Nuts

Nantes: A City Getting it Right

Cours des 50 otages - Pistes cyclables

A French translation of this article follows the English text.

The city of Nantes in France will host the global bicycle conference Velo-City?in June 2015.?Before showing up, Copenhagenize Design Company decided to do a scouting tour.

Nantes and its 600,000 inhabitants – including the immediate suburbs – is one of the French cities that decided to implement an ambitious cycling policy. They dared to innovate and to make strong political decisions. We find that inspiring.

To begin with, watch the Velo-City 2015 promotional clip. In this video, Nantes demonstrates that they understand that creating a bicycle-friendly city is not just about building infrastructure but it’s most of all about developing a life-sized city where bicycles are merely one of the tools to create an active, creative and liveable city – albeit one of the most important tools. Nantes presents in the video its inhabitants, its urban spaces and its activities.

We have to admit that we have been impressed by the diversity of features included in the bicycle policy. Far from being only focused on building infrastructure, Nantes expands the initiatives to include everything that can support rebuilding a bike-friendly city; services for cyclists; parking; a bike share programme; long and short term rental bikes; collaboration with the local associations, etc.

Bicloo Zone à Trafic Limité

The implementation of their policy has been a success if you consider the fact that the number of cyclists has increased and the modal share rose from 2% to 4.5% between 2008 and 2012 (5.3% in the city-centre). Most importantly, the bicycle users in the city are largely Citizen Cyclists and not hard-core “avid cyclists” dressed in racing gear.

First step – Reducing the Number of Parasites
During rush hour, many streets are still highly congested but when it comes to traffic regulation within the city-centre, Nantes has made a crucial decision: the through traffic has been completely removed from the heart of the city thanks to the creation of a Limited Traffic Area.

The main boulevard running through the city is now only accessible to bicycles, public transport and authorised vehicles (taxis, delivery trucks, shopkeepers), meaning that most cars and motorcycles are no longer welcome. On this boulevard, just like on a pedestal,?cyclists ride a 4 meter wide cycle track, slightly elevated. Even if we can criticise the fact that the cycle track is very different from the others (bi-directional, in the middle of the street, elevated), we notice that the Municipality has decided to showcase to the inhabitants that the cyclists are very welcome in Nantes – and prioritized. In addition, the city continues transforming symbolic car-centric places into pedestrian areas (such as the Royale square and the Graslin square). Nantes is Copenhagenizing and modernising itself.


Place Graslin

Building Several Kilometres of Bicycle Infrastructure
In addition to their wider focus, Nantes has, bien sur, built numerous kilometres of separated bike lanes. The colour chosen for the bike lanes is a very light orange. At the intersections, this colour communicates clearly that the space is dedicated to cyclists and orange stripes along the lanes strenghten this communication in some areas.

But let’s look at the infrasturcture in detail because it is the backbone of any cycling city. The lanes are wide enough to host the current number of cyclists (3 meters wide for the bi-directional lanes). But when the modal share will really increase, will it be sufficient to cope with the user’s flow and capacity? Is the infrastructure capable of evolving and expanding? We’re not sure.

Piste cyclable?

Piste cyclable

Piste cyclable bi-directionelle?Piste cyclable

A Clear Strategy Can Still Suffer from Drawbacks
We must mention that one clear drawback and that is a lack of homogeneity in the bicycle network. The diversity the design of the infrastruture is such that without a strong knowledge of the city, you can easily lose track of the network. For instance, bicycle lanes are randomly designed. They are in the middle of the street, on the right of car traffic, on the right or left of the tram, shared with buses or pedestrians suddenly for a few metres, first monodirectional then bidirectional. It’s a guessing game at times.


Despite the consistency of the orange colour and the creation of two main routes – north-south and east-west- the network remains very complex and not at all intuitive. It makes it quite difficult to get a clear mind map of the bike route you’ll be riding. Moreover, the bi-directional bike lanes already show some limits as this infrastructure is too narrow to host the cyclists at the intersections during rush hour.

The physical complexity of the bike infrastructure has two main impacts. First, the speed of the cyclists is reduced, which turns cycling into a less competitive solution compared to other means of transport (12 km/h in Nantes vs. 15,5 in Copenhagen and 20 km/h on the “Green Wave Routes”). We know for a fact that a bicycle user wants to ride from A to B as quick as possible.

Secondly, the difficulty to visualise a clear cycling itinerary can become a serious deterrent to getting new cyclists onto the infrastructure. This might challenge the ambition of the city to increase the modal share. Can Nantes really reach their declared target of 15% model share for cyclists without making cycling the most practical and easiest choice? Not likely, as it is now.

This challenge is common in many French cities that, on the one hand, develop ambitious cycling networks but, on the other hand, make them too inconsistent when it comes to the type of infrastructure.

Increase the?Diversity of Services
Like so many French cities, Nantes implemented a bike share scheme – the Bicloo – relying on user-friendly stations (880 bikes and 102 stations). But the city also offers the commuters the opportunity to combine bicycle and train through the development of a bike-train-bike concept (similar to the BiTiBi project). Indeed, let’s imagine that an inhabitant of Nantes Métropole cycles from home to a nearby suburban train station, he/she can park the bike under a shelter (or, even better, in a secure bike parking facility at the main train station in Nantes). Then, he/she gets on the train and upon arriving in the city-centre, he/she can rent a bike for a day and return it to the same place before taking the train home. ?The City of Nantes has also developed secure bike parking, long term rentals and air pumps and they allow folding bike on the trams – the Cyclotan – as well as offering citizens €300 euros subsidy for buying a cargo bike. allowance when buying a cargo-bike.

Bicloo - station


Bord de l'Erdre

Le Lieu Unique


Important information for our followers attending Vélo-City 2015 – we have already found the Copenhagenize HQ ?- near the conference venue. A lovely place on the Erdre river. See you there in June 2015.

VERSION EN?FRANÇAIS

Nantes – Une ville qui a compris?!

La Ville de Nantes (France) accueillera en Juin 2105 la conférence mondiale Vélo-City. Avant de venir y participer, Copenhagenize a décidé d’aller y faire un petit repérage.

Nantes, 600.000 habitants à l’échelle de l’agglomération, est l’une des villes françaises qui a mis en place une ambitieuse politique cyclable et qui n’a pas hésité à innover en la matière et prendre des décisions politiques fortes. De quoi inspirer.

Pour commencer, visionnage de son clip de présentation de Vélo-City 2015, où Nantes montre qu’elle a compris que créer une ville cyclable c’était avant tout créer une ville humaine où les vélos ne sont finalement qu’un des éléments d’une ville active et agréable à vivre. Nantes y présente majoritairement ses habitants, ses espaces publics, ses activités urbaines.

Ensuite, il faut bien avouer que nous avons été impressionné sur la diversité des éléments de sa politique cyclable. Loin de s’être uniquement focalisée sur la construction de pistes cyclables, Nantes a élargi ses initiatives concernant le vélo sur tous les fronts?: services aux cyclistes, parkings, vélos publics, travail avec les associations locales…

Résultat, la part modale du vélo est passée de 2 % à 4,5 % entre 2008 et 2012 (5,3% dans le centre-ville), mais surtout les cyclistes sont des usagers de la rue comme les autres et non des hard-core du vélo, de vrais «?Citizen Cyclists?» (cf. le blogpost sur Copenhagen Cycle Chic).

Deuxièmement, des kilomètres d’infrastructures cyclables
Nantes a construit des kilomètres de pistes cyclables complètement séparées de la circulation automobile.?Orange pâle, c’est la couleur choisie pour marquer les pistes cyclables. Aux carrefours, cette couleur affirme la place des cyclistes et des bandes peintes le long des pistes vient parfois judicieusement renforcer la lisibilité du réseau.

Les pistes sont actuellement assez larges pour accueillir les cyclistes (3 mètres de large mais en bi-directionnelle), mais qu’en sera-t-il quand le nombre de cyclistes augmentera véritablement.?Toutes ces infrastructures seront-elles adaptables?


Une ombre au tableau
Toutefois, il faut tout de même signaler un bémol?: le manque d’homogénéité du réseau cyclable. La diversité du type de pistes cyclables est telle que sans être un fin connaisseur de la ville, on en perd très vite la lisibilité. La piste cyclable se situe parfois au centre de la rue, parfois à droite des voitures, à droite ou à gauche du tram, partagée sur quels mètres avec les piétons ou les bus, elle peut-être mono- ou bi-directionnelle…
Le réseau est trop complexe et malgré la signalisation des axes majeurs nord/sud et est/ouest, difficile d’avoir une carte mentale claire de son itinéraire. Par ailleurs, les pistes cyclables bi-directionnelles montrent déjà leur limite aux heures de pointes, les endroits d’attente aux intersections autant rapidement saturés.

La complexité physique du parcours alternant entre différents types de pistes cyclables à deux impacts majeurs. Il réduit la vitesse des cyclistes et rend ainsi ce mode de déplacement moins compétitif face aux autres modes de transport (12km/h à Nantes contre 15,5 à Copenhague et 20km/h sur les «?Green Waves?»). On le sait, un cycliste utilise son vélo principalement parce que c’est rapide et pratique. Par ailleurs, la complexité de lecture du réseau peut dissuader certains usagers à se déplacer à vélo et limite l’augmentation de la part modale. Est-ce ainsi possible d’atteindre 15% de cyclistes??

Cette remarque est en fait la principale critique que l’on puisse faire aux villes françaises de manière générale. Elles innovent mais complexifient leur réseau.


Une diversité de services?
Comme des dizaines d’autres villes en France, Nantes dispose d’un service de vélos partagés – le Bicloo – et de bornes facilement accessibles (800 vélos et 102 stations). Mais elle permet également la combinaison de transport – vélo-train-vélo (cf. le projet européen BiTiBi). En effet, imaginons qu’un habitant de la région nantaise se rende de son domicile à sa gare locale à vélo, il trouve – à défaut d’un parking sécurisé – un abris à vélo. Il prend ensuite le train et une fois arrivé à la gare de Nantes, il empreinte pour la journée un vélo public et le retourne à la gare lorsqu’il vient reprendre son train.

La Ville de Nantes a développé également des parkings sécurisés disponibles sur la voie public, des pompes à vélo, un vélo pliant autorisé dans le tram – le Cyclotan -, une aide à
de 300 euros à l’achat d’un vélo-cargo, un vélo à disposition des étudiants…


Information à tous nos lecteurs participants à Vélo-City 2015, nous avons déjà trouvé notre QG à deux pas de la salle de congrès, un lieu unique au bord de l’Erdre où nous aurons plaisir à vous retrouver.

Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.

Swiss Family Cargo Bike


No big bicycle urbanist article this time. Just a simple tale of what happens when you loan out your cargo bike. During the summer, a Swiss family from Lausanne checked into my Airbnb room. I have had only wonderful experiences with being an Airbnb host. Half of my guests know my work through the company or through this blog or had the link sent by someone who does, so I get to meet many likeminded people. The other half just like the look of the place so I get to meet fascinating strangers and welcome them into our home.

The Swiss family were cool. They kind of just rocked into Copenhagen without any definitive plan. They just wanted to come here to see this cool, bicycle-friendly city. They even brought their kids’ bikes with them on the plane. They had vague ideas of renting a cargo bike – preferably a Bullitt – and riding around the region but were disappointed to discover that Bullitts couldn’t be rented and the other places that rent three-wheelers were booked. I was using my own Bullitt at the time, so they enquired about the Triobike three-wheeler I have in the backyard. I said that it probably wasn’t THAT great to ride on longer trips, what with the wind and whatnot, but they just shrugged and smiled. They were up for anything. And off they went.

They cycled up the coast north of Copenhagen to the north coast of the island of Sjælland that Copenhagen is on. Then back down again. Then over to Malmö in Sweden to ride around the region. The kids rode their bikes and when one got tired – they were four and six – they just put the bike and kid in the cargo bay and continued.

I heard about their journey but I just received the photos in my inbox. It was, by all accounts, an amazing, epic journey. There are, of course, cycle tracks criss-crossing the nation – especially the island of Sjælland – so THAT was no problem, but respect for doing a few hundred kilometres as a family on a three wheeler, two small kids’ bikes and one extra adult bike.

Pit stop at a gas station. Not for gas, obviously.

Heading north from Copenhagen. Stopping at Charlottenlund.

They had camping gear with them, too.

Always fun with some off-roading.

Ooh. And picnics.

Lakeside camping with pre-requisite Danish beer.

Old building-visiting.

Off to Sweden.

A break back in Copenhagen at Baisikeli’s café.

Thanks to Simon and Sonia for the photos so I can see what they got up to on my bike!

Copenhagenize the planet. And have a lovely day.

50 ways to be a better mountain biker this winter

With dark days, darker nights and weather that’s verging on the criminal side of foul, it’s little wonder that mountain bikers sometimes have a hard time keeping their spirits up when the winter months draw in.

Still, with all that spare time on your hands it seems somewhat foolish to spend it polishing your top tube. We think winter is the perfect time to take a close look at everything in your life to do with bikes and find out just how well it works.

From maintenance tips for bike and body, to skills advice and valid excuses to spend your cash on bike-related stuff, we hope our list of ideas to boost your riding will encourage you not to hang up the wheels until summer but instead keep you out on the trails whatever the weather, making the most of what can be a very beautiful (and productive) time of year.

Get motivated

1 Own goal

Pick a target and give yourself something to aim at. There are now enough events of all sorts on the race calendar to keep you amused every weekend of the year. Cross-country, enduro, endurance, downhill, cyclocross… the list is endless and once you’ve picked your poison you’ll have plenty of motivation to get fitter and faster.

2 Ride, don’t race

Some people just don’t like closed-circuit mountain bike racing. If you’re convinced it’s not for you, then look elsewhere for a goal to keep you going over the winter. Check out adventure races, which mix running and riding with navigation and often require plenty of brainpower and hill skills as well as fitness and riding ability. You could also have a crack at a long-distance cycle route; while they’re not usually technically challenging, the point-to-point nature hits the spot for many people, and they traverse some beautiful parts of the world.

3 Mini adventure

Escape the humdrum and tackle something a little more adventurous. Bivvying is still the method of the moment but we’re fans of bothying and credit card touring, too. Simply fill a small pack with overnight gear, then take the scenic route to a bothy or bike-friendly B&B/guesthouse/hotel. Repeat for as many days as you can manage.

4 Foreign climes

A week of winter sunshine can’t be beaten for lifting your mood. Bike tester and photographer Seb Rogers says: “Spend the money you saved for a new fork/wheelset/whatever on a holiday with your bike instead.” Make sure your chosen location isn’t going to be under 10ft of snow, though…

Clean up your act

5 Feeding stations

Whether you’re whippet thin or could lose a few pounds, take a look at your eating habits. There’s usually room for improvement and always room for more fruit and veg. Fuel the engine consistently and healthily and you’ll notice a big improvement in your riding.

6 Hydration, hydration

When the temperature drops it’s easy to forget to drink enough liquid when you’re riding, but dehydration is just as damaging in the cooler months. Keep sipping through the chilliest rides and drink plenty of water throughout the day.

7 Yoga

Tack a weekly yoga practice onto your riding schedule and you’ll feel the benefits almost immediately. It boosts strength and flexibility, aids breath control and helps you to focus. Look for a local class with help and guidance if you’re a first timer, then check out a DVD in the comfort of your own front room.

8 Bend and stretch

Regular stretching is an overlooked part of any rider’s arsenal. The jury is out over whether it’s best to do it before, after or even during rides, but we prefer to do it in front of the TV while the post-ride tea is brewing. Target any existing problems but don’t neglect the rest of your muscles. View it as preventative maintenance rather than emergency treatment.

9 Catch some Zs

It doesn’t matter how hard you ride, if you don’t make time for your body to recover, you won’t reap the benefits. Sleep is massively important for muscle repair and regeneration so make sure that you get plenty.

Boot camp

10 Learn to love being out of breath

“Far from just being the domain of racers, embracing exertion means you’ll go further, faster and become fitter. Plus, it always helps justify the extra slice of cake at the end of the ride!” Oli Pepper, directeur sportif, Morvelo.

11 Push yourself

“When you think you can’t pedal that hard for a second longer, keep going for a count of 10. You’ll be amazed how much faster/further you’ll soon be going.” Guy Kesteven, BikeRadar tester in chief

12 Cross training

Indulge in a little cross training – a weekly run or swim will boost your all-round fitness markedly. If you’re an adrenaline fiend consider hitting the local climbing wall as an alternative; it’ll increase your flexibility as well as strength and give you the buzz that keeps you absorbed.

13 Spin the night away

It’s a last resort in many people’s eyes but if you’re seriously time crunched then get the turbo out and indulge in some interval sessions. Keep them hard, fast and, most important of all, short to avoid the mind-numbing boredom that comes from pedalling your legs off while going absolutely nowhere.?

Back to basics

14 Pins and needles

Take advantage of some fettling time to get your riding position sorted out. Niggly aches and pains are often caused by something as simple as incorrect saddle height or handlebar rotation or poorly set up SPDs. Pay attention to what your bike looks like, and what you look like on it, to try to work out what’s going wrong.

15 Eat strong

Use the winter downtime to figure out what you can and can’t eat when riding hard. At its most basic this could just mean training yourself to take on adequate amounts of carbohydrate while exercising; move it on a notch and you’ll be looking at testing different sorts of energy drinks, bars and gels to find out which combinations work for you.

16 Back to school

If you want to make the most of your training then it makes sense to brush up on the theory so you really understand how your body works. Pick up a dedicated training book and immerse yourself in the principals of periodisation, lactate thresholds and power output – your friends and family might not welcome a full reprise but you’ll be able to put the knowledge to good use once spring rolls around again.

17 Trials on tarmac

Break out of the knobbly-tyred mould and hit the blacktop for a slightly cleaner mid-winter experience. If you don’t want to splash out on another bike then stick slicks on your mountain bike: you’ll miss out on the rolling benefits of 700c wheels but you’ll still find the speed and apparent ease of road riding utterly refreshing.

Sort out your kit

18 Experiment with bike setup

“Alter your bike setup. Try different riding positions, play with tyre and suspension pressures, experiment with component choice and so on. Work out what works best for you in different situations and don’t just bow to fashion,” says John Ross, racer extraordinaire.

19 Lose weight, not cash

Throwing money at poor performance is a quick fix, but shedding excess flab is a more cost-effective, and healthy, way to speed things up. As an incentive, only buy new kit once you’ve earned it by dropping those pounds.

20 Go minimal

“Don’t be afraid to take just the? bare essentials out with you: if you’re only blasting around local trails of an afternoon a pump, puncture repair kit, spare tube, tyre levers, multi-tool and some snacks should be all you really need. Make things easier and ditch the pack: get a saddle pack or strap your spare tube to your saddle rails, get a bottle boss mount for your pump, and stick the other kit in your rear jersey pocket. And, last but not least, use a water bottle rather than a hydration pack.” Matt Skinner, former What Mountain Bike editor.

21 Audit your backpack

Dig out your usual riding pack. Open all the pockets, turn it upside down and give it a good shake (preferably not over your best white carpet). You’ll be amazed at what you find…

22 Reduce, reuse, recycle

Do you chuck your punctured tubes away? Get the patches out and fix them instead. It’s a purposeful non-riding bike task to do when the weather is vile and is far better for the environment (and your pocket) than sending them to the landfill.

23 Lending library

If you’re mechanically minded and in need of costly specialist tools, consider starting up a tool library. Rope in some friends, work out what you need and then split the cost; you’ll have access to expensive items like thread taps and headset presses but without having to bear the financial burden alone. It does mean that someone will have to take the role of library co-ordinator though.

24 Charitable acts

Clear out your boxes of bike bits and take everything you haven’t touched for a year to your local bike recycling project or cycle jumble. The parts will go to a great home and you’ll have space to start accumulating those worn chains, gripless grips and split tyres again.

25 Spring cleaning

If you’re a novice, learning how to properly clean your bike and relubricate its drivechain is one of the most useful skills you can learn to keep your ride running smoothly. If you think that’s below you, then take a close look at your bike – we bet you’ll find parts that could use a little attention, because ours are exactly the same.

26 Cable magic

Shifting performance is one of the first things to go when the trails get sloppy. Whip out old inners, flush outers with dispersant and fit new inners; it’s one of the quickest ways to get a lacklustre ride feeling neat again, and costs peanuts.

27 Shop local

If you’re lucky enough to have an LBS (local bike shop) nearby, then make the effort to use it. They might not be able to match online/mail order prices but it’s likely that you’ll gain more from their experience and advice than you would save shopping online. If there’s something you’d like to be able to buy from them that they don’t stock, then give them some constructive feedback. Taking the time to develop a good relationship will make buying bike bits even more pleasurable – you might just be glad of it when you need an urgent job doing at 5pm the night before a big ride.

28 Tool school

Learn how to fix your own bike. From the most basic trail skill of replacing punctured tubes to tackling a strip, clean and rebuild of a full-suspension frame, there’s little that can’t be done once you have the knowledge. Start with the small things and work up – there are plenty of resources available to help you learn and you can even go on a training course if you want to take things further.

Be inspired

29 Feel the love

“Be in love with cycling. To be a better cyclist you need to feel the passion. True love will drive you out of bed on windy Sundays, remove the temptation to take the car to work and blind you to the trudge of constant bike cleaning. Love comes from squirrelling away beautiful cycling experiences. Ride more, love more, ride more.” Fi Spotswood, adventure racer.

30 Catch up on your reading

Long dark winter evenings confined to barracks make the perfect opportunity to seek out motivation. No, we’re not talking about the latest YouTube hit; there’s a huge amount of inspirational writing available in a variety of formats from regular riders’ blogs on the internet to more involving reading material published in good ol’ paperback format.

31 Break out the popcorn

Bigger bucks, better kit and innovative techniques have boosted the bike film industry in recent years. Fire up the DVD player and prepare to be amazed.

32 Get connected

Love it or hate it, the growth of social media makes organising days out and finding riding buddies significantly less arduous. With Twitter lists and ‘tweet ups’, Facebook groups and forum rides popping up all over the place, it’s a great way to get involved with like-minded fools. Just beware of the difference between some people’s online persona and their real life personality.

33 Take out a newbie…

As anyone who’s experienced the joy of basking in the glow of a new convert to the cause will tell you, nothing quite beats taking out a novice for their first ever mountain bike ride. Make sure they’re properly equipped, be prepared to weather a few sticky moments and have a stash of sweets on hand ready to ease progress, and you’ll find the experience thoroughly rewarding.

34 …but not your partner

We’d recommend that you don’t press-gang your partner onto the trails. Sending him or her out to learn the basics with an impartial third party if – and only if – they express an interest, is usually far safer and more diplomatic for all involved.

35 Time crunched

Make the time to ride with your friends. It’s easy to blame work and domestic arrangements for keeping you away from regular rides, but the company and laughter will keep you riding happily through the worst of the winter weather. We all have the same number of hours in the day; it’s how you use them that matters. As Debbie Burton, full-time mum and keeper of the Minx Girl cycle clothing website, says: “Just ride your bike whenever you can. Nipping to the shops, half an hour free? Get out on your bike.”

Practical steps

36 Go exploring

“Escape trail centres. Do it now. Maps aren’t scary and there’s a big world out there.” Seb Rogers, tester and photographer.

37 Skills school

Brush up on your trail skills. Take an outdoor-specific first aid course, learn the basics of get-you-home bike repair, make sure you know how to read a map and use a compass. You’ll probably have need to call upon one or more of these skills in the coming year and they could even save your life one day.

38 Map magic

Expand your horizons by researching new places to ride. Use the web to find out about places that interest you, then buy an OS map and get plotting. Guidebooks are a big help to the adventurous rider, but nothing beats finding your very own secret singletrack out there in the back of beyond.

39 Local knowledge

To get the very best out of an area you’re visiting, consider employing a professional guide. Many people don’t see why they should do this in the UK, but you’ll benefit from their legwork and knowledge of the local trail network, the local economy will get a boost and they’ll be able to tailor the riding to suit the kinds of trails you’re looking for. Check out trail centres, tourist information centres and local bike shops for prospective candidates.

40 Dig day afternoons

The trails don’t fix themselves and a great way to give something back is to participate in a maintenance day. Alternatively, adopt a local trail as ‘yours’ and make a habit of stopping every once in a while to trim back encroaching undergrowth and stop up chicken runs or widening puddles. You’ll get a warm glow and the trail will love you back.

41 Eyes open

Be nosey – ride with your eyes open. Investigate the patches of woodland, scrub and wasteland tucked between the houses; it’s likely there’s a trail or two right under your nose.

Expand your skill set

42 Improve your riding

“If you want to ride like a big bowl of awesome, just get your chin up and look well ahead. While you’re at it, let’s have elbows out, move your hips, open your legs, open your mind and relax harder.” Ed Oxley, trail guide and skills guru.

43 Top technique

We all have our mantras to ride by. Mike Davis, tester, says: “Bend your elbows – the tip to end all tips.”

44 Vision power

Former What Mountain Bike editor Matt Skinner has these words of wisdom: “Looking up and further ahead will allow you to see things in good time so as not to get caught unawares. As a result, you’ll pick better lines, and ride better/more smoothly.”

45 Harden up

We’re big hardtail advocates here at BikeRadar. Resident snapper Seb explains why: “Ride a rigid hardtail through the winter, or at least a hardtail. You’ll go much faster when you get back on a susser.” Super-smooth trail surfer Steve Worland goes one step further and recommends that you own at least one off-road bike without suspension (big tyres excepted) and ride it regularly.

46 Skill up

Many riders who wouldn’t think twice about splashing hundreds of pounds on hardware baulk at spending a fraction of that on some skills training, yet booking yourself in with a guide for the day is one of the most fruitful ways to boost your skill level and enable you to make the most of your equipment.

47 Positive spin

Boost your efficiency and you’ll be able to ride harder for longer while expending less energy. Develop a smooth pedalling rhythm and learn how to select the right gear for a given section of trail; you’ll climb better and have more energy left for the downhills.

Time to have fun

48 Vroom vroom

Make motorbike noises just for the hell of it. Mountain biking is all about fun after all, and who knows, it might even make you go faster!

49 Stop blaming your kit

It’s easy to make excuses for riding badly. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. We all do it and sometimes alarmingly frequent. It’s often the best way to learn, and it keeps other riders entertained. Just try not to make them too painfully!

50 Get out and ride!

Turn off your computer and go out for a ride. When you get back plan the next one – it’s habit forming, this mountain biking lark. What are you waiting for?

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.








50 ways to be a better mountain biker this winter

With dark days, darker nights and weather that’s verging on the criminal side of foul, it’s little wonder that mountain bikers sometimes have a hard time keeping their spirits up when the winter months draw in.

Still, with all that spare time on your hands it seems somewhat foolish to spend it polishing your top tube. We think winter is the perfect time to take a close look at everything in your life to do with bikes and find out just how well it works.

From maintenance tips for bike and body, to skills advice and valid excuses to spend your cash on bike-related stuff, we hope our list of ideas to boost your riding will encourage you not to hang up the wheels until summer but instead keep you out on the trails whatever the weather, making the most of what can be a very beautiful (and productive) time of year.

Get motivated

1 Own goal

Pick a target and give yourself something to aim at. There are now enough events of all sorts on the race calendar to keep you amused every weekend of the year. Cross-country, enduro, endurance, downhill, cyclocross… the list is endless and once you’ve picked your poison you’ll have plenty of motivation to get fitter and faster.

2 Ride, don’t race

Some people just don’t like closed-circuit mountain bike racing. If you’re convinced it’s not for you, then look elsewhere for a goal to keep you going over the winter. Check out adventure races, which mix running and riding with navigation and often require plenty of brainpower and hill skills as well as fitness and riding ability. You could also have a crack at a long-distance cycle route; while they’re not usually technically challenging, the point-to-point nature hits the spot for many people, and they traverse some beautiful parts of the world.

3 Mini adventure

Escape the humdrum and tackle something a little more adventurous. Bivvying is still the method of the moment but we’re fans of bothying and credit card touring, too. Simply fill a small pack with overnight gear, then take the scenic route to a bothy or bike-friendly B&B/guesthouse/hotel. Repeat for as many days as you can manage.

4 Foreign climes

A week of winter sunshine can’t be beaten for lifting your mood. Bike tester and photographer Seb Rogers says: “Spend the money you saved for a new fork/wheelset/whatever on a holiday with your bike instead.” Make sure your chosen location isn’t going to be under 10ft of snow, though…

Clean up your act

5 Feeding stations

Whether you’re whippet thin or could lose a few pounds, take a look at your eating habits. There’s usually room for improvement and always room for more fruit and veg. Fuel the engine consistently and healthily and you’ll notice a big improvement in your riding.

6 Hydration, hydration

When the temperature drops it’s easy to forget to drink enough liquid when you’re riding, but dehydration is just as damaging in the cooler months. Keep sipping through the chilliest rides and drink plenty of water throughout the day.

7 Yoga

Tack a weekly yoga practice onto your riding schedule and you’ll feel the benefits almost immediately. It boosts strength and flexibility, aids breath control and helps you to focus. Look for a local class with help and guidance if you’re a first timer, then check out a DVD in the comfort of your own front room.

8 Bend and stretch

Regular stretching is an overlooked part of any rider’s arsenal. The jury is out over whether it’s best to do it before, after or even during rides, but we prefer to do it in front of the TV while the post-ride tea is brewing. Target any existing problems but don’t neglect the rest of your muscles. View it as preventative maintenance rather than emergency treatment.

9 Catch some Zs

It doesn’t matter how hard you ride, if you don’t make time for your body to recover, you won’t reap the benefits. Sleep is massively important for muscle repair and regeneration so make sure that you get plenty.

Boot camp

10 Learn to love being out of breath

“Far from just being the domain of racers, embracing exertion means you’ll go further, faster and become fitter. Plus, it always helps justify the extra slice of cake at the end of the ride!” Oli Pepper, directeur sportif, Morvelo.

11 Push yourself

“When you think you can’t pedal that hard for a second longer, keep going for a count of 10. You’ll be amazed how much faster/further you’ll soon be going.” Guy Kesteven, BikeRadar tester in chief

12 Cross training

Indulge in a little cross training – a weekly run or swim will boost your all-round fitness markedly. If you’re an adrenaline fiend consider hitting the local climbing wall as an alternative; it’ll increase your flexibility as well as strength and give you the buzz that keeps you absorbed.

13 Spin the night away

It’s a last resort in many people’s eyes but if you’re seriously time crunched then get the turbo out and indulge in some interval sessions. Keep them hard, fast and, most important of all, short to avoid the mind-numbing boredom that comes from pedalling your legs off while going absolutely nowhere.?

Back to basics

14 Pins and needles

Take advantage of some fettling time to get your riding position sorted out. Niggly aches and pains are often caused by something as simple as incorrect saddle height or handlebar rotation or poorly set up SPDs. Pay attention to what your bike looks like, and what you look like on it, to try to work out what’s going wrong.

15 Eat strong

Use the winter downtime to figure out what you can and can’t eat when riding hard. At its most basic this could just mean training yourself to take on adequate amounts of carbohydrate while exercising; move it on a notch and you’ll be looking at testing different sorts of energy drinks, bars and gels to find out which combinations work for you.

16 Back to school

If you want to make the most of your training then it makes sense to brush up on the theory so you really understand how your body works. Pick up a dedicated training book and immerse yourself in the principals of periodisation, lactate thresholds and power output – your friends and family might not welcome a full reprise but you’ll be able to put the knowledge to good use once spring rolls around again.

17 Trials on tarmac

Break out of the knobbly-tyred mould and hit the blacktop for a slightly cleaner mid-winter experience. If you don’t want to splash out on another bike then stick slicks on your mountain bike: you’ll miss out on the rolling benefits of 700c wheels but you’ll still find the speed and apparent ease of road riding utterly refreshing.

Sort out your kit

18 Experiment with bike setup

“Alter your bike setup. Try different riding positions, play with tyre and suspension pressures, experiment with component choice and so on. Work out what works best for you in different situations and don’t just bow to fashion,” says John Ross, racer extraordinaire.

19 Lose weight, not cash

Throwing money at poor performance is a quick fix, but shedding excess flab is a more cost-effective, and healthy, way to speed things up. As an incentive, only buy new kit once you’ve earned it by dropping those pounds.

20 Go minimal

“Don’t be afraid to take just the? bare essentials out with you: if you’re only blasting around local trails of an afternoon a pump, puncture repair kit, spare tube, tyre levers, multi-tool and some snacks should be all you really need. Make things easier and ditch the pack: get a saddle pack or strap your spare tube to your saddle rails, get a bottle boss mount for your pump, and stick the other kit in your rear jersey pocket. And, last but not least, use a water bottle rather than a hydration pack.” Matt Skinner, former What Mountain Bike editor.

21 Audit your backpack

Dig out your usual riding pack. Open all the pockets, turn it upside down and give it a good shake (preferably not over your best white carpet). You’ll be amazed at what you find…

22 Reduce, reuse, recycle

Do you chuck your punctured tubes away? Get the patches out and fix them instead. It’s a purposeful non-riding bike task to do when the weather is vile and is far better for the environment (and your pocket) than sending them to the landfill.

23 Lending library

If you’re mechanically minded and in need of costly specialist tools, consider starting up a tool library. Rope in some friends, work out what you need and then split the cost; you’ll have access to expensive items like thread taps and headset presses but without having to bear the financial burden alone. It does mean that someone will have to take the role of library co-ordinator though.

24 Charitable acts

Clear out your boxes of bike bits and take everything you haven’t touched for a year to your local bike recycling project or cycle jumble. The parts will go to a great home and you’ll have space to start accumulating those worn chains, gripless grips and split tyres again.

25 Spring cleaning

If you’re a novice, learning how to properly clean your bike and relubricate its drivechain is one of the most useful skills you can learn to keep your ride running smoothly. If you think that’s below you, then take a close look at your bike – we bet you’ll find parts that could use a little attention, because ours are exactly the same.

26 Cable magic

Shifting performance is one of the first things to go when the trails get sloppy. Whip out old inners, flush outers with dispersant and fit new inners; it’s one of the quickest ways to get a lacklustre ride feeling neat again, and costs peanuts.

27 Shop local

If you’re lucky enough to have an LBS (local bike shop) nearby, then make the effort to use it. They might not be able to match online/mail order prices but it’s likely that you’ll gain more from their experience and advice than you would save shopping online. If there’s something you’d like to be able to buy from them that they don’t stock, then give them some constructive feedback. Taking the time to develop a good relationship will make buying bike bits even more pleasurable – you might just be glad of it when you need an urgent job doing at 5pm the night before a big ride.

28 Tool school

Learn how to fix your own bike. From the most basic trail skill of replacing punctured tubes to tackling a strip, clean and rebuild of a full-suspension frame, there’s little that can’t be done once you have the knowledge. Start with the small things and work up – there are plenty of resources available to help you learn and you can even go on a training course if you want to take things further.

Be inspired

29 Feel the love

“Be in love with cycling. To be a better cyclist you need to feel the passion. True love will drive you out of bed on windy Sundays, remove the temptation to take the car to work and blind you to the trudge of constant bike cleaning. Love comes from squirrelling away beautiful cycling experiences. Ride more, love more, ride more.” Fi Spotswood, adventure racer.

30 Catch up on your reading

Long dark winter evenings confined to barracks make the perfect opportunity to seek out motivation. No, we’re not talking about the latest YouTube hit; there’s a huge amount of inspirational writing available in a variety of formats from regular riders’ blogs on the internet to more involving reading material published in good ol’ paperback format.

31 Break out the popcorn

Bigger bucks, better kit and innovative techniques have boosted the bike film industry in recent years. Fire up the DVD player and prepare to be amazed.

32 Get connected

Love it or hate it, the growth of social media makes organising days out and finding riding buddies significantly less arduous. With Twitter lists and ‘tweet ups’, Facebook groups and forum rides popping up all over the place, it’s a great way to get involved with like-minded fools. Just beware of the difference between some people’s online persona and their real life personality.

33 Take out a newbie…

As anyone who’s experienced the joy of basking in the glow of a new convert to the cause will tell you, nothing quite beats taking out a novice for their first ever mountain bike ride. Make sure they’re properly equipped, be prepared to weather a few sticky moments and have a stash of sweets on hand ready to ease progress, and you’ll find the experience thoroughly rewarding.

34 …but not your partner

We’d recommend that you don’t press-gang your partner onto the trails. Sending him or her out to learn the basics with an impartial third party if – and only if – they express an interest, is usually far safer and more diplomatic for all involved.

35 Time crunched

Make the time to ride with your friends. It’s easy to blame work and domestic arrangements for keeping you away from regular rides, but the company and laughter will keep you riding happily through the worst of the winter weather. We all have the same number of hours in the day; it’s how you use them that matters. As Debbie Burton, full-time mum and keeper of the Minx Girl cycle clothing website, says: “Just ride your bike whenever you can. Nipping to the shops, half an hour free? Get out on your bike.”

Practical steps

36 Go exploring

“Escape trail centres. Do it now. Maps aren’t scary and there’s a big world out there.” Seb Rogers, tester and photographer.

37 Skills school

Brush up on your trail skills. Take an outdoor-specific first aid course, learn the basics of get-you-home bike repair, make sure you know how to read a map and use a compass. You’ll probably have need to call upon one or more of these skills in the coming year and they could even save your life one day.

38 Map magic

Expand your horizons by researching new places to ride. Use the web to find out about places that interest you, then buy an OS map and get plotting. Guidebooks are a big help to the adventurous rider, but nothing beats finding your very own secret singletrack out there in the back of beyond.

39 Local knowledge

To get the very best out of an area you’re visiting, consider employing a professional guide. Many people don’t see why they should do this in the UK, but you’ll benefit from their legwork and knowledge of the local trail network, the local economy will get a boost and they’ll be able to tailor the riding to suit the kinds of trails you’re looking for. Check out trail centres, tourist information centres and local bike shops for prospective candidates.

40 Dig day afternoons

The trails don’t fix themselves and a great way to give something back is to participate in a maintenance day. Alternatively, adopt a local trail as ‘yours’ and make a habit of stopping every once in a while to trim back encroaching undergrowth and stop up chicken runs or widening puddles. You’ll get a warm glow and the trail will love you back.

41 Eyes open

Be nosey – ride with your eyes open. Investigate the patches of woodland, scrub and wasteland tucked between the houses; it’s likely there’s a trail or two right under your nose.

Expand your skill set

42 Improve your riding

“If you want to ride like a big bowl of awesome, just get your chin up and look well ahead. While you’re at it, let’s have elbows out, move your hips, open your legs, open your mind and relax harder.” Ed Oxley, trail guide and skills guru.

43 Top technique

We all have our mantras to ride by. Mike Davis, tester, says: “Bend your elbows – the tip to end all tips.”

44 Vision power

Former What Mountain Bike editor Matt Skinner has these words of wisdom: “Looking up and further ahead will allow you to see things in good time so as not to get caught unawares. As a result, you’ll pick better lines, and ride better/more smoothly.”

45 Harden up

We’re big hardtail advocates here at BikeRadar. Resident snapper Seb explains why: “Ride a rigid hardtail through the winter, or at least a hardtail. You’ll go much faster when you get back on a susser.” Super-smooth trail surfer Steve Worland goes one step further and recommends that you own at least one off-road bike without suspension (big tyres excepted) and ride it regularly.

46 Skill up

Many riders who wouldn’t think twice about splashing hundreds of pounds on hardware baulk at spending a fraction of that on some skills training, yet booking yourself in with a guide for the day is one of the most fruitful ways to boost your skill level and enable you to make the most of your equipment.

47 Positive spin

Boost your efficiency and you’ll be able to ride harder for longer while expending less energy. Develop a smooth pedalling rhythm and learn how to select the right gear for a given section of trail; you’ll climb better and have more energy left for the downhills.

Time to have fun

48 Vroom vroom

Make motorbike noises just for the hell of it. Mountain biking is all about fun after all, and who knows, it might even make you go faster!

49 Stop blaming your kit

It’s easy to make excuses for riding badly. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. We all do it and sometimes alarmingly frequent. It’s often the best way to learn, and it keeps other riders entertained. Just try not to make them too painfully!

50 Get out and ride!

Turn off your computer and go out for a ride. When you get back plan the next one – it’s habit forming, this mountain biking lark. What are you waiting for?

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.








How to change chainrings – video

Changing a chainring on your road bike or mountain bike is a fairly simply task, but one that needs performing promptly when chainring teeth become worn. You can also swap chainrings to alter gear ratios to give you fewer teeth for easier climbing, or more teeth for on-the-flat time trial efforts.

Check out the video below to take you through changing chainrings.

Before you start, you’ll need to bear in mind your chainset’s bolt circle diameter (BCD) when buying new rings. BCD is usually either 110 or 130mm – or essentially compact or traditional sizing. If your bike came with 50×34T chainrings, it’s almost certainly 110 BCD. If it came with 53×39T chainrings it’ll be 130 BCD. Of course, you can always measure the diameter of your old chainring from bolt hole to bolt hole to check. There’s always an exception and in this case, it’s the four-bolt systems used on the newest 11-speed Shimano groupsets, for which a variety of chainring sizes are available without the worry of different BCDs.

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Video: How to change chainrings

This video is part of?the Park Tool Maintenance Monday series. You can purchase the Park Tools used in the video at a number of?dealers?across the UK and internationally. For more maintenance videos, subscribe to the?BikeRadar YouTube?channel.

Tools for the job

  • Hex or torx keys
  • BB removal tool
  • Chaining nut wrench tool

How to replace a chainring

1. Remove chainset

Unless you’re only changing the outer chainring – which it’s often possible to do by un-bolting it and slipping it over the crank arm – you’ll need to start by removing the chainset. Check out our how to replace a crankset video for how to do this.

You'll need to remove the crank set in order to get at the chainrings:

You will usually have to remove the chainset to replace the chainrings

2. Remove chainring bolts

Some high-end cranksets allow you to remove the chainring bolts with only a hex or torx key, but if your chainset uses traditional bolts, you’ll need either a chainring nut wrench tool to sit in the slotted recess of the chainring nut or another hex key (often 1mm larger than the front) to hold in the rear nut and prevent it turning.

A nut wrench tool avoids the nuts slipping when screwing or unscrewing the chainring bolts: a nut wrench tool avoids the nuts slipping when screwing or unscrewing the chainring bolts

The chainring nut tool keeps the chainring nut secure while screwing or unscrewing the bolt

Secure the nut and unscrew the bolts in an anti-clockwise direction. Remove the bolts, taking care to keep them safe for installation of the new rings. You can now remove the old chainrings to discard or thoroughly clean if you’re only changing one ring to alter ratios.

3. Replace chainrings

When replacing the chainrings, you need to pay attention to their rotational alignment.

The outer (largest) ring usually has a small pin sticking out from its surface. The ring should be installed so that the pin is positioned behind the crank-arm, where it can help avoid a total chain jam in the event of the chain over-shifting and falling between the outer ring and crank.

The pin should be positioned behind the crank arm: the pin should be positioned behind the crank arm

The pin stops the chain getting stuck between the crank arm and chainring

The inner ring will usually have a small tab on the inside of the outer part of the ring, which also needs to be fitted behind the crank.

The ramped edge of the teeth – which aids shifting – or any branding or other markings should be visible as you place the ring on.

Chainring markings should face outwards: chainring markings should face outwards

The branding faces outwards – setting the teeth the right way round for smooth shifting

With rings aligned, place each nut into the bolt hole. Securing the nut with chainring nut wrench or hex key, thread the bolt into the nut in a clockwise direction, screwing in just until the bolt feels resistance and the rings are held in place. Repeat for all bolts and then gradually move from bolt to bolt, tightening each bolt a quarter of a turn each time until tight. You can also use a torque wrench for this process, tightening to the recommended torque printed on the bolts.

Re-fit the chainset, making sure to thread the axle through the chain.

Give the bike a pedal and shift through the gears to check all is working correctly. If you’ve changed the size of your outer chainring, you may need to adjust the height of the front derailleur to get the smoothest possible shift – here’s how to set up your front derailleur.








New .bike extension has suppliers taking notice

LOS ANGELES (BRAIN) — The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has approved a host of new extension names, including .bike, as a new Top Level Domain with an open registry. Scott Kamler, president of Kent International, has registered Kentbicycles.bike along with Kentbicycles.com

Shimano XTR Di2 – Electronic shifting comes to mountain bikes

Shimano has today announced details of a new Di2 electronic version of its top-tier XTR mountain bike groupset.

Rumours, as well as leaked images of the group, have been floating around the net for some time, but now everything is official we can give you the full run-down.

XTR Di2 in a nutshell

XTR M9050 marks the first migration of electronic shifting technology into the world of mountain bikes. The system will use one battery and remain wired, using already proven parts from Shimano’s Ultegra and Dura-Ace road Di2 groups.

So what are the advantages? Shimano claims that XTR Di2 will offer faster and more accurate shifting. Also, with no cables to stretch, it’s said to offer shifting consistency that a mechanical transmission cannot match. Whether that’s true remains to be seen, but one part of XTR Di2 that we really should be taking notice of is Syncro Shift – for those who are running double or triple set-ups it could be a game changer.

Syncro Shift allows the rider to control both front and rear derailleurs with one shifter. Simply shift up or down and the transmission will follow a pre-programmed (and customisable) shifting map, moving both derailleurs when necessary to find the next ratio while maintaining a good chain line. So, that’s less clutter at the bar and more time to worry about things other than gear selection.

XTR Di2 shares its chainset, cassette and chain with Shimano’s recently announced?mechanical XTR M9000 groupset,?so that means Di2 options for single, double and triple transmissions.

Individual components

RD-M9050 rear derailleur

Well done shimano! the m9050 rear derailleur does a great job of hiding away its motor: well done shimano! the m9050 rear derailleur does a great job of hiding away its motor

The new M9050 rear derailleur does a great job of hiding away its motor, which is 50 percent more powerful than the one you’ll find in Shimano’s road Di2 derailleurs. That’s to combat the additional weight that muddy conditions can add to the components.

Just like its mechanical brother, the RD-M9050 has Shimano’s?


Shadow RD+

?clutch retention system. This means a rider can externally adjust the spring tension of the rear derailleur using an Allen key. The beauty of this is that with a motor controlling the shift, the tension at the clutch can be turned up to a level that would normally compromise shift performance for a mechanical mech.

The derailleur will be available in a short- and long-cage option, with the former weighing a claimed 289g.

FD-M9050 front derailleur

The front derailleur doesn't do this quite so well…: the front derailleur doesn't do this quite so well…

The XTR Di2 front derailleur is less subtle than its rear counterpart. It has a claimed weight of 115g and features the same auto trimming technology as the company’s Di2 road components.

SW-M9050 shifters

The shifter isn’t really a shifter – it’s simply a switch that has been given a short yet positive throw to try to replicate the feel of a conventional unit: the shifter isn’t really a shifter – it’s simply a switch that has been given a short yet positive throw to try to replicate the feel of a conventional unit

Thanks to Syncro Shift functionality, XTR Di2 can be set up to run with either one or two shifters at the handlebar, even with a triple chainset. The shifter isn’t really a shifter, it’s simply a switch that’s been given a short yet positive throw to try to replicate the feel of a conventional unit. The claimed weight is 64g per unit.

SC-M9050 system display

The bottom right of the lcd display features an indicator that displays information for fox's icd suspension system : the bottom right of the lcd display features an indicator that displays information for fox's icd suspension system

The brain of this groupset is a small handlebar mounted LCD display. While riding, the display communicates essential information such as battery level, gear position and shift mode (whether or not Synchro Shift is activated). It’s integrated with Fox’s electric iCD suspension adjustment system – where the bottom right of the display includes an element which shows the suspension mode of a compatible fork and shock. It certainly leaves the door open for nerdy types and perhaps other manufacturers to exploit in the future.

The display also functions as a charging point for the system and a connection to Shimano’s E-tube software, where – just like in Shimano’s road applications – riders can customise a wide range of functions.

Battery and wiring

Di2 xtr battery options: di2 xtr battery options

Bottle cage mount will not be the only option (L) – notice the wires emerging from the head tube (R)

The battery unit as well as the wiring for XTR Di2 are identical components to the ones used in Shimano’s electronic road groups. The battery can be mounted on a bottle cage, in a seat tube and can even be contained within the steerer unit of certain forks (although full details on this haven’t yet fully emerged).?

Pricing

Di2 technology has, just like it did for the first generation in the world of road, debuted at the top-end of Shimano’s mountain biking range. The pricing alone is likely to keep these parts out of the hands of anyone other than Shimano-sponsored athletes and the very wealthy.?

  • RDM9050GS – ?429.99 (Rear mech short cage)
  • RD9050SGS – ?429.99 (Rear mech long cage)
  • FDM9050 – ?269.99 (Front mech)
  • SWM9050R – ?149.99 (right switch/shiter)
  • SWM9050L – ?149.99 (left switch/shifter

Stay tuned to?BikeRadar?for our first ride impressions on XTR Di2 soon.








Trail Tech: How to set up tubeless mountain bike tyres

Setting up tubeless mountain bike tyres is nothing to be afraid of, but there is an easy way and a hard way to go about it. These five tips will save you the time and headaches that can accompany your first attempt at going tubeless.

1. Use tubeless (UST) or tubeless-ready tyres

This might seem elementary – almost not worth mentioning – except for the fact that many riders (myself included) have been running tyres designed for use with tubes without tubes many years. There’s no shortage of tubeless-ready or true UST tyres available these days (look for the badge), so stick with them for the most dependable tubeless setup.?

What’s the difference between UST and tubeless-ready tyres??UST stands for Universal Standard for Tubeless. This dictates tight tolerances between the tyre’s bead and the rim.?

UST tyres generally have an additional layer of butyl in the casing, to make them airtight without sealant. They also tend to be heavier and have stiffer casings, which is one reason tubeless-ready tyres have become more prevalent.?

Tubeless-ready tyres forgo the additional airtight layer, relying instead on sealant, but use a similar reinforced bead to aid in seating the tyre.

2. Use UST or tubeless-compatible rims

Again, it’s not rocket science. And, yes, many rims can be converted for tubeless use. Thankfully, the majority of mid- to high-end mountain bike wheelsets now come with UST or tubeless-compatible rims. As with tyres, there are some notable differences between UST and tubeless-compatible rims.

Stan’s NoTubes rims are the most prevalent tubeless-compatible design, and several other companies license the design. In a nutshell, NoTubes rims have a shallower drop channel (the center of the rim), which aids in initial inflation, and a tighter-fitting bead hook to hold the tyre in place.

Start by using a wheelset built with ust or tubeless compatible rims:

A number of companies license the Stan’s NoTubes tubeless rim profile

UST rims are made to work with UST-rated tyres, which generally ensures they will inflate with very little fuss. One downside of non-UST systems is the lack of adherence to tight tolerances between various rim and tyre manufacturers.

There can be enough variance between non-UST rims and tyres that one might need to add an additional layer, or two, of tubeless tape in order to create a tight enough interface to inflate the tyre with a floor pump. Try inflating the tyre without sealant first – if you can’t seat it then you might need to add an additional layer of rim tape.

3. Soapy water speeds things along

Spraying the tyre and rim with soapy water will allow the rubber to snap into place at a lower pressure. This is important because many tyres, even those with tubeless-ready beads, should not be inflated to more than 40 or 50psi (depending on volume). Exceeding these pressures can cause damage to the tyre and rim.

Soapy water will allow tires to seat with less effort:

A light spritzing of soapy water on the tyre/rim interface will help the bead pop into place

4. If it won’t work without an air compressor, don’t bother

This is my personal mantra. I want all my tubeless setups to be field serviceable. If I’m on a road trip or at a race and need to swap tyres I still want to be able to run them tubeless.?There’s one cheat I occasionally use to speed things along: remove the valve core when first seating a tyre

Remove the valve core during initial inflation for stubborn tubeless tires:

Remove the valve core during initial inflation for stubborn tubeless tyres

Removing the valve core will allow you to push more air into the tyre faster. Once you hear the bead snap into place, remove the pump and replace the valve core. Don’t worry too much about air loss when reinstalling the valve core; once the bead is locked into place the tyre will be much easier to reinflate.?

5. Check your tyres and add sealant as needed

Tyre sealant has a finite lifespan. Make a point of checking your tyres to ensure the sealant hasn’t dried out. You might find that your sealant remains in liquid form for many months, maybe even a year, if you live in a cool, wet climate. If you live in a dry climate, you might need to add sealant every couple months.

Be sure to add sealant every few months as it will dry out over time:

All the sealant in this tyre has dried out but a fresh splash of sealant will keep it airtight








How to repair a puncture – video

Knowing how to repair a puncture is an essential skill that every cyclist needs to master. It can be daunting for the inexperienced but only takes a few minutes once you know what you’re doing.

In this video, BikeRadar’s James Tennant explains how to carry out the task in a step-by-step walkthough, which demonstrates the procedure on a mountain bike.

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Need to stock up on tools before you start? You can purchase Park Tools used in the video at a number of dealers across the UK and internationally.

Here’s written instructions for those who prefer them to visual demos.

1 Find the puncture

Starting at the valve, check all the way around the tyre’s tread to find the cause of the puncture. Remove any glass or grit that you spot. Even if you find one possible cause, continue checking the tyre until you get back to the valve.

1: 1

2 Remove the tube

Let the air out of the inner tube and push the valve up into the tyre – unscrewing and retaining the valve ring, if fitted. On the side of the wheel opposite the valve, slip a tyre lever under the tyre’s bead and a further tyre lever about 5cm away. Pull the nearer tyre lever (available from all good bike shops) towards you, lifting the tyre’s bead over the edge of the rim.

Continue until one bead of the tyre is completely free of the rim. Pull the tube out. Remove the tyre completely from the rim – with most tyres this can be done by hand unless exceptionally tight.

Note: it’s not always essential to remove the tube from the tyre, as the video above demonstrates.

2: 2

3 Inflate the punctured tube

Inflate the tube and listen for air escaping. Passing the surface of the tube over the lips is a favourite trick of mine. If the hole still can’t be found, re-inflate the tube and pass it through a bowl of water until you spot escaping bubbles. Then dry the tube before proceeding to the next step.

Take care – do not twist a push-fit pump on the valve. The pump should be pushed on straight and pulled off with a single straight pull. The stem nut can easily be broken off if the pump is twisted sideways.

3: 3

4 Prepare the tube

Select the correct size of patch – use a bigger rather than a smaller patch if in doubt. Roughen the surface of the tube around the hole with emery paper. Ensure that any moulding marks are flattened completely. Apply one drop of tyre cement and spread it thinly with your finger over a 2cm circle around the hole. Allow to dry. Apply a second thin layer similarly. Once again, allow to dry – the rubber cement will change from shiny to matt.

4a: 4a

4b: 4b

5 Patch the tube

Inflate the tube slightly – this will help to highlight the position of the hole. Firmly press the patch into place after removing the backing foil. If there’s a thin cellophane backing on the patch, it can be left on. Dust the repair with chalk, talcum powder or road dust to prevent it sticking to the tyre casing.

5a: 5a

5b: 5b

6 Check the casing

Before refitting the tube, double-check the tyre casing from inside for the cause of your puncture. On one occasion after riding a canal towpath with hedge clippings, I found over half a dozen thorns! Placing the tube over the tyre will help to you to discover the position of the puncture. Run your fingertips carefully around the inside of the tyre to feel for the cause of the puncture and remove.

6: 6

7 Refit the tyre

After repairing the tube and checking the tyre for glass, thorns or any other sharp debris, refit one bead to the rim. Slightly inflate the tube and refit it to the rim, putting the valve through its hole first. Starting at the opposite side of the rim to the valve, use your thumbs to lift the tyre’s bead (the part of the tyre that connects the rim to the wheel) over the rim. Work around the rim until there’s just one small section of tyre left. Push the valve up into the tyre and then, using your thumbs, ease the remaining section of the tyre’s bead over the edge of the rim.

7a: 7a

7b: 7b

8 Make final checks

Check that the tube isn’t trapped between the rim and the tyre bead. Inflate to the point where the tyre feels soft but has maintained its shape. Check that the moulding mark around the tyre follows the rim evenly all the way around. If not, deflate a little and ease any high spots down and pull low spots up until the bead is fitted evenly.

Inflate to the recommended pressure and check once again that the tyre’s bead is still seated evenly and that the tyre isn’t lifting off the rim at any point. Finally, check that the tread is running reasonably straight by spinning the wheel. If not, deflate the tyre and start again from the beginning of this step.

8: 8

Puncture fixing tips

  • When taking the tube out of the tyre, note which way the tube was around in the wheel. This will help identify the position of the hole in the tube once the position of the object in the tyre causing the puncture has been found.
  • With a ballpoint pen, mark the hole with a cross so you can pinpoint it accurately.
  • If you don’t have any emery paper, roughen the tube by rubbing it against a stone or the road surface.
  • For tyres that blow off easily: fit a thicker rim tape or a second rim tape – this prevents the tyre bead sinking into the rim well and blowing off the opposite side.
  • For tight tyres: fit a thinner rim tape if possible – this will make your tyres easier to fit and remove.
  • Be very particular with your technique. The last section of the tyre to be fitted to the rim should be at the valve. Make sure that the tyre’s bead is pushed as far as possible into the well of the rim. Some very tight-fitting tyres may need tyre levers to fit them. Using VAR 425 special tyre levers will help to prevent puncturing the innertube when refitting the tyre.

Puncture identification

Two small holes in a tube placed fairly close together indicate a pinch puncture. This is caused by the tube getting trapped between the tyre and the rim when riding over a sharp object. Tyres not inflated hard enough are a frequent cause of this. Check that the tyre’s sidewall isn’t cut. If it is, you may need to use an emergency repair – see the ‘Emergency tyre repairs’ section below.

A hole on the inner side of the tube indicates that the puncture was caused by a spoke head. Check around the inside of the rim to ensure that the rim tape properly covers the spoke holes and no spoke end protrudes above the inner surface of the rim. If this happens it’ll need filing down.

A less common cause of a puncture is a rough edge to the valve hole rim. The puncture will be at the base of the valve and will not be repairable.

Puncture inspection: puncture inspection

Puncture inspection: puncture inspection

Create your own puncture kit

  • Feather edge patches
  • Rubber solution
  • Pair of plastic tyre levers
  • Piece of fine emery paper
  • Small adjustable spanner, if using wheels with hex nuts
  • Allen key if using Allen-bolt-fitting wheels
  • Reliable pump
  • Keyring LED – useful if you’re riding in the dark with a dynamo
  • Always carry a spare tube too.

Pump aside, all this should pack in an underseat bag.

Puncture kit: puncture kit

Weekly check-up

Check your tyres for cuts in the tread, swelling in the sidewall, or serious wear. Tyres with cuts, swelling or casing visible through the tread must be replaced. Remove any grit or glass embedded in the tread. Check your tyre pressures with a proper gauge. Tyres inflated to the correct tyre pressure will have fewer punctures and a longer life. The recommended pressures are normally marked on the sidewall of the tyre.

Use your spare

Repairing a puncture is very difficult in the rain as the patch will not stick to the tube. Instead, fit the spare tube that you always carry! The spare tube is also essential if a tyre blows off a rim, or if the tube is cut by the valve hole.

Emergency tyre repairs

Double over a largish section of heavy duty polythene. Trim off a piece 10cm wider than the gash and 5cm wider than the tyre. Remove the tyre from the rim. Wrap the double layer of the patch around the inside of the tyre casing centred on the slit or cut. With the patch overlapping each side of the casing, refit the first tyre bead, trapping the emergency patch.

Fit a new tube if necessary and inflate it a tad. Refit the second tyre bead with the patched section last. Check that the patch is trapped at both sides. Reinflate the tyre and trim off any excess patch. The patch will be held in place miraculously by the tyre’s air pressure.


Ray Keener: Is cheaper better?

A blog by BPSA executive director Ray Keener Editor’s note: Ray Keener is a longtime friend of Bicycle Retailer and writes occasional columns, blogs and articles for the website and magazine. Ray’s background includes stints as a bike retailer, executive director of the Bicycle Industry Organization, editor of a trade magazine, founder of Growth Cycle and now executive director of the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association. Fred Clements, executive director of the NBDA, recently asked this question on his blog : “Are casual bike consumers being frightened away from shops because of sticker shock?” While Fred focused on selling used bikes as a way to serve lower-priced demand, that isn’t every shop’s option

By WordPress on March 14, 2014 | Folding Bicycle, Health, Nuts