Here are some of the frequently asked questions about biking:
What are clipless pedals?
How do I get the right frame size?
How do you use the gears?
Should I wear a cycling helmet?
What maintenance should I do?
If the question is not here that you want answered, leave a message on the message board .
- What are clipless pedals?
| The normal pedal is just flat without any straps or anything else on it.
Some pedals have a toe-clip which holds your foot in place on the pedal. It can either be just a simple clip which your foot fits in to, or it may also have straps which go round your foot and the pedal. When the strap is tightened up, you cannot get your foot off the pedal until you loosen the strap.
| Clipless pedals have a mechanism in the pedal which locks into a special plate or cleat fitted into the underside of a cycling shoe.
So why use a pedal like this?
It is because more of your effort gets transferred into making the bike move.
It may seem strange, but you will not only use the pedal by pushing, but you will learn to also pull
the pedal as you lift your foot up!
It sounds hard to do, but is something that you will eventually do without thinking.
Must you use clipless pedals? - No
, but if you start to do quite a lot of cycling, will it be a good thing to try? - Yes
- How do I get the right frame size?
You size a bike by standing over the bike frame, with one leg either side of the frame and your feet flat on the floor. You then measure the distance between you and the top of the frame (the top tube or crossbar).
For a road bike the suggested gap is 1-2cm (half to three-quarter inch), and for a mountain bike the suggested gap increases up to 5-8cm(2-3 inches).
For a woman's bike that has an open frame without a crossbar, use a bike with a crossbar to get the size of frame, and then get the bike you want with that size frame.
Bike are sized by the "frame size". This is the measurement from the centre of the bearing where the pedals are (the bottom bracket), to the top of the tube where the saddle post fits in.
- How do you use the gears?
People sometimes think that gears are on a bike so that you can get up a steep hill.
Although that is partly true, the real use of gears is to enable you to keep pedalling at a constant speed. The speed that you pedal at is called the cadence .
Whilst it does not really matter what speed you pedal at if you are only going on a short journey. If you are going for any reasonable distance, pedalling incorrectly will be more tiring for you.
The best speed to pedal at is between 80 - 100 rpm. Next time you go out on the bike, look at your watch, and then count how many times the pedals turn round in 30 seconds, double it, and you have how many rpm's you are doing. If you really want to, you can also buy bike computers which not only show what speed you are moving at, but amongst other things your cadence.
A simple test for your cadence is if you seem to be pedalling quite fast, then you are probably about right. It is nearly always faster than you think!
Why is pedalling speed important?
If you pedal at about the right speed, you are asking your muscles to repeatedly do a small amount of work. When muscles do more work, but slowly, it is tiring.
What if you cannot get your cadence right?
Do not worry about it!
It is only something that makes cycling easier. Do not let it stop you going out for a ride.
- Should I wear a cycling helmet?
Helmets offer a limited but significant protection for your head if you fall off and hit your head on something.
If you are riding off-road on a mountain bike, it is really essential to wear a helmet. The chances of you falling off because your front wheel hits something in the ground, or the bike slides as you go round a corner, or because you are on a slope, are significant.
If you fall off like that, a helmet could save you from serious injury .
Does that seem to be exaggerating the dangers? Well stand upright on a hard surface like a road and fall over but do not use your hands to stop yourself. That is what could happen if you are off-road. There is a very good chance nothing will go wrong, but do not take a chance. It is yourself that will get hurt.
Suppose though you are going to ride on the road, do you need a helmet then?
If you are on the road, the most likely accident is going to involve a motor vehicle. Current cycle helmets are not designed for protection against this sort of impact.
The dangers that you may face when riding on the road depend on where you live. Here in the South East of England cyclists are not very often treated nicely by motorists and so it can be quite dangerous.
In many other countries, the situation is very different (see my Holidays in Holland ). In fact there are many parts of England where it is much safer.
- What maintenance should I do?
There are three basic things you need to do - clean , lube , and check .
Clean your bike when it is dirty. Although it is good to clean your bike because a clean bike looks nicer, dirt can cause corrosion and wear on the moving parts of a bike, especially the chain. Do not use high-pressure washers though, bike bearings are not made to withstand high pressures and so the bearings will get damaged.
Lube . After cleaning the bike, you should always lubricate it. The parts to lube are the front and rear brake pivots, brake lever pivots, rear mech jockey wheel, rear mech pivots, front mech pivots, cable ends, and the chain. If you are not sure what these parts of the bike are, it is anything that moves apart from the wheel bearings themselves.
What lube to use?
The best thing to do is ask in your local bike shop. However, if you can get it WD-40 is a good general lubricant to use on everything. The chain does need a heavier oil than WD-40, so apply WD-40 first, and then the heavier lube.
Check your bike to make sure nothing is loose. Make sure that the pedals and their cranks do not move too much when you try to pull them from side to side. Check also the saddle is still tightly fitted and will not twist.
Lift the front and then the rear of the bike and spin each wheel. Watch it as it turns to make sure it does not wobble or move from side to side. Also make sure that the brakes do not rub on the side of the wheel rim.
If a repair or adjustment needs doing that you are not confident to do yourself, either find someone who you can trust to do the job properly, or take it to your local bike shop.
Do not take risks.
For a list of useful links.