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Clipless Pedal Advantages and Disadvantages

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We recently talked about the different types of pedals, and left the conversation with the question “Do I Need Clipless Pedals?”

Advantages of Clipless Pedals

There are three main advantages that I tell every customer thinking of getting a pair of shoes and clipless pedals.

  • You will be more efficient and faster on the bike. You are able to use the whole pedal stroke, not only the down stroke.  Pulling up and making round circles with your pedaling technique will allow you to keep a higher cruising speed or get up those hills faster with less effort.
  • The sole of a cycling shoe is stiffer and does not flex as much to cause arch or foot pain.
  • You are in a locked position in the pedals for a more dynamic fitting on your bike.

Disadvantages of Clipless Pedals

In my mind the advantages out way the disadvantages, clipless pedals will make you a stronger cyclist.

  • You are locked in and need to be educated how to “un-clip” your pedals
  • There is a learning curve, try to learn on a trainer or in a quite community
  • Your bike fit is now more important and you could injure yourself if you aren’t properly adjusted from toes up to your shoulders.  It all links together in the human body chain.
  • The cost for pedals/shoes starts about $150 – 250 for the common types of shoes and pedals.

Types, Styles and What to Look For

This is a follow up article to help aid you in finding your perfect system.  We will discuss different types of shoes, pedals and why each is useful.

Follow me on Twitter : @BikeShopGirlcom

Different Types of Pedals

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There are a variety of pedal types out in bike land these days.  The three top types of pedals are the following :

Platform Pedals

These are the pedals you have been using since the big wheel.  The are flat, sometimes with small grip pegs sticking out.  These do not require any special shoes, are the easiest to use and are also the least effecient of the pedals listed.

Toe Clips and Straps

Take the above platform pedal, and and a cage with strap.  These can be tightened down on your shoe to give you some ability to pull up on the pedals, as well as keeping your foot in a relative position.

Clipless Pedals

You have probably heard horror stories of clipless, or clip-in, pedals.  Chances are if you have tried them, you have toppled over one or two times.  Requiring special shoes, special pedals and a high confidence rate.   I recommend to try learning how to clip in with a friend, or your favorite local bike shop.  Being locked into a trainer also helps as you don’t have to worry about falling over.

Clipless pedals (also clip-in or step-in) require a special cycling shoe with a cleat fitted to the sole, which locks into a mechanism in the pedal, holding the shoe firmly to the pedal. Most of today’s clipless pedals lock to the cleats when stepped together firmly, and unlock with when the foot is twisted outward. Clipless refers to the lack of an external toe clip (cage), but not to be confused with platform pedals without toe clips. – Souce: Wikipedia

Do I Need Clipless Pedals?

Good question, visit our follow up article on the advantages and disadvantages of clipless pedals.

Follow me on Twitter : @BikeShopGirlcom

Can I Wear Guys Cycling Shorts?

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The easy answer to the question “Can I wear guys cycling shorts?”

Yes!

The hidden answer after that is, as long as they fit you.

For a very long time women were lucky to have various types of moderate level shorts.  There has been a few companies that come to mind that have been doing women’s cycling shorts well. These companies are : Pearl Izumi, Giordana, Sugoi, and Sheebeast.

Even with these brands, for one reason or another I’ve still worn about 50-75% of the time, guys shorts.   One of those large reasons are bib shorts, which is another topic in its own, I love them and not one company has made a good women’s design bib.  This has left me wearing guys bibs.  Other reasons are team sponsorship, right now the shops team kit are guys bibs, which is fine with me.

Reasons Not to Wear Guys Shorts

Length of chamois.  The pad/chamois goes high on guys shorts as they have more “package.” This freaks some women out as it comes well in front of the pubic bone.
Chamois size.  Remember that whole women’s design?  That goes with shorts too.  Women tend to need wider chamois in their shorts.  Just make sure the chamois doesn’t end too quickly for you or end where the saddle will rub.  That will leave you with several saddle sores.
Inseam length.  Companies tend to put a shorter inseam on women’s shorts compared to men’s.  This is another reason that I wear guys, I have long legs and the 6″ inseam on girls shorts are just too short normally.

Recommended Guys Shorts/Bibs to Try

Bontrager RXL
My go to shorts for the past year since I found them.  They have different materials through out the short to help with compression and the chamois is made to mate with their inForm saddles.

Gore Power Bib
– One of my new favorites if you read my article a couple days ago.  One note, do NOT get the Men’s Xenon bibs as the chamois has a break in the middle.  Can you say “camel toe?”

Final Thoughts

Don’t let your local bike shop confuse you, your favorite pair of shorts are two fold.  The first is the dressing room test, is it comfortable?  The second is to make sure it fits well on your favorite saddle.  Seams away from the edge of your saddles and that the chamois doesn’t “fold” in half and start pushing up on soft tissues.

Men’s or women’s : who cares as long as it fits?

Follow us on Twitter : @BikeShopGirlcom

Testing Out DZ Nuts at 6 Hours of Warrior Creek

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This past Saturday I suited up for a 6 hour mountain bike race.  I haven’t been able to get on the bike that often lately, especially the mountain bike.  The course was found in Wilkesboro, NC, and was a rather hilly course.  One thing to know about where I am from (Charlotte, NC) does not have hills, so this race was going to be the awakening.

When I suited up, I did something that I tell all customers not to do – I put on a brand new, never tried, pair of bib-shorts.  The shorts were awesome, black and white, matching my team jersey perfectly.  I was very wary of the brand new shorts, so I lubed up well with the DZ Nuts chamois creme.

Results

My arse, nor soft tissue areas, bothered me at all.  It seems that I found a tri-fecta, between the Gore Power Bibs, DZ Nuts, and Fizik Vesta saddle.

I’ve now used the DZ Nuts a few times and can say it is doing its job.  Reminding me a lot of the Assos creme, minus the build up of extra lube.  The Assos seems to thick for women but DZ Nuts really does the job well.

Official Rating

4.75 out of 5 : Would of ranked higher if I could of sourced the DZ Bliss, womens specific type, but everyone was out of this.

Losing Those Last Extra Pounds? Try commuting

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It is a known fact that as we age it is harder to keep the weight off.  Not only are our own bodies changing and making it more difficult, but as well as limited time and more responsibilities.   It was much easier in school, or a younger age to go for a run, make a healthy dinner or join a sports team.

Lee said women should not let the findings discourage them from exercising at all, but they may want to make small changes now to prevent later weight gain.

“I think the easiest thing is actually commuting,” she said, suggesting people walk or bike to work, and if they drive, to park farther away from the office.

If seven hours a week are just too hard to fit in, Lee said people might want to consider vigorous exercise such as jogging, which can cut the weekly time requirement in half.

Originally found at Reuters

Several years ago, I learned that choosing my bike for errands would help keep the extra pounds off.  This habit also keeps me happier at work and my brain fresh.  I’m not a member of the gym and save a decent amount of money in gas and auto expenses.  Normally, this money is fed back to the cycling habit but its a healthy habit I plan on keeping for another 10 years.

Make sure to check out my other site, CommuteByBike.com or follow on Twitter @BikeShopGirlcom

The Best of the Best : Bike Trainers

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This morning I was, brutally, reminded that some areas of the country are still in the freezing cold and in the need of bike trainers.  There are other reasons to ride a trainer outside of weather.  Including dedicated training intervals, warming up at races and even darkness can force us inside on the dreaded trainer.

The New York Times recently published an article on various bike trainers that a woman tested for 90 minutes at a time.  The article got me thinking about all the hours I spent on the trainer in Maryland and Massachusetts.  I hated every minute of it and even the famed “rollers” that were supposed to be 100% better, stunk.

Technology of Highend Trainers

As anything, technology is increasing and trainers are becoming an experience instead of a chore.  Computrainers and the Rock and Roll trainer are really pushing the envelope.

Computrainer

The best indoor trainers on the market, in my opinon.  These trainers hook up to you computer, using a profile or set thresholds the trainer changes resistance on your tire to make it feel very real life.   They also can be set up to 8 trainers connected to each other, then to the computer.  This allows you to ride with others, race, draft and really interact with others. 

I’m a bit spoiled as we have a fitness center inside of the shop I manage. We have 8 of these Computrainers and host multiple classes or rides per day.  You can really use this as a training tool and optimize your time during the off-season or daylight savings.

The catch on the Computrainer is the cost.  Starting at $1649, these trainers are for the diehard users.

Rock & Roll from Kurt by Kinetic

If you want to see a different way of thinking, check out the Rock & Roll.  The movie below can say more than I, so I’ll stop now.

The Rock & Roll will create a core strength as well as aid in the hard resistance on your body that you normally may feel on a trainer. 

Now, if you want the best of both world – take a Computrainer resistance unit and mount it to a Rock & Roll base unit.

Cell Phone Ban : Do you feel better on the road?

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Across the country the use of cellphones while driving is being cracked down on. Depending on your area it could be as simple as “no texting” or as strict as no cell phone use, unless on work duty.

The statistics for accidents and deaths due to use of cellphones are very high, to be honest it is one of the biggest fears I have as a cyclist on the road.

What are your local governments doing and how does it make you feel?

Locally, we have a ban on texting while driving.  I don’t think it has changed much of anything and it doesn’t make me feel better.  After the first few times friends of mine get tickets for using their iPhones or Blackberry’s while driving, then I will feel like change is happening.

Until then, I will keep my children on side roads with a good shoulder or dirt paths.

Very lastly : Webster’s Word of the Year is “Distracted Driving

Do You Need a Womans Bike?

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The short answer to the question “Do I need a woman’s bike?” is maybe.  Maybe you do, and maybe you don’t but possibly you could go either direction with the fit.

It lays out into many variables, upper body to lower body and your flexibility/strength. Every person has proportions that their body lays into. Someone that is 5’10 and someone else that is 5’10 could easily fit completely different bikes.

Same Height but Different Bikes

Person, “Joan” is 5’10 with 34″ inseam and very limited flexibility.
Person, “Terry” is 5’10 with 31″ inseam and very flexible.

Joan will really need the woman’s fit on her bicycle, with a shorter upper body compared to her lower body. If she was to get on a standard fit bike the length of the bike may be too long.  To fit Joan well, a shorter length of bike, or tube tube, is needed. Most womens bikes have these.

What Else is There?

The rest of the pieces of the bike fit puzzle for women are saddle type, and handlebar width.  These two things can be accommodated on non-womens bikes but will need to be swapped out or changed down the road. Making sure you are on the right size frame is the most important and also the most costly if you get it wrong.

Recapping

Not every woman needs a bike designed for women.  In fact some guys need a womens fit bike.  I would love if we got away from calling the standard fitting bikes “unisex” and the shorter length bikes “womens.”  It should be standard and shorter.    Make sure you find a shop you trust, and test ride.  Some adjustment in size can happen with the stem length but not enough to make a bad fitting bike into a perfect fitting bike.

Make sure to follow me on Twitter @BikeShopGirlcom

Why I Ride with an iPod, and Don’t Think I’m Stupid

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For many years I’ve been riding on the road with music. Originally it was one of those crazy Mini-Disc players that my mom thought would take over the music scene.  Little did she know, it fueled my cycling passion.  One of those little Mini-Disc players could hold hours of music, and run off AA rechargeable batteries.  It had the ability to record on various disc and dub out/delete.  I could ride, ride and ride without listening to the same song twice.

For many reasons music was needed for my riding style

  1. Boredom – normally kicking in around 45 minutes to an hour and a half
  2. Riding alone – see above
  3. Motivation – Certain songs would kick me in 6th gear and I would be able to push it, be it for time or watts.. the music moved me.
  4. That Go to Track – On days I would put a song on repeat for my 3 hour ride, it allowed me to focus and tune out the day of crap
  5. Wind whistling pisses me off – the noise that the wind makes when it hits your helmet straps, or hair.
  6. Feeling “PRO” – All the pro’s were wearing radios in their ears back to the team car, I’m sure their managers played some sort of music for them.  If they didn’t, they should start now.

At first I rode with one earphone in, leaving the left one that was closest to the road out.  Actually, I had a couple headphones that I cut off the left earphone so not to get in the way.  Time went by and I had theories, if the music was low enough I felt I could hear just as well as I did with the wind whistling in my ears.  I tested my theory for several rides and feeling confident enough, yes my hearing isn’t paired as long as the volume is kept low.

Mirrors are your friends

Often mirrors are even better than your ears.  You can SEE, you don’t have to turn your head and you are prepared.  By the time I hear a car coming up behind me, it might be too late to react.

iPod is not iDeath

one of the main issues of the headphones is not so much its removal of the individual’s ability to hear
it is more the combination of the inability to hear and the lack of focus
instead of being in tune to the surroundings the individual is focused on the music
letting the focus drift away from the variables around them
the same goes for mountainbiking… snowboarding… rollerbladding… whatever…
- Gwadzilla

Unfortunately, I’m going to have to disagree with my buddy, Gwadzilla. The main issue within congestion or lack of senses, are the bicycle riders and not the iPod.  As a cyclist for many years, all my senses are tuned in more than the average rider.

Now, I do find it hard to ride mountain bikes with both ears plugged in.  The hearing that Gwadz mentions above is very necessary while mountain biking.  Hearing how the bikes handing, the tires gripping and the gears shifting are all very important.

One Last Thing

Out of the few times there has been a run in with a car, my bicycle, and myself.. there was never ANY music playing in my ears.

Photo Credit : Gwadzilla