Best Bike Equipment Purchases, Part 2
Welcome to part two of my three part article on how starting to do a fairly long commute to work by bike made me think more about equipment changes in recent years and try some great new cycling products. Part one discussed shoes, electronic shifting and the best gravel/commuting pedal I have found. Here are some more items that have progressed markedly in recent years and that can help make riding more enjoyable.
Fit. Fit. Fit.
Riding position is only as static as you are. If things change with your riding or body, it may make sense to change your riding position too. This is one reason we offer a Periodic Fit Assessment for people who have already been fit with us.
It is important to recognize that seemingly minor details and tweaks to your riding position can continue to improve the way your bike works and feels for you. For example, the shape of the new SRAM AXS brake levers on the bike I have been commuting on this spring is different from the SRAM RED 22 HRD mechanical shift levers I rode most of last year. I prefer a little higher hood angle on the new AXS lever. Likewise, tweaking the Fizik Aliante saddle 0.5°-1° up in the nose from where my last fitting put it also helped. Very small changes, but noticeable improvements in comfort over the course of a ride.
I wouldn’t expect a bike fit to discern personal preference minutiae down to a degree or two on things like handlebar and saddle angle. Even if you had a great fit experience with someone, don’t hesitate to adjust things like saddle and handlebar angle a little to see if it can further enhance things for you. Moving the nose of a saddle up even a degree can make some riders feel a significant reduction in hand pressure and can even take pressure off the front of the saddle by keeping them from sliding forward as easily.
- Think globally, act locally.
- Get a really strong baseline position built and then don’t be afraid to try minor changes from there.
- Realize that technique and position are intimately related. In terms of muscle balance and pelvic support, some of the concepts of Bike Fit 2.0 have only come to fruition in recent years. If things have changed since your last fit, contact us to schedule a refresher.
I appreciate the value of good wheels and have always been willing to invest heavily in my wheels. While I haven’t found a wheel that is significantly faster, lighter or more aero than the full carbon wheels I started riding ten years ago, I have found wheels that are less affected by side winds (more stable feeling) and that offer better traction and handling simultaneously. This is because the vast majority of rims today are wider and rounder in shape. Also, unless you are riding full carbon wheels (Lightweight, Reynolds RZR…) from years ago, today’s wider rims are notably laterally stiffer and more responsive.
Nice wheels matter and today’s options are more versatile, better riding, more durable and more responsive than ever. Yes, you can save a few dollars and never experience what a nice pair of wheels can do for your riding experience. You can also stay at home and never go on vacation or never treat yourself to a nice meal out. Either way, you are likely missing some of the joy life offers.
Whether you are interested in a wheel system or having a custom wheelset built just for your needs, it is a good time to think about an upgrade if it has been a few years.
I first rode tubeless road tires ten years ago and have always loved the concept. Ten years ago, there was really only one road tire available in tubeless and almost no road rims specifically designed to work optimally with them. This meant that going tubeless had some limitations.
My commute is mostly paved, but there is about five miles of hilly dirt that can be loose in places. I’ve been riding the Schwalbe G-One All Around in a 700×36 and have been impressed by the grip and the speed this tire offers. They are solid in a variety of dirt and only slightly slower than a good 700×25 slick on pavement.
While tubeless road tires and rims still have room for improvement, there are fantastic tire and rim options available now that you would be remise to ignore at this point. From almost slick narrower tubeless tires like the Schwalbe Pro One and Continental’s new GP 5000 TL to the large array of available wide gravel tires like the aforementioned G-One All Around, today’s tubeless road tires offer low rolling resistance, extra puncture protection and a super smooth ride all in one.
Even if you are going to continue to ride an older frame, start thinking about wheels and tires. A lot has changed and traction, speed and comfort have all been enhanced. Contact us for more information.
Read on for part 3…