Tag Archives: mountain bikes

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.

For some of us, there is an undeniable call to immerse ourselves in fun moments, in outdoor activities like mountain biking,

Fun moments mountain biking and the gadgets to keep us connected

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

For some of us, there is an undeniable call to immerse ourselves in fun moments in activities like mountain biking, that gets us out in mother nature’s natural settings. As we experience the thrill of off road trail riding we search out stunning vistas while enjoying the feeling of life around us, craving the type of solitude only found in wooded areas and rocky terrains. Now, as the explosion of mountain biking continues there is a wide array of new bicycles, gadgets, gear and trails that we want to share with you.

Fun moments for a mountain biker

When an outdoors person is introduced to life on two wheels, fun moments are had and a mountain biker is usually born. In fact, the mountain bike revolution began 35 years ago by road riders who loved to be in out in nature. That group of riders from the San Francisco Bay area quickly shared their passion which spread across the globe.

With Mountain Biking’s explosion, we have seen the development of, bicycles that offer better control, clothing that keeps us comfortable, helmets to protect us in our moment of need, countless gadgets to keep us informed,  and all types of trails.

Tuesday morning and this mountain biking chick finds a dry trail to enjoy. In Minnesota, check MORC trail conditions before heading out

The latest in mountain bikes for better control

As Mountain Biking developed as a sport, people developed different interests and capabilities which have developed into different types of bicycles. Most commonly, people begin on a cross country bike, which is usually a bike with a suspension fork and a rigid frame.

The Norco Challenger is a great example of this type of bike, with an aluminum frame, Shimano Disc brakes, RockShox Suspension fork and Highly versatile WTB tires. It’s ready to explore any trail a budding mountainbiker could imagine.

Mountain bike gear

Now that you have found yourself on the back of a two wheeled wonder machine, the real fun starts. I remember my first rides in jean shorts and a t shirt, just blasting through creekbeds and rocky trails at what felt like breakneck speeds. In retrospect, I realize that my relative speed was substantially lower than it felt, but fun was had. What wasn’t fun was how I felt on the bike. As an example, my propensity to rocket through creeks in jean shorts resulted in a lot of time pedaling in wet denim (uncomfortable and bordering on masochistic). In time, my clothing transferred into more traditional bike gear, and my body loved the change. I learned that something like the Endura Singletrack short and BaaBaa jersey made long miles more comfortable.

When comfort stops being the factor limiting your ride time, you start doing whatever is necessary to ride with greater efficiency. With that in mind, no accessory offers more efficiency than shoes and pedals. As an example, Lintiman Adjust Comp shoe offers a stiff sole to transfer more effort to the pedal, while reliving strain on your foot.

Couple those shoes with a pair of Egg beater 2 pedals and you can now drive force into the pedals throughout the entire pedal rotation (both pressing down and pulling up).

Mountain bike gadgets to help determine when to ride

I will admit, after a few fun moments and the mountain bike bug bites pretty hard. In fact, it can become difficult to find time in the day to fit everything you have to do with riding your bike. As a result, you can either slough off all responsibility and ride your bike (not too likely), or start riding at night! Ride at night you say…. yes! Night riding is one of the most fun parts of mountain biking. In fact, if you have traversed your local trails ad nausea during the daylight, they will look and feel completely different at night. Simply strap a light like the Nightrider Lumina Oled to your helmet and enjoy all the features night time trails have to offer.

https://www.niterider.com/product/lumina-oled-1100-boost/

Where to ride for fun moments

There are plenty of places to learn where to ride. For instance, if you live in the State of Minnesota, I would recommend paging through the Have Fun Biking Minnesota Guidebook . Regardless of how you find the trails, knowing where to go can be a concern. That’s why many riders are taking to using GPS cycling computers like the Wahoo Element.  With a GPS computer you can track where you are going as well as where you have gone.

If you are headed out of town, a great way to ride unknown trails is through organized rides. An annual pilgrimage to British Columbia for the BC bike race is the highlight of thousands of riders seasons. Additionally, you can ride at many of the same locations you ski at, as lift service for bicycles is a growing attraction to mountains around the world.

 

The Patrol 672 mountain bike was well worth the ride

Testing mountain bikes at Interbike’s Dirt Demo: Review Patrol 672

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking,com

I have to admit it, Interbike was more fun before the internet. The reason for this is that you would walk isle after isle and see all the new, awesome products. In the age of digital media it becomes a lot harder to find something new and even harder still to find something new and awesome. Well, I’m happy to report that I did find a diamond in the rough (more specifically desert) while I was out there. That diamond was Patrol bicycles, specifically the Patrol 672.

The Patrol 672 bike

The Patrol 672 is a 160mm travel mountain bike, equipped with 27.5” wheels. In the landscape of today’s bike market, it is relatively normal. It uses the tried and true Horst link suspension design and an all aluminum frame. Throughout the build kit you will find Rockshox and Shimano parts. What all this means is that Patrol hasn’t cut any corners. Overall the bike felt light and roomy in the cockpit with the suspension easily adjusted through air pressure.

Patrol 672

The Patrol 672 I rode in Bootleg Canyon

The Patrol ride

By the sound of the spec and design this bike should be unremarkable. That couldn’t be further from the truth. This bike just begged to gobble up rocks and loose sandy turns. While the top tube (and by extension wheelbase) isn’t as long as some other bicycles on the market, it was still sure footed and stable when things got hairy. I think that shorter overall wheelbase is what lends to this bikes snappy handling and playful demeanor. With any long travel bike like the 672, climbing is almost an afterthought, so I really didn’t expect much. Fast forward to the first loose climb and I was taken aback by this little goat. With the suspension set into its “full open” position (meaning that the suspension moves freely and is not stiffened to make for more efficient pedaling) there was some slight pedal bob under hard effort, but nothing that would be considered inefficient. With the suspension set to its climb mode, the bike shot up hill. My feeling is that for loose climbs, this bike works best in full open, but for extended smoother climbs, the climb mode eliminates any loss of effort.

Patrol 672

The Rocky and loose trails of Bootleg Canyon, served as a perfect test track for the Patrol 672

The Patrol 672 components

For this category of bike, short stems, wide bars, and single chain rings have become the standard. The 672 checks all these boxes with some really nice house brand aluminum bars and stem. For the drivetrain, they use a Shimano SLX group which will perform flawlessly for a long time.

Value

At $2,900 the Patrol 672 is really reasonable by comparison. If this were a bike from a larger name, you could expect it to cost well over $3,000 dollars. Now, why do you ask does this bike justify what seems like a hefty $2,900 price tag? Let’s start with the frame. Patrol uses sealed ball bearings and oversized hardware throughout all of it’s suspension. These features lead to better performing suspension that will continue functioning smoothly for seasons to come. Additionally, the 672 uses carefully manipulated tube shapes, created through a process called hydroforming, that allows the bike to be stiff, durable, and exceedingly light. Finally, Patrol has equipped this bike with parts that are as durable as the are functional, This ensures a lifetime of happy riding (even if you crash a few times along the way).

Why is it a diamond in the Rough?

Simply put, this brand is considered rough only because of their distribution. Take a look at their website and you will see Patrol offers bicycles across all categories, and at affordable prices. The bikes themselves are as polished as anything you will see coming out of a major brand. The only difficulty is you probably won’t see them at your local bike shop. But, I have a feeling as more people discover this diamond, it will become more available. In the meantime, if your interest is piqued, contact them directly and they can help you out.

In the U.S. bike markets it all happens at Interbike.

HaveFunBiking will share many new bike products from Interbike

by John Brown, Havefunbiking.com

Show season is at hand in the cycling industry and HaveFunBiking.com will be on the show floor. We are excited to try the newest product and deliver to our readers the most curated list of new products over the next couple months. On Monday September 18th , before dawn, we embark to Las Vegas to try countless bikes at Interbike’s Dirt Demo. Following that, on Wednesday the 20th, the doors open to the last Interbike in sin city. Stay tuned to our Blog to see all the newest products and news from the show floor at HaveFunBiking.

Interbike

Interbikes’s Dirt Demo is a great way to try new product.

HaveFunBiking goes to Interbike in Las Vegas

Don’t worry, the fun doesn’t stop when we leave Vegas. Following the show we will be reviewing product we will see over the course of next week, so stay tuned.

Here the manufactures of Tern Bicycles is showing and demonstrating the latest line of folding bikes out at the Iterbike's Canyon Demo location.

Here the manufactures from Tern Bicycles is showing and demonstrating the latest from their line of folding bikes out at the Interbike’s Canyon Demo location.

 

Here a bike shop representative takes a fat bike out for a test ride so she can share the highlights with her customers.

Here a bike shop representative takes a fat bike out for a test ride so she can share the highlights with her customers.

 

On Wednesdays Interbike official begins with several thousand exhibitors showing off their latest products in bike wear and fad.

 

Interbike

Miles of product at Interbike 2017!

Here the manufactures of Alter Bicycles is showing and demonstrating the latest line of there line of bikes at Interbike.

Here the manufactures of Alter Bicycles is showing and demonstrating the latest line from their their line of bikes at Interbike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here a manufacture is showing and demonstrating a colorful line of helmet mirrors at Interbike

This manufactures rep is demonstrating their colorful line of helmet mirrors at Interbike

Feel free to let us know what new products you want to hear about and what topics you need more info on.

Back in the mountain bike saddle after a long holiday weekend, here is our bike pic for the day.

Bike Pic Sept 5, having fun post holiday with another adventure

Back in the mountain bike saddle after a long holiday weekend, excited for the next challenge, here is our bike pic to start your week.

What better way to continue your summer fun and your #NextBikeAdventure. View all the fun ideas and bike destinations in the latest Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide. Then plan your next outing with family and friends in one of Minnesota’s HaveFunBiking Destinations.

Thanks for Viewing Our ‘Bike Pic’ of the Day  

We are now rolling into our 10th year as a bike tourism media. As we pedal forward our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike and have fun while we highlight all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more places to have fun, we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. Enjoy the information and stories we have posted as you scroll through.

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know that we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to: [email protected]. Include a brief caption (for each) of who is in the photo (if you know) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continue to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your #NextBikeAdventure – Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 8th year of producing this hand information booklet full of maps.

Remember, bookmark HaveFunBiking.com on your cell phone and find your next adventure at your fingertips! Please share our pics with your friends and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the corner with one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo apperance while you are riding and having fun. You could be in one of our next Pic’s of the Day.

Have a great day!

Tuesday morning and this mountain biking chick finds a dry trail to enjoy. In Minnesota, check MORC trail conditions before heading out

Bike Pic Aug 29, many trails are drying, check before mountain biking

Tuesday morning and this mountain biking chick finds a dry trail to enjoy. In Minnesota, check MORC trail conditions to see which trail systems may be open after all the rain, the last couple days.

What better way to continue your summer fun and your #NextBikeAdventure. View all the fun ideas and bike destinations in the latest Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide. Then plan your next outing with family and friends in one of Minnesota’s HaveFunBiking Destinations.

Thanks for Viewing Our ‘Mountain Biking’ Pic of the Day  

We are now rolling into our 10th year as a bike tourism media. As we pedal forward our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike and have fun while we highlight all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more places to have fun, we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. Enjoy the information and stories we have posted as you scroll through.

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know that we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to: [email protected]. Include a brief caption (for each) of who is in the photo (if you know) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continue to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your #NextBikeAdventure – Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 8th year of producing this hand information booklet full of maps.

Remember, bookmark HaveFunBiking.com on your cell phone and find your next adventure at your fingertips! Please share our pics with your friends and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the corner with one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo apperance while you are riding and having fun. You could be in one of our next Pic’s of the Day.

Have a great day!

I am happy to say that Sealskinz recently sent us a care package of product right in time for winter. Take a look for details on the Super Thin Pro Socks.

Bike Pic Aug 19, many mountain bike trails are closed, check first!

Saturday morning and this mountain bike rider finds a dry trail along the Minnesota River bottoms in Bloomington MN. to enjoy. In Minnesota, check MORC trail conditions to see which trail systems may be open after all the rain, the last couple days.

What better way to continue your summer fun and your #NextBikeAdventure. View all the fun ideas and bike destinations in the latest Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide. Then plan your next outing with family and friends in one of Minnesota’s HaveFunBiking Destinations.

Thanks for Viewing Our ‘Mountain Bike Skills’ Pic of the Day  

We are now rolling into our 10th year as a bike tourism media. As we pedal forward our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike and have fun while we highlight all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more places to have fun, we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. Enjoy the information and stories we have posted as you scroll through.

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know that we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to: [email protected]. Include a brief caption (for each) of who is in the photo (if you know) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continue to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your #NextBikeAdventure – Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 8th year of producing this hand information booklet full of maps.

Remember, bookmark HaveFunBiking.com on your cell phone and find your next adventure at your fingertips! Please share our pics with your friends and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the corner with one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo apperance while you are riding and having fun. You could be in one of our next Pic’s of the Day.

Have a great day!

Minnesota River bottoms, Bloomington’s natural trail network

John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

In the summer of 1849, The first Bloomington Ferry began operations next to the Minnesota River bottoms. It carried people from the Bloomington shores to Shakopee. Exactly 40 years later, the first Bloomington Ferry Bridge was opened. Following that, versions of that bridge carried people, carriages, and motorists across the river for over 100 years. The current pedestrian bridge is a beautiful arch, spanning the Minnesota River and connecting Bloomigton to the Highway 101 trail to Shakopee. The Bridge is also the starting point for The Minnesota River Bottoms trail. The River Bottoms are some of the metro areas last natural trails, popular for mountain biking, hiking, fishing and bird watching.

Minnesota River Bottoms

Bikes on the Bloomington Ferry Bridge, near the trail head of the Minnesota River Bottoms

What are the Minnesota river bottoms

The Minnesota River bottoms are worn in by the riders, hikers, and runners who frequent them

The “River Bottoms” to locals, is a trail network stretching from the south west corner of Bloomington, all the way to the trails of Fort Snelling State Park. These trails are worn in by the riders and runners who frequent them. While under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, they are not maintained by any government entity. Due to the fact that the “River Bottoms” aren’t maintained by any organization, the trails often take on a “path of least resistance” or direction. It is not uncommon for new trails to spring up after heavy rains and high river flooding. While riding, expect exclusively dirt trails with some log crossings, sand sections, and occasional overgrowth. Warning, pay particular attention for the Urtica Dioica plants, or stinging nettles, growing on infrequently used trails from June through August.

Wildlife of the Minnesota River Bottoms

Bikers, birdwatchers and hikers can enjoy the wildlife sightings along the banks of the Minnesota River.

Bikers, birdwatchers and hikers can enjoy the wildlife sightings along the banks of the Minnesota River.

The River Bottoms are great for all types of recreation. It’s not uncommon to see hikers, bird watchers and people fishing along the banks of the Minnesota river. I have enjoyed sharing with my son the sights of Bald eagles and Beavers who make the watershed their home. Additionally, being a natural area, the River Bottoms are home to countless animals.

What to expect

There are a few popular entrances to the River Bottom trail, Lyndale Ave, Crest Ave, and Old Cedar Ave. These entrances offer ample parking and a clear trailhead. Once you start down the trail you will see that nothing is paved but worn-in enough to be firm under your tires. While a mountain bike is best for these trails, wider tires on Hybrids and adventure bikes navigate well. If you need to cross a stream, there are bridges or a ferry (at 9-mile creek) to get you around. Because the River Bottoms are so smooth, they are an ideal place to take kids mountain biking.

The Minnesota River bottoms are worn in by the riders, hikers, and runners who frequent them

You will find runners who frequent the natural settings of the Minnesota River bottoms

When to ride

Spring, summer, winter or fall the Minnesota River bottoms is a natural haven for cyclists

The best part of the River Bottoms is that it is one of the first places to dry out each spring. It is also one of the first places to freeze when winter rolls through. Avoid this trail in early spring as the trails thaw and after a strong rain. Other than that, these trails are sandy enough to drain quickly. One of the best things about the river bottoms is riding fatbikes. There in the winter, in fact, fat bikes can trace their development directly to the river bottom. When the snow falls, the river bottoms are a the perfect mixture of flat trail, bermed turns, and accessibility to create a near-perfect winter track.

Winters can get exciting in the Minnesota River bottoms with Penn Cycles Get Fat with Phat fat bike races in January.

We in the twin cities are lucky to have a place like the river bottoms to ride. The fact that it is left free to change and natural is unique in a metro area. To that point, there are user groups that are working against the eventual possibility of developing the river bottom area. Whatever your opinion is on development, get into the wilds of the River Bottoms and enjoy this local treasure.

Most mountain bikes today are coming equipped with a suspension. Learn how the right suspension setup can have you riding longer and in greater control.

Suspension Setup For Your Smoothest, Fastest, and Best Ride Ever

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Most mountain bikes today are coming equipped with a suspension fork, many others are offering suspension for both the front and rear wheel. Additionally, the technology being employed in these suspension systems has become truly amazing. As good as suspension is, it does nothing unless setup correctly. Read on to learn how the right suspension setup can have you riding longer and in greater control.

Suspension Setup Terminology

To properly set up your suspension, it is first important to know what all the parts are called, and what they do. While shaped very different, suspension forks and rear shocks use the same terms and functions

Travel

Suspension travel is simply the distance your wheel can move. On suspension forks, this is easily measured on the fork itself, while measuring rear wheel travel is far more difficult. ON the bright side, most manufacturers publish the amount of rear wheel travel a bike has.

Spring

Suspension springs can be made of metal (coil spring) or air. Coil sprung suspension is great because it offers smooth motion from the initial movement to the end of its travel. Air springs are great because they are lighter than a coil, and have a wider range of adjustment (just add air to make the suspension stiffer, or remove it to make the suspension softer). The downsides of an air spring is that they suffer from a greater static friction (stiction) in the initial part of its movement than a coil spring. Additionally, to change pressure in an air spring, you need a specific shock pump.

Suspension Setup

These cutaway pictures show how a suspension fork works. Coil spring on the left (green) and air spring on the right (blue)

Damping

Damping is a way of controlling how fast the suspension can move. As an example, if a fork is un-damped, it would rebound as quickly as it was compressed, making your bike bounce around the trail like a pogo stick. A damper is the mechanical device inside the suspension that allows it to compress quickly when you hit an object, but return at a controllable rate. Damping comes in two common forms, Compression and Rebound. Compression damping controls how fast a suspension can be compressed and rebound damping controls how fast the suspension can return to full extension.

Preload

Preload is a set amount of compression force applied to the spring at its full extension. For instance, a coil spring might have some preload applied if a rider feels their suspension is too active. By applying some preload, you raise the force needed to begin the suspensions movement. In most cases, preload is handled by adjustment knobs on the top of a suspension fork.

Sag

Sag is the amount your suspension will compress when you are seated on your bike. Having some sag allows your wheels to track down into holes in the trail as well as compress if you hit an object. Overall, an optimal amount of sag is between 25-35% of the total travel.

Bottom out

Bottom out is when you compress suspension to its limit. Most suspension is designed with bumpers to protect metal parts from doing damage to one another during a bottom out.

Setting Sag

First, you will need something to mark your sag point. Most suspensions come with a rubber o-ring installed around the fork leg or rear shock. If they don’t have an o-ring, you can use a zip-tie that is loosely installed around the leg or rear shock.

Next, lean the bike up against a nearby wall and get on. Stand on the pedals with your hands on the bar and bounce up and down on the bike a few times. Now sit gently on your saddle with your weight forward (normal riding position).

Now push the o-ring down on the suspension against the seal and get off your bike carefully. You should see is some space between the o-ring and suspension seal (see image). That space is your sag measurement. Like stated earlier between 25-35% of total travel is optimal, so suspension with 100mm of travel should have 25-35mm of sag. If you have too little sag, stiffen the spring, too much then soften it.

Suspension Setup

The zip tie is flush against the fork seal under the weight of the rider, but when the rider steps off, 25mm of sag can be measured (left)

Suspension Setup and Air Spring Adjustment

Most manufacturers have a recommended air pressure based on your riding weight (remember to account for the weight of your gear and pack!). Before checking your sag, start by pressurizing your suspension to those recommended settings. Once you have checked sag, either increase or decrease the air pressure to make your suspension stiffer or softer.

Coil spring.

To adjust the sag amount on a coil spring you have two options. First option is to replace the spring for stiffer or softer versions. Replacing the spring will be necessary if you can’t achieve the proper sag by adjusting the preload setting. To adjust preload, simply turn the knob on the top of the suspension fork to the right to stiffen the fork, or the left to make it softer.

Setting Damping

Most suspensions only offer the ability to adjust rebound damping easily. Compression damping can always be adjusted, but it typically requires some disassembly. To initially setup your rebound damping, first find the adjustment knob usually located on the bottom of the right fork leg. Turn the damping knob to full open (typically represented by a “–“ symbol or a picture of a rabbit). Now, stand over the bars; press down then pull up quickly. You should feel the suspension spring back up as quickly as you compressed it. Turn the damping knob closed a small bit and repeat your compression test. Continue to compress and add damping until you feel the suspension is not quite able to keep up with your hands as they pull up.

Suspension Setup On the Trail

With your suspension setup now at a good starting point, take the bike out on the trail to fine tune it. First thing you want to ensure is that you bottom out your suspension under normal riding conditions a few times per ride. Bottoming out the suspension is a clear indicator that you are using all of your travel. However, be sure you aren’t bottoming out all the time. I know I just told you it’s OK to bottom out the suspension, but if you are doing it more than 2-3 times a ride, chances are you need to stiffen your spring.

If by chance you haven’t slowed the fork’s damping down enough, you will feel as if the bike wants to bounce away through rough sections. An under-damped fork will almost feel like the front end of the bike is trying to get away from you. The solution to this problem is to increase the amount of rebound damping you have.

As you add damping, be concerned with not allowing the fork to “pack up”. When you set your damping, you determined the rate at which the suspension can return to full extension. If your terrain is particularly rough, it is possible to set the damping to rebound slower than you need. As an example, if you go through a rock garden, hitting an object every second that compresses you fork 10mm, you want the damping to allow the suspension to rebound at least 10mm per second. If your suspension can only rebound 7mm per second, you will quickly be riding at less than full travel. The key indicator of this is the fork will feel stiffer through the rough stuff, but soft again when the trail smooths out. If you experience this, speed up the damping slightly until the feeling goes away.

Continuing adjustments

Over the first 6 months of owning your new suspension, never stop focusing on how it performs. As the forks wears in and begins to move more freely, the amount of damping you need may differ. Also, as you adjust your spring, it will slightly change the way your damping works. The best way I can describe suspension setup is as a dartboard. Rather than shooting for the bulls-eye in one shot, you are traveling down a spiral road getting closer to the bulls-eye with every new adjustment. With a little luck and focus, you will realize all the performance your suspension has to offer you.

Cycling shoes can help you ride longer, faster and in greater comfort.

Cycling Shoes: What Are The Differences and How To Make Sure They Fit

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Cycling shoes can help you ride longer, faster and in greater comfort but only if you get ones that fit well. Read on to see what makes cycling shoes unique and how to find the right ones for you.

Benefits of Cycling Shoes, Clipless or Not

Cycling shoes have a very stiff sole to disperse pedaling pressures along the entire length of your foot. In contrast, normal sneakers have flexible soles that centralize most of your pedaling efforts onto the sesamoid bones, causing a lot of discomfort. Therefore, a cycling shoe is also a great option for riders who don’t plan to use a clipless pedal. Once you add the benefits of a clipless pedal, cycling shoes will make riding easier and more comfortable.

Types of Soles for Cycling Shoes

What makes a cycling shoe stiff is the materials used in the sole. The most common materials are nylon and carbon fiber. Nylon is a great choice for cycling shoes because it is strong, relatively light, very durable and highly resistant to cracking. Additionally, nylon is inexpensive, so it can be used to make low cost cycling shoes. The downside of nylon is in its stiffness over time. In my experience, Nylon will generate a flex point over time, making the shoes more flexible through the years. Carbon is very similar to Nylon in that it is strong, and light. Where carbon differs is that it is far stiffer than nylon, never generates flex, and is very expensive to produce. Carbon soles are only found on high cost shoes, but offer a much longer lifespan.

Types of Cycling Shoes

Cycling shoes can help you ride longer, faster and in greater comfort and there is a large selection to choose from.

Cycling shoes can help you ride longer, faster and in greater comfort and there is a large selection to choose from.

Cycling shoes can most easily be categorized into three categories – Road, Mountain, Recreation.

Road Cycling Shoes

Road shoes are easy to spot because the sole is almost entirely smooth with only a small bit of tread on the heel. They are the only shoes capable of accepting a large road cleat, and are typically highly ventilated.  Thanks to the lack of tread, it is easy to see what the sole material is.

Mountain Cycling Shoes

A Mountain shoe will look like a road shoe above the sole. Often time the closures, ventilation and appearance are the same as it’s road sibling. Where these shoes differ is the sole design. Mountain shoes have deep treads built into the sole to offer traction in loose and steep conditions. Because the sole is covered in rubber treads it is more difficult to conclude if it is made of carbon or nylon.

Recreation Cycling Shoes

Not everyone needs a road specific shoe or the aggressive treads that come with a mountain shoe. For that reason, most companies make a recreational cycling shoe. These shoes use a soft rubber for the tread that offers tons of grip when used on a flat pedal, they also use a nylon sole for stiffness and clipless compatibility. Mostly, these shoes look like a casual sneaker even though they hide cycling specific benefits inside. Some even use a hinged sole that can flex upward when you walk, but will not flex under pedaling forces.

Insoles in Cycling Shoes

Your foot is designed to work like a leaf spring when walking or running. Your arch collapses to absorb impact and rebounds to help you propel forward. Although, when cycling, having your arches collapse can cause alignment issues in your knees, ankles, and hips. To combat arch collapse, most cycling shoes use insoles designed to support your arch. If your shoes don’t offer insoles with enough support, there are plenty of options available for custom insoles.

Trying them on

Now that you understand what you’re looking at, let’s talk about how to try the shoes on. First thing to remember about cycling shoes is that they are nothing like sneakers. Cycling shoes are often sized in European sizing and while most brands offer a conversion chart, only use it as a starting point.

When you try a Cycling shoe on for the first time, it should fit tighter than a sneaker. You want a tight fit because your foot is attempting to pull out of the shoe during a pedal stroke. In contrast, while running your foot is being slammed into the shoe so sneakers need to be more roomy. Additionally, most cycling shoes are made of synthetic materials that stretch and conform to your foot over time. Therefore, a shoe will be far more snug when you try it on than a year later. If the shoe is snug all the way around, that is good fit even if you can feather your toe off the front of the shoe. If you feel any specific point of contact, that usually is an indicator that the shoe is the wrong fit.

Installing Cleats in Cycling Shoes

If you go to your local bike shop to get your shoes, they will typically install the cleat for you. If you are doing it on your own, try to position the cleat just behind the ball of your foot and straight on the shoe. I find it helpful to grease the threads of the cleat bolts before installation.

Hopefully, you feel comfortable going to try cycling shoes on after reading this. If you do have any more questions, either leave them in the comments, or visit your local bike shop.