Indoor cycling will never fully replace riding outdoors, but the experience of riding inside keeps getting better and better thanks to ongoing improvements to and the spread of smart trainers. Here are six reasons why you should give virtual bike training a try.
Reason #1: Share the Experience
Indoor training doesn’t have to be a lonely experience any more. With a smart trainer, you can virtually ride your bike with friends from all over the world. Participate in group rides or workouts, or even compete in virtual races. Having company may give you just the motivation you need to stay committed to your fitness goals.
Reason #2: Ride Like the Pros
Sure you’ve watched the Tour de France or the Giro d’Italia on television, but have you ever wondered what it’s like to ride Alpe d’Huez or the Gavia? With smart trainers, you can download famous climbs, world championship courses or other classic race routes and then virtually ride them. Many smart trainers will automatically adjust to mimic different gradients and sometimes even route surfaces. It’s a great way to get a better feel for what the pros experience in some of the most iconic races.
Reason #3: Preview Your Upcoming Race Courses
Don’t limit yourself to just downloading and riding famous routes. You can virtually ride on most any route if you have its GPX file. Why not train, for example, on the simulated course on which you plan to compete at the national championships this summer? With a smart trainer, you can do just that, and it’ll be excellent preparation physically and mentally for what you’ll experience come race day.
Reason #4: Train by the Numbers
Smart trainers can give you real time feedback such as your power output, thus enabling you to perform sophisticated workouts per exact power levels prescribed by your coach or your favorite coaching app. You can even switch your smart trainer into ERG mode, and it will automatically adjust resistance so you can stick to those power numbers. You can your smart trainer to keep you more accountable in your workouts and make your training time more effective.
Reason #5: Be More Efficient
Only have a short amount of time to train? No problem – when you’re riding a smart trainer, you pick exactly how long and how hard you want to ride. Kitting up for a smart indoor training session is fast and easy, and you can start and end your session any time, so you’ll never have to worry about being late to get home because you got lost, had a mechanical or underestimated how long your ride would really take.
Reason #6: Mix it Up
Do you struggle to come up with your own workouts or get bored with doing the same ones over and over again? You can connect your smart trainer to a variety of platforms to get access to entire libraries of different workouts. Never do the same workout twice, and your indoor training will stay more interesting for longer.
Serge Pauwels and Louis Meintjes explain their experiences using ROTOR components. Also, Nick Dougall tells you how he helped to develop the 2INPower powermeter.
Serge Pauwels is a veteran of Dimension Data and one of the most highly awarded cyclists in the team. He explains 2018 is his fourth year using ROTOR components and they have been the best years of his career. Serge trusts in the 2INpower powermeter every day in both training and competition and he says that is one of the most reliable powermeters on the market. Power measurement in both training and races are always based on watts and as a result the 2INpower is an indispensable ally.
The South African rider Louis Meintjes is one of the most promising young cyclists from the african continent. Involved in the development of the Q RINGS oval chainrings, he is a strong advocate and it formed an important part is his career evolution: “When you are really working hard, you want to know that you’ve taken every possible step to gain an advantage”. He’s been using the 2INpower powermeter with Q RINGS for the last 3 years and thanks to its reliability, it has become a vital training companion.
Nick Dougall, another of the South African riders in the Dimension Data line-up has been with the team since it’s foundation and is also a lover of the ROTOR brand. Putting ROTOR products to the test at the very highest level opens the feedback loop to allow the development great components to continually innovate and improve. ROTOR’s inspiration is always to invent a product that improves the cyclists experience and compete for podiums at the highest level.
When it’s time to shop for your next pair of road wheels, you’ll find that you have plenty of options. The question is, how do you make sense of them all? In this article, we discuss what key points you should consider ahead of purchasing your next set of wheels.
Wheel and Rim Dimensions
Two key dimensions are important. First, what diameter is your wheel? 700C (622mm) is standard among most road bikes, but some bikes, especially smaller sizes, come with 650C (571mm) wheels. Secondly, what width of tires do you expect to run? You don’t want to run really wide tires on a skinny rim or really fat tires on a skinny rim. Running the correct width rim will ensure that your tire has its optimum profile shape for its best performance.
Be sure to check the manufacturer’s spec for each set of wheels on what tire widths are recommended for any given rim. Tire widths of 21, 23 and 25mm are common on road bikes, but increasingly larger width tires are being routinely spec’ed on road bikes, especially those that are also ridden on gravel roads. Some road bikes and wheels can accommodate up to 40mm tires.
Axle Type and Size
Wheels can attach to road bikes via more traditional quick release skewers or newer thru axles. Your bike’s frame and fork designs will determine which axle type you need for your front and rear wheels.
For either axle type, size does matter: both the length of the axle and its diameter are important. Road bike quick release skewer diameters are consistently 9mm in diameter, and skewer lengths are 100 mm and 130 mm respectively for front and rear, but thru axle skewer diameters are much more variable in sizing options.
Tubed, Tubular or Clincher
Road wheels come in three common types: for use with tires and tubes, for use with tubeless tires and for tubular tires. Racers have traditionally trained on tubed tires and raced on tubular tires, but recent advances in tubeless technology now make it a great option for the road.
Carbon fiber and metal alloy rims are your two most common choices. Carbon fiber rims come in more different shapes and are often lighter, stronger and more aerodynamic, but are usually significantly more expensive. For those using rim brakes, alloy rims are typically a better choice for a wider range of weather conditions, including extremely wet or hot weather.
Wheel design is influenced by factors such as aerodynamic vs conventional rim shapes and number and shape of spokes. Different rims shapes will handle better or worse in windy conditions, and wheels without enough spokes for a given rider weight may be more fragile and more frequently subject to broken spokes. Furthermore, some spokes also give better aerodynamic performance (less drag) than others. It will be much easier to replace the broken spokes that will inevitably occur over time if the wheel’s spokes are a standard size and design vs. proprietary.
Whether or not your bike has rim vs. disc brakes will affect which wheels you pick. If you’re still riding rim brakes, you’ll need to make sure your wheels are rim brake compatible – that is, they have a flat rim side surface that aligns with your rim brakes. Likewise, if you’ve got disc brakes, your new road wheels will need to be outfitted with hubs that can accommodate the kind of disc setup on your bike – such as six-bolt or centerlock.
Good hubs should be well sealed from the elements, easy to service with replaceable parts and give rapid engagement for transferring the power from your pedals efficiently to the wheels.
Nicer wheels are typically lighter, which makes them feel better performance while when you are accelerating or climbing.
All of the above factors influence cost. For example, carbon wheels are typically more expensive than alloy wheels; lighter wheels are typically more expensive than heavier wheels; aero wheels are often more expensive than conventional wheels because of more complicated designs and lower production volumes. When you are shopping for wheels, you’ll be balancing cost vs. all these factors to find the set that best works in a high quality way for you and your budget.
Taking time to adjust your mountain bike suspension will help you get the most out of it on rides. Read on to learn how to set up your suspension. Our advice applies to both front and rear shocks.
The first step is to dial in the preload for your body weight so that you get the proper amount of sag when your suspension is loaded under normal riding conditions. There are two ways to make this adjustment, depending on whether your fork is air sprung or coil sprung.
For air sprung shocks, which are a majority of current shocks, first consult your shock’s manual for guidelines about how much air pressure to put into your shock. Then use a shock pump to add or remove air as needed until it has the recommended amount of pressure. Consider this a good starting point; however, further adjustments may be required.
For coil sprung shocks, also check the manufacturer’s recommendations for your rider weight, and then swap out coil springs as needed per this recommendation.
For both types of shocks, test your setting by measuring your sag. Push the rubber wiper or O-ring down against the shock’s seal. Then softy climb onto your bike, being careful not to make it bounce. It’s easiest to have someone hold your bike for you, but if no helper is available, you can lean against an adjacent wall or table for support and balance during this process. Next, stand up on level pedals and weight your bars and pedals like you would if you were riding in this position. Now gently climb back off and check how much displacement there was of the rubber wiper(s). Recommendations of 15-30% of sag are typical but vary depending on how much travel your shock has and what type of riding you’ll be doing. It’s best to check the recommendations for your specific shock(s).
If you set initial sag to be more than recommended, you’ll run out of travel relatively sooner and perhaps “bottom out” your shock prematurely. If you set initial sag to be less, you may not be taking full advantage of the travel your shock does have. It’s common for cross country riders to set up their bikes with less sag (percentage-wise of total travel) than downhillers since cross country riders tend to want to maximize pedalling efficiency and downhillers tend to want to maximize their bike’s ability to soak up bigger hits.
Compression and Rebound Damping
Compression damping is about how fast your shock compresses when loaded. This is often controlled by adjusting the size of the hole through which your shock’s fluid can pass during the shock’s compression. Many shocks have a knob for adjusting compression.
Rebound damping affects how fast your shock extends back toward full length as it’s unloaded. Just like with compression, many shocks have a knob for adjusting rebound.
Compression and rebound knobs often have + and – symbols on them. The + symbol indicates that there will be more damping (slower action of the shock to compress or rebound) while the – symbol means there will be less damping for (faster action of the shock).
The best way to test compression and rebound settings is to ride you mountain bike repeatedly over a fixed section of trail while trying out different settings with each pass to see which feel the best to you in conditions most like what you typically ride. Exact compression and rebound settings are a matter of personal preference.
In general, if you set damping too high, your shock(s) will feel sluggish and not responsive enough. Likewise, the opposite is true; if you set damping too low, your shock will feel too springy.
Effects of Temperature, Rider Weight and Time
When you initially set up your sag, do so while wearing a pack of equivalent weight to what you normally do so that your setup reflects real riding conditions. If you gain or lose significant weight, recheck your shock’s settings.
Because temperature and pressure are directly related, your experience of riding your shock will vary with temperature. You may need to re-adjust your settings if you take your bike out to ride in significantly colder or hotter conditions.
Over time, forks tend to lose air pressure, and damping knobs get bumped. Once you’ve found your ideal settings, write them down, then periodically check them for consistency. You may periodically need to add more air or tweak a knob slightly.
Your bottom bracket isn’t the most exciting part of your road bike, which makes it easy to ignore until something is wrong with it. However, it’s a very important part of your bike, so in this article, we tell you a little more about this essential yet relatively uncelebrated component.
Your bottom bracket connects your cranks to your bike in such a way that they can rotate freely as you pedal and put power into the drivetrain. It is located in the bottom bracket shell which is where your frame’s down tube, seat tube and chain stays all come together. A bottom bracket typically contains bearings that enable the crank’s spindle to rotate. Shell and spindle widths vary depending on the type of bottom bracket.
What’s the big deal?
If your bottom bracket is working well, you can pedal smoothly with minimal resistance. That means the energy you apply to the pedals gets transferred efficiently to the bike.
Looking back over time, there have probably been as many different bottom bracket designs as there are bike brands; and some bike brands have even been known to come up with their own proprietary bottom bracket designs.
Modern bottom brackets tend to come in two general types: threaded and press fit.
Threaded bottom brackets
Threaded bottom brackets can only be used with frames that have a threaded bottom bracket shell. This is because threaded bottom brackets must be screwed into the frame. These bottom bracket’s bearings are typically held in place within cups.
What’s tricky about threaded bottom brackets is that not all threaded bottom brackets are created equal, which means that different types of threaded bottom brackets can’t just be swapped for other types.
For example, two common threaded types are Italian or English. Both sides of an Italian standard bottom bracket are right threaded; whereas English standard bottom brackets have opposite threading, like your pedals do. The advantage to the English design is that the drive side does not come loose through the forces of normal pedaling action like it tends to on the Italian version.
The good news about threaded bottom brackets is that they are relatively easy to install and maintain.
Also known as threadless bottom brackets, press fit bottom brackets get, well, pressed into your frame’s bottom bracket shell instead of threaded in. They are effectively cartridge bearings pushed into the shell, and their design often allows thicker crank spindles, which some riders experience as stiffer and more efficient.
Some examples include BB90/95, PF86/92 and BB30. BBright and BB386. Special tools may be required to press the bottom bracket cups into your frame during installation and likewise to remove them again should you ever need to do so.
Square taper bottom brackets
This once very popular type of bottom bracket combines the bearings of the bottom bracket and the crank’s axle together into one removeable part. The cranks affix onto two square tapers on either side of the bottom bracket. Square taper bottom brackets are effectively a specific kind of threaded bottom bracket. They are frequently found on older, vintage bikes, but are still on some more contemporary bikes.
What can go wrong
When your bottom bracket is poorly adjusted, it may develop play or a wobble, causing less efficient transfer of energy from you to your bike.
Another common problem is that when bearings get contaminated with dirt and water or wear out, there is more friction in turning the cranks, so it feels harder to pedal. Sometimes the bearings actually feel rough when you spin them; other times, you may hear and/or feel a click or two with each pedal stroke, especially under higher loads.
It is important to maintain your bottom bracket. If you have a threaded bottom bracket, remove it periodically and refresh the anti-seize compound that keeps it from getting permanently stuck in your frame.
And no matter what type of bottom bracket, check your bearings regularly to keep them running smooth. Loose bearings in some types of bottom brackets can been taken apart and cleaned and re-greased; whereas in cartridge-type bottom brackets, you’ll simply replace the cartridge bearings when they go bad.
You can make your bottom bracket last longer by carefully cleaning your bike. Never spray high pressure water directly at and around your bottom bracket as it will eventually penetrate seals compromise the integrity of the bearings.
Lots of different bottom bracket standards mean there are lots of different tools for installing and removing them. If you don’t have the proper tools and skills, you may need to take your bike to your local shop to help you fix any bottom bracket issues.