Top Stories from CyclingTips: Outdated Bikes, PFP, Worn Chains, & Muscle Cramps

Sep 30, 2019
by Sarah Lukas  

What's going on in the curly bar world? CyclingTips Digest showcases articles from our sister site, CyclingTips. In each installment, you might find endurance coverage, power-to-weight ratios, gravel bike tech and, of course, lycra. (Above - Photography by Red Bull Content Pool)

Breaking news: Embarrassingly outdated bike ‘works just fine’, ‘still shreds’
By: Iain Treloar

An embarrassingly outdated cyclocross bike from eight years ago “works just fine”, despite its lack of electronics and hydraulics, primitive braking, tubed tyres and paucity of gear options.

Following a rainy Saturday afternoon jaunt through the gravel bikepaths and singletrack of north-eastern Melbourne, CyclingTips can report that a 2011 Cannondale CAADX was put to the sword, but conspicuously failed to fall to pieces – in spite of the fact that it predated the gravel craze and its swathe of new products by a number of years.

“This is my oldest and least glamorous bike,” explained our source. “But get it out on gravel and this thing still shreds. I know, right? I could hardly believe it myself.”

(Read more.)

How to check for chain wear: The easy way, the best way, and why
By: Dave Rome

Your bicycle’s chain is put through hell every time you ride. For every minute of pedaling, approximately 44,000 chain pieces are in motion, creating 320,000 separate instances of sliding surface friction. And all of this is on a component that sits near to the ground and is exposed to the elements.

Just like your tyres and brake pads, chains wear with use. And as a chain wears, friction in the drivetrain increases, your shifting gets sloppier, and worst of all, you’ll quickly start wearing out other drivetrain components. Changing your chain at the right time can save you money and make your riding more enjoyable.

If you’re seeking a quick answer for the easy way to check for chain wear, you should only need to read the first few sections of this article. If you want to go deep down the rabbit hole, well, we can help you with that too.

(Read more.)

The weekly spin: For Rissveds and Ferrand-Prévot, the circle is complete
By: Neal Rogers

The narrative arc of a professional cyclist’s existence is often a rollercoaster of circumstance, heartbreak, and resurgence — a constant balancing act of physical and mental health. That has never been more clear than over the past few months in elite women’s mountain-bike racing.

(Read more.)

Two more studies support helmet use while cycling
By: CyclingTips

Two new research papers published this month have provided further evidence for the value of bicycle helmets.

Both studies analysed data from a large numbers of cyclists who had been injured while riding. Both concluded that wearing a helmet is correlated with a reduction in injury severity.
(Read more.)

Muscle cramps from cycling: Why do they happen and how can you prevent them?
By: Paul Argent

Muscle cramps can be a debilitating and extremely unpleasant part of bike riding. So what causes them? And what can you do to prevent them from occurring?

Before we answer those questions, have you seen the film Pineapple Express? Stay with me here. There’s a scene where one of the main characters, Saul (played by James Franco) tries to kick out the windscreen of the police car he’s driving and gets his leg stuck.

(Read more.)

CyclingTips Podcast: Electronic drivetrain gremlins
By: CyclingTips

This week’s episode comes to you from Rapha’s Boulder, Colorado clubhouse. We talk Vuelta a Espana, Marcel Kittel’s retirement, the Colorado Classic, and then James brings up something a bit controversial: Electronic drivetrains aren’t always reliable.

Is he advocating for going back to mechanical? Maybe.

(Read more.)


  • 54 0
 Breaking news! Helmets reduce brain injuries!
  • 20 3
 more breaking news. aerobic activity increases lactic acid and causes cramps!
  • 24 44
flag Jamminator (Sep 30, 2019 at 12:02) (Below Threshold)
 Correct, they reduce brain injuries...but unfortunately nothing else. They're also problematic because it's known wearing helmets makes people actively take bigger risks than they otherwise would without wearing one.

Helmets are great at helping prevent some injury, but 30 years of constant helmet safety propaganda rammed down throats have greatly overemphasized their reduction to injury, and obviously had some psychological effect in way people approach situations. How many commuters would have been safer by not running that redlight? How many mountain bikers would have been safer if the stuck to trails in their known limits?

I will never ride without a helmet, but there is certainly something there to examine further.
  • 1 0
 @74tenomresc: I used to be able to get calcium lactate a decade ago that cures build up... meh no longer available
  • 10 7
 @Jamminator: No idea why your being downvoted. It's an important viewpoint. I do think it reduces general head injuries as well though, hahaha Wink
  • 14 0
 Flat billed hats work too, like in BMX vids. Problem is, they always fly off your head when you're pulling a sweet maneuver.
  • 9 2
 @74tenomresc: Did you read the cramping article? It isn't about lactic acid at all, but is looking at different factors in cramps that people may not be familiar with. In summary, (a) electrolytes aren't always the problem and therefore don't count on electrolytes as the cure-all for cramps, (b) a lot of cramps may be due to fatigue of the neurological part of the muscles and there are ways you could train to help prevent this.

Speaking of the neurological side, recent science seems to show that the way pickle juice helps with muscle cramping is mostly due to the taste! The body's reaction to the strong taste also triggers a neurological reflex that causes the muscles to calm down
  • 5 1
 There's actually some really cool data in the reports linked through, and unfortunately, not everyone sees the reports' conclusion as common sense.
  • 4 0
 @showmethemountains: Wait - you read one of the articles! Huzzah! Thanks for taking the time.
  • 3 0
 @Jamminator: Winner of Rampage 2019: "I'd like to thank my helmet"
  • 2 0
 @JaToledo: Discommoding truth or people didn't bother reading the actual article, perhaps? Emotions before science? Helmets are great, but I'm sure most people have never actively thought about how their riding styles would change if they didn't have a lid on, and why putting one on changes judgment. I'm a huge advocate of helmets (won't even ride a beach cruiser without one), and not knocking them, but the evidence exists they do make us take more risk...and the trade-off of one risk for another is what the studies in the article attempt to justify (although it doesn't go to length to differentiate if not having a helmet made any difference in likelihood of being involved in an accident in the first place).
  • 4 1
 @Jamminator: The idea is sound, but in practice it is not. You are assuming that we humans actually think about risk the same way that a scientist theorizes about risk. Sure, I ride without a helmet once in a while, like when I forget it at home and I don't have time to go get it. Sans helmet I "try" to be more cautious, but am I really?

It's like when I ride without armor, does it hold me back, am I more conservative, or do I just say F' it!

So yeah, wearing safety gear helps if you crash, and that's really all there is to that.
  • 3 0
 @nurseben: Read the original study I posted in my downvoted comment. It has to do with unconscious cognition, which is why we do not actively recognize it like you allude to.
  • 2 0
 @Jamminator: all these kind of articles are always skewed, and if you read the discussion you have seen opposite results from a less skewed study.
Laboratory testing for risk taking is like playing poker with fake money, it's not representative of real behavior.
Also it's funny that they seem to consider that the activity you do while wearing a helmet is the same as when you don't.

I could do the same and say that driving with the seatbelt is more dangerous than driving without it. "Let's compare a guy driving a go kart and a F1...".
Another one
"Skydivers take more risks with a parachute than without" yeah because they won't jump without one
  • 23 10
 Checked my calendar to see if it was April 1st.
  • 7 4
 Whoever is down voting this must be getting paid.
  • 2 0
 Is it spring in Oregon, already?! Man, we are getting a lot of rain for the Fall season.
  • 1 0
 @sarahlukas: it’s been snowing in Oregon lately ????????‍♂️
  • 9 0
 The best helmet observation - Kids riding with their parents - kids with helmets grownups without. Big secret - abdults are dumb! But oh of course big people never fall off their bikes and if so it's not me but "somebody else"
  • 3 0
 I've always had a hard time with this, as well. I understand how it can be easy, but for those impressionable kids, they really look to parents for that guidance and setting the standard. I have an even harder time when parents are riding with their kids on busy roads, ands kiddos have no helmets.
  • 8 0
 I'm having a hard time with that 44,000 number. I have about 110 full links in my chain, and there are, what, 8 pieces per link, so 880 pieces. I don't know where his extra factor of 50 comes from. Maybe he has a fancy chain with little needle bearings in it ????
  • 2 4's 44,000/880 =

50.92593 riders riding next to each other to come up with 44,000

It's called math...Look it up. LOL
  • 3 0
 They even show the eight pieces in the article. So if you take your 110 link chain, 8 pieces per link, count the 8 bend/unbend events (once onto and off each the cog, chainring, and pulleys), do that at 90 rpm which is not unusual for a roadie, then do it over 60 seconds as mentioned in the article, you still come in just a hair over 10,000. Lacking a proper explanation or literally any context I'm filing this number under sensationalist bullshit.
  • 1 0
 If you assume a 52 tooth chainring and a 95 rpm cadence, then that's 52x95=4940 teeth or 4940 chain pins passing any given point every minute.

There are two points on each sprocket were pins articulate (one where the chain joins the sprocket and one where it leaves it) and there are four sprockets (chainring, cassette and two jockey wheels). So there are eight articulation points in the drivetrain, each with 4940 pins passing them per minute.

So I make the total number of articulations per minute to be 95x52x2x4=4940x8=39, 500 . I don't see how you can get a higher number than that.

It doesn't depend on the number of links in the chain by the way.
  • 1 0
 @seb-stott: I like your thinking. I couldn't find any mention of "per minute" in the article, just "in motion". But I can easily see it being a per minute thing that got misquoted.
  • 2 0
 @dmartien: It's ambiguous at best.

"For every minute of pedaling, approximately 44,000 chain pieces are in motion, creating 320,000 separate instances of sliding surface friction"

The number of pieces in motion is surely not something which can be described as "per minute" - they're either in motion or not.

The 320000 instances of friction (per minute) is the number i was trying to recreate.
  • 1 0
 @seb-stott: You're right; my math was way off using chain length instead of chainring teeth. My best guess at this point is the "separate instances of sliding surface friction" counts the individual contact points between each piece (each plate, roller, and pin slide against each other in a few places plus the entire chain to some degree slides against the teeth on entry/exit). Even with a bulletproof explanation it would still come off as nothing more than a deliberately exaggerated hook.
  • 7 0
 Helmets reduce injuries?!
As someone who has smashed and been saved by a number of Giro and Bells finest, I can attest to that.
I once saw a bloke come off a road bike with no lid on. He caught the edge of a curb and it scalped him. Like literally. Whole top of his head including skin and hair just cut off and hanging down his back. He just sat there with his skull on show looking like a right tool.
I read something somewhere that the army used to have so many fatalities in the old days with dispatch riders on motorcycles. When they introduced helmets as primative as they were, fatalities went down by 46%! ....... and yet decades and generations later, people still seek to prove the obvious.
  • 10 1
 „helmets help prevent injuries“

Oh shit, big brain time
  • 2 0
 I appreciated reading more of the science behind the findings. I think a lot of people who read this PB article just skim the notes, as opposed to taking the time to read through the reports. Highly recommended, but it is more of a research read versus "wear a helmet because it's more safe."
  • 1 0
 @sarahlukas: The article and subsequent studies only attempt to illustrate a helmet is "safer" among those involved in crashes/accidents. Neither study actually attempts to understand if wearing a helmet or not actually changes the probability of being involved in an accident/crash in the first place, due to the risk a aversion of not wearing one.
  • 3 0
 @sarahlukas: posts needing comprehension skills should be avoided in pb for obvious reasons!
  • 8 3
 This article kind of sucks, but it gave me an idea for one that wouldn't -- bikes from yesteryear that still perform competitively against today's offerings
  • 3 0
 or, you know, mountain bikes
  • 2 0
 They did a short video (maybe a short series?) about racing older bikes against newer bikes on the same course, same rider. I always thought they should've continued this and thrown in some Data Acquisition hardware to capture more performance metrics of old vs. new.
  • 2 0
 I like that idea. Wasn't a great month for a lot of overlapping content, but great for brainstorming interests. Smile
  • 2 0
 @sarahlukas: Cheers Sarah-- understand how that is and appreciate the content regardless. Easy to be a negative nancy sometimes
  • 3 0
 The majority of the time, muscle cramps are from overexertion. Just riding a much bigger ride (miles, vertical feet, or steepness of climbs) than your legs are conditioned to. Best way to avoid cramping is to slowly build up to bigger and bigger rides.
  • 2 0
 Well sure "outdated" bike "shreds" gravel or road! Facepalm So does a toddler bike! How is that bike so "embarrassingly outdated" and earthshakingly different compared to newer similar bikes?!
Show me the same premise on a bike from the 90's or early 2000's, and if you dare off-road.
  • 2 1
 I have a CX bike with cantilever rim brakes. It sucks so bad I don't even ride it. Disc brakes are a HUGE improvement to road/gravel bikes. Previously you had the 2 awesome options of reasonable tire width and not being able to stop or decent brakes with skinny ass tires. I think discs have really changed the game in a big way the past couple of years and greatly improved bikes for the average road/gravel rider.
  • 1 0
 It's a satire piece if you read it. Pointing out that bikes rock and the industry exists to sell bikes.
  • 1 0
 @jordanaustino: I'm completely aware of the message. My point, if you read that, ... well I guess you didn't. At what point did/do we consider bikes good? How? Eg. Aston's review of the Prime sang its praises as a capable quiver killer that didn't need more travel etc, now he's extreme long-low-slack-steep with Pole Nicolai Ebikes et al, complaining of the new Strive being painful to pedal and scary to ride b/c the SA is a degree or two this, the reach is mm's that, and the HA... you get the picture. It just goes on. See the Brodie 8-ball hot lap. Yes, bikes today are way more capable than bikes from the '90's. And yes, new bikes compared to newest bikes are marginally different, but *unbelievably* pretty similar. That's obvious to the point of goes without saying, so why say it? But where's the middle ground? Where should we, say, point a friend without either killing or overwhelming them? What is that distillate of mtb?
  • 1 0
 @mtbikeaddict: Sorry misunderstood your post. There has obviously been huge innovation in MTB's in the last 20 years. Comparatively cross and road bikes are for more mature with far less complexity.

The change in both basically distills down to: make room for fatter tires, use wider rims to support those tires, tubeless (less of an advantage than it was for MTB), discs (same as tubeless). One by is a thing for cross too, but a lot of people still prefer the double.

FWIW I have a cross bike I purposefully got in on the last batch of rim brakes. Avid Juicy Ultimate Canti's work about as well as any road rim caliper. They are hella expensive for what they are though.
  • 2 0
 Best way to avoid head injury is not to crash in first place, using your helmet as a brake is not going end well!
If you damage your helmet, you are going to do some damage to your brain so think about it while you still can?
  • 1 0
 Cogs and chain ring wear with every pedal stroke. A worn chain may increase the rate but it still happens. It does not take long to get a light dusting of dust on everything. That's an oxide, which is a ceramic, the same material used in grinding wheels and such. It's very hard and it laughs at stainless steel.
  • 4 0
 dust is an unbonded film of stuff, an oxide is an atomically bonded surface feature of most metals. stainless steel has a surface comprised of chromium oxide, which (among other things) is what makes it "stainless steel" and not just "steel"
  • 1 0
 Here is a fascinating study of the composition of dust. You will see on page 88 that it is mostly metal oxides.
  • 1 0
 Uuuum roadies still just getting on board with helmets?? I’m confused. All kidding aside are the two cultures of riders really that different? A study that says you’ll be safer if you wear a helmet? In 2019? Don’t know what to think about that.
  • 4 0
 Breaking news.... I would be dead 5 times over without a lid, maybe more
  • 3 0
 but is your chain worn?
  • 5 0
 I first read it, “I would be a dad...”
  • 3 0
 Does anybody remember how to update your tag filters?
  • 2 0
 dashboard -> settings -> news settings

unfortunately road isn't one of those filters
  • 1 0
 @mchacker: Thanks. I'm surprised by that.
  • 1 1
 44'000 ...

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