22 June, 2012

Just Ride

Articles on biking for beginners appear everywhere, but I rarely see a good one.

Americans seem intent on reinventing the wheel when it comes to biking.  The authors pull random and often misguided tips from a hat.  Look to countries where everyone rides!

The Dutch, normal people riding normal bikes. 

Yes those are high heel shoes. Yes she's carrying 100 pounds of "cargo".

The bad articles load you with "necessary" accessories.  You only need a city-bike.

I convert old mountain bikes to city-bikes, not ideal but cheaper than a new bike.

Find a single bike accessory, I dare you!

An East Bay bike maker recently published  "Just Ride" to try and put people straight.

On jerseys

BM: Made of lightweight, fast-drying materials that stay cool, this shirt includes back pockets to hold snacks, keys, and other essentials.

GP: If you don't race, loose is better. Loose clothing ventilates better and stays off your skin. Untuck your shirt, so it flaps a little and keeps the air moving around your skin.  

On shoes

BM: Invest in a clipless system, which increases power and efficiency and smooths out pedal strokes by connecting cleats on your shoes to the pedals.

GP: As long as your pedals aren't dinky, any shoe does the job without flexing because the shoe is supported by the pedal. The benefits of pedaling free far outweigh any real or imagined benefits of being locked in.  

On gloves

BM: They prevent blisters and pressure pain from the handlebar and protect your hands in case of a fall.

 GP: I can see gloves (or mittens) in cold weather, but they're far from essential in fair weather.

On helmets

BM: That's your only brain up there. Strap this on to help keep it safe.

GP: Are you safer wearing a helmet and overestimating its protection, or going helmetless and riding more carefully?

On buying bikes

BM: Buy the highest quality bike you can afford. For $500-700, expect entry-level components; a frame made of no-frills steel or aluminum; basic wheels. For $1,000 to 1,500, expect mid or entry level parts; a midquality steel or aluminum frame, maybe with carbon fiber mixed in; lighter, stronger wheels. For $1,500 to 3,000, expect upper-level components; a frame made of some high-quality aluminum or steel or midlevel carbon; lighter wheels.

GP: The lighter bike is good for maybe five years before it breaks or you just don't trust it anymore. The heavier one may easily last twenty or thirty years because it can withstand scratches and minor gouges. The more useful steel bike let's you ride tires up to 38 mm so you can ride it over any paved surface with remarkable comfort, because you can lower the pressure in the wide tires. It fits fenders, so it's a year-round, all-weather bike, not a part of the year, good weather one. A weight difference of a few pounds is hard to get worked up over, especially when the "extra" weight makes the bike better.