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Bicycle/Bicycling Advice

Postby RSMurphy on Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:53 am

I've been reading through various threads this morning in regard to bicycling but none have the information I'm requesting. Kerble away if necessary.

I have taken to riding my roommate's single-speed bike to work. This is actually my second day of biking to work. It's not a long ride by a longshot; twenty minutes or so at best. (Maybe I should also state that I have not owned/seriously-rode a bike since I was, like, fifteen-years-old.) My knees were kinda hot and throbby but they got back to normal knee working status after a couple of hours. Today was a little better, and I'm assuming tomorrow will be better, and so on...The only cardio/exercise I get is playing drums and I haven't done that seriously for a few months now. I am a heavy smoker, but am trying to cut back. Blood pressure is a little high, but everything else in regard to exerting energy seems to be fine. Here are my questions:

I do not own a bike but am planning on buying one before spring springs. All I'm looking for is something to cart my skinny ass around the city on that is reasonably priced and kind of handsome. I'm not looking to buy cycling tights or showing off my wacky individuality for critical mass, just something simple and cost-effective. Is Trek the way to go? What bicycle shop do you prefer?

I know smoking sucks and takes a lot out of you, but are there any regular cyclists who do smoke? Do you just work your way through it? Any exercises I should be doing on the side like stretching before I ride? Oh, and what about single speed? Should I get a ten speed? Do they still call them ten speeds?

Basically, how would you go about giving advice to someone who hasn't had a bike in years. I'm talking, like, YEARS.

Thank you for your patronage.
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Re: Bicycle/Bicycling Advice

Postby Josef K on Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:03 pm

Get some cycling shorts to protect that skinny ass. The hot knees might just be through lack of cycling use, but make sure your saddle is set at the right height. I fing that if the saddle is too low I get pain in my knees and quads.
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Re: Bicycle/Bicycling Advice

Postby EvilTwin on Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:15 pm

Yojimbo's Garage is my favorite shop in town, in fact, I used to live above the shop. Marcus is great, and he puts his heart and soul into every bike he sells. Because of this, however, he sells mostly high-end bikes for the racing scene and sponsors a velodrome team. He decided to do this because he just couldn't make back his time for his builds on cheaper bikes, and I can vouch for his lack of sleep working on stuff to all hours of the night. He also doesn't just buy a complete bike kit, put it together, and sell it. He truly builds bikes from the ground up, using some amazing components and frames. He's still worth talking to because he'll sell used bikes on consignment and some lower-end models of his high-end lines here and there. He also sells some of the most handsome bikes I've ever seen! If you do talk to him, just mention my name.

I'd also recommend some sort of geared bike so you can coast without having to pedal. With a fixed gear, you can't do this. Some people love fixed gear bikes, it's considered more "hardcore" I guess. Whatever you like I 'spose.
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Re: Bicycle/Bicycling Advice

Postby vockins on Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:18 pm

I went through the same thing last year. Everything worked out nicely thanks to the advice of user DasWiso.

The things I learned from that buying process and riding for the last seven months are 1) try riding a lot of bikes before you buy one, like at least a dozen 2) get the bike fit properly, which should take more than 30 seconds 3) buy expensive tires.

It's a really great thing to do. Often the highlight of my day is the commute.
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Re: Bicycle/Bicycling Advice

Postby benadrian on Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:31 pm

H-GM wrote:sucks and takes a lot out of you, but are there any regular cyclists who do smoke? Do you just work your way through it? Any exercises I should be doing on the side like stretching before I ride? Oh, and what about single speed? Should I get a ten speed? Do they still call them ten speeds?


Out here, there are a lot of hipsters and bike nerds that smoke. Probably 75% of the hardcore messengers smoke.

I used to smoke a lot more. Then, I went on a big biking kick. I'd ride AND smoke. However, the more I rode, the less I had a desire to smoke. I don't know why, it just happened like that for me.

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Re: Bicycle/Bicycling Advice

Postby emmanuelle cunt on Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:38 pm

I would totally buy a bike with proper gears, but single speed ones are pretty popular here, I don't quite get why.

I bought a used bike in summer of 2007, so don't be affraid to see what is on ebay. I think you're like 6'3'' so make sure the frame won't be to small for you, and the geometry of the bike will suit you: A pro-cycling position (tour-de-france folks) gives little air resistance but it increases chances of your back being in pain after 15 minutes of biking (especially if you plan on carring anything on your back). The straigh-up position is the most comfortable, but makes you annoyingly wind-prone.


Hey, I just realized I wrote it all before. Here. It still stands. Try how your friends bikes suit you and choose something similar.
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Re: Bicycle/Bicycling Advice

Postby motorbike guy on Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:40 pm

Single Speeds and Fixed Gears:

this has been covered before on the PRF -

Here
here, and
here..

imagine my surprise when my latest Bike Nashbar catalog arrived, and they are selling a single speed fixed gear road bike, upright road bike, and even a mountain bike - hard tail of course, for that extra old skool cred. Here is the link for their single speed showcase on the website.

My basic advice has always been: single speed is great - fixed gear not so much. I like a one speed bike, it is simpler to ride and to take care of. I have more fun riding when I don't have to think about shifting, just pedalling.

I hate fixed gear bikes though. I want to be able to coast. And handbrakes are absolutely essential. Even if you go hardcore indoor-track-bike-on-the-street, your braking power from locking the rear wheel (and probably fucking up your knees) is just not as good as front and rear handbrakes.

H-GM. If you do not know what all this stuff means, go to a bike shop and ask them to explain it for you.

And I smoked while I was a bike messenger. If you are young enough, your body will compensate. Messengering is mostly short trips anyway. Smoking does affect your endurance, tho. After I quit smoking, I was able to go faster for longer.
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Re: Bicycle/Bicycling Advice

Postby emmanuelle cunt on Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:45 pm

I forgot about those fixed-gear thingies. Don't even think about it.
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Re: Bicycle/Bicycling Advice

Postby EvilTwin on Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:57 pm

Another piece of advice is to get slickest and the narrowest tires no matter what type of bike you choose, even a mountain bike. Chicago has a lot of potholes to navigate, but I still think that slick tires are the best choice in the city. Unless you're really off-roading, the nobby tires cause soooo much drag on the street. You'll thank me later for making your life 10x's easier, and allowing you to really cruise even on a so-so set-up. My favorite bike to take to work is a road bike, not a mountain bike.
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Re: Bicycle/Bicycling Advice

Postby alandeus on Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:12 pm

Nice cheap starter bikes here (Working Bikes Cooperative) before you get yourself into a real investment.
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Re: Bicycle/Bicycling Advice

Postby benadrian on Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:13 pm

EvilTwin wrote:Another piece of advice is to get slickest and the narrowest tires no matter what type of bike you choose, even a mountain bike. Chicago has a lot of potholes to navigate, but I still think that slick tires are the best choice in the city. Unless you're really off-roading, the nobby tires cause soooo much drag on the street. You'll thank me later for making your life 10x's easier, and allowing you to really cruise even on a so-so set-up. My favorite bike to take to work is a road bike, not a mountain bike.


I agree with the slick statement, however, i don't agree with the narrow statement. The more narrow the tire, the more pressure needed to inflate, and the harder it will feel on the street. A smooth, medium with tire will still roll great, but it will not need as much pressure, and consequently will absorb more road vibration.

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Re: Bicycle/Bicycling Advice

Postby tmidgett on Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:20 pm

I agree with almost all the advice.

Do not get a fixed-gear bike. Whether or not they are that great an idea in the first place, they can be dangerous for an amateur. Plus they'll kill your knees.

I also agree that slick, narrow tires are better. The only thing knobbies help with is rough and very uneven terrain. Even the worst Chicago street doesn't really qualify--there's usually a smooth line through the potholes.

I wouldn't buy a bike on eBay. I'd go to a proper bike shop and spend the extra money on their expertise.

I have had good luck with both Turin in Evanston and Rapid Transit in Wicker Park. I bought my newest bike (Jamis Aurora) at Rapid Transit, and they were awesome about fitting it and helping me figure out what I needed in the first place. They also put no pressure on me to buy, so it's probably a good place to audition bikes even if you feel you have to buy used for financial reasons.
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Re: Bicycle/Bicycling Advice

Postby Mark Hansen on Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:25 pm

Here you go Randy: http://www.mrdoo.co.uk/mini_bike.jpg

Hope this helps. :P
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Re: Bicycle/Bicycling Advice

Postby EvilTwin on Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:27 pm

benadrian wrote:
EvilTwin wrote:Another piece of advice is to get slickest and the narrowest tires no matter what type of bike you choose, even a mountain bike. Chicago has a lot of potholes to navigate, but I still think that slick tires are the best choice in the city. Unless you're really off-roading, the nobby tires cause soooo much drag on the street. You'll thank me later for making your life 10x's easier, and allowing you to really cruise even on a so-so set-up. My favorite bike to take to work is a road bike, not a mountain bike.


I agree with the slick statement, however, i don't agree with the narrow statement. The more narrow the tire, the more pressure needed to inflate, and the harder it will feel on the street. A smooth, medium with tire will still roll great, but it will not need as much pressure, and consequently will absorb more road vibration.

Ben


Good point. I was thinking more on a mountain bike, because a road or hybrid road bike will have slick type tires that are fairly narrow out of the box, road much more narrow obviously. The thinnest you can go on a mountain bike without buying new rims is fairly wide. You're right about the pressure though, the slicks on my mountain bike that are as thin as you can go, but seem super wide compared to the road bike, are best at 90 psi! I usually keep them around 80, and its still a little rough, you're correct. I don't have a fancy bike with shocks or anything though, I just loosen my wrists and elbows over the bumpy stuff... I'm an aries though, I like speed over comfort, my life's fallacy really!
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Re: Bicycle/Bicycling Advice

Postby benadrian on Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:36 pm

EvilTwin wrote:Good point. I was thinking more on a mountain bike, because a road or hybrid road bike will have slick type tires that are fairly narrow out of the box, road much more narrow obviously. The thinnest you can go on a mountain bike without buying new rims is fairly wide. You're right about the pressure though, the slicks on my mountain bike that are as thin as you can go, but seem super wide compared to the road bike, are best at 90 psi! I usually keep them around 80, and its still a little rough, you're correct. I don't have a fancy bike with shocks or anything though, I just loosen my wrists and elbows over the bumpy stuff... I'm an aries though, I like speed over comfort, my life's fallacy really!


I run about 80- PSI in my 28mm wide Panaracer Ruffy Tuffy tires on my cyclocross goes urban assault bike.

http://www.jensonusa.com/store/product/ ... px?sc=FRGL

They're pricey, but they are the best tires I've ever used, hands down. They have a kevlar belt embedded between the tread area and the inside. They almost NEVER have flats. In Oakland, and I imagine Chicago, an abuse loving tire is very much needed. I used to get 1-2 flats a month. I've had 2 flats with the Ruffys in about 2 and a half years.

If you're not racing, I see no point in going below a 25mm tire.

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Re: Bicycle/Bicycling Advice

Postby RSMurphy on Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:43 pm

Thanks much for the responses, in particular the Working Bikes Cooperative link and the Rapid Transit shout-out. One of them will get my money.

benadrian wrote:If you're not racing, I see no point in going below a 25mm tire.



Nope! 25mm or above it is then.

Are cycling shorts a must? What are they going to do that my boxer's from Marshall's cant' do?

The fixed gear bike I'm riding because it's the only bike available for me to currently ride.

It's good to get some perspective from you folk other than someone just trying to sell me something.

Thanks again.
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Re: Bicycle/Bicycling Advice

Postby benadrian on Mon Feb 23, 2009 2:53 pm

H-GM wrote:Are cycling shorts a must? What are they going to do that my boxer's from Marshall's cant' do?


Dear god no! they provide some crotch padding, and will help stave off chaffing if you're riding a whole lot. For the average joe, most casual activity clothing will work fine. I commute in my street clothes.

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Re: Bicycle/Bicycling Advice

Postby jayryan on Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:01 pm

what tim midgett said. i'd also offer up boulevard bikes (next to lula cafe) as an option.

fixed-gears are good and fun, but not for a casual or inexperienced rider.

bike shorts that you can wear under street clothes are nice for comfort, but not necessary.

you know what's awesome? fenders on your bike.
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Re: Bicycle/Bicycling Advice

Postby Dudley on Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:21 pm

+1 for gears, though I use about a third of the bazillion my hybrid has. Also, I've had that many bikes nicked that i've got no interest in having a flash/impressive/cool-looking bike. Plus a lot of cycle shops (over hear at least) seem to be staffed by even worse gear snobs than guitar shops

Also get some reflective stuff, on the bike and/or on you. If you're riding in your work clothes, then one of those velcro ankle cuff things will keep your strides clean and get you seen. That reflective stuff lights up like Christmas when headlights hit it.

Then obvious stuff like
- keep an eye out for people in parked cars who might door you
- work on the principle that drivers can't see you, (and pedestrians can't hear you) rather presuming that they can or they give a shit if you're there or not. When stationary at junctions in particular, make sure that drivers (truck drivers especially) can see you - make eye contact if you can.

Dunno about Chicago, but in London, I always used to feel that cyclists looked out for each other, but since the 7/7 bombings and the introduction of congestion charging, the number of cyclists has increased massively, and a lot of them are shit, wankers or suicidally stupid, and are as likely to get you hurt as bad drivers. Likewise, here a lot of the new cycle routes have been hastily set up to meet quotas, and some of them have lethal intersections, or lull cyclists into thinking that drivers give a shit about a little green strip at the side of the(ir) road.

Cycling rules, though!
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Re: Bicycle/Bicycling Advice

Postby cjh on Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:28 pm

benadrian wrote:an abuse loving tire is very much needed. I used to get 1-2 flats a month. I've had 2 flats with the Ruffys in about 2 and a half years...If you're not racing, I see no point in going below a 25mm tire.


My office moved from the city centre last spring and as a result I now cycle around twenty miles a day, most it down a busy main road where the gutter is strewn with bits of glass, bolts, stone chips, detritus from minor prangs etc. The first month saw a puncture more or less every week and almost made me weep with frustration. I can't speak for the Ruffys (they look good) but Ben's point here is a good one. I switched to Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres which are smooth-rolling and semi-slick, they can be a bit of a pain to fit but I've not had a single puncture in over a year (four to five thousand miles), they're bomb-proof to the extent that a drawing pin won't even reach the inner tube. It's definitely worth investing in something rugged for the urban commute. Super congrats on the decision though, you'll never look back and coming to it at the perfect time of year.

Plus one on mudguards!

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