Numpty IM Bike Thread

Bike ponces only welcome if they don't speak in tongues

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24/07/2005 at 09:56
I thought this may be a helpful thread for those who maybe don't have as much bike experience as some of the others.

I found there was a lot of helpful advice available last year but that it sometimes got lost in the main thread - and with twice as many people (already) signed up, trying to find those nuggets of information may become impossible.

I thought this thread could be used for questions like:

What is a double, triple or compact chainset? Which one do I want / need?

Clipless pedals - do I need them? How do I fit them?

WTF is cadence? What sort of cadence should I be going for?

WTF is a turbo? Do I need one? What one do I need?

How do I "fit" my bike, and what does it mean?

Can I train on a gym bike? Is there an alternative to just getting out there and doing it? (the answer to that one is no BTW - just thought I would get in there before anyone else, ha ha)

You get the idea...........

NO talk of tubs, BCS waxing or any other carp that the bike ponces get all anal about. I won't have been the only one who got completely lost in some of the discussions that went on last year, so this is for those of you that just want to know the best setup for that highly honed cycling machine that is the potential IronMan in all of you to get around.

Good luck, and remember there isn't a numpty enough question that you can ask that I haven't already. Don't forget that I was the person who used their car pump to inflate their tyres then wondered why it was such hard work cycling with semi inflated tyres!
Plum    pirate
24/07/2005 at 10:01
When I buy my bike is it best to have two sets of wheels, one for everyday riding through the crap on the roads of London and one for going out into the wild blue on looooong training rides.
If so how much would i reasonably expect to pay for a spare set of wheels and heavy duty tyres.
24/07/2005 at 12:54
OK - I have my first numpty question.

I've got straps on my pedals which dig in after a while and my little toes go numb if I spend too long on the turbo.

If I go for clipless pedals what do I need to be looking for?
Can I change them over myself?
What do I need to look for in a pair of bike shoes?
Are all shoes and pedals interchangeable, or do I need to buy shoes to match pedals or visa-versa?

Well strictly speaking that is four questions........
24/07/2005 at 12:57
Sorry Plum, I can't answer you!

As you have guessed by now I am the resident dunce when it comes to bikes, but hopefully someone helpful will be able to tell you - just remember if they start talking another language that you make them translate it into English!!
24/07/2005 at 13:01
okay - first of all I'm not a bike ponce - so this might be wrong, but my understanding is that for clipless pedals (i.e. ones with cleats) there are two (or possibly more) types - Look and SPD, and they have matching shoes. WHile you can swap from SPD to Look or vice versa, you'd have to change your shoes as well (or can you just change the bit on the bottom of the shoes?).

My bike shoes are nice in that they have a velcro strap which means they are easy to get on and off.

As for fitting the pedals - I dunno - I'm getting more confidence in tweaking the bike myself, but my local shop is quite happy to fit new stuff and I feel far safer that way!
24/07/2005 at 13:04
Cheers XFR Bear - I feel like a tw@t sometimes asking this stuff, but I would never have known there was more than one type of pedal if I hadn't!!

And yes, the man at the bike shop sounds a much better idea for fitting...............
24/07/2005 at 13:17
I didn't either until I went into the bike shop - the places I've been (local shop - Pearson's - family business since 1860 something, and Evans - chain of shops) were both quite happy to talk me through stuff in as much detail as I cared to listen to.

Seem to remember something about some cleats fitted flusher with the shoe than others, which made it easier to run in transition, but it's a vague memory
24/07/2005 at 13:46
With clipless pedals, there are quite a few different manufacturers / makes, none of which are compatible with the others. They all work in essentially the same way - you have a piece of metal or plastic, called a "cleat", attached to the bottom of your shoes. These click into the pedal, sort of similar to the way a skiboot attached to a ski.

Each different type of pedal has different cleats, and they attach to your shoes in different ways (as far as I know they're all screwed onto the sole of the shoe, but the number and position of the screws differs from make to make). So if you have, say, Look pedals, you need Look cleats too; and with your Look cleats, you can only clip into Look pedals.

Most shoes can accomodate most types of cleats, so if you buy some shoes then further down the line you decide to change pedals, you shouldn't have to buy new shoes, you just swap the cleats.

You generally get a pair of cleats with your pedals when you buy them, and you can buy spare cleats if they get worn out, you buy a new pair of shoes or whatever.

The most common types of clipless pedal are:

Look
Time
Shimano SPD (designed for mountain bikes, though they can be used on road bikes too)
Shimano SPD-SL (Shimano's road type of pedal)
Speedplay
Egg-beaters (more common on mountian bikes, but again can be used on road bikes if you like)

Some people will bang on about one type being better than another, but I honestly don't think there's much difference between them so I'd say just pick some you like. For triathlon I'd suggest choosing between Look, Time, Speedplay and Shimano SPD-SL just because they're designed for road bikes. You should be able to get some decent pedals for under 50 quid.



Changing pedals is simple. If you look at your bike, where the pedal meets the crank arm, there are a couple of flat areas; these are for a pedal spanner (basically just a normal spanner, but very thin so it's easy to get into that bit of the bike). You can buy a pedal spanner for a couple of quid. You simple unscrew the pedals and screw your new ones on, making sure they're nice and tight; and making sure you get the right pedal on the right crank arm! It's a very simple job, all pedals have the same size screw so there's no worries about compatibility etc.

Finally, for shoes I'd say look for something that's comfortable. You want them to be reasonably tight (far tighter than running shoes), but obviously not uncomfortably so.

You'll want either road or triathlon shoes; these have smooth soles (as opposed to mountain bike shoes which have a tread on them). Triathlon shoes generally have one large velcro strap, to make them easier to put on in transition; I don't know if this makes much difference to the non-elites (I'm a triathlon newbie so no personal experience). Most road shoes have two or three velcro straps, or bizarre ratchet things, but I don't think it really makes a great deal of difference. Check that the shoes will let you attach the type of cleat you want - most will, but it's worth just double-checking (the bike shop staff should know).



Sorry for the overly-long post, hope it helps.
Plum    pirate
24/07/2005 at 13:49
I understand that!
24/07/2005 at 14:07
Jeez - me too!!

Nick - that is the best explaination of clipless pedals anyone has ever given (that I have read anyway), thanks for that, and thanks for putting it in a way us numpties can understand - appreciated!!

I can now go and spend more money with confidence!!
Plum    pirate
24/07/2005 at 14:09
now can you explain the different types of gearing to me please Nick!
Plum    pirate
24/07/2005 at 14:12
and what type of rims/tyres i should use to commute on the bike in central london?
24/07/2005 at 14:15
No problem, glad to be of help! I've been lurking on these forums long enough, thought I might as well start to chip in on the rare occasions I know something of use.
debbo    pirate
24/07/2005 at 14:34
Thanks Nick - that helped me too!
24/07/2005 at 14:58
Gearing; bit of terminology first.<br><br>The front rings on your bike (which the pedals are attached to via cranks) is called the "chainset". Your chainset will have either 2 or 3 rings; hence you'll have either a "double" or a "triple".<br><br>The rear set of rings (which is attached to the hub of your back wheel) is called the "cassette".<br><br>When people talk about gears, you'll see lots of numbers like 53/39 and 11-21. These refer to the number of teeth on the various rings on your bike. Numbers like 53/39 refer to the chainset (front part) - it means that the largest ring has 53 teeth, and the smaller has 39. Numbers like 11-21 refer to the cassette (back part) in the same way; the smallest ring on the cassette has 11 teeth, the largest has 21.<br><br>Commonly, a double chainset will be 53/39. A triple will often be 52/42/30. Cassettes vary quite widely, but a common cassette for a normal person might be 12-25 or 12-27. The advantage of a wide range on your cassette is obviously the fact that you end up with some nice low gears for any steep climbs. The disadvantage is that it makes the gap between each gear quite large, so when you change up or down you really notice it.<br><br>Just to confuse matters, you might hear about "compact" chainsets. Compact chainsets are basically a double (they have 2 rings), but the rings are slightly smaller - commonly 50/36 or so.<br><br>Just to be clear (sorry if this insults anyone's intelligence), having your chain pass over a large ring at the front and a small one at the back will make it harder to pedal (i.e. you'll be in a higher gear), and obviously means you go faster for each turn of the pedals. For example, imaging your chain is on a 53-tooth ring at the front, and an 11-tooth ring at the back. This means that every time you pedal one full revolution, your back wheel spins round (53 divided by 11 equals) 4.8 times. If you were on your 39 front and 21 back ring, then one pedal revolution would spin your wheel (39/21 = ) 1.85 times. Pedal at the same cadence (i.e. turn the pedals the same number of times per minute), and you'll go about 2.5 times as fast in your 53,11 combination than in your 39,21 combination.<br><br>[Just thought I'd throw that in there - "cadence" just means the rate at which you pedal. So a cadence of 80 means you're turning the pedals through 80 full revolutions every minute.]<br><br>cont...
24/07/2005 at 14:59
Blimey! Spends ages lurking then all of a sudden cometh the deluge!!

;-)
24/07/2005 at 15:00
Whoops - try that again!

Gearing; bit of terminology first.

The front rings on your bike (which the pedals are attached to via cranks) is called the "chainset". Your chainset will have either 2 or 3 rings; hence you'll have either a "double" or a "triple".

The rear set of rings (which is attached to the hub of your back wheel) is called the "cassette".

When people talk about gears, you'll see lots of numbers like 53/39 and 11-21. These refer to the number of teeth on the various rings on your bike. Numbers like 53/39 refer to the chainset (front part) - it means that the largest ring has 53 teeth, and the smaller has 39. Numbers like 11-21 refer to the cassette (back part) in the same way; the smallest ring on the cassette has 11 teeth, the largest has 21.

Commonly, a double chainset will be 53/39. A triple will often be 52/42/30. Cassettes vary quite widely, but a common cassette for a normal person might be 12-25 or 12-27. The advantage of a wide range on your cassette is obviously the fact that you end up with some nice low gears for any steep climbs. The disadvantage is that it makes the gap between each gear quite large, so when you change up or down you really notice it.

Just to confuse matters, you might hear about "compact" chainsets. Compact chainsets are basically a double (they have 2 rings), but the rings are slightly smaller - commonly 50/36 or so.

Just to be clear (sorry if this insults anyone's intelligence), having your chain pass over a large ring at the front and a small one at the back will make it harder to pedal (i.e. you'll be in a higher gear), and obviously means you go faster for each turn of the pedals. For example, imaging your chain is on a 53-tooth ring at the front, and an 11-tooth ring at the back. This means that every time you pedal one full revolution, your back wheel spins round (53 divided by 11 equals) 4.8 times. If you were on your 39 front and 21 back ring, then one pedal revolution would spin your wheel (39/21 = ) 1.85 times. Pedal at the same cadence (i.e. turn the pedals the same number of times per minute), and you'll go about 2.5 times as fast in your 53,11 combination than in your 39,21 combination.

[Just thought I'd throw that in there - "cadence" just means the rate at which you pedal. So a cadence of 80 means you're turning the pedals through 80 full revolutions every minute.]

cont...
24/07/2005 at 15:07
...

Deciding what setup you want is the tricky part. My advice, for what it's worth:

A triple gives you much more flexibility. You get a wider range of gears, specifically a lot of low-ish gears - this is particularly useful if you're riding a lot of hills or you're not a strong rider. The disadvantage is that it weighs a little bit more than a double - not really a problem for most people in my opinion. You might also get called a wuss by bike nerds, but who cares what they think?

If you prefer a double, then a compact is a good compromise. Compared to a normal double you get a slightly slower top gear, but an easier bottom gear - again, really useful on hilly rides.

If you get a triple, the choice of cassette isn't really that important - whatever the manufacturer has fitted will probably be perfectly OK (and will likely by a 12-25 or so). With a double you need to give it a bit of thought, but a 12-25 or 12-27 should be just fine for most needs. Your bike shop should be able to help you out, but like I say, whatever is fitted to a new bike will probably be just fine. If you feel you need to change your cassette, new ones can be had for about 20-25 quid (I'd get your bike shop to fit it to your wheel, should be a matter of a few minutes for them).

Finally, don't let any bike ponces drag you into a debate about whether Shimano or Campagnolo are best; both are perfectly good companies making perfectly good equipment.

Again, hope that's of some help.
24/07/2005 at 15:08
I understood all of that!!

<thud>
24/07/2005 at 15:11
dan dan - aye, I guess I should learn to keep my mouth shut!

Plum - not really sure, but I'd definitely go for cheapish, sturdy wheels for commuting; you don't need anything aero or lightweight, just something that will take a bettering and not complain. Discussing with your bike shop is probably the best bet, if they have a decent wheelbuilder they should be able to advise you better than I can.

Cheers,
Nick.
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