Posts Tagged ‘FAQ’

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

It’s the Holy Grail of cycling, the object every cyclist seeks. It’s the part of the bike which evokes most fear from newbies. Everyone wants a comfortable bicycle seat.

Big spongy seats are for bikes which transmit road/trail shock vertically up your spine ... not always the best solution for people with back issues

Big spongy seats are for bikes which transmit road/trail shock vertically up your spine … not always the best solution for people with back issues

One of the most predictable statements from people coming in to purchase their first adult bicycle is, “I don’t want one of those skinny seats that professional cyclists sit on.”

Well, Halter’s doesn’t have many professional cyclists as customers, but I think I can say that if we did, they would not want to spend seven or eight hours a day perched on a seat which was torturing them.

A more "aggressive" position means back shocks are directed obliquely ... but a narrower seat will be more comfortable

A more “aggressive” position means back shocks are directed obliquely … but a narrower seat will be more comfortable

So, some basic advice;

If you’re new to cycling and buying a new bike give the seat a chance. A reputable bicycle manufacturer is going to fit the seat that’s going to suit most people who ride a particular bike. They want you to buy it after all.

Save your money ... check your seat adjustment

Save your money … check your seat adjustment

It’s likely that your whole body will feel it’s getting a workout the first few times you ride it. The same goes for your backside. If it continues to be uncomfortable get back to us. At least you’ll be able to tell us in what way it’s bothering you and we can work from there.

Check your current saddle is correctly adjusted. Most people find a level seat or slightly nose down is best. This assumes your bike is the correct size and type for you. If it’s not then comfort is going to become a more remote goal.

It's tempting, but gel covers often make a bad situation worse

It’s tempting, but gel covers often make a bad situation worse

If you’re looking for a new seat for your old bike and thinking fatter and squishier or adding a gel cover is the way to go, think again.

Our most sophisticated range of seats outsell our basic, go-to value saddle at nearly ten times the price ... for a good reason

Our most sophisticated range of seats outsell our basic, go-to value saddle at nearly ten times the price … for a good reason

To be rather indelicate, do you think growing a new layer of fat on your backside would make your present seat more comfortable? No, I didn’t think so. Big, wide, cushy seats have a purpose, but are not necessarily best for you.

Most seats in a bike shop have varying amounts of gel, a resilient plastic which may help ameliorate shock from the road. Quality of gel is important. Better quality gel may appear and feel thinner but may have better shock-absorption characteristics.

Most seats are available in women's and men's versions

Most seats are available in women’s and men’s versions

If you’re looking for a new seat, bring your bicycle in so you can try out one or two around the parking lot before purchase. Be prepared to describe the issues you’re having with your old saddle. We’re bike shop professionals here … We’ve heard it all.

Better still, bike seat issues can be best addressed by a full professional bike-fit which will address your whole position and stance on the bike before settling on a new seat. This service is free with the purchase of a new road bike from Halter’s.

Our experienced bike-fitters will further induct you into the mysteries of ischial tuberosities and other arcane stuff, all of which will enhance your comfort and, thus, your performance.

It’s hard to believe, but anyone would find a concrete bicycle seat comfortable if its the right shape in the right place.

Halter’s stocks a full range of quality seats by Giant, Terry, SMP, Brooks, fizik and other good brands from around $40 and up. One will be 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-Shaped Objects : BSOs – Toys or Bicycles?

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

The other day I was idly surfing the online catalog of a well-known BigBoxMart* store and decided to look at what was on offer in the way of bicycles. I was rather taken aback to find even adult bicycles in the TOY section of the store, although on reflection I suppose I had no reason to be surprised at all.

So - you're going to buy a car. Where do you go? The toy-store obviously ...

So – you’re going to buy a car. Where do you go? The toy-store obviously …

One of the most frequent questions we get asked in the bike store is, “Why does this child’s bike you’re offering cost $210, when I can get one in BigBoxMart for $60?”

Remember, BigBoxMart sells “bicycles” in its toy department! And I’m not just talking children’s bikes … I’m talking adult cycles too.

Halter’s is a bicycle shop. We sell bicycles. We do not sell toys!

BigBoxMart ... it kind of looks like a bike ... what are your expectations? PS: That's our red arrow ...

BigBoxMart … it kind of looks like a bike … what are your expectations? PS: That’s our red arrow …

A bike shop quality child’s bicycle is designed and built from the same components full size bicycles are constructed from with no compromise for quality or safety.

A bike shop does not regard a bicycle as a toy. It’s a transportation device designed and built up to meet a specification which can be ridden safely and without failure on the nation’s roads and by-ways.

The bicycle will be built of quality components which will remain serviceable for many years. And even then replacement parts will continue to be available.

A toy is built down to a price point. After all, it only has to look like a bike … sort of …

So here’s another top ten question, “The wheel on my child’s PinkFairy/BlueSuperHero bike is bent. Can you fix it?”

Okay, now it’s turn for one of our questions. “Why don’t you go back to BigBoxMart and ask them to fix it?”

I guess we know the answer to that one, right?

“Well, this wheel has no serviceable parts on it. I mean, it only looks like a wheel. It’s a toy wheel after all.  A replacement wheel will be around $40 plus labor.”

“But the bike only cost $50!!!”

“It’s not a bike. It’s a toy. Our replacement wheel is a quality bicycle component which will not bend or fail.”

We love our customers to come back and see us, but not if it’s because they’re going to complain about some shoddy part we sold them which was bound to fail.

But let’s assume you’ve brought in your adult bicycle purchased from a toy store, erm … I meant BigBoxMart. It needs tuning and a couple of replacement parts. Okay, I’ve dealt with the cost of them, but it also requires adjustment to enable it to ride efficiently and safely.

Here’s a bike shop trade secret; it takes much longer to service and adjust a cheap, nasty, BigBoxMart toy bike than the most expensive and sophisticated bike store bought bicycle. The bike store bought bicycle will be built by skilled and experienced mechanics, have bike industry quality parts which are well-designed, durable and quickly and accurately adjustable which will stay in tune and last.

The toy bike will be assembled by some kid after school, from non-standard parts, frequently leave the BigBoxMart with stripped threads, bent and broken components before you’ve even ridden it, plus major assembly issues like having the fork on back-to-front, which makes for a dangerously unstable bike and similar safety issues. There is little scope for accurate adjustment and even then the work may only last half-way though your next ride. And you still want us to fix this?

If you’re in the market for a bicycle, for yourself or a family member get on down to your local bike shop and get some advice about purchasing a safe, quality bike which is unlikely to have issues, but if it does, the bike shop will address for you. Shop around for sure, but if you want a safe, quality bicycle, then buy from a local bike shop.

Feel free to buy a toy bike from the toy shop, but don’t be surprised when your local bike shop quotes an economic price for a safe, quality repair or service.

In reality, if you’re a conscientious parent who maintains your child’s bicycle a cheap toy will cost you as much in the long run as a quality child’s bicycle, except it’s going to spend a lot of time in the workshop.

Support your local bike shop!!!

Toy? Or real bicycles from Giant and Cannondale

Toy? Or real bicycles from Giant and Cannondale

*BigBoxMart is a figment of English Al’s imagination and bears no similarity to any large, discount warehouse type shops you might be thinking of … no really …


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


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


Learning to ride a bike?

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

It’s just like riding a bike … you never forget. Well that’s not always true …

It's not just children who want to learn to ride a bike ...

It’s not just children who want to learn to ride a bike …

Whether you just want your child to learn to ride in a structured setting or you’re an adult who never learned to ride a bike or just need a confidence boost, this could be for you:

http://wwbpa.org/2013/04/learn-to-bike-at-the-farmers-market-may-18/

 ... adults need a boost too

… adults need a boost too

The West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance is dedicated to making our community and the surrounding area safer for bicyclists and walkers of all ages. Its trustees and members work to influence government officials to install more sidewalks, bike lanes, and safe crossings.

The WWBPA funds Share the Road signs and bicycle racks, holds an annual community bike ride, and develops educational programs.

The WWBPA was established in January 2006 and is a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)(3) organization. All memberships and contributions are tax-deductible.


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


 
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