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Beginner’s Guide to Bike Tubes Mon, 17 Oct 2016 13:44:46 +0000 Written by Nate Deck, TriSports Champion Team Athlete Bike tubes are sometimes one of the most underrated parts of a person’s bike. And yet, it is the tubes that are the most cost effective way a person can improve ride quality and shave a few seconds off of their bike split at the same time. […]]]>

Written by Nate Deck, TriSports Champion Team Athlete

Bike Tube

Bike tubes are sometimes one of the most underrated parts of a person’s bike. And yet, it is the tubes that are the most cost effective way a person can improve ride quality and shave a few seconds off of their bike split at the same time. With that in mind, let’s dive into what a bike tube is and how to decide which one to get.

Tube? I have tires, isn’t that enough?
Maybe. There…Are you confused yet?

Bike Tubes Explained
Obviously, the first thing we need to understand is what a bike tube is anyway. The tube is simply a rubber tube that holds air inside your tire. Remember those inner tubes you would float in down the river as a kid? Yeah, same concept. But different tires require different tubes. Some have them built in, and some don’t need them at all. The variety of tires out there are:


Clincher: The first type of tire, and most common on stock wheels and even racing wheels now a days, is the clincher. This tire is held to the rim of the wheel by a lip along the edge of the tire. These tires need inner tubes to keep them inflated and to put enough pressure on the lip to keep it connected to the wheel.


Tubular: The next type of tire is called a tubular. A tubular tire is actually stitched closed around the inner tube. These are then glued to the rim of the wheel. Usually these are only used on high end racing road bike wheels. Obviously, you can’t just replace the inner tube, so in this case you have to get a whole new tire if you have a flat. These tires are usually labeled on the sidewall, but if you are not sure you can try to remove the tire from the rim and if you don’t see the lip of a clincher then it is a tubular.


Tubeless: Finally, you have tubeless tires, and as the name implies, it doesn’t use an inner tube and instead relies on sealant that can correct small punctures. These are mostly used on cyclocross bikes and some mountain bikes because of the ability to run the tire at a lower pressure. However, these are becoming more popular in road bikes. These are usually labeled on the sidewall, but some clincher tires are “tubeless ready” meaning they can be used as either clinchers or tubeless. To find out if your tire is tubeless or not, take the tire off by unhooking the bead and look inside for a tube or sealant to determine the type.

Ok, I know I need an inner tube. Now what?
If you need a new inner tube that means you probably had a flat, so I’m sorry, but welcome to the club!

Wheel Size: First, you need to check what size wheel you have. You can find that printed on the side of your current tire. Most road and tri bikes are 700c unless they are a smaller frame size and then they will be 650c. If you have a mountain bike, it will be one of three types: 29 (inches), 650b/27.5 (which is becoming a rising star among off-road enthusiasts), or 26. But that’s only the first size you need to know.

Tire Width: The next number you need to find is the width of the tire. This is usually printed right next to the wheel size. It will say something like 700×23 or 29×1.75. This is important because inner tubes are sold to fit a range of tire widths, so you need to make sure your tire is within the range such as 700×18-25. Obviously, if your tire is 700×29 then the inner tube will be too small to keep enough pressure in the tire.

So, that’s it?
Not quite. Now that you know what size you need, you get to make a few decisions based on your personal situation. The first decision to make is if you want butyl tubes or latex tubes.

Butyl Tubes: Most inner tubes are butyl because that form of rubber is more durable and can withstand much more use than other forms of rubber. This is the most economical route because of its durability, as well as its ability to be produced less expensively. Don’t let the various labels on these tires confuse you. Terms like “Race Light” and “SuperSonic,” used by Continental, simply refer to the thickness of the material used to make the tube. Thicker tubes are more durable, while thinner tubes are lighter and help your wheel roll faster but increases the risk of flats.

Latex Tubes: The other option is latex. This is the classic material that has been used for years to make bike tubes, and for good reason. While not as durable as butyl, latex tubes are typically lighter and are the quickest tubes out there because they have a lower roll resistance. If speed is your main concern, go with latex. Latex tubes lose air more quickly, but that won’t affect you during a race, it’s just more important to check your pressure before every ride. But you do that anyway, right? A lot of people like to take the best of both worlds and use butyl tubes for training and then switch to latex for race day. This is not a bad strategy, just make sure you store your tubes in a cool, dry place and don’t wrap them up too tight to prevent tearing.

Valve Types

Valve Length: The last decision you need to make is what valve length is needed. The valve is the place you put air in the tire. Unless you live in Asia or use a bike you bought at Walmart, you probably have been using a Presta valve. Otherwise, you have a valve similar to that of a car tire called a Schrader valve. Presta valves are long and skinny and the tip of the valve stays closed by air pressure from inside the tube.


When you are looking to buy tubes, you will notice that the same tube size offers multiple lengths of valve. This is to allow for deeper rims like those found on aero wheels. The general rule of thumb is to have 12-15mm of valve showing to allow your pump to get a good connection to inflate the tire. That means if you have a standard 30mm wheel, a 42mm valve is what you need. Another option for really deep wheels is to use a valve extender. This will connect to your valve and allow it to reach through the rim. This allows you to buy the cheaper 42mm valve on your tubes and use them with aero wheels.

Great! I know what to get!
Awesome! I’m glad I could help! I hope this helped demystify the whole realm of bike inner tubes and will keep you from throwing money away through trial and error (hopefully less error and more trial).


About the Author: Nate Deck is a husband, father, and teacher. When he’s not hanging out with teenagers, he can be found swimming, biking, and running around central North Carolina, blogging, or on twitter @n8deck.

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Signs it’s Time to Replace Your Bike Helmet Wed, 22 Jun 2016 18:40:57 +0000 Written by Hilary JM Topper, MPA and Triathlete If you ask 100 people when to replace their bike helmet, most will say “never, unless it was in a crash.” It’s true that once you drop your bike helmet or once it has been in a crash, it needs to be replaced immediately. But did you […]]]>

Written by Hilary JM Topper, MPA and Triathlete

Bike Helmets
If you ask 100 people when to replace their bike helmet, most will say “never, unless it was in a crash.” It’s true that once you drop your bike helmet or once it has been in a crash, it needs to be replaced immediately. But did you know that if you’re a triathlete, you should be replacing your bike helmet once a year or once every other year?

The majority of helmet companies’ policies suggest replacing a bike helmet every three years. However, according to Outside Magazine, between the sweat and the sun, if you use your bike helmet on a frequent basis, then it will need to be replaced more often. They recommend getting a new helmet once every two seasons.

Bike helmets aren’t sexy, but they are one of, if not, the most important pieces of gear you own. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, 447,000 people experienced head trauma in 2009 and 86,000 of those were cyclists. Interestingly, football players only suffered 47,000 of those head injuries and baseball players experienced 38,394.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety say, the most serious injuries are to the head. Helmet use has reduced the injury rate by 85%. But it’s still not enough.

So how do you know if it’s time to replace your helmet?

As you would care for your bike, take the time out to inspect your helmet by following these steps:

  1. First, look at the outer shell:
  • If you see cracks or abrasions, it’s time to replace your helmet.
  • Push the outer shell with your thumb. If it pops in, that could be an indication that it needs replacing.
  • Check the color to see if it has discolored at all. If it has faded, it will need to be replaced.
  1. Look at the liner:
  • Take out the foam and look carefully at the Styrofoam.
  • Are there any signs of cracks or aging?
  1. Check the Buckle and Strap:
  • Are the straps in good shape?
  • Do the buckles works as they should?
  1. Inspect the rear stabilizer
  • Does the rear stabilizer still have its integrity?
  • Try stretching or tugging at it. Does it give?

If any of these components are in poor shape, then the helmet needs to be replaced.

When Buying a New Helmet
Many of the newer helmets are made with MIPS (multi-impact protection system), which was invented in 1996. These new helmets “employ a low-friction slip layer inside the helmet that dissipates the force of an impact by allowing the helmet to rotate around the head.” There are typically three components to every MIPS helmet – an interior foam liner; elastomeric attachment system; and low friction liner. With an impact, the helmet moves with your head reducing the impact enabling more chances to reduce concussive impact and traumatic brain injury. Giro Savan with MIPSMost of the companies today are employing this new technology including: Giro, POC, and Louis Garneau, among others.

When replacing your helmet, make sure to get one with MIPS. You may pay a little more, but don’t you think your safety and brain health is worth it?

About the Author: Hilary JM Topper, MPA is the Chief Curator of HJMT Media Company LLC. She is an avid blogger and writes for She is also CEO of HJMT Public Relations Inc. and show producer for the NY TRI EXPO. For more information, contact her at

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5 Triathlon Tips to Save Time & Money Mon, 02 May 2016 14:02:16 +0000 Written by Patrick McCrann, Endurance Nation founder and 22-time IRONMAN finisher Whether you’re new to triathlon, or a seasoned veteran, you fully understand the true cost of our sport: time and money. As the sport of triathlon has evolved over the past 20 years, it has gotten increasingly more complex and specialized. While it might seem […]]]>

Written by Patrick McCrann, Endurance Nation founder and 22-time IRONMAN finisher1 Whether you’re new to triathlon, or a seasoned veteran, you fully understand the true cost of our sport: time and money. As the sport of triathlon has evolved over the past 20 years, it has gotten increasingly more complex and specialized.

While it might seem like everyone on race day takes triathlon very seriously, that’s not a prerequisite for success. In this article were are going to explain to you five critical areas that you can focus on to maximize your training time and retain your triathlon dollar.

As a beginner, when you go to a race it is probably difficult to figure out who is doing this for fun and who is doing this professionally.

As background, Endurance Nation has been around for over a decade. We’ve had more than 1,000 Ironman® finishes a year, every year, since 2010. We are the Ironman® Division I World Champions for three years in a row.

Translation — we have worked with countless athletes to help them refine the training schedules and improve the results within the framework of their existing lives. This is no small task, but we learned quite a few things along the way which I want to share with you.

2Tip Number One: You Don’t Need A Triathlon Coach
Remember the thing we said before about complexity? Introducing a coach into your system dramatically increases the complexity of your triathlon experience. The coach is going to have a bias around how you want to train. Your coach is going to introduce many different types of workouts that require you to change your schedule frequently.

You become dependent upon a coach for those workouts. Will they be here on time? Are they different than last week? Is Coach going to answer my email? My text? We have consistently found that the most successful triathletes are also the most self-sufficient. Do yourself a favor and start things off on the right foot by taking charge of your training and racing.


Tip Number Two: Get Social
Humans are incredibly social creatures and triathlon is no exception. We are very adept at following the lead of others – from clothing to training to cars to dogs…you get the idea.

Do yourself a favor and find a local triathlon club. This will be a great place for you to learn a ton about the sport and to stay connected with others as you progress down the experience road. This group will have workouts, social events, learning events, and so on. They might even have discounts available at local stores, or can recommend you to local professionals if you need help in a certain area (injury anyone?).

Just as importantly, training with others will help keep you motivated and hold you accountable. It’s really hard to snooze the alarm when you know there could be ten people waiting for you at the pool that morning. Think of a social group as using a carrot to motivate you, where is hiring a coach is more like using a stick.


Tip Number Three: Build A Basic Week
Back in the day, there were very few resources on triathlon training. It was honestly hard to find out how to prepare. Today there are millions of articles countless resources and very little of it is coherent or makes sense. So where should you begin?

The most important thing that you could do as a triathlete is to define a week of training that works with your schedule. It might be fantastic to swim one hour before you get on the bike for a three-hour ride. But if that workout doesn’t fit into your life without causing major friction — it’s just not worth it.

Getting in your training in is a constant balance – not battle – between what you want to do and what you need to do. If you start out by making the training fit, then you have effectively eliminated that friction.

You can do this by sitting down and taking a look at your week. Where can you carve out approximately an hour a day to do your training. For many of us, the early morning is the easiest time to do this before work.

Life has a way of getting away by the end of the day between extra work, meetings, traffic, kids, activities, and so on. Stack the deck in your favor by focusing on an earlier bedtime with an earlier wake time to get those sessions done before the world wakes up and gets crazy.

In the same way, we recommend you structure your bigger training sessions on the weekends when there is more time. If you have a long-run in the program or a long ride- put those on Saturday and Sunday. It doesn’t matter which one goes on which day — both options are better than trying to squeeze those sessions into your existing Monday through Friday schedule.

Most Age Group triathletes create time for training by reducing their sleep. This is a critical mistake that can lead to undue fatigue, and even injury or illness. Do your best to stay as close to 42 to 45 hours of sleep a week.

Our final training tip for you is to make sure that you have at least one day of rest the week. For most triathletes, this is the hardest session to schedule. If I’m not working out – I must be going backwards – is the usual train of thought.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Every workout, even every week, requires a window of recovery. During this time your body is processing the work that you’ve done and giving you space to get stronger.

For example, if we just did a massive squat workout at the gym with tons of weight, chances are you and I are exhausted. When we walk out of the gym (or stumble!), we are probably the weakest two people within a 250-mile radius! Give us a day to recover and we’ll come back stronger.

Don’t allow for recovery? All of your workouts for the remainder of that week will suffer… so plan accordingly. 5

Tip Number Four: Get Smarter To Go Faster
Inside Endurance Nation we spend the vast majority of our time creating resources and opportunities for athletes to learn. It’s not a mistake that the fastest athletes you know are also some of the smartest. Not necessarily book smart, but they know their body, they know their limits, and they figure out a way to make the most of what they have.

As a beginner, this is an incredible area for you to grow. So do yourself a favor and spend some of your time in the evening trying to learn more about how you can improve. There are three distinct ways that you can do this:

  1. Get Your Lead On: It’s very easy to fire up your smart phone and find hundreds, if not thousands, of articles on travel and training. Be specific in your search terms or pay attention to the authors’ names. Odds are you’ll find a common thread and what you like to read and can find more articles from the same source over time.
  2. Find key, online resources: There are a few key websites that cover triathlon 24-7, these are good places to start as well. I don’t recommend buying a book as most of those are quickly outdated…and are ultimately more complex than the bite-size information that you probably need (and are actually able to absorb).
  3. Watch and Learn: Head over to YouTube or simply search for videos on triathlon. There are plenty of great examples of things to do – and not to do! – When it comes to triathlon. You can find videos on swim technique, cycling skills, running technique, and more.

If you’re looking for a good laugh there are probably some great “triathlon fail” videos out there of people making mistakes. You will learn a great deal by watching the folks that you train with, which you can continue that learning curve online using your computer.

Tune into Triathlon: There are many many triathlon podcasts available now thanks to a growing market and portable technology. Get on your phone and find a few of the podcasts you’re interested in so you continue to learn. Podcasts are great because you can listen to them while you’re doing something else. You can listen to them in the car, when you’re commuting, even when you’re running.

These are nice ways of complementing experience and don’t actually take away from the other things you are doing in the moment. Plus, there are some great interviews as well as plenty of of stories and anecdotes to make you laugh. 6

Tip Number Five: If It’s Not Fun, Why Do It?
At the end of the day, triathlon is meant to be a hobby. The minute it feels like a job, the less likely you are to want to do it. This is partly while having a training group is an excellent means of getting faster because it’s fun, you want to go, and they will challenge you.

But starting to put yourself in a silo, or putting external pressures on yourself to perform…odds are you are going to ruin your fledgling triathlon experience.

You can keep triathlon fun by picking lots of other races you can do along the way. Any local 5K or 10K run will do. The first charity bike ride in your town, go sign up for it. You are a triathlete, you can do it! While open water swim events are hard to find, if you’re fortunate enough to live near a good body of water, chances are there are some some groups who will be better and you can join.

Take on new experiences. Search for new running routes or cycling. Get outside of your comfort zone and use triathlon as a means to explore, not only your fitness and potential, but your neighborhood too.

It’s important to keep triathlon fun because the longer you play the game, the better you get at the game.

Bonus Tips!
We hope you enjoyed these five basic ideas for how you can improve your triathlon training for fun — and maximum results. But as athletes move down the spectrum of experience, they begin to look for other ways to get faster, stronger, and better. Here are a few bonus tips for those of you looking to go the extra mile.

Bonus Tip Number One: Get Fitter By Using Intensity, Not Time, To Your Advantage
Inside Endurance Nation we use a fixed training schedule so that every week you know that your Thursday workout is an hour. We make every Thursday — each week — incrementally harder by changing the intensity of the main set so you are doing more work.

So instead of having a 60-minute workout this week, a 70-minute workout next week, and an 80-minute workout the following week – you always train for an hour. Not only can you create a positive training stimulus, you are doing so without adding extra time which might interfere with your basic life or sleep patterns.

Tip Number Two: Stack Your Workouts To Save Time
If you have a bike and run workout – commonly known as a “brick” workout for the way your legs feel when you try to run — try to put them together.  Any time that we can combine two workouts into one training session is more efficient for your schedule.

Two workouts, typically means two showers- which is often a deal breaker. Combining two workouts into one,  can make just one shower and freeing up a bit of time. Do yourself a favor see how well you can bundle things together to reduce the impact on your daily life. As for Tip number three: keep a training diary…

Tip Number Three: Past Performance Is the Best Predictor of Future Performance
Nowadays with electronic trading gadgets and online logs, you have very little to no excuse for not tracking your workouts. However, it doesn’t have to just be the data. For example, you can talk about how you feel or what sessions you enjoy that week. However you choose to record it, I encourage you to do it.

Often times being able to go back and look at your training is a great way to discover how you ended up injured. Or how you got sick. Or, what worked last time you went so fast. But without the personal history, you will never know and overall improvement will suffer.

Tip Number Four: Take on Additional Resources
Endurance Nation has a compilation of articles, podcasts, and videos designed to help triathletes regardless of the specific area that they are interested in. We’ve created several key pages on our website where we have aggregated this information to help make your life easier.

If you are interested in learning more about any of the topics covered here, feel free to visit us online: As the online home of a triathlon, Endurance Nation is here to help you improve and tackle your next endurance challenge. Come on over to browse our website, and see if we can help you out.

Interested in getting a 30 day, free trial of Endurance Nation to take it out for a “test ride” befor you make any obligations?

About the Author: Endurance Nation founder Patrick McCrann is a 22-time IRONMAN finisher with seven trips to Hawaii. He lives in Rhode Island with his family where he enjoys trying to fit the swim, the bike and the run in between all of the soccer practices, dance recitals, and after school activities that make life fun.

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Improve Your Swim Technique Today Thu, 28 Apr 2016 21:35:12 +0000 Written by David Tatum, USAT Level 1 coach and IRONMAN All World Athlete Let’s face it, swimming seems to the weakest of the three sports for the majority of triathletes. For whatever reason, many athletes come to the sport with a running or biking background and have to learn more about the swim than anything […]]]>

Written by David Tatum, USAT Level 1 coach and IRONMAN All World Athlete


Let’s face it, swimming seems to the weakest of the three sports for the majority of triathletes. For whatever reason, many athletes come to the sport with a running or biking background and have to learn more about the swim than anything else.

As a kid, I grew up in the water. I spent my summers at the lake wakeboarding and waterskiing, I lifeguarded and taught swim lessons, and I learned how to scuba dive at the age of 12. In college, I also spent a significant amount of time surfing in San Diego. What I have learned in this sport is that I am the anomaly. I came to the sport as a strong swimmer, but had to really work on the bike and run. I want to share with you one secret that I learned intuitively in my aquatic experiences.

Are you ready?

Your “pull” is the most important part of your stroke!


Getting Streamline
While this seems simple let me explain how this should play out in your training.  First, let’s recognize that many people talk about being streamlined in the water.  What this means is that your body is horizontal in the water and creating the least amount of drag as possible. Because most triathlons are done with a wetsuit, which helps your body and hips to float, as triathletes, we don’t have to worry about this as much. Your wetsuit is going to put you on top of the water and also prevent your legs from dragging like they tend to in the pool.


It’s a Percentage Game
Next, understand that 10-15% of your race will be spent on the swim; the other 85-90% will be spent using your legs on the run and bike. Because of this, you should spend most of your energy on the swim using your upper body. Save your legs for the rest of the race; you’re going to need them. One of the fastest swimmers in triathlon, Andy Potts, says he doesn’t even use his feet until the last few hundred yards of the swim. Sheila Taormina, a triathlon world champion and Olympic swimming gold medalist, wrote an entire book proving that the “pull” is the most important part of the stroke. In her book, Sheila reminds swimmers of the 80/20 rule, which is a  few  aspects (20  percent)  of  anything  we  do  that  have  the  greatest  impact (80 percent) on what we are trying to accomplish.

Do More Long Swims
From what I have experienced, most people swim short intervals and not enough long swims. They spend entirely too much time working on their kick and do not do enough long interval swimming. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place to do speed training and work on the shorter distances such as 25’s, 50’s, and 100’s. But if you want to simulate what you’re going to be doing on race day, you need to incorporate more long swims to your workouts. If all you ever do is short swims, you are not building the aerobic endurance needed for your race. In fact, if your training for a 70.3 or a full distance triathlon, you should have several swim workouts leading up to the race where you are swimming the full distance without stopping.


The Pull Buoy Should Be Your Best Friend
If your current swim is struggling, here is what I suggest: Spend 50% or more of your swim time with a pull buoy. A pull buoy helps simulate what a wetsuit does in the water. It allows you to elevate your hips and feet and swim downhill. When you use the swim buoy, you are not kicking and focusing all your effort on your upper body. This is the single best swim exercise that you can do as a triathlete! Along with this, incorporate more long swims and less shorter interval training, such as 100’s and 200’s. When swimming with a pull buoy, work on intervals of 500’s and 1,000’s.

Sample Workout:

  • 500 easy warmup freestyle
  • 1,000 pull with swim buoy
  • 5×100 sprints with 15-30 seconds rest
  • 1,000 pull with swim buoy
  • 500 cool down easy freestyle

 Total: 3,500

About the Author: David Tatum is a USAT Level 1 coach and IRONMAN All World Athlete. To learn more about David Tatum, visit

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5 Bike Repair Lessons for Triathletes Mon, 11 Apr 2016 23:57:29 +0000 Written by Becky Bader, Age-Group Triathlete and Former TriSports Elite Athlete Before transitioning into IRONMAN triathlon, I spent many years racing bikes and occasionally working at bike shops in between jobs that some might consider to be more related to my Ph.D. When I quietly told my bike racing friends and fellow bike shop employees […]]]>

Written by Becky Bader, Age-Group Triathlete and Former TriSports Elite Athlete


Before transitioning into IRONMAN triathlon, I spent many years racing bikes and occasionally working at bike shops in between jobs that some might consider to be more related to my Ph.D. When I quietly told my bike racing friends and fellow bike shop employees that I was moving to triathlon, I immediately prepared myself for the barrage of jokes related to poor bike handing skills and an inability to do something as simple as changing brake pads. I wish I could say that my years in triathlon have demonstrated to me that most triathletes are incredibly adept at maintaining their own bikes and that my bike racing friends were wrong in their perception. But I admit to being embarrassed for triathletes everywhere at some of the conversations about bikes I have overheard in the transition area before the start of IRONMAN.

walk of shame
The Walk of Shame

Lesson 1: You have to start somewhere
We, of course, all have to start somewhere. I was fortunate enough to be taught how to ride by a former professional cyclist who, on the day that I purchased my first road bike, suggested to me that I had better get to a bike shop and figure out how to change a flat. Logically, I completely blew him off and then cursed his name as I took a slow walk of shame back to my car in my bike shoes after getting my first flat. So I went to the shop, purchased a set of tire levers, had the mechanics show me the best way to get a tire on and off of a wheel in order to replace the tube, and then practiced until I could change a flat in minimal time. I always suggest to beginners or novice triathletes that they take the time to ask a bike mechanic for a quick how-to lesson on things they might need to know out on the road.


Lesson 2: The right tools will go a long way
Many years, many bikes, and many bike shops later, I have come a long way from just being able to change a flat, and I can now build and maintain my own road and triathlon bikes. Contrary to popular belief, a vast amount of expensive tools are not necessary to get this done, and a complete set of hex wrenches can go a long way.

Lesson 3: An annual overhaul will keep your bike happy
As a rule of thumb, everything should be overhauled at least once per year (chain, cables, housing, and tires). If you are putting in some heavy mileage, I suggest investing in a quick chain checker, such as the Park Tool CC-2, to better gauge when you may need to replace the chain. This will save you from having to additionally invest in a new cassette more frequently. If you do need to change the chain, this is potentially the easiest do-it-yourself thing there is. You will need to invest in a chain tool; I use the Park Tool CT-3.2. After this purchase, changing the chain becomes somewhat self-explanatory. Simply press out one of the pins from the chain you are replacing with the tool, remove that chain, replace the chain, and insert a new pin using the tool again. Bear in mind that when you purchase a new chain, you will most definitely need to remove several links before putting on the new chain (all you need to do is compare the length of the new chain to the existing chain).

Lesson 4: Splurge on the cables and housing
Moving on to the internal routing of cables. Yes, I am willing to admit that this is a huge hassle, but still completely doable. I recommend ordering a complete set of cables and housing that is a little bit higher-end. Shimano makes great products that will keep you shifting cleanly for the entire year. Although cable cutters are obviously available at Lowes and Home Depot, the ones that are bike specific (such as Park Tool CN-10) will serve you much better. The key to internal routing is to take a string or dental floss and attach it to the end of the cable. If you do this to the old cable, you are left with a string that can be used to pull the new cable through the frame. Alternatively, you can simply attach the string or dental floss to the end of the new cable and then pull that through the frame using a vacuum cleaner (be careful that other holes in the bike are at least partially sealed). As for the housing, simply try to cut approximately the length of the housing that is being replaced.


Lesson 5: Fine-tuning your shifting will test your patience
Once the cables and housing have been replaced, getting things to shift correctly can be a tad more complicated. To set the front cable, simply put the shifter in the little ring and pull the cable as tight as possible before tightening the anchor bolt with a hex wrench. For the rear, do the same, but try to slowly shift up to the next biggest cog. If this does not occur, you are going to need to turn the barrel adjustor 1/4th of a turn counterclockwise until shifting occurs (make sure the barrel adjustor is fully turned in before tightening the anchor bolt). Repeat this process for the next cog, and eventually you will be back to a smoothly shifting bike. Slap on some new bar tape, and you are ready to roll.

Former Dining Room Turned Bike Shop

A word of caution: if you continue down the path of maintaining your own bike, someday you may end up with your dining room table turned into a mount for an axle vice to change free hub bodies, and a living room where bike parts, tools, and bike part manuals cover every available surface. Good luck in keeping everything running smooth this season!

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2XU Compression: The “Cankle” Killer… Tue, 16 Aug 2011 23:49:37 +0000 Does compression really work? The studies are published. Everybody is wearing it. We challenge 2XU to prove it – and grow some ugly “cankles” doing it.]]>

By Tom Demerly.

Compression is a strong trend in multisport- but what does it really do? We do a street level test to see the benefits.

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Compression garments: Do they “work”? What does “work” really mean? Is it a triathlon fashion fad?

I love equipment but I’m a cynic. I need proof that something like tight-fitting clothes provides a significant performance/recovery benefit. I’ve seen the studies and sat through the tech clinics. I wanted to experience the benefits of compression first hand- if they are real.

The brands that sell technical compression garments provide university medical studies that “prove” compression speeds recovery, improves circulation, reduces fatigue and improves proprioception (your sense of where your body is in space). What I set out to discover was: Does compression provide me- personally- the guy on the street, with any tangible benefit?

“Does compression provide me- personally- the guy on the street, with any benefit?”

2XU or “Two Times You” was founded in the sports mad city of Melbourne, Australia. The company and its name reflect their mission to advance human performance through their equipment- to literally give you “Two Times You(r)” capabilities.

2XU compression socks are tuned for activity, activity/recovery and for recovery using different graduated levels of compression.

Last year Chris Sinkovich and Richard Verney of 2XU sensed my cynicism about compression. I dismissed the compression category as a great money maker, but a fad. The two bristled. An exchange of e-mails, visits and phone calls took place over the next few months until I finally told the guys from 2XU: “Guys, it’s a nicely made product- but I would need to experience any benefits for myself. “ I was finally off the hook. I thought.

Two days later a box and an e-mail showed up. Sinkovich and Verney of 2XU challenged me to disprove the university findings about the benefit of compression. It was on.

The claims about compression benefits are lofty:

  • Increased circulation.
  • Faster Recovery.
  • Reduced fatigue
  • Increased muscle compression reducing unwanted muscle oscillation
  • Improved Proprioception.
  • Temperature and moisture management.

For the 2012 season 2XU has introduced three levels of compression performance:

  1. 2XU PERFORM: The active/movement line. Compression for exercise to control muscle damage and provide full range of motion and proprioception in action/endurance sports and manage moisture and heat.
  1. 2XU XFORM: For active recovery. These garments use graduated compression to further enhance recovery while retaining the benefits of the Perform line.
  1. 2XU REFRESH: For recovery. Powerful and graduated compression to reduce inflammation and facilitate recovery through fluid return.

For my test I used the 2XU Men’s Recovery Compression Tights, the 2XU Compression Recovery Sock, the 2XU Swim Recovery Compression Top and the 2XU Compression Race Sock.

Testing physiological response to recovery garments is a slippery slope that delves into constants and trials, protocols and other rigmarole. That’s in the university studies published on 2XU’s website. My test would be a trial to see if I could find/feel/see a benefit. It’s not science, it’s anecdotal.

“I wanted to see if wearing compression made me feel any better”

In the short term I wanted to see if wearing compression made me feel any better and if there was a tangible difference using compression. The recovery claims were of particular interest. I decided to take two weeks off running after a hard two months, then resume running and use the compression to manage the residual soreness.

It’s hot in Tucson. A requirement of exercising here is constant hydration. I drink at least 3-4 liters of water per day, much more on days with a bike commute and a longer run. The water produces edema, or inflammation of the lower extremities. I’ve had this in deserts around the world, from the Sahara to the Wadi Rum in Jordan. Edema is a function of acclimating to exercise in the heat. It is a particular concern for athletes travelling to a race in a different climate, especially after a long flight. Here in Tucson it wasn’t difficult for me to induce some wicked edema and grow some epic cankles.

“…it wasn’t difficult to induce some wicked edema and grow some epic cankles.”

For my first run I banged out 5.5 miles on the River Trail behind my house, a perfect desert proving ground. Temperature was high 90’s with the monsoon season humidity building. That night, my legs ached. Experience told me in the morning they would be worse. I put one 2XU Compression Recovery Sock on my right foot. I put my normal shoes and boots on my left foot. The following afternoon this is what I got:

Edema from training in heat after time off. I wore a 2XU compression sock on the right foot, and regular running socks on the left foot.

There was substantial inflammation in my left lower leg. The leg was larger in circumference and felt inflamed and “heavy”: The right leg below the knee, where the 2XU Compression Recovery Sock was, had less inflammation and was visibly smaller. I’ve had surgeries on both legs going back decades ago. The 2XU Compression Recovery Sock on the right leg prevented the edema and inflammation I had on the left leg.

“Nearly all of the inflammation from my left leg had gone down overnight while wearing the 2XU recovery tights.”

I found the sizing charts on the 2XU product to be very precise.

Next step was to use recovery while sleeping. I wore the 2XU Men’s Recovery Compression Tights while sleeping after verifying my fit on the packaging size chart. I found the 2XU size charts on their packaging to be accurate. Nearly all of the inflammation from my left leg had gone down overnight. My legs were sore, but it was more joint pain than muscle pain. The level of muscle discomfort compared to using no compression and coming back to running was lower.

2XU recovery tights allow active recovery even- and especially- while sleeping, speeding recovery for your next workout.

Finally, the following morning I got up, drank a liter of cold water, changed into the 2XU Compression Race Sock and did my long commute to work; 19.5 miles around Davis-Monthan AFB. I. I rode hard in rising temperatures already above 85 degrees. At work I racked my bike, took my shoes off, shot one photo in the 2XU Compression Race Sock, pulled the socks off, and stepped in front of the camera again. Less than 24 hours after the “cankle” photo this is how my legs looked:

Before and after. Not only is the edema from the left leg completely gone (right), it is easy to see that both legs appear leaner and retain less fluid. My legs felt lighter and more comfortable after wearing 2XU compression.

“…compression does provide a reduction of soreness and inflammation for me.”

My take-away is that compression does provide a tangible benefit in reduction of soreness and inflammation for me. The results feel more significant than any other recovery product I’ve used, including anti-inflammatories, aspirin and (unfortunately) even massage.

2XU compression sleeves for racing help reduce vibration, especially during the bike to run transition.

In retrospect I think Verney and Sinkovich knew they were shooting fish in a barrel with this project. I was an easy target because compression has easily verifiable benefits. In my role as a product review editor I see a lot of products that promise but don’t deliver. Three (other products) are in my cubicle right now. You never read about those because we don’t buy them, don’t publish the review. Verney and Sinkovich proved to me that 2XU Compression does provide a verifiable benefit to me, or perhaps I proved it to myself. In both cases my paradigm about compression as being trendy and fashionable among last-decade triathletes has been aptly shifted. For me, 2XU Compression provides tangible benefits

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