Hard News by Russell Brown

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  • Aidan,

    If you want to go quick peddle faster.

    The bike I had before the current one (which I bought second hand) lasted me 17 years. Changing bikes every couple of years is a wank IMO.

    Personally I prefer very simple bikes (no shocks), but ended up getting a bike with disc brakes for their phenomenal stopping power, and reasonable performance in the wet. I haven’t had to bleed brake lines and whatnot yet, so maybe ask me in a year or so if they are any good.

    The other thing to bear in mind is that cheap bikes have cheap components. So if the bike is inexpensive and has shocks and discs and all sorts of crap they are generally bad examples of the genre and are likely to function poorly and break quickly.

    I was only half kidding about the peddling faster. Take a look at your style, see if there are things you can improve. Keeping my knees tucked in made a big difference to my peddling efficiency. The outside of my thighs burned for a week or so, but I could definitely sustain a better tempo.

    If you don’t have them already get some nice bar-ends, not stubby little ones, nice long ones like these. They help to get you leaning forward, which not only helps with the aerodynamics, but just seems faster somehow. I can’t stand drop-bars, but bar-ends are a must I reckon. I’m on them more than the main bars.

    If you still feel a little “sit up and beg” on the bike, maybe look at a longer stem. Don’t know about you, but I am long in the body, and absolutely must have a longer stem to be able to lean forward enough on a bike that is sized correctly for my leg length.

    I also bought clip-in bike shoes a few years ago. Mostly to stop me stuffing my shoes (regular soaking in sweat accelerated their decline) and to deal with foot pain (normal shoes weren’t stiff enough and were putting too much pressure on my foot). The upside of clip-pedals is the ability to maintain a higher cadence more easily. This means you doing more aerobically which means more exercise.

    Listen to me, I sound like some sort of Cadel Evans wannabe, but I just commute 20kms/day and want to maintain some fitness along the way.

    Canberra, Australia • Since Feb 2007 • 147 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Raleigh 20?

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2608 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Aidan,

    Listen to me, I sound like some sort of Cadel Evans wannabe, but I just commute 20kms/day and want to maintain some fitness along the way.

    I'm torn between the conflicting imperatives of a hybrid, a commuter bike, and a road bike that'll be appropriate for longer distances. I've done the 50km Auckland isthmus circuit a few times, but I wouldn't want to go further than that on my current bike.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18963 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart,

    The bike I had before the current one (which I bought second hand) lasted me 17 years

    I bought a Giant Yukon in 1995 and it still goes fine. There's little to go wrong with it - no suspension, no disc brakes. It was fine for biking the Heaphy (well, OK, it was a little bumpy).
    I got a GT Avalanche about 4 years ago - and now the front shocks are munted. Thinking about getting a full suspension bike now.

    I really think two bikes (at a minimum!) is the way to go - good road bike and good off road bike. But it all depends on how you use 'em.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2008 • 660 posts Report Reply

  • Aidan,

    I bought a Giant Yukon in 1995 and it still goes fine

    My old one was purchased (new) in 1993. By the end neither of the wheels was original, I was on my 4th (5th?) back cassette, 2nd set of front chain rings and cranks, and 2nd bottom bracket. I’d replaced the derailleur and both rapid-fire shifters. The second seat was wearing out …

    What killed it was the second crack in the frame. The first one I’d had welded up, but the second was on one of the bottom stays out to the back wheel. Too thin to repair.

    I didn’t give up on that bike, musta done over 70,000 kms on it. In hindsight I should have replaced it at the 12 year mark or so, after that alot went wrong and cost a fair bit to replace.

    I really think two bikes (at a minimum!) is the way to go – good road bike and good off road bike. But it all depends on how you use ’em.

    Good advice if you’re doing off-road, but by the looks of it Russell is doing road, and well .. slightly rougher road.

    If I was him I’d maybe be looking at one of those hybrids with 700c wheels (no shocks, no discs). He could put the racing wheels on for long road trips and swap ~em out with fatter commuter tyres for the round town stuff. If he got really serious about the road cycling he can go and blow scads of cash for some prancing racing bike thing with $15 spokes and the hybrid is still useful for round town.

    It was fine for biking the Heaphy (well, OK, it was a little bumpy)

    Awesome! How long did that take?

    Canberra, Australia • Since Feb 2007 • 147 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart, in reply to Aidan,

    Awesome! How long did that take?

    Yes, it really is a great ride, and I'm looking forward to doing it again soon - though probably on a full suspension bike now that I am middle aged and wimpy!
    here is some info about the three season trial that DOC are operating, for shared use of the Heaphy between bikers and walkers. It's open till the end of September.

    It took a day and a half - one day from the Golden Bay track end over to Lewis Hut, this was a very long day that started and finished in the dark. Then a reasonably cruisy day from Lewis hut out to the karamea end, and - oh joy - 15km more on the road to Karamea airport.
    Logistically it is quite complex - you need to take everything you need (ie sleeping bag, food, spare clothes, tools etc) on the bike - I forget how we did it now, I think I had a rear rack on the Yukon with a dry bag strapped onto it, or something like that - nicer than wearing a weekend-sized backpack.
    Transportwise, the only real option unless you can do a car swap or something is to fly back from Karamea to Takaka airport. In our case we were lucky enough to land in a paddock at Bainham which is close to the track end.
    For Wellington folks, Golden Bay air offer a transport package which is not cheap but a pretty good time saver.
    It's a lot of fun, recommended.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2008 • 660 posts Report Reply

  • Morgan Nichol, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    I bought a Giant Yukon in 1995 and it still goes fine.

    I got the Rincon, which I guess was the next model down, in the same year. Went great until I gave it to a colleague's son a year or two ago, where I understand it's still going strong.

    Auckland CBD • Since Nov 2006 • 297 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    A full-bore road bike (carbon fibre everything!) is probably massive overkill for what you're after, Russell. One alternative is to look more at the touring or cyclocross models. Touring bikes are made to go long distances rather than fast, so will usually be a bit more rugged (higher spoke counts on the wheels, more solid frame, etc), and will probably have a lower gearing to get you up hills when carrying stuff. Cyclocross bikes, on the other hand, are basically road bikes designed for short, hard offroad races in ankle-deep mud - so go pretty fast on the road but can handle your basic offroad thrash (many cyclocross bikes have disk brakes these days too). Definitely worth looking at either of those.

    One annoying thing about road bikes is that they often assume that you're a slyph-like roadie. For example, Campagnolo specifically state that if you're over 109kg, you're going to break their wheels - and anything over 82kg is borderline in their opinion. This is fine if you're a sponsored racer or a 69kg climber, but for a bike you're hoping to use day-to-day for the next couple of years, not such a good thing.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to JackElder,

    A full-bore road bike (carbon fibre everything!) is probably massive overkill for what you’re after, Russell. One alternative is to look more at the touring or cyclocross models.

    Ah yes: someone else said "touring bike" to me too. I'm going to pop up the road and have a look at what's there. Basically, something I can ride 100km on.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18963 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart,

    How about one of these?

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2008 • 660 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    How about one of these

    Oooh. Not sure I want to give up disc brakes though ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18963 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Oh well, that’s one thing settled: I can’t ride a bike without flat bars. Tim at Rode kindly let me ride off to me meeting on a Cannondale road bike and while I loved it being light and quick, I really can’t do the posture. My neck is still hurting.

    There are still options for me to do longer rides, but they’ll be saving-up options. I must say, my GT felt very comfortable when i jumped back on.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18963 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Oh well, that’s one thing settled: I can’t ride a bike without flat bars. Tim at Rode kindly let me ride off to me meeting on a Cannondale road bike and while I loved it being light and quick, I really can’t do the posture. My neck is still hurting.

    You can do curly bars without the racing posture - most touring bikes are on the upright side (eg. bars level with or slightly above the seat), but with drop bars for the variety of postures you can adopt: hands on the lever hoods for cruising, on the crossbar for sitting up for some variety, or on the drops, head down, when you really want to go for it.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 801 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Welch, in reply to James Butler,

    Yep, but we're not getting there with Russell. The curly barred bike already had a fairly high setting as it is an endurance style of road bike with tall head tube but Russell needs to get a load more flexible before he can get to that.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 34 posts Report Reply

  • Aidan,

    Great to see Russell has plenty of professional help!

    Instead of “Hustle for Russell” it’s more “Get round town for Brown”.

    Also good that he had a go with the drop bars to see if he liked them, which he didn’t.

    I’d like to proffer the idea that drop bars are just not for everyone, no matter how <del>small their tummy</del> good their flexibility. I can ride a drop bar bike, I just don’t like it. Tight cornering feels weird, the balance is wrong. Yucky (I rode drop bar bikes for 15 years). Flat bar bikes with nice long curvy bar ends offer plenty of riding positions and allow the rider to get quite flat. I much prefer the riding position and balance, especially for around town.

    There are loads of fast-ish hybrids, Avanti Blade, Giant CRX, Orbea thingamies, Scott SUBs, and there is variation within them. The blades seem lighter and more “racing-ish” to me than the Scott SUB. Also a little more twitchy. Also different frame geometries suit different people. I know as much about frame geometries as I do about art, i.e. I know what I like. I don’t know why, but I do. Some bikes just “feel right” and others don’t. I reckon.

    Canberra, Australia • Since Feb 2007 • 147 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Tim Welch,

    but Russell needs to get a load more flexible before he can get to that.

    And at my age, that ain't gonna happen. My cervical vertebrae just won't handle me having my head up like that. I've had trouble with that part of my spine before and I'm not keen to repeat it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18963 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart, in reply to Aidan,

    Some bikes just “feel right” and others don’t. I reckon.

    Totally agree, Aidan. Comfort is everything with bikes and you just have to get around and try them out. Beats me why anyone would buy a bike, sight unseen, from Trademe.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2008 • 660 posts Report Reply

  • Aidan,

    I declare this thread officially jacked.

    Canberra, Australia • Since Feb 2007 • 147 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Welch, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    Comfort is everything with bikes and you just have to get around and try them out. Beats me why anyone would buy a bike, sight unseen, from Trademe

    Yep, I might be a bike shop owner but I started as just an IT geek that liked riding bikes and I fully subscribe to riding bikes before you buy them. These days I get to ride loads of different bikes and some are amazing while others are just completely horrible. A bit like a lot of things in life...

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 34 posts Report Reply

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