Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Back to Bikes

My first real bike was a “Tourney ATB” ten speed bicycle with 26 inch wheels bought at Costco when I was a kid.  I remember it took a while for me to grow into it (I think I still have the manual for it lying around somewhere).  Yesterday, while I was thinking about Vik's Surly LHT and all the reasons why his bike is an all around winner, I thought about my old Tourney.  In many ways, it was very similar to his LHT.  Vik gives good advice for what makes a good bike, and I'll summarize some of it here.  I think efficiency on a bike is largely attributable to three important areas: 
  • Frame:  Get a “medium duty frame”, in other words, not too heavy or too light.  And “make sure you get fit properly on your new bike so that your body can generate power for you”.  In many places, bikes are treated with a one size fits all mentality.  But a slight change in one dimension has ripple effects that you can notice in other areas of the riding experience.  Kid sized bikes are definitely not adult bikes.  
  • Gearing:  Get a “practical trekking crank with wide range cassette” for efficient power transfer. 
  • Wheels:  Get “reasonably fast touring tires inflated to an optimal pressure.”  Probably the single most important piece of advice.  If you haven't noticed, mountain bike tires are slow!  
That old Tourney fit me well, ten gears were enough to handle anything I came across, and the tires that came stock were thin enough to keep me rolling quickly.  But we parted ways when I caught the recumbent bug.  Since then I've had a long string of human powered vehicles, some better than others.  I think it's now time I reconnect with a bike like the first one I had (but better).  Sure, on a longer ride, going recumbent is so much more relaxed.  But I'm not going on very long rides.  The majority of my trips are less than ten miles.  On the rare occasion I would ride 20 miles in a day I would just have to take more breaks to balance the “comfort equation” back in favor of upright bikes... maybe I'd have to take a lot more breaks.  (Who says I can't?)  I plan to have a bike that meets these criteria by May, when my wife and I plan on biking in Denali again.  Her bike could definitely use some faster tires. 

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