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Tips for new riders

  • 10 Essential Tips for Bike Commuting

    If you're not already doing it, you've probably at least started thinking about riding to work. That's great! With a little preparation, riding your bike to work has all kinds of benefits. And it's a lot more fun than sitting in a car, stuck in a traffic jam!

    If you're new to the whole commuting thing or just haven't done it in a while, I've put together our top 10 bike commuting tips to help you get over the learning curve sooner than later.

    1. Plan your route.


    Narrow, busy roads are no fun when you're on a bike. Big trucks and careless cars zooming by while you try to stay within a 1-foot shoulder can create a lot of anxiety, and for good reason. So before you start, check out a map and run through the options. If bike paths or roads with bike lanes are available, use them, even if they're not the most direct route. A couple of added minutes each day are much less worse than getting hit by a truck, and the commute will be much more enjoyable if you have plenty of space.

    Continue reading

  • 5 DIY Solutions for Cyclists

    DIY fender

    Many cyclists take pride in their ability to improvise solutions to various problems on the road. One of the best we've ever heard of was a touring duo who experienced too many flat tires on a remote stretch of agricultural land in the Midwest. Their solution? Take out the tube and stuff the tire with hay to preserve the rims and make it to the next town. It sounds bumpy, but it worked.

    Many cyclists have stories like this: times when they've had to think on the fly about how to get home or keep a bike limping along much further than its natural life. It's a great skill for cyclists to have, and in this article we're diving into some similar DIY solutions for non-emergencies. We're talking about creative things that can be both functional and easy to do. Sound fun? Let's jump into it.

    1. DIY fenders

    This is a trick that has been known to bike messengers and other urban cyclists for a long time, and it's used by the folks who don't want to break the smooth lines and cool style of their bike with fenders. Instead, do the DIY option: grab a piece of cardboard and cut or rip it into a strip about 8 or 9 inches wide and a couple of feet long. Take this piece and bend it down the middle, slotting it into the frame above the brakes on your rear wheel to intercept the water flicked off your rear wheel. It might not last long, but it will get you to your job or your date looking clean, all for the low price of free. Not bad!

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  • Top 5 Rules of MTB Trail Etiquette

    When you have a skill in the outdoors like climbing, kayaking, or biking, there seems to be an instant bond with those you meet in the process. You meet people to take you to the "hidden gems" or some of the "virgin territory."

    There once was a time in the not too distant past where mountain bikers would greet each other as they passed by. Riders going downhill would kindly move to the side so that those who struggling uphill could keep climbing, and biking would turn into a social event with total strangers

    As we head into the fall MTB season, we have come up with some simple tips to keep riding fun and safe, all while keeping your self-esteem and dignity in tact. WA beautiful day for a ridehether you are a beginner or a seasoned pro, it's always nice to have a friendly reminder:

    1. Pull over: If you are going downhill and you come across someone going uphill, be kind and pull to the side. Yes, it's fun to go fast, but it's frustrating and demeaning to be steadily climbing, only to be brushed off by a screaming hooligan.
    2. Give a head count: When you come across a rider, let them know how many are with you, even if it's just you. This may sound too simple to make a difference, but it gets annoying to keep pulling over for riders every five seconds. All you need to do is say "just me," or "three behind me." That's all you need to do, and it makes a world of difference for overall ride experience.
    3. Continue reading

    hether you are a beginner or a seasoned pro, it">
  • Top 5 Ways to Prepare for your First Cycling Race

    My first race felt like my first day of school. My jersey was two sizes too big, I clicked in with SPD cleats, and my bike was half the price of my competitors'. Let’s just say I felt nervous and completely out of place.

    Since then I have made a few upgrades and learned a lot about racing. Now I would like to pass on some basic tips that would have helped me at my first race!

    1. Don't stress

    There is nothing to worry about. The course looks scary, and the cyclists are fast, but once you are out there "it's just like riding a bike." You have already prepared for the race, and adding extra stress will only drain your energy and slow you down. Do whatever it takes to relax. Do yoga, take deep breaths.... You get the idea.cycling race tips

    2. Ignore the egos

    Let's face it: Most cyclists are cocky and they will size you up. I have encountered gear heads, weight weenies and some other names I can't mention here. Don't let it get to you. Just take it to them on the course. There is nothing better than seeing these guys suffer at the finish line -- especially as you click out of your SPD cleats.

    3. Eat right

    Nothing slows you down faster than heartburn on race day. Skip greasy foods, load up on carbs, and do NOT try new foods. One morning I ate a different breakfast and was puking 30 minutes into a crit. Now I eat the same meal before each race and I have never been happier.

    4. Get lots of sleep

    I cannot say this enough. A good night's sleep is very important. Don't waste the night fine-tuning your bike. You will be much better off getting an extra hour of sleep.

    5. Ride the course before the start

    This tip should not be overlooked. By riding the course you will gain a slight advantage over your competitors. You will know about pot holes, learn where to take a turn, or even plan your attack.

    Kurt Simpsonby Kurt SimpsonGoogle+Kurt Simpson, AKA The Handsome Cyclist, is an avid road racer and Bikewagon's hipster-in-residence. He currently runs the retail location at the Wagon.

  • Is it time for a new bike helmet?

    A bike helmet doesn't last forever. That means if you want to protect your head as well as you can (and you should -- head injuries can be life-ending), you need to replace your helmet every few years.

    Bike helmet labelFirst and foremost, if you've ever been in a crash and the bike helmet has been involved in an impact, replace it -- even if you can't see any visible damage. Its structural integrity has probably been compromised.

    Most manufacturers will tell you to replace your helmet every 3 to 5 years. The label inside the helmet will tell give you the date when it was manufactured. Some even give you a "best by" date. Sunlight, temperature changes and moisture will take a toll on the helmet's materials, so it's smart to update every few seasons, even if it hasn't been involved in a crash.

    The label or a separate sticker will tell you if it's certified to meet CPSC, ASTM or Snell standards. Those are the most current safety regulations, so if it's not meeting one of those, it's time to for a change.

    If all else fails, use this test: Can you remember when you bought your current helmet? If not, you probably need to switch!

    To help your helmet last a little longer, read our easy Helmet cleaning tutorial!

    First and foremost, if you've ever been in a crash and the bike helmet has been involved in an impact, replace it -- even if you can">
  • Shedding some light on bike lights

    This time of the year, at least here in the northern hemisphere, the days are getting longer (hurrah!). So you may be asking why we would be writing about bike lights. You see, this time change (who's idea was this, anyway?) happens right when people in the snowy parts of the country are finally starting to thing about commuting to work by bike again. But suddenly, it's dark again at 7:30 a.m.! And that's one more reason to drive or take the bus.

    Well don't let the dark mornings be an excuse! All you'll need is a light or two or three, and you'll be sitting pretty.

    Since the sun is making it's way up, you probably don't need a ton of light on the path in front of you. Rather, the most important light you need is a safety light. Or even better, two or three safety lights. These affordable little bike lights make you visible to motorists and come in a variety of shapes and sizes.


    Bike headlight-taillight combo

    Probably the most important safety light you can get is a big, bright bike taillight. These usually mount to the seatpost and feature multiple modes (steady, flashing, alternating, etc.). There are tons of great options out there, and a decent light can be purchased for around $20.


    On the front of the bike, a nice little handlebar-mount bike headlight is perfect for early mornings. When it's still mostly dark, it can work as a headlight, lighting the path in front of you. Then, as it gets lighter, you can put it on flashing mode to make drivers notice. These are very affordable and go for months on one set of batteries.

    If you want to save yourself some time, just get a headlight-taillight combo.

    To top it off, throw one or two flashing safety lights -- picture a Knog light -- around the frame. When it comes to riding in limited light, you can never be too careful!

    Check out our bike lights guide over at Bikewagon Community College for more information on choosing the best lights for your situation!

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