71 Reasons We Love Cycling

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s Valentine’s Day, which means we want to give a special shout-out to our sweethearts, waiting at home for us to take them out for a nice evening. We’re speaking, of course, about our bicycles.

Whether you’re young or old, a seasoned vet or shopping around for your first bike, you’ll agree that there’s a million reason to love cycling, but we probably can’t think of them all ourselves. So help us out, what do you love about riding?

Here were our Top 71 Reasons To Love Cycling

  1. Unwinding from a long day
  2. Spending time outside
  3. Nothing makes you tougher than riding in bad weather
  4. It makes your legs look ripped
  5. Going farther than you thought possible with your own power
  6. Getting to tell other people “I rode here”
  7. Earning the descent by climbing up first
  8. The first day of the year when you don’t need arm or knee warmers
  9. Those conversations you can only have during a long ride
  10. Feeling dog tired and completely happy
  11. Achieving personal bests on long climbs
  12. Post-ride beers
  13. Trying to turn your significant other into a cyclist (your results may vary)
  14. New Bike Day
  15. The feeling of triumph when you fix your first flat
  16. Those days when you get on the bike and just feel strong
  17. The taste of a fizzy, sugary drink at the finish line
  18. Long, lazy evening rides
  19. Battling the elements
  20. Knowing, in your head, you are a 5-time Paris-Roubaix winner
  21. Having a whole other set of clothes just for cycling
  22. The sound of cycling cleats on coffee shop floors
  23. Passing all the cars stuck in traffic on your way to work
  24. Falling in the rock garden, then going back and nailing it
  25. Letting yourself get lost, and discovering a new route you never knew existed
  26. The feeling of freshly shaved legs
  27. Pre-race jitters
  28. The Zen of Bike Washing
  29. Discovering a new favorite gel flavor (here’s to you chocolate ClifShot)
  30. Riding with no hands
  31. That feeling of flying when you hit the right line on a descent
  32. Unzipping your jersey on a climb
  33. Picking out your favorite bottles
  34. Meticulously unpacking and repacking your hydration pack
  35. Driving home with a muddy mountain bike
  36. The first time you perfectly wrap your handlebars
  37. Learning to unclip without tipping over
  38. Charity rides: doing something you love for a good cause
  39. Secretly watching Le Tour on your computer at work, then minimizing it real fast when your boss comes to your cube
  40. Coffee
  41. Having a shed full of tools Bob Vila doesn’t know about
  42. Seeing things you’d never notice in a car
  43. Sunsets
  44. The agony and the ecstasy
  45. Managing to put on your rain jacket without stopping
  46. Sitting on the top tube at a traffic light
  47. Railing the berm
  48. Vowing to race ‘cross next year
  49. Telling everyone who will listen that you could have gone pro if you’d started earlier
  50. Ride mileage that gets longer with every retelling
  51. Having a rapport with your mechanic
  52. Checking the weekend weather forecast on multiple apps
  53. Driving to the ride
  54. Riding to the ride
  55. Post-ride meals that taste like manna from heaven
  56. Because some of my best thoughts have come while riding a bike
  57. The open road or the perfect trail
  58. Freedom
  59. Meeting new friends
  60. Spending time alone
  61. Learning how to fix it yourself
  62. Sharing tips with a new cyclist
  63. Talking about the ride after the ride
  64. Wearing spandex in public
  65. Losing weight
  66. Getting up before dawn to go for a ride
  67. Chasing the sunset on your bike
  68. Spring Classics
  69. Watching the Tour
  70. Zero emissions
  71. No gas, no parking fees, no insurance

And, of course, to find that perfect Valentine’s Day gift for the cyclist in your life (or your bike), you’ll find everything you need at Performancebike.com, or your nearest Performance Bicycle store.

Road Bike Party 2 Video

Martyn Ashton Road Bike Party 2

This doesn’t even look possible!

If you have yet to see the new Road Bike Party 2, featuring the amazing skills of trials-riding impresario Martyn Ashton and friends Danny MacAskill and Chris Akrigg, then you need to stop what you’re doing and watch it now! Even if you have already watched it, do yourself a favor and watch it again:

Despite suffering a serious accident in a trials-riding demonstration earlier this year that left him paralyzed from the waist down (covered in a very good article in Bike Magazine), Ashton was determined to finish this amazing movie as a testament to his will to recover and carry on with his life. His good friends, and equally talented riders, MacAskill and Akrigg, ably filled in for the injured Ashton to complete his vision. After you’ve watched the sequel, don’t forget to check out the original Road Bike Party:

And don’t miss the outtakes reel too, just to show that these guys are human, sometimes:

Wordless Wednesday

summer_rides

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.

Real Advice: 5 Reasons to Join a Group Ride

group_ride

Like most cyclists, when I first started riding, I rode alone. Since I wasn’t competing, racing or part of a club or anything, I would simply get on the bike when I felt like it and ride for as long as I wanted to. I would push the distances when I felt strong, and over the years, I developed a certain meditative joy in these long solo excursions. The freedom to let my thoughts wander, to let my legs dictate the pace, to go in which ever direction I wanted.

But as time went on I also became conscious of the fact that I wasn’t developing much as a cyclist, because, in short, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

My introduction to riding with a group came one summer evening when I timidly decided to join a well-known ride in my area. As much as I enjoyed my solo adventures, I wanted to start connecting with other cyclists. The entire day I worried about it. Was I fast enough? Were there some secret rules I didn’t know? Was my bike good enough? Did I have the right gear?

I worried I would be secretly judged, or dropped, or worse. In some ways, it felt like the first day at a new school. I almost backed out at the 11th hour, but I made myself go through with it, and in retrospect I’m glad I did. When I showed up, there were guys with much more expensive bikes, flashier kits, and legs that looked like they could dish out some serious hurt. But of course, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Everyone was pretty nice and I didn’t get dropped; nobody said anything about my bike or my kit or my helmet.

I showed up again the next week, and the week after, and had soon become a regular at the ride. And a funny thing happened. I began to develop more as a cyclist. Not only did I get faster, and develop more endurance, but I learned more about cycling. And, most importantly, I made some good friends that I started riding with outside of our group.

It’s not to say I don’t still love riding alone. I do. In fact, I eagerly wake up early on Sunday mornings for my long, solo ride into the country. But I still regularly show up to group rides to make some friends, push myself, and test my mettle.

For a quick guide to joining your first group ride, check out our article on Group Rides.

As a cyclist, whether recreational or competitive, riding with a group has a lot of benefits.

1.    You’ll Get Stronger: It’s almost a guarantee that many, if not most, of the riders in the group will be stronger, and you’ll have to push yourself out of your comfort zone. This leads to big improvements in your fitness.
2.    You’ll Learn More: Are you pushing too big of a gear? Not shifting in the right spots? Every group ride is full of riders who are eager to share what they know. Just try not to take offense, they’re just trying to help.
3.    You’ll Feel More Confident: You never know what you’re capable of until you try. Riding with a group will help you quickly master many of the complexities of cycling and be a stronger, more confident rider over all.
4.    You’ll Make Friends: Unless you’re that guy (and you don’t want to be that guy) that attacks when someone flats, you’ll probably make some pretty good friends on your group ride.
5.    It’s Fun: Sometimes riding can become a chore, especially if you always ride alone. Instead of always doing the same routes and struggling in the same spots, riding with a group can help spice up your riding life and give some variety to your cycling.

To find a ride in your area, contact your local Performance Bicycle store. All Performance stores have a Great Ride Series group ride at 8AM every Saturday morning, or they can help you find a ride suited to your skill and riding level.

Want more Real Advice? Click here to see more tips and tricks from cyclists just like you.

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

Real Advice: Bicycle Lights

NSP_3283

It’s getting to be about that time of year again, and the days are getting shorter. Believe us, we’re none too happy about it either. But just because daylight is in limited supply doesn’t mean you can’t get some riding in while the gettin’ is good. All you really need is some lights to help you see a little better and be more visible to cars and traffic. With the right lights, riding at night can add an exhilarating new dimension to familiar trails, help you extend your riding hours during the dark months, or make you feel safer on the roads.

Here’s some of their Real Advice when it comes to bike lights, courtesy of a daily commuter, a mountain biker with a fondness for night riding, and couple of roadies.

To learn more about the different types of lights, click here.

The Commuter:

One of our coworkers commutes about 12 miles on dark, unlit rural roads. There aren’t any street lamps along her route, so in addition to hi-viz, reflective clothing, she uses as many lights as possible to light her way and make herself visible.

  • Blackburn Flea 2.0 USB taillight: this rear light is very compact, lightweight, and incredibly bright with multiple flash modes. Plus, I can recharge them at my computer at work.

The Blackburn Flea 2.0 USB packs a big brightness to weight punch

  • Blackburn Mars 3 taillight: this is a very bright tail light. It has a different flash pattern than my Flea 2.0 taillight, which helps grab more motorists attention

The Mars 3 taillight is weatherproof, bright, and easy to install

  • CygoLite HotShot 2 Watt USB taillight: I have this light attached to the rear of my helmet, and I use it on its steady pattern instead of flash. The steady, high up light helps cars see me, even if their view may be partially obscured by the traffic in front of them. Like the Flea, this can be recharged on my computer at work.

The CygoLight HotShot 2 is ideal for all types of commuting

  • Blackburn Flea 2.0 USB headlight: I mount this lightweight, compact light on my left fork arm. It’s incredibly bright and has a very distinctive flash mode. Plus, I can recharge them at my computer at work.

The Blackburn Flea 2.0 can be recharged via USB and is incredibly bright

  • Axiom Flare 5 LED headlight: I mount this commuter headlight on my handlebars. It’s pretty bright, and has a great flash mode that augments the Flea 2.0. Plus, in a pinch it’s about bright enough to light my way if my headlamp battery dies.

The Axiom 5 is ideal for urban commuters, or as a secondary light on more rural roads

  • NiteRider Pro 1800 Race LED headlight: Without streetlights, you’d be surprised how dark the night can get. I use this light to illuminate the road in front of me. It has the added advantage of being as bright, if not brighter than, a car’s headlights—so it makes you pretty much unmistakable on the road. It has multiple settings, so you don’t burn through the battery or blind any motorists.

The NiteRider Pro 1800 Race puts out 1800 lumens, has multiple modes, and is ideal for rural commuting or mountain biking

The Mountain Biker:

Mountain biking is pretty big here near our offices, and hitting the trails at night is a favorite fall and winter past time. We asked one of the trail regulars at our offices what lights he uses on the technical, twisting trails in North Carolina to avoid accidents and safely navigate the trails.

  • Light and Motion Seca 750 Sport LED headlight: this light has a really nice, broad, diffuse beam pattern that gives some ambient light to the trail so you can see where you’re going. I mount this one on my handlebars so I can see where the bike is pointed.

The Seca 750 is ideal for night time mountain biking or commuting

  • NiteRider Pro 1800 headlight: This bad boy gets mounted on my helmet so I can see exactly where I’m looking. The tight, focused beam makes this light more like a spotlight that lets me look down the turns in the trails even if my bike isn’t pointed that way.

The NiteRider Pro 1800 Race makes an ideal spotlight when hitting the trails at night

The Roadies:

When heading out for some weekend road riding, it’s usually a good idea to bring a set of safety lights, even if you think you’ll be back before dark. They’re small, lightweight, and take just a few seconds to install. If they’re really heading out as it’s getting dark, they’ll usually opt for a setup similar to Mrs. Commuter.

Mr. Campagnolo:

  • Blackburn Click front and rear light: I really like these lights from Blackburn. They’re still small, but they are a little bulkier than most safety lights. But they make up for it by being much brighter than most. Plus, I like the attachment for the rear light since it faces directly backwards on the seatpost and doesn’t rub against my leg while pedaling.

The Blackburn Click fits easily a jersey pocket

Mr. SRAM:

The Axiom Zap fits easily into a pocket and is easy to install

Real Advice: Dressing For The Fall

Today we continue with our Real Advice series – hard-earned practical knowledge from real riders here at our home office. This week we hear from a team member who has a special fondness for some late season riding.

Boulder_Road_10-63

My favorite days to ride are October or November days when I wake up, look outside and see grey skies. Of course I love getting in some good riding in warm, sunny weather, but there’s something about the solitude of those overcast days that really makes me remember why I love this sport. Maybe it’s the loneliness of the road, maybe I ride better in lower temperatures, maybe I just really look forward to that post-ride pumpkin-flavored carbohydrate recovery beverage that’s only available at this particular time of year. Who knows. What is for certain though is that without dressing right for the weather, those rides would not be nearly so enjoyable.

When it comes to dressing for the fall, there are two things to keep in mind: layers and versatility. Dressing in layers not only helps keep you warmer by trapping air between the layers, but it also lets you more effectively manage exactly how hot you get by allowing you to remove layers as the day warms up. It also helps if your clothing options are versatile, and able to be combined in different ways to adapt to the conditions. It’s not unusual for me to start off a fall ride at 6AM dressed in several layers of clothes, only to return home at 2 in the afternoon in shorts and jersey with my pockets stuffed with warmers and jackets.

So, if you’re ready to get on the fall riding gravy train (with carbon fiber wheels, of course), then follow this handy dandy guide to dressing for the fall.

DRESSING FOR THE FALL

1.    FALL ESSENTIALS:

  • Shorts and Jersey: I continue to ride in my usual bib shorts and short sleeve jerseys well into the fall. When combined with the below listed items, this is the foundation of a versatile riding kit that can adapt to almost any weather condition.
Shorts and jersey are a good foundation for the fall

Shorts and jersey are a good foundation for the fall

  • Base Layer: invest in a long and a short sleeve or sleeveless base layer. Base layers are worn under the jersey (and under bib straps, if you wear bib shorts) and add an extra light layer that can help keep you warm, while moving sweat away from your skin—essential for hot or cold weather. I personally prefer merino wool base layers for fall riding, since they keep you warm, but won’t make you overheat if the day ends up warmer than you think.

A base layer will help keep you warm and wick away sweat

  • Arm and Knee/Leg warmers: warmers are usually a better option this time of year than long sleeve jerseys or tights. Good ones are usually just as effective as tights or a long jersey, but they have the added advantage of being removable as the day warms up—plus they roll up small enough to be stuffed into a jersey pocket for storage
Arm, leg or knee warmers can keep you warm and are easily removed if you get too hot

Arm, leg or knee warmers can keep you warm and are easily removed if you get too hot

  • Vest: a good wind vest is essential for this time of year. It helps keep your core warm, and most of them will block the wind pretty well. If you’re really pushing it hard, you can always unzip a bit to get more air moving. Like warmers, these have the advantage of being removable and low bulk, so they can be easily stored in a pocket if necessary.

A wind vest will help keep your core warm

  • Long Finger Gloves: For most riders, long finger gloves are essential. Cold fingers become stiff and lethargic, which is bad news since as cyclists we depend on our fingers to operate the brakes and shift mechanisms, so keeping them warm is essential. Don’t go for heavy insulated gloves or ones with WindStopper material though, as these are usually too warm for this time of year, and you’ll just end up with sweat-soaked gloves that may chill your fingers even more.

Full finger gloves help keep your hands warm in cool temperatures

  • Headband: On very cold mornings I like to start off wearing a headband. The headband keeps your ears and forehead warm, while still allowing heat to escape through the top of your head. As an added benefit, when it’s time to remove it, the headband is so small you almost won’t notice it in your pocket.

A headband helps keep your ears and forehead warm on cold mornings

  • Toe Warmers: I reserve these for only the coldest mornings. As the name implies, these are little half booties that go over the ends of your shoes to help add insulation to your toes. Again, once these are no longer needed, they can removed and stowed in a pocket. If you’re like me and have toes that, once cold, will never warm up no matter what, you may want to try oversocks, which are just like normal regular socks, but tougher, that you wear over your shoes to help them hold in some extra warmth. 

Toe warmers add some extra warmth to your feet on the coldest fall days

2. PAY ATTENTION TO THE WEATHER: Remember that cloudy days will be colder than sunny ones, and windy days will be colder than calm ones. It’s also a good idea to check the entire forecast for the day—or at least the next few hours. Dress appropriately for the weather, but if you’re unsure what to for given conditions, then check out this cool app from Bicycling Magazine.

3. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR BODY: After I get dressed for a ride, I like to go stand in my driveway in an area exposed to the wind for a minute or two and see how I feel. On a cold morning you should start off feeling slightly chilled, but not cold. If you’re shivering, then you don’t have enough clothes on, so go back inside and add a layer. If you feel nice and toasty warm, that’s pretty much a guarantee you’ll be roasting within the next 20 minutes, so you could probably stand to drop a layer or two. During your ride it can sometimes be tough to know when it’s time to pull over and take off a layer or two. Surprisingly, your ears will generally be the best indicator of how hot you’re getting. If your ears start to feel warm or hot, then it’s time to either unzip or shed a layer.

4. BRIGHTEN IT UP: My favorite kit color is black, and I make no apologies for it. During the fall though, I realize that just isn’t practical or safe. The days are shorter, and drivers are more distracted with leaves and stuff, so it’s more important than ever to stand out while on the road. I personally opt for a fluoro yellow wind vest, and leg and arm warmers with plenty of reflective accents on them. You don’t necessarily have to go fluoro, but choosing a bright color like red, blue or yellow will help you be more visible to passing cars.

5. ROLL WELL STOCKED: Speaking of shorter days, you need to roll prepared when you ride in the fall—especially if you’re going solo. I always stuff a set of safety lights in my jersey pocket, even if I plan on being back before dark. A good set, like the Blackburn Flea 2.0 combo are lightweight and very bright. Also remember that there are fewer cyclists on the road, so there are fewer people who can help you if you are having mechanical problems. Make sure you have a flat repair kit and multi-tool, and you know how to use them. 

Real Advice: Wheels

Today we continue with our Real Advice series – hard-earned practical knowledge from real riders here at our home office. This week Brian, a member of our content team, is going to share with you some thoughts on wheels.

wheels

Several years ago, when I got my first carbon fiber road race bike, I was so amped. It had SRAM 10-speed Rival on it, a full carbon frame and fork, and a carbon seatpost. I’d even splurged on some carbon fiber bottle cages. In those days, this was some pretty heavy artillery to be bringing for the level of racing I was at. Admittedly, I didn’t know an awful lot about bikes at the time, and I hadn’t ridden the bike much before the race. All I knew was I had the latest and greatest carbon 10-speed stuff, while most of those other chumps were rockin’ alloy 9-speed gear. According to all my mental math, I was already standing at the top of the podium.

When the race started, everything seemed to be going fine. I rode well and felt strong. Until I got out of the saddle at speed or tried to sprint in the drops. Every time I did, I could hear the rim hitting the brake pads with every pedal stroke, shedding speed and momentum. When I leaned into a corner, the rims squealed against the brakes the entire time, slowing me down drastically, and I watched furiously as other riders flowed past me, despite me having the extra 10th gear.

After the race, I was fuming. I had just spent all this money on a carbon fiber frame that I believed to be about as stiff as a wet noodle. I ranted to another rider about how flexible the frame and fork were, and how poorly the bike had performed. The other (more experienced) rider took one look at my bike and said simply “dude, it’s not your frame—it’s your wheels.” I did the next race on a borrowed wheelset that proved him right.

For most riders, whether you race or not, wheels are the most overlooked and important upgrade. It’s incredibly tempting to upgrade your bike with the newest drivetrain, or all the carbon fiber you can find. While the performance gains you get from those parts are significant, they still pale in comparison to investing in a great set of wheels. Among the many improvements you’ll get will be stiffer rims, lighter weight, improved handling, and greater aerodynamic performance. But before you buy, here’s a quick guide to help you find the wheels that are right for you.

 

  1. What kind of wheels do you need: The first step to buying new wheels is ensuring they will work with your equipment. It may seem like a wheel is a wheel, but asking a few basic questions can help you get it right the first time.
    • Does your bike have rim or disc brakes? If disc brakes, what kind are they?
    • How many speeds is your drive train (ex: 11-speed cassettes usually require 11-speed freehubs)?
    • What brand of drive train do you have (SRAM, Shimano, Campagnolo)?

    These DT Swiss XM 1650 MTB wheels will work with center-lock disc brakes, Shimano cassettes, and tubeless tires.

  2. Know what you want: Few wheels can really be placed in the do-it-all category. Knowing what you want to get out of your rides can help you narrow things down.

    A pair of lightweight alloy clinchers, like these Easton SLX wheels, can shed significant weight from a bike, making them ideal for climbing

  3. Alloy vs. Carbon: This one is entirely up to you, and a full discussion would be another blog post, but here’s a basic breakdown:
    • Alloy wheels are usually more durable, less expensive, and offer better braking performance, especially in wet weather, but tend to be heavier and less aerodynamic than carbon wheels
    • Carbon wheels are much lighter, aerodynamic, stiff, and (according to some) cooler looking than alloy, but are also much more expensive. Carbon road wheels also can have diminished braking performance, especially when wet (this isn’t a problem with MTB carbon disc brake wheels)

    Carbon wheels, like this pair from Reynolds offer significant aerodynamic and weight savings

  4. Tubular vs. Clincher vs. Tubeless: These are the three basic types of bicycle wheels, and each have their pros and cons.
    • Tubular wheels require tubular tires (tires with an inner tube sewn inside) which have to be glued onto the rim. They are very lightweight, and offer unsurpassed road feel and cornering abilities, but they require a special technique to mount and may be difficult  to change if you flat on the road.
    • Clincher wheels are the most common, and use a tire with a separate inner tube that hooks onto a bead on the rim. Clincher wheels are very convenient for most rides, since it’s very easy to change a flat, and some of the best clincher tires approach the road feel of tubulars. The drawbacks are that clinchers are often heavier than tubulars, and if the tire is under inflated or flat it can sometimes roll off of the rim.
    • Tubeless wheels are quickly becoming de riguer on mountain bikes, and are finding their way onto the road. Tubeless wheels require the use of special tubeless tires and use no inner tube. The bead on both the rim and the tire is made very tight, so as to make an airtight seal when inflated. The benefits of tubeless tires are legion, specifically that they virtually eliminate the chance of flatting. The downside (for the road at least) is that they are the heaviest type of wheels.

    These Reynolds Assault CX tubulars are perfect for cyclocross season

So there’s a basic breakdown of wheels. For a little more information on other upgrades you can make, check out this article in our Learning Center.

What Would You Do With $1,000?

We all have a dream cycling list in mind. Whether it’s the carbon fiber-everything bike we’ve been eyeing for months, some new clothes, or the ultimate upgrade kit, there’s something that every cyclist dreams of having. For a limited time, we can help you make that come true when you enter online for your chance to win a $1,000 shopping spree at Performance Bicycle.

When word about this contest got out around the office, it got us thinking about what we would do with $1,000 to spend at Performance. We asked some folks  and got some pretty interesting answers.

So how about it? What would you spend $1,000 Performance Bucks on? Tell us in the comments section.

Ben from our bikes division is clearly already looking forward to the start of CX season:

Ben's 'cross-inspired picks

Ben’s ‘cross-inspired picks

Johnny, one of our in-house product developers, has had the chance to test out a lot of the latest and greatest mountain bike equipment. Here are some of his favorites:

Johnny's picks for mountain biking

Johnny’s picks for mountain biking

Robert the copywriter is getting ready to head out for some bike touring this fall. Here is some of the gear he’s going to be taking with him (this is also some great stuff for commuting):

roberts_picks

Robert’s commuting picks

Kyle, who’s one of our designers, is a pretty dedicated tri-guy. When you’re doing three sports in one day, having the right equipment is important. Here’s some of his favorite triathlon stuff:

-OR-

Kyle's picks for triathlon

Kyle’s picks for triathlon

Erik, one of our buyers, is kind of our go-to in-house authority on all things road racing. Here’s some of the stuff he finds essential for training and racing:

Erik's picks for road racing

Erik’s picks for road racing

For your chance to make your own dream cycling list come true, make sure that you enter now!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 150 other followers

%d bloggers like this: