Real Advice: 4 Fall Ride Essentials

As the summer draws to a close, the kinds of riding most of us do changes too. For some a long summer of training and racing has left the legs feeling fairly torched and ready for a rest with slower, leisurely rides. For others, the cooler temperatures mean that it’s now more comfortable to put in those long, big mile days in the saddle.

No matter how you ride this fall though, here are 4 things you shouldn’t leave the house without.

1. Complete Repair Kit

In most parts of the country, fall is a pretty rainy time of year. That means that there’s lots of extra stuff on the roads that can give you a flat, and rain and road grit can take a bigger toll on your chain.

While we normally eschew the seat wedge during the summer and roll with a minimal flat kit, during the fall and winter we embrace it, and stuff it with:

A full repair kit is a must for fall riding

A full repair kit is a must for fall riding

 

2. Lights

No matter what time it is when we leave the house for a ride, we always bring some emergency lights this time of year.

Small, lightweight LED’s are easy to affix to your bars and seatpost, or fit easily in a pocket. Having a front and rear light can help you stay visible in traffic when it gets dark, when the sky is overcast, or the weather turns bad.

Small LED lights, like these Blackburn lights, are lightweight and easy to attach

Small LED lights, like these Blackburn lights, are lightweight and easy to attach

 

3. Vest / Jacket

A packable wind jacket or vest will roll up small and easily fits into a jersey pocket. This is a September-April essential for us, since the weather can change quickly and you never know when you might need it.

A vest is a great option for warmer or windy days when the primary concern is keeping the core warm. They also roll up super tiny, so they take up minimal pocket room when you take them off.

Jackets are a better option for days that a very windy, have a chance of rain, or when you’ll be doing climbs that involve long descents. They are a little bulkier, but the fuller protection and wind/water-resistant fabrics will provide more complete protection against the elements.

A packable wind jacket or vest can help you be prepared for changeable weather

A packable wind jacket or vest can help you be prepared for changeable weather

 

4. Cash

Cards are great, but cash is still king. If you’re going for a long ride into the country, there are fewer better pit stops during a ride then stopping at a roadside produce stand for some harvest-fresh apples, cider, or other treats. Not only are they healthier than most snacks we eat on the road, but are super fresh and usually only for sale for a few short weeks.

Carrying some cash with you is ensures you'll always be ready for a pit stop

Carrying some cash with you is ensures you’ll always be ready for a pit stop

 

What do you carry when you ride?

Tell us in the comments.

 

Fix It Tip: What’s That Noise?

Probably the most commonly asked question when it comes to bikes is “what’s that noise?”

Sometimes noises are just annoying but fairly harmless. But since bikes are (relatively) simple machines, a noise is usually the first indicator that something is not working as it should. Most common mechanical problems can be correctly identified by sound alone, making fixing the problem that much quicker and easier.

A quick note on carbon frames: due to the physical properties of carbon fiber, carbon frames are notorious for transmitting some noises through the frame, making hunting down a squeak a little more difficult, since something that sounds like it’s coming from the headset could actually be coming from the rear wheel. In this case, your best bet is to go through a process of elimination until the problem is solved.

A quick note on safety: Over tightening bolts, over greasing parts, or toying around with moving parts can make the problem worse instead of better. If you’re unsure what you’re doing, please take your bike to the nearest Performance Bicycle shop and have them take a look at it.

Need help finding something on your bike? Check out our Anatomy of a Bicycle.

 

Common Noises

Metallic skipping sound when pedaling

Cause: You rear derailleur is out of alignment, causing the chain to not sit properly on the cogs

Other Symptoms: Your bike may also not be shifting properly, either moving to the incorrect gear, or not moving the chain at all when you press the lever

Fix: Adjust your rear derailleur cable tension using the barrel adjuster

Complications: If the skipping is more pronounced in the smallest or biggest cogs, it may because your rear derailleur hanger is bent. Bring it to your nearest Performance shop to have the Spin Doctor do this quick fix.

CLICK HERE to learn how to fix it yourself

Skipping noises come from a poorly adjusted rear derailleur

Skipping noises come from a poorly adjusted rear derailleur

Metallic scraping noise when pedaling

Cause: Your front derailleur is out of alignment, causing the chain to rub against the derailleur cage

Other Symptoms: The chain may look like its vibrating as you pedal, chain may not stay in the big chainring

Fix: Reset your front derailleur cable tension by shifting the chain into the little ring, loosening the cable fixing bolt, pulling the cable until it is taut, and then tightening the cable fixing bolt

Complications: Your high or low limit screws may be improperly adjusted, restricting the derailleur from moving fully into position. If this is the case, adjust your limit screws to the proper setting.

CLICK HERE to learn how to fix it yourself

A metallic scraping noise usually comes from the chain rubbing against the front derailleur, as seen here

A metallic scraping noise usually comes from the chain rubbing against the front derailleur, as seen here

High Pitched “Singing” Sound

Cause: Loose wheel spoke

Other Symptoms: The offending wheel may also feel wobbly, or be rubbing against your brakes

Fix: Tighten the spoke. You can either do this at home with a spoke wrench, or bring it to your local Performance shop to have you Spin Doctor take a look.

Loose wheel spokes often cause a high pitched "singing" noise when riding

Loose wheel spokes often cause a high pitched “singing” noise when riding

Squeaks & Creaks

Oh boy, this is a tough one. If you can’t identify exactly where the noise is coming from, your best bet is to go through each potential cause one by one until the problem is eliminated.

Squeak When Sitting (independent of pedal stroke)

Possible Causes:

  1. Seatpost

Fix: Mark seatpost height with tape, remove post, regrease, reinstall and tighten to spec

CLICK HERE to learn how to fix it yourself

  1. Quick Release Skewers

Fix: Remove front and rear quick release skewers, grease the threads, reinstall and make sure they are nice and tight

CLICK HERE to learn how to fix it yourself

  1. Saddle

Fix: Mark saddle position with tape, remove saddle, lightly grease rails, reinstall and tighten to spec

CLICK HERE to learn how to fix it yourself

  1. Brake Rub (this can either sound like a squeak or a rubbing sound, depending on rim material)

Fix: Adjust brakes to ensure they are properly aligned. Ensure wheel is centered in dropouts. Check that wheel is true—if it’s wobbly bring to Performance store to have it trued.

CLICK HERE to learn how to fix it yourself

Squeak When Sitting (Only when pedaling)

Possible Causes:

  1. Pedals

Fix: Remove pedals, grease threads, reinstall and tighten to spec

  1. Cleats (for clipless pedals)

Fix: Make sure cleat bolts are tight, lightly grease pedal interface (where cleats lock into pedal)

CLICK HERE to learn how to fix it yourself

Loose pedals can cause a lot of noise

Loose pedals can cause a lot of noise

Squeak When Standing

Possible Causes:

  1. Loose Bottom Bracket

Fix: Remove bottom bracket, clean, regrease, reinstall and tighten to spec

Loose Crank

Fix: Check tightness of crank fixing bolt on non-drive side (SRAM/Shimano/Race Face/Travitiv) or in BB shell (Campagnolo)

Loose Headset

Fix: Loosen stem pinch bolts, tighten headset cap, retighten stem pinch bolts to spec. Also check to make sure you have enough headset spacers to headset cap to fully seat. Don’t over-tighten, it should still be able to turn smoothly.

CLICK HERE to learn how to fix it yourself

  1. Loose Handlebars

Fix: Remove stem faceplate bolts, regrease, reinstall to spec

CLICK HERE to learn how to fix it yourself

  1. Cracked Frame or fork

Fix: This is a very serious, and dangerous, issue. Stop riding bike immediately, and bring to your local Performance shop to be evaluated.

 

Rattling:

Possible Causes:

  1. Loose Bottle Cages

Fix: Ensure bottle cage bolts are tight

Loose Seat Wedge

Fix: Tighten straps

  1. Cable Slap

Fix: Ensure all cables have appropriate tension. If problem persists add mid-cable bumpers to prevent cable from rattling against frame.

  1. Cable Housing Rub

Fix: Cable housing is bouncing against headtube. Ensure brake and shift cable housing is cut to the appropriate length

  1. Loose Headset

Fix: Loosen stem pinch bolts, tighten headset cap, retighten stem pinch bolts to spec. Also check to make sure you have enough headset spacers to headset cap to fully seat. Don’t overtighten, it should still be able to turn smoothly.

CLICK HERE to learn how to fix it yourself

 

Again, a quick note on safety: if you’re not quite sure what your doing or how to do something, bring your bike to the shop and let the Spin Doctor mechanic take a look.

Let us know in the comments: is there anything we missed? Do you have any suggestions for quick fixes for annoying bike noises?

4 Money Saving Bike Tips

1. Patch Your Tubes

When you get a flat, don’t just throw the tube away. Hang on to it and patch it when you get home. Patches are fairly inexpensive and can give your tube new life.

If you’re having trouble finding where the puncture is, inflate the tube and place it in a bathtub with water. The air will bubble out of the hole, allowing you to find the puncture.

We tend to pile up punctured tubes in a box, and save patching for a rainy day.

Shop here for tube patches

Click here to learn how to fix a flat

Saving and patching tubes is a good way to save money and reduce waste

Saving and patching tubes is a good way to save money and reduce waste

2. Clean Your Bike Regularly

Dirty bike parts will wear out faster, requiring more frequent replacements. It’s easier, and cheaper, to take a few minutes now and again to maintain your bike to slow part wear and improve performance.

-Never put away a dirty bike. Wipe down the frame, rims and tires after every ride

-Clean and relube your chain every 100 miles

-Do a full bike clean every other month

Click here to learn how to clean your bike

Regular cleaning can help prolong the life of components

Regular cleaning can help prolong the life of components

 

3. Learn To Do Your Own Maintenance

Full overhauls are still best done by the shop, but minor things like stem installations, brake and derailleur adjustments, and fixing a flat tire are easy to learn to do yourself.

Click here for maintenance how-to’s

Fixing small issues on your own bike is easier than you think

Fixing small issues on your own bike is easier than you think

4. Upgrade Wisely

Who doesn’t love new bike day? But sometimes you can get bigger performance gains by upgrading what you already have. New wheels or a stiffer crankset can vastly change how a bike rides and improve performance.

Click here to shop for components, click here for wheels

Click here for wheel buyer’s guide

Sometimes upgrading the bike you already have is a more cost-effective way to improve performance

Sometimes upgrading the bike you already have is a more cost-effective way to improve performance

Quick Fix: An Easy Way To Deal With Chain Slap

Mountain bikers and cyclocross riders alike will understand the difficulty of discovering chain slap marks on your beautiful new bicycle. Chain slap just happens. Especially in a sport like cyclocross where you’re tearing around dirt roads and through fields with no suspension to absorb the trail chatter. Here’s a quick fix to deal with chain slap.

Follow this quick and easy guide to get your bike all-ready to go off-road.

Note the slight grease marks on the chainstay. This is an indicator that the chain has come in contact with the stay and will eventually chip the paint off and possibly even damage the frame given enough time.

Note the slight grease marks on the chainstay. This is an indicator that the chain has come in contact with the stay and will eventually chip the paint off and possibly even damage the frame given enough time.

Step 1: find an old tube. We tend to keep a flat road tube or two around for this reason. If you don’t have one, ask around. Surely one of your riding partners has recently flatted.

Step 1: find an old tube. We tend to keep a flat road tube or two around for this reason. If you don’t have one, ask around. Surely one of your riding partners has recently flatted.

quick_fix_chainstay_03

Starting next to the valve stem, cut the tube.

Measure a length of tube about twice the length of the area of the chainstay you’re looking to protect.

Measure a length of tube about twice the length of the area of the chainstay you’re looking to protect.

Cut the tube again so now you have a piece of tube twice the length of the stay.

Cut the tube again so now you have a piece of tube twice the length of the stay.

Start by holding the tube onto the chainstay about an inch behind where you think the chain slap will start.

Start by holding the tube onto the chainstay about an inch behind where you think the chain slap will start.

Next, pass the tube around the stay (just like wrapping a drop handlebar) keeping tension on the tube.

Next, pass the tube around the stay (just like wrapping a drop handlebar) keeping tension on the tube.

quick_fix_chainstay_08

Keep tension on the tube as you pass it around the stay over and over so the tube just overlaps itself.

Keep going until you’re just short of the front derailleur cage, or just beyond where you think the chain will be impacting the stay.

Keep going until you’re just short of the front derailleur cage, or just beyond where you think the chain will be impacting the stay.

Back up just a hair and cut the tube at an angle.

Back up just a hair and cut the tube at an angle.

Finish it off with a little black electrical tape for a nice clean look.

Finish it off with a little black electrical tape for a nice clean look.

Ta-da! Now your chain is protected and you can feel good about recycling that old flat tube.

Ta-da! Now your chain is protected and you can feel good about recycling that old flat tube.

If this is just too much work for you or you don’t have access to any flat tubes, Lizard Skins makes a great ready-to-go chainstay wrap.

Is there anything else you’d like to see a quick and easy fix for? Ask us in the comments section below and we’ll add it to the list. Thanks!

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