Cycling Tips

  • Spin Class, Spin Shoes... is your head spinning yet?

    When the air temperature drops, perhaps so does your motivation to get outside for a workout. Consider trying a spin cycling class! This awesome inside stationary bike workout can be performed year round at your local gym no matter the cold, wind or precipitation. The spin class bikes allow you to adjust the tension to simulate hills. Even though you may not be moving, you still get the benefits of riding outdoors with elevation changes.

    Considered a low-impact exercise (easier on your joints than running, for example), anyone can do a spinning class. It’s a great cardio and calorie-burning workout with the camaraderie of a motivating group environment. The music is always fun and upbeat, too!

    If you have already signed up for your first spin class and are wondering what to wear, regular workout clothes are fine (you may want to avoid long/baggy pants, however). Cycling shorts aren’t mandatory, but may increase your comfort level as you get used to being on a bike saddle. Normal flat soled athletic shoes are fine to wear, especially for beginners. Spin shoes with cleats that clip into the bike’s pedals can make your workout more effective and may be required for come classes.

    You may be wondering exactly how a spinning shoe may help you in your spin class. Cycling specific shoes have stiff soles that enable powerful pedaling strokes. They can be used with so called “clipless” pedals. These types of pedals ease a push/pull action as well as more efficient pedal strokes.

    Gavin Spin Shoe Gavin Spin Shoe

    While conventional road cycling shoes may be used for spin class, there are also spin shoes made just for this purpose. Many mountain bike shoes work too, including the Gavin Mountain Spin Cycling Bike Shoe MTB. The advantage to wearing a sneaker style spin shoe like this is the cleat is recessed into the sole so you may walk around comfortably. These spinning shoes are made of breathable micro fiber fabric and have three adjustable Velcro closures to ensure a perfect fit.

    The Gavin Mountain Spin Cycling Bike Shoes MTB are compatible with SPD, SPD-R and SPD-L cleats. The SPD system is short for Shimano Pedaling Dynamics, and is an industry standard. This two-hole system is used on most mountain bike shoes and some road shoes.

    Gavin Mountain Spin Cycling Bike Shoe MTB Gavin Mountain Spin Cycling Bike Shoe MTB

    Check with your gym/spin instructor for specific cleat or MTB shoe and spin shoe compatibility questions before you purchase shoes for spinning class. The Shimano Compatible SPD Cleats work for the Gavin MTB Spin Shoes, and are available to order from RoadBikeOutlet.com.

    A spinning class is a great way to burn some calories, tone your legs and butt, and make some new friends. Visit your local gym and take a class soon!

  • How to Clean Your Bike

    Cleaning your bike is simple and a crucial part of bike ownership.

    All those moving parts are constantly exposed to the elements, road debris and dirt. To keep your bike working correctly and safely, a regular cleaning routine is a must. If your bike is kept clean, it will be easier to spot potential issues before you get out on the road or trail.

    While it may be tempting to hook up the power washer and shoot the bike with a jet stream of water, this is not a great idea. Along with the dirt, you’ll also blast away the grease that should be there, which has the all important job of lubing the bike’s various components. You will also risk damaging the bearings systems.

    All you need for a good basic bike cleaning are a few fresh rags or sponges, a couple of different size brushes, a degreaser like Simple Green, diluted dishwashing detergent or a bike specific wash, a bucket or two, and a chamois cloth or towel for drying.

    Set your bike up on a repair stand or even your car’s hitch mount bike rack so you don’t have to hunch over it. Pour water from a bucket on or wet the bike with your hose (lightly, just a dribble). Remember-no blasting! You merely want to wet the bike to loosen any stubborn caked on dirt or grime so you don’t scratch the frame when you begin wiping it.

    Fill a bucket with detergent and water, grab a sponge or rag and get cleaning. Wipe the bike with sudsy water. Use a brush for hard to reach places like around the fork, brakes or hubs. Does your bike have standard brakes? Then clean your rims well; this is your braking surface after all!

    Rinse the bike with a bucket of clean water. Or if you decide to hose it down, spray it lightly. Dry the bike thoroughly with an unsoiled towel or chamois cloth.

    Once the bike is clean and dry, if you want the job to be a little easier next time, use some silicon spray on the frame. It will make your bike look pretty and shiny, with the added bonus of repelling dirt and water. Be sure to spray only the frame, though; take care to stay away from the wheels, rims, brakes and chain. Relubricate your chain with a good bike chain lube (there are many fine products available, ask your local bike shop for their recommendation).

    You are now ready to set out on your clean machine!

    Get into a good bike hygiene regimen. Repeat these basic cleaning steps as often as necessary. This is an easy and essential part of owning a bike. On a dirt free bike, it is easier to see potential maintenance problems and get them straightened out. Plus your bike will look great as you ride off down the road.

  • Reasons to Ride Your Bike to Work

    Part of the Bike Month festivities every year, Bike to Work Day is the third Friday in May. Do you need reasons to spend more time in the saddle? Here are six good ones:

    You will save money. Gas prices are near an all time high. With the money you bank from commuting by bike, you can buy new fun bike gear!

    You will help the environment. No emissions or fumes come from a pedal powered bike.

    You will see things you may have missed while behind the wheel of your car. Like a giant blue heron spearing a fish in the pond you pass every day. Or a five dollar bill on the road’s shoulder.

    You will not be at the mercy of your spin instructor. Because you won’t need spin class anymore! Commuting by bike is keeping fit with a purpose.

    You will not miss bumper to bumper traffic. The bored commuters sitting stationary in their cars will look at you with envy and longing as you glide past them in the bike lane carefree and car-free.

    You will feel happier. There is no better way to start your day then with fresh air and exercise. Your attitude will rub off on your co-workers and who knows? You may very well mobilize a helmeted and proud fleet of bicycle commuters.

    Get your bike out of the garage, and get to work under your own power.  The rewards are great!

  • May is National Bike Month

    It is time to celebrate! National Bike Month was established in 1956. Now is the perfect time to promote the countless benefits of biking and help persuade folks to give biking a try.

    The League of American Bicyclists is a national sponsor of Bike Month, and has been involved in bicycle advocacy since its inception (then as the League of American Wheelmen) in 1880.

    Bike Month Bike Month

    Bike Month is observed every May in communities across the nation with organized rides and events, including National Bike to Work Week from May 12-16 and National Bike to Work Day on May 16.

    This is a wonderful opportunity to examine the reasons you ride, encourage a family member or friend to begin riding, or just celebrate bicycling and bike culture.

    Whether you ride your bike for fitness, fun, transportation, your health or the planet’s health, make sure you get out on your bike this Bike Month.

    Why do you ride? We want to know! Leave a comment below, visit www.facebook.com/RoadBikeOutlet, tweet us @roadbikeoutlet, or email us at service@roadbikeoutlet.com.

  • 6 Ways to Raise Money for Your Charity Bike Ride

    Now you've gone and done it. You signed up for your first long charity ride. Aside from those pesky and time consuming training sessions, one of the hardest things you’ll have to do is raise some money. Whether you have to raise $20 or $2000… fear not! These tips will help get you on your way to your goal:

    Hit up your family, first. Ask your mom or dad to help out (because they haven’t done quite enough for you). Remind your sister in law about all the Girl Scout cookies you bought from your nieces last year. You've been meaning to call your grandmother for a month, now is the perfect time.

    What are friends for? Compose a heartfelt email and send it to your buddies. Get on Facebook and put out the plea. Donations start with asking, so ask everyone.

    Take it to the office. Here you can be passive and tape your contribution sheet to the cluttered break room fridge door. Or better yet, walk from desk to desk with puppy dog eyes and a big smile on your face and go for it. Pit your co-workers against each other: “Hey Susan! Carl just donated 50 bucks to my charity ride. How much can I put you down for?”

    Have a “do good” party. Make sure you tell folks it’s a fundraiser. Get your friend who’s in a band to come and play (for free, of course). Put out an awesome food and drink spread and ask for a cover charge. All proceeds will fund your bike ride for a great cause!

    Sell some of your unneeded junk. Head down to your basement or up in the attic and look around. Admit it, it would be fantastic to organize and get rid of some stuff. Snap a few pictures of the unused dog crate or old surfboard and get them on Craigslist. Have a garage sale or bring the items to the local consignment shop. This is “extra” cash you didn't know you had anyway, so it’s perfect to give to your organization.

    Make people cry. Dramatic? Absolutely! Make people understand the impact of their donation. Know everything there is to know about your cause, and share that knowledge. For example, “Every day X number of people are diagnosed with Y disease or condition. Every day Z people die from it. We need your help.”

    Soliciting for money can be difficult, and getting “No” for an answer will definitely occur. Try not to personalize it. Keep asking around, use the above tips liberally, and your hard work will pay off. Enjoy your charity ride!

  • Adjusting your bicycle saddle

    We have a slew of 'how to videos' and one of my favorites is this one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPH510PyFn0

    This quick video shows you how to adjust your saddle. The crazy thing is, that its super easy to do, and you'll notice the difference immediately. I suggest you make small tweaks to get the saddle in the right position.

    If you don't have this multi-tool, get it!

    http://www.roadbikeoutlet.com/multi-function-bike-tool-with-patch-kit-and-tire-levers.html

  • Pedals 101

    For those new to cycling, shopping for the right bike pedals need not be overwhelming. At RoadBikeOutlet you are sure to find what you need among our great selection of Wellgo Pedals.

    From flat to clipless and everything in between, here is a quick explanation to the types of bike pedals available:

    Platform (or flat) pedals are likely what were on your first bike when you were a kid. As you ride, your feet can rest on either side of the wide surface of platform pedals. One benefit to these is you are easily able to disengage from the pedal merely by lifting your foot. Check out Wellgo Platform Pedals Silver/Black 9/16".  Another fun and colorful option to consider would be fixed gear platform pedals available in many colors.

    Also in this category are platform pedals with toe straps, clips or cages designed to enclose the ball of your foot. These help you pedal more effectively as there is power as you push the pedal down as well as when you bring the pedal back up. These Track Fixie Bike Pedals have toe clips and a leather strap.

    Clipless Pedals is the slightly confusing name for pedals that you “clip” into while wearing cycling shoes mounted with a small plastic or metal cleat. This style of pedal has no toe clips (hence, “clipless”) as the shoe-cleat-pedal combo holds your feet securely to your bike. This is the most efficient way to pedal as you expend energy on both the down stroke and the up stroke. These Clipless Road Bike Pedals with Cleats are a great choice.

    For the best of both worlds, there are even reversible pedals that are platform on one side and clipless on the other. Take a look at the versatile Wellgo WPD-95B Reversible Platform Clipless Pedals.

    With a great assortment of Wellgo Pedals, RoadBikeOutlet makes your bike pedal purchase easy!

  • Tips for Cycling in Traffic

    Unless your cycling is limited to spin classes or the exercise bike in the corner of your basement, you will probably be sharing your riding space with vehicles that are much larger than you are. If you ride defensively, you’ll be prepared for any unpredictable situation that may arise. Keep in mind that laws pertaining to bikes and bicycle riding vary from state to state, so be sure to double check the laws wherever you ride.

    Here are some quick and useful tips for cycling in traffic:

    • Be predictable! Ride in a straight line and avoid unexpected or sudden movements. Do not swerve in and out of traffic.
    • Be courteous.
    • Be prepared and alert to any changes in surroundings.
    • Ride on the right side of the road with the flow traffic. If there is a bike lane, use it. If there is not enough room, take the whole lane.
    • Watch the road ahead for debris or obstacles.
    • Be visible. Wear bright clothes and use lights at night.
    • Do not ride on the sidewalk.
    • Always yield to pedestrians.
    • To help be sure drivers understand your intentions, make eye contact with them if possible.
    • Be ready to brake at all times. Keep your hands on your handlebars!
    • Be careful at any curb cuts, driveways or alleys.
    • Use a mirror mounted on your helmet, handlebar, or glasses. But always look over your shoulder too.
    • Obey traffic signals. Is the light yellow? Stop. Lights are made for cars (not slower bikes) and you may not have enough time to get through an intersection before it turns red.
    • Signal your movements and intentions using correct hand signals.
    • Give trucks, buses and other larger vehicles a wide berth. Longer and bigger vehicles have a hard time seeing cyclists because of the blind spots. Be positive they can see you, or assume they can’t!
    • Keep a safe distance between you and other cyclists (enough that you’ll be able to react if an unforeseen situation arises).
    • Be cautious when passing parked cars. Stay far away from the possibility of a door opening into your path.
    • If you need to stop for any reason, pull entirely off the road so you do not become an obstacle to another cyclist or vehicle.

    Check with your local bike shop for information on good biking routes, local laws and safety, and group rides in your area. Your LBS is sure to have many valuable resources they want to share with you, so go visit them!

    These are basic guidelines for bike safety that can apply to any situation in any place while biking in traffic. While some of these tips may seem like common sense, it is a good rule to take nothing for granted when riding your bike on the road.

  • Tips for Cycling on Wet Roads

    Spring is quickly approaching and with it, at least in some parts of the country, comes seasonal rains, snow melt, and slick roads. Whether you are an experienced cyclist or a beginner, spend enough time in the saddle and your chance of getting caught in a rain shower increases no matter the season. Wet and undesirable road conditions will not get the best of you if you are prepared.

    Here are some tips for cycling on wet roads:

    Be cautious in the first moments of a storm as that is when roads are the most slippery (especially if it hasn't rained in a long time). Oil and water mix to make the road surface dangerous.

    Keep in mind that painted lines or other road markings, metal manhole covers or grates, and piles of leaves will be super slick. Avoid riding through puddles as there is high potential for hidden hazards lurking (like road debris or a deep hole).

    Apply your brakes earlier than you would in dry conditions and leave plenty of room to stop. Brakes are less efficient when wet. It could take a full revolution of your wheels for the brake pads to squeegee the water from the rims and begin to stop the bike.

    Brake early, before you start turning, not while in the middle of a turn. To help prevent your back wheel from locking up, keep pedaling as you use the back brake.

    Be wary of pedestrians with hoods up or carrying umbrellas.  They may not see you and could step off the sidewalk into your path.

    Remember that car drivers’ visibility is decreased in poor weather. Be obvious to them! Make sure you have proper bike safety lights and wear bright clothing. Grab a rain jacket for you and a plastic bag for your phone. If you wear glasses, consider wearing a cap or hat under your helmet.

    If you are worried about looming inclement weather, take the preventative step of lowering the air pressure in your tires before you ride (more rubber in contact with the road equals more traction).

    Riding in a rainstorm may not be ideal, but it does not have to mean no bike ride. Imagine the sense of accomplishment you will have post-ride as you think to yourself, “I got out there today!”  Just take the extra care to be safe and cycling in the rain will become second nature.

  • Bike Safety Lights

    Whether you choose to leave in the pre-dawn for an early training ride or you get caught late at work and have to commute after-hours, it is inevitable that you will ride your bike in the dark. You think that having a few reflectors on your bike is enough for motorists see you? Nope! Drivers have to deal with light pollution from streetlights or roadside businesses as well as different lighting conditions (especially at sunrise and sunset). Also, you can help yourself and see potential road hazards ahead of you if you have extra lighting options.

    The absolute minimum:

    White headlight on your handlebars. There are lights for merely being visible to others, as well as those that are made to guide you on your way.

    Red rear light. This can be mounted on your seat post, fender, or rack.

    A few things to consider when purchasing lights include the type of bulb (LED and halogen are the brightest), what kind of batteries they use, and how many hours are in the battery life. Be sure your lights have blinking or flashing options to increase your visibility.

    The next level of safety:

    Front helmet mounted light. Advantages of a helmet light include a higher light for cars to see and having a beam directed wherever your head turns.

    Rear mounted light on helmet, shirt or jacket, or backpack. It is a great idea to have a blinking light on your person as well as the bike. This is an easy and inexpensive extra layer of safety that can make you stand out to a passing motorist.

    Reflective jacket or vest. Of course, you can wear your lightest colored clothes, but ramp it up and get a bright neon vest or jacket with reflective strips on it. Think you will feel silly wearing it? Safety doesn’t always equal fashion!

    Reflective calf or ankle strap. The same logic as above applies here. That reflective material is obviously designed to pick up a car’s headlights.

    To help guarantee that motorists will see you and hopefully avoid any potential mishaps, be as visible as you can when you ride. Combine these ideas or use one or two. Be proactive about bike safety lights and not only will you be able to see where you are headed, but you’ll likely avoid any car versus bike close calls.

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