Cycling Tips
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Cycling Tips ~

For your pleasure, we have assembled some of our most helpful cycling tips. If you have a tip that you would like to share, please send it to us. We'll post the best ones here for all to see. And, we will be sure to give you credit. Thanks in advance. 

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For lots of information on defeating saddle soreness plus special tips on touring as well as the latest info on product recalls please click to our important sub pages. 


Tip #1: Have fun! Riding will transform your life only if you are lucky. So don't take it too seriously. Keep it fun. You'll live longer and ride more.  Mtn Bike 08/01. 

Gearing ~ 

Current Crossover gearing - With the advent of 10 speed shifting from Campagnolo, the overwhelmingly most popular choice for the 20 gears is 53 x 39 in the front with 12 - 25 in the back. In using this setup, feel free to run your 53 up to your 21t. But stay off the 23 and 25 except for very short periods. The sharp chain angle for these two cogs adds a lot of wear and tear as well as friction to the chain. And in your 39, try to stay away from your 12 and 13 tooth cogs even though this crossover is easier for the chain to handle than the wide crossovers on the big ring. For those of you running 9 speeds of 12 - 23, stay away from that 21 and 23 when you are on your 53, as well as the 12 and 13t on the 39.  

39 tooth or 42 tooth? - Twenty years ago we all used 42 tooth cogs as our low ring on our front end. In order to give Italian star Francesco Moser a better chance to win the Giro d'Italia, Campagnolo designed the new Record crank with a 39 tooth small ring on the front. Since that time, the 39t ring has become the overwhelming choice in the United States. But surprisingly, the 42 remains most popular in Europe. We have found that long time experienced riders are best served by continuing to use a 42. Their natural leg speed and smoothness continues unchanged. But, most newer riders should probably get used to the 39. Then again, if the terrain you ride is not terribly hilly, stay with that 42 and keep a 39 in your tool chest for those rarer rides in the mountains. 

Parts needed for 10 speed Campy conversion - We are often asked what new parts are needed to convert an 8 or 9 speed Campagnolo road bike to 10 speed setup. First, you will need new front and rear derailleurs, new 10 speed chain and cassette, and new Ergo shifter levers. If you have a current 9 speed hub, it will fit the new 10 speed cassette. 8 speed and older 9 speed hubs will need to be replaced. Plus, you will need a new chainring or two. If you are running a 39t inner, then you can replace just the big 53t ring. If you are running a 42t inner then you must replace both the inner and outer rings. 

Wide range double gearing - Since 2000 Campagnolo has offered a very useful gearing setup of 53 x 39 in the front with a very wide range 10 speed cogset of 13 - 29 in the back. This low gear, 36.3", is nearly as low as the 31.2" gearing of a typical road triple of 30t front x 26t rear. This new setup provides a great deal of flexibility in gear choices. Those of you with average size Record or Chorus 10 speed setups can move to the wide range double setup simply by adding the 12-29 cassette in back along with a long cage Record or Chorus rear derailleur. Surprisingly, the average sized Daytona 10 speed derailleur is already long enough to handle the 29t. So if you have a 10 speed Daytona group just add the 12-29 cogset. Campagnolo offers the 12-29 cassette in 3 versions: Daytona standard steel, Chorus with a lighter attaching system, and Record with 4 titanium cogs.


Nutrition ~ 

Reload quickly - After a long ride be sure to reload your energy stores in a hurry. Otherwise, you will be sluggish and hungry for the rest of the day. So, within twenty minutes of finishing your hard ride, drink a full glass of a good carbo and protein reload drink like Metabolol. You will feel the difference in a hurry. 

Eat More to lose weight! - Who wouldn't want to do this! Click here for an excellent article by Dr. Phil Maffetone that can really help you feel and eat better. Eat More!

Vitamin C and Vitamin E - Sports medicine studies have found that both vitamin C and vitamin E can help toasted muscles repair and recover faster. And, vitamin E speeds recovery from abrasions if you happen to fall. Ask your doctor or a nutritionist for more information. 

Eat your breakfast cereal - Research shows that people who start the day with cereal eat less fat throughout the day, get more vitamins and minerals and have lower cholesterol levels than those who skip it. Plus, people who live to be a 100 or more tend to eat breakfast regularly. Bicycling Magazine, Nov 2001

Great breafast ideas - Find it difficult to eat a good breakfast? Click here for great, easy breakfast ideas from By Dr. Phil Maffetone   Breakfast

Lower your cholesterol - To lower your cholesterol eat olive oil, avocados, and nuts - all foods with healthy fat. Avoid butter, cakes, and chips - all foods with "bad" fat.


Safety ~ 

Know the rules of the road - Go to and print a list of your state's bike laws. And if you find local police difficult to reason with, keep a copy in your seatbag and pull it out if you get stopped for doing something legal.

Replace your helmet regularly - Even if you've never crashed, your helmet won't continue to protect forever. "Most manufacturers recommend replacement after seven years, but that's a generalization. It depends how much you used it, how roughly you transported it and how much it was exposed to sun and heat. Fading color, delamination, and distorted internal foam (not to mention cracks) indicate it's time for replacement. Always replace your helmet after a crash." Bicycling Magazine, July 2001

Get back up - When you fall, get back up before your friends run you over! From Dave Leone, Millis, Ma.

Cable Length on Disc brakes - There is a potential safety issue when installing any cable actuated disc brake, regardless of brand. Cable disc brakes could be installed with an excess of cable extending past the cable anchor bolt. This excess cable could get caught in the rotor and be pulled into the caliper, causing the wheel to lock up, possibly resulting in serious injury to the rider. During setup and final adjustment it is crucial that there is no more than 20mm (3/4 inch) of excess cable left beyond the anchor bolt of the brake. Avid Brakes, July 2002


Ride Technique ~

Riding in the mud - Mount a fender off your seatpost. Lather up your mountain bike's chain with grease rather than oil as grease prevents mud buildup and lasts longer. Mount a "Crud Claw" over your cassette to scrap the mud out of your gears. Spray your bike with Pam or WD-40 to cut down on mud buildup. Lower your tire pressure about 4 pounds to around 36 front and 38 rear psi.  John Tomac, February 2002

Stay on the trail - Especially in muddy conditions, stay on the trail. Ride through mud, not around it. Or, get off your bike and walk through the mud. The last thing you want to do is widen a muddy trail!


Service and Repair ~

Loosen your bottom bracket - Sealed bottom brackets run smoother and last considerably longer if they are not cranked into the frame too tightly. You can actually triple or even quadruple your mileage! Install your bottom bracket normally and snug it up. Then, back up just a pinch. You can, by hand, feel the bearing smoothness loosen up as you do this. The technical spec for this torque pressure is 30NM. Rely on liquid thread lock on the threads to keep the bottom bracket in place. Campagnolo Tech, March 2002

Fix a torn tire while out on the road - If you slash the sidewall on your clincher tire, don't despair. Remove the tire then insert a dollar bill or a wrapper from a Power Bar between the tire and your tube. Patch your tube if necessary. Then, re-inflate. The strength of the bill or wrapper should be more than needed to get you home safe and sound. 

Bleeding disc brakes - "On average, a good hydraulic disc brake will only need bleeding (that is, it'll either need more fluid or it'll need air taken out of the line) every year or two, unless you develop a leak. As long as the hydraulic lines are properly secured and you regularly check the brake's fittings and bolts for proper torque, leaks should only be caused by some kind of extreme incident." Mountain Bike Magazine, February 2002 

Detect a worn chain - Tension the chain by pressing lightly on the right pedal. Hold a 12" ruler against the chain. On a fresh chain the distance of 12 full links, from pin to pin, is exactly 12". If 12 links on your chain measure 12 1/8" or more then it is time to replace your chain. If you replace your chain regularly, you will get decidedly longer life out our your chainrings and cassette cogs. Plus, you will have a quieter drivetrain with smoother shifting.  

Grease your seatpost, stem, and bottom bracket often - One of the most common major problems that we run into in the shop is a seized seatpost or quill stem. And since the advent of sealed bottom brackets, they can seize too. The solutions to release a seized part, though varied, are usually time consuming and expensive. But, it's not difficult to prevent these problems from ever occurring. Wrap a piece of electrical tape around your post and stem to mark their position. Then, remove both items, wipe down, re-grease, reinsert. Do this every six months, more often if you really sweat. Bottom brackets should be removed, cleaned, and reinserted once a year, more often if the bike gets ridden in the rain. Your bike, your mechanic, and your pocketbook will really thank you!

Oil your spoke nipples - At least once a year go around each wheel and put a drop of thick oil on every spoke nipple, both where the spoke meets the nipple and where the nipple meets the rim. This will make it much easier to adjust your spokes long term.

Replace your pedal cleats - "A good rule of thumb is that cleats should be replaced when there is a change in the release/engagement effort for your pedal." Shimano Tech, Oct 2001

Don't store your mountain bike vertically - It is very common to store bikes by hanging them from the front wheel. We do this in the shop. But if you hang a mountain bike that way for a long time then the oil in the shocks can leak out. If you find a bunch of oil all over your stem or seatstays then be sure to get your shocks overhauled before you use them again. The same thing is true for hydraulic brakes - hang your bike upside down and you will probably find brake fluid all over the floor - never a good thing! 

Change the oil in your suspension fork - "There is no hard-and-fast rule as to when you should change your fork oil, except for this: it's worth the effort to change the oil in your fork after its first 20 hours of use. In the initial break-in period for your fork, all the production remnants and shrapnel (small burrs from machining, casting flash, etc.) will find a new home floating in your oil. And that can restrict your oil's flow through valves. Flush out all the original oil and crud and replace it with new oil. After that, oil changes can happen a lot less frequently, maybe once a year to every 18 months, depending on use." Mountain Bike Magazine, Sept 2001 


Training ~ 

A Fast Warm-up, 3 tips - If you don't have time for a proper warm-up before a race or hard ride, try these three quick fixes: take a hot shower just before jumping on your bike, do a few jumping jacks or similar calisthenics to get your blood pumping, and rub on a quality massage oil such as Record Pre-Gara or Qoleum Pre-Sports. 

Sleep more when you train - "1/3rd of Americans get 6 hours of sleep a night or less when they really need at least 8 1/2," says James Mass, Ph.D. If you are training, says Maas, shoot for 9 hours. Between the 7th and 8th hour, you go into your last phase of REM sleep. "That's when your mind really restores and repairs itself," he says. Miss that phase and your reaction time and concentration suffer. The best way to work up to the right amount of sleep is to add 15 minutes a night until you start waking up feeling alert and energized all day. Bicycling Magazine, Nov 2001


Miscellaneous ~ 

Clean your water bottle - "To clean a drink-stained water bottle, fill it with hot water and drop a denture cleansing table into it. Let it soak overnight; in the morning it's as clean as new." Michael Hinkle, OH

Clean your helmet - "To make a stinky helmet fresh again wear it in the shower! Get a good shampoo lather going on your head, put your helmet on and massage your scalp with the helmet for a few minutes. Then, give it a good rinse." Tom Smith, NY

Great trivia fact -  The heyday of bicycling began in the 1870s with the evolution of the "Ordinary". It was speedy and capable of long trips on poor roads, so its use spread fast and far. In a day when a skilled person might earn 25 cents per hour in wages, a good Ordinary sold for $75 to $125, making it more expensive than building a house! Nevertheless, they sold at a furious pace. For a short history on the evolution of bicycles, click here:  History of Bike

Airplanes and Air - When taking your bike on an airplane reduce the tire pressure to about half. That way, if the remaining air in your tires expands during the flight you won't get a blowout. Also, leave any CO2 cartridges at home or pack them in your carry-on. They should not be stowed in the non-pressurized cargo areas.

Carbon Composite vs. Plastic - "'Plastic' generally refers to a material that is either not reinforced by fiber or not reinforced by enough fiber to significantly improve the properites of the final material. A 'composite' is a material that consists of a matrix (such as plastic) and a reinforcing material (such as carbon, Kevlar, or glass fibers) that, when combined, form a material that has properties superior to the individual components. Chad Manuell, Project Engineer at Composite Products


"The least flexible component of any system is the user."

- Lowell Jay Arthur


Traveling ~ 

Cover your headset on the roof rack - If you transport your bike on the top of your car then wrap a rag around the top and bottom parts of your headset before you start driving. Otherwise, the high velocity of the car will flush the grease right out of your headset. 

Caution for roof racks - If your roof rack is the kind where you remove the front wheel and clamp your bike by the front forks then be extra careful when loading and unloading your bike. If you let the bike drop to the side while a dropout is still in the clamp you can easily bend or even crack your dropout without knowing it. Be careful to load your bike in straight - don't twist the dropouts.