Genius tricks and solutions for customising your bike, improving your gear, pumping up your nutrition, and having tons more fun when you ride. – By Jason Sumner, Illustrations by Jordon Cheung.
1. Spoke Away Gunk
Of course you know that a clean bike is a happy bike. But how do you de-grime the nooks and crannies? Easy. Take an old spoke, cut it at the threaded end, and file it to a point, advises bike-shop owner Brandon Dwight. “Bend the other end of the spoke into a loop,” he explains. “Now use it to scrape greasy gunk off cogs, chainrings, jockey wheels, and other tough-to-reach spots.”
2. Troubleshoot Travel
When packing your bike in a box or case for a trip, try this pro hack from former WorldTour mechanic Daimeon Shanks: cable-tie your chain to the big chainring. Not only will it protect the chainring teeth, it’ll also prevent nicks and dings in your frame’s paint job.
3. Silence Your Stems
To stop annoying valve-stem rattle (common with carbon rims), cut a 2cm-long piece of insulation tape, poke a small hole in the centre, then thread your valve stem through the hole and secure the tape on your rim at the base of the stem. Voilà – no more rat-a-tat-tat.
4. Tame a Skirt
When Scottish cyclist Johanna Holtan became frustrated with the modesty perils of commuting in skirts, she came up with this smart solution.
- Find a five cent coin or something of similar size and weight.
- Reach behind you, and press the coin into the back of the skirt material between the legs until it reaches the front.
- Wrap a rubber band or hair tie around the fabric-covered coin (basically you’re dividing your skirt into two ‘legs’).
You should be good to ride without worrying about revealing anything more than your tricked-out bike. Holtan turned this brilliant-but-simple idea into a viral video last year, which led to a crowd-funding campaign for a device that works just as well, but doesn’t crease your skirt fabric.
5. Beet Yourself Up
Supercharge your energy by adding this dark-red root to juices and smoothies. Several studies have found that the nitrates in beetroot juice can improve heart function and overall physical performance by increasing the flow of blood and oxygen to working muscles.
Getting some of your produce in juice form is also an efficient way to increase the nutrient density of your diet without overloading on fibre, says Allen Lim, PhD, author of The Feed Zone Cookbook. Lim recommends trying a variety of fruit-and-vegetable blends until you find one you like. Among his favourite ingredients: pineapple, grapefruit, carrots, kale – and, of course, beetroot.
6. Get A Grip
If you love dirt and gravel, wrap a small strip of skateboard grip tape around a section of your bottle cage to keep water bottles from taking a flyer. Pros deploy this trick for cobble-filled races like Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders. Another use for the tacky tape: If you commute and use flat pedals, fix a small strip to each platform so your shoes don’t slip.
7. Become a Tubeless Convert
Need to convert your MTB tube tyre to tubeless cheaply? If you’re riding a 29er, buy a 26” inner tube and cut it down the middle. Fit the inner around the rim, placing the valve in the rim hole and spreading the cut sides over the rim edges. Put the tyre ¾ on (inside the tube), add sealant, then pull on the rest of the tyre. Pump, and when the tyre’s seated, trim the tube edges. See how it’s done at HERE.
8. Smile Away Suffering
Just because you’re deep in the pain cave, it doesn’t mean you should wear a grimace of agony. Instead, try to keep your face relaxed – or even try smiling. “Not clenching your jaw allows better energy flow for racing or riding,” says former pro Frankie Andreu. It will help the rest of your body stay loose, and maybe even trick your opponents (or riding buddies) into thinking you’re feeling better than you really are. “If someone is suffering and they look over to another rider who appears calm,” Andreu says, “it’s demoralising.”
9. Keep Road Spray At Bay
Make a rudimentary rear-wheel mudguard from an empty plastic litre bottle. Here’s how:
- Use a Stanley knife or scissors to slice off the top and bottom.
- Then cut out a 7- to 10cm-wide section of the bottle, lengthwise.
- Cut a couple of holes into one end of the mudguard using the shape and location of your saddle rails as a placement guide.
- Jam that end under the saddle, and secure it to the rails with cable ties.