TOWNIE BIKES

Last Updated: 08/09/2008

UNDER CONSTRUCTION


OVERVIEW

After considering myself to be a cyclist for 30 years, my kids have re-introduced me to the joy of simple bike riding.

I got my first decent road bike in 1977 and shortly after that, I got my first pair of specialized racing shoes. I've considered myself a cyclist ever since. But a funny thing happened to me when I taught my children to ride bikes - I couldn't ride with them. Being the dedicated cyclist that I was, my only bike required that I wear specialized cycling shoes in order to ride it. My kids were correctly impatient. They just wanted to go bike riding and my cycling stuff was making it into a big production.

As gas prices rise, friends have been asking me about what kind of bike they should get for general riding around town. Luckily and thanks to my kids, I've been able to work through a few things about what makes a bike better or worse for simple bike riding.

This web page describes the things to look for in what I'm going to call a "townie bike" - that is, a bike that is good for simple bike riding. If anything here is helpful for you, thank my kids.

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DO YOU WANT A TOWNIE BIKE?

Before I describe what to look for in a townie bike, I should first describe the kind of riding I'm talking about, so that you can decide if a townie bike is something you really want to read about.

Compared to "serious cycling", simple bike riding is slower and more local. Simple bike riding happens around town. It starts out your front door. It happens on neighborhood streets. There is no time pressure or goal to achieve. You can look at people's gardens and stop any time you want. It's casual. It can happen with no preparation and no change of clothes. Destinations for simple bike riding might include the local store or park. A ride can be as short as 5 minutes. Simple bike riding can be functional. It can replace your car for short trips. Running out for a gallon of milk means 10 minutes on a bike. Simple bike riding also means family outings. It means trips to bike paths with picnic lunches and stops for ice cream. It means exploring dirt roads on summer vacations or rides to the library.

More fundamentally, simple bike riding means riding as a part of one's day to day life. It's as a way of moving around, like walking or driving. And for this to happen, I've found it necessary to have a bike just for this kind of riding - something different from the bike I use for cycling. If this sounds like the kind of riding you want to do, then hopefully what follows will be helpful to you.

Two quick notes - the first for people who don't ride regularly but are curious and the second for people who consider themselves to be experienced cyclists. If you've never been serious about cycling before, then what I've just described might just sound like normal bike riding. It is! And, hopefully the information that follows will help guide you in selecting a bike that's useful for simple bike riding. While that sounds like it should be straight forward, it isn't because those of us who are "serious cyclists" have made things more complicated. Or more correctly, we've made bikes too specialized.

Nearly all bikes you find in bike stores are designed for a specialized form of cycling, not general bike riding. The 2 most common are road racing bikes (which have very skinny tires) and mountain bikes (which typically have shock absorbers). Both are great for what they were designed for, which is highly specific forms of recreation or sport. There's nothing wrong with that and lots that's just great about the sport of cycling. But bikes that are great for specialized forms of sport don't make good townie bikes. The fast, skinny tires on road racing bikes are harsh riding and frail compared to wider tires and less suited to bashing around through gravel and pot holes. And the bouncy suspensions on modern mountain bikes don't do anything for you when riding on the road other than suck away your energy and cause maintenance headaches. So, be forewarned that if you go shopping for a townie bike, you may have to look beyond the first bikes you see in the bike store.

For those of you who are seasoned cyclists, imagine this... Imagine that you loved to drive just for the fun of it. And imagine that you loved it so much that you bought a racing car - a car with only one seat, no trunk and no place to carry anything - not even a spare jacket or a gallon of milk. And imagine that you outfitted that racing car with special racing tires and a racing suspension. And imagine that every time you drove that car you had to put on a special racing suit complete with special racing shoes. Now imagine this was your only car. How would you get groceries? How would you carry a briefcase to work? Would you really feel like suiting up to run to the corner store?

While this may sound like nonsense this is exactly the situation with most serious cyclists. We own and love our specialized race bikes or mountain bikes but we can't even run basic errands on them because we can't pedal them without changing our clothes and shoes and we have no way to carry anything on the bike. If this describes you and your current relationship to your bike or bikes, I'd encourage you to set up a townie bike not in place of but in addition to your good bike. It may broaden how you see bikes. It sure has for me.

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FEATURES OF A TOWNIE BIKE

Form follows function. So to understand what a townie bike should look like, we should begin with understanding the requirements.

RIDING IN STREET CLOTHES - The first and most important requirement of a townie bike is that you should be able to ride it wearing normal street cloths. In particular, you must be able to ride it wearing normal shoes and pants, or for women, even a skirt. This means that a townie bike needs to have platform style pedals and some form a chain guard to keep pants and skirts from getting fouled up in the chain.

CARRYING CAPACITY - You wouldn't buy a car without a trunk. You shouldn't have a townie bike with no ability to carry things. This typically means some form of a basket or rack and saddle bags.

DURABILITY - High performance bikes are a blast to ride but a townie bike that needs to be pampered won't get ridden. Less can be more in terms of lowering maintenance. Less complicated gearing systems are less temperamental than more complicated systems. Tires that put a bigger premium on durability than speed make sense.

NORMAL ROADS AND PATHS - The steepness and surface conditions you expect to ride on will affect your choices for gearing and tires. You will want to ride a townie bike pretty much on any road you will normally drive on and on any footpath you are likely to walk on. Note: I said "walk", not "hike". In terms of dirt riding, the most extreme thing we're talking about here is dirt roads and walking paths. The point to be made here is that you don't need to plan for extremes. In terms of gears, you won't need 30 to choose from. You may get by with only a single gear but most folks will do best with some. And in terms of tires, extreme knobbie tires made for rough off road use are overkill and inefficient on the road while super light road racing tires are frail and prone to flats.

EXPENDABILITY - This last point is perhaps more controversial but I believe it to be true. Townie bikes lead a tough life. You want to be able to chain them to a bike rack with a minimum of fear about them being scratched or worse, being stolen. Scratches are going to be unavoidable and being stolen is a real possibility. I think this argues for used bikes or new bikes on the lower end of the price spectrum.

We're now in a position to describe the basic features of a good townie bike. Large grippy platform pedals allow you to ride in street shoes. Chain guards and even skirt guards allow the bike to be ridden with pants, skirts and long coats. The bike should have fenders to allow it to be ridden when the roads are wet and lights for when it is dark. Single chain rings (no front gears) simplify the gearing system and make it easier to attach chain guards. Multiple speed gearing will allow you to deal with normal hills found on normal roads - 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8 speed systems all makes sense. The bike should have some sort of system for carrying things. This typically means some combination of baskets, racks and bags. The tires should be in the 32 - 35 mm range for road bikes (700c wheels) and in the 1.5 to 2.0 inch range for mountain bikes (26" wheels) and should either have light inverted tread designs or so-called hybrid or cyclocross treads. In terms of frames, pretty much any style frame will work so long as it gives adequate clearance for wider tires and so long as it can be affixed with racks. NOTE: road racing bikes can't be fit with wider tires and generally don't mounting fixtures for racks and fenders. And suspension mountain bikes typically don't allow you to attach racks.

In the sections that follow, I try to give more detailed thoughts and advice on these features.

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FRAME STYLES FOR TOWNIE BIKES

The first thing to say about townie bikes is that just about any sort of frame or type of bike can be used. I really think the thing that make a townie bike a townie bike is how it's configured with different parts like tires and gearing and racks. Old English 3-speeds, mountain-bikes, racing bikes, hybrids and everything in between can be set up as a townie bike.

This is not to suggest that frame style is an unimportant decision for setting up a townie bike. It's very important. In my opinion, the frame should be chosen to match the taste and athleticism of the rider. For example, consider 3 different riders. The first is a good friend of mine who weighs over 300 pounds and who hasn't ridden bikes since he was a young kid. He's happily riding a fairly upright hybrid with 26" wheels. The second is my wife. While she's very athletic and has a road bike for fast riding, she prefers to really take her time when just bike riding. Her townie bike is a flat bar mountain bike and she loves it. And then there's me. I've been a cyclist for nearly 30 years now and I get frustrated on flat bar bikes. My townie bike is a road bike with dropped style road bars. In each case, the style of the frame is well matched to the rider.

The general rule of thumb I use is that the more athletic the person is and the longer their intended riding will be, the more likely they will be happiest on a traditional road bike. Conversely, the less athletic or aggressive the person is or the shorter the expected ride is, the more more likely they will be happier on a more upright style bike. Flat bar mountain or road bikes are a compromise in the middle.

There *are* frame styles that I think are poor candidates for being converted to townie status and they exist at the extreme ends of the specialized racing spectrum. The first is road racing bikes. Typically they can only be used with 25mm tires or narrower. In my opinion, this is far too skinny for the rough and rugged use of a townie bike. If a road bike has chainstays that measure in the 41.5 cm range and if the frame is set for short reach brake calipers, you're going to be stuck with skinny tires.

More generally, I think road bikes with long chainstays are better candidates for townie service. I find that with bikes that have chainstays that are shorter than 44cm, you begin to run the risk of having interference between the rider's heels and rear panniers. While 44cm stays used to be fairly normal (especially with the sport touring bikes of the bike boom years of the late '70s and early '80s) , today about the only bikes you will find with long chainstays are dedicated touring bikes. If you have a road bike with good tire clearance but short chainstays, you might consider using front racks or baskets instead of rear mounted ones if heel strike is a problem. In particular, cyclo-cross bikes which are quite popular currently might be good candidates for carrying moderate front loads.

Going in the other direction full suspension mountain bikes are poor candidates for this type of riding too. The suspension really adds nothing to the comparatively tame riding you'll be doing on a townie bike. Worse, suspensions drain energy away from the rider while riding on the road. And adding insult to injury, they prevent you from attaching racks. They should be avoided for townie bikes in my opinion. Sadly, many bikes being sold today as townie type bikes have front suspension forks on them. My suggestion to friends is that if they find a bike they like and it has front suspension, it shouldn't be a deal breaker. They will just have to make sure they can use a rear rack on that bike. But, given a choice between a bike with suspension and one without, if all other things are equal, I would suggest getting the one with a rigid fork.

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PLATFORM PEDALS

This is perhaps the most important feature of a townie bike. If a bike doesn't have pedals that you can easily use with street shoes, I can't see how it can be considered a townie bike.

There are lots of options for pedals that are compatible with street shoes. Some folks like old school rubber-block or metal platform pedals. Some like basic mountain bike style pedals. But I really like the big BMX style pedals. They have big grippy pins on the surface of the pedals that grab just about any shoe well. And the large surface area provides a solid platform under your foot, which allows me to ride longer in softer shoes than I could would be able to with smaller pedals. Smaller pedals concentrate the force on the foot more and after several miles start to hurt my foot unless I'm wearing a rigid or semi-rigid cycling shoe. But with BMX flats, I can happily run errands around town in my Crocs, which is getting really close to barefoot.

Some folks insist on having some sort of toe clips or straps on their pedals. For simple bike riding, I find them to be unnecessary, especially after having discovered BMX style pedals. Two things to consider about clips and straps. The first is that they will often limit your shoe choice somewhat. Shoes with narrow profiles in the front and relatively flat soles will go in clips and straps more easily. Indoor soccer shoes are often suggested as good shoes for this type of set up. But notice that we're now talking about identifying specific shoes that will work with the pedal system. In my opinion, this is counter to what you're trying to achieve with a townie bike and that is the ability to jump on the bike no matter what you're wearing at the moment.

The second thing to consider is the possibility of using PowerGrips instead of traditional clips and straps. I can't speak from experience but Kent Peterson has written about his success in using them on long distance mountain bike races on his blog here: http://kentsbike.blogspot.com/ Search for "PowerGrips" on his web site.

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RACKS AND BAGS

I highly recommend putting something on your townie bike that will allow you to carry small loads like groceries or extra clothing and food. As soon as you do, you will find that you have a bike that is capable of doing errands on or that is open for going on out on bike riding outings. One of the simplest solutions is to put a front wire basket on the bike, such as those sold by Wald. Front baskets work great and give you the advantage of being able to tend to the load while you're riding. A variant of this approach option is to attach an old plastic milk crate to a bike a rack. This works just fine.

Another option is to put panniers (a.k.a. saddle bags) on the bike. This means putting racks on the bike too. The most common place to put panniers is on the back of the bike but I really prefer carrying front panniers. I find I prefer how the bike handles, as I can control the weight of the load with my hands. With large loads carried on a rear rack, I feel like the load is wagging the bike. I generally leave my panniers on my townie bike all the time. Any time I'm on that bike I can carry something if I need to. Most importantly, I'm more likely to use the bike when I need to run an errand since I don't have to fuss around with doing anything to make the bike carrying capable.

If you find yourself regularly pushing the limits of what can be stuffed into a basket or pannier and you need to carry things like, say, a child's bike or a bundle of firewood, then you want to investigate the growing number of townie racks that are becoming available. They typically mount on the front fork of the bike (where you can keep an eye on the unruly load), have a relatively large surface area so you can carry larger objects and typically are on the pricey side of things.

The last option for carrying things on the bike is to carry things on your body by using a courier style messenger bag or a backpack. This has advantages on short trips since you don't have to put things into or then remove things from saddle bags or baskets. But for rides of any duration, I'm much more comfortable when carrying the load on the bike instead.

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SINGLE CHAINRING

One of the best things I've ever done on my townie bike is to remove the front dérailleur and to convert my double (or triple) crank to a single crank. This dramatically simplifies the operation and maintenance of the bike.

One of the bigger advantages of a loosing the front derailleur is that it really decreases the chance of getting pants sucked into the chain. The curve of the front derailleur cage as it sits under the chain is perfectly positioned to guide a pant cuff up to the chain, where it can get sucked into the teeth. Ditching the front derailleur goes a long way towards making a bike ridable with long pants. For true pants protection you need a chain guard of some sort or another but the biggest first step towards riding in pants is loosing the front derailleur. It's not needed for around town riding and really just causes problems like chewing up pants and overly complicates things.

One of the things I find so interesting about front gears is how unecessary they are and to what extent they can actually be a negative. With many less experienced riders I know, I've noticed that the front derailleur is a constant source of frustration. They have to continually trim the front derailleur or more likely, they *should* trim the front derailleur but either forget or don't really know how. So it just rattles and rubs needlessly and endlessly.

And speaking for myself as somebody who thinks of himself as an experienced rider, riding a bike with no front derailleur is incredibly freeing. It's just so simple. If I'm going to be on a bike for stretches of time measured in hours and if I'm going to be riding through several towns, then I'll insist on having a triple crank and with it with a front derailleur. But for shorter rides around town, I don't miss the triple or double chain rings at all. If you've ever looked at a single speed bike or a fixed gear bike and admired the simplicity of them, think of a single chain ring as a step in that direction.

Funny thing though... many riders *want* front gears due to lingering more-is-better thinking. Or perhaps it's fear that they *need* those gears to deal with a big hill or if they get tired. Don't fall into this trap. When a single chain ring is combined with reasonably wide gearing in the back, you can generally handle just about anything you can find in a townie setting. That is, most roads that you will want to drive car on can be ridden on a bike with a single chain ring and wide range rear gears. Yes, San Francisco and Pittsburgh both have horribly steep hills. But for most hills, a single chain ring is all you need.

If you really truly need lower gears, you can still get away running without a front derailleur by converting a triple crank to a double. Replace the outer ring with a chain guard or bash guard ring and replace the middle ring with your preferred single chain ring size. Then leave the granny gear as a granny gear. This idea was inspired by the fixed gear crowd. Many fixed gears riders who are religiously committed to fixed gear bikes but who are struck by the reality of needing to change the gears from time to time end up using what is called a flip-flop hub. Flip-flop hubs have different size cogs on either side of the hub and to change gears, the rider stops, removes the rear wheel, flips it around and then remounts it with the chain on the other cog. Bear in mind that fixed gears use bolts on the axles, not quick releases so doing this means using wrench and means re-adjusting the chain tension. Now, given all this... consider all of the hardship involved in moving the chain from the middle chain ring of a triple to the granny (or vice-versa) with no front derailleur. You stop. You spin the crank backwards while guiding the chain with your fingers and you wipe a bit of chain grease off your fingers with your other hand and you're done. I ran a triple like this for several years and it worked famously. Although, I should mention that most of what it did was to just sit there being used as a single chain ring until I got over my "I really need that granny gear" fear.

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CHAINGUARDS

The purpose of a chain guard is to protect long pants from getting messed up by the chain and teeth of the front crank. If you are using a single chain ring, there are 3 levels of protection you can achieve. The first can be attained by putting a chain guard ring on your crank. This looks like a chain ring with no teeth and, in fact, that is precisely what it is. The chain guard should be bigger than then teeth of the single chain ring on the crank. A very easy way to do this is to replace the outer ring on a double crank with a chain guard ring and to use the inner chain ring as your single. You can buy them retail, sometimes under the name, "bash guards". Or you can make one out of an old aluminum chain ring. Here's how I make them:

1) Take a pair of channel lock pliers and pop off all the teeth. Wear glasses. This goes pretty fast.

2) Put the ring in a padded vice and use a coarse file to work the ring into round. Most rings have a circular pattern just inside of the teeth that can serve as a guide. This sounds hard and long but isn't. The aluminum works pretty easy. Use a good wire brush to keep the file clean and things go faster.

3) Sand the sharp edges down with sandpaper and emory cloth.

I've converted several spent rings this way. Takes about 20-30 minutes.

A chain guard chain ring does a pretty good job of keeping your pant cuffs from getting caught in the chain. It's not entirely fool proof though. And it helps if you keep your chain clean (wax chain lubes help) and if you don't care too much about getting smudges on your pant cuffs.

If you do care about keeping your pants entirely clean, you need the next level of protection offered by a full length chain guard like you see on old 3-speeds or on kids bikes. You can buy them as after market add ons. Wald makes them, for instance. They can be a pain to set up and they might rattle a bit if not cared for. But, they'll keep your pant cuffs off of the chain.

The third level of protection comes from a fully enclosed chain case. These are even harder to set up and they won't work well with derailleur gears, so they only make sense if you are using internally geared rear hub. They dramatically increase the level of complexity when you need to do maintenance but at the same time, they dramatically reduce the amount of maintenance you need to do by protecting the chain and drive train from road grit and rain. In fact, the real reason for moving up from a full length chain guard to a fully enclosed chain case is really more about protecting the drive train from the elements and less about protecting your clothing from the chain. If you live in a wet location and want to set up a townie that will minimize mechanical problems, an internally geared rear hub and a fully enclosed chain case might make a lot of sense.

As a point of reference, I've been very happy just running a chain guard ring on my townie. It's very simple and I prefer derailleur type gears. At some point, I may add a full length chain guard but it hasn't been a burning need for me. But then, I'm generally wearing jeans or cotton chinos when I'm riding in long pants and a few smudges on the cuff don't bother me.

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WIDE RANGE GEARING

My townie bike has 6 gears in the back with a Shimano "Mega-Range" freewheel. This works really well combined with a 40t chain ring in the front. Just about any number of gears in the back works fine - 5, 6, 7 or 8. But not 3. At least not for me. Just not enough range. The same goes for single speeds. I'm particularly taken with the "Mega-Range" type of freewheels and cassettes. They space a lot of gears close together which is nice for normal street riding and then add a single, very low gear for climbing hills.

People who live and ride in rainy places or who commute daily often fall in love with internally geared hubs. I've not had the chance to ride one but the modern internally geared hubs have 7 or 8 speeds and stellar reputations for being durable and trouble free. If you are buying a new bike, getting one with an internally geared hub makes some sense to me.

But I doubt I'm going to convert any time soon. Derailleurs are a pretty rugged, easily maintained system. And you can mix and match parts with a great degree of freedom to get the gearing you need for a particular locale - more so than with internally geared systems.

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TIRES

In selecting tires for a townie bike, I think you should reject tires that are designed to meet the needs of racers and aggressive recreational riders at both end of the spectrum. Road racing tires are too skinny to be comfortable and they are built for speed, not durability. And the fat, knobbie tires on mountain bikes which are made for riding in difficult off-road conditions are too slow for riding on pavement or basic dirt roads.

My preference for tire sizes for townie style riding are 700x28 and 700x32 for 700c wheels and 27 x 1 1/8 or 27 x 1 1/4 for 27" wheels. Actually, I really prefer the 32cm or 1 1/4 widths, so long as the bike has adequate clearance for fenders at that size. 28mm and 1 1/8 widths are fine if all of your riding is on pavement. But, if you ride on gravel pathways and dirt roads, I think you'll appreciate the wider tires. NOTE: If the only bike you have to press into around townie service is a road racing, then you will have to accept some compromises. In most cases, the biggest tire you will be able to fit under the brakes will be a 700x25 cm tire, which is pretty narrow. My advice is to get the most durable 25mm tire you can find and to learn to ride light in the saddle.

In terms of tread, slicks or tires with very light treads work fine for paved riding. If most of your riding is pavement and you do a bit of gentle dirt road riding, tires with inverted treads work great. In fact, I think this type of tire is probably the most versatile for a combination of on road and gentle off road riding. If you're doing more dirt road riding, cyclo-cross and hybrid style tires work great. Many of these are somewhat slick in the center of the tire with a bit of knobbie tread on the outside of the tire for better grip on dirt. Unfortunately, these knobbies make the front wheel handle weirdly on corners when you're on pavement. I end doing a fair bit of dirt road riding so I run a cyclo-cross type tire on the rear and an inverted tread road tire on the front. This gives me good traction when climbing hills on dirt and better handling on corners on pavement.

A slight rant... I think full knobbies are horrible tires for a townie bike. Unless you're going to be on dirt roads 100% of the time, my suggestion is to get rid of them. They squirm horribly on pavement and scrub way to much speed. If you have a mountain bike and realistically if you aren't riding the mountain bike on trails, then one of the best things you can do for yourself is to change the tires for an inverted tread tire.

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SOME USEFUL ACCESSORIES

I've found that there are a handful of accessories that add a tremendous amount of usefulness to a townie bike. A lock of some sort is essential. What form of lock depends on where you live and how much security you need. Just with cars, you can't really stop a professional bike thief (and yes, they do exist). For errands where I will be in a store for a short time and in a relatively low-crime area, my goal is to prevent somebody from simply riding away on my unlocked bike. To prevent this, I use a simple bike cable and keyed padlock. They stash away easily in my bags, weigh little and go on and off easily. This is somewhat akin to locking your car doors, nothing more. A good set of industrial cable cutters will go through a cable lock in an instant, so this isn't the solution for securing a bike in a dark place overnight. The next step up is to use a small U-lock, which you put around the rear rim between the seat and chain stays. This essentially makes the bike unridable. If you live or work in places where there are vandals and dedicated thieves, you need more hardware and you need to think about securing your front wheels and seats or anything else that might be removed by hand. Replacing quick releases with bolts on wheels and seat posts makes good sense. And if you park your bike in the same place every day, you may try leaving an industrial strength chain and lock at that location all the time so you don't have to carry it with you.

Another useful add-on is fenders. Fenders allow you to ride in wet weather. I prefer front and rear fenders but really insist on at least a rear fender. I should point out that the issue isn't rain, it's the gritty nasty dirty road spray that gets kicked up by tires. Rain is clean and easily dealt with by good rain gear. But road spray is just ugly stuff. Fenders are the answer.

I hesitate mentioning lights. The safest thing to do is to not ride at dawn, dusk or at night, as these are the times you will mostly likely be hit by a car. The trouble with recommending a light is that having the light may make you more likely to ride during these riskier times. But, if you are going to be riding at these times, at a minimum you need lights and a full set of reflectors. For lights, modern LED lights burn a long, long time on a set of (rechargeable) batteries. I must emphasize here that generally LED front lights won't give enough light to actually light a fully darkened road enough to navigate safely. The purpose of the light is for drivers to see you. This is why I suggest using them at dusk, dawn and badly overcast days. My preference for rear lights are those that give a continuous glow as opposed to those that blink. Some studies indicate that blinking lights distract drivers and make it more likely to get bumped by a bike. Full reflectors means front, rear, pedals and on the spokes. If you have a choice in tires, there are tires that have reflective strips in the sidewalls and they work very well. If you do a lot of riding at night or if you need enough light to actually navigate by, a good generator lighting system is worth the (big) investment.

One bit of safety gear that I can recommend with no hesitation at all is mirrors. I won't ride in traffic without mirrors. Mirrors come in 2 basic styles. Some affix to your bike, most often on the end of your handlebar. These seem to be the easiest for people to get used to and they are always there on the bike so there's no hassle in using them. The other style fit onto your helmet or sunglasses. They look incredibly geeky and this alone may be off-putting to many people. But they also work incredibly well. The big advantage of this style of mirror is that you can look around behind you by moving your head, something you can't do with a handlebar mirror. My favorite mirrors are those made by Chuck Harris.

Chuck Harris
UltraLight
Box 363
Gambier, OH 43022

Nearly all other mirrors I've seen have easily adjustable heads on them, which would seem like what you want but it isn't. It's too easy for them to get knocked out of alignment so you end up needing to adjust them every time you ride. Chuck's classic mirrors aren't adjustable. You need to spend a week or two fine tuning them by adjusting them with a pair of needle nose pliers but once they're set, they stay set. This means you can just put it on and use it. My advice in getting used to helmet or eyeglass mirrors is to ride for a week without trying to use the mirror as you'll first need to get used to having it in your field of vision. Then, give it about a month to get used to actually using it before making up your mind. If you use it for about a month, you'll probably find that you can't ride without it any more than you could imagine driving your car without mirrors.

The last accessory to consider getting is a decent floor pump. I suggest this to everybody getting into cycling. Keep a floor pump next to where you store your bikes. This allows you to easily and routinely keep your tires properly inflated. It's easy to do and takes just a few seconds. If you can keep your tires inflated, you go a long way towards minimizing flats and stopping your rims from getting damaged on pot holes.

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