Archives for category: Guides

Pedals play an important role because they are where the power from your pedal stroke is transferred into the bike. Certainly the frame, crank and wheels all contribute, but it starts with the pedals. As I mentioned in my post about shoes, there are two types of attachments for cleats to the shoes but a number of different variations of cleat shapes. When selecting pedals you need to consider the type of riding you want to do but also

Alice Bike Fit

Andrew Sink Fitting Alice

issues related to fit. Do you have any injuries that will affect the foot, cleat, pedal interface? These could be knee injuries that would require you to have a certain amount of float from your cleat. Maybe you have feet that will require you to have a unique placement of the cleat so that your feet are comfortable. Will you need shims to address alignment issues with your foot? Does your body require pedal spindles that are a little longer or of varying length to improve your pedal stroke? If you don’t know the answer to these questions a professional fitter will be able to assist you in determining your needs. Do you need pedals with easier release settings for you to exit the pedals?

Like many other things there is a lot that you can talk about in what makes the pedals different. They include the way the release systems work, are they adjustable? How close your foot is to the pedal spindle. From a component construction standpoint of the pedals the pricing generally is driven by features such as what the spindle is made out of, the quality and type of the bearings and the material of the pedal body.

Riding with clipless pedals and shoes is a game changer and really essential to being able to achieve a strong fit. This is the foundation of your fit and by utilizing a clipless pedal system you start with a strong foundation to build the rest of your fit from. Many riders are initially intimidated by clipless pedals but for most when they get used to them they can’t imagine riding without them.

Note – This is part of a series we  will be sharing that Ernest wrote about cycling accessories and components. While they aren’t intended to be full on “Buyers Guides”  We do hope they will help you with things to consider when thinking about them or to view them a little differently. Then in future post we will dive deeper into each one of these.


Want to upgrade your bike and gains some speed? Wheels are a great place to do it. Plus they make your bike look really cool, or at least more personalized to you. Another great thing about wheels is that in many cases they can move to your new bike when you decide to make an upgrade. There are a ton of factors when selecting a new wheel for your ride. So 07936_A_1_Race_XXX_Lite_TLR_Disc_29.pngmany you could spend hours and hours discussing and learning about it. Your riding style is going to play a huge factor in the type of wheel that is going to be best for you. A person who is interested in climbing faster would benefit from a lighter wheel in most cases but not necessarily all. Yet a road cyclist who wants to go fast may benefit from a heavier wheel then they currently ride but one that is more aero. The advantages of the aerodynamics will offset increased weight. Something else that one needs to consider and look at when selecting a wheel is the speed that you will be riding at. Many of the numbers that you see reported are at speeds that many of us can’t maintain for an extended period. While there is a lot to consider wheels are always a great item to upgrade because the performance benefits are huge.

Note – This is part of a series we  will be sharing that Ernest wrote about cycling accessories and components. While they aren’t intended to be full on “Buyers Guides”  We do hope they will help you with things to consider when thinking about them or to view them a little differently. Then in future post we will dive deeper into each one of these.

Car racks are important to protect your car and your bike. Plus they make it a lot easier for you to get to the many great places there are to ride around here. Loading a bicycle in and out of your car is just not a lot of fun. It increases the likelihood of damage to both your bicycle and your vehicle. It may be something as basic as knocking your brakes out of adjustment. Maybe worse you bend your rear derailleur hanger unknowingly. That could result in a shifting your derailleur into your rear wheel and causing even more damage to the bike and possibly you as a result. Grease stains on your interior are no fun to remove from carpet or worse yet damage to the vehicles interior, like a rip or tare.

As design of vehicles change and lighter materials are used in building them it is important to make sure that the rack you select is designed to work with your vehicle. If it is, make sure to read all of the notes about how to properly mount the rack to your vehicle. Many of them have specific instructions to make sure the car and bike are safe when being transported. Most rack companies offer fit guides to assist in selecting a rack for your vehicle. Of course we are happy to help and will help you install your rack the first time while educating you on the proper way to do so and mount your bicycles. A good quality bike rack will last a long time and offer protection for both your bicycle and your vehicle. Allowing you to focus on the ride.

It just makes sense to carry the bike on the outside of the car leaving more room to bring your fellow cyclists and their gear along for another great adventure on your bicycles. You, your bicycle and your car will be happier.

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Note – This is part of a series we  will be sharing that Ernest wrote about cycling accessories and components. While they aren’t intended to be full on “Buyers Guides”  We do hope they will help you with things to consider when thinking about them or to view them a little differently. Then in future post we will dive deeper into each one of these.

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Cycling shoes are an important piece of your equipment from a comfort standpoint as much as what many would have thought of first, power transfer during your pedaling stroke. When I think about comfort on your bike, your position and fit is essential but so are contact points. Contact points are your hands, which include your gloves, handlebar shape and bar tape/grips. Your rear end, so saddle selection and cycling shorts and chamois cream are all essential here. Then this brings us to your feet, pedals, shoes, insoles and socks all play a factor. When I mention these areas they are also all affected by your position on your bike. An adjustment to your fit can address one problem area but possibly lead to needed changes in another area. A properly fit pair of cycling shoes offers consistent support for your foot while you are pedaling. This will reduce pain and fatigue as a result of the pedaling process. Most cyclist are pedaling 80 – 90 times a minute or about 4,800 revolutions per hour.

Think about the act of pedaling. You start the pedaling process as your foot presses down on the insole of the shoe, once you apply enough energy you compress the outer sole into the pedal and then the pedal starts to move. In a non-cycling specific shoe you have several things happening. First the insole and inner sole of the shoe deforms from the pressure of the foot pushing, then the outer sole deforms from being pushed into the pedal. You have two surfaces that are not consistent in support to your foot during the pedaling process. This can lead to hot spots, fatigue, toes that “fall asleep” etc.. Not to mention the energy lost in the process of all of that happening. A cycling shoe offers consistent support for your foot without a change in the shape. Some cyclist will exert the same amount of impact that a marathon runner does. You want your foot supported during the pedaling process.

Cycling shoes aren’t like running shoes in the sense that you are going to go thru four or five pairs a season. They are going to last for a bunch of seasons offering you thousands of miles of riding comfort.

Cycling shoes come in two types as far as the cleat/pedal interface goes. A “three hole” which has the cleat mounted to the bottom of the sole causing you to walk with your toes in the air. Generally considered road shoes. Then there is a “two bolt” style (generally called SPD’s) where the cleat sits flush with the outer sole allowing you to walk with your fleet on the ground normally. Yes some shoes will accept a two bolt cleat that leaves it external but most are a recessed or flush mount. This style was originally designed for mountain biking but is becoming popular with road cyclists, touring cyclists and is the shoe used in spinning.

The “three bolt” pattern offers a larger pedal cleat interface and a lower foot position to the pedal spindle. The two bolt pedals have a smaller cleat pedal interface with a pedal design that is generally more open in design for shedding dirt and such around the cleat. Now there are “two bolt” style pedals that have a larger body/cage around them giving the foot more support. For cyclist that select this style of pedal and shoe that is going to have a higher volume of riding miles we recommend buying a shoe that has a firmer sole to offer more support for your foot while pedaling. Some shoes that are geared for spinning or casual riding will be designed with a softer sole more conducive to walking in.

Thinking about how you are going to be using your shoes and your riding style will help us help you select a perfect pair of shoes for your cycling adventures. If for some reason they don’t do the trick most of our shoes come with a comfort guarantee that allows you to return them.

Note – This is part of a series we  will be sharing that Ernest wrote about cycling accessories and components. While they aren’t intended to be full on “Buyers Guides”  We do hope they will help you with things to consider when thinking about them or to view them a little differently. Then in future post we will dive deeper into each one of these.

Over the years we seen just about everything that can be done wrong on a bicycle done wrong. Some of them downright scary. So what follows is an overview of the items you should be looking at when purchasing a new or used bicycle. When buying from your local bicycle shops you shouldn’t have these concerns. When making a purchase from somewhere else or a used bicycle this knowledge will be extremely helpful.

It is a pretty common occurrence for a bicycle to come in the door that isn’t safe to ride because it was improperly assembled. We see this mainly on bikes that were purchased from department stores or mass merchants and even from online sellers. Often you have the same people assembling the bicycles along with anything else that needs to be assembled at the store, not a professionally trained bicycle mechanic. Most bicycle stores will offer a safety inspection to let you know if the bicycle is safe to ride. The eye of the professional will be more skilled in checking over the safety of bike and may often save you money in the long run of making a poor investment.

A safety inspection for purchase is much more in depth than a pre ride inspection. Most of the areas outlined below are good ideas to monitor on a regular basis for your own bikes, not all of them apply but many of them do.

A good visual once over is a great place to start. General condition of the bike, is there anything that looks odd or jumps out at you? Is there rust? A possible indicator that it hasn’t been properly stored. Is there rust on the drive train? Rust on the brake and shifting cables. Rusted cables can be at a risk of braking or cause issues in the cable housing. Are the spokes rusty?   Are the spoke nipples rusted or corroded?

If you are inspecting a used bicycle the first thing to do is check the frame for damage. Looking for dents and damage in the frame. Most importantly you want to check each of the welds for hairline cracks. Often there is dirt around the tubes joints, wipe it away and take a good look at this area.

One of the big things we see is the front fork is backwards. This often makes the bike unstable and squirrely when riding, because it shortens the wheelbase. You can tell if the fork is on backwards if the dropouts are behind the fork instead of facing forward on the bike.

Another popular thing we see are pedals that are not threaded all the way into the crank arm. You can recognize this when you can still see the threads from the pedal. Also you want to check that they are screwed in straight and not cross threaded. In some cases we see the pedals installed on the wrong side as there are right and left pedals. Installations like these can cause the pedals to fall out during a ride potentially injuring the rider and or damage the threads in the crank arms.

While you are checking the pedals it is a good idea to make sure that the crankset is tight. Push and pull the crank arms inwards and outwards towards the frame to make sure everything is secure. You shouldn’t feel any movement. If you are inspecting one side and both sides move that means you have a loose bottom bracket. If only one side has movement that generally means that side is loose. Riding with loose crank arms could cause damage to the arm causing it needing to be replaced or falling off while you are riding.

Next up the brakes. First you want to inspect the brake pads and make sure they are hitting the rim when the brake lever is squeezed. Are they rubbing on the tire sidewall? Are they partly on the rim partly off the rim? Are they secure to the brake arms? Used Bike: You want to check the rim for any cracks or damage. Is there excessive wear on the sidewall of the rim from the brake pads? Many rims have a wear indicator on the side. What is the condition of the brake pad? Are they worn out, do they have even wear? Uneven wear can indicate a brake adjustment issue. Most brake pads have a wear line printed on them. For disc brakes you are going to need to pull the brake pads to inspect them. In addition you’ll want to check the rotor thickness to see how much wear it has experienced. For hydraulic brakes check the line for leaks. Then ask about the service history of the brakes.

Next when you squeeze the brake levers do they stop before they hit the handlebar? If you squeeze them really tight is there cable stretch that allows the brake lever to hit the handlebar? New bikes have a brake in period where they need readjustment as the cables, housing and other items “settle” in. Which is why we offer Free Lifetime Basic Adjustments. Some of the initial stretch can be removed by the mechanic and other minor issues are often caught during the mechanics test ride. Are the brake levers tight on the handlebar or do they move?

While you are checking the brake levers it is a great time to make sure the handlebars and stem is tight. Will the handlebars move forward or backward when you grab them and try to move them? If you move the bar from left to right does the stem stay straight and not move. Having a steering system that is tight and secure is essential to your safety.

With the front brake engaged rock the bike forward and backwards to see if there is any movement. Here you are checking to make sure the headset is tight. If the bike has a suspension front fork it could be normal to have some movement as a result of the fork. If you turn the front wheel perpendicular to the bike and rock it back and forth you; can often eliminate movement as a result of the fork. Higher end forks will have less movement if any in the stanchions. Used Bike: If you notice a lot of movement in the fork inspect it a little closer as that could indicate an issue with the suspension. For suspension bikes check the functionality of the suspension. Does it work? When you adjust the settings on the fork do they do what they are supposed to? Is there wear on the stanchions? Has the fork been serviced on a regular basis?

Now that you have checked the braking system you’ll want to check the wheels for trueness. Spin the wheels do they move from side to side and or rub on the rims? Does it look like it is out of round, moving up and down when spun? We call this “hop”. “Hop” can also be a tire that is improperly seated on the rim. If so they will need to be trued – straightened out. Do they spin freely without a lot of drag or resistance? Next grab the tires and try to move the wheel from side to side. Is their movement? If so this indicates that the hub is loose and needs to be adjusted. While you are checking the wheels you’ll want to make sure the tires are properly inflated. There is an inflation range printed on the side of the tire. Proper tire pressure will greatly reduce the likelihood of a flat tire and make the bicycle more fun to ride. Used Bike: Inspect the conditions of the tires. Is there excessive wear? Flat spots in the tires, cuts and gouges? What about dry rot? Can you see any damage to the sidewalls or wear from a brake pad rubbing on them? Does the tube hold air?

Sticking with the tightness for safety theme the saddle and seat post are your next inspection. You’ll want to see if the saddle moves from side to side. If you push or pull on the nose of the saddle does it move up or down? Does the seat clamp work to keep the seat post secure? Used Bike: Does the seat post move up and down? Or is it seized in the frame?

Not to be forgotten is the drivetrain. You want to make sure the gears shift properly through the complete range. While harder to do without knowledge and a work stand, check to make sure the limit screws on the derailleurs are properly set. These are really important as they keep the chain from falling off or worse yet shifting into the rear wheel causing a possible catastrophic failure. While looking at the rear derailleur you want to make sure the hanger is straight and not bent. Does the bicycle pedal easy and smoothly or is there a lot of resistance in the drive train? Used Bike: Checking the wear of the drivetrain could save you a lot of expense. Inspecting the chain for wear with a chain wear indicator is important. How about the condition of the cassette and the chain rings? Are the teeth overly worn?

Modern bikes are built to be strong, durable and lightweight. Every one of the bolts on a bicycle has a recommended torque setting. It is important to use a torque wrench when tightening bolts on bicycles today. Especially on parts that involve carbon fiber.

Finally if you are purchasing a bicycle that is going to require training wheels you want to make sure that the rear axle is long enough to accept training wheels. In many cases we see axles that are too short to accept training wheels. Very often the case with department store bicycles. If that is the case you will need to replace the rear wheel with one that has a longer axle. Bicycles that have gears are generally not candidates for training wheels. There are some options for adult geared bicycles to accept training wheels. If the rider is old enough to be able to use a bike with gears there are ways to teach a rider young or old to ride a bicycle.

Spending some time inspecting the bicycle will be a good investment of yours to help you notice issues before they become bigger problems. In many cases your total cost of ownership for your bicycle will be less if you spend just a little more for it when you purchase it. The difference in the quality can be great and along with the durability will last you longer and be less expensive to maintain.

Want to learn more about how your bicycle works? Or how to work on your bicycle? Check out our Mechanics Classes.


Helmets are the most important cycling accessory you should own. Hopefully you never need it but if you do it can truly be a lifesaver for you. Did you know? That helmets should be replaced every three to five years. The materials that make them so safe break down over time due to exposure to the sun and perspiration in them. Helmets continue to get Bontrager Specter Helmetlighter with enhanced venting and moisture management for your head. In many cases it is actually cooler to wear a helmet then not as it helps move more air across your head keeping you cooler. Helmet safety has been increased now with Mips – Multi-directional Impact Protection System.

“Mips is a revolutionary technology that lets the helmet slide relative to the head, adding more protection against rotational violence to the brain caused by angled impacts. To identify the new generation of helmets, look for the little yellow Mips logo.” from

Note – This is part of a series we  will be sharing that Ernest wrote about cycling accessories and components. While they aren’t intended to be full on “Buyers Guides”  We do hope they will help you with things to consider when thinking about them or to view them a little differently. Then in future post we will dive deeper into each one of these.

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Lights aren’t just for the night anymore. Day time running lights help you be seen. In fact they reduce the likelihood of collisions by 33%. Now there are lights specifically designed for daytime use, front and rear. In many ways it seems odd for cyclists to have taken so long to pick up on this concept since cars and motorcycles have been using daytime lights for decades. Learn about the ABC’s of Awareness

Light and battery technology has advanced in leaps and bounds, thanks to the smart phone industry. They are lighter, brighter, smaller and less expensive than ever. Some lights are also designed to be able to be controlled by a remote switch or your Garmin. Lights that have cameras mounted in them so you can document the activity behind you or in front of you are available. Depending on your needs you have the ability to mount your lights on your handlebars or helmet. Rear light mounts make it easy to attach to your seat post no matter the size or shape. A feature of some rear lights is a clip mount allowing them to be placed on the back of your saddle bag, messenger bag or hydration system. When selecting your lights it is important to consider your primary intended use and needs. Are you buying it primarily to be seen, to see while you are riding? How fast you ride will be a factor to consider. The number of Lumens a light offers is the indicator that lets you know how bright the light is. Optics design will often affect the function of the light. We highly recommend turning on the light and looking at its different modes, light patterns and functionality to see if it will meet your needs.

Note – This is part of a series we  will be sharing that Ernest wrote about cycling accessories and components. While they aren’t intended to be full on “Buyers Guides”  We do hope they will help you with things to consider when thinking about them or to view them a little differently. Then in future post we will dive deeper into each one of these.

Floor Pumps – Next to a helmet a good quality floor pump may be your next most important bicycle accessory. By checking to make sure that your tires are properly inflated prior to every bike ride you will greatly reduce your likelihood of getting a flat. With an investment in a quality floor pump with a gauge you will likely never have to replace your 14367_A_1_Turbo_Charger_HP_Pump.pngbicycle pump. In our shop there are several pumps that have been used for years. Even with heavy use and they are still going strong today. So what makes a good quality floor pump? A metal body is important. I have seen pumps explode out the side of the body after being left in a hot car and then put to work. The size of the body will also be an indicator of what type of tires the pump is designed for. A wider body will move a higher volume of air and be better for mountain bike tires. Narrower body pumps will be a more all-around pump, with some of the narrower ones designed for higher pressures like road bicycles and making them easier for the user to get to the higher pressures. Don’t forget to look for a good quality base. My preference is metal again, but I have seen pumps with strong plastic bases that have held up. You also want to look for a larger base to provide more stability when you are pumping up your tires. Next up you want a gauge. A gauge at the top will be easier on the eyes but one at the base will work too. Many pumps have a ring around the pump that you can move to set an indicator for your desired air pressure. Making it easier to see if it is farther away from you. Next up is the head of the pump. A good modern pump will be able to accommodate both presta and schrader valves with an auto sensing head. Many pumps will have two slots in the head that the user selects. Finally be sure to check the handle to make sure it is comfortable and sturdy.

On the Ride Inflation – For on the ride inflation there are a lot of options for you to choose11667_A_1_Mini_Charger_Pump.png from. Frame pumps, mini pumps and CO2 systems. CO2 systems are the most popular these days, they are small, lightweight and make it easy to inflate your tires to the proper pressure without a lot of effort. The down side is that a cartridge is generally good for only one use, where a mini or frame pump is good for many many uses. Pumps designs like these will take much more effort to get your tire properly inflated. Selecting a mini pump designed for the type of tire you will be inflating is critical when selecting this method of tire inflation.

Note – This is part of a series we  will be sharing that Ernest wrote about cycling accessories and components. While they aren’t intended to be full on “Buyers Guides”  We do hope they will help you with things to consider when thinking about them or to view them a little differently. Then in future post we will dive deeper into each one of these.



Tires may not be exciting but they play an important part of your bike and the comfort of your ride.  Tires are a great upgrade to your bike with a small investment. A lighter tire will accelerate faster and require less effort for you to keep moving. Compound and tread design will affect the rolling resistance. This year a professional triathlete, during an interview was reflecting on his tire set up during the 2015 Ironman in Kona and believes that it cost him an extra eight minutes during his bike from post-race research. This is about the same amount of time that he missed the podium by. He had always taking a more laid back approach to equipment selection prior to 2016, not realizing the effects it had on his performance. Over the last several years for road cycling there has been a movement towards wider tires and less pressure. In many cases a wider tire is actually more aerodynamic, when paired with the correct rim. Lower pressure allows for more comfort and is often faster due to increased traction and less loss of power.  On the mountain bike side tubeless tires are here and established and moving into other segments of cycling rapidly.  Puncture resistance is probably one of our number one concerns we hear in the shop. There have been a lot of advancement in engineering allowing for a design that offers low rolling resistance, lighter weight with good protection from flats.

Note – This is part of a series we  will be sharing that Ernest wrote about cycling accessories and components. While they aren’t intended to be full on “Buyers Guides”  We do hope they will help you with things to consider when thinking about them or to view them a little differently. Then in future post we will dive deeper into each one of these.

Over the next several days we  will be sharing several blogs Ernest wrote about cycling accessories and components. While they aren’t intended to be full on “Buyers Guides”  We do hope they will help you think about things to consider when thinking about them or to view them a little differently. Then in future post we will dive deeper into each one of these.


As I wrote in Don’t Stop and Lose Your Fitness there are plenty of good reasons to keep riding year around. Unless you live in a southern climate a trainer is an important piece of equipment to make that happen. If you do live in a climate that is warmer year around the trainer may still be an essential piece of equipment for the days that are simply too hot to ride outdoors. They are also great to use when you have a time crunch and want to get a great workout in a defined time period. Or maybe you simply have run out of daylight in your day and still need to get your workout in.

Wahoo Kickr

Smart Trainer – Wahoo Fitness Kicker

All of these are good reasons to be using a trainer. More good news, there are more and more tools available to make indoor training more fun and to improve your overall fitness level. Some examples: Zwift, Trainer Road, CycleOps Virtual Training. Many of these programs are designed and work best with a smart trainer but will work with a non-electronic trainer. There are also plenty of video based options (Spinervals and YouTube) to keep you engaged and focused on your training goals while you ride. Time will certainly pass by a lot quicker. No matter your riding style and fitness goals there are solutions available. When considering and selecting a trainer it is important to think about how you want to use the trainer and the goals you have. Are you just going to be riding it to build your base and maintain your fitness? Are there specific types of workouts that you want to do? Intervals, hill climbing, power based, heart rate based. How often are you going to be using the trainer? How many hours a week will your training be? All of these questions will help us in helping you select the perfect trainer for your needs.

More about trainers – Indoor Trainer Sessions Keep Them Fun