Caps

Bike people have a propensity towards collecting bike-related things, and bikes, it can get out of hand I’ve heard. It’s obviously easier to collect something small like bidons (water bottles), magazines, jerseys, musettes or caps, if it’s something useful then it’s almost possible to justify having so many of them they no longer fit in the large space allocated to them, spilling out into daily life and public areas, again, so I’ve heard.

The joy of a cap is that it’s a compact bit of kit that really allows you to show your allegiance to your favourite marque, rider, bike shop or overly-hoppy-artisan-craft-beer-producer, whilst at the same time keeping your head warm, or even cool. The Pros used to wear them all year round, admittedly partly because they were paid to do what their sponsors demanded, but also because they keep the sweat from running into your eyes, and can also keep the rain from running into your eyes too, peaks keep the sun, snow and rain out. Since mandatory helmet laws were introduced in pro cycling the wearing of the cap seems to have waned, but then if you are riding around on a 1980s bike it’s only appropriate you complete the look. They fit into a jersey pocket easily so if you are out on a ride early you can put it away once it warms up until you stop for a macchiato, just make sure the cap you take matches your bike or kit to avoid a cafe-front faux pas, they are also ideal for the promuter.

Whilst the rules (#22) are to be taken with a pinch of salt, there is something in the position that you shouldn’t really be wearing a cap unless you are actually cycling/about to ride/immediately apres ride, but feel free to do what’s comfortable, and remember you can never have too many.

Nerds

Cycling is cool, right? No, cycling is the sport of nerds, and in celebration here are our top five favourite cycling nerds, in no particular order:

Sheldon Brown – The man, the beard, the legend, Sheldon Brown has provided over 51% of all the nerdy bike-related information on the internet via his website which continues to be posthumously updated by like-minded bike-nerds. He had a pure function over form approach to cycling and he was a big fan of making existing things work, his site is also an almost daily reference for us when we come up against an obscure wheel size/bottom bracket threading/anything on a French bike. If you think you know everything about bikes take a look and prepare to feel ignorant.

Keith Bontrager, aka ‘the Professor’ –  Keith invented the carbon fibre framed full suspension bike with V brakes in 1987, which in bike terms is approximately a million years ahead of the rest of the Industry. A sort of Californian engineering-philosopher he coined the maxim “strong, light, cheap: pick two” which I still find myself repeating today as it’s a pragmatic and succinct way of making component choices. His own products were designed with the same no nonsense approach and all prototyped, tested and used by the man himself in the Californian hills, frames were powder-coated for toughness with the decals covering the main tubes so they could be replaced when they got tatty. Keith’s production MTB frames also ride incredibly, if you get chance to try one out then do it, they are one of the best handling mountain bikes from the early 90s (in my humble opinion of course).

Jobst Brandt – Like Sheldon Brown, Jobst was an early adopter of the internet and a widening online community, he also wrote one of the most comprehensive books on the art of wheel-building. His sometimes lengthy posts covered a range of subjects from tyres to less tangible things such as ride quality, his discussions often included short, to the point answers, but he had such a depth of knowledge that it’s hard to begrudge him a little grumpiness with naive internet hecklers.

Charlie Cunningham – Although not widely known, Charlie is a mountain bike pioneer, MTBHoF member and an incredible innovator who’s parts transformed high-end MTBs in the late 80s and early 90s. In the late 1970s Charlie was hanging around with the other pioneers generally credited with devising the sport of mountain biking but soon realised that he could ride more, for longer, and more enjoyably if he used an aluminium built bike with a good range of gears rather than the converted 1930s clunkers everyone else was using. Not only was his contribution to the technical advancement of MTBs huge (yet understated) he was also a massive advocate of bikes and cycling as a low-impact form of transport that did not damage the planet.

“The bicycle can do wonders. With awesome mechanical efficiency, the fluidity of motion is primal, unlocking hidden awareness. The more one uses a bike, especially in a natural setting, the more attuned we become to ourselves and our planet.”

Charlie was recently involved in a bike accident and suffered a number of serious injuries, if you can help out please visit his gofundme site.

Grant Petersen – The bike nerd’s bike nerd, Grant was at the helm of the US arm of Bridgestone in the 1980s and 90s and now runs Rivendell Bicycle Works, he is the doyen of riding bikes for enjoyment. Petersen’s Bridgestones, particularly the XO models, are some of the most sought after vintage production bikes and were built with a combination of clever speccing and quality Japanese built frame sets. Often offering an opinion at 90 degrees to the general Industry viewpoint he has garnered a large cult-ish following and continues to fly in the face of technological advancement and the modern all-black-carbon-swoosh-tubed-aesthetic. He also invented gravel riding, which is cycling’s hot new cool thing.

Tyre-ific

In the World of bike shops we probably talk about tyres more than any other component, from punctures to the science of rolling resistance it takes up a lot of our time. Subsequently, we are all experts, and we know the best tyre for your needs and how to make your bike faster/least likely to incur a puncture. That’s not true, but we can dispense some good advice that works for most people.

Keep them pumped up – The majority of punctures we fix are ‘pinch flats’ (also know as snakebites) which happen when the tube does not have enough air in and the bike hits a sharp edge such as a pot-hole or kerb, pinching the inner tube between the hard surface and the hard edge of the wheel rim. There isn’t really a catch-all pressure to pump your tyres to, but on a hybrid you should have at least 60 psi in there, and more on a narrower tyre. You can of course put too much in, and MTB tyres are subject to a completely different set of rules. Most people don’t have a pump with a gauge on to figure out exactly what pressure their tyres are at, but most good bike shops do and will generally be happy to lend you a pump (in exchange for a joke in our case). It is also worth remembering that even when in good condition your inner tubes will slowly leak air over time.

Invest in quality – you can get a decent road tyre for just £10, but a £25 tyre will offer better puncture resistance, a more compliant ride and lower weight*. We love the Panaracer Pasela, it looks great, has a shallow tread making it ideal for commuting or winter road rides, the supple sidewall gives it a great feel on the bike and like all mass-produced things of quality it is made in Japan.

Tyred out

Check the condition – It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your tyres for cuts, little bits off glass stuck in the tread, excessive wear and other signs they might be about to give up on you, half-way to work, when you have a meeting – this is when it will happen, that is sod’s law.

 

*The weight issue is a ginormous can of worms which we shall leave firmly shut at this point, suffice to say that if you are going to save weight anywhere on the bike then the best place is on the wheels and tyres.