Removing and Replacing Pedals

Learn about properly removing and replacing your pedals

This task sounds really easy (but isn’t always). Removing or replacing pedals is one of the bike maintenance projects that most will attempt at one time or another. Reasons for removing or replacing pedals include traveling for an event like Rookie Triathlon (in which your pedals need to be removed), buying new clip-in pedals, and just general bike care.

Tools and supplies needed:

Pedal wrench – a normal adjustable wrench will work, but a pedal wrench will help you protect the pedal and provide more leverage for stubborn pedals.

Grease – used to re-grease the pedal threads if dry.

Set of Allen wrenches – some pedals are not compatible with pedal wrenches and require the use of a 5, 6, or 8mm Allen wrench from the inside tip of the spindle.

TIPS

The first thing to know is that the left pedal is reverse threaded. This means that the right one is “righty tighty” and “lefty loosey.” The left one is the opposite. Viewing from atop the bike, both pedals thread in the direction the bike moves forward. This design is to prevent the pedals from coming off as you pedal forward.

The second thing to know is that pedals are right and left specific. They are usually marked with a small R or L.

Leave the wheels on the bike. This stabilizes the bike for stubborn pedals.

If you ever notice that the threads are dry, add a little grease. Do this once every six months and on every set of new pedals you buy.

STEPS

The best position for taking pedals off is to stand over the bike with the crank arm that has the pedal you are taking off facing straight forward. Attach the pedal wrench so that it is facing straight back. Hold on to the reverse side crank arm with your free hand and press down on the wrench. This is the easiest way to remove pedals.

When replacing pedals, always use your fingers to start the threading process to prevent stripping the pedal threads. When tightening, make sure that both pedals are snug. They do not need to be so tight that you may have trouble removing.

Secure Your Bike and Protect it from Unwanted Riders

Properly secure your bike and make sure it stays yours

Just about everyone transports their bike from home to wherever they ride. So what do you do with your bike when you stop at a convenience store to get a drink? What if you make a quick stop on the way home to grab dinner? You should lock and secure your bike on your rack so that someone does not “borrow” your bike. After all, you worked so hard to buy! Pro tip: it never hurts to double-check that your lock is actually locked.

If you have a roof rack chances are that you have locks built into your rack. Otherwise, you can easily get them from a shop that sells your brand of rack. If you do not have locks or you have a rear rack for your car, then you can use a cable lock to secure your bike to your car.

Anytime you lock your #bike, you should run the cable through the frame of the bike and your wheels as well. Click To Tweet

Always secure your bike

Anytime you lock your bike, you should run the cable through the frame of the bike and your wheels as well. This also goes for locking your bike to a bike rack if you are commuting. This increases the likelihood that your wheels won’t disappear from your bike. These additional tips will also come in handy when you secure your bike.

Remember: anything that can come off of your bike without tools (wheels, saddlebag, seat post on mountain bikes) someone else can take off as well.

One last thing to remember is that locking your bike is a deterrent. If someone really wants it and they have a little time, they will get your bike. Lock your bike in plain sight so people can see it. Try not to leave it outside for long periods of time. Being proactive in protecting your bike will go a long way in ensuring it remains right where you left it. Make sure you secure your bike every time you’re away from it, even if it’s for a few minutes.

8 Security Tips for Your Bike

Protect your precious bike with these 8 security tips

The cycling/triathlon community is relatively small. You probably know someone whose bike was stolen. Maybe you’ve had your bike stolen. The offseason is the perfect time to re-evaluate your bike security. Protect your triathlon investment as you train for Rookie Triathlon, the first tri of your life or the first tri of your season! Here are a few security tips to keep your bike out of the arms of a thief.

Bike security tips

  • Verify the serial number that is etched on the bike. Typically it is underneath the bottom bracket or on one of the chainstays. Some bike shops record the serial number at the time of purchase; consider contacting the original bike shop to verify the number.
  • Let your insurance company know about your important investment. Provide your insurer with photos to verify ownership as well as an original sales receipt and serial number. This is helpful in the event your bike is stolen. The police and your insurance company need this information to expedite the process.
  • Register your bike with the National Bike Registry (NBR). The NBR is the only true national database where bikes can be identified by police and returned to the rightful owner. Register today!

Bike lock advice

  • Never leave your bike unlocked and unattended outside ANY building – this includes your local bike shop. Unfortunately, bike theft can happen even in your backyard. You just never know who might be passing through.
  • Avoid locking your bike outside for an extended period of time. If you ride your bike to work on a consistent basis, see if your employer will allow you to bring your bike inside. If not, lock it up in a secure place that is visible to more people.
  • Invest in a quality lock if locking your bike outside is unavoidable. Avoid the thinner cable locks. Look for the beefier U-Lock style lock. In addition to the U-Lock, commuters should consider carrying a heavier cable lock so you can lock your bike to almost anything.
  • If you leave your bike in your car consider covering it with a blanket and/or keep it out of plain view as much as possible.
  • If you need to leave your bike on your bike rack for an extended period, make sure to lock it on the rack. Some racks come with an existing lock which works great. The other option is to use a heavy cable lock.

4 Reasons to Run the Austin Marathon 5K

Whether you’re new to running or searching for a winter goal race, the Austin Marathon 5K is for you! This event takes place on Feb. 17th in downtown Austin and runs entirely on South Congress Ave. Register for the 5K to be a part of Austin’s premier running event. Run solo or with a group of friends, make it a goal race or fundraise for your favorite Austin Gives Miles charity. No matter what you do, proceeds from your Austin Marathon 5K registration will benefit Paramount Theatre! Bonus before we get started: all participants receive an Under Armour Austin Marathon 5K shirt and all finishers get a medal.

#1 – Be a part of Austin Marathon weekend!

Participants take off at the start of the Austin Marathon 5K.
Start of the 2018 Austin Marathon 5K.
Credit: Ed Sparks

New to running/triathlon? Returning from injury? Want to participate with your kids in Austin’s premier running event? You don’t have to be the fastest runner or able to run 26.2 miles to enjoy race weekend. Register with your kids, friends, or family members and complete the Austin Marathon 5K together! Everyone can then celebrate at the Austin Marathon finish line festival. Adults can enjoy the beer garden (not kids!). Grab some post-run food at a food truck. Watch the marathon/half marathon action on the two Jumbotrons. Get ready for live music. Best of all, purchase the VIP Experience and enjoy the delicious food and tasty beverages before the half marathoners and marathoners!

#2 – Goal race

If your offseason focus has been on improving your running, then you should have a goal race! The Austin Marathon 5K is the perfect distance at the right time of year. You get to see your progress before triathlon season kicks in. That’ll tell you what you need to keep working on and show you what you’ve been doing right. You’ll also get the competitive juices flowing with 2,000+ of your closest running friends. Training with a friend or a group this offseason? Have them register and join you on Feb. 17th!

#3 – Benefits Paramount Theatre

That’s right, the Austin Marathon will donate a portion of your Austin Marathon 5K registration to Paramount Theater, a true Austin original. Opening in 1915, the Paramount Theater has seen it all! They’re Austin’s original performing arts venue, annually hosting 250+ events. If you love live music, theater, live shows, comedy, or the performing arts then this is your chance to support them. Pro tip: once you cross the finish line take a picture by yourself or with your crew underneath the Paramount Theatre marquee!

#4 – Fundraise for Austin Gives Miles

You want to fundraise for your favorite Austin Gives Miles charity, but 13.1 or 26.2 miles isn’t in your cards this year. You can still fundraise for the Austin Marathon 5K! That’s right, your fundraising efforts while training for the Austin Marathon 5K will still positively impact a cause that’s near to your heart. Make it a team effort and multiply your group’s effect! Gather friends and fundraise for the same cause. Make shirts, challenge each other, and see who can raise the most cash! You’ll help Austin Gives Miles grow, be involved with race weekend, and support your favorite Central Texas nonprofit!

New Swim Equipment, Now What?

See improvement in the water when you properly use your new swim equipment

Congrats! You just registered for Rookie Triathlon, the first triathlon of your life! Time to start training for the 300m swim. Purchasing swim equipment will help you improve in the water. Once you get all of your swim equipment, you probably have some questions about using it all. What’s a kickboard? Are you placing your buoy properly? What about your paddles? Here are some training tips that’ll help you get acclimated to your new swim equipment. We also provide some swim equipment recommendations!

Use our insight to get acclimated with your swim equipment!

Rookie Tri participant enters Decker Lake. Credit – Ed Sparks

PaddlesSwim paddles should fit within 1-2 inches of space around the edge of your fingers for maximum pulling power. Make sure to enter the water with your hand at a slight angle when swimming with paddles to reduce resistance against the paddle.

Buoy – Place the swim buoy between your thighs and try not to kick while you are pulling. The buoy will help stabilize your lower body. This allows you to rotate your hips and shoulders more effectively without the help of your kick. Pulling with just the buoy (no paddles) will help you focus on your “catch” in the water. Adding the paddles is a great way to increase your upper body strength.

FinsFins should fit snugly around your foot, but not tight. When kicking with fins, make sure to keep your legs fairly straight and use your hips to kick (without too much bend in the knee). The fins should help propel you through the water while keeping your upper body relaxed. Fins also help with ankle flexibility, which is very important in swimming.

Kickboard – The streamline kickboard helps beginner swimmers glide smoothly through the water as they develop the kick. Focus on keeping your lower body and the board on the surface of the water to reduce drag while you are kicking. Aim for small, quick kicks with your legs.

Mesh bag – Putting your swim gear in a mesh bag will help prevent lost or misplaced equipment. It will also allow your equipment to dry quickly after swim workouts.

Bicycle Helmets: The Breakdown

Bicycle helmets only work if you wear them correctly

That’s not breaking news, but anyone that’s new to triathlon might not think they’re necessary. Well, they are and you need to make sure the one you purchase is effective. Especially if you’ve started training for Rookie Triathlon, the first triathlon of your life! 

Your helmet could be the difference between life and death. Here's the lowdown on bicycle helmets, from choosing one that fits your head to avoiding common helmet mistakes. Click To Tweet

Why wear a bicycle helmet?

It’s simple: if you fall from your bike, the helmet will take the force of the blow instead of your head. Wearing a bicycle helmet when cycling is the most effective way to prevent a life-threatening head injury. Don’t assume that bicycle helmets are just for kids. Adults face the same risks as children. Even a low-speed fall from a bike can be dangerous.

Selecting a bicycle helmet

Bicycle helmets are cooler, more comfortable, and easier to adjust than ever before. There are plenty of inexpensive choices that will meet all these needs. Check out these recommendations from the staff at High Five Events.

Remember the ground rules:

Make sure the helmet is safe. Look for a seal of approval from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI). If it doesn’t have a seal of approval from them, don’t purchase it and most certainly don’t ride with it. Aerodynamic helmets should be held to the same standards as regular helmets. A few extra seconds are not worth risking serious injury.

Make sure it fits snugly

You shouldn’t be able to move the bicycle helmet more than one inch in any direction, front-to-back or side-to-side. The sizing pads included with every bicycle helmet can help make the fit more secure. If you have long hair, consider a helmet with a ponytail port. The rules for wearing a bicycle helmet are simple. Wear the helmet flat on the top of your head. The helmet should cover the top of your forehead without tilting forward or backward.

Think about visibility

If the bicycle helmet straps block your vision – even a little bit – choose another helmet. Likewise, make sure motorists and other cyclists can see you; choose a brightly colored helmet.

Fasten the chin strap just below your chin

If it’s not fastened, it won’t help you out much. If the bicycle helmet doesn’t feel snug, use the foam sizing pads that came with the helmet to get a better fit. The helmet shouldn’t rock from front to back or side to side. Some helmets are “one size fits all,” but others come in S-XL. Wear it before you buy it!

Bicycle helmets must be replaced after every crash

If a crack or any sort of puncture is spotted on the helmet, it should be replaced. No questions asked.

Importance of Post-Workout Recovery Foods/Drinks

Recovery foods/drinks provide many post-workout benefits

Most endurance athletes recognize that it’s important to eat and drink within an hour or so after completing a workout to promote muscle recovery. Recovery foods and drinks provide the body with what’s needed to begin muscle refueling, rehydration, muscle/tissue repair, and inflammation control. With some exceptions, just about anything you might choose to eat or drink after a workout is better than nothing, from a recovery perspective. However, some choices are more beneficial than others. So what are the best recovery foods?

The nutrients your body needs most after exercise are carbohydrates for muscle refueling, protein and amino acids for muscle repair, water/electrolytes for rehydration, and antioxidants to manage inflammation. Your post-workout nutrition choices should provide all of these nutrients and little else. You don’t want anything to “get in the way” of the absorption and activation of these nutrients. There are plenty of natural foods (oatmeal anyone?) that will do the job.

Specially formulated post-workout recovery products such as bars and drink mixes offer certain advantages. The best recovery products are carefully formulated to provide exactly what your body needs. They’re formulated with the correct amounts, and nothing extra. They also tend to be more convenient than regular foods. You can take them with you to workouts away from home and not have to wait to eat. And often they are easier to consume soon after workouts when you may not be especially hungry.

Some of our favorites:

nuun performance – rehydrates, provides electrolytes and carbs

Clif Energy Granola – all the goodness you need!

RXBAR – packed with protein, carbs, and sugars

Gatorade Whey Protein Bar – mixture of carbs and protein

Epic Bars – high in protein, gluten-free, grain-free

What are your preferred recovery foods?

7 Steps to a Clean Bike

Not only does a clean bike look great, but it also performs better, lasts longer, and is easier to maintain

Perhaps you haven’t cleaned your bike all triathlon season. Maybe you just went on a long ride and it rained on you. It might be the end of your season and you’re putting your bike away for a few months. Whatever the case, it’s time to clean your bike! Follow the 7 steps below and your bike will be clean in no time. Take care of the bike that takes care of you. Remember, a clean bike is a happy bike.

Supplies

  1. An old shirt or a few rags
  2. Dish soap
  3. Small bucket
  4. Water hose
  5. Bicycle lubricant

Guideline for a clean bike

Step 1:

Set the nozzle on the hose to a light spray and spray down the entire bicycle. You do not want the pressure of the water to be too powerful. It could remove grease in areas that will be difficult for you to replace.

Step 2:

Tear the shirt into a few pieces and place in the bucket with a cap full of dish soap. Fill the bucket halfway with water and mix the water and soap around with the rags. Take one rag from the bucket and scrub the entire bike. Get the tires, frame, spokes, rims, hubs, drivetrain, and any other part of the bike that seems dirty. Check out this bicycle cleaning kit, it can make it easier to get to some of those hard to reach spots.

Step 3:

Take the water hose again and spray your bike off one more time. This should remove the remaining grime that has been loosened up by the scrubbing.

Step 4:

Take one of the remaining rags and dry the bicycle off. You can allow it to drip dry for a few minutes to make this easier.

Step 5:

Now that your bicycle is clean and dry, it is time to re-lube the drivetrain and other moving parts. Take your bike lube and cover the entire chain. Drip a few drops on the cassette of the bicycle. Now drip a few drops on each side of your wheels were your skewers go through the hub. Finally, drip a few drops on the brake calipers where the center bolt passes through and connects to the frame. This blog post provides more specifics on cleaning a drivetrain.

Step 6:

Now put your helmet on and take your bike for a little spin. Make sure you shift into every possible gear on your bike to spread out the lube. If you do not want to ride, just lift your rear wheel off the ground and shift the bicycle into every gear that way.

Step 7:

Last but not least, wipe the chain and drivetrain down one more time with a clean, dry rag to remove excess lube.

Happy cleaning!

Basic Home Mechanic Tool List

Perform general maintenance yourself with this home mechanic tool list

Maintaining your own bike can be fun, but it can also be confusing. What do I need? Are certain sizes needed? Where can I find these items? Below is a recommended home mechanic tool list for general maintenance of the average road or off-road bike.

* Bicycle repair stand

Bikehand Pro Mechanic Bicycle Repair Rack Stand.

* Metric wrenches (8mm, 9mm, 10mm, 11mm, 13mm, 15mm, 17mm, 19mm open ended box wrench)
* Hex wrench set (1.5mm, 2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, 8mm, 10mm)
* Cone wrench (13mm-16mm)
* Screwdriver set (3/16″ and 1/4″ straight blade and #0 and #2 Phillips)
* 12″ adjustable wrench
* Drivetrain cleaning kit (how-to instructions)
* Cable cutters

A floor pump is essential to your home mechanic tool list.

A floor pump is essential to your home mechanic tool list.

* Chain lube
* Zip ties
* Shop rags
There are several ways to purchase tools, including local bike shops like Mellow Johnny’s. Non-bicycle specific tools are usually available at hardware stores, automotive shops, tool stores, and some department stores.

Understanding Brake Issues

Become knowledgeable about brake issues with this advice

Having brake issues? If so, you might be able to identify the problem yourself. There are three main reasons brake levers typically malfunction:

  • Your brake pads are not close enough to the rims
  • The system is not tight or fully “engaged”
  • Your levers are damaged or dirty

Always check that your brake pads are close enough to your wheel rims. Before you reposition them, check that the pads are not too worn down. Replace the pads if needed.

If the pads are okay, then turn the cable adjustment knob counterclockwise until the desired pad-to-rim distance is achieved (1/8th of an inch is standard). The cable adjustment knob is located either where your brake cable enters your lever or on the brake caliper.

Most modern braking systems have a quick-release mechanism that allows you to loosen the cable system without affecting your brakes effectiveness. This is the “slack” in the system needed to open the brake arms wide enough to get your wheel out. Some quick-releases are located on brake assemblies. Others are located on brake levers or elsewhere along the cable route. If you find too much “slack” in your braking system, check these quick-release mechanisms first to make sure they are engaged properly.

You may need to clean or repair the brake levers if your brake quick-releases are connected properly but the levers function poorly.

If you’re still having brake issues contact James Balentine of City Limit Cycles. You can schedule an appointment and he’ll make repairs at your home or office!