5 Practical Upgrades For Your New Bike

When you think of upgrades, most of us think of expensive stuff like wheels and shifting components. While these are excellent upgrades, sometimes they aren’t the most crucial.

Here are 5 easy upgrades to make your bike more comfortable and improve it’s performance.

1. Saddle

Saddles are the most personal part of the bike. Every rider is built differently, and everyone has a different saddle shape that will fit them best. If you’re experiencing any discomfort with your bike’s stock saddle, try shopping around for one with a different shape. Before shopping, think about where it hurts and where you feel discomfort. You may need one with a center channel cut out, or a narrower or wider width.

Pro Tip: When you find the right saddle, you may also want to buy a second one to have on hand. We’re not trying to improve sales here, either—this is actual cyclist to cyclist advice. In a few years if you damage or wear out your saddle, you may find that your favorite model has discontinued or redesigned, and you’ll be out of luck if you need to replace it. Trust us, we just went through this and are still emotionally recovering.

To learn how to install your saddle, click here.

There are many saddle shapes, styles and fits out there. Experiment with a few to see which works for you.

There are many saddle shapes, styles and fits out there. Experiment with a few to see which works for you.

2. Stem

Most bikes come with either a 100mm or 110mm stem. For a lot of guys that might be a little too short, and for most women it might be a little too long. You might also want more rise or drop to your handlebars. Since stems come in a variety of rise angles and lengths, you can get the position that’s right for you. Plus, most stock stems are fairly heavy, so an upgrade will shed a few grams.

To learn how to install your stem, click here.

Using stems of different lengths and drop angles allows you to customize the fit of your bike

Using stems of different lengths and drop angles allows you to customize the fit of your bike

3. Tires

Bike tires are one of those hidden wonder upgrades. Because the tire is the interface between the bike and the ground, it’s worth it to spend some extra money for a good set. You may think that most tires are black, round, and maybe made of rubber, but there’s a whole lot more that goes into them. Upgrading your tires with a good folding bead, high TPI count tire with puncture protection can make your bike feel totally new.

To learn how to install new tires, click here.

On- or off-road, upgrading your tires can have a big impact on how your bike rides

On- or off-road, upgrading your tires can have a big impact on how your bike rides

4. Bar Tape / Grips

Nothing does more to freshen up a road or cyclocross bike, visually and feel-wise, than some fresh bar tape. Overtime foam bar tape compresses and loses its ability to cushion your hands and dampen vibration. Changing out your tape can help restore some comfort to your bike and help add a personal touch, thanks to the many colors available.

And the same goes for mountain/comfort bikes. The stock grips are meant to be functional, but might not be comfortable for everyone. A good pair of ergonomic grips can help improve your bike’s comfort and performance by correcting your hand position and alleviating pressure points.

To learn how to wrap your bars, click here.

Take a tip from the pro's, some new bar tape can help even an old bike feel (and look) new again

Take a tip from the pro’s, some new bar tape can help even an old bike feel (and look) new again

5. Pedals

Those plastic pedals that came with your bike? Yeah, those weren’t supplied as “forever” pedals, the manufacturer actually intended for them to be replaced. Even if you don’t ride clipless (in which case you’ve already changed out your pedals), you should still consider upgrading your pedals. Flat pedals with a wider base, steel or alloy body, and serviceable bearings will provide a more stable and rigid platform for your foot, helping to eliminate cramps and hot spots, and will be easier to service if they seize up or begin binding.

A good pair of platform pedals, like these pictured, can help make pedaling more comfortable

A good pair of platform pedals, like the ones pictured, can help make pedaling more comfortable

Ready for Spring: 13 Point Safety Checklist

While we originally wrote this post for breaking out the bike after a winter hiatus, we think that this advice is great to follow year-round, even if you’ve been riding for months! You’ll be amazed at what you find if you give your bike a thorough once-over – so what do you look for?

Just follow our 13 Point Inspection checklist.

If you need some reference for where to look for parts on your bike, check out our handy Anatomy of a Bike guide.

 

1. Inspect frame & fork for damage.

Look for cracks or frame separation. Gently lift your front tire off of the ground and let it drop.  Listen for noise (beyond the sound of the chain bouncing).

Lift the front wheel and let the front wheel drop to the floor. If the frame is damaged, you'll hear it

Lift the front wheel and let the front wheel drop to the floor. If the frame is damaged, you’ll hear it


2. Inspect racks, fenders, child seats & baskets.

Make sure all nuts and bolts are securely fastened.

3. Inspect rims and spokes for wear, damage and that the wheel is true

Look for loose or missing spokes (loose  spokes will rattle when moved with your fingers).
Spin the wheel to see if it rolls smoothly.  If not take it to a professional.

Squeeze the spokes together to see if any are loose

Squeeze the spokes together to see if any are loose


4. Inspect tires for cuts, wear & damage.

Check the tires for cracks, dry spots, visible tire threads, cuts, visible tire casing, or debris in the rubber.

Deflate the tire slightly so you can pull it from side to side to look for wear or cuts

Deflate the tire slightly so you can pull it from side to side to look for wear or cuts


5. Test brake levers and brakes are tight & secure.

Squeeze the brakes and move your bike.  If the brakes are working your bike wheels should not roll.

Squeeze the brake levers and try to push the bike forward

Squeeze the brake levers and try to push the bike forward


6. Test headset for correct adjustment.

Squeeze the brakes and move your bike back and forth.  Look to see if the fork rocks where it inserts into the frame.

Click here to see how to adjust your headset

Pull the brake levers, brace the front wheel between your legs, and pull on the handlebars. Check to see if the steerer tube rocks inside of the headtube

Pull the brake levers, brace the front wheel between your legs, and pull on the handlebars. Check to see if the steerer tube rocks inside of the headtube


7. Test seat and seatpost are tight & secure.

Try to twist the seat side to side.  It should not move.
Click here to see how to adjust your seatpost

Try to twist the saddle and see if it moves

Try to twist the saddle and see if it moves


8. Test handlebar, stem, and pedals are tight & secure.

Try to twist your handlebar, while holding the front wheel securely.  It should not move side to side or up and down.
Click here to see how to adjust your stem

Use an allen wrench to ensure all the bolts are properly tightened

Use an allen wrench to ensure all the bolts are properly tightened


 

Use a hex wrench or pedal wrench to ensure your pedals are tight

Use a hex wrench or pedal wrench to ensure your pedals are tight


9. Inspect cables & housing for cracks, kinks, rust or fraying.

Click here to see how to install new cables

Inspect the cables and housing for worn spots, rusting or fraying

Inspect the cables and housing for worn spots, rusting or fraying


10. Inspect brakes for correct adjustment.

Your brakes should squeeze the rim at the same time.  If not, go and visit your favorite mechanic.

11. Inspect brake pads for wear.

Use the wear indicator marks on the pad to determine if the pads are still in good use. If you don’t see any, you can pick up some replacements here.

Check the brake pads to see if they are past the wear point

Check the brake pads to see if they are past the wear point


12. Inspect derailleurs for correct adjustment.

Take your bike for a short test spin or put it in the workstand and try to shift gears. Look to see if your bike skips gears, won’t shift to the selected gear or makes a rattling, skipping sound.

Click here to see how to adjust your rear derailleur

If your derailleur isn't shifting correctly, adjust the cable tension using the barrel adjuster

If your derailleur isn’t shifting correctly, adjust the cable tension using the barrel adjuster


13. Inflate tires to sidewall pressure.

Tires have a range of tires pressures written on the side wall that is a useful guide.  You should pump up your tires before every ride.
Click here to see how to inflate your tires

Need some new tubes? Stock up here.

Most tire manufacturers stamp the recommended PSI on the sidewall

Most tire manufacturers stamp the recommended PSI on the sidewall

Everything check out okay? Go pedal! 

To find out what essentials you should bring on your next ride, check out our article here.

Our Favorite Youtube Videos

Have you checked out the Performance Bicycle Youtube channel lately? If not, it’s definitely worth a peek. It’s packed full of Product Reviews, Buyer’s Guides, Riding Tips, How To Guides, and more to help you find the products you want, stay up to date, and help you get more out of your bike and gear.

Of the hundreds of videos we have, here are some of our favorites:

 

 Riding Tips

Ever wondered what the best way to clear that log in your path was? Learn how in our How To Jump A Log video:

 

How To Guides

Adjusting your front derailleur is more art than science. To get the hang of it, check out our How To Adjust Your Front Derailleur video:

 

Buyer’s Guides

Shopping around for a new indoor trainer? We break down the different types to choose from in our Guide To Indoor Trainers video:

 

Product Reviews

Looking for a great pair of all-around wheels? Check out our product review of the Zipp 202 Firecrest wheels.

11 Essential Tools For The Home Mechanic

There’s a million bike tools out there, some obscure and are only used in the rarest of circumstances, but some are daily or weekly necessities for anyone who wants to do their own bike maintenance.

Here’s our list of the 11 Must-Have Tools for every home mechanic. With the tools on this list and a little know how, 90% of repairs on any bike can be accomplished.

Using the Spin Doctor Pro G3 work stand and Spin Doctor Team 33 Tool Kit makes this repair job easier

Using the Spin Doctor Pro G3 work stand and Spin Doctor Team 33 Tool Kit makes this repair job easier

1.    Work Stand: A work stand is simply a stand that gets the bike off the floor and holds it in position, making it much easier to work on the bike—especially when servicing the drivetrain or giving your bike a thorough cleaning. Most stands will fold up for easy storage.

2.   Hex Wrench Set: Almost every  bolt on a bike uses a hex wrench. Having a full set of hex wrenches—including a long handled 10mm wrench—will mean that there’s almost nothing you can’t adjust on your bike (*note to Campagnolo and SRAM riders: for home maintenance you’ll also need a Torx T25 wrench). And make repairs easier on yourself by using a set of full-sized wrenches. Leave the mutlitool in the saddlebag.

3.   Torque Wrench: If you have a carbon fiber frame, fork, or seatpost, you’ll need a torque wrench. All carbon parts have a maximum torque allowance (how tight the bolts can be tightened). Exceeding the torque recommendation on a seatbolt clamp, stem or derailleur clamp risks damaging the parts or crushing the carbon, while under-tightening can cause the stem, handlebars or seatpost to slip or move while riding. Using a torque wrench will help you safely install the parts. Click here to learn more about installing a seatpost, or here to learn how to install a stem.

4.   10/11-Speed Chain Tool: A chain tool is essential for installing or removing a chain. With the industry move to 11-speed drivetrains, we recommend buying an 11-speed chain tool. 11-speed tools can be used on 8/9/10-speed chains, but not the other way around. This will save you from having to buy a new tool if you upgrade or get a new bike in the future. Click here to learn more about replacing a bike chain.

5.   Cable Cutters: Because of how they are made, bike cables and housing shouldn’t be cut with just any old wire cutters. Bike-specific cable cutters can cut cable without fraying the ends, and cut housing without crushing it. Frayed cables and crushed housing are a recipe for poor performance and will mean you need to replace your cables more often. Click here to learn more about replacing and installing cables.

6.   Pedal Wrench: Some pedal types require a 15mm pedal wrench to install, while others only need an 8mm hex wrench. If your pedals do not have a hex-socket on the end of the spindle, you’ll need a pedal wrench to install and remove pedals.

7.   Cassette Tool: Cassette tools let you loosen and tighten the lock ring on your cassette. You’ll need one of these to install, remove, or clean your cassette. Shimano and SRAM share the same lock ring spline pattern, while Campagnolo uses a different pattern—so make sure you buy the right one for your drivetrain. Click here to learn more about installing a cassette.

8.   Chain Whip: To remove a cassette you’ll need a chain whip. It simply wraps around the cassette, and stops the freehub from spinning while you loosen the lockring.

9.   Tire Levers: Tire levers are an essential tool for installing or removing a clincher tire. We recommend having two sets: one that goes with you on a ride and stays with your gear, and one that you keep at home. That way you’ll never forget to bring them along. Click here to learn how to change a bike tube.

10. Pump: A floor pump is a must have for every cyclist. Tires should be re-inflated roughly once every 3-4 days to avoid damaging the tires and wheels. Investing in a quality pump will help you get more enjoyment out of your ride and prolong the life of your equipment. Click on one of the links learn more about finding the right tire pressure for your road bike or mountain bike.

11.  Grease and Chain Lube: Grease is your bicycle’s best friend. No matter what kind of bolt, no matter where it’s going, it will be greased before being installed. That goes for stem bolts, derailleur fixing bolts, pedal spindles, cleat screws, etc… Failing to grease a bolt before installation will result in stuck bolts with rounded out bolt heads– and then you’re really in a bind. After every week of regular riding or after pulling your bike out of storage, lubricate your chain to keep your bike running smoothly and happily. And don’t cross the streams. Grease is for bolts and alloy seatposts, lube is for chains. Don’t try to mix and match, the results will be messy and poor. Click here to learn more about cleaning your bike chain.

What else do you think our list is missing? What are the tools you find yourself using on a regular basis?

A few of the essential tools for any home mechanic

A few of the essential tools for any home mechanic

Our Take: 10-Speed vs. 11-Speed

11_speed_shifting

In the last few years, Campagnolo, Shimano and SRAM have moved to 11-speed and the technology is becoming more main stream. Lately when we’ve discussed 11-speed bikes, many of you have had some questions and concerns about the new systems. To answer some of them, we found one of our employees who has been riding both 10- and 11-speed groupsets for a while. Here’s his take on things.

I’ve been riding both 11-speed Campagnolo and 10-speed SRAM  for several years now, and I switch between the two often enough to be able to tell you there are some definite differences between 10- and 11-speed drivetrains. Generally, adding an extra cog means you have more gear ratios to choose from which can make your riding more efficient. But I’ve been asked to address the 6 most common questions we get about 11-speed, so here it goes. (And please remember, this isn’t a Campy vs. SRAM article– it’s 10-speed vs. 11-speed).

Is 11-speed less durable?

Answer: There’s not really much difference. I currently have about 2500+ miles on an 11-speed cassette and chain, and neither is worn out yet. I also have yet to break an 11-speed chain while riding. So far my Campagnolo chains and cassettes have lasted about as long as my SRAM 10-speed ones. I guess the thinner cogs and chains make people nervous, but I haven’t had any issues so far. I haven’t ridden the new Shimano stuff, but I’ve read that their new PTFE chain technology actually makes the chains stronger than their 10-speed chains.

Isn’t the shifting compromised?

Answer: Shifting performance isn’t really  affected by the addition of another cog. Aside from the different shifter designs, I have noticed very little, if any, difference in performance between 10 and 11. If anything the 11-speed shifting feels smoother and crisper than 10-speed. My 11-speed bikes do need to be put into the stand a little more often (about once every two weeks) for some basic rear derailleur adjustments, especially after high mileage weeks, but it’s a quick 2-minute cable tension adjustment, and that’s it.

Do you need new wheels?

Answer: Yes*. Contrary to what you read on many bike message boards, you do need a new rear wheel; the reason being that the new wider cassettes require a wider axle than a 9/10-speed wheel. If you look at an 11-speed wheel, the drive-side spokes are nearly in-line with the hub flange. I have converted a set of Mavic and a set of Reynolds wheels from 10- to 11-speed Campagnolo, but it was a pretty involved process and each conversion required the wheel to be re-dished and trued. And, of course, the manufacturer cannot guarantee how a wheel will perform with a converted freehub. Your best bet is to get a new wheel.

 *with the exception of Mavic wheels with an M10 freehub body, which technically should work with Shimano 11-speed if you leave off the Mavic spacer

Are 11-speed wheels less durable?

Answer: Maybe, but that kind of thing really depends on your riding style. For folks who really beat up on their wheels, you might notice a difference. I’m not very tough on wheels, and rarely need to have them trued, but I do have a set of 11-speed wheels that need to be trued more often than their 10-speed counterparts. However, I also have another set that has gone almost 2 years without needing to see the truing stand, so it’s hard to tell.

Is it worth it?

Answer: That all depends. In my experience, I love having the extra 11th gear. And yes, I definitely do notice that it’s not there when I switch back to a 10-speed bike. The biggest benefit to me is that the shifting is smoother and more progressive, since there are fewer big jumps in cog size. I don’t have to keep two different cassettes around anymore (one for the usual riding, one for climbing), since I can still have an 11-25 cassette, but with a 27t or 29t cog tacked on that makes it perfect for climbing as well. 11-speed cassettes also offer a bigger range of gearing options that make it easier to find that comfortable cadence in any variety of conditions, whereas when I switch back to a 10-speed bike, I sometimes struggle to find the right gear.

Why upgrade? Won’t they just go to 12-speeds soon?

Answer: Don’t quote me on this, but no, I don’t think they will go to 12-speeds any time soon. I know Tiso has a 12-speed gruppo out there, but they had to scrounge up some breathtakingly expensive stuff to make it work (i.e. all titanium cassettes), so I doubt it’s ready for mass market appeal. As you read above about wheels, it seems to me like 11 cogs are about as many gears as they’ll be able to cram into the standard 130mm rear spacing. To fit in any more gears without sacrificing wheel durability, I believe that road bikes would need to adopt the MTB standard 135mm rear spacing, and I don’t see that happening any time soon. But then, nobody really saw disc brakes for the road coming either, so anything is possible.

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

Spin Doctor Tech Tip: How to wrap road bike handlebars

Spin Doctor

Today’s Spin Doctor tech tip focuses on one of those basic components of your road bike, your handlebar tape – something that you touch every time that you go for a ride. If you don’t remember when the last time was that you replaced your handlebar tape, it’s probably time to go ahead and give your bars a fresh, new wrap. Nothing freshens up your ride like some clean tape, such as our Forté Grip-Tec Handlebar Tape seen here:

Mark, one of the Spin Doctors here at our home office, gives you the breakdown on how to do this basic bike maintenance task yourself. Soon enough, you’ll be wrapping handlebars like a pro – as an extra tip, most folks start to wrap their handlebars towards the inside of their bars (from behind this will mean clockwise on the left side and counter-clockwise on the right):

If you need more help with your bicycle repair needs, head to your local Performance Bicycle store and set up a visit with your local Spin Doctor.  Don’t live near one of our stores and need some technical advice? Get in touch with our Spin Doctor Tech Support team by email or phone – they are always ready to help with your technical questions.

Spin Doctor Tech Tip: Changing a bicycle tire & tube

Spin Doctor

For this week’s Spin Doctor Tech Tip, we’re going back to basics. If there is one skill that every cyclist should master, it’s changing a bike tire and tube. At some point you are going to get a flat or your tire will wear out, so being able to change these parts out yourself will save you both time and money. The best part is that it only takes a few minutes to master the techniques you need, and the only tools necessary are a set of tire levers and a pump (we’re big fans of our easy-to-use Spin Doctor Team HP Floor Pump).

Since it’s easier to demonstrate tire & tube changing when you can see the process in action, we put together a series of videos that walk you through the steps from start to finish. Even if you’re a tire & tube-changing veteran, it doesn’t hurt to watch a refresher course from our in-house Spin Doctor pros:

Changing a Bicycle Tire’s Tube

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Changing a Road Bike Tire

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Changing a Mountain Bike Tire

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Once you’ve become a master of the tire lever, you can test your new found prowess against the clock – but you’ve got some work to do if you want to beat this guy’s time:

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If you’re looking for more bicycle repair tips, head to your local Performance Bicycle store this Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 6:00 p.m. for our Basic Bike Maintenance Clinic. Our Spin Doctors will provide routine cleaning and maintenance techniques, expert tips & tricks, plus an overview of tools and gear every cyclist should have.

Don’t live near one of our stores and need some technical advice? Get in touch with our Spin Doctor Tech Support team by email or phone – they are always ready to help with your technical questions.

Spin Doctor Tech Tip: How to Adjust Front & Rear Derailleurs

Spin Doctor

Derailleurs… almost every bike has them, yet adjusting and installing these essential components still instills fear in many home bike mechanics. If you want to improve your derailleur-adjusting skills, head to your local Performance Bicycle store this Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 6:00 p.m. for our Derailleur Madness Clinic. Our Spin Doctors will provide expert advice on how to adjust, fix and maintain your derailleurs, plus an overview of the tools and products needed.

Spin Doctor P-Handle Hex Wrench Set

Don’t live near one of our shops? Pick up a set of hex wrenches (like our Spin Doctor P-Handle Hex Wrench Set) and a phillips-head screwdriver and queue up our handy How-To videos below. Each video offers a solid grounding in the principals and techniques you’ll need to get your derailleurs shifting smooth once again.

How to adjust a bicycle front derailleur:

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How to adjust a bicycle rear derailleur:

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Still need some help? Bring your bike by your local Performance Bicycle and let one of our Spin Doctor mechanics take a look, or get in touch with our Spin Doctor Tech Support team by email or phone – they are always ready to help with your technical questions.

Spin Doctor Tech Tip: Maintenance on the Fly

Spin Doctor

In a perfect world bikes would never get flat tires or need periodic repair. But the world is not perfect, and besides it’d get boring if there were no routes, roads or trails that challenged both rider and bike! Instead, dealing with the occasional mid-ride repair is part of the sport. But don’t fret, with a little know-how and the right tools you’ll be ready for just about any problem that comes your way. Here are some tips and tricks to assure you never (well, rarely, anyway) finish a ride by walking your bike back to the garage or local bike shop.

BEFORE YOU RIDE

It’s impossible to prevent all riding mishaps, but a little preparation goes a long way! Before each ride, complete a quick check of your bike and gear: squeeze the brakes and rock the bike back and forth to make sure the brake calipers are tight and that there is no play in the headset; check bolts for tightness (stem and seatpost in particular); look for any frayed brake or shifter cables; check pedals to make sure they are tightly fastened to the crankset (the right pedal tightens clockwise; the left pedal tightens counter-clockwise); lube your chain, then wipe away excess lubricant; check tires for wear, cuts, blisters or lodged glass; pump tires to the manufacturer-recommended pressure (you can find this info on the tire’s sidewall); if you use clipless pedals, check that your cleat bolts are securely fastened. If you notice anything wrong during your check, either fix it yourself or take your bike to your local Performance Bicycle store before your ride!

WHAT TO BRING ON EVERY RIDE

1. Seat Bag or Hydration Pack: To hold the gear below.

2. Tire Levers: Although if possible, install the tire using just your hands (since levers can pinch the tube).

3. Spare Tube: Patching tubes can be tricky.

4. Patch Kit: Your back-up plan.

5. Pump or C02 Inflation System: C02 systems are light and compact, but if you’re planning a long ride, take additional C02 cartridges or a back-up pump as well.

6. Multi-tool: These come in multiple shapes and sizes and configurations – know the bolt sizes on your bike and cleats and find a tool that has those (a tool with 4, 5 and 6mm Allen wrenches, plus flat and Philips head screwdrivers is a good start).

7. Spoke Wrench: These come on many multi-tools.

8. Chain Tool (also on many multi-tools): Broken mountain bike chains are not unusual, and even road chains occasionally snap. With a chain tool you can make a temporary fix to get you home. Don’t forget a replacement chain pin (Shimano) or a chain link connector (i.e. SRAM Power Link).

9. Tire Boot: A large cut in a tire’s sidewall can end your ride. Park Tool’s Tire Boot will adhere to the inside of the tire between the tire and tube to provide a temporary fix to a cut sidewall.

10. Cash: Call this the ultimate multi-tool – you can buy food and drinks, make a phone call if cell service doesn’t work, and even use a folded bill as substitute tire boot!

11. Other Essentials: Cell phone, ID card and any special medical alerts you may have.

FLATS HAPPEN

Whether you ride on the road or trail, you’re bound to get a flat tire once in a while. Make sure you’re comfortable changing a tube by yourself, so you don’t get stranded. Watch our handy How-To video below for a few tips (just remember that if you’re working on a bike with hydraulic disc brakes, never compress the brake levers with the disc removed, as this will push the caliper pistons inward and make it difficult to reinsert the disc).

And now a few IN-A-PINCH PRACTICES:

1. Got a flat and forgot your spare tube? Here are 2 emergency techniques to get you home:

Cut the tube at the puncture then tie it tightly back together. Stretch it into place, re-install the tire and inflate.

No tube, no pump? No worries! Pack your flat tire with as much grass and leaves as you can and pedal gingerly back to your car (this does work, for a little while)!

2. You ignored our suggestion to carry a tire boot and flatted when your tire sidewall got cut. What to do? Place a folded Power Bar wrapper or dollar bill, or a piece of plastic soda bottle between the tube and the cut, then carefully inflate the tire.

3. While shredding the righteous single track at Moab, you taco your front wheel and the tire is now rubbing on the fork. You’re not stuck yet! Remove the wheel from the bike and locate the apex of the bend. With the inflated tire still on the rim, strike the tire at the bend on a hard surface (that shouldn’t be hard to find in Moab). With care you can knock the wheel back into reasonable alignment (at least so it is not rubbing on the fork blades). If you have disc brakes, you are good to go. If you have rim brakes, disconnect them and carefully head back.

4. If you’ve broken a spoke, carefully remove it or, if necessary, wrap it around the nearest intact spoke on the same side of the wheel. Then true the wheel so it doesn’t drag on the frame or brake pads.

5. And finally here are a double speed and a single speed solution:

First, your rear derailleur gets destroyed on a rock. It has come apart and is unusable. Using a chain tool, you can rig your bike up as a single speed. Select a cog in the back that lines up with a ring on the crank. Usually the smaller rings in the front are better. Now cut the chain, drape it around the two rings you have selected, pull it tight and cut it again so the ends just reach. Reconnect it and pedal your new single speed the hipster way home.

Second, you are riding in the mountains and the rear gear cable snaps. The rear derailleur shifts to the highest gear so you and your bike grind to a halt. Are you stuck? Nope, screw in the “H” limit screw on the derailleur while turning the cranks. This will shift the rear derailleur to an easier gear. Continue tightening the screw until you have the easiest gear you can reach. Now pedal your semi-hipster, double-speed way back to the car.

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