Riding a road or cyclocross bike is simple in its essence, but maybe not quite as simple as one may make it seem. For many serious riders, the right or wrong bike setup can make or break a ride. This is a quick primer on how to put together your road bike so that it runs great and looks great.
We all start at different skill levels on our road to cycling enlightenment. Some of us, over time, gravitate to particular tools, equipment and bike setups because over thousands of miles some things start to make more sense than others. Most of all professional racers appear to have extremely strong preferences for particular equipment acquired over thousands of miles of trial and error. Pros occasionally have some eccentric setups and routines that may make the rest of us scratch our heads, but offer them that competitive edge that escapes the common rider. While not many can’t aspire to be pro, there are some tips and tricks we can borrow from the pros to make our bikes work that extra 0.01% better.
Note: While some of these tips are functional, some are purely for the sake of fashion and nothing more. As it happens, this article is a little tongue in cheek! Now onwards:
Fit is everything. Proper fit is essential for having a pro bike setup. Until your body can properly become one with the bike and make the most of your riding experience, you must be properly fitted to the bike.
“Proper fit” will always vary by individual, taking into account your body’s physical proportions, your flexibility and your previous injuries, amongst a myriad of other things that affect your position on the bike. You can work on your fit with a professional fitter, or just work on it on your own. There are plenty of online guides on how to properly fit yourself to a bike if you wish to take the DIY route . Some methods work better for some people than others.
Choose a position that maximizes your comfort. From there, you can worry about going faster and being more efficient. After comfort is achieved, tweak your position to maximize your aerodynamic potential, while still remaining comfortable and neutral on the bike. If something hurts, toy with your setup.
"If the bike doesn’t work properly and silently, that simply isn’t pro."
Proper Mechanical Function
If the bike doesn’t work properly and silently, that simply isn’t pro. No pro is going to ride a bike that hasn’t been set up correctly. Bikes are simple machines and it doesn’t take much to get them running smoothly. Here are some basic steps for keeping your road bike running like a pro’s:
First you’ll want to make sure your drivetrain is properly set up. A clean, adjusted drivetrain shifts smoothly and properly without ghost-shifting or rattling and runs near-silently while riding. Derailleur limit screws set to the correct depth will keep your chain for over or under shifting on both extreme ends of your cassette. This keeps your chain from shifting into your frame or wheel, and negates the need of a rookie ring (that plastic ring attached to your wheel).