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Cycling Questions

Questions and answers for the beginning cyclist.

A spoke broke on my bike. Can I fix it myself?

posted Jan 24, 2011, 8:26 AM by Michael Gardner

Yes, but you must have the specialized tools and knowledge to fix it your self. If you don’t, I would recommend taking your wheel to a bicycle shop.

What are clip-on aerobars and, are they worth getting?

posted Jan 24, 2011, 8:23 AM by Michael Gardner

Areobars clip on to your existing handlebar.  They position your arms for cycling long distances with less wind resistance.  But because you don’t have brakes on the aerobars, you must take extra care while using them.  To brake, you have to move your hands, so it takes you longer to stop.

(1) You rest your fore-arms on the aerobars, causing you to be more aerodynamic.
(2) Using aerobars puts you into a more comfortable position than using your drop bars.

(1) Brakes and shifters are on the handle bar, so you must move your hands to shift and brake.
(2) Aerobars are closer together, so you don’t have as much control, causing your front wheel to “wobble” back and forth while riding.  This wobbling can lead to accidents if you are riding close to another rider.

Ideal conditions for riding with aerobars: riding by yourself, on a long straight street or path that is level or slightly rolling train.

What is the average life span of road tires?

posted Jan 24, 2011, 8:21 AM by Michael Gardner

This is hard to answer because of the varying factors, such as: the weight of the rider, average tire pressure, the amount of hill climbing you do, and the condition of the roads you most often ride on.
Taking all that into consideration, the average life-span of road tires is about 1,500 miles.  You should Inspect your tires for wear before every ride.  The more miles you have on the tires, the more rubber that is worn off, and the flatter the surface of the tire where it touches the road.  Less rubber means the tire has less to protect the inner tube against punctures.  Flatter tires also have lower cornering ability and more rolling resistance.

Who makes the best road tires?

posted Jan 24, 2011, 8:11 AM by Michael Gardner   [ updated Jan 24, 2011, 8:19 AM ]

I personally use Vredestein, and everyone I have spoken to who has this brand thinks they are great.  They are not a “name brand”, and are therefore a little less expensive than other brands.  I use “Vredestein Fortezza SE”. 
Below is a poll on tire popularity from: Roadbikereview.com

  1. Michelin               28 %
  2. Continental          23 %
  3. Vittoria                  11 %
  4. Vredestein            8 %
  5. Hutchinson            7 %
  6. Specialized           7 %
  7. Bontrager               6 %
  8. Other                       5 %
  9. Veloflex                  3 %
  10. Kenda                     2 % 

Total Votes: 3,834

My chain makes a clicking noise, and sometimes when I shift, nothing happens. Why?

posted Jan 24, 2011, 8:09 AM by Michael Gardner

Your derailleur is not correctly adjusted. It needs a “tune-up”.

What is “fore-and-aft adjustment”?

posted Jan 24, 2011, 8:04 AM by Michael Gardner

Fore-and-aft adjustment of the saddle (seat), determines where you sit in relationship to the crank (the crank is what the pedals are attached to), if you’re not correctly positioned over the crank, you are not as efficient, and most likely not as comfortable as a cyclist who is properly adjusted.
Note: You must adjust the seat height first.

Should my seat be level or tilted?

posted Jan 24, 2011, 8:03 AM by Michael Gardner

You should adjust your seat to be level or slightly nose down.

Is it worth purchasing a helmet mirror?

posted Jan 24, 2011, 8:00 AM by Michael Gardner

It is a matter of personal preference.  Most cyclists don’t wear a mirror, but I have one and it works good.  Wearing a mirror allows you to keep an eye on vehicles or other cyclists behind you without turning your head thus keeping your attention on the road.

Do I have to keep pedaling WHILE I’m shifting?

posted Jan 24, 2011, 7:59 AM by Michael Gardner

Yes, it is VERY important to keep pedaling when you shift, or your shifter cable will snap.

How do I brake while going down a hill?

posted Jan 24, 2011, 7:58 AM by Michael Gardner

Here’s how to brake while going downhill: “massage” your front and back brakes, using your front brake slightly more.  But remember, don’t “lock up” you brakes, this will cause you to lose control of the bike.

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