Tag Archives: bike

Choosing the right cycling shoes

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To clip, or not to clip?  Clip.  We’ve already written a post about cycling pedals, but I decided to go ahead and put up a post about shoes for the new year.  We’re going to look at the benefits of the different types of shoes you can buy for your ride and hopefully help you choose the correct cycling shoe for your ride.

Remember these things when choosing the right cycling shoes:

  • The stronger the sole, the more power is transferred to the pedal.
  • If you have wide feet, be careful choosing road style shoes, they often come narrowly designed.
  • Ensure a snug fit with a little room in the toes to move around in cold weather.
  • Ensure the fit at the ball of your foot, where you connect to the pedal, isn’t too tight or you will suffer from numbness in your toes.  You need a little up and down space to keep blood moving.
  • Ensure there is no slipping in the heel.  You need a nice heel cup and not a flat sole.

Cycling Gear is on Sale

Cycling Gear is on Sale

In general, there are three types of cycling shoes on the market.  There are a number of special variations, but we’ll focus on the main three.

  • BMX
  • Mountain
  • Road

Road shoes are what most people conjure up when thinking about the Tour de France and cycling.  These shoes are designed for riding and are often difficult to walk in.  Since they are specifically designed for cycling, they often have exposed cleats to ensure the sole is made of one strong piece of material.  As you’ll learn later, mountain shoes often have recessed cleats that cut into the sole and lessen it’s strength.  Road shoes are often of a much narrower design, more lightweight, and stronger than other shoes.  Have a look at the exposed cleats on this model and imagine walking around in them:

shoe

Road Cycling Shoes

Mountain cycling shoes are a little different than road shoes in that they usually have recessed cleats.  This makes the shoe much more comforable to walk in when not clipped into the bike.  Typically these shoes will have rubber/nylon soles on the outer rim of the sole to shed mud and pad your footsteps.  Because of this added sole, the weight of these shoes is generally higher than a road shoe, but not a ton.  You can check to see how good the shoes are at shedding mud and water by checking the gaps between the sole pieces.  It’s hard to explain further, but you’ll understand if you flip the shoe over and check the spacing.  Bigger spaces lead to better clearning ability.    I briefly mentioned earlier that having a recessed cleat can weaken the sole of a cycling shoe.  Basically there is a 2x3cm piece taken out of the sole to fit in the cleat.  Remember this is you are going for speed, it might make a difference for you and make it worthwhile to pick up road shoes and carry another pair of shoes for walking around.  For us bicycle tourers, a softer sole is worth saving on bringing an entire extra pair of shoes to walk around in.  Having two shoes in one is priceless on a long bike tour.  Looking at the picture below, you can see the recessed cleat, the extra rubber sole and mud-clearning gaps, and the heel cup.

Sidi Mountain shoes

Mountain Cycling Shoes

BMX shoes come in models with or without clips because BMX riders use platform pedals and don’t require clipping in at all times because it can become dangerous.  Imagine doing a nice backflip and having your foot stuck in the pedal.  That would suck.  Some riders do prefer the feeling of clipping in and so there are models of BMX shoes available with slips.  BMX shoes typically look like skate shoes because of their wide, flat soles .  Have a look at a typical BMX shoe below:

bmx

BMX Clipless Shoes

Once you’ve chosen the style of your cycling shoe, you’ve got to choose the quality.  Generally, there are three levels of quality when it comes to buying bike shoes.

  • Beginner
  • Economic
  • Performance

Beginner

Obviously, these shoes are of the lowest quality and lowest price of our three choices of cycling shoes.  The soles of these shoes are the flimsiest of the bunch, often made of rubber (heavy) or nylon (cheap).  The upper part of the shoe is made of nylon,synthetic  leather, suede, or mesh.

Economic

These are your mid-range cycling shoes, usually these can be bought for anywhere between 80-120 dollars.  A lot of Shimano, Forte, and Pearl Izumi models fit into this category.  These bike shoes typically come with some sort of composite sole made up of nylon or some carbon fiber.  The upper part of the shoe is made of leather, nylon, mesh, or other materials.  Most of these models will also come with a molded heal cup to position you for max power.

Performance

These are your expensive cycling shoes, usually ranging from 150-250 and higher.  If you are a serious road racer or cyclist, this is your target range.  These bike shoes come with carbon-fiber soles and high quality upper materials made of pure leather or microfibers for maximum breathability.  Some popular performance models include Sidi, Cannondale, Lake, Vittoria, and Adidas.

I hope this helps you choose the right cycling shoes.  Remember, if you’re on a tour and need extra space, get a multi-purpose biking shoe with a recessed cleat so you don’t have to carry an extra pair of shoes.

Don’t forget that one of the most important aspects of power transfer are the soles of your shoe.  A weak and flimsy sole isn’t going to transfer as much power at a solid piece of sole.  Because of this, cheaper shoes are going to be much flimsier than the more expensive models, mostly because of build materials.

REI January Super Clearance! Jan 9-19

Learn more about my upcoming 8,500mile bicycle trek from South Korea to Portugal at my new website.  Click on the logo.

the Long Haul for Hunger

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Windstopper winter soft shell jacket

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Well it is officially winter in Seoul, South Korea.  On Friday we got down to -12C with winds over 30km/h!  I’m using my WINDSTOPPER WindstopperWindchill-Calculator to see how cold it felt, it reads -30C with wind.  Wow!  With this in mind I headed out this Saturday to gear up for winter riding.  I usually ride 30 milers down on the Han River here in Seoul and it can get really windy even on a good day.  As part III of my clothing system I needed a weather barrier.  I did a little research and came upon a brand called Windstopper.  It was created by the people that made Gore-Tex, a company called Gore.  Simple design with three layers to provide windproof fabric with moisture wicking ability.  The soft shell version offers mild water resistance and snow protection as well.

I took it out for a test ride and was very happy with it.  Coupled with the rest of my clothing system I was very warm and dry.  Check out www.windstopper.com or www.blackyak.co.kr.

Surly Long Haul Trucker Update Review

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*UPDATED*

a Surly Long Haul Trucker Review

A while back I posted a series of touring bike reviews that look mostly at touring specs, bike design, function, and price.  By far my most popular post was the review on the Surly Long Haul Trucker.  So I’ve decided to do a follow up review to have a deeper look into the bike.

REI.com for Cycling

Ortlieb Panniers are on a big SALE NOW (October)!  Get them while they’re available by clicking above, thanks for supporting!

Here is a link to my first review of the Long Haul Trucker.

The Basics

Frame- 100% Surly 4130 CroMoly steel.

Chainstay Length- 18.1 inches

Brakes- Tektro Oryx cantilever

Tires- 26×1.5” on 42-54cm frames and 700c x37mm on 56-62cm frames

Hubs- Shimano XT, 36h

Components- The Surly Long Haul Trucker has a mix of components.  Shimano Tiagra front derailleur, Shimano XT rear, Deore Cassette, SRAM chain, and a Sugino XD 600 (48-36-26t).

Price- $850 Complete, $419 Framset


120x60 REI Outlet

Now I’ll delve into the bike a little bit and talk about some first-hand experience with the bike.

Frame

Strength and Feel:

The steel frame of the Surly Long Haul Trucker (LHT) is very strong and comfortable.  What you will notice when riding the bike is significant shock absorption from the frame.  As you probably know, this is not a mountain bike and there aren’t any shocks to cushion road blows.  Fully loaded, or as a heavy rider, you will notice a bit of give in the frame. I weight 70kgs (155 lbs) and don’t notice it much, but have had larger friends tell me they get a bit of give in the frame under stress.  Not really an issue to most though and I like it.

Quality:

I’ve inspected 7 Surly LHTs to compare their build quality and have come to the following conclusions.  What you will probably end up with, whether you buy a complete LHT or just the frameset, is a very well constructed bike.  The TIG welds are very smooth and consitent throughout the frame.  You will see there is a lot of clearance for big tires and fenders on the front and rear.  You will find a ton of braze-ons (little frame holes that allow connections to parts like fenders, racks, and brakes), here is a list of them all;

  • Upper bosses and dropout eyelets for racks front and rear
  • Fender eyelets
  • Chainstay spare spoke holder
  • Pump peg
  • Downtube shifter bosses
  • 3 sets of bottle cage bosses
  • rear housing stop for canti brakes;
  • housing stops for brakes and derailers

That is certainly a lot of options.  Here are a couple of issues that have come up with these brazeons.

  • The 3rd bottle cage mounts a little too close to the front wheel if you’re using fenders and there is a lack of clearance on turns because of this.  I’ve had to single secure the bottle cage lower towards the bottom bracket.
  • This design problem is also evident on turns while riding with SKS fenders.  My toes get clipped by the fenders on turns and that is annoying.  I am in the process of moving the fender around and shortening the supports because they, not the fender, are hitting my shoes.
  • The extra set of fender eyelets are a life-saver.  I’ve got Surly Nice Racks on my front and rear and their connection to the braze-ons slightly inhibits the natural resting position of a fender attached to the same hole.  This causes SKS fenders to pop in and out of their quick release cages and mess up the front tire.  With the extra set of braze-ons located just a bit higher up on the fork, I was able to re-attach the fenders to those new braze-ons and eliminate the problem.


REI.com Camping Gear

The paint job is mostly top-notch, with the exception of a couple of areas around the bottom bracket and chainstay that got a bit too much paint.  Everything was covered though and none of the brazeons or holes were clogged.  Logo stickers are easily removed with a hair dryer and show no sign of earlier presence.

Design:

The Surly LHT is designed specifically for touring and it is pretty evident in frame and feel.  The relaxed head angle keeps you in a more upright position that a road bike, and a more downward position than a mountain bike.  That sounds just peachy, doesn’t it?  Well, it is.  Even with the stock handlebars, which I will probably replace  because of my wrist problems, you get 3 nice positions for riding (upright, semi-race, and race).  These aren’t the proper terms, but imagine they are and they will make sense.  The other nice part of the design is the long chainstay.  I’m just going to explain this as basically being the distance between your foot and the back hub or cassette.  This translates into how much clearance your foot is going to have on your rear panniers.  I have size 13.5 feet and ride with clipless pedals and have no problem clearing my Ortlieb rear panniers (which by the way are on sale at REI right now, so check them out below).

REI.com for Cycling

Ortlieb Panniers are on SALE NOW! Get them while they’re available by clicking above, thanks for supporting!

So this chainstay length of 18.1 inches translates into foot clearance, speed, and confidence.  Why speed and confidence?  Think about it…if you are constantly worried your heels are going to clip your rear panniers, are you gonna pedal your heart out up those hills, or are you gonna hold off for fear of getting stuck and unclipping your cleats?  More confidence will help you go faster and be more relaxed.  Look at the chainstays for other similar sized bikes:

Surly LHT:  18.1 inches

Trek 520: 17.7 inches

Cannondale Touring:18 inches

Fuji Tourer:  17.34 inches

Raleigh Sojourn:18.1 inches

And for comparison….the Trek 3700 Mtn. Bike has a chainstay of 16.9 inches.

Components

Brakes:

The Surly LHT comes with Tektro Oryx cantilever brakes.  I’m not too happy with the pads on these brakes and have already replaced them.  The originals were making horrible streaks on my rims and the new ones show no sign on the streaks.  I also find them a bit difficult to use from the handlebars, so I am in the process of replacing the mounts and bars with something with more like 5 riding positions.

Shimano Components:

The Surly LHT comes with a series of Shimano components. The Shimano Tiagra front derailleur, Shimano XT rear derailleur, and a Deore cassette.

None of these components are horrible and none of them have given me any problems thus far.

Other components:

The Surly LHT comes with a SRAM chain, and a Sugino XD 600 (48-36-26t).  I have replaced the chain with a Shimano and use the SRAM for a replacement.  I made the move after reading a lot of reviews on the SRAM chain.   I found the shifting much smoother with the new chain.  The Sugino XD is a very good model for the price of about 75 dollars.  This crankset isn’t going to fail on you and unless you are willing to replace it with a top of the line Shimano or Campy crankset, don’t even think about an upgrade.  Many people are actually upgrading to the Sugino XD 600.

Others

Ride:

I like the ride of the Surly.  A lot of people say the bike is heavy and slow, but it is a couple of pounds lighter than my last mountain bike and is definitely faster.  Of course this isn’t a racing bike, but what I’m trying to get across is that this isn’t such a slow bike as you get the impression it is on the web.  You’ll hear a lot of talk about how heavy and slow it is, but I don’t find it all that true.  I can easily get the bike up to 45kmp/h.

Saddle (seat):

The saddle on the Surly LHT is a Velo Gel.  It isn’t all that comfortable and just about everyone (95%) of the LHT owners I’ve talked to and read about, have swapped out the saddle.  I personally don’t mind it and have been on a 500 mile tour with it, no problems.  I ride with padded pants, that may help.  I will upgrade the saddle before my Korea to Portugal ride though, I want something a little wider and easier on my sensitive parts.

Tires:

I like the feel of the tires and have had no flats, punctures, or pinches in 750 miles thusfar.  500 of those miles were loaded front and rear.  That’s a decent record.  I will upgrade the tires to a little bit wider and thicker when the time calls.

120x60 REI Outlet

Choosing a touring bicycle; Kona Sutra

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REI.com for Cycling

Choosing a touring bicycle; Kona Sutra 2009.

Now that I’m back from Hong Kong, even though I didn’t actually get to go, I’ve got another touring bike for you all.

Next up is the Sutra from Kona.  Please comment if you have ever ridden, owned, or know anyone who owns this bike.  Email photos of your setup to me at recklesscognition @ gmail.com and have them posted on this site.

2009 Kona Sutra

2009 Kona Sutra

Before we begin….Check out the links on the left side of the page.  Go to the “About Me” page to the left and read about what this journey is all about.  If you are into it, support my journey by helping others and adding to the donations I will deliver to the Mercy Corps organization. Donate, Sponsor, or Pledge on a per-km/mile basis, anything will help.  Learn more by here…Bike Journey

Let’s have a look at the Long Haul Trucker’s spec sheet.

Frame- CroMoly steel.

Chainstay Length- 440mm or 17.3 inches

Brakes- Avid BB7 Road Disc

Tires- Continental Contact 700x32C

Hubs- Shimano Disc 36 spokes

Components-Mostly entry-level Shimano Deore components with an XT rear derailleur.

Price- $1200

First off, the 2009 paint job is much improved over the drag colors on previous model years.  I love colorful frames. The Kona sutra is a dedicated touring bike and comes with front and rear racks for your heavy loads.  Although our initial review stated the bike only had 32 spoke wheels, further review and helpful comments from our visitors have led us to the conclusion that there are actually 36 spokes. Thanks for the input! Expect this bike to be heavy, disc brakes, racks, fenders, etc are really gonna load this bike down.  Even though it is heavy, from what I’ve heard, the frame is super rigid and actually handles the weight well. There has been a set of complaints about rear-wheel spoke breaking being quite frequent.

There are also disc brakes on the bike, which are good for poor weather, but not necessarily good for bike tours.  Looking past the brakes and spokes, there is a bit of an issue here with foot clearance.  Just looking at the photo of this bike with racks hints at a possible problem.  They look mighty close to the pedals, especially that front rack mounted at such an angle.  There have been numerous issues with lack of foot clearance with the Sutra.  If you’ve experience otherwise, please let me know.

How are ratings calculated?

Overall Rating:

Kona Sutra:

Value:  3.6/5

Quality: 4.2/5

Compliance: 4/5

Overall: 11.8/15

Let’s look at the ratings a little more in detail.

Value:  This bike retails for about $1,200. This price is too high for the package.  You’re getting basic components, and a steel frame.  Sure, you’re getting two racks, but is that worth $300?

Quality: I don’t think there are any problems specific to this bike frame, but the wheels have caused problems to numerous customers.

Compliance: Disc brakes and a short chainstay (lack of foot clearance) are the main issues here.

I didn’t think think bike would score so low but looking at it closely I think the rating is justified.  I’d love to hear otherwise, so let me know if you’ve owned this one before.

We’ll be compiling all of the ratings on a new page, look for it to be complete shortly.  Check it out here.

Choosing a touring bicycle; Surly Long Haul Trucker.

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Choosing a touring bike, the Surly Long Haul Trucker.

I’m very happy to unveil our latest post with a look at the Surly Long Haul Trucker

At NUMBER 7… Long Haul Trucker from Surly.  Please comment if you have ever ridden, owned, or know anyone who owns this bike.  Email photos of your setup to me at recklesscognition@gmail.com and have them posted on this site.

Surly Long Haul Trucker

Surly Long Haul Trucker

Before we begin..I just want to mention the Long Haul for Hunger, an 8,500 mile bicycle tour on Surly Long Haul Truckers.  The riders will cover 2 continents in under four months while raising awareness for the efforts of a charity called Mercy Corps.  I encourage you to check out our website for more information.  The Long Haul for Hunger.

I’m a little biased with this bike because it is my touring bike of choice, but I’ll try to be unbiased in this post.  But, it will be difficult…

REI.com for Cycling

Let’s have a look at the Long Haul Trucker’s spec sheet.

Frame- 100% Surly 4130 CroMoly steel.

Chainstay Length- 18.1 inches ( really good)

Brakes- Tektro Oryx cantilever

Tires- 26×1.5” on 42-54cm frames and 700c x37mm on 56-62cm frames

Hubs- Shimano XT, 36h

Components- The Surly Long Haul Trucker has a mix of components.  Shimano Tiagra front derailleur, Shimano XT rear, and Deore Cassette.

Price- $850

Let’s start with the pros.

If you have been researching touring bikes for the last couple of days, weeks, or months, you’ve definitely come across the name Surly.  The Surly Long Haul Trucker was one of my first posts on this blog, and even the mention of its name has gotten hundreds of hits.  Why is it that this bike is so darn popular?  If any of you have seen the 1980’s BMX cult movie classic “Rad”, you will understand.

Solid bike, solid reviews, solid price.  Well, that is all good.  The frame is indestructible.  The frame is also laid out better than anything else you are going to find on the market.  From fork width, tire size options, seat post, to braze-ons, the LHT has it.

I especially like the forks on the long haul trucker.  They are constructed to accept a tire as wide as 45mm w/o fenders. There are three water bottle mounts as well. On the rear you can find 2 replacement spokes on a nifty clip.

Great gear range with a nice low gear for tackling big hills with a big load.

The cons.

Well, there aren’t many.  The only issue with this bike could be the components.  If you’ve read the components posts, you’ll understand the problems.  I had my LBS upgrade my cassette from Deore to XT because I was a little concerned about the cassette lasting 10,000 miles.  It was a cheap upgrade though, so it isnt a major issue.

The bike also doesn’t come with pedals, so expect about 50 dollars more to get them on the bike.

The upgrade to a Shimano XT and some Shimano pedals set me back 110 dollars.  That brought my basic Surly Long Haul Trucker price to $960.00.  Compare that to the rest of what you’ve seen on this board and I think you’ll be sold on the Long haul trucker.

How are ratings calculated?

Overall Rating:

Long Haul Trucker:

Value:  4.3/5

Quality: 4.7/5

Compliance: 5/5

Overall: 14/15

I’m giving the Long Haul Trucker a lower value rating because I personally feel like it needs a component upgrade before taking it out on a serious tour.  But that upgrade is only bringing the cost of the bike to $960, still almost $400 cheaper than the Trek 520, the closest comparison I have to the LHT up now.  Now, if you’re just going to be commuting and doing short tours where you aren’t hauling a serious amount of gear, then don’t worry about it.  Otherwise, you might want to upgrade the cassette to LX grade Shimano.

Quality.  There aren’t many complaints about the quality of a Surly bike.  I don’t foresee a lot of repairs or replacements being needed on the bike. There is a 3 year warranty of the frame for any defect.

Compliance.  This bike is a truly dedicate touring bike.  Everything you need to tour is built into the frame, ready to load up and go.

We’ll be compiling all of the ratings on a new page, look for it to be complete shortly.  Check it out here.