Archive for December, 2012

December 18, 2012 00

Now that the silly season is upon us and people are thinking about Christmas presents and potentially buying a bicycle for a loved one, people are asking me “what kind of bike is best?” This must be the million dollar question, along with how much should I spend? Having chatted with the other BikeGals we […]

Now that the silly season is upon us and people are thinking about Christmas presents and potentially buying a bicycle for a loved one, people are asking me “what kind of bike is best?”

Santa

This must be the million dollar question, along with how much should I spend?

Having chatted with the other BikeGals we agree on the following principles, feel free to disagree this is just our two cents worth.

What are you using the bike for?

Commuting to work? Training/exercise? Riding with a club? Off road cycling? Going up to the shops and back? This is the number one question you need to answer to decide what kind of bike is best for you.

If you are returning to cycling or new to cycling, you may not want to jump onto a road bike with cleats just yet.

A hybrid bike or a commuter is a cross between a road and a mountain bike. It has a more upright frame and is great for riding on the road or bike paths. Most have flat handle bars. It’s frame and tyres are more sturdy and durable than a road bike and it’s perfect for commuting. Often referred to as a commuter bike.

Lots of people do use their road bikes for commuting, and of course this is fine – it depends on what you are comfortable with.

A road bike is good if you are going to be riding long distances or racing and most people on road bikes are riding in cleats. They generally have a lighter frame and drop handlebars, to allow you to get into an aerodynamic position – less upright. They also have skinnier tyres and tend to go faster than their hybrid or mountain biking cousins.

Mountain bikes are often sturdier and heavier than a hybrid bike, with chunky tyres to deal with off road cycling. They also have suspension in them. Again, if you wanted to, you could easily ride a mountain bike for your commute. The hybrid is just a bit lighter and would be easier but no issues either way.

My first bike

My first bike purchase was a flat bar hybrid made by Trek that was the 2010 model of this one. It cost me about $500 which is basically what I wanted to spend and nearly three years later, it’s still my commuter bike and has nothing wrong with it.

How much should I spend?

The BikeGal.com collective all agree – decide what your budget is and if you can afford to, go one level above the most basic model. Talk to anyone who owns a bike and they will tell you, the sky is the limit with bikes – you can spend thousands of dollars! But as I’ve said above, $500 got me started and you can certainly spend less than this or more than this.

Buying a new bike also means you can test ride a few before deciding on one.

Don’t forget to allow budget for other essentials if you are returning to cycling or you are new to cycling – set aside money for at least a helmet, bell, kit for fixing a flat tyre, bike pump and lights. You will need these as a bare minimum.

What about second hand bikes?

Personal opinion here, only buy a second hand bike off someone you know and trust. Buying second hand bikes from garage sales and off ebay (unless you are an expert) means you don’t really know the history of the bike – if it’s been in any accidents, if it’s integrity has been compromised or has anything really wrong with it.

If you are going to buy a second hand bike either buy it from someone you know who will genuinely tell you if it has any issues OR buy a second hand bike and take it to a bike shop.

Tell the bike mechanics you just bought it second hand and get them to give it a good once over and tell you if there is anything majorly wrong with it. While you are there you could also book it in for a tune up – get them to check it all over, grease the chain, pump the tyres and get it all ready for you to ride.

Also get them to help you adjust the bike to fit you correctly.

If you are buying a second hand bike – make sure you know what size frame you need (if you buy a new bike – the bike shop will help you with this). What size frame will also depend on your height and what type of bike you are after. See this chart .

Riding a bike which is the wrong size for you will only lead to pain – so it’s best to get this right.

How to work out what size frame of bike you need

There are lots of different ways to do this, here are two popular ways:

Measure your inseam
1. In bare feet, measure your inseam – stand against a wall with a book between your legs, pushing against your pelvic bone. Mark the wall at the top of the book and then measure from the floor to that mark
2. Take this measurement and multiply by 0.65. This equals your road bike size. Some road bikes are measured from centre to top – if that’s the case, multiply your inseam by 0.67. (so before you buy ask what sort the bike is…)
3. To get your mountain bike size right, subtract 10 cm and convert to inches – this works, roughly.

Stand over the bicycle

Stand over the bicycle with your feet on the ground and measure the distance between the bicycle frame and your crotch.

There should be a clearance of about three centimetres for a road or hybrid bicycle and 10 centimetres for a mountain bike.

If you’re unable to put both heels on the ground when doing this test, the bicycle is too big for you.
Generally women have longer legs – particularly the femur. Sadly, a lot of bikes are still designed with men in mind so finding a bike that fits you and is comfy can be a challenge.

Ultimately what kind of bike is best really depends on you, your needs and your budget.

Merry Christmas!! and…

Happy cycling!
BikeGal.com

December 15, 2012 00

Do you know the bridge I mean? The bridge that links from the southern end of Market Street over to Darling Harbour and Pyrmont with the monorail running above it. I have been cycling over this bridge for a few years now and I’ve witnessed many a near miss accident as it’s a shared zone […]

Do you know the bridge I mean? The bridge that links from the southern end of Market Street over to Darling Harbour and Pyrmont with the monorail running above it.

Pyrmont bridge

I have been cycling over this bridge for a few years now and I’ve witnessed many a near miss accident as it’s a shared zone between pedestrians and cyclists.

The Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority is responsible for this bridge and it has a 10km/hour limit for cyclists.

There are for and against arguments for having a dedicated cycling lane to separate cyclists from pedestrians along this bridge.

For – cyclists would all be in a dedicated space.

Against – many of the pedestrians on the bridge are tourists and they like to zigzag across the bridge taking photos – a dedicated lane could potentially cause more accidents for them.

For – in peak hour with the volume of cyclists in a bike lane, they may all be forced to ride a little slower due to numbers?

Against – a dedicated bike lane though could mean that cyclists ride faster and this speed at the exit and entry points could be an issue?

And the list goes on.

Personally I go a bit bananas with the high number of pedestrians who have their earphones in their ears at a volume where they don’t have a clue what’s going on around them. But what can you do.

I’m not sure what the answer is with this one.  Maybe it’s a little common sense and Sydneysiders just need to learn to share!

What do you think we should do?

Happy cycling!

BikeGal.com

December 11, 2012 2

Would more cycle friendly public transport get more people in Sydney cycling?

So according to this new report by the University of Sydney,  while the number of people cycling to work in inner Sydney has increased since 2006, the proportion cycling to work in outer Greater Sydney has gone down consistently since 2001.

Definitely the increase in cycling infrastructure, dedicated bike paths and the like has had a role to play in getting people cycling in and around the city. But what about our friends in greater Sydney?

Interestingly the Sydney Uni report showed two areas outside of inner Sydney where cycling had increased – Newcastle and Manly. Not sure what’s going on in Newcastle (can anyone else report?) but possibly the increase in Manly is because you can ride to the Ferry, stick your bike on the Ferry, and hop off in the city and ride to your work. Perfect!

Perhaps we need more transport options that incorporate bicycles to get more people cycling?

When I lived in Vancouver, Canada, I was impressed that their buses had a bike rack. So you could ride to the bus stop, stick your bike on the rack at the front and get it when you got off.

Vancouver bikerack

Of course there are other factors for why people do and don’t ride. But if you had a long commute from greater Sydney, surely it would be easier if you could ride a short distance to some public transport, stick your bike on it, and then hop off at the other end with your bike? Maybe my view is too simplistic, but it does seem sensible.

What do you think? What would encourage more people in greater Sydney to cycle?

Happy cycling!

BikeGal.com

December 7, 2012 4

When I returned to cycling in my mid 30s I suddenly realised that I was going to have to take my hands of the handlebars at some point to indicate left or right. Now if you’ve grown up riding a bike this is probably no issue for you. But I was not one of those […]

When I returned to cycling in my mid 30s I suddenly realised that I was going to have to take my hands of the handlebars at some point to indicate left or right.

Now if you’ve grown up riding a bike this is probably no issue for you. But I was not one of those people and when I started cycling again as an adult, they idea of removing my hands from the handlebars was not very appealing.

So if you are like me I can tell you that the best thing to do is just get comfortable riding your bike. The more you ride in a safe place (e.g. quiet roads or Centennial Park), the more relaxed you will get and the easier it becomes.

To start with though I just practised taking one hand off the handlebars by a few inches and holding it off for 10 seconds or so.

Once I could do that I turned to my big brother to give me some more ideas about getting used to indicating and taking my hands off the handlebars.

We would ride around Centennial doing things like touching your nose with one hand or touching your helmet, and getting used to that feeling of only having one hand on the handlebars.

The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Does anyone else have tips on this?

 

Happy cycling!

BikeGal.com

December 2, 2012 6

I still cannot believe this happened. So one day this week I was cycling along on my commute from the eastern suburbs to Ultimo. I decided to veer away from my usual route and try a different way and suddenly found myself cycling along Hay Street where the light rail or tram goes heading towards […]

I still cannot believe this happened.

So one day this week I was cycling along on my commute from the eastern suburbs to Ultimo. I decided to veer away from my usual route and try a different way and suddenly found myself cycling along Hay Street where the light rail or tram goes heading towards Chinatown.

Now apparently you are not supposed to ride along the light rail lines and I met the guy who manages Sydney’s light rail who told me that they are always having incidents with cyclists.

But anyway, here I was riding along Hay St.

For some reason since I started cycling I have this unnatural problem that if I’m cycling between two posts I almost start hyperventilating over the thought that I am going to hit one of the posts as I pass through. And I don’t know if you’ve experienced this too – I’ve discovered now that when riding through narrow spaces, the best thing is not to look at things on either side of you but look forward to where you are going. And this generally prevents hitting anything.

So while riding along the tram lines I started fretting that I would get my wheels stuck in the tram tracks. And sure enough, what do you know – it happened.

I would like to add that of course it happened about 8am on a weekday morning when lots of people are walking around heading to work in the middle of the city.

Both wheels. Stuck. In the tram tracks. Yes. Stuck. NOT MOVING. Very embarrassing.

So now that I’ve come to a complete stop I try to pull my bike out of the tram tracks. I literally have to get off my bike and yank it out. While people walking past are giggling and laughing.

I’d like to suggest that based on this experience, cycling along Hay St is probably not that great an idea. Maybe it’s ok if you don’t fret about getting stuck but unfortunately that’s just not the way my brain works.

Since being stuck in the tram tracks I started to wonder about Sydney’s tram network before they ripped it all up in the late ‘50s to make way for cars (in the words of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman “big mistake, huge!”).

Did you know at the height of Sydney’s tram network in 1933 more than 400 million passengers were travelling on it each year along 300 kilometres of tram lines. This means that Sydney’s old network was even bigger than Melbourne’s current trams!

What I wonder, is if we still had that big tram network would Sydney motorists have got more used to sharing the road (albeit with trams) and would this behaviour have had a flow on positive impact on sharing the road with cyclists?

Who knows.

Anyway, I hope you haven’t been stuck in the tram tracks either…. Or have you?!

Happy cycling!
BikeGal.com