Understanding Bicycle Types

Bicycling is one of the most popular activities these days. It is very popular in most countries, and it is popular to all people of both gender and of all ages. Indeed, it is an activity that is enjoyed universally, figuratively speaking. After all, it is a pretty effective way to exercise. After hours of cycling, you are able to burn off a lot of your belly fats, you are able to travel miles, and you are also doing your part to save our mother earth.

However, to get the most out of cycling it’s important you find the right bicycle for you. It’s important to understand that there are many types of bicycles, and each type is generally designed for specific purposes.

In this article, we are going to discuss the main types of bicycles, and we will see where your lifestyle and your exercising preferences fit.

Road bikes

As the name implies, road bikes are bikes specifically designed for concrete and asphalt roads. These are slender, light, and thin bikes designed primarily for speed. Road bikes are not designed to be heavy; they do not need to be.  As a matter of fact, road bikes need to be light in order for them to be speedy. The tires of the road bikes are thin and light, too. They need to be. Concrete and asphalt eats away rubber. Thin tires make sure that there is not too much contact between the rubber and the hot pavement. Furthermore, the thin tires make for easier movement and increased maneuverability. These two are important in busy city roads where there is a lot of traffic.

Basically, the signature design of the road bikes is that they are meant primarily for speed. Everything about it is intended for this purpose: the sleek frame, thin tires, and even the positioning of the driver. If one observes carefully, a road bike driver has his top body forward. This is for comfort, but it is more for aerodynamic reasons.

Road bikes are distinguished from other bikes through two important features. First are the flat-bar handlebars. These handlebars allow riders to ride in an upright position. If the rider wishes to just stroll around or slow down, these handlebars are generally preferred. Most riders also find these more comfortable because of the body positioning that it allows. The second signature feature is the drop-down bar. Basically, the drop-down handlebars is what isolates the road bikes from the other bikes because these allows the driver to take a reclining position, thereby increasing energy efficiency, and, thus, maximizing speed.

Mountain bikes

mountain bikeMountain bikes are bigger and more heavily built that the road bikes. After all, as the name implies, mountain bikes are not designed for use in the pavement. Instead, mountain bikes are meant to challenge the raw forces of the natural grounds. Mountain bikes have full suspension; this ensures comfort even in the most uncomfortable terrain.

Mountain bikes can handle rocky plains, jagged hills, dirt trails, and even semi-dense forests. In order to have these capabilities, the bikes are designed with a heavy and strong body to absorb severe punishments, they also have excellent braking systems which are critical for mountain travels, and they have thick rubber tires to ensure that the bike has enough hold on the ground, however inconsistent that specific ground might be.

There are two general categories of mountain bikes: frontal suspension, and full suspension bikes. Frontal suspension bikes are significantly cheaper than full suspension and offer less comfort.

Recreational bikes

Recreational bikes are also known as hybrid bikes. These bikes are typically favored by individuals who are new to bicycling. Generally, most individuals think that these hybrid bikes possess the impressive features of both road and mountain bikes. Well, hybrid bikes do have some of the important features of the two, but only to a limited extent. Basically, you can use these bikes on the road, and they are equally comfortable off the road.

However, if you are into more specialized biking, you will realize that this hybrid bike falls short of your standards. They may be useable on the pavement, but they do not handle as well as the road bikes. As a matter of fact, using a hybrid might not be a smart idea to enter a very busy traffic.

Women’s bikes

Feminists might say that certain bike manufacturers have gender bias. The truth of the matter is, the physiology of men differ from that of women. As such, bike makers have designed bikes which are more proportionate to the physiological features of women. More specifically, these bikes are a tad shorter than the typical men’s bikes.   Furthermore, mountain and road bikes have versions for females.

So, we’ve summarized the general categories of bikes. In addition, there are other types of bikes that you will see in the bike stores but we’ll save those details for a subsequent article.

Guide to Cycling Helmets

Putting on a cycling helmet is not really an issue of fashion or fad, it is an issue of safety and well-being. In many countries, wearing a helmet is not compulsory. As a matter of fact, less than half of the states in the US require the wearing of cycling helmets while on the road.

Basically, the reason why bikers are not really required to have a helmet, except for racing, is that biking or cycling in general is not necessarily considered dangerous by all . After all, the manual-powered machine is very light, and it is not very fast.

Still, it would not do any one of us any harm if we take extra precaution. After all, the slightest misfortune can bring us all kinds of accidents – especially those that we do not really expect. Indeed, a basic helmet on our heads can be the difference between life and death.

Why do we need a helmet?

So, why do we need a helmet?  There are several sound reasons. First, even the smallest fall in the smoothest and most paved roads can cause brain damage. Roads might be paved, but there can be debris on them or there can be cracks or just about anything which can cause us to trip over while travelling at 15 mph on our bike. The speed itself might not sound scary, but if you hit the pavement head first, it would certainly sound horrific.

Second, there are some states that require the use of helmet. In these states it’s not even a choice, you need to wear a helmet no questions asked.

Getting in trouble with the law because of not wearing helmets is actually the least of the reasons why we need to wear a helmet. Basically, you need to clearly see the advantages of wearing one.

According to studies, every biker is bound to meet an accident. Surveys say that bikers encounter accidents once every four and a half miles that they travel on their bikes. We cannot control accidents (that is why they are called as such), and we can never control how those accidents turn out. More often than not, you would dive head first to the ground in that unfortunate event. According to that same study, close to 80% of biking deaths involve head trauma. In other words, those who died were typically not wearing protective helmets.

How does a helmet work?

Helmets are made from a combination of thick and durable material including hard plastic and several layers of stiff foam. The external shell of the helmet which is most conspicuous is the plastic. It is not ordinary plastic; rather, it is something that is designed and created to be able to withstand intense abuse. Some modern helmets are made from Kevlar, some are from carbon fiber. The latter is actually lighter than typical plastic, but it is far more durable.  Of course, cycling helmets are much lighter and less sturdy than a typical motorcycle helmet.

The internal part of the helmet is commonly made from expanded polystyrene (EPS). When a helmet made from this material crushes, as the name implies, the foam expands, protecting the head of the biker. The drawback of this material is that it does not go back to its original shape. In other words, once crushed, it cannot be used again.

Another material used is the expanded polypropylene (EPU). This does the same thing as the EPS, but it can be crushed over and over again (not that crushing yourself on purpose is encouraged). Of course the EPU is far less common precisely because it is far more expensive. Also, bikers know that care is still better than any expensive helmet.

How can you buy the right helmet?

There are several pointers that can help you. First, be careful with helmets that have too many vents. The vents, while they are helpful in keeping your head cool, also compromises room for the foam. In other words, this means less foam and less protection.

aero helmetThere are also the “Aero” helmets. These are helmets that are extremely aerodynamically designed. The speed bonus it gives, however, is not even slightly more noticeable than with an average helmet. And, in an event of an accident, the aero helmet can snag and cause even more devastating brain injury, thanks to the protruding aero design at the rear of this helmet.

Basically, the selection of the helmet design is the selection of fashion over safety. Those which are more fashionable will look good, but will not offer that much protection. Those which are not so very stylish will offer the needed head protection, but you may not like its overall appeal. The choice is yours.

Here’s a nice video on how to fit the helmet:

Finally, you need to make sure that the helmet that you want to buy has a sticker that says it is approved by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The CPSC is a commission that promotes standards in all products being marketed in the country. A worthy endorsement indeed.

Cycling Clothing Guide

Cycling is a fun way to move around. It is even a better way to actually keep fit. However, it can only be fun if you have the right equipment, the right knowledge, the right attitude, and the right attire.

Let us discuss about attire. Basically, fashion in cycling is only a secondary priority. Your attire is of utmost important not because of fashion or fad, but purely because of the fact that the entire activity depends largely on it.  There’s also a lot to think about: top, bottoms, socks, skinsuits, vests, jackets, undershirts, sunglasses, helmet, gloves and a whole bunch more accessories.

Cyclists must understand that there are different kinds of attire that they can wear and this attire or clothing is uniquely created for specific purposes.  Of course, modern cycling clothing is fashionable. They are made to be pleasing both the body of the wearer and the eyes of the seer.

However, choosing the right clothing for cycling is very crucial. If you pick the wrong attire, you might end up being devoured by exhaustion and dehydration earlier than normal.

At this juncture, we are going to discuss some helpful pointers on the selection of the appropriate clothing choice for cycling. The core thing that all cyclists must remember is that there is no ‘one-clothing-to-rule-them-all’ motto in the selection of attire. Basically, there are different cycling attires that you need to have depending on the existing environmental conditions.

Summer wear

During summer, things can get pretty hot – literally. As such, you have to choose the clothing attire which is best suited for this season. Generally, summer attires are those which are light-colored and thin. They need to be light-colored because light colors reflect light better than dark colors. Dark colors, actually absorb the light coming from the sun, making things even more uncomfortable for you. This is one of the reasons why some new cyclists feel exhausted even with just a few minutes of cycling under the heat of the summer sun.

bike jerseyYou need to have attire which is light and thin, something that is not made of modern nylon or even silk. Why? Well, these aforementioned fabrics are light, and they do not absorb perspiration. Basically, they keep the heat of the sun out, and they keep your perspiration out. Keeping your sweat out is an issue of health because it can actually cause all kinds of ailments.

You also need good sunglasses. Well, you need one whatever the season might be. In summer, you might need it more than in any other season, simply because the sun’s light and rays is more intense now more than the rest of the three.

Of course, one must not forget healthy canteens of clean water. H2O is not a matter of luxury, it is a matter of survival and necessity. Some new cyclists assume that one bottle is enough. In fall or winter, maybe one bottle will suffice; but in summer, one is a foolish mistake you might not recover from.

As we have established, the sun is your primary enemy when you are cycling in summer. That being said, you need a healthy supply of water in order to stay alive and kicking.

Autumn wear

Autumn or fall is a very tricky season – it is a season that seems to be unable to figure out what its temperature is going to be. Most of the time, autumn is chilly. But sometimes, it can get a little hot. It is for these reasons that you need to have unique attire specifically designed for autumn.

First, you need to have several layers of clothing. This is to trap air in between the layers of your clothing. Basically, the trapped air would serve dual purpose: it would keep you cool if the weather gets a bit hot, and it will keep you warm if the temperature dips. In other words, the layers work as a sort of temperature regulator.

Because autumn is close to winter, things are likely to get colder. Of course, it can get hot especially at noon or early and late afternoon, but it is generally cold. As such, you need to have special warmers for your knee, arm, and leg. These are the parts that are easily exposed to the cold breeze. When you are speeding on your bike, the softest breeze can cause massive discomfort, especially if it hits in unprotected areas of your body.

Of course, you also need to have a light jacket – thick enough to keep you warm, yet not too thick so as to make you sweat too much. I also recommend cycling gloves. As a matter of fact, dark gloves are very crucial in the sense that your hands are the ones which first experiences the cold and harsh weather.

Winter wear

Winter is usually a time when many cyclists do not go out. Indeed, winter can be too harsh, especially for individuals which are new at this activity. However, if you really want to enjoy the glory of Jack Frost, if you really want to test your mettle, then winter will offer you the most perfect timing for cycling.

However, you do need some specialized equipment. First, never forget the helmet. Whatever the season might be, always wear a helmet. Without it, you can either go to prison or to the morgue. Secondly, you need to protect your head even more. Helmets for cyclists are designed to have open vents. These vents, while they provide comfort during warmer days, are killers during winter. This is why you must wear a protective winter beanie to warm your head.

Your jersey should also be thick and long, plus, they need to be bright colored. Do not wear long-sleeved jerseys which are dull as these will make you difficult to spot if you get lost.

The jersey is your external attire. It is not everything. By itself, the jersey will do little to save you from the merciless cold. In order to survive, you need to wear more layers beneath the jersey. First, there is the base-layer, the thermal bibs (to keep your lower extremities warm), and the heavy thermal jacket.  One place I recommend for jersey’s is Voler which produces great quality.

Of course, you should also look to specialized socks, winter shoes, neck warmer, thick specialized gloves (thermal), and dark glasses.

Still, whatever the season, with the right set of cycling clothing you should be comfortable year-round.