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    The Corbah Blog — 12 mistakes

    9 Common Mistakes Made by New Cyclists and How To Avoid Them.

    9 Common Mistakes Made by New Cyclists and How To Avoid Them.

    Mistake #1: Leaving the house unprepared

    Not only is this a mistake that can leave you stranded, it's also not fair to the cyclists you ride with to outsource your needs to them. I recommend a small saddle bag or if you can't stand to lose the aero advantage, just a small zippered pouch you can throw in your pockets. At a minimum, it's recommended that you bring:

    • Money/ID/Phone
    • Pump or CO2
    • Levers
    • At least 1 Tube
    • Boot for fixing big gashes in the tire

    As a bonus, think about bringing:

    • A 2nd tube
    • Tube patches
    • Multitool with chain tool

    Mistake #2: Going out without enough food or water

    In my experience, if you're riding for over an hour, bring food. I can typically ingest about 100 calories per hour. Any more than that and the food will sit in your stomach. Stick to simple carbs but ditch anything hard and dry. There is nothing worse than being out of breath and taking a big lung-full of cookie dust! For water, bring a sports drink. In warmer weather, allocate a 16-ounce bottle per hour. Obviously, use your judgment depending on intensity but 1 bottle per hour is somewhere right in the middle that has worked for me. Consult a doctor first.

    Mistake #3: Braking harder than is necessary.

    This is really not one you can teach someone how to avoid. You need to learn it by experience. But over-braking if you're in a big group can pose some serious issues.

    Mistake #4: Incorrect Saddle Height

    This is a common one and also possibly the easiest to fix. A saddle that is too high will hurt the economy of your pedal stroke and kill your power. It'll also stress hip muscles and hamstrings. So if you're getting hamstring pain, think about dropping your saddle a little bit.

    How can you spot it?  That's an easy one. If your hips are "rocking" back and forth like you're reaching to get to the bottom of the pedal stroke then you're saddle is too high. Try dropping it in small increments first.

    Mistake #5: Incorrect Kit Washing

    Now I'm not saying this is the only way to wash a kit. And if you do it another way, more power to you. But I've done it this way for the last 15 years as well as tried other methods and this one yielded the best results. Here are some tips:

    • Wash kit as soon after ride as possible - this will prevent bacterial growth
    • Be sure to remove all items from jersey pockets
    • Zip up jerseys before putting in the wash
    • Hang dry items in the sun if possible. 

    Mistake #6: Not being able to unclip

    There is nothing more embarrassing than falling over at a red light or stop sign. If you want to avoid this, you need to build muscle memory. In my opinion, it's not enough to hold onto a railing and practice rotating your ankle. You need to make it second-nature. To practice this, go to an open parking lot with no one around and practice going through the motions of coming to a stop and unclipping before putting that foot down.

    Mistake #7: Braking mid-corner

    Like with racing, the best tire contact patch for braking is when your bike is going straight. Braking mid-corner will put forces on the tire that might make it more susceptible to washing out underneath you.

    Mistake #8: Over-lubing your chain

    Nobody likes a squeaky chain. But over-lubing yours can actually lead to pre-mature wear because a wet chain will capture dirt and dust and then work that abraisive paste into the rollers.

    Mistake #9: Wearing pants or underwear under your cycling kit

    This one is a no brainer. Having a panty-line or a bunched up pair of boxers is going to ruin your day on the bike.

    12 Common Bicycle Maintenance Mistakes The Average Cyclist Makes.

    12 Common Bicycle Maintenance Mistakes The Average Cyclist Makes.

    Mistake #1: Don't Rush Your Work

    This was a tip I had a little lower, but I decided to move it up to the top. This might be the number one way to increase the quality of your wrenching. It would help if you worked on your bike only when you aren't rushed and have the time to allocate to do it right. It doesn't matter how many tips and tricks you follow, and if you don't pay attention to details and you don't take your time, the job will not come out correct. If this rule isn't followed, you're going to have a bad time.

    Mistake #2: Incorrect clothing

    We're not saying that donning a mechanic shirt is going to make your stem bolts torque to a more specific value, but we are saying that if you're wearing a light shirt or a pair of shorts that you don't want to grease up. Wear something dark and as non-porous as possible. Think Dickies shorts and a dark shirt.

    Mistake #3: Incorrect or Blunt Cable Cutters

    This is one of those mistakes I see all the time. Using an old pair of cable cutters or maybe even the wrong type of cable cutters for the job is going to leave your cables frayed. Frayed cables don't last as long, and you'll end up spending more in the long run.

    Mistake #4: Rounding off bolts

    This is one I'm particularly guilty of. It's also something we could speak to at length regarding the causes. But at the end of the day, the tool you're using is probably made of very hard steel, and an aluminum bolt is usually really soft. So if you use a metric hex wrench in a standard bolt, you're just going to have a bad time. 

    If you do end up rounding off a bolt, check out "Speed Out" at your local hardware store. It's basically a reverse threaded screw that mounts into a drill chuck and will bite your bolt and twister her out of the ole bolt hole.

    Mistake #5: Not greasing things that require grease!

    In order to get this one right, you're going to need to consult your user manual. In most cases, two metal services or anything getting clamped is going to require a tiny bit of grease. The reason being is that your sweat can contain some corrosive salts or, in particularly grimy or rainy conditions, that dirt can form an abrasive paste. In the past, I've used special carbon grease for my Seatpost, I've greased water bottle cages, greased by Speedplay pedal bearings, as well as my headset (mostly due to sweat).

    Make sure you apply grease as the manufacturer recommends to your items.

    Mistake #6: Using the wrong brake pads

    This is a pretty easy one to avoid, but many novices don't know the difference. If you frequently swap out carbon wheels, it's best to swap out the pads as well. Reason being, is that carbon wheels sometimes don't dissipate heat as well, and on a long descent, the result of overheating a set of wheels can be catastrophic. Additionally, if you're running regular aluminum wheels, the pads can pick up tiny metal particles over time and grind those right into your carbon braking surfaces.

    Mistake #7: Incorrect Footwear

    We've all done it. We've wrenched in the old slippers or sandals or maybe without shoes at all. But bicycle tools are often made out of this new hard thing called metal. To make matters worse, tools are typically made from Tool Steel, which is a particular variety of metals that make dropping a wrench on your tootsie all that much more painful.

    Mistake #8: Not Respecting your Workspace

    This one kind of goes back to #1. If you don't rerack your tools, if you don't have adequate conditions or workspace, good results will be much harder to come by.

    Mistake #9: Forgetting how to put back together something you took apart

    Luckily, many of the items we take off the bike have fairly straight forward or obvious installation methods. Take installing a cockpit, for example. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that you put the levers on before the tape. But, some still struggle. This isn't something I understand, and ingratiating myself with individuals that do such things is not an endeavor I wish to take on, but I digress. The best solution to this common mistake is right in your pocket or potentially in your hand right now. It's your cell phone. Take photos, take videos, make notes on how things were disassembled, and future homer will thank you.


    Mistake #10: Overtightening spokes

    I've seen this particular mistake a handful of times. Overtightening a spoke can make it more susceptible to breaking. And to be honest, the benefits you get can sometimes be negligible. A tight spoke will make your wheels feel snappy and responsive, but sometimes, going with J bend instead of straight pull and keeping a nice consistent tension will make for a very pleasant ride on our city's crumbling infrastructure.

    Mistake #11: Overlubing your chain

    Yes, this is a thing, and yes, it can have some negative consequences. The thing about chain lube is you want to use as little as is necessary. I word that very specifically because "what is necessary" can be up to debate. But in my experience, it's a tiny dab on each roller and then wipe off the excess. The problem with over lubing is that the lube can attract and hold dirt, turning it into an abrasive paste that will prematurely wear out rollers. Worse yet, the lube can get on critical components like the contact patch of your tire or on disc brakes or braking surfaces.


    Mistake #12: Not Marking off the Seatpost Before Reinstalling

    I must admit, this is quite a newb mistake. If you're disassembling your bike, or cleaning/re-lubing the seat post, forgetting to mark off the height is a big pain in the rear. It takes two seconds, take a little piece of tape and mark off exactly the first millimeter of exposed seat post above the frame. It'll save you loads of headaches down the road.