Tag Archives: Ride My Bicycle

I recently spent some time in Philadelphia. While there I enjoyed a few rides, but the most enjoyable one was Trek of Philadelphia’s Doughnut Ride.

Planning a casual doughnut ride for you and your friends

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking

Over the weekend I spent some time in the cradle of liberty, Philadelphia. While there I enjoyed a few rides, but the most enjoyable one was Trek of Philadelphia’s Doughnut Ride. I was reminded of the joys of simple rides and good company, rather than difficult efforts and  a competitive pace.

The Doughnut Ride

We left the shop at 7:30 a.m. with a group of eight. Our bikes were a mishmash of road bikes, commuter rigs, a single speed and an e-bike. When we departed the shop and headed toward center city, it was immediately clear the pace would be conversational. Our cruise headed out on the river drive bike path, through Fairmount Park, and toward center city. Rather than stay on the path, we crossed the falls bridge and onto West River Drive. On the weekends, Philadelphia closes West River Drive so we had our run of the entire roadway. After a bit of riding and a lot of talking, we found ourselves at the end of West River Drive and at the base of the Art Museum.

At the Art Museum our ride began to slip through the surrounding neighborhoods until we reached our hallowed destination – Federal Doughnuts.

After stuffing our face with warm doughnuts we hopped back on our bikes. Full of sugar and fat, we made our way back to the bike shop along the same route. Ultimately, the ride took a little under two hours, including the time eating. Everyone had fun, the conversation was great, and we all got the chance to meet new people.

Why This Ride Worked

The ride was great because the pace and route are clearly stated in advance. Therefore, everyone knew what to expect and where to go. The route itself was carefully chosen to promote great conversation and a casual pace. By including traffic free paths and streets and a casual destination, every rider could enjoy the trip stress free. Additionally, the pace is controlled by the ride’s start time. As an example, a competitive minded rider has a list of fast paced rides leaving on Saturday morning, so there would be no need to come to the Doughnut Ride to try and get a killer workout with so many other options. From start to finish, this ride is a winner.

How to plan your own ride

If you already lead rides for a local club or shop, than setting up a casual ride should be easy for you. If this is your first attempt at leading an organized ride, than there are a few things to keep in mind. First off, you want people to be at your ride! To make sure you have attendees, start talking about and advertising (if you’re working with a local club or shop) a minimal of two weeks in advance. Also, make sure all your information explains the pace as well as the payoff (in this case doughnuts) for your ride to build interest. Finally, make sure your route is friendly to a group of riders. As an example, I’ve been on a few rides that required riders too be single file almost the entire time due to narrow roadways. in contrast, the Doughnut ride promoted conversation with wide paths and clear roads.

Based on our quick MTB review at Interbike’s Dirt Demo, we have a demo Marin B-17 2 for a long term review. Read on for our "out of the box" review.

The Marin B-17 MTB review – out of the box and ready for the trail

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Based on our quick MTB review at Interbike’s Dirt Demo, we have been extended a Marin mountain bike demo for a long term review. This week, a big brown box showed up at our office. What was inside was a Marin B-17, a full suspension trail bike just waiting for me to put together and ride. However, before I ride it and give you a full MTB review let me share with you what is actually coming out of that box.

The Marin B-17 MTB review out of the box

The first thing I have to note about this bike, is that it isn’t a brand new bike. While it’s new to me, It has been to a few demos before. That being said, I have to note the immaculate condition this bike it arrived in.  Whereas the tires show signs of wear  the frame and components were cleaned to a level I have never seen before. Overall, the bike built up quickly and easily for a quick spin around the block.

Marin B-17

The Marin B-17 2 in all its glory. It won’t be so clean soon.

The Frame

The B-17 is an aluminum trail bike that uses Marin’s MultiTrac suspension system for 120mm of travel. The MultiTrac system is tuned to absorb large and small hits equally, while still maintaining pedaling efficiency. It accepts both 27.5” x 2.8” wheels as well as standard 29” wheels. On first inspection, the frame design is clean, with the cables running internally within the frame. The rear shock is tucked neatly in line with  the seat tube allowing for the use of a normal water bottle cage. For additional stand over clearance, the Top tube is welded low on the seat tube and uses a jack brace for strength. Overall, the B-17 frame looks like someone sweat all the details.

Marin B17

Here you can clearly see the cables enter the frame. Also, take a look at how each tube is shaped specifically shaped to its intended purpose.

The Parts

The version of the B-17 I am riding is an early production demo unit. For that reason, the parts are slightly different from the final retail bike. Most notably, my demo unit uses a Rockshox Pike rather than the Rockshox Revalation  suspension fork. For the most part the two forks will ride similarly, with the Pike being a bit smoother in operation. The rest of the bike uses Shimano parts for shifting (SLX) and brakes, which ensures great shifting and stopping. This model B-17 also uses a dropper seatpost, to let me get my weight back and low on the trail.

Throughout the rest of the bike, Marin uses house brand components for the rims, bar and stem. While this may have been an area of concern in the past, most brands are sourcing some exceptional parts. Any remarks of the house brand components would be incomplete if I didn’t remark on how well Marin has tied these products into the rest of the bike. The same graphic touches that make the frame look classy are carried through to the parts. The graphic are clean and understated, without overstating the bicycles brand name.

Marin B-17

Some Classy details as seen on the Marin B-17

What I am looking forward to

I really want to see if this bike handles as well on my home trails as it did in Las Vegas. Our parks have limited climbing and smooth features, so it will be interesting to see if the plus sized tires have the same dominance on these trails as they did in the steep, rocky terrain of Nevada. Finally, I can’t wait to really tune the suspension and see what it is capable of. Stay tuned for the long term review in the next few weeks.

 

The Genie Helmet is a revolutionary helmet that boasts a headlight and tail light as well as remote activated turn signals. Read on to see some more detail.

A first look at the revolutionary MagicShine Genie Helmet

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Recently, we reviewed a light from the wizards over at MagicShine, the MJ-900B. Along with the light they also included an amazing Genie helmet. The Genie is a revolutionary helmet that boasts a headlight and tail light as well as remote activated turn signals. Read on to see some more detail.

Genie Helmet out of the box

The Helmet is packaged in a relatively sturdy cardboard box with a foam liner to keep things stable. Within the box is the helmet, remote, instructions, screwdriver, battery cell, and a wedge shaped device. Once I read through the instructions, I saw that I needed to install the battery cell. In order to install the cell, I had to remove the battery cover on the top of the helmet. Removing the cover is done by loosening a single Philips head bolt and using the wedge device to pry the cover off.  With the battery cell installed, activating the light is as simple as pressing the power button once.

Genie

The MagicShine Genie out of the box

Genie Helmet functions

You can tell the helmets system is activated by looking at the rear blinker. Once the system is on, the rear blinker will be lit. In order to power the headlight or turn signals you simply press the corresponding remote button once. To change mode, you press the button again. Here is the only tricky part, In order to turn off the headlight or blinkers, you need to hold the button down for between 2-3 seconds.

Genie

Front light and turn signals with inset of remote

The Genie Helmet fit

The helmet is a one size fits all variety with a dial type retention device. The overall fit is a bit round for my head, so I felt a bit more pressure on the front of the helmet than I would prefer. That being said, I run into the same problem with Giro brand helmets, so I think it’s more an issue with my head than the helmet. It has ample padding throughout so the feel of the helmet is soft.

Genie

Ample, soft padding in the Genie helmet

How it feels

With so much going on within the Genie helmet, there is some added weight. Wearing the helmet feels just like when I attach a GoPro to my standard helmet. That weight can be a little strange at first, but like the camera, you will get used to it.

More to Come

Because there are many different head shapes, there will be more than one person trying out this helmet. We want to give the fit a thorough review. For the function of the helmet, I am really excited to see if cars respect the turn signals, how warm the headlight gets, and how long the battery lasts. Stay tuned for more info.

Since the development of cycling nutrition, there has been amazing advancements in sports drinks

Cycling Nutrition Review: a clean, smooth approach to sports drinks

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

As you begin doing longer rides like the MS150, Minnesota Ironman, or any other charity ride, sports drinks (cycling nutrition) becomes really important. The basic rule is to replace electrolytes and calories after riding for an hour. Considering most of our rides are longer than one hour, there are many nutritional products designed help. The popular cycling nutrition products are sports drinks, gels, and bars.

Sports drinks, the problem and solution

No doubt you are familiar with the stories of Powebar and Gatorade, both companies were born out of a need for in-activity nutrition and electrolyte replacement. Since their development, there has been many amazing advancements in sports nutrition. Read on to see how Tailwind Nutrition is moving the science forward.

The issue with sports nutrition comes from the fact that in many cases sports drinks have replaced soft drinks and nutrition bars have replaced snacks in many people’s diets. This evolution has led to nutrition that is to sweet, too heavy and resistant to quick digestion during activity. Therefore, most readily-available nutrition products force your body to expend too much energy attempting to digest it. Additionally, because they take so long to digest, they often times cause a stomach soreness.

Tailwind Nutrition’s story

That problem of heavy nutrition is a big part of why Tailwind came into being. The Idea for Tailwind came when Jeff (one of the founders) had trouble keeping his breakfast down when he was competing in the Leadville 100 (a one hundred mile mountain bike race in Colorado). He was struggling with the heavy nutrition products, available at the time. In an effort to fix his own nutrition issue, he used himself as a guinea pig. He consulted nutritionists and then developed a sports drink that fulfilled his calorie requirement, adjusted for electrolyte replacement, that had an incredibly light taste.

After sharing it with friends and selling the new product out of the back of his car at events, news spread fast. Soon the story of a customer who finished a 100 mile mountain bike race, for the first time after a decade of trying, solidified the company into being.

Jeff at Tailwind mixing some new cycling nutrition products to test

Jeff at Tailwind mixing some new cycling nutrition products to test

How it tastes

After my twenty years of drinking different sports drinks, Tailwind is a refreshingly light drink. The taste is a great mix of sweet and savory (my guess is that’s the carbohydrates and salts natural flavor). After the initial taste, I was amazed to find that there was no syrupy aftertaste. The aftertaste is really important because as you exercise and increase your breathing rate, any residual flavor can become overwhelming. It is so light that when I finished the bottle of Tailwind, I then filled that bottle with straight water and didn’t detect any aftertaste.

How it works

The best part of the Tailwind products I feel is its consistency. In my experience most nutritional products do a great job of bringing your endurance level up temporarily, then sadly your energy level drops off drastically as you continue on. What I found with the Tailwind products, they deliver consistent energy with no severe drop. Additionally, as the temperature goes up and electrolytes are more important than calories, this product offers salts that are quickly absorbed into the body.

Why use Tailwind

I know what you’re thinking, why shouldn’t I just grab a Gatorade down at the ole’ Circle K before my weekend ride? Well, the answer is as easy as comfort, results, and cost.

First, I have tried most sports drinks on the market and all of them left me feeling the same way – sick. Those heavy drinks sit in my stomach and sometimes, attempt to come back up again. By contrast, the Tailwind stuff never made a peep in my belly. Additionally, Tailwind offers 200 calories per serving rather than the 150 calories from Gatorade. That’s not only more calories, but I found they were better calories. Typical sports drinks gave me an initial energy boost, but then dropped off severely. By contrast, I found Tailwind to give sustained energy, but no harsh drop off. Finally, Tailwind is way cheaper. Tailwind can be as little as $.75. When compared to Gatorade at more than twice that per bottle. To me Tailwind makes good sense.

All in all, nutrition is a personal preference. While I may like one product, that doesn’t necessarily guarantee it is the right product for you. With that being said, I feel that Tailwind offers a great product for even the most sensitive stomachs. Give it a try, I think you will like how it works.

If you look between the isles at Interbike you can see the future. I’m excited to say, when it comes to bicycles, children's bikes are the future.

Interbike’s Cascade of Clever Concepts for Children’s Bikes

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

If you look between the isles of Interbike (figuratively) you can see the future. I’m excited to say, when it comes to bicycles, children’s bikes are the future. Interbike had loads of unique and exciting bikes, accessories and programs for all the little riders out there.

Children’s bikes are the future

Most bicycle companies make kids bikes as part of their overall line, but very few make only kids bikes. Frog Bicycles exclusively produces children’s bicycles and was born out of a doctoral thesis on proper fit for kids bikes in England. Through exhaustive testing, it was found that children need a more unique bike fit than what the standard bike offers. Frog used that exhaustive research to develop their first bicycles and has been flying down the road ever since. Through clever frame design they are able to build bikes that fit kids with almost no proprietary parts. This leaves no concerns about replacing any hard to find bits if little Timmy breaks anything. Additionally, all the Frog Bikes are tested to adult standards rather than the less demanding children’s standards. Hopefully that can give you some peace of mind as your child’s body and abilities grow.

Frog Bicycles are making children’s bikes more comfortable through smart design.

Parts for kid’s bikes

While most of us aren’t going to start pulling our kid’s bikes apart to upgrade them with fancy components, there are plenty of high performance products available. One of the great things about your bike shop attending Interbike is, if they look closely, they can see things that aren’t readily available now, but will show up on production bikes the following year.

This lightweight suspension fork is made by Kay Xin Technologies for 20″ wheeled kid’s bikes

As I combed the Isles of manufacturers, it was impossible to miss suspension forks designed to meet the specific needs of smaller riders, brakes that allow children to easily control their bicycles and cranks and pedals made for smaller feet and legs.

Teaching them young

Project Bike Tech is a new program designed to getting school aged kids in front of a bicycle with a wrench in their hands. By working with local schools, they develop programs that tach kids engineering, and mechanical skills through bicycle maintenance. Although this program is in very few schools, it has been in existence for over ten years, and has introduced over 3000 students to the cycling industry.

A student of the Project Bike Tech learning to adjust a hub bearing

Sharing the experience

On top of all the products for kids, there were also ample ways to carry your kids along for the ride. Tern Bicycles showed their GSD, a new folding E-bike built with the capability of carrying your kids on the back. Additionally, Burley trailers had their line of children’s trailers on display.

Super fun on the Tern GSD

You can also see our recent article Kid’s Bikes; Why they are different and what’s best for your kids.

If you look between the isles of Interbike (figuratively) you can see the future. I’m excited to say, when it comes to bicycles, kid's bikes are the future.

If you look between the isles of Interbike you can see the future. I’m excited to say, its kid’s bikes.

 

 

Tubeless tires on bicycles: The basics of this exciting new technology

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

In the spring of 1999 the french rim maker MAVIC launched the first viable bicycle tubeless system. By working closely with their french neighbor, the tire maker Hutchinson, they engineered a simple system that could give riders the benefits of larger air volume, greater traction, lighter weight and greater durability that tubeless systems offer. Since 1999, tubeless has evolved to be lighter, more serviceable, and lighter.

Now, with more bicycles coming from the manufacturer with these tires as standard equipment, please read on to see how the current family of tubeless systems can benefit you.

What are tubeless tires

Tubeless tires are exactly what they sound like, tires that use no innertubes. Specifically, these tire and rim systems use the air pressure, combined with a sealant, to keep your tires seated and inflated on the rim.

Why tubeless

There are a few reasons as to why tubeless tires have become popular. In essence, they are less prone to flats, they ride more comfortably, they are lighter and they offer better traction.

Less flats

Tubeless tires protect against the most common type of flat tire, a pinch flat. How a pinch flat works is the tire is compressed between a solid object and the rim. When compressed the rim and object work like scisors and cut a hole in the innertube. Considering tubeless tires have no innertube, they cannot pinchflat. This isn’t to say you cannot cut the tire in the same circumstance, but that is far less likely.

Tubeless Tires

The innertube on the left (blue) is susceptible to pinchflats, while the tubeless setup on the right is immune.

Less weight

Innertubes are relatively heavy. The pair can easily weigh a pound. While a pound may not sound like a lt of weight, we need to consider were that weight is. Tires, tubes, and rims have a profound effect on the feel of a bike. Heavy rims, tubes or tires can make the bike feel very heavy (even if it’s overall weight is low). The reason for this is that when you pedal, the weight you are constantly accelerating, only to have it decelerate and need to be accelerated again is rotating weight (ie. Rim, tire, tube). Reducing the rotating weight will decrease the mass you need to constantly accelerate, and lead to a lighter riding bicycle.

More comfot

By doing away with the innertube, you automatically increase the air volume of the tire. This increased air volume allows for a greater degree of flex in the tire when you ride over objects. Increaseing that flex allows the bike to more comfortably float across road and trail.

 

More traction

Tires and tubes don’t actually play well together. A tire is built with high thread count fabrics that are designed to conform over objects, but not collapse under the efforts of turning and pedaling. That delicate balancing act is made more difficult when you introduce an innertube. An inflated innertube will press against the inner surface of the tire an hinder it from conforming over objects. This is because that pressure creates friction between the tire attempting to conform, and the tube exerting force on it. This, if you eliminate the tube, the tire is free to do what it was intended to do

Tubeless Tires

Air Pressure (Green) forces the tube into the tire causing friction (Red)

Types of tubeless tires

There are two primary tubless systems. Tubeless, and Tubeless-ready. A true tubeless system (like the tires on most automobiles) requires no sealant to inflate the tire. The tire is built with a airtight material grafted to the inner surface. Tubeless-ready tires require you to use a sealant because they have no airtight material applied. Overall, the tubeless-ready tires has become more popular because they ride better, are lighter and less expensive. For all those benefits, the trade off is that a sticky solution must be installed into the tire to seal it.

What you need to go Tubeless

There are four primary items you need to go tubeless. They are a tubeless compatible rim, rim tape and valve, a tubeless-ready tire, and sealant. In many cases new bikes are coming stock with tubeless compatible rims (the largest expense) so check with your shop to see if you are already half way there.

What happens if you get a flat with a tubeless  tire

In the rare instance where you do get a flat tire, you can simply remove  the tubeless valve core, and install an innertube. There is a bit of added mess with the sealant, but otherwise changing a flat is simple.

 

Bike commuting is an easy way to increase fitness, jump start your energy level, and enjoy nature. Read and learn about what you need to commute in comfort.

Bike commuting necessities and niceties to make your ride great

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Bike commuting is an easy way to add miles, increase fitness, jump start your energy level for the day while enjoying nature. By commuting by bike you will find the hassle factor lessen while your overall trip can acts as your workout for the day. Saving you hours in the gym. After defining the best route to follow, we have listed what you need or that will make the commute that much more enjoyable.

Bike Commuting Necessities

While commuting by bike, there are very few items you need to have to get started. Ultimately, the only thing that you actually have to have is a bike. However, for added comfort and safety here is a list of items that will make your ride safer and a few items that will make easier to function at work or class properly once you are there. Past functioning, you need to stay safe on the bike also, so I consider all these things necessities.

Helmets

First and foremost a helmet is the most important product you can buy after the bike. While typically, self-preservation keeps us upright on our bike, while commuting we need to consider there is a vast amount of others actions we need to protect our self from. Now that you’re commuting, wearing a helmet isn’t just a logical safety choice, but can be very comfortable. Read here to learn how helmets protect you better, have become lighter, fit better, and are more comfortable than ever before.

Lights

While the helmet is a key safety product, it is not the only important one. Lights, no matter if it is day or night or your level of bike riding skill, are essential to make sure you have the safest ride possible. Additionally, sometimes when you’re riding in conditions without optimal visibility, you need a little added illumination. That’s where proper lighting comes in.

Locks

When commuting, you can’t be with your bike at all times. You’ll have leave it unattended for extended periods of time, which make it susceptible to theft. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t help protect it. Here’s some info on the different kinds of bike locks, and other tips to ensure your bike’s safety.

Waterproof Bag

Being caught in the rain is not a possibility when commuting, it is an inevitability. In order to protect your possessions, invest in a waterproof bag. For example, a messenger bag made with a PVC liner can easily carry all your stuff, and keep them dry. For riders looking to carry their things on the bike, there are plenty of waterproof panniers available.

Bike Commuting Niceties

The following items aren’t a necessity for commuting, but make your trip quicker and more comfortable.

Shoes and pedals

Most riders look at clipless pedals as a competitive advantage only, but nothing could be farther from the truth. When riding a bicycle, few things are as effective as clipless pedals and cycling shoes. There is a simple equation that always holds true: control = comfort. In the quest for more control of your bicycle, secure your feet in place on the pedal. By doing this, you can use muscles more efficiently, be connected to your bicycle more directly, and relieve excessive strain on your feet. Read here to see how easy it is to learn to ride “clipless”.

Rain gear

The best way to stay dry is to wear waterproof clothing. While most synthetic fabrics still insulate when wet, being wet diminishes their ability to keep you warm. A jacket and pants are a great way to start, but socks and gloves make the outfit complete. In their most basic form, a lot of materials are waterproof, but as soon as they are perforated with stitching, zipped closed with generic zippers, and left to be loose at all the cuffs, their waterproofing goes out the window. Before you go out and buy anything labeled “waterproof,” understand that all waterproofing is not the same.

Cycling shorts

Shorts come in all shapes and sizes. Tight shorts are popular because they offer great comfort as well as unencumbered movement around the bicycle. Baggy shorts are very popular for their casual look and advent of pockets. There are even cycling skirts (called skorts) that offer excellent comfort and great off the bike look. Whatever short you decide on, the padding will make your ride more comfortable.

Fenders

Fenders are a standard option for many. They are light, sturdy, and keep you dry when riding in wet conditions. If you don’t want to keep them on your bike at all times, snap on style fenders are available, while a more permenant option is a bolt on fender.

Studded Tires

Like winter tires for your car, there are also studded tires available for your bike. They usually have a few hundred carbide metal studs inserted in the tire to give you traction in icy conditions. These tires are typically twice as heavy as a non-studded version so be sure to use them only when necessary.

Bike commuting is a great way to enjoy the outdoors while traveling to and from school or work. It is an excellent form of exercise that will give you better attention, higher energy levels, and some free time to critically think without major distraction.

The easiest way to eliminate accidents is to assess road hazards in advance.Read on to learn about the most common road hazards and how to manage them.

Staying Safe by Assessing and Avoiding Road Hazards

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Nothing spoils a great ride like a bad accident, but most accidents are avoidable. The easiest way to eliminate accidents is to assess road hazards in advance and avoid them. Read on to learn about the most common road hazards and how to manage them.

Road hazards broken and uneven pavement

The easiest road hazard to spot is broken or uneven pavement. Oftentimes starting at the roads edge (where many of us ride), pavement begins to break and crumble from annual hot/cold cycles. The first and best option is just avoid loose sections entirely, but anyone can tell you that’s not always possible. When you are riding through bad pavement, try to raise your body off your saddle by an inch or so and allow your legs and arms to absorb impact. Concentrate on being loose, allowing the bike to move around underneath you, and keeping your momentum directed to where you want to go. Focusing on where you want to go is the most important part, focusing on objects you don’t want to hit increases the chance of hitting them.

road hazards

Narrow roadways

Sometimes the road narrows, and doesn’t allow for you and drivers to occupy the road together safely. In these situations, it is important to take control of your safety.  Do not try to be off to the side as far as possible, this will only encourage drivers to attempt to make an unwise pass. Instead, give yourself space on the road, and try to be as visible and deliberate as possible. Narrow roadways are the ideal place to use hand signals. Additionally, be aware of what is behind you by looking back more frequently than usual. Looking to see who is behind you will give you the information you need, and let drivers know that you see them. Oftentimes drivers will be more patient if they know you are aware of the situation.

road hazards

Blind turns, driveways, and alleys

You can’t easily avoid what you can’t see, especially if you are going fast. When approaching any blind road or path section, slow down and assume there is someone coming around the corner. Approach the corner with caution, and only accelerate once the coast is clear.

Loose debris on hard surfaces

Sand, Gravel and dirt on pavement can be a recipe for disaster. Any loose debris on the road robs you of the traction you need to ride confidently. Shy of vacuuming every road or trail before your ride, there is no way to avoid the inevitability of debris. What you can do however, is use good judgement when you do encounter it. First, don’t slam on the brakes. Braking shifts your weight forward onto the front wheel making you more unstable in loose conditions. Instead, apply your brakes gently and evenly while trying to remain loose on the bike in case your tires break free. Second, try to keep the bike as vertical as possible and turn only if necessary.

road hazards

Ice and water

Water and its colder cousin ice are a serious road hazard. You will find that roads and paths that are wet offer far less grip than when dry. Therefore, keep your overall speed down on wet days and brake before turning. If ice is in the forecast, the best measure is to avoid it. Start by ditching the polarized sunglasses that will make the ice difficult to see. Polarized glasses eliminate most glare, and glare is a prime means to identify ice. If you do find yourself on ice, be careful! It takes almost no side motion to put you on the ground when riding on ice. I find it best to do almost nothing until you make your way off the ice, that means no braking, no turning, no movement, Just coast.

road hazards

Paint and slippery surfaces (metal, marble, tile) train tracks

The last set of road hazards worth mentioning are slick surfaces. These surfaces include metal (train tracks, manholes, and sewer grates), painted pavement, and smooth aggregate (like marble or tile often found in industrial zones). For metal, try to avoid it when wet (it’s as slick as ice) and cross train tracks as perpendicularly as possible. Painted surfaces and smooth aggregate need to be avoided when wet as well. While they have more traction when dry, it’s still worth being careful.

road hazards

After reading this, you may feel like everything on the road is out to get you. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, you have probably encountered all these hazards on your last ride and survived. Overall, road hazards rarely cause an accident but are something to be cognizant of.

 

See how to get the most out of 100 years of technological advancements. You will find adjusting your front derailleur is easy if you follow these steps.

How to adjust your front derailleur for perfect and silent shifting

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

In the late 1920’s, in France, there was a bike race under way and it wasn’t the Tour De France. Instead, this race was a technological race that brought the derailleur into the light. Before 1928, bicycles had a maximum of two speeds, and you needed to remove the rear wheel to change those gears. As there was need for quicker shifting, the bicycle derailleur was born. Initial derailleurs consisted of nothing more than paddles that were actuated by steel rods located between the rider’s legs. Needless to say, there was a lot of finesse that went into shifting those bikes. Then after the second world war parallelogram derailleurs, what we use today, were developed so riders could shift their gears with ease. Read on to see how to get the most out of 100 years of technological advancements. You will find adjusting your front derailleur is easy if you follow these steps.

Front Derailleur

Early “Rod Style” Benelux front derailleur – Yikes

Front Derailleur parts

Limit screws (A) – The front derailleur needs to work within the largest and smallest ring. Limit screws work to stop the front derailleur from shifting outside of its intended range. They are adjustable as to match different types of cranks.

Derailleur Cage – The cage is what holds the chain on gear and what presses on the chain to move it from one gear to the next. The outer portion of the cage (C) is what helps the chain move from larger gears to smaller ones. In contrast, the inner portion of the cage (B) forces the chain from smaller gears to larger ones.

front derailleur

Common parallelogram front derailleur found on Hybrid and Mountainbikes

Derailleur Fixing Bolt (D) – The bolt that holds the derailleur in place on the frame. By loosening this bolt, you can re-position the derailleur for angle and height.

Cable Pinch Bolt (E) – The Cable that controls shifting needs to be held firmly in place. The pinch bolt does that job.

front derailleur

Different Pinch bolt and fixing bolt position for MTB/Hybrid (above) and Road (below) derailleurs

Location, location, location

You guessed it, the most important part of adjusting the front derailleur is its location. If the derailleur is not positioned properly, you will never achieve proper, noise free, shifting in all gears. The reason location is so important is that the front derailleur cage is formed to position the chain in very specific locations.

First step in adjusting the front derailleurs location is to set its height. You need enough room to fit a Nickel between the teeth on the largest chainring and the bottom of the outer cage when they are lined up. Any more clearance than that and the derailleur tends to have issues pulling the chain down from larger gears.

front derailleur

you should be able to fit a Nickle between the derailleur cage and chainring

Once you have the height set, adjust the angle of the front derailleur so that the outer cage and chainrings are parallel. Any misalignment will result in poor shifting and excess noise.

front derailleur

Proper alignment on the left, and misalignment on the right

Lower Limit

Set the lower limit by adjusting the screw marked “L”. To do this, shift the rear derailleur all the way up into the largest cog. Next check to see if there is clearance between the chain and the front derailleurs inner cage with the chain on the smallest chainring. If the chain is running on the inner cage, thread the limit screw out until you have 2-3mm (that nickel distance again!) between the chain and inner cage. When the opposite is true and you have too much clearance between the inner cage and chain, thread the limit screw in until there is 2-3mm of clearance.

Cable tension

Your Front derailleur should be properly aligned and the lower limit should be set at this point. The next step is to attach the cable to the Pinch bolt. Attach that cable by first making sure your shifter is in its lowest gear, Then pull the cable tight, and finally tighten the pinch bolt onto your cable. Usually, you can shift smoothly up from the smallest ring into the next gear right away, but if there is hesitation going up add cable tension either through a barrel adjuster or by loosening the pinch bolt, pulling the cable tighter, and tightening the pinch bolt down again. If the chain wants to shift up from the small ring over the next ring, release some tension. You know you have it right when the chain can pass from one gear to another smoothly and confidently without any banging or skipping noises.

Upper Limit

Setting the upper limit is as easy as getting the chain onto the largest chainring and threading the limit screw to offer 2-3mm of clearance between the chain and the outer cage. While shifting, ensure the chain cannot be shifted over the large ring and off the crank.

Trouble shooting

This guide is great if all the parts are new, but won’t overcome many issues related to worn or dirty parts. The most common shifting issue with older gears is poor upshifting. Chainrings are built with ramps on the inner surface to easily guide the chain from smaller to larger rings. As chainrings wear, these ramps wear as well. If you are having serious issues going from smaller to larger gears, but the gears are silent and problem free otherwise, you may want to consider replacing the chain, chainrings, and gears in the rear.

front derailleur

These Praxis Works chain rings have some of the best shifting thanks to carefully placed ramps.

Another key wear item is the front derailleur itself. Derailleurs are designed to pivot off a parallelogram design that requires each pivot run smooth and precisely. As the Front Derailleur wears, these pivots can begin to bind, while they generate play, leading to poor shifting.

Finally, dirty or corroded cables are a key cause in poor shifting. Replace cables once a year and lube them intermittently to keep them running smooth and freely.

When is enough, enough

Working on your bike is fun, but can be frustrating if things aren’t going according to plan. When things get out of hand, don’t be afraid to start from scratch and go back to step one. Any missed initial steps will make further steps impossible to complete. Also, remember that if it gets too tough, your local bike shop is happy to walk you through the process. You will pay a fee, but the one on one instruction is well worth it.

 

Another mountain biker having fun in Lebanon Hills Park.

Bike Pic Aug 22, another mountain biker having fun in Lebanon Hills Park

Another mountain biker having fun in Lebanon Hills Park. Check MORC trail conditions to see which trail systems may be closed after another day of rain yesterday.

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 Biker’ 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!