Monday, June 24, 2013

Presta Change-O! How to Inflate a Presta Valve

While any bike-enthusiast knows of the two valve options that tubes come in, people who are just starting to ride often have a bewildered look on their face. This look often happens the day after they purchase a bike-shop quality bike and decide to go for a ride.

"I'll pump up the tires before I go!" Their admirable intentions are met with alien technology that won't work with their pump and ends up bringing the enthusiastic novice's ride to a halt before they get out of the garage.
So, for anyone sitting in their garage, poking at their tire with a stick and a confused look, here is what to do and what NOT to do with a presta valve.

I'm going to assume everyone has already, or can figure out pumping up a schraeder valve. It is the same as a car tire and even some intertubes. Chances are you've seen them and used them. I'm focusing on the presta valves.

Why use presta Valves?

There are a couple of good reasons to use presta valves that out-weigh losing the ability to pump up your tires at a gas station. Because of the manual open/close, instead of schraeder's spring loaded system, presta valves hold higher pressure much better. Less air leaks from the valve itself.
Presta valves are also much skinnier which means the hole in the wheel to put the valve through is smaller as well. This means stronger wheels.
Plus, once you get used to the differences, the general consensus is that prestas are much easier to use.

4 Steps to a harder, stiffer tire!

1. Remove the dust cap
The dust cap is the small plastic top of the valve. Dust caps are usually pointy black caps covering the valve to make sure no dirt goes into the valve.
Lefty Loosey, Righty Tighty

2. Twist open the valve
On the end of the valve, pinch and twist the "core" open. It will not come out, so keep twisting until it will not twist anymore.

3. Put the Pump Directly onto the Valve
The valve nut travels up the central core.
Depending on your style of pump, locking the pump head to the valve will be a different process. The thing to remember is to put the pump head on and off the valve in a straight line. Many a valve has been broken by people trying to pull them off at an angle.

4. Remove Pump and Tighten the Valve Core
Take the pump off the valve in a straight line. A good tip is to start with the valve at the top of the wheel, facing down. So, there is not unnecessary force going on and releasing straight down is easier. Tighten the core down until it won't twist anymore.

Now you're ready to get out at ride! On road bikes, it is common to pump your tires up before each ride. Be sure not to under- or over inflate.
If you break the stem on your first try, no reason to be discouraged. The more someone works with presta valves, the more they'll appreciate them!
If you and presta's just aren't meant to be, there are always adapters!

This is not an adapter. This is a bear.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Tour de France?

If you are just getting into cycling, you have probably found out that it is very hard not to hear about the Tour de France. Especially with the big race just days away!
But hearing about it, and understanding what is going on while watching another year of history being made are completely different. To save you the embarrassment of repeating "What just happened? Who is that? Why is he wearing polka dots again?" over and over, here is a brief rundown of the Tour de France.

The Tour de France is the biggest and greatest race of the pro cycling season. Not only are the mountains, scenery and excitement the best in the world, but all teams involved have their complete A-list rosters battling their hearts out. If something is going to happen, it will happen during the Tour de France.

Know your History

A little comradery as one rider lights the other's cigarette
The first TDF was in 1903. It was all about endurance, with the founder of the race, Henri Desgrange saying he would prefer the distance and feats to be so long, only one person would finish the race. It turned men into super humans, and some into legends.
Through the years it has been raced with fixed gear bikes, up some of the toughest mountains in the world while drinking beer and smoking cigarettes.
The first tour, stages lasted through the night but due to cheating and lack of visibility, it was cut out by the second year.

In today's tour, it is typically 21 stages with a total of no more than 2,200mi (3,500 km).

The Jerseys
There are four jerseys used to signify four different riders during the Tour de France. These jerseys are what all the teams are chasing after
Nobody looks good in polka dots...

White for the best young rider (under the age of 26). This is determined by adding up the times of each stage by the qualifying riders and whoever is making the fastest time is awarded the white jersey.

Polka dot for the king of the mountain (KOM). This jersey is awarded to the rider with the fastest climbs. It may not always be the first up the mountain, but the one who completed it ascent in the shortest time.

Green is for points classification. Points are awarded for riders who finish first, second etc. There are also sprint sections where riders can win extra points. The green jersey is often referred to as the "sprinters jersey" as it favors their style of riding. Some of the fastest men on two wheels, such as Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan have won the green in recent years.

Yellow is the most important jersey. It is the general classification title. The rider who completes all the stages with the fastest average time. It requires an immense amount of strategy, and an entire team driven to capture and hold it.

A smaller accolade is the "prix de la combativite," or most combative rider. This is the rider who has stood out for that day of riding. Whether they surprise everyone with a great feat or drive the peleton to push themselves.
The most combative is recognized by having their rider number printed red instead of black the next day. Seems small, but when you're recognized for your actions and spirit among the greatest in the world, it's something.
Sometimes, cycling isn't the only
thing to watch.

For more information about the 2013 TDF course and some riders to look for next week, try our 2013 Tour Guide

Still not excited about the tour?

Check out this great teaser video!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Being One with Your Bike: The Bike Fit

Many people spend thousands of dollars in the world of cycling. Everything from $150 bottle cages to $18,000 bikes. If you've got money to burn, cycling is a great fire. However, many riders, both serious and casual, miss a crucial step while they continually advance their cycling experience, the bike fit.

It is a challenge for people to see the importance of a good bike fit. After all, it doesn't make the bike lighter, it's not made of carbon and it cuts into your time during the day. Although understated, how the bike holds your body and allows you to communicate your force to the road are the most important aspects of cycling. 

Like a couple, if there is poor communication between the rider and the bike, the relationship will not work. Not only will the rider be uncomfortable and lose available power but staying in the wrong position for extended periods of time can cause serious damage to the human body. Much like running, if you feel certain pains while riding, you should not stop then, you should have stopped weeks before hand. Any aerobic-based sport is based on repetition. While the rider may be causing pain to a joint, it is too little to notice each pedal rotation until it gets so bad the body cannot compensate for it. The only way to make sure you are not creating these possible lifetime problems is to get a bike fit that takes into consideration your strength and flexibility.
Barry Bonds knows how important a fit
can be

Comfort is Key

Everything I've been saying up to this point can be seen written by many other people. This is where I diverge:

The right position for you will be comfortable.

I know, it seems so simple but for many people this is a mind-blowing concept! Your body tells you how it is doing by your level of comfort and pain. Everybody's anatomy and muscle movement is different and you have to adapt the bike to flow in a comfortable position based on those movements. If you are forcing your
body into a position it does not want to be, entire sections of muscle are being taken away from pedaling and redirected to hold your body down to the "desired" position. Find a place your body is happy and there is just one thing it wants to do, move the pedals.

Body Geometry Fit

Our entire shop is a very big proponent of the Body Geometry Fit method. Within this system, there are three parts, the pre-fit assessment, the actual fit and a follow up appointment. All three points are directed towards understanding your body and changing components to match it. The fit technicians must be taught the process from the Specialized Bicycle Component University (SBCU), an educational program teaching fit techs about the functional anatomy of riding a bike and how to adapt to it.
I could keep talking about it but I would much rather watch Specialized-Lululemon cycling phenomenon, Evelyn Stevens get a Body Geometry Fit.

If you have more questions about what is going on when you ride your bike. Or think you could be more comfortable (and effective), give one of our fit technicians a call here at the shop! (407) 422-5552

Monday, June 10, 2013

Rain Rain, Bring It On!

If you are a local follower of this blog then you understand, Florida is a tropical climate. This means we've got a rainy season as well as random showers almost daily. Sooner or later, you're going to get wet, whether it's in the middle of a ride or an entire puddle-hopping endeavor, it's going to happen. So, why not be prepared for it!
Here are a couple steps to help stop the rainy days from giving you the blues.

Know what's around the bend
with the Garmin 810
Check the Weather Often!
The boy scout's motto is "be prepared" and it applies to cyclists as well. Before you clip in, you should have an idea of what the weather is going to be while you're out. That way, you can decide if you need to pocket a jacket or grab some lights. For the most up-to-date weather, the Garmin 810 and 510 will connect via your mobile phone to alert you of severe weather warnings in your current area.

For more info on the Garmin 510 and 810, click here

Pack-able Precipitation Protection
This is a clever way of saying, raincoat, which every cyclist needs to keep as an option. I'm a big fan of pack-able materials that easily fit in a jersey pocket. That way, you're not committed to wearing long-sleeves the whole ride.
There are lots of different waterproof jackets, find the one whose features reflect how you ride. Some are as thin and breathable as possible, others have some insulation. Just remember, the body is going to be warming up during the ride. So, if you don't want to create your own personal sauna, start cold to finish comfortable.
The Castelli Sottile is a great example of having a simple, pack-able and light weight option that doesn't break the bank.

For more info on the Castelli Sottile, click here

The Light & Motion Taz 1200
will brighten up any ride
Have a Reliable Set of Lights 
It's hard enough getting cars to notice riders when it's bright and sunny. Take away half the visibility and some of their control on the road, that's riding in the rain. Make sure everybody sees you with a good set of bright lights. Light & Motion lights are waterproof as well as providing light to all four sides of the rider. It also will show you any debris that may be in your way.

For more info on the Light & Motion lights, click here

Protect Your Vision
Knowing the conditions ahead of time, making sure your core stays dry and being a presence on the road means nothing if you can't see where you're going. The problem with traditional sunglasses in the rain is they are often too dark. Having the option of exchangeable lenses makes keeping up with sunglasses easy and keeps them versatile. The Tifosi Podium have "decentered, shatterproof pollycarbonate lense," which to non-rocket scientists, means they have little distortion and sharper peripheral vision.

For more info, and different types of Tifosi glasses, click here

Be it sunny or cloudy, dry or wet, ride when you want. But, even if you are only a fair weather rider, everyone should be prepared to get stuck in the rain. Who knows, you might end up enjoying it!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Your Favorite Road Tires You Never Knew About!

Hopefully you don't need this many hands on deck

When a rider gets a good gash in their tire there are a couple of initial thoughts. Most of them are spelled with several $%& and #@$'s. But after the frustration release, most people don't see the glass as half full.

Think of it like this: Now you can try out a new tire!

The first time I heard this reasoning it felt like somebody just asked, in serious, if I had a "case of the Mondays." But the more it happened, the more I realized how different a change in rubber can be. Now, as long as they are fairly spaced, I find a good tire cut can be a liberating change.
The key to getting this "zen" about flats and tire change-ups is knowing the tire market. Ask what the difference in tread, tire pressure and shape. What is this tire designed for? Like a good wine or beer, you can talk about it all day long, but it doesn't mean anything until you try it.

To start your journey away from a radial rut, I've enlisted John B. Our leading tire expert, to give the run down on a few road tires that everyone should try out at least once! We will be doing the same for mountain tires very soon!
Take it away, John!

One can say there are three avenues when it comes to tire selection; ride quality, flat protection and great all round performance.

Ride Quality
Vittorias are made with Egyptian
cotton. Really.
For ride quality you would look for the density of the fabric in threads per inch (TPI). Think of this the same as shopping for new bed sheets, we all look for the higher thread number because it feels better.  The higher the TPI the more flexible the tire to absorb micro impacts, increases grip thanks to greater contact surface with the road plus  faster speeds , thanks to low rolling resistance.
For ride quality, nothing beats Vittoria
Vittoria Tires offer the highest TPI of any manufacture with their Corsa range, boasting a TPI of 320 .
This family of cotton tires is incredibly tough and fine, makes for the lightest  supplest and fastest casing ever. For several of the Orange Cycle Staff, Vittoria has become their tire of choice due to the ride quality.

Protection & Distance
Now you can see why they're called
If you are a high mileage rider and are looking for a high mileage tire with excellent puncture protection Continental may have what you need with their Gator Hardshell. This tire offers three levels of puncture protection, Duraskin is a bead to bead protection, then there is a extra wide  PolyX Breaker from their automotive tires which is a very dense fabric, highly resistant to any kind of foreign body without reducing the rol
ling resistance To finish it off, Hardshell Protection, providing added sidewall protection without compromising ride quality or adding unnecessary weight.

A Little of Both
For a great all round tire we look for a balance o
f ride quality and protection Specialized have the Espoir Elite. This tire has a dual compound rubber, a harder rubber for the center of the tire for low rolling resistance and longer wear, and softer rubber is used on the sides of the tread for better traction and more control in corners. Under the tread is 2 strips of Blackbelt puncture protection, this lightweight barrier protects against glass, nails, or whatever else the road throws in your way. and is highly flexible to keep rolling resistance low.

I hope this showed there are many options of ride and quality to be found between your wheel and the road. Have you tried any tires that you've fallen in love with, or will never unfold again? Let us know! If you have any other questions or comments, let us know or stop by the shop. We love talking about this stuff!

Coming Soon: your favorite Mountain Tires, you never knew about!