Archive | December, 2011

Fun With Inner Tubes

27 Dec

The inner tube is one of the most crucial bike parts. At it’s debut the inner tube helped to revolutionize the bicycle industry with pneumatic tires. Through the years the once mighty inner tube has faded slowly into the background. Despite it’s vital part of the cycling equation, it’s value is often overlooked. It is viewed by many as a just another part of your kit; something that you must keep a constant supply of on hand should you need one.

Some have made steps toward eliminating the tube by switching  to tubeless; first on the mountain and then the  road. Still,  if a puncture rears it’s ugly head the best and fastest fix is still the inner tube.

I, for one, love the inner tube, and celebrate it’s tradition and utility. So simple an object yet so vital to this sport that we all love. Even outside the confines of a tire there are many ways to use an inner tube. Here are some of my favorites.

Inexpensive, good for the environment, empowering, and impressive to your other cycling friends patching a tube is simpler than you think. For less than $4.00 for a whole patch kit you can repair many tubes. It takes less than two minutes. See the video.

Make some Rubber Bands:

Just cut across the tube in a straight line and you have homemade rubber bands.

Make a chainstay protector:

Not the prettiest but it gets 'r done.

Make Cheesy bike Jewelry:

I didn't say it was cool.

Always have a bungee available:

Inner tubes make good cheap bungee cords

Tow your Friends:
Or make them tow you. This is best done with two experienced riders and can end badly if improperly practiced.

This teqnique varies but I prefer to loop the tube around the head tube of the bike being pulled and then attatch to the front bike.

Make a Giant Slingshot:

Hope you enjoyed,

Send me your suggestions for things you do with your old inner tubes.


The Well Planned Kit

21 Dec

The word “Kit” gets thrown around a lot in the cycling world.

“Dude that is a sweet looking kit”
“We should make our team kits look like team sky”
“Her repair kit was well supplied”

What is a “Kit” and why is it important?

There is probably no set definition in cycling, but I have always thought of it as the standard equipment and attire needed to participate in an activity. I have also known it to be viewed as the contents of a package designed for a particular use (ie. first aid kit). Therefore the things we need, carry, and use to enjoy cycling are all a part of our “Kit”

Because of the varied manufacturers, riders, and styles of riding very few kits will be the same. I believe that the rider’s kit should be a well planned affair. In the “Kit” series of posts we will touch on some of the things we have found to be the most valuable part of the “kit”. It will range from items you carry with you to those that make getting to and from the ride easier.

The inaugural “kit” post will focus on the Seatbag.

Neatly nestled under the seat.

Everyone has opinions on seatbags. They can range in size and style based on what you need or what you are doing. I am a proponent of keeping it as simple as possible but still having everything you could need for the ride. For instance, in the summer when I am doing shorter faster evening rides with more people my seat bag has only the bare essentials. In fact i will sometimes leave it at home and only take a tube and co2 in my pocket. When I am doing longer rides on my own in the winter months on questionable roads I choose to carry more with me.

Summer EDC (every day carry) minus the light.

Winter bag or longer ride bag. Yep it all fits.

I wouldn’t want to list out the individual items that I think a person should carry. That is going to be up to the rider to know their mechanical situation and choose bits accordingly. That being said, I would like to point out some tricks I have discovered that have saved the day on more than one occasion. First, To keep your tube from rubbing a hole against other contents in the bag put it in a sunglass bag or other type of soft material (old sock).

A chain link can save the day and it is less than $10.

Electrical tape wrapped around a tire lever co2 or your multi tool can come in handy

Adding a light is easy on the back of most seatbags

Thanks for reading!

Have a safe and happy holiday season.


The Start

17 Dec

A bicycle ride has many parts. So, lets address the beginning.

A ride may begin in many ways. Inspiration comes in many forms. Discussing routes with friends over beers the night before or a solitary cup of coffee in the morning can equally inspire the course of events that bring a good ride to reality. The process that follows and ultimately results in a ride is a special one in and of itself.

According to the conditions and the terrain a rider must properly chose his kit. Of course, for the majority of the rides a quick fill of a bottle and squeeze of the tires is enough to get us out the door and on the road. I would encourage a bit more attention to detail though. Look at the weather conditions for the day to decide what will be appropriate to wear, think about the roads you will be on and adjust air pressure accordingly, know the group you are riding with and be sure to bring enough food to last your ride. (or be aware of where you might stop for a gas station corn dog)and last but not least please be cognizant of your seatbag. It must be properly equipped to handle most ride situations. (more on that in a later post)

Once steed and kit are in order it is time to go. This is a issue that seems frivolous but trust me once you master it you will understand. proceeding in a forward direction from a stop on a bicycle is a relatively straightforward endeavor, but doing it with style and authority can really get your ride headed in the right direction.

The manner in which a cyclist mounts the machine can be done in several ways but not all are appropriate.

The newsboy: A rider starts on a single side of the Bike and clips in one foot on that side then gets momentum going by pushing off scooter style for a few hops before swinging the pushing foot over the saddle and clipping it in. This is called the newsboy because for many kids with paper routes it was impossible to get on the bike any other way because the bikes they were riding were too big. Are you a paperboy? is your bike extremely ill sized? Then don’t do this. It is awkward and in group situations can prove humiliating.

The waddle: Surely this is the most embarrassing way to get onto a bicycle. it somewhat resembles how I imagine a duck would start out. Normally the rider is a novice rider. They feel at home clipping in at he bottom of the pedal stroke and there fore can’t generate momentum to get going without pushing off a couple of times. During this pushing debacle there is a high possibility of being “tattooed” by the chainring.

The next two methods are considered appropriate for almost all situations. The racer racer is my favorite.

The cross mount: Should be reserved for cyclocross racing. Some triathletes also do a variation of this mount when leaving T1. The mount can be done at speed or from a stop. It requires a little more  bike skill and doesn’t look pretty until the rider has practiced it quite a few times. The rider in one motion throws his leg over the top of the seat while pusing off with the oposite leg with enough force to push rider and machine into motion until the drive leg can start the pedals forward. The best description I have found is actually just to see it in action. check out the video.

The racer racer: I call it that only because at races you always see the front row of guys using this method, and I like to poke fun at racers (yes myself included). This is actually the way I recommend for most people to get going. It is smart, efficient and stylish in an understated way.  The starting position is clipped in on the drive side with the pedal is at the apex of it’s stroke. By standing up on the pedal the rider’s weight moves the bike forward and brings the non drive side pedal up to the top of it’s stroke ready to clip in and begin it’s power stroke.

After mounting up your ride has now begun!

Thanks for reading.


16 Dec

Here is a quick video of Sam eating a piece of pie.


The Solitary Machine

14 Dec

Most of our interactions with bicycles involve the man machine combo. In other words, a human sitting atop a bicycle pedaling it forward.

Working in a bike shop however brings you a new appreciation for the bicycle as an entity in and of itself. Each machine has different balance points and nuances that must be respected when a rider is not present.

I loath seeing bikes left on their own in less than ideal situations. A bike continues it’s journey even when the rider is off doing something else. You know the feeling when you leave your bike alone for a moment and return to find it crumpled in a heap on the floor. With a few precautions you can keep this from happening.

I have always practiced the art of bike pampering when at all possible. It seems strange, but I know for a fact that a bike that is thoughtfully handled performs better than a bike treated only as a tool. Here are a few of my recommendations on ways to leave your bike if you have to step away.

The most common way to rest a bicycle is using two points (handlebars and seat) against a wall. But, there is something wrong with this picture!

This bike is in the same spot only flipped 180 degrees so that it wants to roll into the wall. This way it uses gravity to brace itself and is less likely to get away.

If you don't have a wall or other solid object you can use the curb as a Kickstand. Position your bike so that it rolls backward then use the mecanics of the drive train to prop the bike up with the pressure of the pedal againt the curb. DO NOT try this if it is windy.

If you have no other choice you can lay your bike down on it's side. Drive Side should be up and the non drive pedal should be at it's apex.

While this is an effective way to leave your bike it can damage thingls like computers and lights that may be mounted to your handlebars or stem. I would stay away from this.

There are some things that you should avoid to keep your bike free from scratches or dent and clearcoat cracks. We see it all the time and nothing makes a bike look worse than a big scratch on the top tube. Or a rear der. that is all scratched to heck.

It is NEVER OK to rest your top tube against any type of object to prop up your machine.

It is NEVER OK to lay your bike down with the drive side down. This is asking for trouble and downright disrespectful to your machine.

Another thing that I like to point out is that if you need to walk your bike for any reason. There are two acceptable ways to do this. The first is with your hand gripping the stem and guiding it along next to you. Second is a bit more complex. The more experienced cyclist may be seen guiding their steed with just one hand on the seat. The bike is steered by leaning it one direction or the other.

You can steer the bike with the stem. Being close to the midline of the bike gives you more control on where it goes.

You can control your bike by leaning it side to side.

I hope some of these suggestions are helpful.

Thanks for reading.


Winter Projects

3 Dec

Winter months at Highroller are a bit slower than our summer season. We need this down time though to finish up some things left undone and start some long needed improvements to the shop. This time of year is also a better opportunity for blogging. However, the issue with blogging is that there is already enough drivel on the internet to reach from here to the sun and back five times.

Of all the places. I found this image at

This week while I am away from the shop I am trying to think about meaningful and relevant information that our customers can enjoy. Here’s are a few if the things I have come up with.

Simple Elegance: The bicycle is a simple machine and yet the practice of riding a bicycle for sport is rife with rites of passage and unstated nuance that can confound the burgeoning cyclist. The simple elegance series will focus on small things that are a part of every ride that when done correctly significantly improve the experience.

Overcoming Barriers: Obstacles present themselves in many ways to cyclists. They can be simple mechanical issues or the mental insecurities that come with being clad head to toe in spandex. Sometimes these obstacles present the opportunity to expand your cycling horizons or learn new things about your world, The overcoming barriers segments will be a way for me to share my stories about this.

These two topics should be enough to keep me busy for a few weeks. Please let me know if you want to have me address a specific issue you are having or if you want to share an experience that shaped your cycling life.

See you on the ride.