Friday, January 31, 2014

Winter Bike Maintanence Tips and Tricks

We've had quite a winter so far here in Philadelphia, and our bikes being covered in salt and unidentifiable crust is evidence. Sand, salt, ice, snow, grime and the ever present usual Philly filth is on every single road in the city. While we might think the cold in our face is the worst part, our bikes would definitely disagree. Our bikes are a valuable tool and if you treat them right in the winter months you can save yourself some costly repairs in the spring.
 - Clean your bike -
This may sound like no-brainer mixed with nuisance. It is incredibly important to keep all the moving parts clean and free of debris so they don't wear out quicker, but who wants to clean their bike every time they use it? The trick to remembering and actually doing it is making it easy on yourself. It may not be glamorous, but just leave a rag inside your door. You'll get to wipe off your bike before you get all comfortable and don't feel like it, plus it's way easier than cleaning it once everything has dried and crusted up. A damp rag is enough for light daily cleaning, and for a deeper clean we stock Green Fizz and Bike Lust which are both made specifically for cleaning and polishing up your whole bike.
Important places to clean up: Brakes, around the bottom bracket, under the headset and anywhere else that looks particularly gross that day.

- Lubricate your chain -
The chain is the unsung hero of your bike. It's not exciting, but it literally is the singular most important part when it comes to turning your efforts into forward motion. They get super dirty in wet, grimy conditions which is terrible for not only the chain but the entire drive train. Luckily for you, cleaning and lubing chains is easy and when done right isn't even very messy.
How to: Lean your bike against a wall. Pour any biodegradable degreaser onto a rag and hold it around your chain with one hand and pedal backwards with the other hand to run the chain through the rag. Now that the loose grit is gone, it's time to lube it. We sell various chain lubes here at the shop such as T9 and Chainj which are inexpensive and are made specifically for bike chains (WD-40 may seem like a decent alternative but it's designed to be more of a solvent than lubricant). The aerosol T9 even has the added benefit of preventing corrosion when sprayed into your frame and other steel parts. To apply lube, drip it onto your chain while pedaling backwards with your right hand. Now wipe the excess off and you're done! This will keep the moving parts working better longer for sure and only takes 10-15 minutes max. We recommend doing this once a week for daily commuters.

- Put thicker, tougher tires on -
This is good for two reasons; if you ride in gross conditions you'll have more control, and tougher tires will less likely strand you with a flat tire you'll have to freeze your fingers to fix. If you have more control you're less likely to fall and hurt yourself or damage your bike, and if you don't have to worry about flat tires as much you'll be more likely to ride your bike often and with confidence.

- A note about full fenders -
Ok, so this isn't really bike maintenance BUT full fenders have a number of maintenance related benefits so it seemed fitting to include them. If you use full fenders (generally $45 and up here at the shop), you have less cleaning to do on your bike because the fenders not only keep you dry and clean, but they keep your bike mostly dry and clean, too. They catch the road grossness before it even gets on your bike which saves you time cleaning and makes riding less messy all around.

Your bike does a lot for you and is a piece of equipment you've likely invested hundreds of dollars in. By doing these small but important things throughout the winter it will thank you for sure.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Limited Edition Chrome Bags in stock!

Chrome has released their newest limited edition bags and we're lucky enough to be on the list of exclusive shops that got them! Not only did we get two of everyone's favorite Citizen messenger in their Reflective Camo 2nd Issue fabric, but we also got the Barrage, their new two strap bag which is some serious business.
The new camo fabric is overlaid with a glass bead print which reflects light from up to 100' away so it's built in visibility when you need it. All these bags are made in the USA, are super tough and guaranteed for life. The new Barrage is a waterproof, rolltop bag with a built in external cargo net for transporting those things that either too big or too gross to put inside your bag. What a good idea right?
Come in a check them out! We can even show you how cool the reflective print looks by shining some of our high power bike headlights at them.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Meet the New Shop Cat!

As most of you know, for years we had our much loved shop cat George reigning supreme over all shop activities. Sadly, earlier this fall he very suddenly went to the great bike shop in the sky and has been really missed. For a while we all hemmed and hawed over adopting a new cat to take over shop management, and finally a few weeks ago this little dude appeared at a local adoption center. He is an orange tabby, just like George, and mysteriously has a little something strange going on with his left eye... also just like George.
It was meant to be, and this past Monday he made his shop debut! His name is still up for debate, but hopefully he'll pick one soon. He's still learning the lay of the land, but the things we know about him so far are:
- He's ridiculously cute
- He likes meowing super loud
- Kitty treats are his jam
- He likes being pet far too much to pose for any silly blog pictures

If you want to see the rest of him just stop in and ask for "He Whose Name Has Not Been Decided", most of us will jump at any excuse to pet him anyways. Let's show him being a shop cat means infinite friends and free pets all day!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Abus Locks are in!

Locks. They're those incredibly important but unglamorous things that keep our bikes from becoming someone else's bikes. Here at the shop we keep only the best of the best, we don't want anyone's bike getting jacked because the lock they bought from us wasn't strong enough. Most of the time that has meant Kryptonite all the way, but this week we started carrying a new (to us) legit lock brand; Abus.
For the sake of comparison I got the tech specs for the ever popular Kryptonite Evo Mini and the fancy new Abus U-Lock 40 and did a little compare and contrast.
Abus U-Lock 40 - $65
14mm shackle
4 keys
Double bolted into the lock body

Kryptonite Evolution Mini - $60
13mm shackle
3 keys
Single bolted into the lock body
Dust cover to protect keyhole
Optional $2000 Anti-Theft Guarantee (one free year of registration, up to 3 for $15)

The Abus has a 14mm shackle which double bolts into the lock body. This means you would need to cut the lock twice to remove it. That's twice as much work, and I don't think bike thieves are about doing more work than they have to. Even though the Abus has a thicker shackle, it weighs in at exactly the same as the Evo Mini; a manageable 980g. The Evo Mini has a dust cover to keep rain and grime out of the locking mechanism and also comes with a $2000 Anti-Theft Guarantee (details in links above). Both have soft plastic all over to keep your paint looking good and can fit around a parking meter which seemingly quadruples your bike lockup options in the city.

I'd call it a draw. Both are strong, conveniently sized and reasonably priced. Use either and the thief scoping the street for easy bike-stealing prey will not want to make an attempt at your bike.
We have a few other Abus locks in stock also, so feel free to come in and pick our brains about them. Isn't it nice having lots of good options?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Surly Straggler vs. Cross-Check breakdown

Everyone is freaking about about the Surly Straggler and we're lucky enough to have them. "It's a Cross-Check with disc brakes!" But it's not. It's a different bike that can still do all the same crazy stuff as a Cross-Check and then some.
It's fairly well accepted general opinion that the Surly Cross-Check is one of the raddest, most versatile bikes on the market. You can use it for just about anything. Riding it on single track with fat knobbies, throwing studded tires and full fenders on it to make it the ultimate foul weather commuter, turning it single speed and using it as your trusted townie or even light touring, the Cross-Check can do it. It can fit a wide variety of tire widths and uses common sizes for all the parts making it really easy to switch things around. Basically it's a really good Jack-of-all-trades, and everyone I've ever met that has one loves it and claims to never want to sell it ever. So of course, when word got out that the Straggler was pretty much a disc brake Cross-Check, the cycling world collectively messed itself.
 So yes, the Straggler has and can do all of the things everyone loves about the Cross-Check, but it definitely has a few new tricks up its sleeve beyond the obvious addition of disc brakes. For one, the build kit on the complete bikes are totally different, the only things they actually have in common are the headset, 700c wheels and the range 11-32t on the cassette. The Straggler has 10 speed integrated shifters as opposed to the Cross-Check's standard 9 speed bar end shifters, and it also has slightly nicer derailleurs. It comes with the new Surly Knard 41 tires which are notably wider than the 700x35 Kenda Slant 6s that come on the Cross-Check. The Straggler seems like it's kitted out to tear up some dirty, gravely, disaster roads and trails. Only when you get those wheels covered in slimy mud, fear not for your ability to stop. Thank you disc brakes.
"The frame though, besides the disc brake jawns that's just a Cross-Check frame right?" Well, almost. The geometry of both frames is extremely similar but there are a few numbers that don't match up, just barely. The differences are minor but added together they make for a bike with a slightly longer wheelbase and reach. The Straggler should feel pretty much the same fit-wise, but will ride a little more smoothly. The tweaks in geometry manage to keep the stand over height and bottom bracket clearance the same even with fatter tires. A quick glance at the bottom bracket drop numbers side by side may make you think log hopping would be a whole 2mm harder, but really it's a smart way to compensate for the fatter tires. Surly messed with things just enough to keep the gnar factor high so you can still really rip.

There you go. Surly seems to maybe have actually succeeded in taking everyone's favorite the Cross-Check and made it a bit more fun. And how can I not mention the insane color choice? Thank you Surly, everyone loves glitter whether they admit it or not.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Stuff We Love: Wald Baskets

Baskets. They come in all shapes, sizes and styles varying from woven plastic with daisies stuck to the front, to hardcore metal beasts that could probably carry a small person with no trouble. Considering the vast range of aesthetics and sturdiness it may seem like there are too many options to be able to find one that's just right. Well, if Goldilocks came into our shop and wanted a basket that was just right to carry all her porridge (and whatever else she decided to help herself to along the way), we would definitely point her straight to the Wald front baskets. Every single one of us here has a Wald on one of our bikes. Why? Because they're great for everyday tasks and they hold up really well. They're inexpensive, the shop carries them in two very convenient sizes and in both silver and black so they match any bike. All the pics in this post are of the smaller size we carry, apparently they can hold 14 beers and a soda with ease. Added plus, they're made in the USA which is never a bad thing.
I have the larger of the two sizes we carry (18"x13"). I've lined the bottom with my dog's favorite mat and taken him for rides places in it. It was really easy to design a little harness system for him because of the basket's open wire design which is cool. Clip in the front, clip in the back and all adorable 12lbs of his Mini Dachshund self are safe and secure. I've used that basket for lots of things, but the most impressive thing that basket has done, by far, happened the time our car battery died. We had only a bike and Wald basket to carry a new 40ish pound battery over 3/4 mile from the auto store to the car. It was pretty sketchy, but the basket held up and our car was rescued. The baskets aren't rated to handle that much weight, but in a pinch it didn't let us down.
The smaller of the two sizes (15"x10") is perfect for those little things that you find yourself traveling with. The guys have used theirs for tons of stuff; puppy portage, avoiding wearing a bag when it's really hot out and carrying cheese steaks and various takeout... very important. It's just the right size for a spare jacket, thermos full of chili or new bike parts (some anyways). It's perfect when paired with a cargo net, which is a net made from bungee cords that has a securing hooks on four corners. The fact that the Wald baskets are basically wire cages makes it easy to always find a good spot to attach the hooks and keep your cheese steaks from bouncing out. The small is also a good size for putting various bags in so you don't have to wear them while you're riding (pictured is a small Fabric Horse WC tote $70).
Overall, you can't beat these baskets in bang for your buck factor, and they are probably the singular most utilitarian thing you could get for your bike, not bad for $20-$25 bucks.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Closed For Maintenance, Tuesday January 14th 2014

We need to take care of some important repairs to the shop on Tuesday January 14th so we will be closed for the day.
Please do not panic, we should be back up and running at full power on wednesday. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Stuff We Love: Brooks Saddles

Everyone has a million opinions about saddles, it's just a fact. Very few people feel indifferent about what they choose to perch on because it can make a huge difference in your comfort while riding. This one is great, that one is the worst thing ever, etc, etc. Your butt ultimately makes the final call, but seeing as most of us here at Bicycle Revolutions ride a lot and have all found that Brooks saddles rule, there must be something to it right? Everyone says they're great and turns out it's pretty true, but here's why.
Brooks saddles come in tons of shapes and styles but the basic thing that makes them feel like they were made just for your butt is the same across the board; they're made from super tough leather and riveted onto a sturdy metal frame. Effectively, they're really hard leather butt hammocks that break in to fit your body perfectly. The leather itself gives the saddles a bit of spring so you get a less jostled, and with a little care they can last for a seriously long time. The leather is really hard at first, but Brooks claims after 100 miles of riding they're broken in. Not a bad price to pay for something that ends up feeling like it was custom made. Personally I didn't feel like it needed to break it in at all to be comfortable. They definitely do get nicer with miles on them, but my brand new out of the box Brooks saddles have already felt better than any of the other women's saddles I've tried. However, I know this isn't typical so I very professionally interviewed my fellow shop workers Varun and Aaron whilst leaning on a trash can/being a trash basketball obstacle.
Varun has an older model with thicker leather and he said his took considerably longer than the standard 100 miles to fully break in. While admittedly that kind of sucked, he likes it a lot and puts it on whatever bike he's going to be riding for a long distance because now that it's broken in it's the most comfortable saddle he has. He rations it almost. Aaron has a Brooks Professional on his commuter bike and his took about 40 miles to fully break in. He also will switch it onto any other bike he's planning on using for a long ride, 100 miles is pretty serious and the Brooks is the best. I have a Brooks B17 S on my cross bike which is both my everyday commuter and the bike I use for long rides. My only complaint is I wish I'd bought it sooner, it's possible that saddle has made me like my bike more.

They're an investment for sure, but totally worth it as far as we're all concerned.

(Pictured top - Swallow in Antique Brown with chrome rails $240 & B17 Standard in Honey $130. Bottom - My B17 S in Black $130)