Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bikes outselling cars in Europe

Here's a link to an article I just recently read on how the bicycle is outselling cars in most of Europe. I doubt we will ever see that headline in the US. America is making some progress at least in some of the larger cities. One issue is the infrastructure is not geared for cycling to be used for anything but leisure or sport. Thankfully that's changing but slowly. Secondly, Sociologists that study human behavior see Americans viewing bicycles as something that's not a legitimate mode of transportation. Bicycles are viewed as more of a toy or something someone poor would ride to work on. If you look at photos of riders in Europe there are men and women of all ages wearing suits, dresses, heels, dress coats. It's a typical cross section of Europe's working population. Not just for the sport of riding. They get it. Unfortunately within the US the mentality of change takes a long time even if it's a positive thing. At least we're being pointed in the right direction.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Serfas Scandium MTB shoes

After 6 years of service I'm retiring my Louis Garneau mountain bike shoes. No complaints though as they've held up very well but their just shot at this point. Mountain bike shoes take a real beating with all the bushwhacking we put them through so I do like to spring for good quality. After reading positive things regarding the new Serfas shoe line I went for the Scandiums. The Bicycle Center in Brookfield CT has a pretty extensive line of Serfas shoes and had my size in stock. One reason I went with Serfas is the wide toe box which I do prefer and the price point at $180.00 list is excellent for a stiff Carbon plank soled shoe. Weighing in at 390 grams for size 44 is pretty light in comparison with some big brands. The lugs on the bottom of the sole are very aggressive and grip well. They even come with a tool to install the removable toe spikes for steep hike-a-bikes. The sizing is pretty accurate, and the roomy toe area is great for heavy winter socks. I really hate it when my toes or metatarsals are tight in a toe box. Your metatarsals are designed to spread apart when pressure is applied to the ball of your foot which naturally creates stability in the human foot. If the metatarsals can't spread adequately you develop numbness. I haven't tried them in the heat as fall moves in but from what I've read they're ventilated pretty well. First time out they were very comfortable with no issues. If you’re in the market for some really good quality mountain bike shoes along with a good price point, check out Serfas.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Hincapie Arenberg warmers

I have one basic expectation when it comes to warmers. They have a single mission: to stay in place so they keep my limbs warm. Over the years I've worn different brands of warmers. Most work for a little while then simply loose grip. I decided to order the Hincapie Arenberg warmers because it really seems like they have a simple fix to an annoying problem. Hincapie placed grippers on both the inside for against your skin and the outside to grab fabric. So simple yet genius. They stay more secure than any other warmers I've ever used. Totally budge proof. The warmers are all cut from Hincapie’s BodE Thermal Loft fabric. Really soft and comfortable no bunching at the knee. The length is more than enough and the zipper on the leg warmers are locking, nice feature. At the bottom there's a band or strap of material that helps secure the bottom as well as an internal gripper. The material is very flexible and easy to get on and off.  I heard a few other manufactures have the internal and external gripper feature in a few of their designs but the entire Hincapie line of warmers sport this feature.

External gripper added to the top
Knee and Leg warmers
Strap at the bottom along with internal gripper

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Road Discs

The latest tech craze in the road bike world is the emergence of disc brakes for road machines. My father was an engineering consultant and always said "you can't stop technology" which has proven to be very true but he also reminded me not all new technology works as advertised. What looks good on paper doesn’t always transfer over to the real world. While I feel discs are perfect for mountain biking and Cyclocross I feel it's going to take a while until road discs are perfected. I come from an Automotive tech background and have seen things come and go, some great, some not so great. I've always been intrigued by the engineering and how marketing can cloud the true picture. Caliper road brakes of today are pretty damn good even the carbon braking surface wheels and pads do a pretty good job. They're very low maintenance, after 6000 miles all I've had to do on my Ultegra 6700 brakes is to adjust the toe in. You simply fold up a business card slide it behind the brake pad a 1/4 inch from the rear of the pad, hold the brake lever firmly and loosen the pad mounting screw and then tighten it down.... done. Discs on a road bike can give you a host of new issues all of which are going to be dropped in the hands of the LBS. I'll give a list of issues that might or will occur hopefully less than more....

Brake rotors are prone to overheating especially descending for miles at high speeds. It's a much higher temperature accumulation on a road system as opposed to a mountain system.  A warped and pulsating rotor eventually can result. I actually have a warped rotor on my mountain bike which is not a big deal on trails, I really don't feel it. When I have to go over asphalt the pulsations in the brake lever are really annoying. If that was on a road bike on a long decent or actually any braking application that isn’t going make for a happy rider. It happens in the auto industry all the time and it will in the cycling industry.

Disc brakes have a tendency to drag, if athletes even think it's going to affect power output they'll shy away. I know some riders that are conscious of wheel hubs that drag a little and complain about it.

Brake squeal - on the road oil and chemicals sit on the asphalt and when it rains oils will kick up and can contaminate the pads causing squeal in some cases. Again on a mountain bike not really a big deal, but on the road and you'll get a lot of upset riders.

With the Braking power centered at the front axle a lot more stress will be placed on the forks. Think of the fork as a lever or pry bar putting pressure on the head set and the rest of the fork. Hopefully fork flex will not become an issue. I know the forks are beefed up but these are lightweight, generally speaking racing bikes. Brake torque could also be an issue on spoke twist. I've heard of a few riders already thinking their headset was loose when it turned out to be flex in the fork during heavy braking. Again in Mountain bike terms the forks won't flex, they're massive structures designed to take a pounding. There's no comparing the two.

Some people think because they work so well on mountain bikes they'll be great on the road. There really is no comparing the two as the engineering obstacles are worlds apart.

I don't mean to demonize discs on road bikes but just be aware of some of these issues that will pop up, just how often no one really knows yet. I'm certain over time many issues will be solved but until then I'll hold off.
Simple adjustment after 6000 miles