View Full Version : Tips, Tricks and other knowledge

11-02-2006, 09:16 AM
Do you have questions about gear, skills, laws, maintenance, mechanical issues or other bike questions? Let's talk!

As a matter of fact I have two questions - Where do you get the waterproof, windproof socks? And my fingertips are freezing - what are the best gloves for me to use during the winter?

Cheers, Janis

11-02-2006, 09:55 AM
Feet - For waterproof and breathable everyone recognizes the name Gore (as in Gore-tex). They make a sock that retails for about $48 the Bike Gallery has them in stock. They are great for some weather conditions and I've used them rafting and doing field work too. But, eventually water will wick down your pants and legs and you'll get wet. So, if what you are really concerned about keeping your feet warm there are other great options. The most important thing is to insulate your feet and cut the wind. Start with a dense, long wool sock - I've found that knee-highs are REALLY warmer than shorter socks. It's most critical to make sure there is NO cotton in your winter clothing - especially socks. When you put on your shoe, make sure they are not tight - any reduction in circulation will also make it hard to be warm. So, those of you that usually tighten your shoes for a ride may want to run them a little looser in the winter. Finally, a good bootie (shoe cover). I look for booties that are insulated (either neoprene or synthetic fleece) and have a good wind proof, water repellant cover.

Hands- I have several different gloves - a liner glove is essential cold-weather gear. SmartWool makes a good one, or the polyester-based ones are great too. These can be worn alone under a padded short-finger cycling glove or under a warmer glove. For outer glove I like the windtex gloves - they are insulated and very wind proof. Both Gore and Nike make thess. Again, I got mine at the Bike Gallery. Like feet, hands usually get wet eventually (believe it or not often from sweat) so I focus on insulation and wind repellancy rather than water proofing. If you can't afford fancy new cycling gloves, I'd still recommend a liner glove but the outer glove can be a heavy (ragwool or ski) glove found at a discount or second-hand store.

Finally, cover your head; it may sound silly but it's true. If you are having trouble keeping hands, feet, or torso warm be sure that you have a hat or helmet cover or both. On really cold wet days I use both. Keeping the heat in on your head really helps maintain higher core and extremity temperatures.

11-02-2006, 11:48 AM
Something I discovered a couple weeks ago that some lightweight, breathable, waterproof garments will eventually stop being waterproof. I discovered this the hard way with my 5 year old Burley jacket. I emailed them, and asked them what I should do, because I love my jacket - they recommended re-waterproofing with Nikwax.

You can find Nikwax products at US Outdoor, or cheaper at Next Adventure. There are 2 forms - spray & wash in. I picked up both. I also picked up the Nikwax wash that helps preserve the waterproofing. The directions recommend only waterproofing 2 -3 items in the wash. It works great - I re-waterproofed my bike rain armor - Burley jacket, a pair of old Columbia ski pants, Craft skull cap (under the helmet) and gloves. I was especially happy about the skull cap - water just beads and runs off of it now. Of course, the Nikwax will eventually wear off and you will need to re-apply - but you can use the Nikwax spray bottle to take care of problem areas until a re-wash.

To keep my feet warm and dry, I wear Wigwam wool socks, with Burley booties. The booties are basically waterproof nylon bags with zippers, but they accommodate any type of shoe and you can cut a hole in the bottom for clips.

btw, I am not an employee of Nikwax - I am just very happy it saved me from buying new rain gear.

11-06-2006, 12:15 PM
Thank you ladies, I will check out the stuff at the Bike Gallery tonight at the Ladies Night. With this crazy weather happening I am trying to get that gear together. Just bought a helmet cover - something I thought I would never do...but I guess with age I have become a practical person. See you out on the road. Cheers. Janis

11-06-2006, 01:33 PM
Andy & Bax sells some awesome marino wool socks for $8. I bought a pair a few weeks ago and then last friday went back to buy two more. I rode 25 miles on sunday and although my feet were completely soaked they remained toasty warm for the whole ride. I've tried to wear wool socks before but they were just too itchy and uncomfortable. The secret is to buy marino wool. Now I just need to find some marino wool gloves...

11-07-2006, 01:11 PM
andy and bax also has neoprene socks that you can wear if you're a bit shorter on the funds (like myself). Due to that, I'm a huge neoprene fan. I don't really care if my hands and feet get wet, so long as they're warm.

I also use burley rain booties which need to be re-waterproofed. thanks for the nikwax tip!


11-07-2006, 02:38 PM
I was riding home last night and realized my brakes aren't working as well as they should. I pumped them, but was wondering if there was anything else I could do to make them grab better in this winter weather?

And thanks for the great tips on gear...now I have no reason not to ride. And with the tip about rewaterproofing my jacket now I can either go blue or bright yellow - depending on my mood of course.

Enjoy the warm rain! Janis

11-07-2006, 07:47 PM
I was riding home last night and realized my brakes aren't working as well as they should. I pumped them, but was wondering if there was anything else I could do to make them grab better in this winter weather?

I don't know what yours are, but my bike mechanic gave me some advice regarding my v-brakes. (If you don't know what v-brakes look like, you can see a picture here (http://www.sheldonbrown.com/canti-direct.html).) He told me that while they are more responsive than caliper brakes, they require more frequent adjustments and are fussier. He also said to expect to change my brake pads 1-2 times during the winter. I ride to work M-F plus use my bike for errands and other transportation.

I'm going to have to learn how to adjust v-brakes better than I'm currently able or I'll be taking my bike in way too often for my tastes (or budget).

11-08-2006, 10:54 AM
I was riding home last night and realized my brakes aren't working as well as they should. I pumped them, but was wondering if there was anything else I could do to make them grab better in this winter weather?

I had the same experience this week and a bikey co-worker re-educated me. You have to clean off your rims frequently in our rainy winter. In the rain your rims will pickup a lot of road grit which then acts like sandpaper on your poor brake pads. Just cleaning the rims with a dry cloth or paper towel will work fine if you are lazy or busy, but cleaning with rubbing alcohol will work even better. My co-worker is crazy and cleans and dries every tiny crevice of her bike every morning. I doubt I'll ever do that but I do now at least look at my rims every day to see how much grit is plastered to them.

11-08-2006, 12:34 PM
yes, rubbing alcohol is great for rims. another thing you might want to consider is cleaning/scouring your brake pads about once a week. I like to use a toothbrush to clean out the brake pad crevices, then drying with a paper towel and sanding down the pad just a bit.

also look into koolstop salmon pads...


11-08-2006, 04:36 PM
I second the idea of Koolstop salmon pad which is designed for wet weather.

Brake pad can wear very fast in wet condition. CapnSnarls already explained the reason. When this happens, the distance between the brake pads and the rim increases. Therefore, it requires more distance on your brake lever to apply the same amount of force. It is possible that the distance between the brake pads and the rim is too much that they become less effective even the brake lever hits the bottom.

If your brake has the barrel adjuster, you can tighten the cable to fix the problem on the fly. Then readjust the cable tension when you reach home. Check your brake often in the winter.

Be safe on the road.

11-09-2006, 08:12 AM
yes, great advice :)

i <3 teh intarwebz...

11-09-2006, 08:23 AM
First let me say thank you for all the advice. How wonderful to have such smart, resourceful people around.

On that note I would like to pass along some advice I picked up from the Shift page about bike grease on bike jackets, etc. Cheers.

How to Get Bike Grease Off Your Clothes
by members of the shift list

- Go to any bike shop, and have them give you a papertowel drenched in bike degreaser -- it should do magic.

- dr. bronner's liquid soap always works for me.
rub a little in the affected spot...throw it in the wash.

- I've had great luck with Shout. Spray it LIBERALLY on the stain -
enough to saturate - and let it rest for 15 or 20 minutes at a minimum. Wash it warm or hot water.

- orange skins work well.

- Rub w/ vegetable oil; then wash w/dish detergent and sponge. Veg. oil breaks down grease. Amazing! (Try it on your skin if you get bike grease on it!)

- Katy had a great suggestion w/ the vegetable grease / dishsoap. I usually am able to remove every trace of grease on clothing (even natural fabrics like cotton) by brushing dishsoap into the spot w/ an old toothbrush, leaving it for awhile, then brushing again later w/ some running water. I use biodegradable dishsoap that cleans using grapefruit seed extract, it's called BioKleen and is sold at the co-ops in bulk and in containers.

- Mechanics hand cleaner (GOOP) works very well on all clothing.

- I carry around with me a travel packet of make-up remover wipes, they are great for getting grease off your clothes, bike, or off your hands when you need to mess with your chain.

- My down vest was covered with a bunch of old bike grease stains. I'd washed the jacket several times, but they still came out after I'd
left Citrasolv on them overnight and then dabbed at it with a rag for a while and rinsed it with plain water.

- Yeah, the Veg. Oil doesn't break down the grease so much as mix with it - like disolves into like - and these are both oils, so basically
you are mixing/suspending the bike grease in veggie oil and then
washing this lighter mixture off with a detergent. A trick I learned from a friend who worked on cars is to rub dishwashing soap into your hands like hand lotion before you start working on your bike, it makes your hands a bit slippery but you can wipe them off with a rag before you start and it don't find its too bad. Then when you do get dirt on your hands its already suspended in the detergent. Just rinsing your hands with water when you're done will remove an amazing ammount of dirt. However - you have to start with dry hands and if your hands get wet in the process of working on your bike forget it.

- "Simple Green" has always worked for me in removing grease stains. Spray the affected area and apply a little elbow grease (i.e. rubbing the material between your fists) before throwing the jacket into the washer.

11-12-2006, 03:56 PM
Yippie, thanks for the advice my brakes are working again. And my new Goretex gloves and socks (plus wool liners for both) are fantastic. Bring on the rain and cold...I am gear ready. Of course, mentally readiness is completely another thing.

Be safe out there ladies. Cheers, Janis

11-13-2006, 11:21 AM
Brake pads wear quite fast in the mucky conditions of winter so keep an eye on them. If you don't know how to judge when they're worn out you can pop into most shops and get a free evaluation. Also, know that pads don't wear evenly and they can also develop a sort of crud patina that reduces braking ability. A nice trick to help them out a bit is to buff them with sandpaper to remove the patina and any uneven edges.

Finally, one bit that's not been discussed is that cyclists, like autos, need to adjust their stopping distance in foul weather. That means slowing down a bit and allowing more time to stop. Oh, and watch out for those wet leaves!