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Dienstag, Januar 18, 2005

cycling essential equipment / how to buy a bike

- 7 Tips for buying your first or next ride
1. Know what you want.Before anything else, the first thing you have to decide is how you want to ride. Road or mountain? Morning commutes or weekend getaways? If you're not sure, our bike finder can help.

2. Find a good dealer.There's no better place to find the right bike than an authorized dealer. Pick a store where you feel comfortable. If you aren't getting the help you need, there's sure to be another dealer who'll go out of their way to serve you.

3. Get fitted.Once you decide what kind of bike you want, work with your dealer to find the model and size that fits you best. Since women are built differently than men, a women's specific design bike may be just the thing you're looking for.

4. Take a test ride.The best way to get a feel for a bike is to spend some time in the saddle. The dealer will adjust the seat height and handlebars before you head out. It’s a good idea to test ride three bikes before deciding which one you want to take home.

5. Ask questions.If there's anything you don't understand, don't be afraid to speak up. That's what dealers are there for. You may also want to check out online reviews or get opinions from other cyclists.

6. Shop around.Buying a bike is no different than any other major purchase. It's always a good idea to visit a couple different stores. Choose the dealer you buy from by their quality of service – it will pay off in the long run.

7. Buy what you like.When you've done your homework, choosing the bike that's right for you is easy. Just go with the one that really makes you want to get out and ride, without going over your budget.

8. Ride a few times, then fine-tune.Take a couple rides on your new bike, chances are you’ll need to do a little fine-tuning of the fit. If your knees hurt, adjust the saddle height or placement. If your lower back hurts or your shoulders get tight, adjust the reach to the handlebars. If you do not adjust the bike when it feels slightly off, your body will adjust instead and it could cause longer term problems.

Dressing for Cycling – The Essentials
It’s happened. The cycling bug has bitten you, and you’ve just traded in your old clunky department store bike for a “real” bike from your local dealer. Nothing too fancy or expensive, but it’s definitely worlds better than what you’ve been riding. It’s light, it has smooth shifting and adjustable seat and handlebar position, maybe even has some suspension for bike paths and dirt roads, and its smooooth. Best of all, it’s a bike that makes you want to ride.
Chances are the sales person who sold you the bike suggested a bunch of accessories. With countless aisles of clothing and accessories to choose from - some with price tags nearly as high as your bike’s - how do you decide what to buy? What are the basics you that you really need, without having to take out a second mortgage? And what if you don’t want to dress like those fellows in the Tour de France?
Here’s just a brief look at the basic essentials for someone who hass caught the fever, but who doesn’t want to feel dorky or max out their credit limit. These items aren’t simply to make you fit in on your first group ride or make to make a fashion statement (although they can do both), each item - from gloves to cycling-specific socks - serves a distinct purpose, with the goal to make your cycling more comfortable and safe.
We’ll start at the top and work down: Helmet, Jersey, Gloves, Shorts, Socks, Shoes.
Helmet - Most cyclists consider the helmet an absolute necessity, we agree. Even if you’re just cruising to the coffee shop, wear your helmet. Try on 3 or 4 helmets, chances are you can find one that looks & feels pretty good.
Luckily, a head can be protected by low price helmets as well as expensive helmets. Generally as prices rise, what you’re paying for is lighter weight, more ventilation, and more fit adjustability. Some of the more high-end helmets also look sportier than low cost ones, with a more aerodynamic profile.
Like a bicycle, the key is that your helmet fits properly - and even more important, that you wear it properly. The most common helmet-wearing mistake is placing the helmet on the back of your head at a jaunty angle, which doesn’t do you any good. The helmet should fit snugly on the top of your head, but not too tight that it leaves indents or marks. The front should sit about an inch above your eyebrows and it shouldn’t move around when you turn your head or look up or down.
Most helmets come in two or three-size fits all. Thanks to great new retention systems like the Zip-Tite found on the Trek helmet pictured here (Trek Interval $60 msrp), you can easily turn a little dial on the back of the helmet and snug it perfectly to your head.
While shopping, you may have the adage thrown at you, “If you have a $10 head, buy a $10 helmet,” to inspire you to spend lots of cash on an expensive helmet. Fortunately for the budget-minded, you can find good, safety-rated helmets without breaking the bank or berating the worth of your head. Trek has long made the trusty Vapor helmet, which has very simple lines, a choice of some snappy metallic colors, and comes at a price tag usually around $40. Its price tag doesn’t sacrifice safety.
If you’re looking to be more sporty and have a few more dollars to spend, be prepared to spend upwards of $50, with $100 being about as much as you would need to spend. For example, the Trek Interval WSD Series helmet is woman specific, full of vents, and costs around $60. Trek has a new high end helmet this year, called Anthem, that even comes in pink!
Helmet Shopping Pointers: Helmets with visors are generally paired with mountain bikes and hybrids, while ones without visors are considered road helmets. One helmet should suffice if you ride both mountain and road, visors detach and reattach easily. When trying out helmets, don’t be afraid to shop around until you find one you really like the looks of. You’ll be more likely to wear it if you don’t have the self-conscious mushroom complex I did in the beginning.
Jersey - You might think that bike jerseys are the territory of pros, with garish logos and flashy color schemes. It’s true that jerseys abound with these attributes, but a basic jersey can be as unassuming as a T-shirt, and be packed with features that you didn’t know you needed until you try one.
A cotton T-shirt may work fine for rides around the neighborhood, but cotton holds sweat next to your skin, can make you feel clammy while riding, and can become cold if the temperature drops. Good jerseys, no matter what the price, are made of a wicking fabric that pulls sweat away from your skin so you don’t feel like you’re wearing a giant wet sock.
Pockets are another feature you’ll appreciate once you try them. Cycling jerseys put pockets on the back since you’re leaning forward when your ride (even on a somewhat upright bike). Rear pockets keep things from dangling down in front of you as you ride, but are easily reachable for access to what you’re carrying. Three rear pockets are ideal for carrying snacks, a small wallet or money, and even an extra water bottle. (all things you should carry on every ride)
Keep in mind that bright colors can come in handy, especially if you’re planning to share roads with traffic. Not enough can be said for the benefit of being visible when a bunch of two-ton+ automobiles are zipping about. As much smaller vehicles (and we are vehicles if we’re sharing the road), we have to be as eye-catching as possible, so that we’re as avoidable as possible. A top like the women’s neon yellow Club jersey may take a jump in fashion bravery, but it’s worth it if you’re on the road.
Jersey Shopping Pointers: Mountain bike jerseys usually have one pocket with a zipper (since you’re going over more bouncy terrain), and roadie jerseys have two to three rear pockets, although some jerseys are designed to go either way. Women’s jerseys typically have shorter torsos with a more feminine cut, some with elastic on the bottom and sleeves and some without. Jerseys are cut longer in the back than the front to keep your lower back covered while riding. Try a number of them on, and remember to bend over forward to make sure your back is still covered while you’re in riding position.
Gloves - Cycling gloves also run the gamut in price, features and appearance. You might feel weird wearing them at first, but there really is a practical reason for cycling gloves, besides getting a strange tan line: to protect your hands.
Our hands take a lot of shock & vibration from leaning on the handlebars, and gloves with even a small amount of padding help to buffer vibrations and bumps. Some of the more high-end gloves have thin layers of strategically placed gel for more comfort.
Glove palm surfaces also help you keep a grip on handlebars, especially when you’re in the midst of a heavy workout-level ride, and your hands are getting sweaty. A good glove will help to wick away sweat and help you keep your all-important steering capabilities up to par. And usually even a basic glove, like the Club Glove, includes a patch of terry cloth or other absorbent fabric for wiping a sweaty brow or a drippy nose.
One fall on gravel or pavement without wearing gloves, and you’ll understand the next reason for wearing gloves. It’s instinctive for us to use our hands to break our fall, whether it’s a slow tip-over or a flight over the handlebars. If you’re riding on rail trails or mountain bike trails, gloves can also protect your hands from random branches.
Gloves come in a variety of finger lengths and weather weights, from lightweight summer gloves to heavy duty winter gloves. Some people prefer to wear lightweight full-finger gloves in summer for more protection from sun, branches, and chain grease. When you move into a cooler season, a basic liner glove and waterproof, breathable shell will help protect from more blustery elements.
Glove Shopping Pointers: Try on gloves before you buy, and if you can, climb on your bike and grasp the handlebars to see how they feel. I once bought a pair of highly touted expensive gloves that had strategic ergonomic padding, only to find out when I got home that the padding fell on the wrong place on my hand when I rode, and they were actually painful to wear. Make sure the amount of padding doesn’t make reaching the brake levers difficult, or that they are so tight or loose that they restrict shifting or braking in any way.
If you want a little more protection, full-finger gloves are fine year ’round. Women-specific gloves really do fit better, but don’t be afraid to try the guy’s sizes. Gloves should fit snugly, but you shouldn’t have any binding or pinching between your fingers. Full finger gloves shouldn’t have extra fabric hanging off the ends of your digits. You should be able to easily bend and straighten your fingers.
Cycling Shorts - Buying a pair of real cycling shorts is often considered a milestone in converting to a true, hard-core cyclist. But you don’t have to be a fanatic to appreciate a good, solid pair of cycling shorts, even on short rides. And, contrary to some women’s worries, you’re not by any means required to wear tight black Lycra shorts, unless you want to. Luckily, the world of cycling fashion has expanded just as the kinds of bikes have started to grow to fit so many different kinds of riding. Besides the typical tight Lycra shorts, which are generally considered road shorts, there are mountain-bike influenced baggy shorts, which are a pair of tight shorts with a loose, baggy short over them. Other options include knee or calf length capri tights (again, in Lycra alone, or with a looser over-layer), or full-length tights. If you prefer to wear what you already own, cycling liners can be worn under your current wardrobe.
What is common to all kinds of cycling shorts is the presence of a chamois. Originally chamois were literally made of soft chamois leather, and today, most are made from all kinds of high-tech wicking fabrics and ergonomic shapes. The original purpose of the chamois was to eliminate seams in an anatomically sensitive area. Here’s hoping you never ever ever have to experience chaffing or saddle sores in this area, but if you do, you’ll soon appreciate why cyclists avoid seams ‘down there’ at all costs.
“At all costs” is just what it may seem like when you first look at the price tags on cycling shorts. Like helmets, prices can go into the double hundreds for the high end fancy schmancy pairs. Thankfully, there are also some great shorts under the $50 price range, and while this is also a good chunk of change, the potential trouble it prevents is well worth it.
The amount of padding and the size of the chamois generally end up being a personal preference. Some people like fairly flat, small hour-glass shaped chamois, like that found in Nike’s Women’s Fitness Shorts, which are designed for short rides and to look decent at the gym because of the thinner chamois and shorter inseam. A middle ground can be found in shorts like the Trek Club shorts, which has what’s know as a three-piece baseball chamois - the stitching looks like the curved stitching on a baseball. These designs generally have side panels to the chamois, so the crease between your thigh and crotch is protected from chaffing. Heavy duty mountain bike shorts for riders who are bouncing all over the place may have humungous amounts of padding that may look and feel a little awkward (think triple-thick super maxi-pad type of awkwardness). This is why some women equate some shorts with wearing a large diaper. This type of chamois is overkill for most of us, but serves a purpose for those who need it.
The point is, you don’t have to wear inches of padding to be more comfortable on your bike. Often, lots of padding is superfluous and only adds to discomfort, physically and self-consciously. What’s important is getting rid of seams and getting the right fit.
Shorts Shopping Pointers: When you try on shorts in the store, be sure to keep your underwear on. But that’s the only time that you should ever wear underwear with your shorts. The chamois is in there so that your sensitive parts don’t have to deal with seams, and if you put undies back in the picture, you defeat their purpose.
If you’re not sure if a pair of shorts is men- or women-specific (or perhaps the tag says “unisex”), look closely at the chamois. If there is a seam down the middle of the chamois, don’t buy them. That middle seam, even if it is a flat seam, can cause painful chaffing on a woman’s anatomy.
The more panels, the better the fit, and generally the better support. It also generally means that the price is higher; for example, 8 panel shorts will, on average, be more expensive than 6 panel shorts. Six panels are a great place to start. Make sure shorts fit snuggly (for baggy mountain bike shorts, be sure the inner shorts are snug), so that the chamois doesn’t move around as you ride. A moving chamois can defeat the purpose of avoiding chaffing.
Socks - You can find yourself spending double digits on cycling-specific socks, but the most basic suggestion is to buy non-cotton socks. Just as with cotton t-shirts, sweaty socks feel just like...well, like wearing sweaty socks. Not so fun. A good basic athletic, non-cotton sock will help to wick away sweat and keep your feet comfortable and healthy.
Besides the necessary wicking feature, cycling specific socks often have flat seams (you don’t want chaffing on your feet, either), arch support, and sporty, funky, fun designs for all tastes. Whether new-fangled high-tech knits or old-fangled wool-blend socks, they help to keep your feet cool in hot weather, and warm in cold weather.

Sock Shopping Pointers: Make sure you buy socks that fit. Loose fitting socks can bunch up in your shoes and feel uncomfortable or cause blisters. Have fun with your sock wardrobe. Socks are generally the least expensive of any cycling clothing, and even if you’re not into bright logo’d jerseys, you can let your personality shine or moods be known with your socks.
Cycling Shoes - Without getting into the decision making process of whether or not you’re going to “go clipless” (we’ll be tackling that topic soon in another column), its still highly recommended that you get yourself a pair of basic stiff-soled cycling shoes at the very least. One of the most common complaints I’ve received from women new to cycling is that their arches start to ache or burn after a few miles of riding in their tennis or running shoes. Unlike other sports that require flexible shoes, cycling is much more comfortable with stiff-soled shoes to avoid foot cramping and pain. You are also able to put more power to your pedal with a stiff shoe.

You may have seen some serious cyclists walking a bit duck-like and making tap-shoe rhythms as they walk around. Fortunately, there are tons of basic non-duck walk cycling shoes with just enough flexibility for walking off the bike, but enough stiffness to keep that achiness away. They also include tread to avoid slipping and to get grip when you’re walking. The Nike Women’s Kato is a good example of a mid-range shoe that looks sporty without all the fuss. It includes all the features of a high end racing shoe, such as women-specific heel and toe fit, with a sneaker-type look. Adding cleats is optional, so when you’re ready for clipless pedals, your shoes will be, too.

Shoe Shopping Pointers: Try them on and walk around, just as you would regular shoes. A couple differences, though: generally cycling shoes can get away with being a tighter fit, since you’ll be cycling in them, not walking in them most of the time. That doesn’t mean you should buy binding, skin-tight shoes (your feet can swell when you ride), but don’t get shoes that slip off easily. You don’t want to be pedaling along up a hill and have your foot slide out and your shin go slamming in to a moving pedal - no fun, I can attest. That’s a great benefit of women’s shoes over men’s - men’s are often too tight in the toe and wide in the heel. But just like any accessory, if you can’t find a women’s shoes that fits, go ahead and try a men’s size.

Mountain shoes have tread, and road shoes don’t. Just because you ride on the road, though, doesn’t mean you can’t wear mountain shoes, especially for those couple of hills you might have to walk, or for easier walking around a store or restaurant. If your shoes have laces, be sure there’s a way to secure the ends of the laces down. You don’t want to have your shoelaces caught up in your chain; it’s a sure way to crash.

On your way. Getting together a basic cycling wardrobe is a not just fun, it’s an investment in your comfort and safety. Feeling good during and after a ride is crucial for keeping up your motivation to put on the miles, whether you’re riding for fitness, for family fun, or to get to work. Our next article will cover the basic accessories your bike needs to keep it - and you - on a roll.


At 3:05 vorm., Blogger kirkb said...

Hi, Im carrying out a study into some aspects of Cycling such as 'cycling accessory'. I need to find volunteers to help. I've used cycling accessory but I need more contributors. Any ideas on where to look?


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