Christmas gifts for cyclists

28 November, 2011
Dual suspension MTB with red ribbon sitting beside a Christmas tree

What to give the cyclist for Christmas?

Christmas is looming very quickly and known as the season for giving and receiving, thought you may well like some ideas on the Christmas stocking fillers that won’t break the budget but be a joy to receive.

Getting a flat tyre is never a delight as the pumping up of the tyre wears you out trying to get the high pressure back into the tube. There is a simple smart and quick solution that reduces the gym work out of pumping; CO2 gas bottles and applicator the tyre is pumped back to around 120 psi in approximately 2 seconds, making these worth the weight to carry (which is probably less than most pumps).

I often advocate the three points of contact and how valuable the right bike set up is for the protection of the body and ability to produce the maximum power outputs. Consider a gift voucher for a professional bike fit you may well be surprised how much this will add to the joy of cycling. Read the rest of this entry »


MTBing on big wheels

16 September, 2011
Man riding a 29er MTB on single track.

The next big thing? 29er MTBs are being tested at elite level, but the jury's still out. Image source:

Likes and dislikes we have them all, which is part of our human nature, free will thinking allows the commercial world to keep looking for more choice offerings for the taking. Mountain Bike riders certainly have a lot more to look for in making choices related to where or how they might like to ride.

Handling is directly related to the frame set up and components, choices are a plenty as the style of bike depends on the discipline of off road riding being undertaken. Since the 1980s the MTB scene has had a new choice based on wheel size the traditional 26 inch or the 29 inch more aligned with the road bike size tyre 700c. Apparently the concept grew out of a prototype built up by English off-road cycling pioneer Geoff Apps in which he used 700c Nokia snow tires from Finland. Other MTB frame designers and builders Gary Fisher and Charlie Kelly became intrigued and the rest is now living and growing MTB bike history.

MTBs have been likened to that four wheel drivers in that the original intent for harsh off road conditions has changed considerably and the spectrum of users has widened becoming more of a recreation freedom in get away from the maddening crowd. Like some four wheel drivers of the common term of Toorak Tractors, might never get their tyres dirty or really know where the four wheel drive levers and interlocking hubs are to operate. Some MTB riders are merely off road path riders and enjoy the comfort that dual suspension frame geometry delivers.

The introduction of the 29 inch wheel and tyres for off road use has brought much debate about the larger wheel delivering a wider area to share the surface area over rough terrain. The big wheels found on 29er mountain bikes can be run at lower pressures and allow a bigger contact area with the ground giving much more grip. The thoughts are the 29er can cope with extra weight and are well suited to the taller and heavier riders, allowing a greater momentum they can carry at speed granting more stability. There is also the open debate that they will be more sluggish for the serious technical riders that use the 26 inch wheels and bounce over unbelievably rough terrain at amazing speeds.

Increased height for the centre brackets has been overcome with new designs specifically for 29er bikes, low stand over height has been achieved, wheelbase reduced to compare with the 26 inch length and much work to get stronger and lighter wheels. All this with other technical aspects of frame length and cornering response make some sense to the serious discerning MTB competitor to try a 29er.

Weight can have an effect on acceleration harder to get rolling and braking making slower to stop due to momentum forces gained being heavier. While it would seem negligible to some again to the discerning all factors to be added up and weighed out in performance where 10ths of a second means a win or loss, already 29ers are now winning at the world cup level in elite men. Anyone on a bike has to be a winner and 29er’s beckons you out there to consider.

Looking forward to seeing you on the road soon God willing

Improving seat quality

26 August, 2011
A model human pelvis and spine sits on the Specialized "assometer"

Comfort rules: getting the right saddle might be one of the most important aspects of bike fit.

Cycling is often quantified by strength, distance and speed achieved which is really summarized by time in the saddle. Having a poor fitting saddle reduces the ability to perform consistently the longer the time the greater risk of discomfort. This is one of the biggest factors of encouraging new cyclists that have had an experience of an ill fitting saddle in the past.

The saddle is one of the most important parts of the bike that affects the rider’s enjoyment and even fit, yet it is often overlooked in the quest for performance.  More and more science is coming into the cycling industry, and saddle technology is one of the biggest beneficiaries. Read the rest of this entry »

When is second-hand too old?

1 April, 2011
Crank and rear section of an old bicycle

Pre-loved: check the condition of the frame and running gear carefully if you're looking to buy a new bike. Anything less than a 10-speed cassette suggests it's a fairly old bike (like this 8-speed cassette).

Thinking of starting off in cycling or updating your bike from the old faithful that has serviced you so well or has been parked in the dark corner of the shed and has lost its appeal? Caught between the thinking do I want to spend a lot of money or will I really enjoy this new phase so much that it warrants a new bike?  Thinking a second-hand bikes that meets your budget? Brand names of frames and group sets ensembles, steel frame, aluminium, carbon or mixture? What are the better seats, wheels sets, number of gearing and age of the bike where does it all start and end? How do I make the right decision?

Like all moving components there will be fair wear and tear and more so if not well maintained with cleaning and lubrication. Knowing the maintenance nature of the previous owner may well help you appreciate the wellbeing of the bike. There is a real risk in making a purchase of something with age on it that you have not seen visually and made some sound judgments in your purchasing process.

So we have not deterred you and neither did we mean to but to prompt your mind to be aware “think before you buy!” Read the rest of this entry »

Lycra the fit all material

17 February, 2011
Three cycling jerseys

Comfort: lycra makes cycling a much more comfortable proposition.

Lycra the wonder material for sports clothing with just one of its many uses being cycling clothing is also known as Spandex an anagram of the word “expands”.  This amazing material was invented in 1959 by a chemist called Joseph Shivers while in the employ of DuPont’s Benger Laboratory.

This comfortable stretchy material that retains its shape at the same time holds our shape in a modest form was originally designed to replace rubber in clothing that had a limited life and durability. The actual Lycra fibres are not used solely on their own and are blended with such materials as cotton or polyester. Prior to the introduction of Lycra cycling clothing it was made out of a wool blend even the cycling shorts with a leather chamois. Over the years the materials have developed in use with the weave and blend of materials.

Lycra is best worn skin tight as it is purposed it is not meant to be loose fitting. If starting out in cycling and not sure of the value of the Lycra clothing be assured that money spent on a good pair of cycling knicks with a reputable chamois is better use of money than spent on a cycling top.  The next question you may well ask is whether to purchase bibs or straight knicks and is best put to male and female preference. There are a number of good supporting reasons for either and the answer can simple as the amount of time you intend spending in the saddle. Knicks certainly make it easier to go to the toilet when not having a full length zipper in cycling top. Bibs offer better comfort being less likely to cut into your belly with the added advantage that most bibs also offer more coverage of the lower back area. Read the rest of this entry »

Electronic change moving forward

10 February, 2011
Bike showing electronic front derailleur and battery pack on the down tube

Batteries included: electronic gear shifting is reputedly faster and smoother.

The electronic age has such a strong hold on the control of mechanisation where a micro chip can operate almost anything that opens and shuts or need meticulous timing. It stands to reason that it was not going to be long before the two largest cycling group- set makers, Shimano and Campagnolo would have electronic gear shifters.

Researching the progression of electronic gear shift mechanisms it was back in 1992 a French manufacturer Mavic (an acronym of “Manufacture d’Articles Vélocipédiques Idoux et Chanel,”) a well known bicycle wheel maker introduced the “ZAP” at the Tour de France.  Being a proto type it achieved neither technical success nor commercial application at that time. In 1994 Sachs introduced another development in electronic gear shifting with Speedtronic by SRAM another cycling component company that is getting to be a force in the stronghold of Shimano and Campagnolo in the market place. Continuing on the development trail in 1997 Chris Boardman won the prologue at the Tour de France which was fitting as Boardman’s nickname is the Professor, for his meticulous attention to detail in preparation and training, and his technical know-how. In 1999 Mavic introduced their second attempt that failed to make a commercial application called the “Mektronic” which must have prompted Shimano and Campagnolo to get serious in making electronic gear shifters a reality as right through the 2000’s both companies experimented at many professional cycle races. Read the rest of this entry »

Get your head into new helmet standards

10 December, 2010
A helmet sitting on top of the box it was packed in

Protection: new helmet labelling laws come into effect soon.

There is no better protection and safety on the road in a car or on a bike than that of prudent avoidance. Cyclist are certainly vulnerable as we have very little protection in event of a fall particularly in side impact. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recently reviewed its compliance position on bicycle helmets. From 13 December 2010 to 30 June 2011, bicycle helmets that meet the 1996 version AS/NZS 2063 or the Snell standard can be supplied if they meet the following requirements.
The bicycle helmet must comply with all mandated performance requirements of AS/NZS 2063:2008 (as varied) Read the rest of this entry »