Tarckatina's Guide for Newjacks

Well, I’m feeling particularly generous and thoughtful today so I thought I’d type up a nice little list of mistakes I made when I was a newjack to cycling in hopes that other people can learn from these common mistakes and avoid them. I know a lot of people on here are veterans and have been riding long enough to know most of this stuff, but for the beginners and anyone who needs a refresher, here it is.

5ish Mistakes I Made as a Newbie:

  1. Thinking chains are disposable and should be replaced when they start getting noisy/grimey.
    This one I commited probably the first 8 months of riding fixed before realizing how easy it is to clean/re-lube a chain. I was coming from a background in riding beater 10-speeds on the street, and like most people who strictly ride absolutely shit bikes and don’t know the difference between anything else, I figured noise was something that could only be replaced, not repaired. Either way, cleaning chains is cake and there are many guides online that explain it better than I could.

1.5. Buying Z-Chains.
Sometimes I still do this because there’s no other option (in my college town atleast). But really, Z-Chains are probably the most carried and shittiest 1/8" chain around. They stretch in a few months usually, and after that happens you have to throw them out. Better chain for similar dough IMO is the SRAM PC-1.

  1. Thinking tubes are disposable.
    It may seem easier to just replace a tube when you’re a beginner, but with the rising price of tires and tubes these days (which corellates directly with the rising price of oil and falling dollar), it’s a lot better idea to learn to patch and do it often in the case of flats. I used to be suspicious of patches and thought they’d come off but this turned out to be grounded in myth. Have a friend or shop show you the proper way to patch a tube / figure out where the tube got pierced, or just read the instructions that come with a patch kit.

  2. Paying for rear tires (while running brakeless).
    I’m sure a lot of people still do this. But when even the best tires get only a few months of skidding/skipping before they’re time for the trash, this is kind of a retarded way to waste money. Bike shops throw out perfectly good tires every day, and either just put them in the dumpster, the back of the shop or a free box. If you’re not sure where a shop puts said perfectly fine tires (and you already support them with your cash), ask someone who works there. But you obviously have to be careful as some tires are thrown out for a legitimate reason (i.e. they’re trashed). Inspect all dumpster tires thoroughly or have a friend show you what to look for if you can’t figure it out. Things like busted sidewalls, random gouges, exposed casing and damaged beads are some obvious ones.

  3. Thinking things like clipless shoes, helmets and spandex are lame.
    I know plenty of people are still under this assumption, but the truth is if you mature out of the little bubble of cycling for fashion or fixed gear freestyling and become aware of the greater world of bikes, you’ll agree that none of these things are lame.

Clipless, first of all, is one of the most purely performance minded upgrades you can do, and a well-fitted clipless setup will make you faster and give you more control. If you start getting fast you’ll appreciate the feel of them, but if you stay stuck in the world of cruising along at 13mph (not necessarily a bad thing), you won’t.

Helmets - the more years you put into riding bikes, the more conscious you become of the vulnerable position you’re in on a bike and the dangers you face all around you. It’s not the ones you see, it’s the ones who don’t see you that you have to worry about when on the road and not turning into an adult vegetable. Now I personally don’t wear my helmet as much as I should but the more I think about it, the more it becomes apparent that I should be using it every day.

Spandex - another thing you’ll figure out as you mature as a rider is that spandex isn’t some funny thing you put on to try and look like the pros or get more ‘aerodynamic’, it’s an absolute necessity if you start actually putting in serious miles (25+). Butt chaffing is a horrible thing. You’d be surprised how many people wear spandex shorts underneath their regular old jeans too.

  1. Trying to do too much mechanical stuff when you have no idea what you’re doing.
    I’ve been guilty of this before (tried to teach myself to true a rim and failed) and I’ve seen a lot of people do some insanely dangerous/janky shit because they thought they knew what they were doing. If you want to work on your bike it’s best to have someone else show you the ropes firsthand instead of poking around blindly. I know there’s a small percentage of people that are naturally gifted as mechanics but for the rest of us this should be the rule.
    5.5 Running the wrong chain tension and/or having a fault chainline
    Fucking up a chainline is not something you want to do. But chain tension is also important and I’ve even caught experienced mechanics messing this up and running chains at the tightest possible setting. Learn early on what’s the proper tension, what’s too loose and risks you throwing a chain, and what’s so tight it kills your efficiency and wears the drivetrain way too fast.

If anyone has anything to add, feel free.

Edit: made sticky, deleted some banter related to the sticky.

  • :bear:

I - Plug the ends of your handlebars.

There’s no fucking excuse to ride with handlebars without the ends plugged.
No one wants to get cookie cuttered in a crash. If you like the bare look, find some chrome covers at your LBS or a hardware store.

II - On patches:

  1. Wait for the glue to dry before applying the patch.

It seems counter intuitive at first, but I think a lot of people who have trouble patching tires are missing this very important step.

  1. Cut the big patch into smaller pieces when patching a skinny tube.

This is a newly learned thing for me. That bigass patch that comes with any kit is just too big for a 700x23 tube, and applying a patch without getting all of the edges glued down is almost useless.

  1. There’s no reason to try to peel the clear coat off of patches once their installed.

This is just a quick tip. That 3/4" square of mylar isn’t going to hurt anything in the tube. No one is going to see it, and there’s no risk of pulling a patch off when your in a hurry and the glue hasn’t set.

III - On Pedals:

  1. There’s no reason to go all ape-man and tighten the hell out of your pedals.

Pedals tighten themselves up while you’re riding. Grease the threads and just cinch them up a bit. It will make life way easier when you want to remove them.

IV - On cables (primarily brakes:

  1. Put an endcap on those fuckers.

It sucks to get poked with a frayed cable end.

  1. Grease Em up before installing in the housing.

  2. Make sure the housing ends are open and smooth.

Cutting housing is a pain without the right tool, but it can be done easily. Just make sure the end of the housing isn’t crimped and there are no burrs. I use a hex key thats about the same size as the cable to make sure the cable is going to move freely through the end of the housing. I also spend a few minutes with a file to make sure the cut is nice and perpendicular to the housing.

You have to learn that the hard way.

It is probably better to learn it the hard way to get a respect for the tracks, but then you have the random jackass who brakes some bones and tries to file lawsuit.

I am just saying, I was told that by countless other older cyclist. But still I had to learn to respect the tracks on my own. Its initation for riding here in SF.

Learn to measure a bike. Then you can probably label your ad on CL unlike this nerd.

http://sandiego.craigslist.org/csd/bik/805549869.html

edit oops

On handlebars: Make sure your bars are no wider than 12" across, and you have at least 10"+ of saddle to bar drop.

On toe clips/straps: Make sure you wear you laminated straps loose enough to put your foot into/take foot out of. You don’t want to scuff them up by cinching them down really tight. However, if you have non-laminated straps (Somas) it is okay to cinch them down IF you are riding brakeless. You want them to break in emergency situations so you can easily dismout the bicycle.

On lights: They just make you a target for motorists. Don’t give them something to aim for!

On shoes: Stiff-soled shoes get uncomfortable after riding more then 3 or 4 blocks. You’ll want something nice and flexy, like Vans or something.

Saddles: Make sure the front end is pointed downwards, you don’t want to destroy your taint when doing wheelies!

On brakes: All brakes do is slow you down. No, I don’t mean that way… I mean the extra weight will decrease your top speed.

On top speed: You’ll definitely appreciate the aero-benefit of a nice, large chrome bag. Way better than panniers or even saddle bags.

On jerseys: Why would you need a shirt with pockets, when your jeans/cutoffs already have plenty? Stick to the t-shirt.

This is an insane statement.

This is an insane statement.[/quote]
Yes, I just noticed I forgot to mention that you can get VEGAN (a very important aspect to max-performance cycling) Vans. Sorry Rusty. Hope we’re cool now.

This is an insane statement.[/quote]
Yes, I just noticed I forgot to mention that you can get VEGAN (a very important aspect to max-performance cycling) Vans. Sorry Rusty. Hope we’re cool now.[/quote]

I still don’t get it. my normal cycling cleats are “vegan” although it was not a consideration for my purchase of them or the company who made them

Some of the stuff that three years of messenging has tought me:

1.Gears and brakes are your friends.
2.Steel-beaded tire aren’t worth shit.
3.Steel bars are a stupid idea.
4.Track drops not on the track are a stupid idea.
5.Keep that chain clean.
6.Keep those wheels true.
7.Suck it up, the rain won’t kill you.
8.Suck it up, -40 won’t kill you if you’re dressed properly.
9.Dress properly.
10.That means wool, chamois, lycra.
11.Rehydrate.
12.Buy quality tools.
13.Always bring a minimum of tools with you.
14.A two strap bag is better in almost every application.
15.Full finger gloves will save not just your hands but your face.
16.Bring a spare, patch the old tube at home. Good for ~12 patches.
18.Slick 700x23 is the best snow tire.

Ok, before this gets to far I’m just going to point out that I was being sarcastic. I thought it was obvious. Helpful through sarcasm, that’s what I aim for.

[quote=“LoReeZy”]On handlebars: Make sure your bars are no wider than 12" across, and you have at least 10"+ of saddle to bar drop.

On toe clips/straps: Make sure you wear you laminated straps loose enough to put your foot into/take foot out of. You don’t want to scuff them up by cinching them down really tight. However, if you have non-laminated straps (Somas) it is okay to cinch them down IF you are riding brakeless. You want them to break in emergency situations so you can easily dismout the bicycle.

On lights: They just make you a target for motorists. Don’t give them something to aim for!

On shoes: Stiff-soled shoes get uncomfortable after riding more then 3 or 4 blocks. You’ll want something nice and flexy, like Vans or something.

Saddles: Make sure the front end is pointed downwards, you don’t want to destroy your taint when doing wheelies!

On brakes: All brakes do is slow you down. No, I don’t mean that way… I mean the extra weight will decrease your top speed.

On top speed: You’ll definitely appreciate the aero-benefit of a nice, large chrome bag. Way better than panniers or even saddle bags.

On jerseys: Why would you need a shirt with pockets, when your jeans/cutoffs already have plenty? Stick to the t-shirt.[/quote]

Are you being facetious? I have to ask because these are comonly held opinions.

Edit:

Oh, I see what you’ve done.

i love using the lil green “scabs” for patching. they work great if you do it right.

but i bought flat insurance from my shop so i get free tubes for life. if you can get something like this, do it. mine has payed for itself already.

[quote=“JACQUES”]
18.Slick 700x23 is the best snow tire.[/quote]

Yeah it’s great when the snow just fell down an hour ago, but when you have that 3 day old shit snow/ice/slush mix that’s been blackened by traffic, 23’s don’t hold up for shit on cornering.

  1. A lot of people I know have taken this to the other extreme and use a chain for way too long. If you commute on a bike every day, replacing a chain every 3-4 months isn’t a bad idea.

1.5. Z-chains are super cheep for following the advice above.

  1. Whenever I buy a new tire, I put it on the front and move the front to the back. That way I’ve never bought a rear tire, and I frequently have new front tires which reduces the likelihood of flats and increases cornering grip. Maybe better advice would be “never put a new tire on the back”.

An addendum about tires: that flat strip in the middle of the tread does not mean that they’re “nicely broken in”.

  1. Helmets: Totally true. I even wear a helmet while I’m in the bathroom because statistically I’m much more likely to suffer a head injury there than on my bike.
    Spandex: is for jazzercise. Bike clothes are made from lycra.

  2. This is the only thing that I think is bad advice. Breaking shit is the best way to learn how to fix it (or at least how to not break it that way again). This wouldn’t be a problem if people would stop building their first bikes from nice shit. If you want to learn to do your own work, then your first bike shouldn’t cost more than $100. Just don’t post it on FGG like your all proud and tell people that the ride is awesome. After you destroy that one, you should know enough not to destroy the next one.

When repairing a flat line up the damn label of the tire with the valve stem. If you don’t Tarckbear will cause you to get flats repeatedly until you do :bear:

If your tubes have presta valves (that’s the one that isn’t like the one on a car tire) then take off the cap when you install the tube. Screwing down that little nut keeps the dirt out; the cap is there only to keep the valve from poking a hole in the tube while it’s being stored.

If your presta valves come with the little nut that screws down, throw it as far as humanly possible before installing the tube. In my years of working in a bike shop, the two most common non-puncture flats causes were pinch flats from inadequate inflation (there’s another tip: top off your tires EVERY DAY that you ride) and torn valve stems caused by the little nut getting too tight and pulling the tube through the valve hole when inflating. This most often works in conjunction with the lack of a proper inflating regimen. Riding on a low tube causes the previously snug nut to vibrate into a lower position. When the tube is inflated again, the stem is pulled into the rim slightly. If it isn’t allowed to do this, the edge of the valve hole will cut the tube. Another cause of the flat is snugging the nut down when first inserting a new tube into the tire and then inflating.

The purpose of the nut is to keep the stem from sliding into the rim when you are attempting to install the pump head. This can be solved by pressing your thumb on the tire opposite the stem.

Mander, have you had experience with dirt in your rims that I have not? Maybe it is worthwhile in some instances I haven’t experienced. All mine ever did was rattle when they were loose and cause flats when they were tight.

If you do want to use the nut, do not tighten it until it is tight, only snug. And always make sure it is loose before you inflate.