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triathlon gloves

Top 7 Cycling Gloves for 2021

Whether you’re a beginner or advanced cyclist, it is important to be well-equipped to prevent injuries. Our hands are essential. They support our body, promoting balance, stability, and direction. Besides, our hands are in direct contact with the air, the sun, or the rain, which can produce pain. We should also bear in mind that the cushion can prevent injuries if we fall.

In addition to being an essential garment that will provide you with comfort for hours and hours of healthy pedaling, cycling gloves will prevent annoying (and in certain cases, dangerous) sweaty palms. They will help you reduce numbness in the hands and provide the first defense against falls and shocks. There are many good reasons to wear gloves when riding a bike.

However, with so many options in the market, it is hard to decide the best option available. That’s why we narrowed down our search to the best and most affordable cycling gloves for 2021. Ready to learn what the best ones are? Let’s dive in!

7 Best Cycling Gloves

  Helmet Image Best Feature Price
1 Louis Garneau Biogel (Womens) Best Overall Cycling Gloves $42.00
2 Giro Jag (Womens) Best Road Cycling Gloves $19.95
3 Giro Bravo (Womens) Best Close Finger Warm Cycling Glove $29.95
4 Pearl Izumi Cyclone (Womens)   $40.00
5 PEARL IZUMI’s Select (Womens) Most Comfortable Cycling Glove $34.00
6 Endura FS260-Pro Aerogel Mitts (Womens) Best High End Cycling Gloves $25.24
7 GripGrab Aero TT Best Cycling Gloves for TT (Time Trial) Price not available

1. Best Overall Cycling Glove – Louis Garneau Biogel ($42.00)Mens / Womens

Pros
Breathability
Stretchy
Better range of motion
No sweaty palms

Cons
Sizing, we recommend sizing up.

Definitely the best overall cycling gloves. Designed to provide maximum comfort, the Louis Garneau Biogel RX-V gloves are our top pick. Thanks to its innovative design, unlike other gloves, these do not feel stuffy, will not get your hands sweaty and hot, and are an excellent option for all bikers, from beginner to expert.

The perforated palm with Biogel padding and ventilation allow for a better range of movement, thanks to the stretchable materials, which absorb the vibrations and minimizes the pressure on your hands.

Top Features

Its unique biogel technology is by far one of the best in the market, as it allows for cool and adjustable padding that automatically adjusts to your palm and seamlessly accompanies the movement of your hand.

Other features include spandex technology, which offers excellent stretchability and ventilation. On top of that, the air vent evacuates moisture and ventilates to keep your hands cool and avoid sweat.

2. Best Road Cycling Glove – Giro Jag ($19.95) – Mens / Womens

Pros
Ergonomic
Perfect fit
Sleek aesthetic
True to size

Cons
The Velcro is so strong it can be hard to take off
It can get slightly slippery in wet conditions

The phrase “fits like a glove” has never been so right! The Giro Jag gloves for men and Giro Jag’ette for women probably have the best fit. Ergonomic and with a good grip, these pair of gloves are perfect for both road or trail bikers. We can definitely say that these are the best road cycling gloves in the market right now.  

Top Features

The technology of these gloves allows for an ergonomic grip at all times. The strong Velcro protects your wrists from injury. Besides, the gel inserts target areas, thus strategically preventing soreness and pressure. The Giro Jag glove fits perfectly, enabling the fingers to move freely and comfortably. Additionally, the padding offers maximum comfort.

3. Best Closed Finger Warm Cycling Glove – Giro Bravo ($29.95) – Mens / Womens Tessa Gel LF

Pros
Gel fits in the right places
Great value for the price
Comfortable, flexible, and breathes well
Touchscreen compatible

Cons
It can be very lightly padded for some people

The Giro Bravo and Tessa Gel LF is a gel-padded and comfortable closed finger glove that ensures an ergonomic and comfortable fit at an unbeatable price.

The sleek design is both classic and clean. It is streamlined against the wrist to increase support and made with top-quality materials to ensure maximum comfort and prevent sweat. This glove is perfect for riders who want a traditional yet, light padding glove – ideal for cold weather.

Top Features

The Tessa LF provides you with comfort and presents an ergonomic design while providing premium materials at an affordable price. The breathable fabric is light and stays airy as the temperature rises. It’s the perfect choice for riders who want full-finger protection but also the comfort of gel padding. Its highly absorbent microfiber fabric also prevents sweaty hands. It is safe to say that these gloves are the best closed-finger warm cycling gloves on Amazon.

4. Pearl Izumi Cyclone ($40.00) – Mens / Womens

Pros
Ideal for harsh climate
True to size
Completely windproof

Cons
Not very aesthetic

The Elite Softshell fabric keeps your hands warm, even at very low temperatures. Its soft material can help keep your hands dry, even if you are sweating. The five gel pads across the palms offer cushioning on bumpy roads but are firm enough to keep you in control and provide a good grip.

Top Features

This is one of the most popular cool-weather gloves on the market. Designed with a synthetic leather palm that supports a four-way stretch and breathability. It provides both wind and water protection. The gauntlet overlaps with any jacket to avoid a bare wrist, making it an ideal glove for harsh conditions. 

5. Most Comfortable Cycling Gloves – PEARL IZUMI’s Select Glove ($34.00) – Mens / Womens

Pros
Excellent fit
Comfortable padding
Good grip

Cons
They’re a bit pricey

The Select Gloves are the most padded cycling gloves in the market and arguably the most comfortable. The high-quality gel foam technology prevents bulkiness while maximizing comfort.

Top Features

High-quality gel foam along with a pad configuration that prevents bulkiness and takes pressure off the hand. These gloves have a synthetic leather palm that is both soft and durable – thus, it is safe to say that these are the most comfortable cycling gloves on Amazon.

6. Best High End Cycling Gloves – Endura FS260-Pro Aerogel Mitts ($25.24) – Mens / Womens

Pros
Velcro closure is on the wrist, thus facilitating movements
Good grip, even when slippery
Easy to put on and take off

Cons
Not true to size, we recommend sizing up

The FS260-Pro Aerogel Mitts from Endura are excellent for long rides and are incredibly comfortable. Likewise, the molded gel padding absorbs shocks in the palm while providing a solid grip, thanks to its format.

Features:

These are the best high-end cycling gloves, thanks to its cutting-edge molded gel padding and silicone grips. Besides, it includes a set of handy finger tabs that allow easy glove removal.

7. Best Cycling Gloves for TT (Time Trial) – GripGrab Aero TT (Price not available)

Pros
Fits perfectly
Sleek design
Comfortable and light

Cons
It’s a bit pricey

The GripGrab Aero TT is a tight-fitting glove with minimal padding, designed to be light and minimalist. Ideal for races and supporting maximum speed, these are undoubtedly the best cycling gloves for TT.

These gloves offer a smooth airflow over your hands and a solid grip. This lightweight glove looks fast, feels fast, and is very comfortable. Fuel your power with these high-performance cycling gloves to maximize aerodynamic benefits.

FAQ 

Now let’s go through some of the most common questions both total beginners and professional cyclists ask themselves when considering buying a new pair of cycling gloves so that you can make an informed decision.

Do I need cycling gloves?

There are many reasons why you should start wearing cycling gloves if you’re planning to start cycling, or if you are already doing it. You should always consider the idea of wearing cycling gloves whenever you’re riding a bike.

This simple accessory has the potential to become the best way to prevent both tingling or numbness our hands normally get when we ride a bike. Therefore, it can protect us from possible injuries. So, if you’re thinking that going out without gloves, think again. These are just as important as a helmet.

What are the benefits of wearing cycling gloves?

1. Provides extra cushioning to reduce the impact we get on the road.
2. Full protection against falls, prevent both scratches and even fractures.
3. Improves handlebar grip, even if you have sweaty palms.
4. Offer comfort on longer trips.
5. It prevents numbness and even nerve complications that can appear from the vibrations of a bumpy road.

With that said, please take care of the health of your hands and avoid discomfort with a good pair of cycling gloves.

Do cycling gloves make a difference?

Of course, it does! If you have an accident or fall down, you can prevent serious injuries, ranging from a simple scratch to a wrist sprain or fracture. Besides, when it’s cold, they protect your hands from freezing, allowing you to have a better ride. And, in summer, it prevents your hands from getting sweaty and, thus, slippery, which can also prevent an accident. Always wear your gloves!

How should a cycling glove fit?

Gloves should feel like a second skin. However, they should not be too tight to the point where it feels restrictive and painful. Similarly, they should not be bigger, as they can fall off and you can lose the grip. All in all, gloves should feel comfortable and fit just right.  

What kind of padding should I have on my cycling gloves?

Cycling gloves’ palms are made of a thicker material, like leather or synthetic leather. This allows for a better grip. Similarly, some models have padded reinforcements, but not all. Still, most provide added protection to prevent injuries. 

Whether you prefer a minimal or a gel padding depends pretty much on your own preferences. While some people choose gel padding, others do so the minimal. However, if you are a beginner, we recommend gel padding to allow maximum comfort.


Whats the difference between half finger/fingerless vs. full/long finger gloves?

The main difference between fingerless and full models lies in both the protection and weather conditions. However, both designs have their own models for hot climates too.

On the one hand, fingerless gloves protect the palms in case of falls and offer greater support. On the other hand, gloves long finger gloves have larger reinforced areas, and they clearly protect the fingers.

Which cycling gloves materials are better and for what?

The biggest difference between various types of cycling gloves lies in the type of cycling you practice and the weather conditions the user has to undergo.

We can say there are three large groups:
1. Light gloves
2. Gloves for hot temperatures
3. Gloves for winter

Although all types of gloves provide extra warmth to your hands, winter cycling gloves are designed to keep your fingers warm even at cold temperatures.

However, these are not suitable for hot weather or for careers. They can cause restrictions to the maneuver in other types of weather conditions. For speed and races, we recommend light minimalist gloves.

Are there different cycling gloves for men and women?

Truth be told, there is no significant difference between men’s and women’s gloves. Thus, there is no particular reason to choose one or the other if your pick is not available for your sex.

What matters the most is the fit. However, whenever available and possible, we still recommend users to stick to theirs, as many brands may have different sizes for men and women.

How do I measure my glove size?

Measuring your glove size is pretty simple, and you can do it easily at home. To do this, simply grab a tape measure and wrap it around the widest part of your hand, not including the thumb.
Then make sure to write that number down and proceed to measure the length of your palm. You should measure from the tip of the middle finger to the end of the palm.

Now, compare your measurements (in centimeters) to the following table.

Side to side:
XS 6-7 cm
S 7-8 cm
M 8-9 cm
L: 9-10 cm
XL: 10-11.25 cm

Lenght of the palm:
XS: 17.5-18.8 cm
S: 17.8-19.0 cm
M: 19.0-20.3 cm
L: 20.3-21.6 cm
XL: 21.6 – 23.1 cm

The Best Cycling Helmet for Triathlons in 2021

Cycling is arguably the most important leg of a triathlon given the amount of time you spend on the bike vs running and swimming, both in training and during an actual race. Ensuring both efficiency and safety should be a significant concern throughout the time.

There are a lot of helmet options available in the market that provide protection, durability, and other important features. However, it can be difficult to find best helmet that meets the actual needs and demands. Therefore, a considerable amount of knowledge and research is required before choosing the best helmet for yourself.

7 Best Cycling Helmets for Triathlons

HelmetImageBest FeaturePrice
1Giro VanquishAerodynamic efficiency and reduces Drag due to Transform Air Technology.$269.90
2Giro AeroheadThe Helmet comes with a unique eye shield that prevents face view distortion$299.95
3Giro IsodeThese Helmets are preferably designed for recreational biking experiences.$54.95
4Kask ProtoneThe Kask Protone is uniquely made to provide a comfortable and ventilated cycling experience.$299.95
5Kask RapidoKask Rapido is a road helmet that comes with a unique helmet adjustment system, along with robust material and secure transitions.$99.95
6Smith Optics PodiumPrice not available
7Smith Optics IgniteThese helmets come with aero advantages, which provide an undoubtedly and comfortable slippery air safety feature.$247.50

1. Best Overall Triathlon Helmet – Giro Vanquish MIPS Adult Aero Cycling Helmet ($269.90)

The GIRO Vanquish MIPS is provides a faster cycling experience with excellent protection and safety. They have implemented a unique helmet design with TransformvAir technology, which helps with drag during cycling. The Transform Air technology provides advanced aerodynamics which is useful for both racing and training.

The helmet comes in three different standard sizes – small, medium, and large. This means the customer can find the correct fitting helmet based on Giro’s specifications in it’s sizing chart.

The ventilation and comfortable fitting are top notch in these helmets due to the Roc Loc Air Fit System combined with the MIPS safety technology. The best part here is that Giro itself introduced the feature for the customers.

In additional to keeping the head protected, aerodynamic and ventilated, Giro also introduced lenses to protect the eyes and nose during cycling. The lenses of this helmet come in Vivid Shape, which allows proper airflow along with a better tune-in contrast that provides a natural-looking environment. The lenses/shades are also replaceable so you can use their own shade in the helmet if you choose.

Pros:
• Shades built in to the helmet.
• Fewer Vents but bigger to allow more ventilation
• Very comfortable compared to other helmets.
Cons:
• Slightly Heavier.
• Not Preferable for High Cheekbones face.
Unique Feature:
• Aerodynamic efficiency and reduces Drag due to Transform Air Technology.
Basic Features:
• In-Mold Construction.
• Wind Tunnel Ventilation system.
• Roc LOC 5 Air Fit system.
• Integrated MIPS Equipped.

2. Fastest Triathlon Cycling HelmetGiro Aerohead MIPS Adult Road Cycling Helmet ($299.95)

The Second product on the list is also from the same manufacturer, Giro – the Aerohead MIPS Road Cycling Helmet.

The looks and performance of this helmet are definitely an upgrade than it’s predecessors in the marketplace..

The details and features of the Aerohead are what sets it apart. For example, the straps available in this helmet feel high quality and the inner liner is durable and lasts longer than most helmets.

One of the best features of the Giro AeroHead MIPS is the magnetic lens anchor attachment, which allows easy clip on and off of the lens with strong magnets but also strong enough to stay on during rougher rides.

The helmet has good ventilation, even cycling at slower pace with limited wind resistance. In other words, you will enjoy a good breeze and cooling effect regardless of weather condition.

Pros:
• Adequate Ventilation.
• Elegant Looks with Good Color Combinations.
• A touch of sensible and durable construction appears in this helmet.
• Affordable.
Cons:
• It comes for the Adult Range cyclers.
• The Shades catches stain, but it’s not a big issue.
Unique Feature:
The Helmet comes with a unique eye shield that prevents face view distortion. Meanwhile, the shield remains secure due to the attached magnetic anchor on it.
Basic Features:
• Super Fit Engineering.
• Vented Eye Shield.
• Polycarbonate Shell.
• Magnetic Lens Anchor.
• MIPS Equipped.

3. Best Beginner Budget Triathlon Helmet – Giro Isode MIPS Adult Road Cycling Helmet ($54.95)

The third pick on the list of best cycling helmets for triathlons is also a Giro helmet. This it’s the Isode MIPS which is famous for it’s unique and cool ventilation holes design.

There are more than 20 vents in the helmet making it a super cool and ventilated helmet. Although it has a considerable amount of ventilation holes, it doesn’t lower this helmet’s quality or safety. The MIPS technology in the helmet protects the head from any accidents.

Previously we have heard complaints about the fit of the helmet due to varying head sizes. Therefore, Giro has introduced an adjustable knob in the helmet that easily helps to adjust it as per the head size. The clips available in the helmet come in a compact and small size. Meanwhile, the straps are easy to adjust on both ends. This feature helps with a more comfortable and better positioning of the head with the helmet.

Pros:
• Lightweight.
• High safety rating with protection for multi-directional impact.
• Budget-friendly.
Cons:
• No Shades available for the eyes and nose.
Unique Feature:
These Helmets are preferably designed for recreational biking experiences.
Basic Features:
• Reflectivity.
• Quick-Dry Padding.
• Compact Shape.
• Full hard body coverage.
• Integrated MIPS technology.

4. Most Comfortable Cycling HelmetKask Protone Helmet ($299.95)

The Kask Protone has introduced a good quality inner frame with a slimline feature. Although the helmet is slimmer than most others on the market, the outstanding quality ensures that it’s a protective helmet.

Kask protone is an outstanding option for those who are looking for an everyday aerodynamic helmet. Why? Because there are only a few available in the market that offers positive results.

The inside cushioning of this helmet is unique and better than other helmets available. The best part is that the cushioning is dense and comes with a soft cool max padding. The brackets come with perfect padding and an comfortable shape. Hence, the helmet will hug the occipital bones to provide a better fit and feel.

The performance and designing testing never disappointed at all. Why? Because the designs and material testing approve by a top-notch service in Italy.

Pros:
• Comes with a protective fit.
• No flap Snug-fitting Chinstrap.
• The ventilation is outstanding.
Cons:
• No Shades available.
• The interference happens in the headbands due to the low retentions.
• Expensive.
Unique Feature:
The Kask Protone is uniquely made to provide a comfortable and ventilated cycling experience.
Basic Features:
• Polycarbonate Outer Material.
• MIT Safety Technology.
• OCTO Fit Micro Dial Adjuster.
• 3D Dry Padding.
• Wind Tunnel Tested Aerodynamics.

5. Kask Rapido Road Cycling Helmet ($99.95)

The fifth product in the best cycling helmet for triathlons is the Kask Rapido; it’s the second pick in the list of the Kask brand. The product comes with several color options and a perfect detailing that provides a unique appearance.

The helmet is very lightweight and has excellent shock absorption. This is because the brand has designed the product by jointing the outer shell and inner cap together, which brings an advanced mold technology feature.

For a triathlon proper ventilation is essential for helmets. Understanding this, Kask has included a total of 23 large ventilation slots present in the helmet. This makes the helmet perfect for long hot summer rides!

Finally, the brand is offering approximately three years of warranty for this product so every penny a cyclist spends on this product is worth it.

Pros:
• Aerodynamic.
• Better Ventilation.
• Lower budget, Good quality helmet.
• The product is suitable for those with thick hair.
Cons:
• The Craftsmanship and Materials are mediocre (Customer review).
• Narrow fitting (customer Review).
• The retention system is bulky.
Unique Feature:
Kask Rapido is basically a Road helmet that comes with a unique helmet adjustment system, along with robust material and secure transitions.
Basic Features:
• 100% Italian Made.
• In-Molding Construction.
• MIT Technology.

6. Best Time Trial (TT) Helmet for Triathlons – Smith Optics Podium TT Adult Cycling Helmet (Price not available)

The Smith Optics helmet is ideal for those who want to spend a bit more to get a better quality product. It’s specifically designed for racing and time trials, making it an ideal helmet for triathlons. With that said, these helmets are not the ordinary ones that can be used for recreational purposes—this helmet is specifically designer and maximum speed and efficiency.

The helmet comes with additional space to adjust the shades depending upon the needs. Also, it comes with an extra supportive and fully covered protective helmet solution so the cyclist’s head, face, and nose will remain protective throughout the time.

Pros:
• Super Protective.
• Comes with Adjustable Glasses.
• Good for intense time trial competition.
Cons:
• Expensive.
• Ventilation is not great and needs to be improved (Customer review).
Basic Features:
• AirEvac Ventilation.
• MIPS System.
• VaporFit Adjustable.
• Ultra-Light Single-layer webbing.
• Two Exhaust Vents.

7. Most Durable Cycling HelmetSmith Optics Ignite MIPS Adult Cycling Helmet ($247.50)

The last product in the list of best cycling helmets for triathlons is Smith Optics Ignite, which is also the second smith brand product in this list. The product comes with seven color options as Black, Matte Black, Matte Cinder Haze, Matte Charcoal, Matte mystic green, Matte rise, and matte white.

The Smith Ignite helmet offers good airflow due to the koroyd technology. However, the ventilation causes issues for those who have thick and long hair.

As compared to other helmets, Smith Ignite comes with a three year warranty. Despite the higher cost, it isn’t bad to spend such an amount of money on something that lasts for almost three years.

Pros:
• Three Years Warranty.
• Seven Color options to choose from.
• Multi-purpose Cycling Helmet.
• Good in Quality.
• Protective for Crashes or accidents.
Cons:
• Issues with the Matte finish.
Unique Feature:
These helmets come with aero advantages, which provide an undoubtedly and comfortable slippery air safety feature.
Basic Features:
• Eight Fixed Vents.
• Anti-microbial Lining.
• Light Weight.
• MIPS Brain Protection System.
• VaporFit Dial Adjustment.
• AirEvac Ventilation system.

Types of Helmets:

Road: The road Helmets are usually the regular use helmets that people wear when recreationally using the bike. The material used in these helmets is Plastic and foam, which protects the head. The exact purpose of using them is to stay safe from bike or major car accidents.

Aero: The Aero Helmets are good for those looking for smooth airflow at the time of riding bicycles. In other words, using these helmets can effectively slip the air. However, the cooling issues cut-off due to the permanently sealed-off feature.

Hybrid: People who are looking for extreme protective cycling helmets for triathlons can use hybrid helmets. It comes with a Robust ABS Plastic that ensures protection for the rides.

TT: TT means is Time Trail which is a great options for triathlons. Hence, these helmets are heavily used as cycling helmets for Triathlons. Anybody can make loads of advancements in these helmets for better results.

What is the best cycling Helmet type for Triathlons?

Generally time trail helmets is the best cycling helmet type for Triathlons. Why? Because it’s specifically designed for speed and efficiency , which are some of the most important features when racing long distances during triathlongs.

About Triathlon Helmets:

When buying a triathlon helmet, there are some essential features that need to be look-after before making a final decision.

Ventilation: Ventilation is one of the essential factors when considering triathlon helmets. With no or minimal ventilation, a triathlete may overheat quickly in the sun and heat.

Weight: Weight is the second important thing that needs to look after when purchasing a triathlons helmet. Ensure that the helmet is a lightweight as it can positively affect the performance and speed. Depending on the helmet, different material can have a substantial impact on the helmets weight.

Sizing: Sizing and fit is an essential element when selecting a triathlons helmets. Helmets generally come in sizes small, medium, or large. Thankfully, however, many helmets come with adjustable features within the helmet that will allow you to customize fit even further. Giro has an excellent resource with it’s Size Charts for measuring the size of your head in order to determine the helmet size.

What is MIPS?

To start, MIPS stands for Multi-directional Impact protection. MIPS technology reduces the trauma when the helmet sustains impact from any angle. However, the ultimate goal of using the technology in a helmet is to protect the brain.

11 Essential Tips For Riding in Traffic

Triathlon and cycling events are wonderful – cops blocking the traffic, no cars on the road, no traffic lights and stop signs to worry about. Unfortunately, we don’t have the same benefits during our training rides. Every cyclist has a long list of stories about their close calls with cars and trucks, and too many have stories about being hit. This article contains a few suggestions for cyclists for dealing with traffic. These are my techniques and practices, and you must evaluate whether they work for you

1. Don’t Assume the Driver Sees You

When approaching an intersection, a parking lot with road-side exits or a crossroad slow your bike down and be on the lookout for cars pulling out. Ideally, you want to make eye contact with any driver at an intersection or stop sign, but do not always assume the driver sees you! Even when you think you have made sustained eye contact, drivers often are oblivious to understanding what they see. When approaching intersections or cross-roads ease up on your speeds, get up out of your aero position. Hands on your breaks (back break preferably) and be alert! A few seconds of conservative cycling will not hurt your training ride and may save your life (or collar bone!)

2. Drivers Don’t Realize Realize How Fast You’re Going

Drivers think of bikes as slow-moving toys, and they do not understand that you may be moving at more than 20 mph. Consequently, drivers may not realize they are putting you in danger when they dart out in front of you to cross at an intersections, or pass you just to make a right hand turn onto another street or highway access ramp. Again, the key is have some foresight and be alert! Don’t ASSUME anything!

3. Stay to the Right

Stay on the right side of the road moving with traffic. Basically, the law states that we too are considered a vehicle on the road. And some cyclists will ride in the middle of the car lane. However, not all drivers really know the law, or simply don’t care. And frankly, 3000 lbs vs. 20lbs is no contest. Folks, stay to the right and if at all possible, stay off the busy, busy roads to avoid any mishaps. Some roads will have specific shoulders outlined for cyclists but that will depend on your specific community.

4. Always Plan an Escape Route

As always, riding defensively and being alert is the key. When cycling is busy situations, think about where you might swerve if you have to bail out. What will you do if there is a pothole or sewer grate in your path, or the rider in front of you applies the brakes unexpectedly. Do you have room to move left or right without running into a car or a curb? Foresight, thinking ahead…it’s key folks! And it won’t interfere with your training!

5. Beware of Car Doors

When you are passing a line of parked cars, look for people sitting in their drivers’ seats exiting their vehicle. Being “doored” is a common cycling accident in urban areas and along public beach highways. A parked car also presents the danger of pulling into the roadway in front of you.

6. Move Way Off the Road When Stopped

If you pull off the road to check your route, catch your breath, whatever, pull WAY off the road. A friend of mine was stopped on the shoulder of the road checking his map, and although he was at least three feet from the white line at the edge of the road, an 80-year old driver wearing fashionable wrap around “cataract” type sunglasses veered off and clipped him. He’s lucky that he survived, and the only legacy is an aching leg when the weather changes and an inability to run.

7. Always Wear a Helmet

And keep that strap buckled. The helmet should sit firmly on your head, with the front edge about two finger-widths above your eyebrows. It is not a cap to be tilted to the back of your head, or worn like a yarmulke. If your looking for a good triathlon bike helmet you can check out our reviews.

8. Pay Attention to Riding

Are you distracted on the bike? There you are, cruising down the highway resetting the lap timer on your watch, monitoring your cadence and clicking the buttons on the cycle computer to check distance and average speed and elapsed time, glancing at the gears to confirm you are pedaling efficiently, grabbing a snack from your jersey, and checking your heart rate monitor to make sure you are still in the zone. No wonder you thought that pothole seemed to sneak up on you. A lot of accidents are caused by distraction, and the toys we use add to that risk. Learn to do quick glances at your computer, heart rate monitor ect. If it takes three quick glances to focus on your speed…so be it! Learn to drink from your water bottle or grab food from your cycling jersey while keeping an eye on the road. You will develop a feel for this.

9. Ride with Other People

You can learn a lot from experienced riders and it makes the miles go easier. Knowing you are meeting up with a group of riders is a great incentive to getting out for the training ride. From a safety standpoint, riding with a group increases the odds that a driver will see you. And finally, it discourages random violence and outbreaks of road rage from drivers. (which can occur…I have seen it happen!)

10. Don’t Needlessly Piss Off Drivers

Drivers think they have personal space on the road. The perception that their space is being violated or they are being challenged is a principal cause of road rage. Avoid taking actions that provoke this reaction. For example, after drivers have finally moved around you to pass you on the road, don’t re-pass them at the next traffic light, and circle in front of them blocking the lane while waiting for the light to change, just to make them wait to maneuver around you again a quarter mile down the highway. If a driver yells at you while passing you or points a certain appendage at you…IGNORE IT!!!! Just keep riding. They are looking for a reaction. Don’t give them the satisfaction!

11. It Doesn’t Matter if you have the Right Of Way

You are on a 21 pound bicycle, but the driver has a 3000 pound lethal weapon. A driver going through a red light or otherwise ignoring your right of way and hitting you will think he had a bad day and may wind up with a ticket; your life could be ruined or ended. I remember teaching my daughters that when the light turns green for you, DON’T GO! Look instead then decide if it is safe to go. Sound advice for children and cyclists too!

Folks the bottom line is – ride defensively and always be alert. You CAN do this while still enjoying your ride. After a while, you find your reactions to things will sharpen. And most importantly, enjoy yourself.

7 Best Ways to Become A Better Cyclist

A competition grade bicycle is not cheap.  Once fully outfitted, you will have probably spent thousands of dollars.  In order to get the most value out of your investment your bicycle should fit you like a glove.  

The three main considerations in fitting a cyclist are comfort, power production, and aerodynamics.  You must choose a balance and  proportion of these three elements in order to achieve your optimal fit.  This proportion will be based on a variety of individual characteristics such as the type of cycling you will be doing, competitive level and experience, muscle imbalances or previous injuries, and your personal biomechanics and riding style to name a just a few.

1. Comfort First

Comfort comes first, even for a competitive cyclist.  If a cyclist is very uncomfortable on their bicycle they can not produce power, period.  I have observed novice cyclists in very aggressive aerodynamic positions with a low power output resulting from being so uncomfortable in that position.  

By putting them in a less aggressive position they were actually faster because they could pedal harder.  Comfort, of course, is relative.  A time trialist must make sacrifices in comfort, but they will spend a relatively short period of time on the bike.  If you are new to cycling there is a period of acclimation as your body adjusts to spending more and more time in the saddle.  

Some discomfort is normal, but cycling should not be painful.  If you are experiencing joint, back, or neck pain it is time to look at your fit or perhaps your pedaling mechanics.  Saddle soreness or numbness should be addressed immediately.  These issues can often be relieved with a different saddle type or a simple adjustment that allows for correct saddle to body contact.

2. Type of Cycling

Next, I consider the type of riding the cyclist will do.  If you are a recreational rider comfort should be your primary consideration.  This means more upright, neutral, and less aerodynamic positioning.  For competitive athletes power positioning and aerodynamics play a key role in fitting.  

Consider how much time you will be spending on your bicycle, what type of competition you will be involved in, and at what intensity you will be cycling.  For example: take two hypothetical competitive triathletes, equal in all aspects with the exception that one competes in sprint events and the other in IronMan races.  

Comfort would be a greater consideration for the IronMan athlete that spends hours in the saddle whereas the sprint athlete’s aerodynamics are a greater consideration for the high speeds and short durations of sprint races.  For time trialists and triathletes aerodynamic positioning is key as up to 80% of cycling resistance comes from aerodynamic drag.  The forearms may be four inches or more below the top of the saddle as they achieve an aerodynamic tuck.  

Triathletes may spend many hours in the saddle and then have to run, so this position must be less aggressive than time trialists even though they look similar.  Just as each cycle sport requires a unique bicycle, each sport will have unique fit characteristics.

3. Riding Style

Competitive athletes must achieve the best fit for their individual riding style and to accentuate their strengths.  Road racers fall on two opposite sides of the spectrum; climbers and sprinters.  

A pure climber prefers a level to slightly upwards saddle position, shorter stem, and wider bars.  

A sprinter prefers oversize handlebars that are parallel to the ground, a more forward saddle position, forward cleat position, and shorter cranks.  Most road racers will be fitted somewhere in the middle of this spectrum.  How you adjust your bicycle for your riding style can be a process of trial and error.  

Before you move or change a component, carefully mark and measure it’s previous position and be sure to make small adjustments only.  If you are comfortable, but would like to lower your aerodynamic profile, gradually lower your handlebar position over time and allow your body to adjust to it.

4. Biomechanics

The fact that every person is unique does not make bike fitting easy.  Some are bow-legged or duck-footed.  Torso length, leg length, and arm length all vary from person to person and in proportion to each other, and sometimes vary from left to right on the same person.  Backs can be rounded, swayed, or curved, and hips vary in widths.  The bottom of the foot may angle inwards or outwards.  It is not always appropriate to adjust your bicycle in consideration of a biomechanical condition, and knowing when and how takes a great deal of expertise.  

For example: a cyclists that is “ankling” or using the right foot to pedal may be compensating for a left leg discrepancy.  This may require specific shims or spacers to correct and special equipment to determine.  If you believe you have a condition that affects your cycling it is best to seek a professional who is trained and familiar with biomechanical positioning.

5. Muscle Imbalances, Inflexibility, and Injuries   

When you are injured, your body compensates for the injury by using different muscles to do the work of the ones in the injured area.  Even after the injury heals you may continue to work in a compensatory fashion.  This may be habitual and can cause a variety of problems with pedaling mechanics.  

Tight hamstrings can lead to lower back problems on the bike, and cycling in general can lead to muscle imbalance over time.  Again, it takes a professional to diagnose and correct these issues.  This may mean adjusting your fit to a more neutral position while the area is stretched or strengthened.  

If you are experiencing an overuse injury a professional may be able to adjust your fit to alleviate it entirely.

6. Form

Carefully observing how a cyclists looks on the bike is the best way to determine what needs to be changed.  I use a stationary trainer and a video camera and shoot the cyclist from a variety of angles and then play it back in slow motion for both of us to observe.  I also use a power meter to help determine if a new position resulted in a loss of power.  This type of feedback is invaluable. 

Often what is causing the rider discomfort or power loss is not the fit, but a correctable bad habit.  It is important to make this distinction.  For example: if the cyclist is complaining of elbow pain and trapezious discomfort it could be caused by using a tight, straight arm versus the slight bend required to absorb road shock, or it could be caused by a stem that is too long.

7. Getting the Right Fit

Start your fit by purchasing the right bike for your size.  This may mean doing some research on your own or going to a reputable bike shop.  Each manufacturer measures frames differently and the frames themselves can vary widely.  It is important to know the manufacturers guidelines for frame size to your height and inseam.  That great deal on the used bike you purchased may not seem so great when you find out it is the wrong frame size.

There are a wide variety of fitting systems that use ratios, formulas, algorithms, computer programs, etc..  These are even available online and each of these has its pros and cons.  The most important thing to remember is that every fitting system simply gives you a starting point.  No computer can tell you how your bike should optimally fit because no computer knows your riding style, biomechanics, injury history, etc..  This is where the art of bike fitting begins and it may be trial and error.  I use a variety of methods in fitting a cyclist but my favorite tool is a device called a goniometer that measures joint angles.

If you are experiencing joint pain or have an overuse injury, do not wait for it to go away.  Get some trained, professional eyes on you.  A good bike fitting may cost $100 per hour but it is money well spent if it keeps you on the road pain free or makes you a faster cyclist. 

Cycling Pace Chart for Racing and Training

Triathlon Biking Distances

The biking distances for the various triathlon distances are below. You can also check out our triathlon training programs.

Sprint Distance Triathlon Bike –  15 miles or 20 kilometres

Olympic or International Distance Triathlon Bike – 24.8 mile or 40 kilometres

Half Ironman Distance Triathlon – 56 miles or 90 kilometres

Iron Distance Triathlon – 112 miles or 180 kilometres

Bike Pacing by Common Distances

Below is the cycling pace chart that converts your MPHs into time for various distances from 10 miles to 112 miles (Ironman Distance). For example, if you’re cycling at 20 MPH for a Half Ironman (56 miles), it would take you 2 hours and 48 minutes.

Miles
Per Hour
10
Miles
20K / 12.4 Mi
(Sprint)
15
Miles
40K / 24.9 Mi
(Olympic)
56 Miles
(Half Ironman)
112 Miles
(Ironman )
12:501:021:152:044:409:20
13:46:571:091:554:188:37
14:43:531:041:474:008:00
15:40:501:001:393:447:28
16:38:47:561:333:307:00
17:35:44:531:283:186:35
18:33:41:501:233:076:13
19:32:39:471:192:575:54
20:30:37:451:152:485:36
21:29:36:431:112:405:20
22:27:34:411:082:335:05
23:26:32:391:052:264:52
24:25:31:381:022:204:40
25:24:30:361:002:144:29
26:23:29:35:572:094:18
27:22:28:33:552:044:09
28:21:27:32:532:004:00
29:21:26:31:511:563:52
30:20:25:30:501:523:44

Ultimate Bicycle Cleaning and Maintenance 101

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Welcome to Bicycle Cleaning and Maintenance 101. The following steps are what I consider my “weekly” and “monthly” cleaning or maintenance.

Of course, how often you clean your bike will depend upon how much mileage you put on your bicycle. The weekly clean-up represents perhaps 150 + miles of cycling per week. If you are not covering that much mileage in a week, than you can perform this maintenance once per month.

Before I go on, let me say, you do not need to purchase a bike stand. A bike stand will make things easier, and I do suggest you consider the purchase if you plan on sticking with this sport or at the very least, you continue cycling. Some folks will use their stationary trainer when performing cleaning or maintenance on their bikes.

  ** Steps 7 and 8 are part of my “monthly” tune-up. I recommend this as a once a month performance once a month, especially in the summer months.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I also suggest you put on some old clothes and even some protective eyewear. When using the toothbrush to scrub various parts, there will be some spray back of the degreaser so protect your eyes.

Typical Areas of Dirt, Grime and Rust Build-up on Your Bicycle

Below are the typical areas of the bicycle where dirt and grime will build up over time. Wet or damp roads, salt from coastal areas and sweat all contribute to the build up of dirt, grime and even rust. And taking 30-45 minutes once every week or two (depending on how much mileage your ride during a week), to clean your bicycle will add years to the life of your “machine!”

I also included a picture of the headset and stem bolt. Because triathletes spend so much time in the aero position, sweat can and will drip on these components and seep down into the handlebar stem as well. I have seen handlebar stems frozen in place due to rust because of the sweat factor.

Necessary Tools and Supplies for Cleaning Your Bicycle

Below are the basic tools and supplies needed for your weekly and monthly tune-up. None of the items are very expensive.

The Chain Cleaner is probably the most expensive and will cost around $25. But the initial investment will pay for itself within the first month or two. Furthermore, the supplies will last a long time. I have had my Chain Cleaner for almost 8 years now and it is still working fine!

The Tri-flow and bike grease will also last you years. The remaining supplies can be found in any hardware/ grocery/ automotive store or around the home!

1. Chain Cleaner – This is a Park Chain Cleaner and can be found in most cycling catalogs.  There are other excellent models on the market as well. It will be the most expensive supply in which you will have to invest but it is well worth the money for it will provide years of service.

2. Degreaser – Get a good degreaser. There are several excellent degreasers on the market. Degreasers can be found at auto parts shops as well as bike shops/catalogs. Get on that is biodegradable.

3. Waterproof Grease – I recommend a good waterproof grease. I have Phil Woods for years. There are others on the market.

4. 5mm Hex Wrench – A 5mm Hex should fit the bolts we will be referring to in this maintenance plan.

5. Teflon Spray – A good Teflon spray is necessary and can be found at most bike shops. We recommend Finish Line Dry Bike Lubricant.

6. Plastic container, old rags and a few old toothbrushes

Cleaning the Bicycle Chain

The first step in you weekly bicycle maintenance routine is cleaning the chain. Many bike shops will completely remove the chain and let it soak in a vat of degreaser while working on the bike. And there is nothing wrong with that. However, there is no real need to remove the chain with the chain cleaners available today.

1. Start out by filling the chain cleaner with degreaser (photo 1). This particular chain cleaner is a two part system with a top and bottom portion. The top portion holds the degreaser. The bottom portion contains the build in cleaning brushes and stores the leftover degreaser.

2. Attach the chain cleaner to the chain and lock into place. (photo 2). Whatever model chain cleaner you purchase, directions will be provided.

3. (Photo 3) Take the cleaner with your left hand. This particular model has a small black button on top that when depressed, releases the degreaser so as to clean the chain. Take the pedal with your right hand. Begin turning the pedal and crank arm counter clockwise and with your left hand, push the black button on top of the chain cleaner. To help the flow of degreaser, keep the cleaner as level as possible.

4. Follow this procedure until the all the fresh liquid is used. Remove the chain cleaner and pour the remains into a container. Then take an old rag and take hold of the chain while turning the pedals counterclockwise again. This will help remove any excess dirt and liquid.

5. Refill the container as in step 1 and perform steps 2- 4 two more times. You will notice by the third or fourth time, a froth develop. This means that chain is pretty darn clean! Take a rag and wipe off any excess.

Cleaning the Bicycle Wheels and Rear Cassette/Freewheel

After cleaning the chain, I then move to the back of the bike to clean the rear wheel and rear cassette/freewheel. This does require that you remove the wheel. And you want to perform this step AFTER cleaning the chain because dirt and grime from cleaning the chain will make its way down to the cassette/freewheel.

NOTE: With the exception of the rear cassette/freewheel, you will perform the same steps on the front wheel as well. If your cassette/freewheel was gunked up with dirt, the shifting may be off just a bit once it is clean. Therefore, after completing the bike clean-up, practice shifting the gears and adjust if necessary.

1. After cleaning the chain, I then move to the back of the bike and begin cleaning the wheel and cassette/freewheel. To do this, it is best to remove the rear wheel. And you find it much easier to remove if you remove the chain from the chain ring. First make sure the chain is shifted down to the small ring of the front crank system.

Then take your index finger wrapped with a cloth (photo 1) and start at the bottom of the chain ring. Place your finger between the chain and chain ring, pulling down on the chain just a bit so the chain is about a half inch off the ring.

Then, run your finger along the chain, while slowly guiding the chain to the inside (photo 2). Then drop the chain to the inside of the chain ring, resting it on the bottom bracket tube (photo 3). This will release the tension of the chain and allow you to pop off the back wheel.

2. Fill you plastic container with some degreaser (photo 4). Grab your toothbrush, your container, your rear wheel and an old t-shirt or rag to lay across your lap. Find a comfortable place to sit and get ready to clean that wheel! (photo 5)

3. Once the rear wheel is removed, remove the skewer. (photo 6). It is fairly simple. Just unscrew one end. Once removed, loot at the springs to see if there is a build up of dirt/grime. If there is, drop them in your container filled with degreaser to soak while you clean. If the springs are clean, then reattach the skewer so you do not loose any of the parts and put it off to the side (photo 7).

4. As mentioned in step 2, lay a cloth or old t-shirt across your lap to keep the grease and grime from getting all over you. Dip your toothbrush into the container and begin scrubbing away at the cogs of the cassette. Make sure to get in between the teeth. Be liberal by keeping the brush wet and clean (photo 8).

5. Once you have given the cassette a good cleaning with the toothbrush, take a rag and make a fold pulling tight enough to slip the fold in between each cog (photo 9).

Now, the cassette will only move in one direction. So, once the rag is between the cogs, turn the cassette with the rag then drag the folded cloth backwards cleaning a small portion of the gap. Continue the back and forth motion (similar to a ratchet wrench) until you complete the circumference.

Then drop down to the next gap. Do this until you have cleaned between all the cogs. Repeat this step by folding the cloth in a new spot, apply some grease directly on the fold and run through each gap again. This will pick up any loose dirt and grime (photo 10)

6. After cleaning the cassette, take the rag adn wipe down the hub (photo 11)

7. Clean the spoke nipples. Dip the toothbrush into your container of degreaser and scrub the spoke nipples. The spoke nipples are usually neglected and shouldn’t be. If ever you have a loose spoke, it is important to be able to tighten it. If your spoke nipple is rusted or oxidized, you will not be able to adjust it. After cleaning the spoke nipples, wipe down the hubs and spokes (photo 12).

8. Finally, shoot a little Teflon spray in the shoot of the hub before putting skewer back on the wheel (photo 13).

Cleaning the Rear and Front Derailleur

Next we move to the rear and front derailleur to remove any excess dirt and grime. This step is fairly simple but a very important one. These two components of the bicycle attract a great deal of dirt and grime so keep them clean and smooth running is a must.

1. Rear Derailleur – Nothing scientific about this step. Simply get out the toothbrush, dip it in your container of degreaser and begin scrubbing away at the rear derailleur. The main area of build up will probably be the pulleys (two small toothed rings in the derailleur). Get your rag and dry the derailleur and pulleys. Try to get in all the nooks and crannies. And make sure you wipe down the pulleys. This will be hard to dry so use some ingenuity with rag. Its doable!

2. Front Derailleur (not pictured)- Follow the steps as you would with the rear. You will not have pulleys to clean, but you will have to get into some tight corners. So do the best you can.

IMPORTANT: Once you have finished cleaning both derailleurs, shoot some Teflon spray on the springs and tight areas to help lubricate the system

Cleaning Your Bicycle Brakes: The Brake Calipers and Brake Pads

Cleaning and maintaining smooth working brakes is crucial for smooth stops and overall bicycle safety! Follow these steps for both the front and the rear brake system. Cleaning the brake system is a simple process but as I mentioned, is extremely important! It is best to remove both wheels to perform this step

1) Dip your toothbrush in your degreaser and scrub away! With the wheels removed, pinch the break pads together to get to expose the difficult-to-reach areas.

2) Also scrub the pads. There will be dirt between the treads of the pads.

3) Certain parts of the calipers have been known to attract rust such as the adjusting screw and exposed cable. We will go over care for the exposed cables later.

Cleaning the Bicycle Crankset or Crank System

The crankset of crank system is a major dirt “magnet” and keeping it clean is necessary for maintaining a smooth pedaling bicycle and is a key step in your weekly/monthly maintenance.

However, it is important to note, you do not have to remove the entire crankset from the bottom bracket each time you clean. By removing the chainrings, you can access those “hard to get” areas much easier. And you do not have to remove the chainrings each time you clean. How many miles you cover on your bike will determine how specific you get in the cleaning process.

Regardless, I think it is important to clean your crank system once a week to twice a month. Typically, I will keep the chain rings on for my weekly cleaning and remove them for my monthly cleaning.

1. Take the 5mm Hex wrench and remove the chain ring bolts (photo 1). Grab a hold of the pedal for leverage. There are two parts the chain ring bolts. After unscrewing the front, you need to remove the other located at the back of the small chainring. After removing the chainring bolts, let them soak in a small container of your degreaser while you continue. When removing these bolts, TAKE YOUR TIME! Be careful of your knuckles when unscrewing these bolts. The sudden loosening of a bolt could find your knuckles/hand becoming one with the teeth of the chain ring…and believe me…the chainring teeth WILL cut you up.

2. After removing the screws, line up the right side of the crank system with the right crank arm pointing straight down (12 and 6 o’clock). (Photo 2) You will notice two numbers located on the chainrings at the 12 o’clock point. These numbers represent the number of teeth on the each chainring. These are important to remember upon putting the chainring back together. They must be facing you. Some larger rings will also have a pin on one end (Photo 2) that lines up directly behind the right crank arm at the 6 o’clock point. Once removed, you scrub away on the chaingrings!

3. Remove the chainring. First remove the big ring from the front (Photo 4) the remove the smaller ring from behind the crank system.

4. You will now have access to your chain. (Photo 6) Simply take the chain and lift it around the crank arm so you can now access the bottom bracket tube. (Photo 7 & 9). Dip the toothbrush into the solution and begin scrubbing. And don’t forget the underside as well. (Photo 8) This area is often neglected and is a dirt magnet.

5. And while you are at it, clean your pedals! (Photo 10)For some pedals, the build up of dirt and grime will actually comprise the fit of the cleat as well as the float.

Now Lets Put it all Back Together

Important: Before putting the chainrings back on the crank arm, lift the chain back over the crank so it is inside the crank arm and resting on the bottom bracket tube.

1. When putting the chain rings back on, begin with the small ring first. While facing the chain ring, fit the small ring from behind. Make sure the number on the ring (39 or 42) is facing you. Then replace the large ring from the front with the number facing you (53, 56, etc) Both should fit snug in their respective positions. Also make sure the pin or dimple on the larger ring is lined up with the crank arm.

2. Attach the screws, making sure the holes line up. They should tighten down on their own.

Cleaning the Exposed Cables on Your Bicycle

Cleaning and maintaining any and all exposed cables on your bicycle is another one of those minimal tasks that if neglected, can cause problems in the future.

Much will depend on the geographic area or climate where you live and ride. In warmer climates with high humidity, rust can appear on your cables in as quickly as a week. Combine that with the “sweat” factor and problems could develop rather quickly. Now, this won’t affect some of your newer bikes with internal cable routing.

However, you will have exposed cables on your brakes and your front and rear derailleur. I have seen these cables snap because of rust brought about by neglect. The process takes about two minutes of your time so take the time and add some protection.

1. This is one reason I like to use a water proof grease. Phil Woods is my favorite, but there are others. This is also something that you will want to do every week no matter what, even if you do not perform a total bike clean-up. It is not full-proof but it will help.

2. Prior to this step, you will want to remove any existing dirt or rust from the cables. This can be as simple as wiping down the cables with a cloth doused with some degreaser. If there is too much rust, you have to use other means. I do not recommend using sandpaper to remove the rust. If the cables are in poor condition, it would be easier to replace them. Cable only costs a few bucks. Otherwise, use bronze wool (which you can pick up at any hardware store) and some naval jelly (again at any hardware or boating store) to remove the rust. Use gloves as well.

3. After cleaning the cables, put a little grease between your fingers (photo 1) and run your fingers along all exposed cable (photo 2). This will put a light film along the cable and help ward off moisture until your next cleaning.

Cleaning the Bicycle Seat Post

Maintaining your seat post does not require you to clean each time you ride or even once a week. However, if you are riding several times a week, it is a good idea to remove it and clean it once a month. I have seen seat posts frozen in the seat tube because of rust and corrosion.

You may not realize it, but it is a definite sweat magnet. And sweat = rust on certain parts of the bike depending on the material used. Obviously, during the summer month’s this will warrant keeping an eye on things.

However, if you are spending time on the stationary trainer during the winter months, the sweat factor is very real.

1. To check for any rust build-up, remove your seat post. Before you do so, mark your spot with tape. I have chosen a blue masking tape for visibility reasons. This tape will not hold. I normally use black electrical tape.

2. After loosening the seat post binder bolt, pull out the post. Wipe it down with your rag. You will probably notice the copper color of rust on the rag. After wiping it down, cover the post with grease below your mark.

3. Then slip the post back down the seat tube and tighten the binder bolt. There will be some grease that will gather at the top edge of the seat tube. Just wipe it off.

Cleaning the Handlebar Stem and Headset of Your Bicycle

This is another step that I suggest you do once a month. Even more so than the seat post. This area is another victim of body sweat! Especially for a triathlete riding in the aero position.

This is a photo of a traditional handlebar stem or quill stem. However, today’s newer ahead stems will also be subject to rust and corrosion.

ONE POSITIVE NOTE: Because today’s ahead stems basically “wrap” around the fork post, you do not have to remove the stem for cleaning. If you have an older quill stem your brake cables may be routed in such a way that it will be difficult to remove your handlebar stem. Especially a traditional stem. If this is the case, I suggest you consult your local bike shop to ask them what they would do.

1. Like your seat post, mark your spot with some tape before removing the stem. On a traditional quill stem, begin by loosening the stem bolt. This will require a large Hex wrench.

2. Once the bolt is loose, you should be able to lift the seat post up and out.

3. Wipe the stem post with a rag. Then cover the post with grease below your tape mark. Slide the stem back into place. Grease will gather at the top of the head set. With your finger, draw a bead of the left over grease around the stem covering the corner between the stem and headset. This again will help ward off future moisture until your next cleaning.

4. Just as you did with the exposed cables, put a little grease between your fingers and wipe on your head set just enough to put on a light film. No need to be liberal. Again, just a preventative means to help ward off moisture. Every little bit helps!

Final Cleanup of Your Bicycle

At this point, just get your rag and finish wiping down your bike, removing any smudges, dirt spots, etc. This won’t take but a couple of minutes.

Initially, this basic clean-up may a while. However, once you it becomes habit, it should only take about 45 minutes to an hours. A step that could save you $40 bucks next time your bike needs cleaning. I like to perform my maintenance once a week on a Sunday after my long ride.

Put on your favorite music, some old clothing and knock it out! Good luck.

Bike Time Difference by Aero Position

If you are an elite or top age-group racer, then aerodynamic positioning and equipment should be important to you. But what about the “average Joe” who rides under 20 mph, or even 16 or 17 mph?  Will better positioning and equipment really make a difference? That is something I was challenged to find out, as customers always ask that question trying to justify spending their money on some new gadget that has become available.

The Test

On various “forums” on the internet there is rampant speculation about aero effectiveness when positioning and equipment such as disk wheels are applied to very average racers.

I set up some guidelines to work in and began a search for my test mule. I ran a small ad in Bicycling magazine looking for volunteers for this project, and about 1200 people had sharp enough eyes to find the ad and reply, so we weeded our way through the applicants.

My volunteer ended up being a young man from Texas who had no cycling background other than riding around the neighborhood with his wife. Because of the onset of middle age and some encouragement by his wife, “Joe” had decided to give cycling a go.

Our victim was about to buy a bike anyway so after talking with him he went out and made his purchase. Part of this deal was that after riding for 1 week he would go out and ride a conscientious 26 mile time trial.  We had talked about how to have some controls in place so the test meant something, trying for very similar wind conditions, temperature and time of day. He would be repeating this test the following weekend so the numbers would be pretty comparable.

The Bike

Joe had chosen a new Raleigh road bike that fit into his budget; it had an aero down tube and was outfitted with Profile aero bars.

His local bike shop had set him up so he was race ready, all he needed was a few hundred miles of training. Our young racer showed up at the Texas A&M wind tunnel to learn how we developed more speed.

Before I started on him, I had to finish up some work I was doing on another local Texan, Lance Armstrong. This gave Joe a chance to see what things we did to the top riders and make some observations about his bike setup.  

We finally started on Joe and the first thing we did was establish a base line of performance. Joe could average about 150 watts for the 26 mile ride so with that we needed his aerodynamic drag to predict his improvements.

Putting the bike in the wind tunnel just as it had been ridden 2 days earlier, we found that Joe and his bike had an aerodynamic “drag” of 8.050 pounds. That was using his aero bars in the position he was originally set up on.

The next thing we did was to tell Joe to do anything he could think of using his original equipment to get more aero. He thought about it after having watched us work with Lance and made some changes to his bike.

His efforts netted him some good gains and lowered his drag down to 7.614 pounds, which would have made him just over 1 minute and 18 seconds faster. That was very encouraging and also was going to make it pretty hard on me.

What is the best Aero Position

This story is not just about me “blowing my own horn”; I wanted to show how effective wind tunnel work can be.

Fortunately, I was able to improve Joe’s position further, while keeping him in a powerful and comfortable zone. I lowered his aerodynamics to 6.580 pounds using only his original equipment, by tweaking his elbow width, setting his hand and bar height, and adjusting his loose clothing and knee position. His new time potential was 1:16.14 so I was really looking forward to his real world test in the next few days.  

Bike Time Difference by Position

PositioningPounds of dragTime (26 Miles)
Original setup, with hands on hoods9.38 @ 17.6 mph1:24:32
Adding aero bars8.05 @ 18.4 mph1:20:49
Joe’s changes7.61 @ 18.7 mph1:19:31
My final positioning6.58 @ 19.5 mph1:16:14

Why Does a Better Position Increase Time

To understand why positioning and equipment made such a difference, I am going to start by explaining drag.

Aerodynamic drag is measured in pounds per square inch, which means that for every inch of you or your bike that is exposed to the wind, there is a pound of resistance pushing against you. We reduce drag by making you “smaller” (e.g., tucking in so that less of you is exposed to the wind) or by making you and the bike “smoother” so that the oncoming air flows around you better.

With less drag, you will go faster because your effort is contributing more to your speed and less to pushing a bigger object through the wind.

We reduced Joe’s aero drag by over 30%, however the real test came out on the road. A few days later the weather cooperated and our racer went to the course. He set a time of 1:16:30, but blew up a little early because of too much enthusiasm. We all thought this was a pretty successful test and was indicative of the results we generally see. You always have to train hard and train smart, but there is technology out there that will really help you. Not everyone can go to a wind tunnel to get set-up, but everyone can ask questions and read the various technical articles to improve their riding.

7 Quality Speed Workouts for Cyclists

Well, I realized after writing down a list of workouts to increase your running speed (“The Need For Speed,”) that I should give cycling an equal billing as well.  I have also noticed this topic reoccurring on the Discussion Forum and thought some of you would benefit from these workouts.

When incorporating speed work into your cycling program always be safe, build your efforts gradually and avoid doing to much too soon. Always err on the side of less than more.  Most of these can be performed alone, on the trainer as well as the road. But, for maximum effectiveness and FUN, I recommend working out on the road with a group. Oh, by the way, always be aware of your surroundings and the traffic around you. We want you to get faster, but preferably ALIVE! That said, here they are.

*Heart rate upper limit =(180-age), lower limit=upper limit –10 (note that heart rate on the bike is usually 5-10 bpm lower that when running, so adjust the above formula accordingly). Check out heart rate monitor reviews here.

1. The Pyramid

Warm up 5-10 miles, do the following repeats: 1 minute hard/30 seconds rest, 2 minutes hard/30 seconds rest, 3 minutes hard/30 seconds rest, 4 minute hard/30 seconds rest, 5 minutes hard/30seconds rest, 4 minutes hard/30 seconds rest, 3 minutes hard/30 seconds rest, 2 minutes hard/30 seconds rest, 1 minute hard/30seconds rest, cool down 5-10 miles. Work interval should be 5-10 bpm above upper limit, recovery at or below lower limit. Too hard? Recover for 1 minute instead of 30 seconds. If on the trainer, your warm-up and warm-down can be 110-20 minutes.

2. The Jack and Jill

Best done with at least one other rider, preferably a group. Warm up 5-10 miles, find a hill of moderate slope approximately 1 mile in length, riders leave in 15 second intervals and try and catch the person in front before he or she reaches the top of the hill. Work effort should be all out and recovery very easy. Start with 4 repeats and gradually work up to 6-8. Cool down 5-10 miles.WARNING: THESE REALLY SUCK and I LOVE ‘M!

3. The Burner

Warm up 5-10 miles; do 4-6 repeats of 5 minutes hard/2minutes recovery. Best done with a buddy leaving 15 seconds apart (remember these Hazen J). Work interval 5-10 bpm above upper limit, recovery at or below lower limit. Cool down 5-10 miles. Those with less cycling base may want to start with 3 minutes hard/2 minutes easy.

4. The Time Trial

Find a slightly rolling road and mark it off in 1-mile increments up to 5 miles. Warm up 5-10 miles then do a 5-10 mile time trial, depending on your level of fitness, trying to stay at your upper limit +5-10 bpm. This should be about a 90% effort, so you may have to adjust your heart rate range for the bike if you are not at 90% effort at 5-10 bpm above upper limit. Cool down 5-10 miles.

5. The Miler

Holy heart rate Batman! This one will push it up there guys. Find a few buddies and warm up for 5-10 miles. Find a one-mile section of road and mark it off. “Toe the line ladies and gentlemen” and race one another for one mile. Recover below lower limit back to the start line. Start with 3-4 repeats and work up to 6-8. Cool down for 5-10 miles. THESE HAVE BEEN KNOWN TO INDUCE VOMITING J.

6. Team Time Trial

Definitely need a few buddies for this (3 total usually works best), warm up 5-10 miles, then each person take 5 turns in the front for 1 mile at 5-10 bpm above upper limit (this should be about 90%). After your mile “pull” peel off and draft the other riders until they peel off and it’s your turn to pull again. Cool down 5-10 miles. This is one of my favorites and even though you only do 5 “pulls” the total workout is intense and should leave you wasted! Sorry, you loners will have to sit this one out.

7. The Brick

SEE “THE NEED FOR SPEED” IN THE RUNNING ARTICLE SECTION!

Remember these workouts are intense so you only need to do one of them per week. If you are tapering for an important race you probably don’t need to do these during the week of the race. If you are just training through the race then go for it!

Happy training.

Ultimate Beginner Guide to Spinning

Does the lure of ambient beats or a group of energetic people working hard to the prodding from an instructor make it so you just can’t stay away from Group Cycling class at your favorite gym?

Winter time and a busy schedule often make an indoor group cycling class enticing. You can make it work for you if you follow some simple guidelines and make that workout time your own. Your favorite instructor does not have to be an elite cyclist to teach a great class, but should also be considerate of your triathlon specific training.

You don’t have to participate in the high numbered consecutive jumps, unrealistically high RPM’s, or high heart rates with sweat pouring off of you to still go to class. You will be better off if you choose your own time to go hard and keep a majority of your off season training fairly easy. Go ahead and join in, but keep with these guidelines and you will be fit and ready come race day!

The Spin Bike Fit

The bike fit is extremely important for anyone who rides indoors or out. Many cycling specific injuries could be avoided with a proper fit. Sure you are fit correctly on your race bike, but you need to take the same approach to all your bikes! Even indoor group cycling. Comfort and safety on the bike is directly related to a proper bike fit and is essential to ensure the success of your cycling program.

Adjusting Your Saddle Height

Saddle height is the first bike adjustment that should be made, while all other adjustments are made after this. Although the other bike adjustments are very important, saddle height as well as fore /aft are the most imperative to avoid serious injuries since the knee and hips are the primary joints involved in cycling.

Because you may have several different brands of bikes in the various facilities that you may be in, we will use universal ways to find proper fitting. Starting measurements such as standing next to the bike is just a starting place and is based on an expected standard in relationship to the bike frame height and the bottom bracket. This will vary within the different manufacturers as well as with the leveling pads from one bike to another.

Stand next to the bike and adjust the saddle height to be parallel with the hipbone to find a basic starting point for saddle height. Once establishing a “starting point”, then sit on the saddle with feet in the toe clips or clipless pedals. Crank arm should be exactly vertical and in the down most position. Leg should be extended, be able to press the heel downward, and leaving the knee slightly bent. Some bikes allow for a very precise adjustment, while others adjust in one-inch increments. For most cases, err on the side of lower vs. higher because too high can cause severe hamstrings injuries as well as create an uncomfortable pressure point on the pelvic area. This should be an exception as most people can obtain a good fit. Many bikes have numbers on the adjustment sites so that the precise fitting can be duplicated easily each time.

Another way to check saddle height is while sitting on the bike, and placing one heel on the platform area of the pedal. Crank arm should be exactly vertical and leg extended while hips remain squared and without movement. If the hips rotate to the side, then that is an indication that the saddle is too high. If the knee remains mostly bent, then that would indicate the saddle is too low. Finding an appropriate balance in between is the goal.

Moving the Saddle Saddle Fore/Aft (forward or backward)

Fore and aft is another way to say “forward” and “back” and is proper bike terminology. It refers to the saddle position, but could also apply to handle bar position as well. In this case, we will be referencing saddle position.

Saddle Fore/Aft can be a difficult position to learn to adjust. If you have trouble with sighting this, use a string w/ a weight at the bottom to create a plumb line to work with.

In this case, Fore/Aft will be gauged by the knee (Patella) position and it’s relative position to the foot. The Saddle Fore/Aft position has a direct relationship to the distance from the saddle to the bottom bracket. The ankle should be in the same position as it would while pedaling as the angle of the ankle will change where the plumb line from the Patella will fall in relationship to the foot.

With a plumb line dropped from the Patella, it should fall above the ball of the foot. Small variations for comfort are acceptable, but once the Patella extends toward the toe or too far back that it’s behind or parallel w/ the Tibia (lower leg) it is out of the normal range of adjustments.

Handle Bar Height

Handle bar height is made after saddle height and fore/aft. This will directly effect the amount of flexion at the hip as well as the handle bar fore/aft. Generally the handle bar height should be no lower than parallel to the saddle, but preferably 2 inches or higher than the saddle. It is a truly rare Elite level racer that would go no more than 2 inches below the saddle. This is for reference only and should not be implemented into any indoor cycling plan.

Handle Bar Fore/Aft

Handle bar fore/aft will effect the angle of flexion at the hip as well as the spine. Like saddle fore/aft, a string and weight can be used to find the plumb line from the tip of the elbow to the knee. Too far forward, the rider will have excess pressure in the saddle area and will appear to be stretched out with arms extended. Take note that the rider’s preferred hand position will effect handle bar fore/aft position. Hands positioned at the bar ends, while seated in the saddle, is discouraged.

Finding the Pedals/Foot Position

The ball of the foot should be placed directly on the pedal axle, or center of the pedal. Those who use the toe cages (with straps) and regular athletic shoes, should make sure they find the correct placement. Straps should be tightened enough that the foot does not slip around and is held somewhat snug, but not tight. Stiff soled shoes are preferred to avoid fatigue and discomfort at the foot.

For those using the clip-less (quick release) pedals, careful set up of the shoe cleat is paramount. The pedal system being used is SPD (Shimano Pedaling Dynamics) or SPD compatible. The pedal systems should not be switched out because it causes excessive wear and strips out the threads of the crank arm. All mechanical adjustments should be made and maintain by a qualified and insured bicycle mechanic. Unless you are highly experienced, we recommend you refer to the local bike shop for assistance with pedal cleat system installation or adjustments.

Foot and ankle position should remain neutral through the rotation and “transfer” the workload from the larger muscles in the upper leg and hip area to the pedal. The style or individual mechanics may vary due to the bone, muscle, and ligament lengths that are different in every individual. You should avoid excessive “toeing” or “heeling” and practice a more stable ankle movement.

Cycling Positions

Since the beginning of the indoor cycling programs, I have seen many different instructional methods that specify different positions and methods. How we train and ride in the great outdoors, is what we should do while cycling indoors.

Hand positions

The positions that could be used are mostly personal. Look to a road bike or mountain bike to see what traditional handle bar positions that are used.

– Placement of hands on the ends of the bullhorns is not recommended while in the seated position.

– Laying arms on the bars (like a triathlon or time trial position in aero bars) is also not recommended for indoor group cycling since your exact set up is not represented.

– Wrists should not be overly bent, hands should rest lightly if the bike set up is done correctly.

– Narrow hand position should never be used while out of the saddle.

Seated Position

This is the base of all riding. A majority of the ride time should be done in the saddle including climbing. While using resistance and cadence changes, training intensities can be managed. Consider the seated position as the “meat and potatos” of all the riding. Hand positions could be wide or more narrow, but NOT on the ends of the bullhorns while in a seated position.

Standing Position

Standing, or also referred to as “out of the saddle”, it is generally a more aggressive movement and has a couple of different applications. The form is a little harder to learn indoors since the direct gravitational forces are not as obvious to help teach us. Enough resistance to feel somewhat “supported” while pedaling and able to sweep through the down most position without “mashing” is recommended. The hips should be positioned at the tip of the nose of the saddle or slightly in front of it.

Light resistance while out of the saddle is never recommended.

Climbing out of the saddle will raise the heart rate/RPE due to the shift in a more upright position and the direct control that is required of the entire body relative to gravity. To ride similarly to outdoor riding, an increase in resistance is required. Smooth, round pedaling is highly recommended.

Accelerations & Sprinting

This could be applied to flat terrain or climbing (seated or standing). Again, an increase in resistance is recommended. Please note that this may not always be required if ample resistance was in use prior to the acceleration or sprint. The difference between acceleration and sprinting is the amount of resistance, the relative change in RPM’s and of training intensity. Accelerations are not considered a sprint, but a controlled “acceleration” or surge. Sprinting is not appropriate for all levels.

Jumps

This is a traditional road racer’s training mode that is meant to train for power. This is much like an accelerations or sprinting, but is meant to be shorter (10-12 pedal revolutions each leg) and is traditionally meant to be done with a seated recovery for several minutes after each because of higher amount of force and effort being generated. Jumps are done to train for power and effective pedal force.

The traditionally known jumps can be done seated or standing and is much like sprinting or accelerations. Racers that ride in groups (peletons), will use jumps to practice the use of fluid forward momentum and often while coming out of the saddle. If poor form is present, the bike would “kick back” and be harmful to any rider behind. This means that the bike slows, as the rider comes out of the saddle, due to loss or pause in power while coming out of the saddle. Jumps are meant to train the athlete to maintain the power while coming out of the saddle. Jumps can be done consecutively out of the saddle and back in (also known as Ins and Outs) and if done correctly, only a few are needed or desired! This is considered aggressive riding, and is not appropriate for all levels or too often during your training.

About Spinning RPM and Resistance

RPM’s (revolutions per minute) and resistance (gear selections) are a hot topic in the field of cycling at present time. Individual bio-mechanics, muscle fiber type, and conditioning will be an influence to the selection of the two.

There are some basic guidelines to stay within. Classes should be conducted with RPM’s within 50-120 revolutions per minute with an average at approximately 90 RPM’s. To find what this is; count one leg every time it comes up for 30 seconds and then double that number. That will be the revolutions per minute.

Consider the RPM selection and the resistance. Does that correspond to what the intent of the workout is? Keep it realistic.

7 Activities To Avoid on the Bike

These are higher risk variations that are often taught in a group setting. These should be politely declined. Remember, this is your workout and the following don’t apply to outdoor riding and often have risks that far out weigh any potential benefit

1. High Intensities all the time

Harder is not always better. It is hard on the system and offers only a small part of “fitness”. It also leaves the participant more susceptible to illness and injury. Consider your training and more than just putting time in the saddle, but also training your body’s energy systems.

2. Popcorn Jumps

This is where you go in and out of the saddle using momentum, usually fairly fast, high repetitions, and light resistance.

3. Light or no resistance and jumps

Often done w/ little to no resistance. The risk far out weighs any potential benefit.

4. Swinging of hips way back over the saddle for a climb position.

This is also called “hovering”. The relative change in the bio-mechanics at the knee and hip leave you at high risk of injury w/ little to no benefit.

5. Odd Hand positions. 

Narrow hand position while out of the saddle or at the end of bull horns while seated. You learn what you practice. Compare to outdoor cycling.

6. Running

This is a term used to describe light resistance while out of the saddle, often with an upright standing position. The risk of injury out weighs any potential benefit.

7. Pushups

Pushup type movement performed using the handlebars while riding. Pushups are best done on their own.

These guidelines will help you make the most out of your group cycling program and keep you riding year round.

Using a Spin Bike for Triathlon Training + 9 Workouts

For many of my athletes, staying on top of their training while traveling is one of the biggest challenges they encounter. While running and even swimming can be performed relatively easily on the road, cycling presents the greatest challenge.

Perhaps you have experienced a similar situation; you have not been on your bike since last Sunday’s ride and feel you are losing your fitness in the face of your upcoming race. You go down to the hotel gym and find one somewhat dilapidated Lifecycle. How is it possible to get a good workout in on one of these? Will the fitness remotely transfer to real road cycling?

Can You Get a Good Bike Workout on the Spin Bike?

The answer is that you can get a good workout that will transfer to road cycling. While training on a stationary bike could never fully substitute time on the road, there are many workouts you can perform to work on a piece of your cycling.

Cycling can be broken down into two basic components; leg speed and force production, both of which can be trained on a stationary bike if no other option exists. Some workouts are actually better performed in a controlled environment where power, cadence, and resistance can all be monitored and adjusted.

Bike Training in Stationary Bikes While Traveling

The first step is planning. If you know you will be traveling, you want to select the workouts that are going to be easiest to perform on the stationary bike. I consider this when building my athletes’ plans by putting their long, more general road workouts on the weekends and putting the shorter, more specific workouts during the week.

The next step is choosing a hotel that has an exercise room and stationary cycle. Some hotels are advertising this as a feature to attract customers. If at all possible, frequent the hotels that have raised the standard for their fitness rooms. Many hotels have reciprocal arrangements with local gyms. In this case, a spin cycle would be an option. Don’t assume that just because the hotel has a gym, a stationary bike will be there, or more specifically, one that is in good repair. I have been amazed that some of the nicer hotels often have equipment that is in disrepair.

Don’t be afraid to explain when making reservations that you are training for a race and that you require an exercise bicycle. You may want to explain that “the last time I was there it was broken; would you mind checking to make sure it is working properly and get back to me.” This may seem like some length to go to, but it is very frustrating to prepare for a workout only to have it nixed due to factors beyond your control.

Strength Training on the Stationary Bike

Strength training enhances your cycling and athletes often spend a portion of their season lifting weights to increase force production. Strength training performed on the bike and is even more specific. You can perform the following strength workouts on a stationary bike.

1. Force Reps

Warm up for 10-15 minutes, then crank the resistance down until it is very heavy as if you were climbing a steep hill. Drive the pedals down for 20-30 pedal strokes concentrating on producing force on the down stroke. Do not increase cadence; keep cadence very slow. Recover for five minutes and repeat. You can perform 4-8 force reps per workout.

2. Leg Tension

Trains strength endurance. Envision climbing a long, steep hill. Keep your cadence in the 50-60 rpm range with a heavy resistance. Smoothly pedal the length of the interval using good climbing form. You can perform leg tension intervals of 5-20 minutes with 5-10 minutes recovery between efforts.

3. Aerobic Tension

Trains aerobic strength. Picture a very long, moderate climb. Keep your cadence in the 65-75 rpm range and your heart rate towards the top of your aerobic zone. Smoothly pedal for 20-60 minutes using these parameters. This workout is a lot harder than it may seem at first and is highly productive.

Power Training on the Stationary Bike

Power training is strength + speed. You should have a good strength basis before moving on to these workouts. Form is important. Make sure you are producing smooth power and not ?bobbing? in the saddle.

4. Power Bursts

These are the first phase of power training. Using a high cadence and resistance, pedal as hard as you can for 10 seconds. At the end of the interval, your legs should be very fatigued and ready to quit on you. Recover for 10 minutes and repeat 4-8 times.

5. Power Intervals

These are more sustained and build aerobic capacity. Using a high cadence (over 100 rpm) and high resistance, pedal as hard as you can for 1-4 minutes. Recover for an equal length and repeat 3-6 times.

6. Speed Intervals

These have limited recovery and train your body to buffer lactic acid. Use a high cadence and resistance, pedal for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Recovery is the same length as the interval. Repeat 8-20 times.

Speed Training on the Stationary Bike

Speed training is simply training your muscles to fire quickly and to pedal efficiently at higher pedal speeds. Low resistance is used unlike power training. Form should be the focus. Speed training is good for lighter days on which you do not want to over stress the body.

7. Progressive Fast Legs

Start off at 90 rpm and increase your cadence by 5 rpm every 30 seconds until you reach your maximum sustainable cadence. Your max cadence is the point at which you begin to lose form and bob in the saddle. Hold for 30 seconds, then recover for several minutes; repeat 4-6 times.

8. Endurance Spinning

Perform this at 5 rpm below your maximum sustainable cadence and hold your cadence for 10-60 minutes. You may need to start off with a shorter duration and increase each workout.

9. Spin Ups

Spin up quickly to your maximum sustainable cadence and then let it drop 20 rpm. Repeat this 8-12 times.

Working out on a stationary bike is not the best way to train in a perfect world but you can break down portions of your cycling and work on them effectively. Most of these workouts should be performed in the base and general preparation phases of training. As you get closer to your goal race(s), try to spend more time on the road and as little time as possible training indoors.