Ask Performance Answers – 10/4/13

Last week on the Performance Bike Facebook page we asked folks to post questions about bikes or cycling that they wanted an answer to, in a segment we called #AskPerformance. Today we’re going to answer some of your questions below, but if you’ve got other vexing cycling queries, please post them in the comments below and we’ll do our best to find you an answer!

Ron S.: Is it too much to have more than 5 bikes? ;-) #AskPerformance

Ah, the age-old question – the most quoted saying is that the “correct number of bikes to own is ‘n+1′, where ‘n’ is the number of bikes currently owned”. Of course there is an important corollary to this rule, which is ‘s-1′, “where ‘s’ is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your significant other”.

Michael S.: #AskPerformance Has the industry established a lifespan projection for carbon fiber frames and components?

There is no standardized lifespan for carbon fiber, as it will depend on how the frame or component is used. That said, there’s no reason carbon fiber can’t last for a very long time – the key is to take care of it properly, only tighten bolts to their recommended torque settings, and inspect it for wear or damage from time to time. We’ve got a great article of tips on our Learning Center: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/how-to-guides/bikes-and-frames/taking-good-care-of-your-carbon-bike-frame

scattante_cfr_black_rearDarrell M.: When you shift gears, and the chain moves more than one gear, what is the typical cause and solution?

One main culprit could be a rear derailleur hanger that has come out of alignment – if that is bent (say from setting the bike down on its drive side), then no amount of derailleur adjustment will result in perfect shifting. Another issue could be incorrect routing of the cable to the derailleur bolt – if you’ve changed your cable lately take a look at the instructions for your derailleur to make sure you’ve got that right. If you’ve ruled out a bent hanger and poor cable routing, then you should next take a look at your rear derailleur itself – we’ve got a video in our Learning Center that covers adjusting your rear derailleur: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/how-to-guides/bike-parts-and-components/how-to-adjust-a-rear-derailleur

Daisy L.: How many miles before a chain needs to be replaced??

A good rule of thumb is somewhere around 1,500 to 2,000 miles for a road bike, and somewhere around 5-6 months for a mountain bike (assuming that you are riding a fair amount). But these are just general guidelines – to really understand when you should replace your chain you’ll need to measure chain stretch. Chains may be metal, but over time they can actually stretch out quite a bit – we’ve got a handy video that gives you the details of what to look for: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/how-to-guides/bike-parts-and-components/how-to-measure-bike-chain-wear

Lidia L.: What is the best way to clean your cogs ? And with what would u clean them with ? Thx ‘s

Cleaning your whole bike is one of the most important things that you can do to prolong the life of your bike and keep it running in tip-top condition (just ask any pro team mechanic). Luckily it’s not that difficult if you follow the how-to on our Learning Center, which covers everything from cleaning your rear cassette to lubing your shifters and brake levers: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/how-to-guides/bikes-and-frames/basic-maintenance-how-to-clean-your-bike For the rear cassette, the basic technique is to spray some degreaser onto a cog brush, then wipe down each of the cogs to get the gunk off.

Howard H.: How often should I rotate my tires?

Rotating your tires front to rear is a great idea to increase the longevity of the pair, but keep in mind that most steering control, both off-road and on, comes from the front tire, while more tire wear happens with the drive forces on the rear.  So putting a road tire worn flat or a MTB tire with worn lugs on the front will lessen traction when cornering hard. To prolong the life of your tires, save some money and keep high performance traction, ride your tires until the rear is worn out, move the front tire to the rear, and put a grippy new tire on the front. Need some tips on changing tires? We can help with that: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/how-to-guides/tires-tubes-and-wheels/how-to-change-a-road-bike-tire

_131008_dressing_for_coldEnrique L.: Just started riding my bike again like a month ago. but now that the cold weather is upon us what is the best gear for weather of around 40° which is probably the average temp he in the bay area.

The key to riding in changeable fall and winter riding conditions is dressing in layers. You want to keep your core and extremities warm when you get started, but then have the ability to remove and change layers s you get warmed up or if the temperature changes. We call this the 15 minute rule… if after 15 minutes of riding, if you’re still cold, you need more layers or warmer clothing. If you’re uncomfortably hot after 15 minutes, remove layers or wear cooler clothing. We recommend: a medium weight short sleeve base layer, bib shorts, long sleeve jersey, leg warmers, a windproof vest or jacket, windproof full-finger gloves, an ear band or beanie, and toe warmers. You can find all of our cold-weather recommendations here: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/how-to-guides/cycling-clothing/dressing-for-the-season-essential-cycling-layering-tips

Maureen K.: A few yrs ago, I switched from riding a hybrid bike to a road bike. On the hybrid, had no problem standing up,out of saddle to get up hills. I’ve had bike fit done on road bike – it fits me sooo much better now, but I am still not comfortable standing to climb up a hill – it’s too scary for some reason! What else should I be doing to get more comfortable standing to pedal up a hill?? Thanks for any suggestions

It is quite a change going from a flat-bar road bike to a drop-bar racing bike – losing the control and leverage you got from keeping your hands in the same position on the handlebars can be disconcerting. But when you stand up to climb on a drop bar road bike, you’ll need to move your hands to your brake hoods to have the most amount of control. Once you practice riding in this position and then smoothly getting up from your saddle, you’ll become more comfortable when you really need it. If you’re looking for other tips on climbing, our Real Advice column has you covered:  http://blog.performancebike.com/2013/07/11/real-advice-an-intro-to-climbing/

Reuben C: Is there a recommended pressure for a tire(as in replacing my 120psi) with the weight of the rider and load in mind. Or are there other factors such as wheel height/length? Sorry im new to riding and it feels like i am running low on psi after bumps or a day of riding (30 miles)

Road tire pressure is definitely critical to a safe and comfortable ride – almost every tire will have a range of recommended tire pressures noted directly on its sidewall. You have flexibility within this range of pressures, so if you feel like the tire is ‘bottoming out’, or compressing so much that it hits the rim, definitely put more air in if it is within the recommendations of the manufacturer. If you are still having issues, you may need to move up to a slightly wider tire (assuming that it fits within your bike’s frame), as this will help give your ride more stability. Or you could install puncture resistant tubes to reduce the chance of pinch flats and slightly increase the load capacity of the bike. If you need help finding the tire inflation range, check out this video: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/how-to-guides/tires-tubes-and-wheels/the-right-tire-pressure-for-a-road-bike

Donald H: Help! I tried replacing the cleats on my shoes yesterday. One bolt came out fine, but the other one ended up with the head rounded out to the point the hex wrench has nothing to grip. Any suggestions?

If you are not handy with tools, your best bet is to take the shoe to your local Performance Bicycle to have a mechanic take a look at it. If you want to try yourself (with the caveat that you might damage the sole of your shoe if you aren’t careful) use a Dremel tool with a cut-off wheel to cut a slot in the top of the cleat bolt and used a slotted-head screwdriver to remove the bolt. Be careful not to cut so deep that the bolt head breaks off. It also helps if the shaft of the screwdriver is hex-shaped, so that you can use a wrench to apply more torque to the screwdriver when removing the cleat bolt. And remember to grease your cleat bolts before installing them next time :)

Boone_Road-878Eric Q: #AskPerformance How does one determine how tight/loose to adjust one’s threadless-steerer headset?

Threadless headsets are pretty easy to get set up once you get the hang of it – the key is to tighten the top cap so that you don’t feel any movement fore and aft at the junction of the headset and the head tube, but not so tight that it hinders your turning ability. Then you tighten down the stem pinch bolts to their recommended pressure to lock the stem in place. We’ve got a very clear video that walks you through each step: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/how-to-guides/bike-parts-and-components/how-to-adjust-a-bicycle-headset

Greg C: I have my first race coming up next week. Should I shave my legs? Does it make a difference? Will I look like a FRED if I don’t shave?

Another dilemma – shaving your legs is an age-old tradition in the cycling community. Cyclists can give you a litany of rationalizations as to why they shave (such as shaved legs make cleaning up road rash easier and quicker and promote faster healing), but when it comes down to it, shaving your legs is mainly a way to identify yourself as part of the cycling club. Think of it as an initiation into the world of bike racing – you definitely don’t have to shave, but if you don’t, you’d better be fast! We’ve got tips for taking care of your skin here: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/riding-tips/general-cycling-tips/basic-guide-skincare-for-cyclists

Chris D: The big question. … I am 6’2 and ride cross country, all mountain and a small amount of DH. 26, 27.5 or a 29er??? It seems so hard to choose a new size with my wide range of riding styles. What is the advantage of a 27.5 vrs a 29er? Also any 2014 recommendations? I hope #askperformance can help! Sincerely a #teamperformance member.

Wow, it sounds like you’re looking for that one bike that can do it all! As a taller guy, you can definitely handle a 29er, which will give you an improved angle of attack to roll over obstacles, and more momentum to smooth out any trail. But the new 27.5″ standard might also be a great option for you – these bikes have a bit more agility than a 29er, but still have a greater ability to roll over obstacles than a classic 26″ bike. We’re pretty excited about the 27.5″ format and think that it might be a great fit for what you want to ride – we’ll have great options soon from GT (the 130mm travel Sensor and 150mm travel Force) as well as Devinci (their all-new 140mm travel Troy). Check out our Learning Center for more info about 29ers: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/buyers-guides/bikes-and-frames/basic-guide-to-29er-mountain-bikes and 27.5″ mountain bikes: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/buyers-guides/bikes-and-frames/basic-guide-to-275-mountain-bikes

_131003_Boone_Rky_Knob_MTB-340Dawn G.: How do I stop squeaky disc brakes? I’ve cleaned and adjusted them and they still squeak.

There are 2 main things that might be going on if you’ve got everything adjusted right – when you first install new disc brake pads, it’s essential that you go through the ‘break-in’ period for the pads. This will help improve performance and lessen annoying noise – just follow our tips here: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/how-to-guides/bike-parts-and-components/breaking-in-your-bike-disc-brakes Of course it could just be the case that the pads have become contaminated with oil or dirt – disc brakes pads a difficult to fully clean once this happens, so often the only alternative is simply to replace the pads all together: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/how-to-guides/bike-parts-and-components/how-to-replace-disc-brake-pads

Greg E: I am very interested in getting into cyclocross racing. What is the best way to get started racing for a mature beginner ? I already have a fuji cyclocross bike.

We’re huge fans of cross racing here in the home office – you could even say that we’re obsessed! But really what’s not to love? It’s an all-out effort for 30 minutes to an hour through grass, mud, or sand, with some barriers thrown in just for kicks. Of course this means that some different skills are needed than a regular road ride – you’re already on the right track with a dedicated cyclocross bike, but your next step is to practice cross-specific skills like quick dismounts and remounts, proper technique to carry and run with your bike, and short, hard sprinting efforts to stay in the mix at a race. We’ve got some tips you can follow on our Learning Center, but your best option to learn more is to find a local cyclocross club or training group – cross racers are a friendly bunch, and they’re usually happy to show a beginner the ropes and get him or her just as addicted to cross racing as they are: http://learn.performancebike.com/bikes/advice/riding-tips/road-cycling/cyclocross-basics

If you’ve got a cycling question that you need an answer to right away, feel free to get in touch with our Spin Doctor product technical support team – they are our team of in-house technical experts with decades of combined industry experience, ready to get you the info you need.

Call: 800-553-TECH (8324)
Email: spindoctor@performanceinc.com
Chat: Live Help at PerformanceBike.com

Cross Vegas at Interbike

While checking out all the latest cycling gear and making business deals is the real reason for the Interbike trade show in Las Vegas, getting the chance to check out some of the fastest cyclocross racers on the planet at Clif Bar CrossVegas is a pretty close second for many of the industry show attendees. Having grown from more modest beginnings in 2007, CrossVegas is now rated as a Category 1 race, just a notch below the biggest events on the European World Cup circuit. With early season ranking points on the line, CrossVegas now always draws a deep field to the Desert Breeze complex a few miles from the Vegas Strip – a grassy oasis that is transformed into a raucous arena of 10,000 fans under the lights for some nighttime racing.

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Big and noisy crowds lined the hillside near the barriers

Before the pros took to the course, a motley crew of amateurs from the cycling industry racers tried their luck in this early season cyclocross spectacular. Everyone from bike manufacturers, to clothing vendors, to cycling journalists, to your very own Performance Bicycle was represented in the ‘wheeler and dealer’ race – former pro (and race ringer) Christian Heule of KoolStop took the victory atop a brand new Diamondback Steilacoom RCX Carbon Pro Disc. This race also gave everyone a chance to check out the course and find their preferred vantage points for the later races – we were a big fan of the elaborate wooden banked turn at the base of the run-up and barriers (although there were also 2 flyover ramps, and 2 more sets of steps to keep things interesting).

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Cycling industry racers tackle the wicked cool banked turn

But the crowds really came to see the top pros duke it out in this first major cross race of the year – having grown in stature over the years, CrossVegas now regularly attracts a great field of racers from the US and Europe to race under the lights. By far the top name in town was reigning world champion Sven Nys of Belgium -  the seemingly ageless ‘Cannibal from Baal’ who has been a dominant fixture on the pro cross circuit for 15 years. An undisputed hero in his home country, Sven was back to race in the US for only the second time ever (his first being the World Championships in Louisville, Kentucky earlier in 2013).

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Sven Nys being interviewed by Belgian sports channel Sporza

However before Nys and company took to the course, the elite women had to settle their scores. Even though the sun had set at the Desert Breeze race venue, it was still blazingly hot when a stacked field of Katerina Nash, Lea Davison, Catharine Pendrel, Meredith Miller, Georgia Gould and Amy Dombroski, among others, lined up for the 40 minute women’s race. Racing was fast and furious from the starting gun, but a lead pack of about 20 riders stayed mostly together through the first few laps.

But about halfway through the race Katerina Nash jumped clear of the pack and never looked pack. The Czech rider kept the chasers at bay for the last half of the race and cruised home for an undisputed victory – American Lea Davison held off former mountain bike world champion Catharine Pendrel to round out the podium. Afterwards Nash announced that she was going to retire from pro cycling, only to un-retire a few days later. Hey, why quit when you’re ahead (although those are famous last words in Las Vegas)?

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Katerina Nash takes the win in the women’s race

After an exhilirating women’s race, the crowd was fired up to watch the elite men battle it out. Toeing the line from the international contingent were the champ, Sven Nys, Wout Van Aert, Quinten Hermans, Bart Wellens, and Sven Vanthourenhout, while the North American racing scene was represented by Jeremy Powers, Geoff Kabush, Ryan Trebon, Tim Johnson, Adam Craig, Jamie Driscoll, US champ Jonathan Page, and Belgian transplant Ben Berden. It was a formidable lineup for any cross race anywhere in the world – and the action didn’t disappoint. If there was one word to describe cross racing at this level, it would be ‘ferocious’. Pro cross racers attack from the gun, and don’t let up until the last lap an hour later!

Constant attacks on the very first lap left the field strung out across the wide-ranging grass circuit – it was amazing to see the raw speed and skill on display. If you ever get the chance to see world-class cyclocross racing in person you won’t be disappointed – watching these racers float over the barriers (many simply bunny-hopping them) with barely any drop in speed, or expertly dismount and re-mount at full gas, or even rocket through turns while jostling for position definitely makes for a fantastic spectator sport.

But back to the race – the seemingly inevitable soon happened and Nys glided off the front and established a gap. American Ryan Trebon grimly covered the move and hung with Nys for a few laps, but the Belgian’s relentless laps soon shed the rangy Trebon and the champ was all alone at the front. Riding solo for the last half of the race, Nys stayed comfortably ahead of the chasers and was able to casually cruise home the final straight for his second victory on US soil, much to the delight of the crowd (they came to see the best, and a winner in rainbow stripes certainly fit the bill). Behind Nys, American Jeremy Powers jumped away from the chasing pack to take second, while Canadian Geoff Kabush snuck in for third.

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Arms up for Sven Nys as he cruises in to victory in the men’s race

All in all, CrossVegas definitely lived up to the hype – 2 worthy champions, lots of furious cross racing, and a pretty rollicking party rolled into one event. If you make it out to Interbike next year and someone offers you an invite to CrossVegas, don’t pass up the opportunity to check out some world-class cyclocross in the Nevada desert (OK, it’s at a grassy city park, but it was still really hot and dusty).

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Amy Dombroski (on the left) talking to Georgia Gould before the start of CrossVegas

On a sad note, we did want to take a moment in closing to remember American cyclocross racer Amy Dombroski, who was tragically killed in a training accident in Belgium a few weeks after this race. A well-known and respected member of the women’s cyclocross scene in the US and Europe, Amy’s friends have put together a Facebook page to remember a life cut much too short – donations for her family can mailed to: Memorial of Amy Dombroski; c/o Wells Fargo Deposits; 1242 Pearl St.; Boulder 80302.

Wordless Wednesday

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Wordless Wednesday

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2014 Scattante CFX Black Cyclocross Bikes

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When we first introduced the Scattante CFX Black cyclocross bike in 2012, we broke some new ground. It wasn’t our first foray into the world of ‘cross, but the CFX took things to a whole new level. We designed the bike from the ground up to be ready to take you to the podium with a full carbon fiber frameset, SRAM Force 10-speed group and, most importantly, the addition of recently-legalized disc brakes.

Well, we’re never really content to rest on our laurels, so after the success of the 2013 CFX Black, we did it again.

The all-new 2014 Scattante CFX Black cyclocross bike is now available, and for 2014 it comes in two flavors: one with SRAM Red 22 Hydro with hydraulic disc brakes and 11-speed drivetrain, the other comes with SRAM Force 22 with mechanical disc brakes, and also features 11-speed shifting. We’re immensely proud of both of these bikes, and confident that they’ll take your CX season to a new level. You can get to know both of these beauties a little better below.

The Scattante CFX Black. It's business time.

The Scattante CFX Black. It’s business time.

The Scattante CFX Black SRAM Red 22 Hydro

The Scattante CFX Black SRAM Red 22 Hydro is among the best bikes we’ve ever built. It’s loaded with high-end, high-performance features that have only one goal: to put you on the podium. This is a no-nonsense race bike that begs to be ridden hard. And thanks to the addition of a SRAM Hydro braking system, you can stop hard, too. The Hydro levers make look a little funny, but don’t be fooled, there’s some serious technology under those hoods.

Features:

  • ScDT carbon tech delivers a frame and fork with the precision and handling ability required for cyclocross competition
  • Hydraulic SRAM Red disc brakes increase stopping power, especially in adverse weather conditions
  • SRAM 22 Hydraulic drivetrain has 11-speeds and a cross specific 46/36 crank configuration
  • Stan’s ZTR Alpha 340 wheels are tubeless compatible to run lower pressure for increased traction in muck and mud
  • FSA Energy components bring serious durability and versatility to the cross course
2013 Scattante CFX Black with SRAM Red 22 Hydro

2013 Scattante CFX Black with SRAM Red 22 Hydro

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Hydraulic SRAM Red 22 shifters

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Hydraulic SRAM Red disc brakes

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Cross specific 46/36 SRAM Red 22 crankset

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ScDT carbon frame and fork

The Scattante CFX Black SRAM Force 22

The Scattante CFX Black SRAM Force 22 is a bike that refuses to play second fiddle. Sure, it’s a little more modestly priced, but that doesn’t mean you get more modest performance. It features the same ScDT carbon technology, wheels and build kit as its big brother. But instead of a hydraulic braking system, instead you get Force 22 with mechanical disc brakes. The redesigned shifters, all-new crank design, and True 22 shifting technology make this bike a force to be reckoned with.

  • ScDT carbon tech delivers a frame and fork with the precision and handling ability required for cyclocross competition
  • Avid BB7 Disc brakes increase stopping power, especially in adverse weather conditions
  • SRAM Force 22 drivetrain has 11-speeds and a cross specific 46/36 crank configuration
  • Stan’s ZTR Alpha 340 wheels are tubeless compatible to run lower pressure for increased traction in muck and mud
  • FSA Energy components bring serious durability and versatility to the cross course
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2013 Scattante CFX Black with SRAM Force 22

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11-speed SRAM Force 22 drivetrain

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Cross specific 46/36 crank configuration

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Avid BB7 Disc brakes

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ScDT carbon frame and fork

Real Advice: How to Lock Your Bike

Today we continue with our Real Advice series – hard-earned practical knowledge from real riders here at our home office. This week we hear again from Brian, a member of our content team, with some advice on how to lock up your bike. Brian lived in Chicago for about 10 years, and had more than a few run-ins with bike thieves.

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In the years I lived in Chicago, I had the following bikes— listed in no particular order—stolen: a black GT Pulse track bike, a beautiful emerald green Ciocc Enemy track bike, and a chromed-out Bianchi Pista track bike. I won’t even go into how many seat posts, saddles, and wheels I’ve replaced. Some may have said I got what I deserved for riding those bikes in a big city with a notorious bike theft problem. But after the tears dried, I came to realize that I was actually being taught the very valuable (and expensive) lesson that there is a right way and many, many, many wrong ways to do everything. Eventually, I got the hang of it, and haven’t had a bike stolen since.

So let me spare you some heartache by passing on a few tips you can learn at my expense. This is mostly advice for those of you in urban/suburban areas, college campuses and anywhere else that bike theft is a real issue.

1. Nail it down: So you’ve got your lock, but do you know how to use it? Here, I’ll lay out my Program of Bike Locking Excellence for you to follow:

  • Buy a strong u-lock, as well as both a thick and a thin lock cable (usually a 4-6 ft. cable is good). The basic idea is to lock anything that can be easily removed, such as the wheels, saddle and frame.

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  • First, route the thinner cable through the rails of your saddle by passing one end of the cable through one of the eyelets and cinching it down around the rails, leaving plenty of cable and an eyelet hanging down.

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  • Next, run your thicker lock cable through the rear wheel, and again pass one end of the cable through the eyelet, so the cable cinches around the wheel rim and the seat tube.

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  • Now, pass the thicker cable through the eyelet of the thinner cable.

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  • Position the u-lock shackle so as to lock the front wheel to the frame, and pass the shackle through the cable eyelet.

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  • Pass the u-lock shackle around the object you are locking to, replace the cross bar, and turn the key.

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  • When all this is done, double check that everything is actually secure.

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2. If you live in NYC or San Francisco: Disregard all of the above advice and buy the biggest, beefiest chain lock you can find on Performancebike.com.

3. Make it solid: Knowing how to lock your bike is only half the battle. To make sure your bike is still there when you get back, you’ll want to find the most solid, immovable thing you can (city bike racks, street lamps, parking meters) and lock your bike to it as securely as possible. To do this right, you have to think like a thief, which means you have to evaluate every potential locking location for ways it can be defeated. To wit, when my Ciocc was stolen, it was locked to a street sign pole outside of a bar. At the end of the night, my friends and I found the actual street sign on the ground and my bike nowhere in sight. The thief had somehow gotten up the pole, unbolted the sign, and then slid my bike—lock and all—up and over. That was a long walk home…

4. There are no quick errands: This seems obvious, but too many people just lean their bike up against a wall while they “quickly run into the coffee shop”. No matter how quick the errand, no matter how visible you think your bike is, or how many people are around, lock it up. It might seem like a hassle, but it’s worth taking the extra 20 seconds to properly lock up your bike. Because it takes even less time than that for someone to just hop on it and pedal away.

5. Safety in numbers: When possible, park your bike in an area where there are lots of other bikes. This won’t necessarily deter a thief in and of itself, but it waters down the chances of a thief targeting your bike. If possible, also try to find a bike that looks more desirable than yours and lock up next to that one. It may seem callous, but remember, you don’t have to be faster than the bear—you just have to be faster than the other guy.

6. Write it down: Let’s be honest here: there is no lock on earth that’s going to stop a very determined or experienced thief. If at all possible, bring your bike inside—especially overnight. Write down your bike’s serial number (usually found on the underside of the bottom bracket shell), and keep a detailed list and photos of your bike and components (take a new photo when you upgrade any parts). Most renters and home owner’s insurance policies will cover bike theft, so it’s a good idea to have proof of what kind of components were on your bike if you need to make a claim. Most lock companies like Kryptonite and OnGuard also offer a reimbursement program to help you buy a new bike if yours was stolen while using their product; inside your lock packaging will be instructions on how to sign up for this protection.

Wordless Wednesday

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Wheels 4 Life – A Hans & Carmen Rey Charity + Performance Bicycle

wheels_4_life_new_logoWe’ve partnered with the Wheels 4 Life charity of mountain bike legend Hans Rey and his wife Carmen for a few years now, and we’re excited to be able to share some of the results. Wheels 4 Life is a non-profit charity that provides free bicycles for people in need of transportation in developing countries. They partner with local individuals, organizations and other groups to help identify persons who sincerely need a bike to be able to go to school or to work. Find out more about upcoming projects and how you can help on http://www.wheels4life.org/ - but we’ll let Hans himself tell you why this work is so important, in this video from Interbike last year:

Our main avenue of supporting the mission of  Wheels 4 Life is by the Wheels 4 Life branded GT bikes that we offer on our site & in our stores. A portion of the cost of each bike goes directly to Wheels 4 Life and helps fund their many projects around the globe – so far over 170 bikes have been purchased in Africa with these funds, bicycles that will make a difference for entire families and communities in real and lasting ways.

GT Wheels 4 Life Peace Tour Commuter Bike

GT Wheels 4 Life Peace Tour Commuter Bike

We’ll let Carmen Rey tell you more about the projects that were funded by our Wheels 4 Life branded GT bikes, and how they are making a difference already:

The amount raised through the Wheels 4 Life bicycles sold by Performance enabled us to purchase 170 bicycles for people in really great need of transportation in Uganda. We funded 3 different projects thanks to you and your support of the work we are doing.

The first was implemented in February 2012. This was the Kyatiri Health Centre Project and saw us donate 25 bicycles to the health care center. They then went on to distribute them to their patients so that they would be able to travel to the health clinic faster and easier. These patients live in remote areas and have to travel quite a distance in order to see a nurse who can administer their treatments.

Our Wheels 4 Life Ugandan Ambassador, Mr. Jude Muleke, has managed the second project. He heads a registered CBO known as CBIRD for short. Jude has received funding for bicycles from us several times in the past and also assists us with the running of our various projects in Uganda.

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The third and final project was with Voluntary Effort for Community Health (VECH Uganda). This is the first time that we have worked with VECH and we have been pleased with the way that they have administered their Wheels 4 Life project. With both CBIRD and VECH the bicycles went to various groups in our target area: school children, farmers, and people in need of transportation in order to work.

We always purchase the bicycles used in our projects in the area where they will be distributed, in order to aid the local economy, to save on transportation costs, and to make sure that spare parts are easily available.

Thank you so much for changing so many lives through the gift of bicycles. One bike helps change the life of approximately 4 people’s lives – not just the one person who originally receives the bike, but also their neighbors and family with whom the bike is shared.

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Wheels 4 Life bikes ready to be donated on a recent trip to Africa

Bike Commuting Stories

On our prior Real Advice: Commuting by Bike post, we asked readers to share their advice and stories about commuting by bike – we got such great replies that we had to share our favorite responses. Read on below to find out why folks just like you saddle up to hit the road by bike every morning, some adventures they’ve had along the way, and some hard-earned advice they learned along the way. We hope that you’ll be as inspired as we are to try riding your bike to work!

Boone_Urban

Commuter shot from our last photo shoot

From Steve H.:

When I ride a bicycle to work, I am “ready”. By car and bus my commute is 35 minutes for 9 miles, but by bicycle it takes that or less. The bike ride then becomes a challenge to beat the clock, while obeying all traffic signals. During the ride, there is little to no traffic since I leave an hour earlier than my normal commute time. Less car traffic eliminates risk, at least that is what I try to accomplish. When I get to work I am energized, focused, feel like I accomplished something, and its a conversation starter with coworkers. As a data geek, I track the route/time with MapMyRide, post it to Facebook, and review my stats (speed, time, personal records, etc….). Fun way to start the day. The afternoon flies by as I have my commute home to waiting for me. On the bike my mind drifts to work tasks, grocery list, dinner cravings, connecting with nature, watching construction progress in neighborhoods not on my normal car commute, greeting fellow bike trail riders, breathing clean air, driving the pedals up hills so I can fly through the next flat, greeting my smiling daughter upon my arrival home and answering all her questions about the ride. Life is better on a bicycle.

From Echo:

It was my first time commuting (by bike) to downtown Chicago.

I had heard rumors of Chicago becoming a bike-friendly city, but the infrastructure improvements had yet to reach my neck of the woods. So, for once, I was enjoying protected bike lanes, visible bike lane paint, and smooth roads. Sure, the typical frustrations existed here: car exhaust, drivers passing too closely, sweat pouring down my face. But, I had pedaled myself all the way downtown.

Me. My legs. My bike. While reflecting on this, empowered doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt.

Then, on the way home, I started getting tired. Doubting myself, I wondered if I had the strength to make it home. Did I make a mistake? Was it too soon? Too far beyond my abilities?

Just then, as if to confirm my fears, a truck began to turn left… On a one way… Headed right toward me. I was frozen and stared at the driver in horror. Eye contact, a turn of his wheel, and — much to my relief — he caught his mistake and didn’t run me over.

Still shaken, but relieved, I glanced to my left. A pedestrian stood at the crosswalk, with a similar look on her face. We laughed together, and she exclaimed “I was so scared!! I started waving, like ‘NO!’” while demonstrably waving her arms in the air.

Connecting with another person during a commute? Positively? That never happened while driving in my car.

I made it home just fine.

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View of Pike’s Peak and the Garden of the Gods

From Lisa P.:

How can you go wrong with a 10 mile commute to work when you know 3 miles into it you look to your left and see the magnificent Pikes Peak surrounded by the Garden of the Gods?

I feel that same guilty pleasure every time I ride that no one I work with can truly understand. I have just pedaled my way to work, gained strength, clarity, and beautiful scenery. I know my day will rock no matter what gets thrown at me. And what’s even better? I get to look forward to that same beautiful scenery, strength and clarity all the way 10 miles back home. Riding to work will clear the mind and soul, not to mention save on gas while burning some fat! It’s a shrink and a personal trainer wrapped into one awesome ride!

From Marcelo:

I would advise to use a rear carrier , panel or basket to carry your bag. I love recycling and saving money at the same time so I installed a plastic fruit case I found on a supermarket bin as a rear basket. That makes my ride easy as my back is free and doesn’t sweat.

I try to go faster and reduce the time every day, with the help of an app on my phone that tells me how I’m doing during the cycling , pace , time, speed, etc . Luckily I have shower facility at work so I can take a nice shower as soon as I arrive there. When I see my colleagues already working on their desks with their grey faces and sleepy eyes I feel like Iron Man, fresh as a lettuce and ready for action.

The common sense tells me that you have to be visible for the cars , especially in the morning when the drivers are trying to wake themselves up, so it’s extremely important to wear a reflective jacket, preferably a yellow one. Gears such as gloves and glasses are recommended too.

I hope that one day more people will realize the benefits of cycling and leave their cars for long journeys only.

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Riding through the NC Museum of Art

From Joe B.:

My “real advice”, here goes, somewhat a list of do’s and don’ts: Don’t be afraid to take the long way and learn to ride fast and smart. Do leave early both ways. If your commute is in or near the suburbs, do try NOT to ride at 5pm or shortly after. There is a different energy around then which makes drivers more aggressive. Do find a park to cut through on your way home because 1) you’ll escape cars and 2) melt away any stress.

Here’s my story, in one big paragraph: I am very lucky. I have a seventeen miler one way. Only one mile of which can be fairly existential. Getting to the back side of Lake Crabtree is pretty awesome and quite a relief. Along the route I get to sprint up the dam and make the turn at the top. Still hoping to one day make it no hands. Then fly through Umstead, braking at the water fountain before heading down hill and up Reedy Creek on past the horse farms. Marking off a couple of sections to sprint. Taking a turn and going below the road through a tunnel, coming out and rounding the corner in full sprint, suddenly braking hard for spazzed bunnies. I’m now headed toward the Art Museum, riding no hands into the wind up a gentle hill. Eyeing the light and cars to make sure I’m not a jerk because I know they won’t see me for the brief moment it’s green. Then having to wait while the sun bakes and sweat drips. Finally crossing through the museum, taking the steep hill because it’s there, and then another because I have no choice. Over a humongous bridge across the freeway, down and under another tunnel. Phew, last big hill coming up. Before I know it, I’m crossing at Hillsborough and then skirting the Rose Garden, up a little hill, turning at the water tower and waiting at the bank light. Then it’s down my street, eyeing cars that pull out before looking, hoping the curb and dismounting. The best part might be saying Hi to my neighbors because I’m in a really good mood as my girl greets me at the door.

Product Profile: Diamondback Bicycle 2014 Overdrive Carbon Hardtails

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When we heard that Diamondback was adding a new lineup of Overdrive Carbon hardtail mountain bikes for 2014, we were excited. Utilizing the same trail/XC geometry as Diamondback’s Aluminum Overdrive series, the 29″-wheeled Overdrive Carbon designs incorporate their proprietary Advanced Monocoque Molding Process (AMMP) technology using the highest-grade carbon, constructed in the most precise manner, to produce world-class cross country machines. Our bike buyer, Ben, got a chance to try out one of the new high-speed off-road machines at the 2013 Sea Otter Classic XC race (a stern 40 mile test of California hills and dusty trails). How did he sum up the new bike? In a word – impressed. He called the Overdrive Carbon “a great all-around 29er race bike that climbs like a mountain goat, with crisp, precise single track handling and the components to match.”

2014 Diamondback Overdrive Carbon Pro Mountain Bike

2014 Diamondback Overdrive Carbon Pro Mountain Bike

The 2014 Diamondback Overdrive Carbon Pro Mountain Bike is dialed-in from top to bottom, featuring a lightweight carbon frame, Fox suspension and SRAM XO components. 142×12mm carbon rear drop out, a tapered head tube, and a 15mm thru-axle fork increase stiffness for enhanced steering and traction. The sloping top tube provides ample standover clearance. A 71° head tube angle and a 73° seat tube angle create the perfect XC/trail geometry. The 440mm (17.3 inch) chainstays equate to an extremely snappy bike.

The top shelf FOX 32 FLOAT CTD 29″ E-S fork gives you 100mm of plush travel up front with a CTD damper that supplies five different compression settings to optimize your ride for low and high rates of speed from a handlebar-mounted remote. A top shelf SRAM XO group including shifters, derailleurs and hydraulic disc brakes give you the absolute best of the best in performance, period. Add in Easton EA90XC 29″ Clincher wheels and you have one of the most comprehensive competition-based packages on the market.

2014 Diamondback Overdrive Carbon Expert Mountain Bike

2014 Diamondback Overdrive Carbon Expert Mountain Bike

The 2014 Diamondback Overdrive Carbon Expert Mountain Bike is built for maximum speed, stiffness and fun. With the same lightweight carbon frame and Fox suspension as the Overdrive Carbon Pro, the Overdrive Carbon Expert comes equipped with SRAM X7/X9 components. The bike’s Avid Elixir 7 Hydraulic Disc brakes have 180mm front and 160mm rear rotors for maximum modulation on the trail. The 10 speed drivetrain features a high quality X7 Front derailleur, X9 Type 2 Rear Derailleur and the S1400 10-speed crankset. Add in Diamondback SL-7 double wall rims with WTB Wolverine Race tires and you are set to conquer any and all off-road obstacles.

2014 Diamondback Overdrive Carbon Mountain Bike

2014 Diamondback Overdrive Carbon Mountain Bike

The 2014 Diamondback Overdrive Carbon Mountain Bike is sure to elevate your heart rate before you even hit the saddle. Utilizing the same Advanced Monocoque Molding Process (AMMP) carbon frame as the Overdrive Carbon Pro and the Overdrive Carbon Expert guarantees an extremely snappy bike with enhanced stiffness for precise steering and control. Avid Elixir 1 Hydraulic Disc brakes with 180mm front and 160mm rear rotors provide ample stopping power. SRAM provides a 10-speed drivetrain with an X5 Front derailleur and crankset mated to an X7 long cage rear derailleur for smooth shifting performance. Diamondback SL-7 double wall rims with WTB Wolverine Race tires round out this race and trail-ready package.

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