The last time I left you off with some safety tips and what you should wear for your rides. If you haven’t read the first part click here.
You can use any comfortable shoe you want when you go out cycling. However, if you have clipless pedals or toe straps, you need to consider cycling shoes. There are several types to choose from depending on the type of cycling you do – road, off-road or casual. Ask the store to recommend a few that will suit your pedals For the casual riders, you can just purchase a basic cycling shoe that you can walk around with rather comfortably.
This may seem trivial but socks are very important. Get a comfortable pair that can absorb your sweat and for heaven’s sake, please don’t wear the same pair again and again without running it through the wash. If you are truly that lazy, rinse the sock in running water, wring it out and hang it to dry after every cycle. Socks will protect your feet from fungal infections, blistering and smelly feet.
Lights and Reflectors
It doesn’t matter if you cycle only in the day; lights and reflectors are just as important in the day as it is in the night. You have to acknowledge the fact that you are on a small vehicle and can just as easily be missed. You will need a headlight, a rear light and reflectors. The headlight is mainly for evening and night cycling. The rear lights should be used every time your take your bike out. Most front and rear lights have at least two settings – normal and flashing. I personally prefer to use the flashing mode on my rear lights as it makes me noticeable on the road day or night.
You don’t have to spend on branded set as those can burn a small hole in your wallet. For beginner’s you can get one of those China made ones for about RM15 to RM25.
As an addition to lights; reflectors are vital support too. It is especially useful in night rides to alert motorists who not directly in front or behind of you. Most cycling jerseys come with sewn in reflectors. It is still good to add a few more on your bike itself, around the frame and on the rims of your wheels. You can get reflector strips from your local hardware store.
Before we can talk about shoes we have to talk about the pedals. When you buy a brand new bike, you have to pick out your own pedals. There are three basic choices here – the traditional platform pedals, pedals with toe clips or straps and clipless pedals.
The platform pedal is probably the most common pedal and can be found on almost all types of bikes. It is a good beginner’s pedal. These used to be made from a resin base but you can find them in various materials and colours.
Pedal straps are basically platform pedals with toe clips or toe straps attached to it. You basically slip your shoes (toe-first) into the strap and pedal away. This keeps the pedals attached to your feet so you don’t have to spin the crank around into a “start” position. Similar to this are hold fast straps that your can adjust to a position of your foot that is to your liking.
In 1895, Charles Hanson invented the clipless pedal. It is the most common pedal amongst cycling enthusiast particularly with road bikes. Clipless pedals require a specific type of cycling shoes. A cleat is attached to the sole of the shoe which locks into the pedal’s mechanism. This is a lot faster and more efficient than toe straps.
With clips, straps and the clipless, a period of adjustment is required. In the beginning, it may be easier to get your foot in than it is to take it out as you come to a stop. Practice with the new pedals at a stationary position first before heading out into a ditch or a tree.
There are many designs and qualities of tyres that it is difficult to determine what works for you over an article. Instead we will cover three things that will help you understand your tyres and maintain them better.
Types Of Tyres
A relatively common tyre type is the tubular. This bicycle tyre is stitched closed around the inner tube and then glued onto a tubular rim.
Clinchers are the most used tyre type. Clinchers lock in with the flanges in the rim much like a car tyre. A separate inner tube made of butyl rubber or latex that provides a relatively airtight barrier inside the tire supporting and maintaining the tyre itself. The advantage of this is that the inner tube can be easily replaced or patched up when a puncture is encountered.
Tubeless tires are primarily used on mountain bikes due to their ability to use low air pressure for better traction without getting flats. Tubeless, as the name implies, does not have an inner tube resulting in a reduction of excess heat.
Inflation Not Deflation
Inflation is extremely important. If you are under optimal pressure, you risk having the rims bite into the tyre, you risk damage on your rims and the wheel and you won’t have optimum performance. If your tyre is over pressured, you will have less control and you risk damage to the tyre. Always check your tyre’s pressure before you ride out. Road bike tyres start losing pressure within a couple of days. Mountain bike tyres take a bit longer but if you had just taken it out for a heavy trashing on an off-road trail, you might want double check it before your next ride. Whatever the case is, get a decent stand pump with a pressure gauge from your local bike store. I got mine for RM50.
Wear And Tear
As you spend more time on your bike, your tyres will eventually wear down. For road bikes, you will need to change your tyres once you see flat surface areas appearing on your tyres. It takes a lot more for mountain bike tyres to wear down.
You will also need to keep your eyes out for splinters the tyres pickup along your rides. I recommend that you rinse down your tyres at the end of each ride and brush it with a soft to medium bristle brush. Using your hands, feel the tyre surface as you inspect it visually. This way you keep the tyres clean while checking for possible surface damage.
Well, this just about covers all the basics you need to get started. We will talk about your Emergency Patch Kit in a future article.