressure.

If this is your first time using gloves, realize that holding a bar with gloves will feel different. If it feels like the padding puts your hand in an unnatural position, try on different pairs until you find one that feels more normal.

Cycling gloves come in two major categories; full finger and half finger. Both types offer the same sizing and padding options. For road and path riding half finger gloves work great. They allow for good feel on the controls and manage sweat well. If you are riding off road, a full finger glove offers better protection in case of an accidental dismount.

Cycling Glove types

Half finger and full finger cycling gloves

When you follow the tips above, you should easily be able to find gloves that help you enjoy mile after mile of comfortable riding.

For keeping your gloves clean and stretching there longevity this article.

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The best way to verify you are buying the best bike for you is to test ride a lot.

Buying a new bike? Test ride tips to make the most of your time

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

The best way to find the right bike for you is to do some research on models you like. Then verify their size to your body and test riding your choices a lot. With so many choose, how do you make the best use of your time while test riding these bikes? Read on for a complete list of how to test ride efficiently.

Test ride bike plan research

Any good test ride begin with research. First, review what type of bicycle you would like, then check out the websites of some popular brands. Pay close attention to the prices of each bike and what it buys you. A few things to look for are, the amount of gears, what type of suspension it has, tire size, frame material, and brake type. Once you have gotten a general sense for what is available, you can plan a trip to the bike shop.

Pick a shop

Give a call to the shops closest to you and verify they have the models you want to test ride.

Before looking further call a shop closest to you and verify they have the models you want to test ride.

Once you have researched a few bikes you like, give some local dealers a call. Most brand’s websites have a dealer locator to help you find the closest shop. Give a call to the shops closest to you and verify they have the models you want to ride. Because shops can’t stock every possible model in every possible size, call to ensure they at least have the right model in a size that is close to what you are looking for.

Make a date to test ride

Check the weather and your schedule, then pick a good time to head into the shop. Keep in mind that shops and roads are less busy during the work week. Therefore, Monday thru Friday is the ideal time to test ride bikes. If you need to go in on the weekend, call the shop and see when they are least busy and make an appointment if possible.

Dress appropriately

It makes no sense to test ride bicycles if you are not dressed for the occasion. Wear your Jersey, Shorts, bring your helmet, and bring shoes and pedals if you ride clipless. Another helpful thing is to bring your existing bicycle with you. The way your current bike is setup can be replicated somewhat for test rides.

Bring your ID

When test riding bikes, you are potentially borrowing thousands of dollars from the shop. Therefore, it’s expected for shops to ask for some form of collateral. At the minimum, bring your ID and a major credit card.

The test ride

Test rides don’t need to take hours, but a three minute spin is rarely enough time to make a real impression. Expect to take at least 15 minutes on each bike, with more time spent on the first few bikes you ride. When riding, try to focus on how the bike accelerates, how easily it changes direction, and how stable it feels. A great way to do this is to pick a set route that has some flat area, some climbs, and at least one good descent. Riding the same course with different bikes makes comparing them easier.

Narrow it down to bikes

Once you get the feel for a few bikes, you can start narrowing down your choices. I find it best to pick two and then ride them back to back, concentrating on fit and comfort rather than speed and stability. Have the shop begin dialing in your fit on these two bicycles to see which one really is the best for you. Once you have a bike that rides well and fits well, you are ready to buy.

Buy everything you will need

A bike that rides great is the key ingredient in a great bike ride but it’s not everything. Remember that your new bike needs things like a water bottle cage, kickstand, lights, and maybe clipless pedals or a better fitting saddle. Consider all the situations you may run into on your new bike and buy the products you need to be prepared.

Hopefully your next bike purchase will be fun and informative

Common cycling mistakes are something we as humans can't escape, but nobody is perfect. That said, consider taking a look below at some of the most common and damaging cycling mistakes

Common cycling mistakes and the ways you can solve them today

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Mistakes are something we as humans can’t escape, but nobody is perfect. That said,  what we can do is try to eliminate some of the simple errors we may might make without ever realizing we are proceeding down the wrong path. Consider taking a look below at some of the most common and damaging cycling mistakes made by both occasional and seasoned cyclists.

Cycling Mistakes #1 – Only wear a helmet when you think it’s needed

Many riders make the mistake of thinking “I don’t need to wear a helmet, I’m only going around the block with the kids”. This mentality is often responsible for catastrophe. The truth is you never know when an accident can happen, so you should always be prepared. As an example, the worst crash I have ever had was when riding from a campsite, down a straight gravel path to the wash room. Before I knew it, I was smack dab on the ground faster than I could get my hands up to catch myself. Moral of the story Is to wear your helmet any time you ride your bike.

mistakes

Helmets are always in style

#2 – Believing you have plenty of air in the tires without checking

Frequently, I see riders headed down the trail with tires so low you can hear the rim bouncing off the ground with each pedal stroke. Low tire pressure can lead to pinch flats, and more importantly, loss of control. The innertube that holds the air in your tire is naturally porous and loose air naturally over time. In fact, a tube can lose between 3-5 PSI a day. At its extreme, your tire could go from full pressure to less than half pressure in the span of one week. Be sure to protect your ride by checking tire pressure before each ride.

#3 – Lube the Chain After Every Ride

Believe it or not, an over lubed chain is more damaging than an under lubed chain. While I am not recommending that you ride around with a dry chain, knowing when to lube is important. Having a ton of lube on your chain will not protect it any better. In fact, too much lube will attract dirt and debris, creating a harsh slurry that covers and wears your drivetrain. The best way to lubricate your chain is to apply lube to the chain, allowing it to soak in for a minute and then use a rag to wipe off as much excess as possible. When done, the chain should feel almost dry to the touch.

The right amount of lube is a great thing

#4 – Use the water hose to clean your bike

After a dusty or wet ride, many riders reach for the hose to spray dirt off the bike. Sadly, while the bike may look clean, the bike will be in worse shape than if it hadn’t been cleaned at all. Pressured water that comes from a hose, can displace grease and leave nothing behind. Now, with no grease, the bike wears out at an accelerated rate. Instead of using a hose, try instead a warm bucket of soapy water and a big sponge.

#5 – Bring water along only on some rides

Many times, riders will assume that because the weather is cool, or a ride is short, they don’t need to bring water with them on a ride. Truth be told, the biggest drain to your energy while riding can be related to dehydration. Stay hydrated by bringing water or a sports drink along on all rides.

mistakes

Yay Water!

#6 – Assume cycling shoes are only good for clipless pedals

If you don’t want to ride clipless pedals, I get that. There are tons of reasons clipless pedals are great, but at least as many reasons why they aren’t right for everybody. What you can do is use a cycling specific shoe with your flat pedals. A cycling shoe has a stiff sole and additional arch support to disperse pedaling forces over the entire length of your foot. Therefore, you have more efficiency and less discomfort.

Mistakes in general

Overall, it is a good idea to think about what you are doing before you ride your bike. Make sure your bike is ready for the ride, be equipped to take care of yourself during the ride and be sure you are prepared to reach out for help if needed. Once you go through that mental exercise you will see the common cycling mistakes melt away. Have Fun!

Enjoy your next bike adventure with these helpful tips before leaving your front door. Your adventure could be a charity ride, a triathlon, a bike tour or even a trip for the whole family to the library. Whatever the bike adventure.

Tips for planning a great bike adventure for lasting memories

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Congratulations are in order, if you have decided to take the leap and plan a great bike adventure. Your adventure could be a charity ride, a triathlon, a bike tour, or even a trip for the whole family to the library. Whatever the bike adventure, there are a few things you should know before leaving your front door.

Don’t pack heavy for that next bike adventure

Bike Adventure

No need to pack everything, but it’s good to be prepared.

I’m not encouraging you to bring everything you own, but consider packing for all kinds of situations. Be sure to bring extra tubes, chain lube, hex keys, a rag and an air pump. If you are traveling with the family, be sure to bring things for the kids to do during down time. A magnifying glass, a bug book and bags to carry home newly found “treasures” can be just the thing to encourage kids to explore while off the bike.

Don’t pack the rider to heavy

Bike Adventure

Again, packing the kitchen sink is too much, but being prepared is important for having a great bike adventure. At the very least, pack a clean change of clothes for everyone. Leave them in the car if multi-modal commuting. Being able to change into clean clothes makes the drive home more comfortable and might be necessary if your kids explored a little too hard. Plus, a jacket, arm warmers, knee warmers and rain gear for changing weather conditions keep all parties comfortable – and don’t forget food (for pre, during, and post ride), and water. Beyond those things, pack a towel (even if you don’t plan to get wet). A towel make a great changing mat and can be rolled to act as a pillow or offer some privacy when changing in public.

Know your route

Most events will share a map of the route in advance. Print a paper version of it just in case your digital solution fails. If you are making your own route, create and print a cue sheet and map. On a cue sheet, each turn of the ride is listed by street and distance for quick reference. Also look the Minnesota Bike/Hike guide for great routes around the upper Midwest,

Plan “surprise” rewards

Bike Adventure

When riding with the family, it’s a great idea to plan rest stops in advance. Stopping at a convenience store for a treat or a Ice cream parlor for a cone are all the reward your kids could want after a warm summer trip. Same concept applies for adults. Stopping for a good meal or great micro brew can do a lot to keep morale high.

Random goods you should consider carrying

Even if you plan and pack well, unexpected things happen. Be sure to ride with a zip lock bag (preferably big enough to house you phone to keep it dry), a small bit of Duct tape, travel tissues, 4 quarters, and a ten-dollar bill. With those items, you can protect things from the elements, repair the un-repairable, buy ice cream, and do a host of other things.

Take care of your baby

A mechanical problem on a bike adventure is the worst. Avoid any issues by first cleaning your bike thoroughly, then taking it in for service. Having your bike running in tip top shape makes the ride that much more enjoyable. If you are traveling as a group, periodically inspect the bikes position on the car rack. Poorly positioned bikes banging together have ruined lots of adventures before they began.  Car exhaust will easily melt bicycle tires, inspect that your bike is not positioned in line with the car’s tail pipe.

Think of it as a bike adventure

Of all the “things” you can bring with you, be sure to leave your stress at home. No ride has ever gone according to plan. In fact, some of my most enjoyable rides were the ones where everything went wrong! Lasting memories can be built at any time, so enjoy the journey, stay positive and smell the roses along the way on your next bike adventure.

Kid’s bikes are the gateway to lifetime of fun. What’s best for your rider?

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

When it is time to get your child on the bike for the first time, or upgrade to a bigger size, knowing the differences between kid’s bikes will make the job easier. Read below for more details.

BMX

In the early 1970’s kids began racing their bicycles on the dirt tracks of southern California. This racing led to the national explosion of the BMX bike. Over the last few years the “Bikelife” movement has given BMX a renewed interest around the world and ushered many different frame and wheel sizes into the category of BMX. These bikes all share the similarities of one rear brake, single speed, high bars, and low saddle even though the wheel sizes are different.

MTB

The Mountain Bike boom of the 90’s spread across the globe and included options for every size of rider. Today, kid’s mountain bikes live in two categories; “Off road” and On road”. The “Off road” mountain bikes have lower gearing to traverse loose trails, suspension designed for control, and lightweight components. “On road” mountain bikes are built to be ridden around the neighborhood rather than off road. They have higher gearing for smooth paths, suspension designed for ascetics rather than function and they typically weight a lot more than the “Off road” versions. Both come in 20”, 24” and 26” wheel sizes.

Balance

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? These 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, before incorporating pedals.

Road

This category is a bit newer to kid’s bikes, but has existed in cycling for over 100 years. More recently, parents who enjoy riding their road bikes wanted to share that experience with their young kids. Thanks to a few perceptive companies, kid’s road bikes came to the market with great acceptance. To find the size that fits your child best, try different brands to find something that fits your child well.

Sizes

Most kid’s bikes are sized by wheels size. As an example, a child from 32”-42” tall would ride a 16” wheeled kids bike. That does not mean that all 16” wheeled kids bikes are the same size. Where they differ is the overall height of the frame, and the distance from the seat to the handlebars. When getting a new bike, try a few brands to see which frame fits best.

Brakes

Smaller kid’s bikes (>16” wheels) usually use a pedal brake. Therefore, to have the child stop, they pedal backward. Once you grow into kid’s bikes with 20” wheels most manufactures use a hand brake and a pedal brake so that kids can get comfortable with hand brakes. At 24” wheels and above, bikes are almost exclusively built with hand brakes only.

Materials

Thanks to the increase in aluminum production and costs for the material coming down, many kids bikes are now made out of aluminum. This is great news for kids of the world because aluminum frames are lighter than steel. Steel frames are not always a detriment to kids bike though. In the case of BMX bikes, Steel’s durability and strength end up being a huge benefit for riders doing more aggressive moves.

Attributes

-weight

Kids bikes typically weigh a lot in relation to the child. But that is not to say these bikes are heavy. As an example, a 25-pound bike is proportionally heavier to a child who weighs 40 pounds than to a 150-pound adult. Getting your child the lightest bicycle available, will go a long way to make it easier for them to ride.

-durability

Durability is a difficult metric to qualify when buying a bike for a child. Something that will be durable enough for path riding, might not hold up to the rigors of off road use. Durable things to look for are metals rather than plastics in the braking and shifting components, and aluminum rims rather than steel. Beyond everything else, take into consideration the child who will be riding the bike when determining how durable it needs to be. Some kids are gentle on their equipment while others are far more kinetic.

-gears

Gears are great for neighborhoods that have hills or for riding off road. Multiple gears give kids a mechanical advantage to ride steep grades or high speeds with relative ease. On the other hand, if your typical riding locations are completely flat and paved, gears will probably just add undue complexity to your child’s bike.

How to buy

Now that you know all about what makes a kid’s bike, let’s talk about how to buy one. I cannot recommend your local bike shop highly enough. A child’s enjoyment of riding a bike is hugely effected by the quality of the bike, fit of the bike, and function of the bike. For those reasons, no entity does a better job of getting your kid on the right bike than the local bike shop. It is not a secret that there are less expensive places to buy a bike than a bike shop. Even though others may sell bikes for less money they are not the same product in fit, function, or service.

Additional materials

When going to get your child a new bike, remember to look for a few other products as well. First and foremost is a Helmet. Helmets have limited lifespans and should be replaced frequently. Also consider the things that will go on your kid’s new bike like a bell or bottle. Round out the purchase with gloves or a jersey and your kid will be looking forward to mile after mile of great riding.

How do you figure out what is the right bike for you? Like everything else in the world today, there are no shortages of choices when it comes to bikes. With that said, please read on for several helpful tips!

Recreational or competitive what is the right bike for your riding pleasure?

By John Brown HaveFunBiking.com

How do you figure out what is the right bike for you? Like everything else in the world today, there are no shortages of choices when it comes to bikes. With that said, please read on for several helpful tips!

Step one to the right bike, determine where you want to ride.

Typical choices for the right bike are:

Road Bikes designed exclusively for pavement riding.

Path/Trail Encompassing everything from paved roads to dirt trails.

Off Road These bikes are designed for Mountain Biking offroad.

Step two, how frequently do you plan on riding?

To get the right bike plan to spend as little as $300 and up in the neighborhood of several thousand. The most basic models use less durable materials like plastics rather than metals in the shifting components and mild steel rather than stronger alloys for the drive train and cockpit. As the price increases stronger materials replace less durable materials lending to a bicycle that will hold up better to frequent use. At a certain price (different for every category of bicycle), the durability doesn’t increase, instead the weight begins to decrease. A lighter bicycle is easier to control and accelerate (making for a more enjoyable ride). Determining how frequently you intend to ride  against the bikes you are looking at will help you pick the right bike for your needs.

Step three, why are you riding?

Fun and fitness; speed and adrenaline; or competition all put different strains on a bicycle. Be sure to match your riding style with the bike you’re zeroing in on.. For fun and fitness, comfort is usually the foremost concern. By contrast, if you want to compete, comfort is often traded for efficiency.

Step Four, What to ride.

Once you figure out the “Where”, “How frequently”, and “Why” questions, only the “What” remains. What is the right bike? First figure out the main category (each one has its own subcategories). As a rule, start with the three main categories Road, Path/Trail, MTB.

Road Bicycles

Road Bikes are best suited on roads due to their narrow tires and designed with speed and efficiency in mind. Generally speaking, don’t let the narrow tire deter you. In essence, road bikes use narrow tires because pavement offers ample traction, so a wider tire only slows the bike down. Additionally, road bicycles are the lightest of the three categories. Some are equipped with flat handlebars, but most come with a drop bar. Overall, many riders love the speed and lightweight of these bicycles. Click for more info on Road bikes.

Path/Trail

Path/Trail bikes are the largest volume of bicycles sold and appeal to the largest riding audience. Ordinarily, these bicycles use an upright handlebar and a more comfortable seating position. The tires range from something narrow (a little wider than a Road Bike) to as wide as a Mountain Bike. Frequently, many are fitted with suspension designed to make the bike feel smother over rough paths. While not as quick as a Road Bike, these bikes offer great efficiency on longer bike tours. Click for more info on Path/Trail bikes.

 

Mountain Bikes

Mountain Bikes are designed for off road use and sport the largest tires of any category. Additionally, Mountain Bikes are equipped with suspension designed to keep the rider in control on rough trails. Mountain Bikes have low gearing so riders can pedal up steep grades or loose and rocky terrain. A lot of riders enjoy the stability and position of a Mountain Bike for Path/Trail riding as well as true off road riding. Click for more info on Mountain Bikes.

Test rides

To learn about the subcategories of Mountain, Path/Trail and Road bikes it’s best to visit your local bike shop and start taking test rides. As you test ride bicycles, the differences and your own preferences, become clearer as you ride more bikes.

For your first test ride, try a bike that fits you properly, is in your price range, and is in the category you think you want. Pay attention to how much effort it takes to get up to speed, how quickly it turns, how stable it feels, and how comfortable you feel on it. When you try a second, third, etc. (typically I recommend you try the same type bike in a slightly lower or higher price point) compare them. Even with as few as three test rides you can begin to feel the differences between the bicycles. You will find that making a final decision on the right bike is easy after an day of test riding.

In the case of Mountain bikes, many shops have Demo bicycles that you can take to your local trails for a ride. Riding a demo bike is a great way to get the feel for a bike on trail, but is best done once you have test ridden a few models around the shop and are closer to a decision.

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Mountain bike hacks: fat bike tips and tricks for winter fun!

by  John Brown. HaveFunBiking.com

For many of us, riding offroad through the winter is impossible without a fat bike. Our trails get covered with snow in December and don’t see the light of day again until April. While riding a fat bike is a great substitution for riding a mountain bike, it does behave differently than a standard mountain bike. Here are a few quick and easy hacks to riding fat bikes that will get you enjoying the snow in no time.

Why a fat bike

What makes a fat bike special is its ability to ride though deep snow with ease. The reason it is at home in snow is that these tires are between 4” to 5” wide. That width offers traction and flotation on the softest of terrains like snow and sandy ground cover.

Tire pressure

With wider tires comes a larger overall air volume, meaning that fat bikes have more space for air in their tires than a standard mountain bike. Due to that increased volume, fat bikes use a very different air pressure than your standard mountain bike tire. As an example, in very deep snow it’s not unheard of to run the tires as low as 8 psi. By contrast, a standard mountain bike tire at 8 psi would be completely un-rideable. Proper air pressure for a fat bike tire can be difficult to achieve if you don’t know what you are looking for. Basically, you want the tire to be able to deform easily over terrain, but not be so low that the tire “squirms” or collapses under hard turning efforts. I find it easy to get here by filling the tires until they are slightly less than firm, then lowering the air pressure incrementally over the first few minutes of a ride until the tires really perform well. You will know you let too much air out if the bike bobs up and down with each pedal stroke.

Turning

Due to the soft nature of snow, turning can be tricky. While turning on a normal mountain bike you move your body weight forward rely on the tires traction, then aggressively force the bike through the turn. Considering snow is soft and will not support that type of maneuver turning requires a slightly more finessed approach. First, leave your weight in a neutral position centered over the bicycle. Next, shift your weight toward the inside of the turn and begin turning the bars slightly toward the turn. The front wheel is more of a tiller than anything else.  Use it to direct the angle and direction of the bike, but resist the urge to load it up with weight. As the bike angles toward the turn, focus your weight on the rear wheel. If done properly, you will feel as if the bike is turning from the rear wheel rather than the front and your front tire won’t wash out.

fatbike

Weight back and rear wheel doing most the work.

Climbing with a fat tire bike

Climbing with limited traction can be difficult as well. Rather than putting your bike in its lowest gear and muscling up the hill you need to be wary of not letting the rear tire slip. If you drop the bike into its lowest gear, chances are the rear tire will have too much torque. Too much torque will cause your tire to rip through the snow and slip. The best thing to do is move your weight backward and pedal with as even a pressure and cadence as possible. Standing and pedaling, or jabbing on the pedals will most likely cause the rear wheel to break free.

Ice and studs on a fat tire bike

On snow covered trails that get ridden often it is possible for the trails to get packed in and begin to freeze solid. Once ice is on the trail it becomes very difficult to control the bike with standard rubber tires. For this reason, I recommend adding studs to your tires if your trail riding is susceptible to ice.

studded tire

MTB studded tire from Schwalbe (left) and stud detail of 45nrth tire (right)

Overall fun

The biggest tip I can give to fat biking is to keep it fun! Riding a fat bike is a totally different experience than riding a normal Mountain bike, and requires its own skills. Try not to get frustrated because it handles differently than your other off road bikes, just focus on building some new skills. Also, with riding in colder temperatures, enjoy the time you have. While a 4 hour mountain bike ride in the summer is great, you may not be able to stay warm that long through the winter. Beyond the different skills and time, enjoy the unique rewards only Fatbiking can give you.