Cycling Tips

Get the right bike for you and how you ride.

We'll help you determine the best bike for you and how you want to ride.  For example, getting a commuter instead of a mountain bike can make a difference in your comfort and speed if you intend to use it primarily for getting to work.  Bicycle Ranch can help you determine which bike is right for you based on your intended purpose and the correct size and geometry.

Contact points are critical

We'll help you find the right equipment for all the points where you contact the bike to ensure your ride will be efficient, safe and most importantly comfortable.  When buying a new bike, it's important to have the right shoes, saddle, gloves, helmet and eye protection.

Bicycle fit

We make sure that you get the right size bike and that it fits when you purchase a bicycle from us. However for someone going longer distances or trying to get a few extra seconds on the clock, a professional bicycle fit can make a world of difference.  A bike fit can be the difference between your bike being an instrument of torture in the worst case or pure pleasure.  Learn more about our bicycle fit.

Pre-ride Checklist

  1. Keeping your bike clean is important because when you wipe down the frame you may see signs such as flaking paint which may indicate that a crack has developed. This is especially important after a crash.
  2. Wipe down the rims to clean residue that affects braking. Closely inspect the rim sides for wear from braking. Have us check the rim for safety. 
  3. Spin the wheels. They should be round and true. If they wobble, spokes may have loosened and the wheel should be trued and tensioned.
  4. Inflate your tires to the proper pressure which is usually written on the sidewalls and inspect them closely for wear and tear. If they are bald or damaged, replace the tire.
  5. Grab the top of each wheel and gently push and pull laterally, feeling for play at the hubs. If you find any, the wheel bearings should be adjusted.
  6. Apply the front brake and rock the bike back and forth feeling for play. If there's any play, the headset needs adjustment.
  7. Hold onto the crankarms and push and pull laterally feeling for play in the bottom-bracket bearings. Play indicates adjustment is needed.
  8. Prep the chain by applying a bike-specific lubricant, let it soak in for a few minutes, then wipe off the excess with a rag. 
  9. If your derailleur cables run beneath the bottom bracket, drop a bit of light oil on the contact areas.
  10.  Inspect your chain ring for broken teeth, but don't be alarmed if you have newer chain rings and some teeth are slightly shorter than others. Chain rings are designed this way because the shorter teeth provide a specific release point where the chain can easily drop from the large ring to the small, improving the shifting.
  11. Check cables for rust and fraying, signs that replacement is needed.
  12. Make sure your handlebars have end plugs because open-ended bars can hurt you if you crash. 
  13. If you use clipless pedals, check the hardware on your cleats and the cleats themselves for wear. Signs of worn-out cleats can be difficulty getting in and out of your pedals, and cleats that pull out inadvertently during hard pedaling.

Carry a tool kit for the road and trail

For the most common breakdown which is a flat tire, carry the following:

  1. A spare tube and tire levers to remove the tire.
  2. A patch kit for repairing one of your tubes if you have a second flat.
  3. A tire boot (1 x 2-inch patch or an old section of tire) for tire cuts. The boot is placed between the tube and tire to cover the hole. 

In addition, the following will help complete your toolkit

  1.  Mini-tool with 4, 5 and 6mm Allen wrenches and screwdrivers will allow you to adjust most of the bike's bolts.  Some mini-tools also include a chain tool which is also handy in the event of a broken chain. 
  2. Always carry cash for food
  3. Cell phone to call someone in case of the rare failure that you can't fix.

Eat As You Ride To Sustain Energy

The heavier you are and the harder you exercise, the more calories you burn. The body can store roughly an hour-and-a-half to two-hours worth of glycogen or muscle fuel. So, if you're riding longer, you need to carry or stop to purchase food and consume enough calories to keep from developing a glycogen deficit. 

It helps to have one water bottle with water and another filled with water and a mix with electrolytes if you are going to be riding for longer than an hour.  This will help you replenish your body's natural stores as you sweat during that workout.  Come in to learn what's available in terms of flavors and combinations.

Clothing For Cold Weather Cycling

We are lucky in Arizona to be blessed with warm weather for most of the year, but by December or even earlier, it can get cold during morning workouts. A pair of arm and leg warmers can be enough to make your summer cycling kit warm enough for almost the whole year.  When it gets colder, consider an under-layer and a light weight jacket.  Full jackets are available to keep the core warm on the coldest of days.

Perhaps the most difficult body parts to keep warm on cold days are the hands and feet. For finger protection, a lot depends on how warm your hands get while riding. Cyclists with excellent circulation can get by with basic long-finger gloves - anything much thicker may cause overheating and sweating.  If your fingers are more susceptible to the cold, consider a thicker or different glove type such as a mitten design that keeps the fingers together to add warmth. It's also possible to purchase glove liners and benefit from the same layering approach you use on your torso and legs to stay warm.

Frozen toes are no fun, either. A pair of shoe covers and wool cycling socks can be sufficient even when it drops below freezing. Shoes also determine comfort. If you normally ride in thin, lightweight road shoes, consider riding in a heavier off-road pair if you have them. Off-road shoes are often thicker and much warmer. Even if you have to swap your pedals from your off-road to street bike, it's worth it to keep your feet from freezing.

For any questions about your ride...

Contact us at Bicycle Ranch Scottsdale or Tucson