Archive for the ‘Town’ Category

You need Wheels

Friday, May 17th, 2013

The bicycle wheel has been one of the lightest and strongest structures in design and engineering for over a century. So it’s good to know, while bowling along on your bicycle, what experience and know-how has gone into this apparently simple device.

One of the strongest structures in engineering design

One of the strongest structures in engineering design

Your local bike shop will sell bikes with wheel sizes from 12″/300mm to 29″/700C depending on use. Children’s bikes sizes are defined by the size of the wheels. Adult bikes, whether extra-large or extra-small are limited to two or three standard sizes of wheels. It’s the frame size which makes the difference.

If you’re buying a new bike, is wheel size a consideration? Here’s a run down on wheel sizes and their applications:

12″ : Used on the smallest children’s bicycles and balance bikes.

Tire, Rim, Spokes and Hub

Tire, Rim, Spokes and Hub

16″ : Intermediate children’s bicycles bridging the gap between bicycles with training-wheels and free-riders.

20″ : For free-riding youngsters, although training-wheels can be fitted so some models. This wheel size is also used on some adult folding bicycles.

24″ : The largest wheel for children’s bicycles. Most 24″ wheels conform to a mountain bike type, that is, tires about 2″/50mm wide. Some very small adult cycles also use this wheel size.

26″ : The smallest true adult wheel size and originally developed for the first manufactured mountain bikes around 40 years ago. As well as mountain bikes this wheel can be found on some hybrid bicycles and cruisers. Most 26″ wheels are made for a tire width of around 2″/50mm+. If you want to adapt your old mountain bike for on-road/commuting use you can fit a slick tire less than 1.5″/35mm wide for less rolling resistance on the road.

The 26″ wheel has variations so that an old Schwinn 26″ wheel is a different size which can make for problems with replacement tires.

650 : Sometimes known as 27.5″ and originally a wheel designed for French utility and touring bicycles, there are 650A, -B and -C variations which have different rim diameters. This wheel – 650B – is at the forefront of a new generation of mountain bikes, bridging the gap between 26″ wheels and 29″ wheels. Expect to see bikes with this size wheel in the next year.

27″ : A once universal, but now obsolete wheel size, usually only found on classic ten-speeds and English three-speeds. A limited range of tires are still available.

Top quality wheels are the most effective upgrade you can make to your quality road or mountain bike

Top quality wheels are the most effective upgrade you can make to your quality road or mountain bike

700C : A virtually universal standard for lightweight road bikes, this wheel is also used by hybrids designed for predominately road use. These wheels have the least rolling resistance of any bicycle wheel.

29″ : A comparatively recent standard for mountain bike wheels, the rims were developed from 700C road wheels. This size wheel offers superior rolling ability over rough terrain.

Smaller riders may need to look at 26″ wheel mountain bikes for a good fit, although the introduction of the 650B will widen that choice.

There are one or two wheel sizes which are not standard. These include 14″ and 18″ wheels. These are found on big box store toy bicycles. Customers are often shocked by the price of wheels we supply to replace bent and broken children’s bike wheels, often because a properly manufactured and safe, quality wheel will cost more than the original toy bike.

We will only sell you a product we know will not fail.


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


Changing Gears

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Most modern bicycles use variations of a design called the dérailleur; literally, the de-railer, a device which forces the chain from one cog to the next in a very unsophisticated and crude manner. In engineering terms, it really shouldn’t work … but it does.

No gears for these guys ...

No gears for these guys …

Modern dérailleurs use all manner of tooth profiles, chain design and indexing devices to enable this to happen as smoothly as possible.

But, just as changing gear on a manual gearbox car needs finesse and an understanding of the principles involved, compared to say, an automatic gearbox, changing gear using dérailleurs on a bicycle also requires a degree of involvement from the rider, more than just pushing the button and crunching on regardless.

Some modern bikes have up to 30 possible gear combinations – 3 at the front X 10 at the rear – but not all permutations are useful either because some combinations of front and rear cogs produce gear ratios which are very close to another or even identical, or are mechanically compromised. More about that later …

Modern compact, wide range 2x10 speed derailleurs

Modern compact, wide range 2×10 speed derailleurs

Changing Gear: The principle of the dérailleur depends on the chain moving forward through the gear change, so when changing gear, continue to pedal forward.

However, it’s really helpful to the change if pressure is taken off the pedals so that for the duration of the procedure the feet just spin until you sense the gear has engaged and take up the effort again.

Dérailleurs - rear & front

Dérailleurs – rear & front

There are occasions when this isn’t possible, but just assessing your gear needs ahead of the point where you have to change facilitates a smoother procedure. This particularly applies when you’re changing down to a lower gear, for example, on a hill, or changing to an easier gear just before coming to a halt.

The front dérailleur usually needs the most practise to use efficiently because the chain has to make such a large jump from one chainring to the next.

People often ask, “How do I know what gear I’m in?” or “How do I know if I’m in the right gear?”

The thing is, you don’t really need to know as long as you feel comfortable and can maintain a good pedal cadence and the drive runs smooth and sounds quiet. But there are some gear combinations to avoid.

Avoid running the gears at extremes - chain-wrap and chain-stretch mean noisy, poorly functioning gears

Avoid running the gears at extremes – chain-wrap and chain-stretch mean noisy, poorly functioning gears

Cross-Chaining: The diagram shows the top view of a typical set up. I’ve indicated the chain line from the extremes of the chainwheel to the cassette.

Although exaggerated, it demonstrates the degree of deformation the chain has to cope with in those gears. This tends to cause the chain to track badly, run noisily and the dérailleur mechanisms to have to contend with excessive chain wrap, extension and tension.

Each chain-wheel serves an optimum range of sprockets - modern double chain-sets minimize this problem

Each chain-wheel serves an optimum range of sprockets – modern double chain-sets minimize this problem

In practice, try to restrict your gear choices as in this diagram; large chainwheel to outer range of sprockets, small chainwheel to inner sprockets.

Modern gear indexing systems control the movement of the dérailleurs, often to a tolerance of 0.1mm, less than 1/100th inch. One of the prime reasons for gears to go out of adjustment is cable stretch, particularly with new cables, so if you’ve recently bought a new bike, or installed a new cable, return to your LBS to have the adjustment done if you can’t do it yourself.

stuff

The dérailleur hanger is made to deform or even break to save further damage to the bike’s frame in case of accident or mechanical problem

Another frequent cause of poor shifting can be a bent dérailleur hanger, the component which connects the rear mechanism to the frame.

If your hanger is bent you will need to visit your LBS where they will have an alignment device which can check and adjust the hanger. The hanger will need to be adjusted in three planes so it’s not really a job you can do at home.

But adjustment can also be affected by using excessive force, either through the gear changer or through the pedals while changing gear causing elements of the drive to distort or just go out of line, so learn to coordinate your changing/pedaling skills as outlined above.

A well adjusted gear mechanism will produce easy and smooth changes. However, it does need some input in terms of timing, sensitivity and skill from you, the rider.


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


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


Pedals … and shoes

Sunday, March 17th, 2013
Basic plastic pedal and quality quill pedal

Basic plastic pedal and quality quill pedal

Most lower priced bicycles come with pedals, but most higher end bikes don’t have pedals at all out of the box.

Most customers buying a higher end bike will already have a favorite pedaling system and new riders are best advised by their bike shop, so the bike manufacturers don’t guess what you might like. It’s up to you.

Anyone who has ever ridden a bike will be familiar with the basic platform pedal. Usually made from tough plastic and/or metal all you need to do is plant your sneakers on the pedals and cycle off.

In the past, people have made these pedals more secure by attaching straps and cages which wrap around the shoe. Indeed, some still prefer this method of locating their feet on the pedal.

These days anyone other than the most casual cyclist can make a choice from a number of clipless pedaling systems. That is where pedal and shoe locate and engage together to make a secure and efficient interface between your foot and the bike.

All clipless systems depend on a metal or plastic fixture known as a cleat, which is bolted onto the sole of the shoe. This cleat locates and engages into a mechanism on the pedal. The pedal holds the shoe firmly until the rider decides to disengage, usually by a deliberate twisting motion of the foot.

Although there are several manufacturers, each with their own system, clipless pedals fall into two categories.

Mountain bike pedals - some brands adjust release tension by means of a small screw

Mountain bike pedals – some brands adjust release tension by means of a small screw

Mountain bike pedals : This type of pedal/shoe combination is marked by a small metal cleat which is retained within the sole of the shoe and a double-sided pedal. This means that the shoe is easy to walk in and it’s easier to locate the cleat onto the pedal.

Even the most advanced mountain bike shoe with a carbon fiber sole is designed to flex to facilitate walking, so although this type of system was designed specifically for mountain bikes, many of its characteristics make it a favorite for many road and touring cyclists too, so the name is a bit of a misnomer.

Mountain bike shoe - Easier to walk in

Mountain bike shoe – Easier to walk in

We frequently sell “spinning” shoes to customers attending local gyms. A spinning shoe is a mountain bike cycling shoe.

So if you spin and become familiar with engaging and disengaging from the spin-bike pedals, consider having clipless pedals fitted to your regular bike.

The cleat is recessed into the sole of the shoe

In a mountain bike shoe the cleat is recessed into the sole of the shoe

A basic mountain bike shoe with velcro type fasteners, suitable for spinning too, will cost from around $100, and a high end shoe with light-weight carbon fiber sole and ratchet type fixings will be $200+.

Cleats cost around $22, depending on the brand, but are usually included with new pedals.

Road pedals - usually single-sided - also have adjustable release tension

Road pedals – usually single-sided – also have adjustable release tension

It’s worth noting that for Shimano pedals there are two types of cleat; black, which just hold your foot in one position, and silver which allow a little float so your foot can move around to a small degree on the pedal.

Some other brands also allow float by various means.

Road pedals : Usually consist of a large single-sided platform which engages with a plastic cleat which is bolted on the bottom of the sole of the shoe.

This means the cleat stands proud of the sole of the shoe which makes walking awkward and requires a little more attention to engage. At first you’ll only get it right 50% of the time.

Road cleats protrude from the sole of the shoe making walking uncomfortable

Road cleats protrude from the sole of the shoe making walking uncomfortable

The shoes usually have a smooth sole which is designed to be very stiff, making walking more difficult still.

So, why would anyone ever want to use road shoes and pedals when mountain bike systems are much more user friendly?

Road cleats are large and project from the sole of the shoe. Carbon fiber enables a very stiff foot-bed.

Road cleats are large and project from the sole of the shoe. Carbon fiber enables a very stiff foot-bed.

Well, road shoes are designed to give the maximum support to your foot and enable the most efficient transfer of power from your legs to the drive chain of the bike. They do this by providing an extremely stiff sole and comparatively large cleat to minimize flex in the shoe and pedal.

Imagine just sitting at home flexing a cycling shoe a few millimetres 120 times a minute as a pair of shoes might on a bicycle. Then consider the energy you’ve used to do this. That’s the amount of energy which could have been pushed out your back wheel.

Also, if you have foot issues, numbness, hot foot, pins and needles, etc, these can be alleviated by using a road shoe which will provide more support than a mountain bike shoe. If your left/right shoe size is radically different then we might still be able to help you.

Expect to pay $100-$120 for a basic road shoes. If you’re looking for a carbon sole, then expect to pay $200+. A high end road shoe will be up to $500.

Halter’s sell cycle shoes by Giro, Sidi, Shimano and other good makers.

We sell pedals by Crank Brothers, Look, Shimano and SpeedPlay as well as specialist pedals for downhill, BMX and other genres of cycling.

Cleat wedges may help align your knees

Cleat wedges may help align your knees

We stock shoe accessories such as adaptive insoles, arch extenders and cleat wedges to align your pedal stroke.

Consider buying appropriate shoes and pedals as part of a complete bike fit. This is free with the purchase of a road bike from Halter’s or available via appointment.

And don’t forget socks …

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


Bicycle Locks

Monday, March 11th, 2013

First of all, let’s get one thing straight. If someone really wants to steal your bike they will.

No amount of cables and chains will defeat the determined bike thief. However, it’s possible to differentiate the risk, whether you’re running into a country deli on your Sunday ride or leaving your carbon road-bike overnight in Central Park.

Bikes also may require locking up, even in your garage or shed. Sometimes you may need to lock your bike to your car carrier too.

Make sure bike is secured to an immovable object and the lock threaded through frame and wheels

Make sure bike is secured to an immovable object and the lock threaded through frame and wheels

If you’re looking for the most security then make sure your locking device threads through the frame and wheels.

The diagram shows the correct use of a U-lock and cable, but this can be done with just a cable if it’s long enough. About 6ft/1.90m will do it.

Take any temporary fitments such as bags, pump and computer with you.

The Cable Lock - available in different lengths and combination and key mechanisms

The Cable Lock – available in different lengths and combination and key mechanisms

If your bike has a quick-release seat clamp you might want substitute a regular bolt to fix the seat more securely.

There are a number of variations on the cable-lock. Available in different lengths and with either key or combination mechanisms. Some cables come with a fitting designed to enable the lock to be carried conveniently on the bike.

These locks depend on the toughness of the cable to resist cutting, although some more expensive locks also combine a material such as kevlar to augment the cable.

For convenient use there are also retractable cables which can even be carried in a jersey pocket. These are only effective for light duty, but may give you some confidence on that coffee stop.

A U-Lock - Some come with an extension cable

A U-Lock – Some come with an extension cable

For heavier duty consider a U-lock. These require a little thought to use effectively so carefully check manufacturers instructions.

U-locks come in different sizes so it helps to know where the bike is most likely to be locked.

In a nutshell, you must ensure the combination of bike frame, wheel and immovable object fill the interior of the U. You will also require a cable extension to secure the other wheel for maximum security.

The "New York" Bike Lock - probably the most secure, but it is likely to be heavier than your bike

The “New York” Bike Lock – probably the most secure, but it is likely to be heavier than your bike

Probably the most secure bike lock is the “New York” type. Don’t ask me why it’s called the “New York”

It’s good, but it’s also very heavy and not an option for carrying around unless you are going to be locking your bike up in some very challenging areas.

There is also a version you can wear as a belt for portability.

So, when choosing which bike lock to buy, consider where it’s going to be used and the level of security you require. You also need to to think about how you’re going to carry the lock around. An effective lock will always be rather bulky.

Halter’s stocks a variety of cable, u-locks and chains. We’ll also be happy to advise on other aspects of bicycle security.

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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