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.

Going The Distance: A Guide To Long Distance Cycling

Riding a century is one of the most challenging, and rewarding, things a cyclist can do

Riding a century is one of the most challenging, and rewarding, things a cyclist can do

 

Long distance cycling is some of the most challenging, and rewarding, riding that a cyclist can do. Nothing compares to the feeling of satisfaction of setting yourself a goal that seems difficult—if not impossible—and reaching it, exhausted, tired, but full of pride.

Everyone’s definition of what a long ride is will be different, but for the sake of making this easy, we’ll say a long ride is 100 miles, a type of ride also called a century. It sounds daunting—and it is, but there are few things as defining and rewarding for a cyclist as riding your first century.

But before you start thinking “how hard can it be?”, and go off to jump on your bicycles, bear in mind that long distance cycling puts unique demands on your body, and it’s something you need to work up to and prepare for.

 

So here are some tips for that first big ride—whether it’s the first century you’ve ever done, or if you’re just putting in some base miles for the season ahead.

 

1. Work Up To It

First things first, you need to make sure you’re in shape to ride this kind of distance. Just hopping on your bike and trying to set out to ride 100 miles without any preparation is not a smart thing to do. Set a date on the calendar at least 6-8 weeks in advance (if you’re doing an organized ride, then you’ve already got a timeframe to shoot for), and do multiple weekly rides, trying to increase your mileage by 10-20% every week (depending on your fitness level).

 

2. Plan Your Route

You should have a definite route set before you head out the door. Even if you have a GPS or a smartphone, make sure you bring a cue sheet so you can always find your way back. Also ensure that your route will include plenty of places to stop and top up on water, pick up some food, use the bathroom, and just get off the bike for a few minutes. Ideally, your route should include a rest stop every 20 miles.

If you’re a little uneasy about getting stranded in the middle of nowhere if you bonk or have a mechanical issue, try finding a 20-30 mile loop near your home that you can ride repeatedly. This way if something goes wrong you can always make sure you can get home.

Lastly, plan a “B” route that will get you home faster in case of a mechanical problem, bad weather, or an emergency.

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A GPS computer like this Garmin 810 can help you stay on your route

 

3A. Have The Right Gear

Depending on your speed, riding 100 miles means you can be on the bike anywhere form 4-8 hours. That’s a lot of time for the weather to change or something to go wrong. Always make sure you have the follow with you when you set out on a long ride:

Remember though that tools are useless if you don’t know how to use them. Before you set out, make sure you know how to repair a flat tire, fix a broken derailleur, or adjust loose brakes. To learn more about basic bike maintenance, check out the How To page on our Learning Center.

Commuter Kit (carried in messenger bag): Tire lever, multitool, patch kit, spare tube, pump

A comprehensive tool kit, like this one, can save you some trouble down the road

3B. Pick The Right Clothes

This also isn’t the ride to wear your “B” gear. Wearing the shorts with the ok-but-not-great-pad, a pair of ill-fitting shoes, or a jersey that is either too thin or too warm will have you hating life somewhere around mile 55, if not sooner. For your big ride, break out your best shorts, favorite jersey and make sure your shoes fit properly. You’ll thank yourself later.

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Choosing the right clothes, like the Performance Ultra shorts and jersey, can help make the miles a little more comfortable

 

4. Fuel Up

Inadequate fueling is the biggest reason most failed attempts at a century ride don’t succeed. You need to start eating before you even leave the house, with a good breakfast that includes plenty of carbs and protein. The second you get on the bike and start riding, start eating. Gels and chews are essentials to bring, since they pack plenty of energy in a small package. But you also want to avoid having a belly full of nothing but sugar, so ensure you’re eating real food too, like bananas, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, crackers, and other high-energy, easy to digest foods.

You also need to make sure that you are drinking. Drink one bottle of plain water the first hour, then a bottle of hydration mix the second hour. Keep alternating water and hydration mix every other hour.

If you find yourself cramping, that’s usually your body’s way of telling you you need more salt, so make sure you pack some chews (Clif Shot Bloks margarita flavor is a delicious choice) or other snack with plenty of sodium.

And the biggest thing to remember: bring twice as much food as you think you’ll need.

For more tips on cycling nutrition, check out our guide.

Picking the right nutrition items, like these salt-filled energy chews, will help keep you fueled up and avoid cramping

 

5. Sit Up and Stand Up

Most professional riders can spend 6-7 hours on the bike no problem, but they’re getting paid to suffer like that. When riding a century, make sure you take plenty of stops to stand up, get off the bike, walk around a bit, and stretch. This will help restore blood flow, stop muscles from cramping, and help you feel better during the day.

You also don’t have to hammer all day. Riding a century is more about your ability to endure than to go fast. Take it easy, spin in an easier gear than normal, and really take the time to enjoy the sights you’re riding by.

Check out this article to learn more about preventing fatigue.

 

6. Mentally Prepare

There’s no two ways about it, no matter how fit you are, riding 100 miles is tough. You need to mentally prepare yourself for the inevitable aches, pains, and defeatist thoughts that are going to come to you. Things are going to get sore, weird muscles are going to cramp up, you’ll be riding into a bad headwind at some point, and you’ll probably reach some dark places where you think you can’t do this. You may even get chased by a dog or two.

Just remember that this happens to everyone, and our minds and bodies are much more resilient that we give them credit for. Riding through those aches and pains and low moments are part of what makes riding long distances so rewarding—overcoming our own perceived limitations and doing things we thought were impossible.

 

7. Don’t Go It Alone

What’s harder than a century? A solo century. Being alone with your thoughts for 100 miles can undo even the hardest of cyclists. If you have other friends who ride, see if anyone is up to going for the 100 with you. Not only will it be fun to get out and train together, but doing a long distance ride is much easier when you have someone else with you. You can talk to each other to take your mind off the miles, help keep each other motivated, and draft off of each other if the wind picks up. Plus, in case of an emergency you’ll have someone around who can get help if needed.

 

Riding with a friend is a good way to help the miles go by a little easier

Riding with a friend is a good way to help the miles go by a little easier

 

Have you done any long rides lately, or do you have any planned? Do you have any tips or tricks that we missed? Let us know in the comments section.

3 Tips For Getting A Friend Into Cycling

 

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We all know how awesome it is to be a cyclist—but sometimes it’s nice to share the love. Many cyclists have tried valiantly over the last century or so to turn their friends and loved ones into members of our community, with varying degrees of success. It can be done, but it needs to be done with care—push it too hard, and it could backfire.

Here are a few simple tips to help get your loved one into the 2-wheeled lifestyle.

 

1. Keep It Accessible

There’s nothing cyclists love more than geeking out about gear and numbers—but you want to avoid making things sound harder or more complicated than they really are. Keep it simple, easy, and accessible.

Here are some common errors to avoid:

  • Resist the temptation to go all-out with gear, and focus more on what they want instead of what you think they need. Example: if they don’t feel comfortable in lycra cycling wear, try turning them onto more relaxed gear like apparel from Club Ride or Performance.
  • Don’t push them into getting a super aggressive or racy bike (at least not at first). The bike they pick should be one they like and feel comfortable on.
  • Don’t push the use of clipless pedals, aerobars, or other things like that at first. Wait until they get more confidence on the bike.

As they get more into it, hopefully all that stuff will come with time. But to start, just keep things simple. Here are a few additional tips, from our Learning Center.

 

Casual cycling apparel offers many of the performance benefits of lycra gear for the beginning cyclist

 

2. Make It Fun

Don’t just get them hooked up with a bike and a helmet, and expect them to go out and ride. When you’re just getting into cycling, it helps to have someone who can encourage and guide you on your journey. Ride together and get out and have fun. But tread carefully here, my friend.

If you try and drag your friend or significant other on long rides or push the pace too hard, you risk making them think cycling is too hard. You want cycling to be remembered as something fun and a respite from every day worries, not something that they had to suffer through.

Try picking short scenic routes or a bike path to start with, and ride at a pace where you can talk and hold a conversation. If you find yourself unconsciously pushing the pace harder, try riding in the little chainring, which will act as a hobble and prevent you from riding too fast.

 

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Remember to have fun out there. Organized events and fun rides, like charity rides or fund raisers, are a great way to introduce new riders to the sport.

 

3. Prioritize Safety

Even if you get everything else right, it will all be for naught if your your new cycling buddy doesn’t feel safe on the bike. And feeling safe on the bike is very important. While most experienced riders have the bike handling skills and experience to ride in traffic with cars zooming by, it can be a scary experience for newer cyclists. To start, pick routes with little traffic and lower speed limits, or head for the bike path. Also try riding during off-peak hours, so there will be less traffic. And remember, if they express any concerns or fears, don’t scoff or dismiss them as unfounded. Try and accommodate their concerns as much as possible, so they’ll have the confidence to go riding again.

For more information, check out our article about riding defensively.

Riding on a bike path or low-traffic street is a good way to help beginner cyclists feel safe

Riding on a bike path or low-traffic street is a good way to help beginner cyclists feel safe

 

Did we miss anything? If you have any tips for helping someone get into riding, feel free to share in the comments section.

Training With Power

Over the last few years you have probably heard a lot about power meters and how cyclists are using power to train. We all know that cyclists produce power when we ride, but why is that useful to us? As an everyday cyclist, why is power important? And, most importantly, what is a power meter?

What Is Power?

Power is a measurement of the work the cyclist is doing, and it’s measured in watts. Power meters use small sensors called strain gauges to measure the amount of power, or watts, you’re putting into the bicycle to make it move forward. The sensors send this information to your cycling computer, which gives you a read out of your power stats. There are a few different kinds of power meters, and each have their pro’s and cons.

Power Meters

  • Real Wheel Hub Power Meters, which place the strain gauges in the driveside of the rear wheel. Generally this is the simplest type of power meter to install and use, since all you have to do is replace the rear wheel. They are fairly accurate, but generally can’t give you some of the finer points of power measurement, like if you’re generating more power with your right or left leg.

Rear wheel power meters, like our exclusive PowerTap G3 Reynolds Assault Wheelset, are an easy and convenient way to add a power meter to your bike

  • Crank Power Meters, which place the strain gauges on the crank spider. These power meters are a little trickier to install, since they involve replacing the entire crankset and sometimes the bottom bracket. They are also more expensive, but some experts argue that they give a more accurate picture of power output, since they are closer to the source of the power output (your legs) than the rear wheel.

A crankset power meter like this one from Quarg is a great way to add a highly accurate power meter to your bike

  • Pedal Power Meters, which place the strain gauges in the pedal spindles. These are probably the most accurate power meters available, since they can measure directly how much you’re pushing and pulling with each foot—and they can also tell you if you’re power output is unbalanced. Another advantage is you can swap them from bike to bike or travel with them fairly easily.

Pedal-based power meters, like the Garmin Vector, are the most versatile and portable way to get power readings

Why Is Power Important?

Power is important because it gives a more dependable measure of your fitness and your ability. Average speed is ok, but it’s too dependent on variables like wind, how hilly your route is, etc… and doesn’t really tell you how hard you’re working. Heart rate is fine, but again it’s too subject to variables. Don’t believe us? Try strapping on a heart rate monitor and then think about your heart rate. We’ll guarantee you it goes up. Heart rate also doesn’t really give you a complete picture of what’s going on, since a high heart rate doesn’t always translate into increased work. This isn’t to say that these training tools are without value. Heart rate and average speed are both very valuable indicators of your fitness, and have a place in any cyclist’s arsenal. But unlike these other, more mercurial, measurements, power is a raw measurement of how much energy you are putting into the bike at any given moment. Even if it’s a terrible day, with the wind against you, and some vicious hills that produce an average speed that makes you want to hang your head in shame, you will still get consistent power readings that will tell you the true effort you were putting into the bike.

Training With Power

Training with power is also an improvement over old methods, because it yields more consistent results. You can’t really train to lower your heart rate—it just happens as a natural byproduct of becoming more physically fit. But you can train to improve power. Training with power opens up a whole can of worms that will be the subject of future blog posts, but there’s some rough things to know.

When training with power, there are generally two important numbers to look for:  maximum power output and maximum sustained power output. Maximum wattage output is a measure of your all-out, everything you got power. Generally, you can’t sustain this for more than a few seconds—think the end of a sprint. This is the maximum amount of power you are capable of transmitting into your bike. The second number, maximum sustained power output, looks at how much power you can put out for a prolonged period of time. Generally riding at this threshold should be uncomfortable, but doable—think slogging up a long hill or mountain. There are specific tests you can do to find out each number, but we’ll get into that in another post.

No matter how long you’ve been riding, or what your end goal is, a power meter is the best way to help you improve your training. We have plenty of options for you to choose from, and for almost any budget.

6 Ways To Stay Warm on Cold Rides

Well, it’s happening again. We’re getting all hunkered down for Winter Storm Pax or whatever they’re calling it. Like the rest of our area of the country, we’ve gotten hit with the Storm of the Century, although we’re pretty sure we just had another Storm of the Century like two weeks ago or something. At this point, we’ve spent more days on the trainer than we care to admit. As much as we love the focused and intense workouts that you get on a trainer, sometimes it’s just good to get outside. Which we did, and we felt all kinds of tough too. It’s not often you get to ride in the snow in North Carolina.

Here we are, on the run from the Toughness Police

Here we are, on the run from the Toughness Police

But if you’re like us, you’re probably about ready to get outside too. Well, don’t let the weather keep you in, because with the right clothes and some smarts, you can get out and enjoy some outdoor riding in any temperatures. For more ideas on how to prep your bike for the weather, check out this article we did a while back.

1. Layer Up:

Dressing in layers can help you effectively control your body temperature, manage moisture buildup, and stay warmer. Up top, start with a base layer, then a jersey, then a jacket. For colder weather, you can try adding a second baselayer. On the legs, try using tights that don’t have a chamois, so you can wear them over your favorite shorts for an extra insulating layer. You can also wear knee warmers under tights on extra cold days.

What we wear (30-20 degrees): Sleeveless baselayer, heavy-weight long sleeve base layer, soft shell jacket, bib shorts, Windstopper bib tights, wool socks, shoes, overshoes, neck gator, winter hat, heavy insulated gloves, thin liner gloves

With the right clothing, riding in snowy, cold weather can be more fun than it looks

With the right clothing, riding in snowy, cold weather can be more fun than you think

2. Mind the Fingers and Toes:

Nothing ruins a long ride quicker than cold fingers and toes, or worse, sodden layers. Try wearing thin liner gloves inside your insulated gloves, and wearing thinner socks with overshoes. Liner gloves will provide an extra insulating layer and help absorb sweat. Thinner socks will help keep the blood circulating to your toes in cold weather, while the overshoes provide the main insulating layer. If it’s really cold, as one of our readers suggested, try wearing toe covers underneath your overshoes, or layering your overshoes for more warmth. If you’re out on the road though and find your feet are getting too cold, try stopping at the next gas station or fast food place you pass and ask if they have any tinfoil. In a pinch you can use it wrap your toes for some extra warmth.

Yes, the foil wrap looks a little goofy. But you'll have the last laugh when you can still feel your toes.

Yes, the foil wrap looks a little goofy. But you’ll have the last laugh when you can still feel your toes.

3. Keep Dry:

No matter how cold it is outside, you’re going to sweat when you ride. Try carrying a spare baselayer, gloves (or glove liners), and hat in your pocket. You can change them when you stop to use the bathroom or top up your bottles, so you’ll be able to get back on the bike feeling warm and dry. And always, always, ALWAYS carry a packable wind/rain jacket. If the weather takes a turn for the worse, it can save you a lot of misery.

Even a lightweight jacket like the Louis Garneau Super Lite jacket can offer crucial protection if the day gets colder than you planned. Plus, it packs up tiny enough to easily fit in a pocket

4. Hot Bidon:

If you’ve got some insulated water bottles, try filling them with a warm drink, like herbal tea or Skratch Labs Hot Apple and Cinnamon mix. Sometimes a warm drink is just what the doctor ordered.

Keep this warm in an insulated bottle, and you'll be toasty and hydrated

Keep this warm in an insulated bottle, and you’ll be toasty and hydrated

5. Eat Up:

When you ride in cold weather, your body is not only burning calories through exercise, but also to keep warm. This means you’ll probably need to eat more than you normally would to keep up with demand. Make sure you bring plenty of energy dense food with you.

Energy dense foods, like Clif Bars, are essential when riding in cold weather.

6. Take Breaks:

Even the hardest of hard men need to get out of the cold sometimes (see Milan-San Remo 2013). It’s important to take regular pit stops to get out of the cold and warm up for a bit. You’d be surprised at the difference a cup of coffee and ten minutes in a gas station can make.

So how about it? What did we miss? Let us know in the comments section.

Survive The Polar Vortex(es): 6 Tips For Cyclists

Polar Vortex II got you down? Trust us, we understand. Our North Carolina office has been inundated with snow, ice and single digit temps that make riding hard. We can only imagine what it’s like further north. The weatherman says that it should be clearing soon– but we’ll believe it when we see it. To keep from getting some serious cabin fever, we’ve had to get creative to keep on form and having fun, despite all the craziness outside.

Here are some of the tips we’ve come up with.

Snow biking puts a new spin on old trails, and is a great way to spice up your riding routine.

Snow biking puts a new spin on old trails, and is a great way to spice up your riding routine.

1. Snow Biking:

If you’ve got a mountain bike or a fat bike, consider hitting the trails for a little outside fun. We went out yesterday on the Charge Cooker Maxi for a bit and it was awesome, if a little cold (more on that later…). Just make sure to bundle up and keep warm. It’s cold out there.

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When the temps go south, trainer time tends to go up. Just make sure to structure your workouts to get the most out of your time.

2. The Trainer:

If you’re more of the roadie type, then throw that bike in the trainer and get spinning. Need some motivation? Consider listening to music or watching a movie to end the monotony (last night we watched Top Gun while riding the trainer and sprinted every time a plane took off—it was exhausting).

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Cross training, such as weight lifting, running, or yoga is great way to improve your performance on the bike

3. Cross Training:

Go for a run, hit the weights, go cross-country skiing, try some yoga or just do some stretching. Remember that taking time off the bike can be as important as time spent on the bike. Taking a day or two to strengthen non-cycling muscles, work on flexibility, or core activation can have big rewards later in the year.

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Knowing how to properly fuel your workouts is very important. This recovery meal provides a good mix of carbs, protein, simple sugars, and malted recovery beverages.

4. Make A Good Meal:

Or better yet, make yourself a meal plan. It’s easy to put on a few pounds over the winter, but making a meal plan and sticking with it is one of the easiest way to make sure you’re adequately fueling your rides without taking in too many calories. Plus, it’s a great way to score points with your significant other.

Cleaning your bike is a great way to prolong the life of components and ensure it's ready to ride next time

Cleaning your bike is a great way to prolong the life of components and ensure it’s ready to ride next time

5. Clean Your Bike

If you haven’t done this in a while, give your bike some serious TLC.

Taking two or three days off can actually make you faster by allowing your body time to recover

Taking two or three days off can actually make you faster by allowing your body time to recover

6. Take a Day Off:

There’s nothing wrong with taking the occasional day or two off. In fact studies show that if you’ve been riding hard, taking two or three days off will actually make you faster by allowing your body to recuperate. If it’s too cold or snowy where you live, don’t feel bad about putting in some serious couch time to watch a movie, read a book, catch up on Downton Abbey, or spend time with the fam.

Cycling Classes – What Do You Need To Train Inside?

Some Performance stores host indoor cycling classes

Whether you’re a dedicated cyclist or not, indoor cycling classes have plenty to offer for everyone. For the casual cyclist who’s looking to do some cardio work, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more intense—or fun—workout . It’s especially beneficial if you have bad knees or are nursing an injury, since cycling is a no-impact sport. For cyclists, indoor training classes are an excellent way to improve power and stamina, as well as a fun group event that can spice up your training and help pass the winter months.

Some Performance Bicycle stores host free weekly indoor training classes. After business hours, the store staff will set up stationary trainers for everyone who shows up for a fun, indoor group ride. All you need is yourself and your bike, and the store staff will take care of the rest. If you’d like to know more, you can contact your local Performance store for more details. If you’re a member of a gym, they may also offer indoor cycling classes (sometimes called Spin ® classes) in special studios equipped with stationary bikes. Sometimes they may feature coaches that you push you to ride harder, local DJ sets, or movies. But as with any exercise activity, showing up ready with the right equipment will enhance your experience.

While technically you could jump into any indoor cycling class with standard running apparel and shoes, a few small upgrades will help you get the most out of your experience. Two things in particular will really boost your experience – cycling shoes, and cycling shorts.

Indoor cycling classes are great way to get in shape, have fun, and meet fellow cyclists

95% of indoor cycling bikes have pedals that use 2-bolt style cleats. This means you can pick up a simple pair of cycling shoes and cleats to attach your feet to the pedals (temporarily). Using clip-in (called clipless) shoes and cleats will give your legs a more complete work out and make staying on the pedals during hard intervals a piece of cake. Check out the Pearl Izumi X-Alp or X-Road shoes . These look like casual shoes but perform like a good pair of mountain bike shoes. The best of both worlds!

Shoes like the Pearl Izumi X-Alp Road shoe look like casual tennis shoes, but have a mount for cycling cleats in the sole

Once you find the pair of shoes that’s right for you, you’ll also need cleats. Cleats are typically sold with pedals as each pedal design uses a different type – but you can easily pick up some cleats on their own to match the pedals you will be using. If you’ll be using a stationary bike at a gym or fitness studio, it would be best to double check with your indoor cycling instructor as to which type of cleats your indoor cycling bike will accept. As mentioned, the vast majority of indoor cycling bikes use 2-bolt, SPD style cleats such as these. Don’t forget to buy the cleats or the shoes will just be for the looks. To learn how to mount the cleats, click here.

Most stationary bikes will have a mechanism for SPD-style cleats on the pedals. Clipping in will drastically increase your pedaling efficiency.

The second thing you’ll need to purchase is a simple pair of cycling shorts (click here for baggy shorts, or here for lycra shorts). Simple cycling shorts have a slim pad called a chamois that will help sitting on the bicycle seat be more comfortable. A cycling chamois will also wick away sweat (don’t wear underwear under your cycling shorts). A great place to start would be the Performance Nevado shorts, available in both men’s and women’s. These shorts provide the benefits of cycling shorts with a baggy outer layer so they don’t look like cycling shorts. The added comfort will help you stay on the bike seat longer and the more you ride, the more fit you will become.

Shorts like the Performance Nevado have a “baggy” outer layer, with a removable lycra liner with a chamois pad for increased comfort

Another great benefit of cycling shorts like these is that once you’re ready to take your newly formed cycling legs out onto the open road, you’re already partly outfitted. These shorts and shoes will work as well outside as they do in the indoor cycling studio, giving you the same increased comfort and efficiency on the road as they do in the classroom.

If you’d like to do your own version of an indoor cycling class at home, then a stationary trainer is a great option. A stationary trainer is like a treadmill for your bike. There are a few different models to choose from (you can learn more here), but they all provide a pretty good workout. If you want to do your class in your own basement or TV room, a stationary trainer is a great option. For more advice on training at home, check out our article on the Performance Bicycle Learning Center.

A stationary trainer, like the Elite Qubo, can turn any room into your house into a personal home gym.

Choosing the Right Chain Lube: Which Is Right For You?

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Picking the right chain lubricant can be one of the more frustrating things you’ll do as a cyclist. There’s a million different types to pick: dry lubes, wet lubes, biolube, waxes, spray on, drip on, poly grease, cable lube, etc… The list goes on. And let’s not even start on all the manufacturer proprietary technology. So what’s the best kind of lube?

Well…that’s really going to depend on what kind of riding you do, and what conditions you ride in.

Different chain lubricants are designed for different environments—because what may protect a chain or drivetrain component in one climate may actually do harm in another.

Before we delve into the different types of lubricants, let’s get two things out of the way:

1. Most chains will come pre-lubricated from the factory. In the old days, this lubricant was merely a rust inhibitor, and cyclists were advised to first remove the grease before installing the chain. Modern chains, however, are a different story. The grease that comes on modern chains is a far superior lubricant to any that can be applied by the user. DO NOT remove the factory grease from a new bicycle chain (although it’s ok to wipe off any excess) until it’s time to really clean the chain. Most factory grease applications are good for several hundred miles.

2. CAUTION: Do not ever, ever, for any reason apply standard WD40, motor oil, or bike poly grease to your chain. Ever. Standard WD40 does contain a light lubricant, but unless it’s applied after every ride it will end up drying out and stripping your chain. Motor oils contain detergents that will corrode your chain and destroy your cassette. Bike polygrease is intended for parts like bolts, pedal spindles and seatposts. It is a high viscosity grease that will completely clog your drivetrain and ruin your nice, expensive bike.

So, now that we have that out of the way, let’s delve into the different types of lubricants.

Wet Lubricants:

Wet lubricants are ideal for wet, muddy conditions

Wet lubricants are ideal for wet, muddy or snowy conditions when rust is the main concern. Wet lube, as the name implies, will stay wet on the chain, instead of drying. It has a medium viscosity, so it’s thick enough to stay on the chain, but thin enough to really soak into all the nooks and crannies to coat all the moving parts. Wet lube forms a protective barrier that prevents moisture from penetrating into your chain and forming rust in between the rivets. Wet lubricant is not advised for dusty conditions, as dust will stick to it and turn your greased chain into a belt sander. Also be advised that wet lube tends to collect a lot of dirt and debris as you ride, so it’s important to A) only use it when conditions warrant, and B) clean your chain often when using wet lube.

Wet lube can also be used for other moving parts on the bike to keep them free of rust and improve performance. Places where it is commonly applied are the rear derailleur pivot points, front derailleur spring, and brake pivots.

For directions on application, click here.

Best for: cyclocross, urban riding, winter cycling, wet climates, long term bike storage

Dry Lubricants:

Dry lubricants are the way to go for everyday riding

Unlike wet lubricants, dry lubes usually consist of a wax-like substance suspended in an alcohol-based solvent. About 3-4 hours after you apply the lubricant, the solvent will evaporate, leaving your chain with a light waxy film. Always make sure you allow sufficient time for the lube to dry before riding. The biggest advantage of dry lubricant is that it won’t collect dirt or dust as you ride, but it doesn’t inhibit rust as well. But for dry, dusty, or otherwise pleasant conditions, dry lube is the way to go.

For directions on application, click here.

Best for: road cycling, mountain biking, dry environments, summer riding

Spray vs. Drip:

Chain lubes generally either come in a spray can or a drip bottle. Which you use is up to you, but they both have their advantages and disadvantages. Spray-on lubricants are very fast and easy to apply, but they can be messy and make it difficult to be thorough. If you’re using a spray-on lube, it can be difficult to keep your frame, wheels, and brake rotors clean.  Drip on bottles on the other hand, make it easy to ensure that each roller and rivet has been lubricated and they are virtually mess-free. The downside is that, compared to spray on lube, it can take longer. In the end though, it all comes down to personal preference. Around these parts, we generally use drip bottles when we’re at home or in the shop, and spray-on lube when we’re at races or on the road.

Hot Wax Bath:

Hot wax is usually considered to be the gold standard of chain lubricants, since it nearly recreates the original factory grease of the chain. To apply hot wax, the chain is usually removed from the bike, and then soaked in a tub of hot wax, which completely coats the entire chain in a completely protective coating. This type of lubrication, however, requires special equipment, a lot of know-how, and quite a bit of patience. If you’ve got the time and gear though, a hot wax dip is legendary for improving chain function and prolonging wear-life. NOTE: while an excellent way to lubricate your chain, hot wax doesn’t particularly last very long and may require frequent re-applications.

So Which One Is Right?

Wet lubes are best for winter riding conditions, both on and off road

Well, we’d have to say that for this time of year (winter in the Northern Hemisphere), if you live in 90% of the U.S., you should be using a wet lubricant on your chain to protect it from the wet roads and corrosive salts you’re likely to encounter. For those folks living in Arizona, Nevada and other desert states, you can probably get away with using a dry lubricant, but remember to apply it more often than you would in summer.

But no matter what type of lubricant you use, there is nothing that will protect your bike indefinitely. It’s important to clean your bike thoroughly, especially if you’ve been riding in bad weather or after roads have been salted, and do preventive maintenance and check chain wear. If you’re the type that doesn’t ride all year, or that hangs up the race bike until Spring, then remember that your bike should be cleaned and well oiled, greased and lubricated before being put up for storage.

2013 Year in Review – From Cyclocross Worlds to How to Climb

While we’re already looking ahead at 2014, but as we close out 2013 we wanted to take a moment to look back at some of the best stories and posts that we’ve shared throughout the year – we’ve got even more planned for the coming year, so stay tuned!

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Real Advice: Commuting by Bike

Our coworker Aaron’s story of his 20 mile commute struck a chord with many of you out there – check out the comments for tales from fellow commuters.

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Fuji Pro Bikes at the 2013 Amgen Tour of California

In May we were lucky enough to catch a few stages of the Tour of California, where we got an up-close look at 2 very different professional rider’s Fuji bikes.

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Event Recap: 2013 UCI Cyclo-Cross Worlds

Of course we weren’t going to miss seeing the very first Cyclocross World Championship held on US soil – we summed up the craziness in this post from a very chilly and wet Louisville, Kentucky.

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Cycling First Aid Essentials – What to Pack

We don’t like to think about, but riding bikes means that sometimes we’re going to crash. Our first aid essentials for cyclists post covers the basics of what to carry to be prepared.

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Our Take: 10-Speed vs. 11-Speed

If there’s one post that generated much heated discussion, it was definitely our take on the 10 vs. 11-speed debate – you might be surprised by what we have to say!

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Real Advice: How to Lock Your Bike

There aren’t many worse feelings than having a bike stolen – our Real Advice column breaks down a robust locking strategy to make sure that it won’t happen to you next time.

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Real Advice: An Intro to Climbing

If there’s one thing that most of us would like to do better, it’s learning how to improve our climbing skill – it turns out that it’s not as hard as you think.

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Real Advice: Weight Loss

One of the great side effects of a love for cycling is being able to maintain a healthy weight – but another one of our Real Advice posts covered some straightforward tactics to help you keep the pounds off.

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Real Advice: Wheels

Another great conundrum of cycling – what upgrade provides the best bang for the buck? It’s no secret – we think that it’s all about the wheels.

The Scattante CFR Race

Product Profiles: The Scattante CFR LE and Scattante CFR Race

Finally, we profiled some great gear this year as well – including the latest iteration of our always popular Scattante line of road bikes.

Fit Into Your New Kit: 6 Steps To Keep Off The Holiday Pounds

See this? Don't be tempted by this.

See this buffet? Don’t be tempted by this buffet.

This is the toughest time of year to be a cyclist. Not only is the weather absolutely atrocious (I’m looking out at a rainy day with temps in the 30′s), but this is also the time of year when, due to a mixture of holiday festivities and inactivity, the svelt waistline you worked on all year long will slowly disappear, leaving your pants tighter and setting you up for some hungry months ahead.

Before we start dispensing the tips, it’s important to admit that you can’t have you cake and eat it too (no matter how delicious it looks). If you are serious about heading into 2014 without loosing a lot of fitness and  a bigger waist, you need to keep your eyes on the goal, and moderate yourself even when those around you get fully into the spirit(s) of the season. Here are some tricks and tips to get you through these next few weeks.

  1.  KNOW YOUR ENEMY: As with all things, it’s easier to combat your enemy if you know what it is. And this holiday, just like every holiday, your enemy goes by the names of Alcohol, Parties, and Idleness.
    • Alcohol: We’re all adults here, and as adults we can all admit that sometimes adult beverages get the better of us during the holidays. And, as we all know, alcohol is a quick way to pack on the pounds. The first thing to do, obviously, is make smart choices. That glass of eggnog or that bread-in-a-bottle winter ale ain’t gonna do your belt line any favors. Pick  drinks that are lower in calories like light beer, red wine, or spirits. It’s also important to remember the three simple rules: 1. Eat before you drink; 2. pace yourself with no more than one drink per hour; 3. after every alcoholic drink, have some water. The reasons you’ll want to do this are directly related to number 2 on this list, and that’s that you don’t want your inhibitions to be lowered. If you drink on an empty stomach or have a little bit too much, that buffet line will become more and more enticing until it becomes irresistible.
    • Parties: Even with a sober and clear mind, holiday parties can often be the downfall of even the most iron-willed among us. Office parties, friend’s parties, family parties and the like mean that cyclists the world over are facing down plates full of cookies, cakes, and a buffet full of delicious snacks. You need to really commit yourself to making healthy choices here. Even the most indulgent parties will usually provide healthier alternatives like fruit, vegetables and hummus, or lighter snacks. If you don’t think there’s going to be one, then bring one as a contribution to the buffet or party platter. Not only is it polite, but it also ensures you’ll be able to stick to the plan. And, when all else fails, and you simply must have a sweet, try to hold off until right before you leave. Sugar acts on the brain much the same was as cocaine, and leaves you physically craving more. If you can hold out until the bitter end, it increases the odds of you having only one helping.
    • Idleness: No matter how much you resist the caloric temptations you’ll be presented with, it won’t matter much if you let yourself slip in the exercise department. We know it’s tough though. The roads are bad, it’s dark, and family and travel place a huge demand on your time (Thanks to the American divorce rate, I myself will be attending three Christmas celebrations in two states– neither of which I live in). But it’s important to remember that exercise doesn’t necessarily have to be done on the bike. This holiday, while traveling, I booked myself into hotels with gyms and have set the goal of running on the treadmill or lifting weights BEFORE I head over to the family. Promising to do it afterwards is setting yourself up for failure, and we all know it. Even if you aren’t staying in hotels, ask family members if they can get a guest pass to their gym, or try to sneak out for a run before the festivities really get going. It’s a good way to take some time for yourself and refocus on the year ahead.
  2. STEP ON THE SCALE: It’s scary, it’s tough, and you may or may not like what you see. But stepping on the scale regularly has been shown to help people both loose weight and keep it off. Don’t be discouraged if your weight fluctuates a little bit every day. That can happen depending on how much salt you’ve eaten, how much water you drank, etc.. But if you see a general upward trend in the numbers, that should start the alarm bells ringing, and give you the prompting you need to start making some healthier choices.
  3. WEAR YOUR KIT: Even if you aren’t riding, put your kit on regularly. It seems silly, but again, research has shown that this helps keep you accountable. Thanks to how tightly cycling clothing fits, its a good barometer of how you’ve been eating lately. Don’t laugh, but I always bring one with me when I travel over the holidays, and I put it on every morning to remind myself of what’s around the corner, and to stay focused on my bigger goals instead of the immediately gratification that a cookie (or seven) will bring.
  4. DON’T SIT NEXT TO THE SNACKS: While sitting around the television or fireside, don’t sit next to the bowls of nuts or plates of snacks. It’ll be too easy to find yourself mindlessly eating, whether you’re hungry or not. If you do find yourself situated next to a bowl or platter, you can simply move it away from you under the pretext of making it easier for everyone else to reach.
  5. ENJOY YOURSELF: Pick one day where you decide that it just really doesn’t matter. Sometimes it can be difficult to watch family and friends feast with impunity while you pick at some celery and carrot sticks. It can wear down your will, and make you miserable. So pick one day to just go for broke, whether it’s Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years, whatever. This can help keep you motivated, and give you something to look forward too. Just be careful to remind yourself that it is only one day. The next day, you’re back on the program.
  6. ONLY WHAT YOU LOVE: Don’t feel like you have to eat it just because someone pushed it in front of you. Indiscriminate eating is a good way to end up consuming way too many calories. Pick the foods you really love, and stick with those. You’ll feel better and more satisfied at the end of the meal. Eat slowly and really enjoy the food. This has the twin benefit of not only delivering some tasty satisfaction, but eating slowly also signals your brain to release hormones that tell you when you’re full.
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Good luck everyone. You’ll need it.

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