As an experienced cyclist, friends are always asking me how to improve their performance. In my experience, being the best doesn’t necessarily mean having the most expensive equipment; it means tailoring the bike to suit you and using your equipment correctly. Here are some of the questions I get asked the most… and my usual responses!
How to Pimp Your Bike
Making Your Bike Faster
There’s no getting around the fact that the best way to make your bike faster is to make your body stronger and fitter. Your body is your bike’s engine but in my opinion there are still things you can do to your bike to help things along if you do miss a few gym sessions. The first step towards faster cycling is making sure your tyres are pumped up to the correct pressure as a low tyre pressure could lose you valuable seconds and ruining your performance.
Another simple way to go faster without spending any money is to make your bike lighter. Just eliminating the tiniest bit of weight will make your ride that much easier and faster so try and get your bike’s weight as light as possible. If you’re taking part in a cycling event, get rid of all the unnecessary items attached to your bike. Mudguards, pumps, saddle bags… if you don’t need it, get rid of it. A cycling friend of mine even removed his lights and reflectors to make his bike lighter but personally I think you should never sacrifice safety for speed if you’re going to be riding in the dark.
Making Your Bike More Streamlined
When I compete in amateur cycling events, streamlining is vital. I’m not a professional cyclist but I’m still dying to knock seconds off my opponents’ finishing times. I always find that attention to detail pays off so tidying up any loose bits is always worthwhile. Have a look around to see if there are any cables that could be tucked in and tape down any loose handlebar tape.
You could also invest in a pair of shoe covers. My shoe straps tend to dangle down quite a lot so a thin pair of shoe covers is great for keeping things together. If you’re really serious about streamlining your bike, you could even get yourself an aero bottle – a streamlined water bottle. It’s really important to stay hydrated when you’re racing but large, heavy drinks bottles can create drag and slow you down. An aero bottle will improve your aerodynamics and keep you hydrated.
Making Your Bike More Comfortable
This is an age-old problem, but never fear, there are a few things you can do to, if not eliminate saddle-sore, at least make your bike a bit more comfortable on long rides.
One of the most obvious ways to achieve a comfier ride is to invest in a comfier saddle. However, make sure you don’t buy a saddle that’s too wide; this could get in the way of your legs and prevent smooth pedalling. When you’re attaching the new saddle to your bike, position it so that the saddle is level or its nose is pointed slightly downwards. This will put less pressure on the nose of the saddle when you’re sat down and give you a more comfortable ride.
If you’re prone to a sore bum, you could also invest in a pair of padded cycling shorts. Trust me when I say these things are life-changing! It’s surprising how much difference a bit of padding can make on a long-distance ride allowing you to cycle in comfort for longer.
Also read: Road Riding Braking Tips