Bike upgrades

March 8, 2014 § 41 Comments

People always ask me about bike stuff.

“What do you think of the new Slobotomy aero-helmet?”

“I hear that slightly wider tires are actually faster than the ultra-narrow profiles. Is that true?”

“How does the GoPro Super Narcissto 4 stack up agains the Garmin 24/7 MeMeMeMe?”

“Is a computerized bike fit as good as a hand job?”

Needless to say, I devote hours answering the person’s question, and they do the exact opposite, or, more commonly, nothing at all and instead go buy a large pizza.

Still, there are ways to really upgrade your ride, and they aren’t the ways you might think. I will list them here for you in order of the impact they will have on your riding experience.

  1. Make your next two purchases the best and brightest taillight you can find, and the best and brightest headlight you can find. Then, mount them on your bike and use them all the time, especially during the day. How it improves your ride: Cagers will not horribly maim or kill you and you will get home alive.
  2. Max out your uninsured motorist insurance. When you get hit by some idiot who doesn’t have enough insurance, or who has none at all, or who hits you and drives off, leaving you for dead, the only way you can pay for the damage is through the uninsured motorist coverage ON YOUR AUTOMOBILE LIABILITY INSURANCE POLICY. It’s cheap to max out your UM coverage, so do it now. $500k in coverage is not too much. How it improves your ride: 48% of LA-area collisions are hit-and-run, and you will, with maximum UM coverage, get compensation for your injuries and your destroyed bike.
  3. Enter an event you would normally never do. A century ride, an MTB race, a ‘cross race, the Eldo Crit, a charity ride, a Fredfest, Ciclavia, critical mass, certification at the Velo Sports Center, whatever it is, if it’s outside your normal riding band, do it. How it improves your ride: You’ll meet new people and get a new sense of appreciation for the fun that is cycling.
  4. Read a book that treats some aspect of the history of cycling. How it improves your ride: You’ll understand the incredible changes and challenges that have been overcome in order to allow you to effortlessly, electronically shift your way along the streets on a carbon fiber bike.
  5. Go into a local bike shop and buy something. How it improves your ride: The vast majority of people who own bike shops do it first and foremost because they love bikes. Supporting their passion supports yours as well.
  6. Proffer roadside assistance to someone. Even if you can no more change a flat than swap out a car’s transmission, take a second to pull over and see if the fellow cyclist on the side of the road needs help. Everyone appreciates consideration and concern, even if just means holding their bike or pulling the tube and cartridge out of their seat bag. How it helps your ride: Cycling is a community, and the good deeds you do to strangers will get paid forward.
  7. Say hello to someone you don’t know. Whether it’s your regular ride or whether you’re passing someone on the street, greet a stranger and exchange names. How it helps your ride: People remember being spoken to, especially when they’re new to a group, and it makes them feel good, and making others feel good will make you feel good, too.
  8. Get rid of five cycling-related things you no longer use or need. Most riders are awash in crap. Old shoes, old helmets, old wheel sets, even (especially) bikes. Slim down your possessions, especially if you can pass them on to someone who will actually use them. How it improves your ride: Makes space for you to buy newer, cooler crap.
  9. Ride to work one day a month. How it improves your ride: Once you begin commuting, odds are that you will do it more often. I went from 0 days a week to commuting almost every day. How it improves your ride: You’re riding more, of course. And bikers who cycle to work will tell you that the commute is the best part of their day.
  10. Go on a ride with a family member who isn’t a “cyclist.” Not a 25-mile hammerfest, just a fun 15 or 20-minute pedal. How it improves your ride: You can slowly trick them into riding if you do it in a way that is actually, you know, fun. And the family that rides together …

§ 41 Responses to Bike upgrades

  • bonnev659 says:

    great tips.. love just chatting with the folks at the lbs.. also helping someone who needs help. is a great learning process for those who do not know much about tire changes

  • Brian in VA says:

    Words to live by, Seth!

  • Sandy Hackney says:

    I completely agree about the lights, front and back. I mounted a flasher on my helmet, too. I have been riding and racing almost daily for 50 years, 20 of which were in NYC (match that LA sucker) and this last year I started wearing a mirror on my glasses. I would NOT do without it now and strongly suggest we all wear one. It is not a weenie thing and will allow you to (as a recumbent rider told me), “to see the car just before it hits you.”

    • fsethd says:

      Once you start riding with day lights you wonder why you ever rode without them.

  • Kuerbis says:

    What should I get on the large pizza ?

  • ezpc1 says:

    Ha! Items 1 and 2 are everyday essential survival advice.
    Items 3 onwards are really good essential bits of advice that make it all worthwhile – the sort of human to human interaction that affirms meaning to life, helps people push through, and helps both you and them smile. Good writing again Seth!

  • Stathis says:

    (“Is a computerized bike fit as good as a hand job?”) LOL!

  • Rick says:

    Good advice. Very good. I have one to add. If you see a lemonade stand then stop. Almost no matter what (though I would consider not stopping on a 40mph decent). It makes their day. And it makes the parents day too. I always leave a big tip. Its fun to watch their confusion as to how to handle the extra money.

    • fsethd says:

      I’ve stopped at lemonade stand before, deep in the throes of bonk, and have requested free lemonade. They always oblige. This doesn’t ever happen at 7-11.

  • Seth, i love this so much…we all need to wake up and do these things…especially the hand thing…

  • New Girl says:

    A+. Thank you for writing.

  • channel_zero says:

    Read this interview very, very carefully. The engineer destroys numerous facets of the frequently observed cycling gear fetish.

    Buried in slowtwitch are a bunch of interesting posts regarding testing aero helmets and clothes in a wind tunnel. Bottom line: it’s B.S.

    Support your local independent bike shop!! They aren’t doing it for the money, that is for sure!

    And, when you go ride with regular folks, don’t bring the gear. Dress like regular folk and ride the 20″ pink bike, or whatever’s left over. Hell, let them ride your bike. I know it’s difficult, but we are all ambassadors for our sport regardless of your level of suck-titude.

    • fsethd says:

      That was a super read. Thanks for the link.

    • zenpunk32 says:

      “And, when you go ride with regular folks, don’t bring the gear.”

      I would think that goes without saying. The normals are usually pretty apprehensive about the superhero look. Leave the spandex at home, or at least put some non-skintight shorts on over your chamois.

      • fsethd says:

        Here’s a funny add-on anecdote: When riding around in shorts and t-shirts, I got a lot of waves and hellos from kitted up riders, the kind of people who normally ignore me … go figure.

  • Tobylima says:

    Excellent stuff Seth. Thanks for taking the time and trouble to post something that could really make a difference in all our lives as well as those we come in contact with.

  • Carey Downs says:

    Nice seeing you practicing what you perch today. Hope you didn’t make your kid ride back up the hill on that XL framed bike.

  • No one of consequence says:

    Right! My new year’s resolution has been to cut my bike commute down to two to three times a week for the last couple years (mailman = perpetually dead legs). Still do four to five. Addictive and therapeutic. Also, stop and take the picture when you see some cool $#!+, if you ruin your base miles, there’s always tomorrow.

  • Lotusstone says:

    I had never heard of using your auto policy to cover you in the case of a bike accident (#2) so I called my ins after reading this to get things squared away. It was rather inexpensive to raise the uninsured motorist aspect of my policy up to 1m/1m in coverage, but I wanted to see what the agency’s perspective was on it as we’ll. turns out, according to AAA, that the uninsured motorist portion will not cover your medical needs in the case of a hit and run, but there is a medical portion that is available, only up to 25k in coverage. So if it merely a broken bone, not a major one, it could be helpful.
    Do you have any examples of where coverage via the uninsured motorist portion has come into play for hit and runs?

    • fsethd says:

      It’s my opinion that your agent is either misinformed or not telling you the truth or trying to sell you needless coverage, or all three. Your UM coverage will cover your medical injuries, your pain and suffering, lost time from work, and loss of consortium in either a hit and run or a collision with an uninsured/underinsured motorist. The only issue with hit and runs is that there must be proof of contact, i.e. some damage to the bike to prove you were actually hit. Therefore, keeping the damaged bike is crucial to your insurance claim. If your agent still claims that there’s no medical coverage, ask for a copy of the complete policy and its terms.

    • fsethd says:

      I’m assuming this is in California, by the way.

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