Make your shoes last

One of the best features of cycling shoes is that they last far longer than other sports shoes. For example, you must replace running shoes every six months (or sooner) because the materials inside the soles lose their ability to provide cushioning. Also, regular sneakers are in constant contact with the ground and the soles and uppers wear rapidly. Contrarily, if cared for, a quality pair of pedal pushers could last five or even ten years! These easy tips will help you get the most from your shoes:

  • Maintaining the fit: We recommend wearing only cycling socks with your riding shoes because these thin socks won’t stretch the shoes, which can ruin the snug fit so important for efficient pedaling.
  • Walking: Shoes made for off-road use or touring sport lugged soles and recessed cleats that are made for easy walking. Road-specific shoes, however, are designed for optimum power transfer when pedaling. While these shoes may include heel and toe tabs for walking, it’s best to walk as infrequently as possible. Walking flexes the soles and stretches the shoes. Over time, this changes the fit and the stiffness of the shoes, which decreases efficiency and comfort.
  • Moisture: Water won’t hurt cycling shoes as long as you dry them properly. To do this, as soon as you get home, extract any removable liners and stuff the shoes with newspaper, which will absorb the moisture and dry the shoes. Do not place the shoes by a heat source because this can damage them. If the shoes are really wet, replace the newspaper after a few hours (the first batch is probably saturated).
  • Maintenance: While not much can go wrong with cycling shoes, we recommend checking the bolts that attach the cleats to the soles about monthly. If these loosen, the cleats can change position, which may cause knee pain. If you have a pair of shoes with buckles that ratchet, they may be attached with hardware. It’s a good idea to regularly check that this hardware is tight, too.

Hit the bar, no not that one…for better riding


When installing bar ends, make sure that the fasteners and clamping area are placed in an
unobtrusive fashion so your knees don’t contact them and get sliced and diced in a crash. It’s also a good to idea to check them for tightness frequently, because if a bar end slips while you’re pulling hard, it can be disastrous.

Adjusting Bar Ends
Position bar ends on the handlebar to match the natural angle of your hands and wrists when you grasp the bar ends. If you’re bending your wrists to hold on, change the position of the bar ends until your wrists are in a neutral, relaxed position. This may take a little experimentation. For most riders the bar ends are angled slightly upwards but not too steeply. If you set them too high, when you stand to climb, you’ll have to bend your wrists a lot, which can strain the wrists and prevent you from maintaining a safe grip.

Weight Watch
If you’re concerned about bike weight, there are carbon fiber and magnesium bar ends that are extremely light. Lightweight handlebars, however, will need to have reinforcements inserted inside the ends, so that the bar-end clamps tighten securely without crushing the bars.

Fit And Feel
Some bar ends are anatomically shaped to better fit your hands, which you might like. These may be bent aluminum or carbon fiber. Forged construction adds strength and matte or scored finishes improve the grip. Some riders like to put road handlebar tape on their bar ends, too, for comfort and to keep them from heating up in the hot sun.

Keep ‘Em Plugged
Finally, always keep the ends of your bar ends and handlebars plugged. If you lose the caps that the bar ends and handlebars came with, stuff anything (cork, cloth) in there, or tape over the hole until you can get the correct replacement. This is important because the thin edges of bar ends and handlebars can cause nasty puncture wounds if you crash.

Check yourself before you wreck yourself :) Bike inspection time!

Once a week conduct this 30-minute bike inspection, which checks all systems. (Print this list and use it as a checklist to keep track of things as you work.)

1. Wipe down the frame and look for flaking paint that may indicate that a crack has developed. Although frame failure is rare, it can happen. (It’s most likely if you crash or ride hard all the time.)
2. Wipe down the rims, to clean residue that affects braking. Scrub with alcohol to remove any black deposits. Closely inspect the rim sides for wear from braking. See deep grooves? Have us check the rim for safety.
3. Spin the wheels. They should be round and true. If they wobble, spokes may have loosened and the wheel should be trued and tensioned.
4. Inflate your tires to the proper pressure (it’s usually written on the sidewalls) and inspect them closely for wear and tear. If they’re bald or the sidewalls are damaged or cracked, replace the tire(s).
5. Grab the top of each wheel and gently push and pull laterally, feeling for play at the hubs. If you find any, the wheel bearings should be adjusted.
6. Apply the front brake and rock the bike back and forth feeling for play. If there’s any play, the headset (steering bearings) needs adjustment.
7. Hold onto the crankarms and push and pull laterally feeling for play in the bottom-bracket bearings. Play indicates adjustment is needed.
8. Check that these key parts are tight by putting a wrench on them and trying to tighten them: crank bolts, chainring bolts, pedals (the left pedal is turned counter-clockwise to tighten), stem bolts, derailleur mounting bolts, derailleur pulley bolts, brake bolts, seat-post bolt, seat bolt.
9. Prep the chain by applying a bike-specific lubricant, let it soak in for a few minutes, then wipe off the excess with a rag.
10. If your derailleur cables run beneath the bottom bracket, drop a bit of light oil on the contact areas.
11. Inspect your chainring for broken teeth, but don’t be alarmed if you have newer chainrings and some teeth are slightly shorter than others. Chainrings are designed this way because the shorter teeth provide a specific release point where the chain can easily drop from the large ring to the small, improving the shifting.
12. Examine all the cables for rust and fraying, signs that replacement is needed.
13. Make sure your handlebars have end plugs because open-ended bars can hurt you if you crash.
14. If you use clipless pedals, check the hardware on your cleats and the cleats themselves for wear (signs of worn-out cleats can be difficulty getting in and out of your pedals, and cleats that pull out inadvertently during hard pedaling).

Let Us Help
Feel free to ask us if you have any questions regarding inspecting your bike for maintenance and safety. We’re here to help! Our expert service department is happy to perform required maintenance, too, should you not have the time, special tools or inclination to do it yourself.

Night riding…deserves a quiet night

Modern high-end light systems offer enough brightness to give your riding companions sunburn (kidding!). And, they come in a wide variety of price points. But, how much light is needed for safe road or off-road riding?


Light It Up
To illuminate the road or trail ahead for your own eyes, not just to be seen at night by others, 10 watts is a good starting point. In general, the greater the headlight’s wattage, the brighter the light. There are also systems with yellow and white light, the latter being brighter at the same wattage.

Find The Right Features
Modern lighting systems are packed with features. There are twin- and single-beam headlight systems. There are different battery types (rechargeables are found on better lights). There are ingenious quick-release mounts so you can install and remove the light in a blink. Most lights offer high- and low-beam options like your car (use the high beam for downhills, pitch-black woods, high speed and intersections). There are even computerized light systems on which battery usage and light output is controlled via microchip.

Trail Torch
The ultimate trail setup is having one handlebar light and another on your helmet. The head-mounted light illuminates your field of vision and is especially handy for following bends in the trail because it moves with you as you turn to look (just don’t look directly at friends when riding because you’ll blind them for a few seconds). Meanwhile, the bar-mounted beam allows monitoring conditions directly in front of the bike for bumps, roots and trail irregularities.

Portable Power
High-watt light systems require large amounts of power so battery systems have gotten very sophisticated. In ascending order of cost, bicycle lighting systems use lead-acid batteries, Nickel-Cadmium (NiCad) batteries, and Nickel-Metal-Hydride (NiMH) batteries. NiCad batteries are lighter and less susceptible to power loss at high or low temperatures than lead-acid, and will last many more recharge cycles. NiMH batteries weigh 30% less than NiCad batteries and offer similar run-times and durability. Proper care and feeding of your battery must be followed to insure you get maximum battery life. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding charging and use of any rechargeable battery.

Night Rides Can Be The Best Rides
Having a good light means you can ride safely at night, which is sometimes the best time to ride. It’s after car-commuting hours so the roads are less busy. The sun’s gone down, so it’s often the most comfortable time of day, too. And, at night, off-road riding can be magical. The best way to decide on a lighting system is to come in and look at some to compare features and cost. Which one is best for you really depends on how and where you plan to use it and how much you’d like to spend. If you can answer these questions, we can help you pick the perfect light.

Lock it up, no YOU lock it up!

Bike thieves are sneaky and resourceful so you’ve got to be diligent when locking your machine. When shackling your ride, it helps to examine how you’ve secured it while thinking like a thief. Ask yourself how you’d violate the lock and escape with the bike if you were a crook, and take pains to eliminate any risks. Here are some tips to help:

Lock your bike to something that can’t easily be cut, broken or removed. And, don’t attach your pride and joy to something like a loose or short pole. The crook might be able to pull the post out of the ground or lift your bike over the top.

Where you leave your bike is important, too. Secure your ride in a visible, well-lit area and you’ll force the thief to operate in plain view, which may be enough to get him to pass on your machine and find another. And, don’t routinely lock your baby in the same place all the time. A thief may notice the pattern and pick your bike as an easy target. Similarly, if you leave your rig outside a movie theater, a thief may realize there’s a strong chance that you won’t be out until the movie’s over, which gives him time to get the tools he needs to swipe your ride. Also, if you store your bike in your garage, leave the door closed and consider locking the bike to something because you never know who might spot the bike when the door is open.

When using a U-lock (illustration), position your frame and wheels so that you fill as much of
the open space within the lock’s U portion as possible. The tighter the lock up, the harder it is for a potential thief to use tools to attack your lock.

Always secure your components and accessories, too, especially quick-release wheels and seat posts, with a secondary cable lock.

Don’t rush when locking your bike because you might mistakenly lock it incorrectly. To prevent this, check your lock before leaving to be sure you’ve secured it properly.

For the greatest theft deterrence, use two locks such as a U-lock and a locking cable. This forces the thief to get through two locks and usually the creep will skip your bike and find an easier one to steal.

Get It Back
If you’re unlucky enough to have a bike stolen, don’t assume it’s gone for good. As long as you can identify the bike (you did record the serial number, didn’t you?) and you’re willing to do a little leg work, there’s a chance of recovery. Immediately prepare a flyer with a photo and description of your bike. Include any details that make identification easier such as special accessories or markings on the bike. Post these flyers on telephone poles, on community bulletin boards, at colleges, by bus stops, in short, everywhere and anywhere. Also, hand them to all your friends and let us know as soon as possible so we can be on the alert, too (sometimes thieves think they can sell stolen bikes to bike shops and we’re always on the lookout).

Sign Your Bike
One thing that you can do that will help if you happen to find the bike is to put your name or license number on it somewhere secret. One hidden location is inside the handlebar (write your name on a piece of paper and slip it inside). You might also write your name on the underside of the seat. These marks will help in the event that you discover your bike at a swap meet or police auction because they’ll help you prove ownership. Good luck. We hope these tips keep your bike yours!

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