Cycling accessories?
August 6, 2004 5:21 PM   Subscribe

2 cycling accesories questions inside. One about a portable pump (Blackburn Airstik) and the tiny valves on my tires and one about Cycleops or other indoor trainers.

1. Anyone have experience with Cycleops or other indoor trainers to attach a road bike to? Brands to avoid? Things to look for? I figue if I buy now they'll be cheaper than than they would be in the fall/winter when other people buy.

2. So I was getting low on air on a particularly ride and stopped at a gas station to find that the valves on my new LeMond road bike don't fit on the air pumps at the gas station. Suffered the rest of the ride. Today, I went and bought a Blackburn Airstick portable pump. The packaging says "instructions enclosed" and of course there aren't any inside. I'm baffled. (I searched google but can't find the official site for the pump manufacturer.)

a. The valves on my tubes are very thin. When I take off the cap, there's another "screw" under it that unwinds but doesn't come off the valve itself. Am I supposed to undo this screw? I can't see what it does.

b. When I put the pump on the valve, I can't seem to pump it (like there's too much air in my tire already, though there isn't). Maybe it has something to do with the screw in A., but I tried it with that screw up and down. No diff.

c. The pump is supposed to attach to the bike via the screws where the water bottle cage goes. However, the bike has allen screws there and the pump came with regular screws. In addition, when I attach it just with the allen screws, it's secure, but the pump then rides beside the tube of the bike, rather than inside the triangle of the frame--i.e. my knee or leg may hit it.

Any help/links appreciated. (At this moment I feel like quite the idiot that I can't figure any of this stuff out).
posted by dobbs to Shopping (16 answers total)
Response by poster: Oh, and I guess while I'm at it, anyone have any experience with lights like these? I need something to light up the road (rather than just make me visible). Anyone know this guy's rep? Used his lights? Used another brand and have a suggestion?
posted by dobbs at 5:26 PM on August 6, 2004

Presta and Schrader Valves.

Welcome to cycling. :)
posted by waldo at 5:29 PM on August 6, 2004

Oh, and I suspect that you'd find Ken Kifer's (RIP) Bike Pages useful. Just in general.
posted by waldo at 5:31 PM on August 6, 2004

the pump position is normal. it's so you can also have a bottle there.
posted by andrew cooke at 5:35 PM on August 6, 2004

Unscrew the stem in your Presta valve a few turns then give it a quick press to unseat the valve. The air pressure in the tire will seat it again. Now you should be able to pump up the tire normally. For general inflation you probably want a floor pump as well. They reach higher pressures necessary for road tires, which frame pumps really can not achieve, despite their advertising to the contrary.

Trainers are borrrrrrrrrring! I have never really ever had the patience for them. With that caveat, I recommend rollers over a trainer that affixes to the bike. Rollers are cylinders upon which you balance the bike and ride. Kreitler makes the best rollers. However, they are expensive. eBAy provided me with a used set at a reasonable price. If you are this new to cycling I would hold off on this kind of investment right now.

Rollers provide benefits beyond a trainer in improving your balance and smoothing out your pedal stroke. Since they require some concentration to keep from falling off they are less boring than regular trainers.

Sheldon Brown has a great bike site.
posted by caddis at 5:59 PM on August 6, 2004

And about the lights...

I ride with homemade lights, using NiMH batteries from a now-obsolete model of Toshiba laptop (model PA2429U), so I'm pretty forgiving of homebrew stuff.

But the guy's sorta living in the '80s with a two pound, 2800mAh NiCad battery. (My batteries are only 2600mAh but I have a very fast dual charger, and they're small and light.) For a bit extra I'd go for something like a Trail Rat. You don't get dual bulbs but it's a far smaller, lighter system with a stronger battery and what appears to be a more durable light fixture too. If you look around on places like nashbar and jenson USA, there are a few headlight packages in the < $100 price range.

I'd say build your own, but finding the light itself can be a pain since you usually have to buy a complete system with a battery and stuff. I watched ebay for a few months and finally found someone selling a bin of old bike lighting parts. (If anyone knows of a way to get just the light with no battery affordably I'd love to know, actually, so I could have a spare system.)
posted by mragreeable at 6:05 PM on August 6, 2004

Actually, Pricepoint has the Trail Rat even cheaper than the place I linked to above - $89.98.
posted by mragreeable at 6:11 PM on August 6, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for all the tips/links folks! I got the pump to work as a result.

caddis, I know the trainers are boring but I live in Toronto and am not looking forward to stopping riding in the winter. Though I only bought the bike in May, I got it for exercise and it's been working well (lost 17 pounds so far). I've never seen the roller system before. Looks like the bike would just fly off that. :)

mragreeable, thanks for that link. Yeah, the guy who owns the site I linked to also has a NIMH option but hasn't updated his site (he sells there here on eBay). The Trailrat looks more like to make cars see you rather than light up the road (the roads in my area suck ass and I can't see the potholes at night).
posted by dobbs at 6:23 PM on August 6, 2004

I ride all winter with a light on country roads with no street lights and I do not think that 10 watts is enough in total darkness. You are right, the potholes will kill you. I have ridden with 15 watts and that was just enough; 20 watts would be better. I agree with mragreeable that this is old school technology. For you it may still be the best solution. You get lots of watts for little dough. I don't know whether you ride hills. If you do not ride hills weight is pretty irrelevant. If you stick with it, then maybe you can reward yourself with an HID unit in a few years. Also, do not forget a rear blinking light. Try them in a store and get the brightest one possible. Rear reflectors also help. The jacket, helmet cover (you will need one in the cold) and seat bag locations are not too geeky.

To reduce boredom on the trainer you might also see if they give spinning classes in your area. It is not as convenient as rolling out the end of your driveway, but I hear they are lots of fun.
posted by caddis at 6:58 PM on August 6, 2004

teh russian night vision gogles work great for me.
posted by Fupped Duck at 7:13 PM on August 6, 2004

The Trailrat looks more like to make cars see you rather than light up the road (the roads in my area suck ass and I can't see the potholes at night).

A ten watt halogen lamp does a lot more than get the attention of cars! I ride on rooty, twisty singletrack in utter darkness with a 12 watt halogen, routinely. However, that's at speeds where it's feasable to have the light pointed just a few feet ahead - if you're cruising along at 25mph on a road bike you'll need to aim farther out which might require more wattage. I find 20 watts to be overkill and not worth the extra 60% batter consumption, however.

That said, his $72 price with NiMH is definitely a bit more reasonable, and a dual-lamp system has some clear advantages. And I'm sure if I had a dual-lamp system I'd take advantage of the option of going up to 20 watts occasionally when I need more visibility.
posted by mragreeable at 7:15 PM on August 6, 2004

The rollers by Tacx work fine and are much cheaper than the Kreitlers.

Sometime in the next couple of years, expensive and heavy halogen based lighting systems will become obsolete, when the next generation of LED headlamps arrives. Cateye are already making a start . I wouldn't invest too much in expensive lighting systems right now.
posted by normy at 4:30 AM on August 7, 2004

For road riding, the Night Hawk systems are a good deal at the moment.
posted by normy at 4:38 AM on August 7, 2004

Head on over to the shop where you bought your bike and ask away. They'll be glad to help you get into cycling.
posted by Hall at 11:55 AM on August 7, 2004

I don't find trainers all that bad, gives me more time to think. One word of advice, buy a mag trainer NOT a wind trainer. Wind trainers scream like a banshee and tick off the neighbors (even in a house).
posted by m@ at 4:30 PM on August 7, 2004

When recouperating from an injury, I was not allowed to ride outdoors, so I spent a lot of time on my stationary. Here was my rig: a Cateye trainer (which is a hybrid critter, with wind and a disc brake for variable load)--this clamps the bike in place of the front wheel and over the rear axles, so it's more stable (IMO). A little spendier, but I was and am happy with it. On this I mounted a beater road frame that I built up with salvaged parts and a single-speed rear wheel.

Riding a stationary involves a lot of sweat, and you can seriously corrode your frame if you don't take good care of it. I was glad to have a sacrificial bike for this purpose.
posted by adamrice at 9:13 PM on August 7, 2004

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