A Mountain Biking Primer

The first requirement for a would be mountain biker is to obtain a bicycle. Some mountain bicycles are traditional in that they feature thick rugged tires. These bikes are ideal for off road rough terrain biking. There are also mountain bikes that feature thinner less rugged tires. These bikes are really hybrids between mountain bikes and touring bikes. The advantage these bikes offer is they weigh less than traditional mountain bikes. If you are planning on biking on paved roads or paved bike trails or even on trails with light obstacles such as roots or rocks these bikes (hybrids) may be ideal for you.

For the technical mountain biker who enjoys riding over rocks, tree roots, and other natural hazards the thicker tired mountain bike will offer a safer more satisfying riding experience. As a fledgling mountain biker you should not as a general rule choose the most expensive mountain bike available. As a general rule what you are paying for is either an enhanced ride through the use of front and rear shock absorbers mounted over the front wheel and under the seat of the bicycle or a bike frame constructed of the very latest space age medals and so lighter than traditional mountain bikes. The only times I can see spending extra for an more expensive mountain bike is if you suffer from arthritis, have had a carpal tunnel or other operation such that an enhanced shock absorbing system will benefit you. Also if you enter mountain biking races than a more lightweight mountain biking frame will benefit you.

Right after selecting a mountain bicycle, I suggest you select a bicycle helmet. No one should engage in the sport of mountain biking without a helmet. Many states have passed laws requiring that both children and adults wear helmets when they ride bicycles. The natural hazards inherent in the sport of mountain biking make proper headgear a necessity. Most bike helmets today are made at least in part of hardened Styrofoam with plastic outsides and are very light in weight. Inside the biking helmet there is usually stamped the safety results that independent testing organizations have obtained in testing the helmet. These should be examined carefully.

In addition to needing a mountain bike and a helmet you will need to transport your bike to where you wish to ride. To do this, you will need a bike rack. There are 3 major types of bike racks available. These are roof racks, trunk racks, and bicycle hitches. A roof rack fits tightly on your car’s roof. The bikes are clamped tightly to the rack. A roof rack has the advantage of allowing the trunk of your vehicle to be readily accessible. This can be an important advantage on vacation trips. The two most prevalent manufacturers of roof racks seem to be Thule and Yakima. I have also seen racks with Sears Roebuck and Volvo trademarks attached to cars also. One major disadvantages of a roof rack is that carrying your bikes on top of your vehicle adds height to the vehicle. You need to be very conscious of this when you are using your vehicle with bikes attached on top and about to pass through a tunnel, park your car in a parking facility with a low roof, or even park your car in your own garage. I am ashamed to admit that I have forgotten that my bikes were attached to my roof rack as I entered my own garage on more than one occasion with expensive consequences of my absent mindedness!

Some other possible disadvantages of using roof racks are that lifting your bikes up to fasten them to the roof rack puts extra strain on your back and may cause back injuries. Another disadvantage of roof racks, is especially with today’s sport utility vehicles, you may need to carry a step stool in your vehicle when you are cycling in order to lift the bikes high enough to fasten them to your vehicle. A trunk rack as the name implies, has clamps which fasten tightly to the trunk of your car. Trunk racks are clamped to the trunk of your car before you begin your biking trip and are removed after its completion.

Trunk racks may be ideal when you are carrying bicycles for young children that are not heavy or large. As the size and weight of the bikes increases. the added size and weight may bend or dent your trunk and impede accessibility to it with a trunk rack. A hitch rack is attached to the rear of your vehicle on a more or less permanent basis. The bikes are fastened using heavy rubber clamps. A hitch rack offers the advantage of not increasing the height of your vehicle or denting your trunk. Hitch racks do increase the length of your vehicle and restrict visibility in back of your vehicle. Furthermore, a hitch rack with bikes attached makes the motion detector on my Ford Explorer useless. With all of that said, I myself use a hitch rack.

Another piece of equipment that is a necessity for mountain biking are water bottle racks. Regardless of the season, it is important to have an ample supply of water with you when you are mountain biking. Water bottle racks come in a few styles and can be easily attached to your bicycle. If you will be cycling for more than a few hours, you should take food with you as well. Food for lunch or snacks can be carried safely in many types of bike bags which can be fastened by means of velcro straps or bungies (single or double width elastic straps). If taking food in a bike bag is likely to be a part of your mountain biking experience, you should ask your bike store to attach a sturdy rack to your bike to which you can attach a thermal bag to carry your food in.

I also suggest carrying a few other things with you when you ride. A universal bike tool to allow you to raise or lower your seat, an extra inner tube for your tires, and a small bike air pump can all come in handy, help you meet your little biking emergencies, and increase your enjoyment of the sport of mountain biking.

How to Transform Your Schwinn Mountain Bike Into a Road Bike

One of the most interesting brands of bikes today is the Schwinn mountain bike, being one of the most favored brands for adventurers out there. Schwinn has been producing mountain bikes for more than 100 years to give you the best cycling experience. Their bikes are created specifically for off-road cycling, and are designed to overcome the elements; unstable grounds, steep declines, and other harsh environments. To make your off-road cycling more comfortable, Schwinn features aluminum frame, 24-speed drive train and ergonomic saddle.

Off-road cycling enthusiasts will love to have this bike but what do you do if you want it to accommodate your daily commuting needs, instead of being merely useable on weekends? In its original shape, fully unmodified, mountain bikes are not really suitable for city traveling. The frames are typically quite heavy, and its shape rather bulky. For example, the small size of a Schwinn road cycle has 38.7″ of a wheelbase while the small size of the mountain bike has a 40.4″ of wheelbase. However, with a few modifications, you can turn your mountain bike into something better suited for light and easy riding.

One of the first things you will need to change is your tires. Normally, the tires of mountain bikes are made to run slower than road bikes; its surface is adorned with extensive threading, helping the bike grip the road better. Although this makes for safe uphill riding, in an urban setting it will simply slow you down. If you are planning to cycle at a constant speed of up to 70 mph, then you better swap out your default Schwinn bike tire which can only handle around 50 mph. The Mesa 1 Men, one of Schwinn bike series, has 26 x 2.1 of tires. If you expect the bike to perform like road bikes, then you need to change to thinner tires. The smoother and thinner your tires are, the lighter your bike will run. However, do not forget to choose a tire which would be able to handle the pressure exerted by your bike. The frames of all mountain bikes are rather heavy, and it is why it is then important to have tires strong enough to support them.

The brakes on your mountain bike are also highly different from those on road bikes. As you would use them more often when riding in-town, changing the levers to a short-pull model would be more practical. Next, you would also need to replace your crank-set. Amp up the gear until it is as high as typical road bikes go. You can do this by swapping the Schwinn bike chain to something bigger, but which will still suit the other features of the bike. This step can be rather complicated, as you would need to synchronize the crank bolt pattern, derailleur, and ring, so some other opt to swap the cassette which is faster and lighter than your average mountain bike cassette. For most bikes 11-26 would be ideal. The changes to performance would not be as significant as that from a chain change, but it would be cheaper and still help make your bike more city-friendly.

Specialized Mountain Bikes – A Little Customization Goes a Long Way

There are many makes and models of mountain bikes on the market today. In fact, you can usually find exactly what you want – right off the showroom floor – without ordering specialized mountain bikes. However, sometimes specialized mountain bikes can offer more of what you want in a ride!

Bikes can be specialized in a variety of ways – depending on what type of performance you want from the bike. Some bikes are even specialized simply to look a certain way, and the specialization has little or nothing to do with performance. Again, it all just depends on what you want and what you need – and how much you are willing to pay for it.

Many people request or make very small changes to the bike – but certain changes turn an ordinary mountain bike into a specialized mountain bike – no doubt about it! For instance, many people want specialized frames, but everything else about the bike is factory standard. A large majority of people want specialized ultra-smooth suspension seat posts or fully adjustable handlebars made of alloy.

Specialized suspensions are common requests and modifications that a large number of mountain bikers make. Specialized tires, which are suited to specific types of terrain, are popular as well. Of course, specialized paint jobs or designs are the top requests and modifications made by those who place a great deal of importance on the look of the bike as well.

Specialized parts and components cost a lot of money in most cases, but some specialization and customization can be done affordably, if you are willing to do the work yourself and only pay for the needed parts. Having to pay a shop to do the work starts driving the costs up quickly! So, if you want to customize your bike in anyway, try to learn what you need to know to do the work yourself to keep costs down.

Some people have major specialization work done, and by the time the work is complete – the bike rides and looks like a totally different bike! Of course this type of specialization should be reserved for expert riders who know exactly what they want, and how those customizations will affect their ride or their techniques. This type of specialization runs into the thousands of dollars – over the cost of the bike without the specialization!

Beware of the word specialized! It doesn’t always mean what you think it means. For instance, many bike shops use the word ‘specialized’ in their business name – this doesn’t necessarily mean that they sell specialized bikes. It is also important to note that a specialized bike, in most cases, does not mean that you are the only person in the world with that type of bike – unless you’ve ordered a specialized bike that is guaranteed to be one-a-kind (most bike shops will not make this guarantee, but you could get such a guarantee from a major manufacturer).

Beginners do not need specialized bikes. Again, the average rider can find exactly what they want and need in a bike shop, or at an Internet bike store. Some bikes arrive at the store for resale already specialized – in almost every case you have the option of getting a bike that you see in a store customized to suite your needs, but it usually costs quite a bit, and you have to wait for the parts to come in and the work to be done before you can take the bike out of the store and onto the trails.

The best way to get a specialized mountain bike is to order one at an online bike store, or directly through the manufacturer. This is the best way to ensure that you are getting the right specialization to suit your needs and desires. Just make sure that you have enough experience with mountain bikes to know what kind of specialization you want before you just start adding or changing components without fully planning or thinking things through – sometimes specialization can ruin your ride, as opposed to improving it – which is what specialized mountain bikes are supposed to be all about!