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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 07-31-09, 09:57 PM   #1
Glenn1234
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Road Bike 101

I finally got up to the point of being able to ride my road bike. But still I got some questions. For this being my first road bike, I'm still not getting too comfortable on it. Any good tips to try to get better at handling it, especially for the brake handles being on the drop-ends of the handle bars?

I'm sure some adjustment to the brake handles would help in this respect, too, since I have to take my hands off the handle bars in order to reach them (dangerous too in the event of a panic stop). How do adjust them so you can move them inward?
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Old 07-31-09, 10:21 PM   #2
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First off, congrats on taking the leap to road bike world.
To answer your question - I can't tell from your post, but I'm guessing your either riding deep in the drops or really upright, such that your hands are on the handlebar horizontally and closest to you. Maybe try riding with your hands on the brake hoods. It's actually really comfy and I personally spend about 75% of my riding time there. From there, if you have decent brakes and the cables move freely, you should be able to apply enough brake with about 2-3 fingers (pinky, ring, and middle)..with little to worry about.
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Old 08-01-09, 07:07 AM   #3
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B Piddy answer fits how I ride. As far as getting comfortable just ride. I remember my first ride or two on my road bike, I felt uncomfortable. The bike felt twitchy and going downhill at 34 MPH I thought that was faster than I felt comfortable. Now, I am use to the bike and when I get on my MTB it feels slow. So no secret tips other than just riding.
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Old 08-01-09, 06:52 PM   #4
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A lot of the problem is probably adjustments, too. I raised the seat because I was grinding my knees when riding hills. I usually try to start the bike by holding onto the top side, and then try to work my hands into the drops near the brake handles, but it definitely feels like I'm "downhill" when I do it. I'm sure an adjustment is necessary, but I'm not sure what needs done to the handle bar side to compensate.

I tried raising the handle bars (like the other bikes I've rode) but it didn't seem to want to work.
Again I don't know if I need to force it, like other bikes I've worked on that haven't been adjusted/greased, or if road bikes are like this? I thought maybe trying to roll the handlebars downward would compensate for this. Am I on the right track?
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Old 08-01-09, 08:58 PM   #5
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A lot of the problem is probably adjustments, too. I raised the seat because I was grinding my knees when riding hills. I usually try to start the bike by holding onto the top side, and then try to work my hands into the drops near the brake handles, but it definitely feels like I'm "downhill" when I do it. I'm sure an adjustment is necessary, but I'm not sure what needs done to the handle bar side to compensate.

I tried raising the handle bars (like the other bikes I've rode) but it didn't seem to want to work.
Again I don't know if I need to force it, like other bikes I've worked on that haven't been adjusted/greased, or if road bikes are like this? I thought maybe trying to roll the handlebars downward would compensate for this. Am I on the right track?
What kind of bike? If it has a "threadless" headset, you cannot just loosen the bolt on the stem and try to yank the bars higher like an older bike with a threaded headset. You have to change the stem, and you have to tighten the top cap bolt before you tighten the stem bolts.
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Old 08-02-09, 09:54 PM   #6
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What kind of bike?
All I see is a bolt on top of the stem. The shifters are bolted onto the stem, but other than that, it looks like every other bike I've ever seen. But since it's a road bike and I do recognize that so many of the parts are different, I had to ask.

Another question: How do you clydes adjust to a road bike? For what I have to do to reach the brake handles (ride in the drops), I notice my legs always hit my stomach on the up stroke. Is this to be expected for someone that's a clyde, or is this something that can be fixed with handle bar adjustments?

(I did have a nice, though small ride today - only 3 miles. Dealing with the road bike got easier, but still have a few problems I'm guessing are relating to riding "down hill" in the bike, like wrist problems, and wanting to go over the front wheel on descents.)
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Old 08-03-09, 10:21 AM   #7
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My knees hit my gut too. If you have copious abdominal circumference issues, it happens.

I also think that you should adjust your handlebars so that you can spend most of your time riding with your hands on or around the hoods. As P Diddy indicated, you should not have to ride in the drops to apply the brakes. Your hands will hurt at first, but if you move them around a lot, changing where you put the weight on your hands, you will get used to it rather fast.

Most of the time, I ride with my hands on the backs of the hoods, and can apply them just fine using the hoods like pistol-grips. I only use the drops for fighting a stiff wind, seeing how fast I can go down a big hill, and when I'm getting tired and want to lean down more to hit my hamstrings more (gives quads a little relief). You should be able to apply the brakes just fine from there. If you can't reach that far, they make spacers that make the gap between your brakes and the handlebars closer. They started making them a few years ago for women with smaller hands, but I see them on bikes owned by guys all the time now. Not everyone can palm a basketball. If my hands were any smaller, or I had arthritis, I would get spacers for sure.

One thing that I have noticed, is that a lot of us Clydes that like road bikes can bend forward a lot further if we stretch out more forward than down. My knees don't hit my gut, and I don't feel as cramped in general when I go farther out, than down. Lots of clydes ride with aero-bars for this reason (they also save your hands and back, since they put weight on your arms).

Hope this helps.




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Old 08-03-09, 10:45 AM   #8
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I just had a 11.75 mile ride today (about my average for a "small" ride) that wasn't eventful, so I'd say that I got "used" to riding it, and wouldn't have any reservations taking it out. Again the big thing was adjusting so my hands could go on the brake handles. But that got easier. The biggest thing is probably the physical discomfort of doing such a thing, and being bent over (my right foot started hurting).

I probably will go ahead and roll the handlebars downward and try that - that might help the wrist problems in getting to the brakes..
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Old 08-03-09, 10:55 AM   #9
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All I see is a bolt on top of the stem. The shifters are bolted onto the stem, but other than that, it looks like every other bike I've ever seen. But since it's a road bike and I do recognize that so many of the parts are different, I had to ask.

Another question: How do you clydes adjust to a road bike? For what I have to do to reach the brake handles (ride in the drops), I notice my legs always hit my stomach on the up stroke. Is this to be expected for someone that's a clyde, or is this something that can be fixed with handle bar adjustments?

(I did have a nice, though small ride today - only 3 miles. Dealing with the road bike got easier, but still have a few problems I'm guessing are relating to riding "down hill" in the bike, like wrist problems, and wanting to go over the front wheel on descents.)
Don't try and adjust the handlebar height as zoste said. It doesn't adjust like a quill stem if you have a threadless system. The bolt on top of the stem adjusts the headset only. I also think you meant the shifters are bolted to the bars.

If you have wrist problems, your saddle may not be adjusted properly. The tip should be relatively level to the ground. If it's titled downwards, you end up using your wrists to support your upper body too much.
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Old 08-03-09, 11:13 AM   #10
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I also think you meant the shifters are bolted to the bars.
No the shifters are bolted to the stem. They're the downtube variety.
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Old 08-03-09, 11:22 AM   #11
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Just to go in another direction.....
How about interrupter brake handles such as:
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gloss_i-k.html#interrupter

I have them on my Sequoia and they helped me break in the the road bike "feel".
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Old 08-07-09, 11:51 AM   #12
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My suggestion is get fitted correctly to the bike and talk to the people at your LBS and ask them the same questions you have on here. In person you may better understand the concept. Its gonna take you a while to get used to riding a road bike, don't get discouraged, just be patient go on you tube and watch clips of people on road bikes. Do a search for road biking, or bicycle racing so you get an Idea what these guys are saying...

Good Luck!
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Old 08-07-09, 03:13 PM   #13
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If your shifters are on the stem, I am sure you have a quill stem. Height is adjusted by loosening the top bolt, tapping it down to free the stem, setting the height and retightening the bolt. Watch for the minimum insertion marks on the stem. Taller stems are available.
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Old 08-07-09, 08:19 PM   #14
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I got the road bike riding thing down now. My problem is that I found out the tires won't support me too well. Such are things.
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Old 08-07-09, 10:18 PM   #15
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B Piddy answer fits how I ride. As far as getting comfortable just ride. I remember my first ride or two on my road bike, I felt uncomfortable. The bike felt twitchy and going downhill at 34 MPH I thought that was faster than I felt comfortable. Now, I am use to the bike and when I get on my MTB it feels slow. So no secret tips other than just riding.
+1... main ridng position should probably be on the hoods. Brakes are easy to reach from there. And just ride for awhile and see if you don't adjust to the new position. It is going to feel weird at first.
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Old 08-08-09, 05:23 AM   #16
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I got the road bike riding thing down now. My problem is that I found out the tires won't support me too well. Such are things.
I learned by trial and error that fitment really is important. A trip to the LBS to have a tech set you up on the bike can do wonders for comfort.

If weight loss is a goal (it's one of my main ones) then as you ride more you will weigh less, which will work to your favor with the tires.

In the meanwhile, check the inflation rating on the sidewalls and then put them at the max psi. That will tighten up the tire so the sidewalls are prone to less flex. You will also get more miles out of the tire that way.
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Old 08-08-09, 06:24 PM   #17
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If your shifters are on the stem, I am sure you have a quill stem.
I do. I just needed to break the seal on the stem. After that, I got the handlebars where I needed. Thanks for the pointer.
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Old 08-08-09, 06:36 PM   #18
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In the meanwhile, check the inflation rating on the sidewalls and then put them at the max psi. That will tighten up the tire so the sidewalls are prone to less flex. You will also get more miles out of the tire that way.
I did that, but they lost about 20-30 lbs of pressure in the space of two rides after they were installed brand new. I'll probably try getting a valve tool and work on them, but they just simply may be too weak for my weight.

Last edited by Glenn1234; 08-08-09 at 06:37 PM. Reason: Clarifying something
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Old 08-15-09, 11:15 PM   #19
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Any ideas on this one? While I'm sure it would be possible to get holes in both tires in such a short period, I'm thinking this is not the case. I've aired these tires (brand new much less!) up 2 or 3 times now, and notice they won't hold air. If I were to check for holes and find them (I will tomorrow), would it be fruitful to try and fix them because of my weight? Or would this indicate defective tubes and I'd need to get them replaced?

Thoughts?
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Old 08-16-09, 04:41 AM   #20
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No the shifters are bolted to the stem. They're the downtube variety.

Is this an older road bike with steel rims and non aero brake levers? (cables come out of the top of the levers rather than going under the handlebar tape.)
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Old 08-16-09, 05:06 AM   #21
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It's normally suggested to bring the tubes up to pressure before every ride. And juding by measuring with a normaly pump probably isn't too accurate as you let a bit of air out each time you break the seal on the valve.

For the fit issue, a certain part of it will naturally be getting used to the fit, but there is certainly a line you must draw when you know fit isn't good. You may find it useful to post a pic of you in a riding position for people to give more advice.
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Old 08-18-09, 08:18 PM   #22
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If I were to check for holes and find them (I will tomorrow), would it be fruitful to try and fix them because of my weight? Or would this indicate defective tubes and I'd need to get them replaced?
Okay, I checked the front and didn't find any holes in the tube itself. But when I did air them up to 60 lbs, I felt a mild amount of air coming out of the valve. I got a valve tool and inspected the valve stems but didn't find anything peculiar about them.

So would this be a manufacturing defect, or something that happened because of my weight? Is this something I could fix or should I just call it a done deal and find some other tubes?
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Old 08-18-09, 08:38 PM   #23
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Try new tubes. If you can feel air coming out of the valves, that ain't right. Also, expect to lose pressure over the course of a week with high pressure tires. It just happens and you have to air up at least once a week and sometimes more than that.
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Old 08-22-09, 02:46 AM   #24
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Also, expect to lose pressure over the course of a week with high pressure tires. It just happens and you have to air up at least once a week and sometimes more than that.
Okay, so that's reasonably normal then to lose enough air over the course of a week to need to air them up to have sufficient pressure? (Like was said/inferred in the first post, I'm new to road bikes, and I'm not used to the idea of tires attached to anything - cars, utility vehicles, other bikes I've had not holding their air over the course of time)

I did manage to hit the gas station about 2 miles into a ride yesterday and air the tires, and had a very good ride after that...probably could have done much more than the distance I did end up doing.

Last edited by Glenn1234; 08-22-09 at 02:54 AM.
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Old 08-22-09, 06:41 AM   #25
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As stated, it's perfectly normal to have to inflate your tires every couple of days. I'm guessing if you inflated to 60 psi you are riding 27" wheels/tires? If you are riding 700C you should going up to around 100 psi unless you are running 32's or 35's then your pressure will be lower.

The best accessory you can get is a floor pump with and air guage. It doesn't have to be an expensive one, and you will love the ease of inflating your tires vs using a frame pump.
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