Bike accessory advice
May 1, 2008 11:17 AM   Subscribe

So I just bought myself a new single speed bike for my birthday. I'd like to get different bars, pedals, and saddle but need advice... I'm also curious if it's possible to remove the branding decals without damaging the frame...

The bike is an Iro Angus that looks almost exactly like this (though that's not my bike), right down to the color scheme, wheels, etc. (though my crank and spokes are black). Also, I currently have no cages/clips on my pedals.

I've found that after riding it for a couple weeks, I don't like the saddle, bars, and pedals too much (I had no problem with them during the test ride), though it's easily the best bike I've ever owned or ridden.

So, I'm curious, how do people buy new items for a bike when either they can't test them (because buying online) or the test is never substantially long enough to determine if the accessory would be a good long-term fit.

I also know nothing about pedals/clips... I see lots of people riding with little rod-like pedals that I assume require special shoes (which I'm not into)--what's the deal with diff kinds of pedal options?

Any recommendations for particular accessories (even those not listed) would be appreciated. Links would also be good.

I'm in Toronto but am willing to buy online.

posted by dobbs to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Use a hairdryer to shrink the decals off.
posted by popcassady at 11:29 AM on May 1, 2008

I'm a huge fan of pedals with Power Grips instead of clip-ins or toe clips. No special shoes, easy in and out and you automatically eject in a get-off. Oh and they're really light too.

Alot of aftermarket purchasing for bikes is hit or miss so it may behoove you to find a local bike shop that you can buy from. You may spend a little more but the easy returnability and advice will easily make up the difference.

Oh and congrats on the new bike!
posted by fenriq at 11:44 AM on May 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've never bought a bike accessory online, for what that's worth. Partly that's because I want to support my local bike shops, but then, I'm in a great bike town, so I can pretty much get everything locally anyway. For foot-to-pedal attachment without special shoes and whatnot, I've heard and read good things about Power Grips straps. Haven't used them myself, but I'm a slow-speed neighborhood errands type cyclist in the main. Mefites have mentioned them favorably before.
posted by mumkin at 11:44 AM on May 1, 2008

1. On many bikes, decals are under a layer of clearcoat, so getting them off requires damaging the finish. If you can't get a fingernail under them, you're stuck (or you'll wind up with a ghetto finish).

2. Swapping parts. It's a bitch. I've got friends who burned through 3 or 4 saddles looking for one they liked. I'm not sure there's a good option here. Find a good local shop and talk to the people there; if you can explain what you don't like about a part, they can probably suggest a better alternative.

3. If you don't want to go with a pedal system (ie, the pedals where you need to wear cleats), your best bet IMO is old-fashioned track pedals and clips. Mind you, I say this not knowing what you don't like about your current pedals. Unfortunately track pedals are hard to find these days, but Third Hand has 'em. (don't even get me started on the complete impossibility of finding Alfredo Binda toe-straps). I prefer plastic toe clips to metal.
posted by adamrice at 12:03 PM on May 1, 2008

The MKS GR9s are a better around-town pedal. The Track and other styles may or may not work well with shoes since they aren't platform-based per se.
posted by kcm at 12:09 PM on May 1, 2008

Good call, kcm. I found them (and other cool stuff) here.
posted by adamrice at 12:36 PM on May 1, 2008

I tried the Power Grips and hated them. (Looks good on you though fenriq!) I ride the Specialized Langston single-speed and have the Shimano PD-M324 dual-use pedals on it - they have an SPD clipless binding on one side, and a pedal cage on the other, which means you can ride with normal shoes or with cycling shoes - great for first-time clipless riders but also just convenient for quick trips around town. I have the Fizik Gobi saddle, which I ride canted a little forward for comfort.
posted by nicwolff at 12:55 PM on May 1, 2008

I just put a Terry saddle on my bike after teasing a friend who told me he had one ("Is it pink?" because Terry is mostly know for making women's bikes). The center of the saddle is cut out so if you are a little off form you don't damage those important nerves in your taint. There are other brands that offer the same feature.
posted by Carbolic at 1:00 PM on May 1, 2008

Power Grips are definitely an acquired taste, but I really like mine. As an aside, if your singlespeed doesn't have a freewheel, I'd recommend against clipless pedals (SPD and the like) - it's a lot easier to negotiate slowing/stopping suddenly without having to unclip from your pedals.

And yeah, there's really no way to buy components online without being willing to ship back and forth until you find what you like - bars and seats are such personal preference items that you really need to try before you buy, if possible.
posted by pdb at 1:04 PM on May 1, 2008

Nail polish remover will take your decals off. Test in an inconspicuous place first, of course.

I use cheap shimano SPD pedals on my fixed gear - and on all my bikes. Once you've used clipless pedals, it's hard to go back to any type of strap contraptions.

I have a couple of those cheap plastic adapters bike shops use for test rides, and if need be, I can put those on my pedals to ride with flip-flops, etc. Your LBS should have boxes of those on hand, and mine gives them out for free.

Since you live in the city, you might go to your LBS and look at some different bar options. One challenge you might have is lots of bars won't fit in your clamp-style stem, so you may have to swap it for one with a removable face plate, like this.

And finally, just my opinion, but I think that white saddle looks good on that bike (if that's what you have). If you're going to swap it out, you might try a brooks.

Nice bike, BTW!
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 1:13 PM on May 1, 2008

Buying accessories for bikes is usaully a messy process. You buy something, try it, maybe not like it, then trade with friends or sell it. Ask you friends if they have a pile
of saddles that didn't work for them. One friend of mine got saddles off ebay, tried them
and then sold the ones he didn't like on ebay.

On pedals, you have a couple options: clipless (the special shoe thing), old-fashions pedals with clips or old-fashion platform pedals. It seems like you are a casual cyclist so I'd suggest some cool looking platforms for you cool bike: or Brooklyn Machine works Shinburger pedals.
Pedals come in two spindle sizes, 9/16" and 1/2" You have 9/16" (those shinburgers might be 1/2").

Also, if you ride on that thing fixed for a while and don't feel that it is for you; you can get you mechanic to replace the fixed cog with a freewheel. It is about $25 in parts and maybe 30min of labor. I've ridden fixed and single speed and I like single speed, thank you for asking.

lights, you'll be out after dark comming home from the bar some day, get those lights now. You can get ones that clip on so you can just keep them in your bag to avoid messing up your bike's clean look.

Fenders keep that unslightly stripe off your back and makes riding a pleasure in light rain. Oh, it looks like your bike might not acccept fenders easily.

Patch kit, tire levers, inner tube and 15mm wrench or whatever size your read axil nuts use. For flats.

A lock.

I was in Toronto a while a go and found an odd bike shop run out of a basement and a bike collective, look for those, they might help you out. (don't remember names or locations)
posted by bdc34 at 1:17 PM on May 1, 2008

Go to your LBS and try stuff out. A human person who is talking with you will have a much better shot at getting you properly outfitted.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:20 PM on May 1, 2008


Were did you buy from? Most bike stores are usually willing to let you swap things like seats and handlebars after purchase, with you paying only the price difference (if any). You might try checking back with them.

It's an unfortunate truth that in Canada, it's often cheaper to buy on line than to go through your LBS. Unless you can do the work yourself (and it isn't hard for handlebars, seats and pedals), you will need to get a store to install it for you. They may be reluctant to install third-party parts for you. A six-pack can do wonders for that attitude though.

The Walmart of the bike world is Performance and Nashbar (same company, two websites). Pricepoint also has good deals sometimes.

Now if you want Nice stuff, there are better places to buy. Lickbike is a staple of the road-racing crowd. You may find, however that Rivendell or Harris Cyclery (home of the much missed Captain Bike) or Peter White Cycles are more to your taste. I strongly suspect that you'd like Nitto Handlebars, Brooks Saddles and Grip King pedals.

I've bought from most of these vendors and have been happy with all of them. They've all been around for years and are quite reasonable to deal with in my experience.
posted by bonehead at 1:23 PM on May 1, 2008

One last source in Canada: MEC is very reasonably priced for parts. Most bike shops can't beat them, unless they're doing a loss-leader/end of stock sale.

Finally, I do have a pile of stuff left over from online purchases that didn't work out. It either gets ebay'd or given to friends.
posted by bonehead at 1:28 PM on May 1, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers so far!

My local bike store didn't have a huge selection of saddles or bars that I liked--same goes for other shops I've hit in town.

bonehead and bdc34, I had the bike built at Bikes On Wheels here in Toronto and am riding it single speed with a coaster brake, which I really enjoy.

I already have lights (bought at MEC) and a NY lock (bought on eBay for almost $60 less than they are in Toronto).

After further investigation it appears that the branding on my frame is painted! I find this hard to believe but there is no visible or tactile difference between the frame and the logo. Weird.

As for bars, what are the benefits over T shaped versus bull horn vs. road bike style curved ones... etc. My old Lemond (which I sold to buy the Iro) had the road bike ones and I assume the major diff is the posture that the bars enforce. Is this really the only diff?
posted by dobbs at 2:32 PM on May 1, 2008

I totally have a crush on coaster break hubs.

You could put electrician's tape to cover the logo.

You've got the idea with the bars and the posture. Mountain bike or straight set things up so that your upper body weight pushes down on your arms and helps keep you in control of a bike. Three speed bars attempt to bring the hand position higher and closer for a more casual position. Road bike bars( drop bars) offer multiple hand positions with a single bar each with different advantages. Some Mountain bike bars are built for extra strength. The different bars are intended for types of use but if they aren't killing you, you feel safe and you like the look good it doesn't matter.

There are a couple of different clamp diameters for the stem to handle bar interface. Make sure that any bar you buy matches or you can make a shim out of a steal can.

How about a bicycle basket?
serious basket:
wald delivery basket
basket that comes off
posted by bdc34 at 4:33 PM on May 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

Seriously, if you are looking to trick this baby out to just your specs, be prepared to do a lot of shopping around, chatting to lots and lots of opinionated bicycle gear heads, and buying and then rejecting various options! It's supposed to be part of the process/fun...

I'll leave the technical discussions of pedals alone (I can't stand anything that restricts my feet while I'm riding in the city and think that anyone who does is just asking for a nasty wreck, but I'm just another opinionated gear head!), but I will say that a saddle is a very personal choice, for very personal reasons. There is no good way to tell if a particular saddle is going to work for you without trying it out for a while. At which point, if it sucks, you now have a used saddle to try and swap or sell for a different one. I'm on my third saddle in two years, and it's still not right. I may yet break down and get a Brooks saddle, which is apparently the best way to get a custom fit. I just have trouble picturing a leather saddle working on my mountain bike! Everyone I know who has had one swears by them though...
posted by schwap23 at 7:37 PM on May 1, 2008

I highly recommend the big jagged platform pedals à la ShinBurger. They keep your feet solidly planted (you can even bunny hop them... if you have a freewheel), they let you get clear in a hurry when you need to, and they're no maintenance.
posted by anthill at 11:23 AM on May 2, 2008

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