Museum Night Update
Hey, thanks to everyone who came to our ‘90’s themed museum night. You folks were really generous, and we’ll be handing $300 and a whole pile of food over to PAWS this week.
Museum Night Update
Hey, thanks to everyone who came to our ‘90’s themed museum night. You folks were really generous, and we’ll be handing $300 and a whole pile of food over to PAWS this week.
Join us Saturday evenings this winter for a little bike history.
On December 2nd, January 20th, and February 24th from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Jeff and Paul will lead some bicycle history talks with demonstrations and some hands-on displays. There will also be snacks and refreshments. We use the December night as a fundraiser for the PAWS animal shelter, so please bring pet food and/or a cash donation.
December 2nd ”The 90’s”. Wow, where has the time gone? Some of the bikes and technology that we’re going to show off will seem like they’re still current, but most of it has been gathering dust for twenty years now. Mountain bike suspension, hydraulic braking and elaborate new shifting systems were invented in the ‘90’s. New materials came into play, aerodynamics became a design element, and Paul worked on the international racing circuit in the ‘90’s (so there are lots of stories to tell).
We’ll have a couple of special guests. Logan Owen, who was born in the ‘90’s, is now a racer with the Cannondale-Drapac team. Kiel Reijnen, who learned to ride a bike in the ‘90’s, races for Trek-Segafredo. They should have some great bike racing stories.
January 20th: ”The Jazz Sport ” will showcase the racing bikes, the craftsmen, the atheletes and their stories from the early part of the last century.
We’ll have bikes on display that were raced in Madison Square Garden to the cheers of capacity crowds.
February 24th: Chilly Hilly Eve, theme yet to be determined
Those of you who have been to our store know that we’re about 100 feet away from the Harbor Square wine shop.
Well, one day after work Jaime and Paul stopped by the wine shop and did a little bit of tasting…
We like Washington wines (buy local!) and the wine shop proprietor Jeff brought out some great ones. From the St. Hilaire winery in West Richland we found a favorite. One thing led to another (as it often does when you are sampling multiple bottles of wine) and we found that we could adopt the blend and call it our own. So here it is: A classic 2016 vintage red wine.
A glass or two will be just the thing after a long ride on the Kitsap Peninsula. Celebrate a great day out on the road (or in the woods), or drown your sorrows after flatting a brand-new tubular tire.
This “Classic” wine is a medium-bodied blend that pairs well with pasta, we have tried it alongside a menu of lighter Spanish tapas and it was excellent with the wood-fired pizza from Bene (on Hildebrand Lane).
Combine a glass with Clif bars or to wash down Gu packets at your own discretion.
How can a bike shop be selling wine? We can’t. We don’t have a liquor license, so you’ll have to walk down the sidewalk and make your purchase at the Harbor Square wine shop.
Enjoy with friends, neighbors, riding partners and local bike mechanics.
Makes a great gift for the bike rider who has everything. Also makes a great gift for the bike rider who wants everything that you can’t afford. Bottles are only $15.
Not wanting to sound like they were rewarding casino employees or gang members, they have since changed the name. The award is now named something a little more self explanatory, and apparently we have just earned the distinction.
Classic Cycle is one of America’s Best Bike Shops.
Hat trick! Now three years in a row! 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Back in June we were proud to be visited by one of the sharpest writers and funniest comedians in the two-wheeled world (a dubious distinction for certain).
Here in his own words and photos, we present to you BikeSnobNYC’s Bainbridge sojourn:
Back in June I went on a teeny little mini micro-tour of the West Coast in support of my new book, which I chronicled in a series of critically-acclaimed “Road Jernel” posts:
Buy a copy, you won’t regret it–or at least I wont, because each copy sold brings me that much closer to buying the swimming pool of my dreams:
And if I write another book maybe I can even get a yard to put it in.
Anyway, since my tour took me through Seattle–the emerald in the soggy crown that is the Pacific Northwest–this afforded me the opportunity to finally visit Classic Cycle on Bainbridge Island, whose ad has adorned the right-hand margin of my blog for quite some time:
Naturally the occasion of my visit to this august institution warranted its very own post, and this is that post.
So let’s begin.
On the morning of my visit I awoke in Portland, where I rode to the train station:
Rolled my bike right onto the Amtrak Cascades:
And at high noon I arrived at King Street Station in Seattle, where a very short ride took me to the ferry terminal:
And there I waited beneath the not-exactly-awe-inspiring yet perfectly adequate Seattle skyline, which at that moment was glistening beneath an improbably blue sky:
I had plenty of time to admire it too, because the boat had to swallow what seemed like a thousand cars before a person in a safety vest finally waved me on as a palate cleanser:
By the way, if you’re heading over to Classic Cycle from Seattle, make sure you get on the Bainbridge Island ferry and not the one that goes to Bremerton, which I’m told is a mistake people sometimes make:
You’ll know you got on the boat to Bremerton if, when you get off on the other side, it looks like this:
And the closest thing to a “bike museum” you’ll find is this:
Just kidding. For all I know Bremerton is lovely–though it’s more fun to think of it as an abject hellhole, and that’s what I’m going to do until I see it with my own eyes.
Anyway, I did manage to get on the right boat–which I attribute less to my navigational savvy and more to the giant sandwich boards that said “BAINBRIDGE ISLAND” complete with directional arrows that were all over the ferry landing–at which point a crewmember instructed me to tie my bike to the railing:
This caused me considerable anxiety, because as a terminal landlubber I don’t know the first thing about nautical knots. Should I make the “buntline hitch?”
Or perhaps the trusty “double overhand stopper?”
Alas I had no idea, so I just went with a simple “dog owner running in for a cup of coffee” knot and hoped the thing wouldn’t roll out to sea. (I never did see that dog again.)
Soon Seattle was receding in the distance:
So I abandoned my tentatively-moored bike to its fate and made my way to the business end of the boat (or the “bow” for all you Boat Freds) to do some sightseeing. Upon my arrival I found some of my fellow passengers bravely fighting the powerful wind and marveling at what I assume are the Olympic Mountains in the distance:
“I’m king of the FREEEDS!” I shouted:
Then I headed back to the other end of the boat (that’s the stern, I was clearly ready to become a sailor now) and shot Seattle another parting glance:
And then I headed to the galley for a snack:
Alas, the pretzels were not ready:
Which was too bad, because we were almost at Bainbridge Island:
When you disembark from the ferry at Bainbridge Island all you’ve got to do to get to Classic Cycle is walk straight and then hang a right, and if that’s too hard for you there are also more sandwich boards to point you in the right direction:
And before I knew it there it was, the object of my quest, proud but welcoming and wearing a hat made from condos:
At this point you may be wondering whether Classic Cycle is a bike shop or a bike museum, and the answer to this is an emphatic YES. For while it is indeed your full-service friendly neighborhood bike shop, it is also a living shrine containing a fascinating array of cycling artifacts:
As well as a velvet painting of human rights paradigm Eddy Merckx:
Indeed, when you step into Classic Cycle your eyes will practically spin around inside your head at an incredibly high cadence–not all slow like if you were pushing this gigantic chainring:
Furthermore, no matter where your eyes finally do alight you will find something engrossing:
And seemingly every cycling discipline, era, and region is represented:
Indeed, if you’re a lifelong bike lover there’s undoubtedly something in here that will stir some long-dormant longing from your childhood, and for me it was this green Haro Master in mint condition:
Bernard Hinault’s jersey may have been hanging right beside it, but that was just a run-of-the-mill schmatta next to the bike of my adolescent dreams.
Alas, while I did have a Haro, it was merely the modest FST model:
One can imagine how much more successful I’d have been in cycling and in life if only I’d had access to the Master.
Of course, anybody can fill a building with a bunch of old bike stuff and call it a museum, but what makes Classic Cycle’s museum truly great is:
1) The exhibit is incorporated into the merchandise, so it feels less like a museum and more like the world’s most interesting bike shop;
2) The delightful curatorial flourishes of Paul (co-owner, along with Jaime), seen for instance in his presentation of this azure relic:
Which sports a notable accessory:
And of course Classic Cycle is a living, breathing bike shop (one of America’s best according to the National Bicycle Dealers Association) as well as a museum, but even in that respect there’s a sense of history, for in addition to new bicycles they also sell restored and/or updated classic bikes:
Not to mention the finest in cycling literature:
I can only hope that one day I too warrant such a lengthy disclaimer:
In any case, my visit to Classic Cycle was over far too soon, for I had to return to the mainland. But if you find yourself in Seattle and you don’t make a side trip to Bainbridge Island to visit the bike museum then you should probably spend an hour our two staring into a light box because you may already be experiencing the first symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Just make sure to brush up on your knots first
Sign the guest book if you go, and tell Paul and Jaime I said hi.
For more of BikeSnobNYC, check out his blog here:
The Gear Grinders mountain bike club is having a fundraiser.
They’re screening the movie “Unreal” at the Island Center Hall on Miller Bay road. The doors open at 6:30, the film starts at 7. We have seen this movie, and it’s an all-ages appropriate mountain biking action film (think Warren Miller ski movie) with thrills, spills and chills.
Tickets are $13 for adults, $9 for students, and there is a silent auction for some great stuff that night as well.
Island Center Hall is located between High School road and New Brooklyn on Miller Bay road.
Kiel Reijnen, one of the little goofballs in our cycling club, just got called up to the big leagues.
By signing a two year contract with Trek Factory Racing, Kiel will see the start line at the grand tours, all of the spring classics (not just Milan-San Remo, which he has raced twice now) and he will have a good shot at making the next Olympic team.
Kiel is a good sprinter, best suited to uphill finishes and smaller groups (he’s a similar rider to Peter Sagan, albeit with a little less horsepower). Kiel will likely be given protected status on his team in smaller stage races, the Ardennes Classics, and transitional stages in the Gran Tours. The rest of the time he’ll be tasked with making it into breakaways and running back and forth between the caravan and the peloton as a “bottle boy”.
Way to go Kiel, all of those rides up and over Baker hill finally paid off.
May is bike to work (or school) month. A month not specific enough for you? O.K. The 15th is bike to work day. Now get out of your damn car and pedal to work.
We’ve heard all of the excuses why you can’t ride your bike. For one day out of the year, let’s hear some excuses why you can’t possibly drive to work (or school). I’ll start:
I can’t drive because it’s too expensive.
I can’t drive because parking is impossible.
I can’t drive because I’m getting out of shape.
I can’t drive because of the extra ferry wait.
I can’t drive because it’s too close to home
I can’t drive because it leaves me out of touch with the world around me.
I can’t drive because it’s dangerous, and I know someone who got hurt in a car crash.
I can’t drive because it’s hard on our infrastructure and bad for the environment.
Pick a couple of reasons not to drive this one day, and share them with us. By the way, we want some pictures of everyone riding their bikes to work (or school). Post a picture on our Facebook page, email one to us, or bring one in to the shop, and we’ll give you a new multi-tool or an inner tube for your effort.
If your job happens to be riding a bike (I’m talking about you, Kiel Reijnen), just ride your bike to the store.
These days, modern engineering greets us every time we walk into a local bike shop. Steel tubing is a rare sight compared with the amount of carbon fiber littered about the showroom floor. Bikes utilize hydraulic fluid to activate disc brakes, and modern suspension keeps the tires on the trail. Once clunky mechanical contraptions, derailleurs are now sleek and smooth, some with battery-operated electronics controlling the action. These days you can get a couple dozen gear choices all operated by push buttons. Ever wonder how we arrived at this point? Let’s take a look at the technological progression bicycle derailleurs have made over the decades.
In the beginning, bikes were direct-drive and the only way to get a different gear ratio was to change the size of the wheels. One gear dictated the action, but since the days of the high-wheeler it was obvious that a single gear was less than ideal when faced with big hills or stiff winds.
The earliest multiple-gear bicycles usually employed flip-flop hubs with two or three cogs, or internal gear boxes in the rear hub or the bottom bracket shell. These designs still survive a hundred years later, but have never offered much gear range, and they sure don’t offer the visual fun that external derailleurs give us.
Devices we would recognize as derailleurs really started to appear in the 1930′s. Two popular shifters were the Vittoria Margarita and the Osgear. The Osgear, fully known as the Constrictor Osgear Super Champion was named after the designer Oscar Egg, a famous Swiss-French cyclist from the era. The system was light yet sturdy, and fairly simple to operate. Fitted to the chainstay was a cable operated guide arm that moved the chain right or left across three sprockets. A tension arm near the crankset took up the slack of the chain, and a guide-loop of metal on the tension pulley kept the chain from coming off.
The Vittoria Margerita was a simple and wonderfully designed Italian system from the same era. In order to use the gears, the rider would simply reach down to the lever and move it forward, releasing some of the chain tension. Next, he would back-pedal while pushing on the chain with his right hand. The chain would jump to the next cog over, and then the rider would take the slack back out of the chain by moving the lever rearward again.
Early race organizers worried that wide variations in equipment would skew the results of their events. Single-speed bikes were standard equipment at the Tour de France until 1937, when teams with derailleur systems were allowed to compete.
The Osgear and the Margerita look exotic and still don’t seem that familiar to us. The 1940′s saw the development of derailleurs like those from Simplex, Cyclo and Conloy, and in these systems we see steps toward modern parallelogram designs and controls that use a single shift wire. These devices seem kind of similar to what we have today, but some like the Conloy only had a single pulley, so the total gear difference could only be about six teeth.
In the middle of the last century there were a few missteps as well as leaps forward. One of the goofier ideas was the Trivelox shifter, a derailleur that operated by pulling the freewheel cogs side-to-side under a stationary derailleur. If you can imagine holding a pen over a piece of paper, and writing by moving the paper underneath it, you can understand the limitations of this system. The more gears the Trivelox was asked to shift between, the wider and heavier the rear wheel had to become. Campagnolo also had the bike world take a technological step backward in the late 1940′s with their Cambio Corsa and Paris-Roubaix “suicide shifters”. To use these shifters, you flipped a lever on the seat stay that disconnected the rear wheel (while the bike was moving). The chain was then pushed onto the next cog over with a guide lever, and then the rider would re-tighten the lever to secure the rear wheel. The first version, the Cambio Corsa, had two levers managing this action, and care had to be taken not to lose the wheel out of the dropouts. The later Paris-Roubaix version operated everything with a single lever, and some refinements made this system slightly safer. In both of these systems, long serrated dropouts would keep the rear wheel aligned while the shift was being completed, and rearward force on the wheel would keep the chain tensioned. To anyone who has dropped a chain while shifting their modern bike, it is understandable that these systems required quite a bit of finesse to operate.
Derailleurs that came out in the 1950′s look pretty close to what we see today. Some popular ones, like the Simplex Touriste, had two cables to operate the derailleur. On this derailleur you’ll see a steel pull chain (like on a 3-speed hub) actuating a telescoping pulley arm. A second cable rotates the pulley arm, fine-tuning the chain tension. Derailleur pulleys were still smooth and round in the ’50′s, and didn’t acquire their toothed profiles until the 1960′s. Typically derailleurs like the Simplex could handle 4 or 5 cogs on the back wheel with a 12 tooth spread. Rod-actuated front shifters (reach down the seat tube by your water bottle to operate them) managed chainrings with a range of just a few teeth.
The 1950′s and 60′s brought us Campagnolo’s Gran Sport and Nuovo Record derailleurs. Popular for decades due to their smooth shifts, good durability and light weight, Campagnolo’s beautiful derailleurs have become icons in our sport. It’s easy to know these were hits, as typing “Campy derailleur tattoo” into an image search engine will yield lots of results. Reliable shifting systems like these also meant that road bikes became known as “10 Speed bikes” in popular vernacular during the ’60′s and ’70′s as gear capacity expanded.
Positron indexed shifting came out in the ’70′s. The predecessor to Shimano’s Indexed Shifting (SIS) system of the late eighties, it was the first good “click” shifter. Shimano built the freewheeling mechanism into the crankset, so you could shift gears anytime the bike was moving, not only while you pedaled. This feature made Positron pretty heavy, and use was limited to lower-level utility and sport bikes, not racers.
In the 1980s, Shimano took over the bike world with click shifting and Shimano Total Integration (STI) levers, which moved the shifters up to the handlebars where we could reach them. This idea kept a rider’s hands on the bars, and was a stroke of genius that made road cycling safer, more fun and certainly faster.
Mavic unveiled the first commercially viable electronic derailleur in the ’90′s with their Zap system. The Zap derailleur received signals from battery-powered buttons on the handlebar, but the spinning upper derailleur pulley generated the juice to move the chain. When Zap worked, it worked perfectly. Unfortunately, it wasn’t protected from water and vibration all that well. Today’s electronic shifting builds upon Mavic’s foundation. Shimano’s Di2 and Campagnolo’s EPS derailleurs add automated front derailleurs and give us push button, customizable gear shifts across a wide range of gear ratios.
In the early days, a cyclist was lucky to get more than three gears. The difference between a low and a high gear could mean only a few teeth on a chain ring. Today you can get a bike with 30 “speeds”. We have electronic derailleurs from Japanese and Italian companies as well as”infinite” ratio hub shifting systems and computer-controlled automatic shifting. We take indexed shifting for granted, and demand that controls are placed right at our fingertips. All of this precision is expected today, along with knee-friendly gear ratios spanning dozens of chainring teeth. Times, and gears, change.
Different kinds of bike nerds obsess about different things these days. Road riders can talk about their wattage for hours. Mountain bikers can’t seem to shut up about wheel size. Cyclocross riders, having settled the disc brake discussion now give their full attention to their other favorite topic: Tires.
Forget carbon fiber. The real miracle material for cross bikes is rubber. Pick the right tires, and your bike will hook up in corners and shed sticky mud. Choose poorly and you’ll slide through that same corner or get bogged down by mud-packed tread.
In cyclocross, you’ll be obsessing about tire choices all the time. Most likely, you’ll have multiple sets of tires. You’ll have tires for dry, hard-packed courses. Tires for soft, muddy conditions. Puncture-resistant road tires for doing the work-week commute. There’s a lot of nuance to all of this, so here’s a little guide for all of your considerations:
Clincher tires are where we’ll start. When viewed from head on, clinchers are shaped like a “U” and have wire or Kevlar edges (called “beads”) that hook under the edge of the rim and hold the tire in place with an inner tube inside. The easiest tire choice here has to do with those beads. A tire that comes folded up in a box has lightweight Kevlar beads, and a tire that holds its round shape on the showroom wall has beads made from steel wire. Pick a folding tire instead of the cheaper steel beaded version and you can typically save a half pound of weight. For cyclocross, standard clincher tires give you the widest price and performance range, but have some big drawbacks. Clinchers are usually the heaviest option. They require you to run the highest air pressure of all the different tire styles (which makes traction not so good). Lastly, clinchers can suffer the most flats (inner tube pinches, tube cuts from exposed spoke eyelets, punctures from debris in the tread).
If you’re comfortable with the idea of clinchers, then tubeless clinchers should be easy to wrap your brain around. Tubeless tires are possible when tires, rims, and rim strips (the tape that protects the inner tube from the spoke holes) are made to exacting tolerances that eliminate the need for an inner tube to keep the air inside. Liquid sealant is used to keep these types of tires from seeping minute amounts of air, but impermeable tire casing and rim strips do most of the work here. Switch from regular clinchers to a tubeless set-up and you can typically reduce your air pressure by 5 to 10 p.s.i. (with no tube to get pinched), which will increase your traction significantly. The tubeless liquid sealant will also work to seal up small thorn and glass punctures. Seems like tubeless tires would be lighter than a standard clincher, but they’re not. Liquid sealant weight replaces the weight of an inner tube, and tubeless-ready tires and rim strips usually weigh slightly more than their conventional counterparts.
Tubular tires and sew-up tires are different names for the same thing. The oldest type of pneumatic tire, sew-ups are typically made with the casing actually sewn together around an inner tube (except for the Tufo brand, which makes their sew-ups hold air without using an inner tube). This all-in-one tubular tire is then glued onto a tubular specific rim. Tubular tires have the best ride “feel” because the sidewalls are usually more supple and squish around conforming to the ground more readily than clinchers. By eliminating the need for wire or Kevlar beads and the hooked clincher rim walls, tubular tires and wheels will be your lightest option. If you run sew-ups you can also run the lowest tire pressures, usually 20 p.s.i. lower than a comparable clincher. Tubular tires and rims aren’t always the most expensive option, but they usually are. If you are going to spend the money for carbon fiber wheels, the smart choice is to get them Tubular style so you get the lightest weight for your money, and have the best durability during mishaps (if you suffer a flat, the tire will stay in place and won’t expose rim edges to damage while you try to stop). The biggest drawbacks to running tubulars are added expense (get a flat and you’re replacing a whole tire, not just a tube), and added work (properly gluing a sew-up takes time and can be messy).
Tire styles aside, remember that air pressure dictates how your tires perform (rim width can be a consideration too, but no time for that today). Go too low with your air pressure and your bike will wash out in turns, or bottom out on bumps causing rim damage and flats. Tire pressure that’s too high will keep you bouncing off the ground, losing traction instead of digging in.
Lastly, you’ve got tread design to consider. File tread tires (most with shallow, tightly-packed diamond-shaped bumps) are typically the choice for hard packed dirt and dry grassy cyclocross conditions. You can expect slightly taller knobs along the edge of these treads to keep you from sliding out in corners. If off-road conditions are a little softer and you need better traction than file treads, a good multi-purpose tire will have small knobs placed tightly together (sometimes nearly continuous down the center of the tire). These tires work great under most conditions, but become nearly unrideable in sticky mud. A good mud tire will have tall widely-spaced knobs that will dig into the soft surface but will (at least in theory) shed the mud from between its knobs as the tire rotates. My advice: if you feel limited by your handling skills and traction, go with more aggressive tread. If you have great balance and handling but still feel slow, go with shallower tread and lighter-weight options.
If you get this tire thing all figured out, don’t worry. You can still be a cyclocross nerd. You’ll just have to start obsessing about Belgian beer.
So, there’s this show on the History Channel called “American Pickers”.
The show surprisingly has nothing to do with farming. It’s actually about two guys who collect inventory for their antique store by rummaging through basements and garages of pack rats around the country.
Anyhow, they stumbled across a Schwinn Black Phantom in a recent episode, and needed some pictures of a restored Phantom to give viewers an idea of what they had just uncovered. We got a call requesting permission to use some of our photos, and so there you go: Classic Cycle as a bicycle reference library.
You can watch the episode here or in reruns on the History Channel:
So, there’s this race…
That’s how we started our pitch, and we managed to persuade our friend Tristan into racing the L’Eroica event in Colorado.
The L’Eroica is a 100 mile race from Grand Junction to Glenwood Springs and back, commemorating an event that took place between 1885 and 1915. You get extra points the older your bike is, so we set up Tristan on a 1916 Mead Ranger. He channeled his forefathers, and did the ride in wool knickers, his best Sunday shoes and shirt.
The race was an adventure. In Tristan’s own words…
Way to go, Tristan! You did us proud.
Our own Zach McDonald, (riding for Rapha-Focus) put up a good fight over the frozen Wisconsin course and managed to snag the second step of the podium.
Riding the elite race for the first time, Zach was up against the best of the best. After the first couple of laps sorted out the major contenders, Zach found himself at the head of the field with Jonathan Page, Danny Summerhill, Ryan Trebon, Jamie Driscoll, and Tim Johnson.
When eventual winner Jonathan Page attacked Zach waited a bit too long for the Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld riders (Trebon, Driscoll, Johnson) to respond, and had to try and bridge the gap to Page by himself (his Rapha teammate Jeremy Powers had been dropped early). Riding through the mud and over the ice by himself for the remainder of the race, the gap never quite closed, but Zach put up a good fight.
In the junior division championship race Logan Owen of Bremerton won. Logan and Zach together have made Kitsap County the most dominant cyclocross power in the U.S. Just like nuclear submarines in that whole arms-race thing!
If you ride a bike, flats happen.
There are plenty of little mistakes to make while fixing a flat tire (believe me, I’ve made most of them), so let’s start from the moment that you feel that softening tire, and see if we can’t do things the right way.
First of all, if you’re going to fix your tire while out on the road, you need some supplies: A spare tube, tire levers to pry the tire off of the rim, and a pump or CO2 inflator. If you don’t have all three items, then carry a cell phone and make sure you have a friend you can reach who happens to owe you a favor.
Notice that I didn’t mention a patch kit? Patch kits are for mending your tube in the comfort of your own home (you can use that patched tube as your spare next time out). If you commonly get multiple flats on a ride (and need a patch kit) it means that your tires stink, that you failed to find out what caused the original flat (or failed to fix it) or that you need to find a new route to work.
When you first sense that you have a flat, keep some things in mind: First, if you need to, you can ride on a flat tire for quite a ways without doing significant damage to your bike. Sure, you may ruin a tire or scrape up your rim, but that sure beats getting mugged or run over if you stop to change your flat in an inappropriate place. Second, when you do pull over, make sure you have a decent place to work. Don’t stop where you’ll be working in tall weeds, or other spots where you’re likely to loose the contents of your seat bag in the process. Try not to stop in front of a “Beware of Dog” sign, or on the edge of a busy roadway where you’re impeding traffic. Everyone with me?
Now, before flipping your bike upside down in the ditch and getting to work, close your waterbottle tops. A flat sucks, but running out of water in the wrong place on a hot day can be hazardous to your health.
I assume that you know how to work a quick release lever to get your wheels off. If this isn’t the case, try taking your wheels off a few times at home. Learning a new skill when you’re hungry, have cold fingers, or when it is too dark to see isn’t ideal.
Now, before grabbing the tire levers, go to the valve and let all of the remaining air out of the tube. If just a little air lingers in your tube, this job will be quite a bit tougher. After letting the air out, go around the wheel and squeeze the sides of the tire together. This will push the tire bead off of the rim shoulders, and down into the channel that runs around the center of the rim. This little trick will give you enough slack that some tires will nearly fall off of the rim, and some impossibly tough tires will become a bit more manageable.
O.K. Now put one of your tire levers (using the spoon side) under the bead of the tire. This works best away from the valve area of the tire where there is more room. Pry the lever over and use the little hook end to secure it to a spoke. Take a second lever, and stick the spoon end under the tire bead right next to the first one. Pry the tire edge up and to the side just a little. See the tire bead come off the rim just a bit? The key to getting a stubborn tire off is to pry the bead just a tiny bit, then slide the lever sideways on the rim just a half-inch and pry at it again, repeating this action until it gets easy to slide the tool all the way around the rim.
Once one side of the tire is off, pull the tube out from under the tire, leaving the valve sticking through the rim. Take your pump, or use just a little bit of your CO2 cartridge, and inflate the tube enough so that you can hear or feel where the air is leaking out. Since the valve is still in the rim, you can check out the tire in the area of the leak for the cause of the flat. If you find a piece of glass or other debris, run your fingers around the tire and check for other bits. Check the rim tape, and make sure that all of the spoke holes are all covered up.
If you have a cut in your tire bigger than a pencil point, you’ll need to put a “boot” or patch on the inside of the tire to keep the fresh innertube from pushing through the cut. A folded-up dollar bill or an energy gel packet will work pretty well as a tire boot.
Before you install the new tube, inflate it just enough so that the folds and creases disappear. Put the tube valve through the rim hole, and start tucking the innertube into the tire. Go all the way around the tire, tucking the tube into place, and then pulling the tire and tube over the top of the rim. Now you should be ready to pull the edge of the tire back up onto the rim. This is a job for your fingers alone. If you try using your tire lever to pry the tire back up onto the rim, you’ll just put a hole in your new tube. Just take it inch by inch, squeezing the tire up and onto the rim. If you work in small enough bites, even the toughest tire should cooperate.
Partially inflate the tire. Notice any wobbles or bulges in the tire? No? Go ahead and inflate it all of the way up, taking care not to break the valve in the midst of your athletic pumping. By pumping only part-way at the beginning, you have the chance to catch a mistake before full tire pressure pops the whole thing off of the rim and you have to start over.
Re-installing the wheel should be no problem if you paid attention when you initially removed it. Check to make sure the brakes work, and spin the pedals to get the chain and gears sorted out.
When you’re ready to get back on the road, take one last look around the ditch, and don’t ride off without grabbing all the stuff that you left scattered about.
Finding the perfect saddle isn’t always easy. Everyone who has ridden a bike for more than an hour has experienced some degree of discomfort, and the seat on the bike is often to blame. There are a lot of choices out there in bike saddles, and here are a few tips to help select a winner from all of the possibilities.
While the saddle itself is important, remember that it works in the context of a system. The type of bike you ride, your position on the bike, your body (pelvic shape, flexibility, weight), the clothing that you wear while riding, how hard you ride (pressure on the pedals), and the saddle are all elements in this system.
Saddles come in a variety of widths, densities, shapes and materials. There is no one saddle that is the best, or the most comfortable for every body. A friend may have a bike seat that they love, but in no way does this mean that the same saddle will work for you.
Saddles with the cutout on the top have received a lot of attention in the past decade. In our experience, the correct width saddle, positioned correctly, is the goal. Generally, the cutout is not helpful, and can actually make things worse. Sizing is the key. You can use one of the saddle measurement tools in the store (we call them ass-ometers) to figure out which width your riding position and pelvic shape needs.
Old-style leather saddles like Brooks use natural leather, and they conform to you, becoming “custom” over time. They can be extremely comfortable, but plan ahead, as there is a considerable break-in time for these saddles.
Inexpensive padded saddles use foam rubber for the padding. They feel plush to the thumb, but while riding, the foam can bottom out, leaving the rider sitting on the hard shell. Better saddles use gel. They provide more support than foam.
High-end saddles that use carbon fiber and titanium in the construction are more than just light. The high-tech materials can flex dramatically and absorb shock while maintaining the same strength and durability as more cheaply constructed saddles.
Here are a few generalizations that may make good starting points:
The pelvis is somewhat triangular in shape, and tips to a narrower portion as you bend over. The more stretched out that you are, the narrower the saddle that you want.
A saddle needs to be level to work right. Tipping the nose way down only puts your weight on your hands, and is generally an indication that the seat position is too high, or the bike fits poorly. Before you throw out an uncomfortable seat, you may want to consider getting your bike fit to you.
Your feet, hands, and rear end are the contact points on the bike. The more weight that is on your feet (how hard you’re pedaling), the less weight is supported by your hands and rear end. The little racing saddle that feels fine on hard weekend training rides will become unbearable when you slow down to ride with the kids.
Saddle width is critical to riding comfort. If the saddle is too narrow, the sit bones will be over the edge, and put too much pressure on sensitive areas. The correct width will perch the rider on top of the saddle so pressure is evenly distributed. A saddle that is too wide will make you straddle too much material, and it may cause chafing.
Also, don’t underestimate the power of a good pair of cycling shorts. Or chamois cream.
Hope these guidelines will help you to find the mythical “Perfect Bicycle Saddle”.
Have an old bike that you’d like to get appraised?
We can help, but we have a few guidelines that we’d like you to understand.
First, we have no idea what your bike is worth without seeing it. We’re just not that smart. Don’t call us and try to describe it over the phone. Serial numbers do not help. Instead, you can send us an email with some pictures attached or bring your bike in to the store.
To make the appraisal more accurate, prepare the bike and take photos like you would if you were going to sell it. Clean the bike, remove any broken or rough-looking accessories and put some air in the tires.
Take pictures straight on in front of a blank background, and take close-up photos of areas that may generate interest (or confusion).
There is no “Blue Book” value for bicycles. Bikes are simply worth what someone else is willing to pay for them. Bicycle values tend to be highest when the weather is warm, in places where it’s pleasant to ride, and wherever there are a lot of people who like bikes.
You know more about your bike than we do. If you just bought a bike for $50, you have just established the value of the bicycle (and you are not likely to be able to sell it for $2000 to somebody else). You know when you bought it, so you have a good idea of the age, and you know if it was a high-end racing model or a basic bike from Walmart.
Rarity rarely helps determine value. If you have a one-of-a-kind bicycle, it may mean that no one has ever heard of it and/or nobody is looking for one.
Popularity is no indicator either. Bikes that were sold in large numbers could fall into one of two camps. You could have a bike that will never sell (Schwinn Varsity) because there are still thousands of them out there, or you could have a bike that will cause a bidding war (Bridgestone MB-1) because people rode them into the ground and they want another one.
If what you’re really after is to get rid of an old bike, keep us in mind. While we don’t buy bikes outright, we’ll likely take your old bike as a trade-in for something new….