Archive for March, 2013

Thinking about clipless pedals?

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Thinking of getting “a little more serious” with your cycling? You’ve got the shorts, got the gloves. You’ve considered “clipless” pedals but feel a little apprehensive about being “clipped in”? Then check out Shimano’s Click’R system.

ClickRNothing makes you feel more connected and in control of your bicycle than riding with clipless pedals and shoes. Your pedaling efficiency and foot comfort will also improve.

But many riders are concerned that their feet will be locked in and the inevitable tumble will occur. Actually, this happens far less than you think it might, but in case you are nervous about it Shimano have developed a new pedal/shoe interface called Click’R to introduce clipless pedals to first-time users, but is also suitable for regular leisure riders and tourists.

The Click'R cleat - locates but does not engage

The Click’R cleat – locates but does not engage

The Click’R system introduces a new plastic cleat on the bottom of the shoe which locates on the Click’R pedal, but does not engage, so your foot is free and there is no sense of being clamped onto the bike.

Click'R pedals can also be ridden as regular platform pedals

Click’R pedals can also be ridden as regular platform pedals

The pedals are an adaption of Shimano’s SPD system but with a modification which enables first the use of the plastic Click’R cleat, and then, when you’re ready, substituting a regular silver cleat which lightly engages on the pedal.

The pedal is adjustable down to a very low securing tension so it’s easy to extract your shoe. Release pressure is 60% less than regular SPD pedals.

Click'R shoes have a more casual style

Click’R shoes have a more casual style

The pedal also has a device which resists accidentally pulling your foot off the pedal when the shoe is spinning normally.

When you're ready switch to a regular Shimano cleat

When you’re ready switch to a regular Shimano cleat

Our guy, Alan – That British Bloke – has trialed a pair of these shoes and reports that, unlike previous “casual style shoes” this new generation of Shimano shoes really can be walked in all day, so would also make an excellent touring shoe for riders who like to get off the bike and explore.

Ready to take the next step?

Halter’s carries Shimano Click’R shoes and pedals. Also, call the shop ahead and bring in your bike and experience Click’R to see if it’s right for you.

If you’re seeking information on other topics click on any item in Halter’s Tag Cloud in the right hand column of this blog …


Alan That British Bloke


Bike Security

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

Every bike has a unique frame or serial number. Have you made a note of yours?

There are several places you may find your bike's frame number - nos 1 & 8 are the most common locations.

There are several places you may find your bike’s frame number – nos 1 & 8 are the most common locations.

This number is useful if, unfortunately, your bike is stolen and is reported to the police or you need to make any other insurance claim.

Your bike’s frame number will most likely be stamped into the bottom bracket – point 1 – or the rear drop-out – point 8.

Model and frame number stamped onto bottom bracket

Model and frame number stamped onto bottom bracket

You should make a note of this number, maybe write it in your owner’s manual. It’s also a good idea to keep receipts for the purchase of expensive accessories or components.

Halter’s keeps no records of frame numbers so make sure you make a note. Hopefully, it will never prove to be necessary.

You can find out information about bike locks here …

 
If you’re seeking information on other topics click on any item in Halter’s Tag Cloud in the right hand column of this blog …


Alan That British Bloke


Fixing a Flat Tire

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

While we@Halter’s are always happy to fix your flats it is a skill which once acquired, will serve you well, especially when you’re on that ride 15 miles from base and the inevitable happens …

If it can possibly happen, it probably will ...

If it can possibly happen, it probably will …

Firstly, always be prepared. Check out our advice about what should be in your seat-pack.

If you’re riding in a group, there’s no need for everyone to be carrying a pump, say. But most riders will feel most comfortable if they’re self-sufficient.

Secondly, the best place to practice fixing a flat is in the comfort of your home. Otherwise, believe me, the first time you have to do this on the road, the first sleety rain showers will be closing in for the winter and you’ll be cold, wet and miserable and you’ll hardly be able to feel your hands. Basically, your first flat will make you feel like this even if it’s the middle of summer.

So, I looked on YouTube for a video showing how to fix a flat. I chose this one because it’s one of the few which feature a flat in the wild rather than a fully equipped workshop. The video shows road bikes, but the principles apply from hybrid bike to mountain bike.

Note especially, the way to set your rear gears – this will make removing and replacing the rear wheel easier. Don’t forget, front forks usually have a safety lip on the dropout so quick releases have to be further unwound after release. Examine the tire to make sure the sharp that caused the flat isn’t still embedded and make sure you don’t pinch the new tube as you install it.

And make sure you stop in a safe place!!!

Easy, huh?

So, always have a spare tube. Take the punctured one home and fix it at your leisure using a patch kit. Carry a couple of self-adhesive patches in case you catch a flat plague. Don’t let the first time you do this be on the road or trail.

If you use tubeless tires, you can always install an inner tube in emergencies. Make sure you know how to remove the valve.

Be safe out there …

If you’re seeking information on other topics click on any item in Halter’s Tag Cloud in the right hand column of this blog …


Alan That British Bloke


Basic Bike Check ABC

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Before taking off on a bike ride you should always take steps to ensure you have an enjoyable ride and also be prepared for contingencies.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s a start. Use the check to get familiar with how your bike works and its general condition so you can spot issues before they become a problem or even a danger.

Pump your tires up to the correct pressure and check your wheels and tires while you're at it

Pump your tires up to the correct pressure and check your wheels and tires while you’re at it

Air : Bikes roll best when tires are pumped to the correct pressure. You’ll also resist flats better. While you’re checking, also look at the condition of your tires; any cracks, bald spots, canvas showing through, etc. Wheels? Any loose spokes? Cracks/dents in the rim, wobbles? Is the wheel on tight?

You can buy a bicycle pressure gauge, but most floor pumps have a pressure gauge already fitted.

You don't need to know how to adjust your brakes, but you need to know when something's wrong

You don’t need to know how to adjust your brakes, but you need to know when something’s wrong

Brakes : It’s great to go cycling, yes? But it’s even better to be able to stop. Squeeze the brake levers. Is the action nice and smooth? No? Your brakes may need new cables, lubrication or adjustment. Do the levers come back to the bar-grips? That shouldn’t be. Are the brake pads acting on the rim correctly? Are the brake-pads worn? Do they even work effectively at all?

Check your handle-bars are straight and secure … heck, check your seat is adjusted and secure too while you’re at it.

Is your chain lubed? Rusty? Do the gears change smoothly? Are your pedals secure?

Is your chain lubed? Rusty? Do the gears change smoothly? Are your pedals secure?

Chain : A rusty chain drags, changes gear poorly and may even snap. It’s also an indicator of the general mechanical condition of your bike.

While you’re down there lubing your chain check your pedals are secure and there are no clunks or grinding noises from the bottom bracket.

While checking your bike, keep your eye on the big picture. A well maintained bike is a safe bike.

Maintaining your own bike isn’t rocket science, but it does demand a degree of knowledge and experience which can be found in your local bike shop.

Book your bike in for a basic safety check or full service to ensure your bike is in tip-top condition, but you still need to remember the ABC every time you take your bike out.

The workshop guys will be pleased to demonstrate a quick bike check to you when you pick up your bike.

Ride safe – and don’t forget your helmet!!!

If you’re seeking information on other topics click on any item in Halter’s Tag Cloud in the right hand column of this blog …


Alan That British Bloke


Pump It Up …

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Some of the most frequent maintenance calls we get are from people with mysterious flats.

“I put it away in the garage last year and when I went to ride it yesterday the tires were flat.”

Bike tires hold a very small volume of air compared to a motor vehicle tire and just a minuscule loss will lower the pressure drastically. Air leaches through the inner tube meaning that bikes should have their tires pumped at least weekly. High pressure road tires should be pumped to the correct pressure before every ride.

Avoid pumping bicycle tires at a gas station - these pumps are designed to supply large volumes of air and may just blow out your tire

Avoid pumping bicycle tires at a gas station – these pumps are designed to supply large volumes of air and may just blow out your tire

Keeping your bicycle tires pumped up is one of the most effective ways of avoiding flats. As well as making the bike easier to roll, flints and sharps have a greater tendency to glance off the surface of the casing.

An under-inflated tire will also be prone to the most common type of puncture, the pinch flat, or because this often occurs with two holes, the snake-bite.

You can find the correct pressure printed or molded onto the wall of the tire - this one reads 115PSI/125PSI

You can find the correct pressure printed or molded onto the wall of the tire – this one reads 115PSI/125PSI

This happens when the inner-tube is pinched between the rim of the wheel and the road. Often it’s associated with riding the bike up the kerb.

When you look at a bicycle wheel the tire is a tough outer casing supported by an inner-tube. Some bicycles have tubeless tires, but this is an expensive option. Generally when you have a flat it is because the inner tube has been pierced. The tire will have been pierced as well, but a structure of tough threads will usually leave the casing relatively undamaged and still serviceable.

The mysterious Presta valve and the Schrader - the same as the ones on your car

The mysterious Presta valve and the Schrader – the same as the ones on your car

In the US you are likely to come across two types of valve, the Presta – generally limited to higher end and high pressure tires – and Schrader found on mountain bikes and hybrid type bikes.

A Floor Pump - will have a chuck which fits Presta and Schrader valves and a pressure gauge

A Floor Pump – will have a chuck which fits Presta and Schrader valves and a pressure gauge

Most bike pumps will accommodate both types of valve.

Every household with a bike or a fleet of bikes should have a Floor Pump. This is the easiest way of inflating a tire to the correct pressure. You can use a vehicle foot-pump but you will need an adapter for presta valves.

A good floor pump will usually have a chuck which can lock onto either presta or schrader valves, and a pressure gauge.

It’s a good idea when buying a floor pump to have the guys in the bike shop demonstrate its use and have a go yourself. You might be surprised how many “faulty” pumps are returned to the store because the owner didn’t know how to prepare a presta valve – unscrew the brass cap, if you don’t know …

Compact bicycle pumps can be carried in a bag or clipped under a bottle-cage - there are miniature floor-pump versions for heavy-duty and CO2 inflators for speed and convenience

Compact bicycle pumps can be carried in a bag or clipped under a bottle-cage – there are miniature floor-pump versions for heavy-duty and CO2 inflators for speed and convenience

Of course there’s nothing worse than experiencing a flat while out on a ride.

There are many types of portable bicycle pumps, from compact pumps to miniature floor pumps. Most of these will fit onto a bracket which can be fitted under a bottle cage. Some are small enough to fit in a seat bag or pocket.

All these will require much more work than a regular floor pump to inflate a tire, but they will get you home.

If you’re looking for the smallest and most convenient device, consider a CO2 inflator. These will inflate a tire very quickly and get you home.

However, CO2 leaches through an inner tube very quickly so you may find your tire deflated the next day even though there is no puncture. Just re-inflate using a regular pump.

Also, make sure you are familiar with using a CO2 inflator before having to use one on the road – they can work rather explosively …

If you’re looking for a full-size bike pump and your bike has pegs consider a frame-fit pump.

Halter’s sell a range of floor pumps from brands including Blackburn, Cannondale, Giant, Joe Blow, Lezyne, Park Tools, Topeak, etc.

We also have a fine selection of portable pumps by Blackburn, Cannondale, Giant, Lezyne, etc, and CO2 inflators by Genuine Innovations, SRAM and Zipp.

If you’re seeking information on other topics click on any item in Halter’s Tag Cloud in the right hand column of this blog …


Alan That British Bloke


Which Bike?

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Over the years the basic bicycle has evolved into a number of configurations, some good for general use, some with specific intentions.

So which bike is best for you?

Cruiser bicycles - low seating makes for a very stable rider position ... great for riding on the shore and around your community

Cruiser bicycles – low seating makes for a very stable rider position … great for riding on the shore and around your community

Cruiser bicycles : A long wheel-base and low center of gravity makes for a very stable ride and comfortable upright stance for the rider.

These bikes are excellent for cycling around your neighborhood or round town. They will also negotiate smooth off-road routes like the canal tow-path and trails through parks.

The low seating position makes it easy for anyone to get their feet onto the ground so it’s perfect for the nervous rider.

Hybrid bicycles - good on the road or on smooth trails

Hybrid bicycles – good on the road or on smooth trails

Cruiser bikes are not so good if your rides include a lot of hills or you’re intending to take on longer, more ambitious rides.

Hybrid Bicycles : If you want to break out of your neighborhood on your bicycle and ride as part of a healthy life-style regime then a hybrid bicycle could be for you.

Hybrids will keep you in an upright stance, but in a higher, more efficient position which makes climbing hills and cycling longer distances rather easier than on a cruiser.

Sports and Fitness Bicycles : lightweight, nimble hybrids

Sports and Fitness Bicycles : lightweight, nimble hybrids

You can find out more about hybrid bicycles here …

Sports and Fitness bicycles : These bikes are a lightweight, non-suspension, development of hybrid bicycles. Almost, but not quite, straight handle-bar road bikes, but still capable of riding made up paths and trails, these bikes appeal to the person seeking to expand their bicycling horizons and get a bit of a workout at the same time.

Higher end S&F bikes are approaching the cost of a good road bike, so if you’re considering purchasing at this level seek the advice of your local bike store to make sure this type of bike really is for you.

Mountain Bike - hard-tail or full-suspension

Mountain Bike – hard-tail or full-suspension

Mountain Bikes : For many people this is their entry point to cycling.

Traditionally, MTBs have been characterized by fat 26″ tires, but now most of our higher end bikes use 29″ wheel (29ers), the same diameter as a road bike, but wider.

MTBs have their own sub-genres; XC, all-mountain, downhill, freeride, etc.

The NJ terrain was made for hard-tail 29ers. Their ability to roll over the typical surface here will suit most people.

Fatbikes and Single-Speed MTBs

Fatbikes and Single-Speed MTBs

If gnarly, rocky trails are your forté then consider a full-suspension bike, although at any price point a hard-tail will have superior components to a full-suspension bike.

Further developments of MTBs include the Fatbike with immense wheels capable of rolling over soft, granular surfaces such as sand or snow, and the Single-Speed MTB, no gears, no suspension for the back-to-basics crew.

Men's and Women's Road bikes - performance and comfort/endurance geometry ... but which one's which?

Men’s and Women’s Road bikes – performance and comfort/endurance geometry … but which one’s which?

Road Bicycles : If you want to ride the maximum distance with the greatest efficiency then you must consider a road bike. Don’t be put off by skinny tires, narrow saddles and drop-handlebars. These bikes are designed to be ridden over many miles, hundreds, even thousands of miles. No one will do that if they’re uncomfortable on their bike.

All road type bikes offered by Halter’s are only sold with a personal bike fit. This is by appointment only – just call the shop – and can last a couple of hours, but will certainly provide you with the best, most comfortable and efficient ride within your budget.

Road bikes fall into a couple of categories; men’s and women’s and performance and comfort/endurance.

Don’t get too caught up in definitions. The right bike is determined by an arcane formula determined from its intended use, your height, proportions, flexibility and just how you feel when riding it.

Taller women will fit a “men’s” frame better, and shorter men with proportionately long limbs may suit a “women’s” bike. Classic road races have been won on “comfort/endurance” frames and tall guys with short legs may find a “performance” frame more comfortable.

So what we’re saying is, “It all depends …”. Only a professional bike fit can determine this for you.

There are also a number of variations of road bike built to accommodate different challenges.

Cyclo-cross and Touring bicycles

Cyclo-cross and Touring bicycles

Cyclo-cross Bicycle : Cyclo-cross (CX) is a huge sport in the winter in Europe where riders race on short courses across fields and park lands either in mud or freezing temperatures … Sounds like fun, huh?

Well, there is a thriving CX scene here in the US if you feel the need.

However, CX bikes also make excellent commuter bikes because of their ability to accommodate wider tires, fenders and luggage racks.

Touring Bicycle : Whether you’re a credit card tourist flitting from B&B to B&B, or riding a self-sufficient epic coast-to-coast ride, the appropriate touring bike will help you eat up the miles while specially adapted to carry the necessary paraphernalia – tent, sleeping bag, stove, clothes, etc.

Triathlon or Time-Trial bicycles and road bike bar adapters

Triathlon or Time-Trial bicycles and road bike bar adapters

Triathlon or Time-Trial Bicycle : First time customers often present themselves in the shop with the purpose of buying a tri-bike.

Be in no doubt, a tri-bike is the most specialized and focused bike we sell.

In comparison to a regular road bike tri-bikes have delicate handling, less efficient brakes and comfort can be compromised by the need to get from A-to-B as fast as possible. Most bike clubs also prohibit tri-bikes on club rides.

Custom-built bicycle - road, tourer, mtb, cyclo-cross - a Seven Cycle crafted to your exact requirements

Custom-built bicycle – road, tourer, mtb, cyclo-cross – a Seven Cycle crafted to your exact requirements

Most committed triathlon customers ride a regular road bike for training and transfer to their tri-bike just prior to competition. Road bikes can be adapted with the addition of a tri-bar and some fit work which is more than good enough for most competitions.

Custom-Built Bicycle : If you have very particular requirements, or if only the best is good enough, then consider having a bicycle tailored and hand-built for you. Nothing will work for you better.

After a personal consultation with our expert bike fitter, Seven Cycles will build you a frame from steel, titanium, carbon fiber or a blend which will fit you like a glove and have exactly the characteristics you specify. Halter’s will then add the finest and most appropriate components for the most exclusive bike you will ever own.

Of course, expect a price in the five-figure range …

Halter’s sell bicycles and frames by: Cannondale, Electra, Giant, Salsa and Surly. We will also build you a bike to your specification from a fixie to the ultimate bespoke bike from Seven Cycles. We also sell frames from a number of makers including All-City and Tom Ritchey.

If you’re seeking information on other topics click on any item in Halter’s Tag Cloud in the right hand column of this blog …


Alan That British Bloke


 
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