Useful APPs For Cyclists

Useful APPs For Cyclists

Today, Mobile apps for people who ride bikes have almost become a necessity for any leisurely ride, training session or competition. It is completely normal to have one or two apps running during a ride; we have become “addicts” to comparing data with our closest “enemies”. There are tons to choose form for Android and IOS, but we want to show you the most useful ones to get the most out of the data from your rides.

1.ROTOR Power

If you are fortunate enough to have one of our INpower DM or 2INpower DM power meters, you know that you have the ROTOR Power app at your disposal for both Android and IOS. Through them you can monitor all your data from your rides; from pedal watts, to heart rate, the route based on the GPS… Also, if you use the Q ring OCP chainrings the app will help you find the best OCP position (Optimum Chainrings Position) for your pedal stroke, according to an analysis of your power output. And if your smartphone has altimeter and pressure, you can also store all data relevant to the accumulated altitude, climbed, descended, etc… You can also see in real time, your pedal cycle, as well as the instant power output at any given part of your pedal stroke. It is free and can be downloaded from ROTOR´s website.

2.Strava

Undoubtedly the most famous of all the bicycle related Apps, or at least the most extended one. Strava gains one million new users every 40 days. One of its strong points is that as well as being able to use it for mountain biking and road riding, it is compatible with an uncountable amount of other sports and various accessories. In fact, you can use Strava through over 300 types of sports devices. This way, if you have a Smartwatch, or cycle computer, there is no need to take your Smartphone with you. Once home, you can transfer the data via the app used on your device, and it will sync automatically with your Strava app without having to do anything. The app is free for both android and IOS, and there are two types of user profile, a free version that allows you to access to the basic options, and a paid Premium account which gives you more options to choose from. With either one of them, as well as your Smartphone, you can view your routes and training data on your laptop or tablet. One of the other strong points of Strava, and probably the most recognised, is that you can view and ride routes that have been uploaded by other users and try to compete with them, And if you like, you can create your own routes and try to compete with the rest of the users on them. The interface is very easy to use, and even with the free version, there are a lot of options available to use. You can visit their website for more information.

3.Zwift

If you follow the social media accounts of any of the professional cyclists from the international circuit, we are sure you have seen more than one of them training in front of their TV with Zwift on. Zwift is compatible with almost all of the static trainers, and you can even use your own avatar with which you can train and compete with other users. You can choose to ride virtual roads, use scheduled training, depending on the level of exercise chosen, or compete online with a multitude of events on a global level. It is without doubt one of the most entertaining apps when there is no other way than staying at home to train. If you visit their website, you will see a free one week trial, but if you end up wanting more, you will need to pay the monthly fee of $14.99 USD. It is compatible with ANT+, BLE, as well as most PCs, Macs and Android and IOS devices. It is important to check what you need on their website, depending on the device you will be running it on, as well as extra accessories you may use like powermeters, heart rate monitors etc.

4.Relive

Undoubtedly Relive takes the title of one of the most visual and attractive apps that any cyclist can use. It is compatible with a lot of systems and devices such as Garmin, Strava, Apple (Health), Endomondo. With a software focused on the use with a variety of sports, the best thing about Relive is the video that it creates for you at the end of a ride, with the mountain passes, the maps, the participants, the photos you have taken… It comes into its own when you have been part of a group ride and everyone has the app, because the video will show the positions of each of the members in each moment and their final times. It is not the app that will give you the most technical data of each ride or training session, but is does stand out from the rest with a very visual and super attractive interface. The application is free and available on the Relive website for both Android and IOS.

5.Endomondo

With a base very similar to Strava in terms of the data it offers and the ability to use it with a variety of sports, Endomondo was one of the pioneers in the field of training apps. It has a very complete interface that offers tons of parameters from your ride (map, average speed, altitude, maximum outputs, etc…), but its strong point is the feedback from a virtual trainer through audio. You mark the objectives of the training, and a personal trainer will provide you with information on how the training is going, as well as encouraging phrases to motivate you through your headphones or Smartphone speaker. In addition, by having real-time tracking, your friends can follow you when training and send you direct messages of encouragement. As in many similar applications, Endomondo is compatible with loads of fitness accessories and you can also use it as a social network with other users through messages and an online community. In 2015 the app was bought by the giant Under Armour, that is why you will see it linked to the brand. It is free and available for both Android and IOS. There is also a Premium version if you want to opt for more features within the app and the web. You can get more info on their website.

6.Training Peaks

Probably the most professional and effective app if you want to keep to a strict training plan. It is valid for both personal and professional use. The app is more focused on keeping track of and planning your training, more than following real time data. You can structure your training by days, weeks or months. On the Training peaks website you can download a free trial, but it is only valid for 14 days. After this you will have to sign up and pay a minimum monthly fee of $9.92USD (if you pay for a whole year). If you would prefer to have a monthly subscription the price is $19.95USD (fees may vary from country to country). For personal trainers the price varies from $19 and $49 USD as well as an initial payment of $99USD. The price is high, but as an athlete it allows you access to a multitude of training plans for cycling, triathlon, running etc… This way it will be incredibly easy to establish your daily goals. It is also compatible with quite a few static trainers and accessories.

5 Advantages of Hydraulic Gear Shifting

5 Advantages of Hydraulic Gear Shifting

There are three ways to change gears on bikes: using mechanical, electrical or hydraulic systems. Which is used on any given bike is all about how the power is transmitted from the shift lever(s) to move one (or both) derailleur(s) among the available gears. Pulling on cables to mechanically change gears is the most common and familiar method, but the use of both electricity and fluids to switch gears is becoming more popular.

In this article we take a look at the advantages of hydraulic gear shifting. A great example of such a system is ROTOR´s 1×13, a recently launched, state-of-the-art, 13-speed drivetrain for use on road, gravel, cyclocross or mountain bikes.

Low Maintenance

Perhaps the greatest advantage to hydraulic shifting is ease of maintenance. Hydraulic shift systems use an intentional design of fluid moving within a closed system to create changes in pressure that in turn create movement of a derailleur to shift gears.

Yes, like any braking or gearing system, it does take time to initially install and set up a hydraulic shifting system, but once you do, there is very little further caretaking to be done. Gone are the days of having to adjust your derailleur cable tension to accommodate the inevitable cable stretch for mechanical gear shifting systems over the first days and weeks worth of riding.

No Batteries

Also gone is the need to have to maintain yet another battery. We’ve all heard stories of batteries in electrical shifting systems dying mid-ride because they inopportunely run out of juice. With hydraulic shifting, you never have to remember to charge or replace your battery.

Precision Performance

Ever notice how mechanical shifting degrades over time as water and grit contaminate cables and housing and cause corrosion? Or how they don’t work when they get wet and then are subjected to freezing conditions? With hydraulic shifting, those concerns no longer apply. Hydraulic shifting is unaffected by wet conditions, and it works well over a wide range of cold and hot temperatures. Likewise, because hydraulic systems are relatively simple in their design, they are both efficient and precise in shifting feel relative to mechanical systems.

Tried and Tested Technology

Hydraulic systems, which have long been used for applications like vehicle brakes, airplanes and construction and mining equipment, made their debut on bikes along with the development of disc brakes. Cyclists who experienced early hydraulic mountain bike disc brakes will remember that they came with a lot of issues, although those were eventually addressed as the technology was further developed and improved over time. Fast forward to today, and hydraulic braking is now ubiquitous on mountain bikes and quickly becoming the new standard for road and gravel bikes, too. And while hydraulic actuation is relatively new to bike shifting systems, engineers already have decades of design experience in having brought hydraulic technology to bicycle brakes.

Early Adoption

Switching over to hydraulic gear shifting soon will put you on the cutting edge of the latest bike technology; you’ll be an early adopter and thus different from most other cyclists. But don’t wait,  because we’re sure that hydraulic shifting will catch on quickly, so you won’t be alone off the front for very long.

Cross Country vs Marathon: Key Bike Differences

Cross Country vs Marathon: Key Bike Differences

Racing your mountain bike in cross country (XC) and marathon (XCM) events may seem quite similar at first, but taking a closer look at both disciplines reveals key differences in terms of ideal training and equipment. In this article, we focus on the best bike setups for both and how it all comes down to balancing speeds vs. comfort.

Cross country or Marathon

Let’s begin with explaining what we mean by cross country and marathon. A typical cross country mountain bike race involves multiple laps around a fixed course, mostly or entirely off-road and with a significant amount of singletrack. Laps at the pro World Cup level are between four and six kilometers although they may be longer for standard amateur events. Most cross country events last between 1.5 and 1.75 hours.

Marathon mountain bike racing, on the other hand, tends to cover a course that is either one big lap starting and finishing in the same place or traversing a point-to-point route. Marathon race distances can vary widely from anywhere between 60 and 160 km, and it’s not uncommon for marathon stages to last between 2.5 and 6 hours, depending on category and terrain.

Suspension

Marathon racers are more likely to compete on bikes with full suspension and more travel. Because marathoners cover greater distances over trails that are often more remote and get less traffic, riders have to deal with more varied conditions and more total physical abuse for any given race. Hence, comfort is a greater factor in deciding bike setup. Kilometer after kilometer, the physical toll of racing on natural surface or backcountry trails adds up, and having both front and rear suspension can take the edge off, significantly decreasing overall fatigue from all the jostling.

Cross country racers are only out there for one or two hours, so it’s easier to prioritize and performance and handle the extra abuse of racing on a hardtail for the shorter duration. Plus hardtails are on average lighter than full suspension bikes; thus pedaling a super lightweight hardtail up steep, punchy cross country course climbs can be a big advantage over pushing a heavier full suspension bike, especially at fast cross country race paces. And that climbing advantage often holds even factoring the extra jostling on descents and technical sections.

That said, depending on the course, cross country racers may still sometimes opt for full suspension for greater comfort. It can be the best choice for more technical courses where the weight penalty is worth the tradeoff because while riders may suffer a bit more on the climbs, they can flow faster over sections with roots, rocks and drops. A typical cross country racer will use full suspension with 100 to 120mm of front and rear travel whereas a typical marathoner will often go for 120mm.

Gear Selection

When it comes to gears, cross country racers can get away with narrower gear ranges and larger gears in general. In part, this is because cross country races are shorter, so racers can power through the tough spots in a higher gear and not have to worry about the fatigue that will be felt a few hours later. Cross country races also have a higher average speed, so bigger gears are needed to be competitive.

In marathons, which are more likely to have longer climbs and descents, a wider range of gears is needed to sustain ideal leg speed and bike speed over the long haul. Marathons tend to be held in mountainous terrain, which means longer and steeper climbs and descents. It can be less fatiguing overall to spin a low gear up a long climb before switching to a high gear to fly down lengthy descents.

Drivetrains

Fortunately, riders who use ROTOR’s Q rings have an advantage no matter what the discipline. Q rings help marathoners and cross country racers alike get the most out of each pedal stroke by optimizing when and how power is applied from their legs through the cranks and into the drivetrain. Whether you have just one bike or two separate bikes to set up to race cross country and/or marathon, you can’t go wrong using Q rings, and their design makes it easy to switch out chainring sizes to that which will best suit whatever your next event is.

Maintenance Tips for Your Disc Brakes

Maintenance Tips for Your Disc Brakes

Disc brakes are fundamental on mountain bikes nowadays, and they are becoming an unstoppable force in the present and future of road bikes.

If you ride an MTB, road bike or both, we want to give you the best tips to help you with the maintenance, so your brakes will work flawlessly from the very start.

During the last two years, the battle to introduce disc brakes into professional road racing has been difficult, with team and individual cyclists in favour and others against. It is a question of time before disc brakes are embraced fully for the benefits they offer. Here at ROTOR we know this, which is why we have been offering our disc brake system for road bikes that is integrated into our transmission system called UNO for a number of years, which we have developed in conjunction with the German braking specialist Magura, to offer you the RT8. For those of you that do not use our system, the following tips can still be used with any disc brake system, Simple and easy to perform, they will help you keep your braking system working perfectly from day one.

1.Brake pad and rotor cleaning

This is rule number one. Keeping the disc brake pads and rotors clean is essential for a brake to work correctly, and offer the best stopping power available. For the brake pads, you will only need to remove them from the caliper, and give them a light sanding with fine grit sandpaper, just enough to remove the shiny glaze from the surface of the pad. After a while, pads can become crystallized and glaze over, this causes brake squeal and a notable decrease in braking power. Lightly sanding them down will return the pad to its original condition, removing any impurities and improving braking power. In the case of the brake rotors, use a designated brake cleaner for bicycles, or rubbing alcohol. Using a clean rag, clean the rotor of any pad residue, oil or impurities. Check the surface for any nicks or sharp edges, if found, lightly sand them down to remove them, offering a nice, uniform braking surface. Also check the disc rotor is straight, if not, using a designated tool (never with your bare hands as this could contaminate the braking surface) straighten it until no rubbing occurs.

2.Check the pistons and fitting hardwear.

When removing the braks pads for cleaning, it is a good idea to check and clean the pistons at the same time. With the pads removed, carefully pull the brake lever, allowing the pistons to move 2-3mm. Be careful not to pull too hard, or you risk the pistons coming out of the caliper completely, which we then need re-bleeding and most likely the expertise of a qualified mechanic. Clean the inside of the caliper, then with the correct tool (never a screwdriver, as this can damage the pistons) push the pistons back to their original position and re-fit the brake pads. Once this is done, check all bolts and fittings to make sure everything is correctly tightened, go over the disc rotor bolts, and tighten if necessary, a loose disc rotor can be dangerous under braking. Lastly, check for any leaks in the system, especially around the hose fittings at the caliper and brake lever.

3.Brake bleeding

If you notice that your brake lever is feeling spongy, braking power has decreased or the brake lever travel is more than usual whilst braking, it may be time to bleed the hydraulic system. It is important to have the correct bleed kit and that you use the correct type of hydraulic fluid recommended by the manufacturer. In ROTOR‘s case, and the RT8 model, it uses a mineral based oil, and when you purchase the brake kit, it will come with a designated bleed kit. Using the incorrect hydraulic fluid can damage the seals in the braking system and cause catastrophic failure of the brakes. Even if the braking system work perfectly, we recommend bleeding them and changing the brake fluid once a year, This will help keep the system in perfect condition and give you a constant brake feel and power.

If you do not know how to bleed a braking system, then we suggest you take your bike to your nearest qualified bicycle mechanic for the work to be carried out.

4.Brake pad and rotor life

Both the Brake pads and rotors have a wear limit, In the case of the brake pads, you can easily check the wear by a simple visual check every now and then, never wait until the pads are completely worn out to change them, as they could wear down to the metal part and cause irreversible damage to the brake rotor, which can be dangerous under heaving braking. Brake rotors usually have a minimum rotor thickness to aid you with checking the amount of wear they have, and replacing them if necessary.

5.Noises and vibrations

To avoid unwanted noises and vibrations in the braking system, it is important that all bolts and fittings are tightened to the recommended torque settings. Regularly clean the brake pads and rotors. Check the QR levers are closed properly and tightened on both wheels, and that nothing is loose which could cause vibrations. Some manufactures recommend a light coating of high-temp grease between the brake pad backing and the pistons, to avoid pad vibration under braking. This must be applied sparingly and carefully to avoid and contamination of the pads or brake rotors, which could in turn cause loss of braking power and possibly cause an accident. There is also the option of changing the brake pad compound, from organic to synthetic or vice versa this all depends on the type of terrain you will be riding, and the weather conditions.

Essential Tools For Your MTB Rides

Essential Tools For Your MTB Rides

No matter how well looked after your bike is, going on a ride without taking the basic tools and spares is a risk that shouldn’t be taken. There are currently many different multi-tools available on the market that are compact and lightweight, and in most cases will provide you with the correct tool to get you home. Here we will advise you on the basic tools needed for the everyday mountain bike.

1.Innertubes, tyre levers and puncture repair kits.

The number one spare. It does not matter whether you have tubeless tyres installed. A damaged tyre is, unfortunately, all too common, and no tubeless system will save you from a sidewall tear. Remember to make sure that it is the correct size for your wheel, and that the valve is compatible with your rims. To change an innertube, in most cases, tyre levers are needed especially with the more rigid tubeless tyres. Buy a good quality set, preferably not metal, as these can damage and mark your rims. Cheap tyre levers will break easily and will leave you stranded. A good set of self-adhesive patches will allow you to seal any tear or hole in the tyre before installing the tube. If you are planning on a short distance ride, then one extra tube will be sufficient. If you are planning a long ride, then take an extra one just in case.

2.Multitools

Together with innertubes, this is probably used the most during your rides. It can allow you to make small adjustments to your transmission, brakes or ride position and can also help you to tighten any number of bolts that can work loose during an outing, or replace a whole gear cable if need be. Choose a model that has the at least the following bits; Torx T25, 2, 3, 4, 5,6 and 8mm allen keys (this will allow you to tighten some pedals and crank bolts). Flat headed and Phillips screwdrivers. If possible with a chain breaker as well, as long as it is good quality. Remember that the more tools it has, the heavier and less compact it will be. This will depend on your needs. Always buy well known brands and the highest quality you can afford. Cheaper, lower quality units can break easily, or can damage the bolt heads you are working on.

3.Tubeless repair kit

Even if you carry a spare innertube, always take a tubeless repair kit with you. Most punctures can be repaired by the sealant in the tyres, but some are too large to seal and will need repairing. There are many options to choose from, and all are compact enough to take with you on a ride. Remember that the rubber strips used to repair the tyres can deteriorate in hot weather, and will be harder to use if they are. Periodically check the kit before rides to make sure everything is in order and nothing needs to be replaced. It is a good idea to practice repairing an old tyre, if you have one, as this will make the process much easier and quicker when on a ride.

4.Co2 Cartridges

Whether you have tubeless or not, Co2 cartridges will allow you to repair a flat tyre quickly and easily, with less effort needed than conventional pumps. Always carry at least two with you at all times, and the larger sized versions. It is also important to carry a release valve, to allow you to inflate tyres safely, and close it if any air is left in the cartridge. Like the tubeless repair kits mentioned above, practice using them at home before heading out, as they can be wasted if not used correctly.

5.Chain Quicklink

Another common repair is a broken chain. To be able to correctly repair one, you will also need a chain splitter to remove the damaged/broken links. Before purchasing, make sure it is 100% compatible with your transmission, both in speeds as well as brand. It is also important to install it in the correct direction (especially with 12sp transmissions). If you have never installed one before, look at the tutorials on the internet that show you how to install one correctly. The good thing about quicklinks is that they are easy and quick to fit, and allow you to get home, even with a shorter chain that recommended.

6.Chain splitter

To be able to fit a quicklink and repair your broken/damaged chain you will need a chain splitter. This could be already part of your multi tool, if not, then it is recommended that you carry one with you at all times. Invest a bit more in a decent model, or it will not last you long. Always check that it is compatible with your chain and/or transmission before purchasing.

7.Hand Pump

Even if you carry Co2 cartridges, a good hand pump is recommended to finish inflating your tyre to the correct pressure, or if you run out of air cartridges. Here the same principle applies, buy a good quality hand pump, even if it costs more, it will be easier to inflate to higher pressures. The size of the pump will depend on whether you will be carrying it in a bag or mounted to your bike. Obviously, the bigger the pump, the easier it will be to inflate your tyres.

8.Foldable knife

If you have enough space, it is good practice to take a compact foldable knife, which could be useful in certain scenarios. There are many sizes available, some which almost take no space up at all. If you are planning a multi day trip, and will be carrying more luggage, other models can include pliers, like the Leatherman brand. These can be very helpful in more complicated repairs.

9.Extras

There are small extras that are not exactly the tools that are sometimes needed. Plastic cable ties are always recommended, a spare gear cable, these all weigh little and do not take up much room, a small first aid kit with at least a disinfectant and latex gloves, a few plasters, and self adhesive patches as mentioned before, and always take some cash with you. We recommend to leave a small amount of money in your bag, this way you will always have it at hand in an emergency. Another idea is to carry with you a medical note of any allergies to medicines, or medical history that may be important to know in case of an accident, as well as blood type and emergency contact details.

Tips for Summer Cycling

Tips for Summer Cycling

For many of us, summer is the best time of year to ride. It has reliably warm weather and long days, which means more opportunities for cycling on and off-road. We suggest the following tips for staying safe and having fun during your summer pedaling excursions.

Drink Plenty of Fluids

Staying hydrated is often the biggest challenge of summer riding, particularly for those who live in hot and/or humid climates. It’s common to consume at least one bottle of fluid per hour when it’s hot, but exact amounts will vary per person and with temperature. If you will need more water than you can carry with you for any given ride length, plan a route that passes a convenience store, spring, visitor’s center or other location where you can refill bottles and/or purchase a cold drink.

Proper electrolyte balance of elements like sodium, potassium and calcium is important to keep your body functioning properly. You sweat out electrolytes during exercise, so it’s a good idea to take your favorite electrolyte-rich beverage along in one of your bottles during hot rides. You’ll be able to replace those electrolytes as you ride and will be less likely to cramp.

Stay Cool

Beat the heat by riding during cooler times of the day. Set your alarm and get up early and ride so that you’re done before the heat starts to build, or wait until the heat wanes in the evening. If it’s hot until really late, charge up your lights and head out for a night ride.

If you have no choice but to ride when it’s hot, consider choosing routes with more shade. If you start to overheat, take breaks in the shade. Simply being out of the direct sunlight while exerting yourself can make a hot day feel much cooler and reduce the likelihood of getting heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Protect Yourself from the Sun

Sun exposure damages skin and causes sunburn, and we all know that too much time in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer. The best protection is to cover yourself up against the sun. For example, consider wearing sun sleeves or a lightweight jacket to cover your arms, a bandanna to cover your neck and a cycling cap to cover your head under your helmet vents.

If you have to ride in the sun but it’s too hot or humid for extra layers, apply sunscreen and try to avoid sun exposure during mid-day hours when the sun is most intense. Be sure to re-apply sunscreen frequently as you sweat it off.

Bring the Essentials

Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean it will always be hot. If you’re riding in the mountains, it can be cooler at higher elevations, especially in the mornings and evenings, and if you’re riding in some climates, you may have to deal with frequent summer thunderstorms. Bring a jacket so that you’re prepared for rain or cooler temperatures.

As with any ride, don’t forget a spare tube, tire levers, pump, patch kit, multi-tool and snacks. If you’ll be riding somewhere with mobile service, also bring your phone so you can call for assistance in the event of an emergency.

Watch Out for Bugs and Snakes

Snakes like summer, too, so if you’re riding somewhere they are prevalent, keep an eye out, especially for poisonous varieties – you’ll want to give them plenty of space. While it’s more common to see snakes in the woods, they sometimes hang out on warm pavement as evening temperatures cool, so you’ll want to look out for them on the road, too.

Bee, wasp and yellow jacket stings are more likely to happen in the summer, so if you’re allergic, bring an oral antihistamine like Benadryl and/or an Epinephrine Auto-Injector so that you can manage an allergic reaction. If you’re riding in a climate with ticks and/or mosquitos, consider using bug spray prior to your ride, and check for ticks afterward to reduce your chances of contracting tick-borne illnesses.