Bicycle Safety

August 29, 2018 / no comments

Staying visible while cycling

Cycling is one of the healthiest ways to get from A to B, but unfortunately it’s sometimes impossible to avoid motorists during your daily commute. One of the best ways to avoid any incidents with motorists is to stay visible at all hours of day. Here are some top ways you can increase your visibility and ensure everyone on the road sees you.1. Dress Accordingly

You don’t have to string a bunch of Christmas tree lights to your bicycle, but it’s also not a great idea to dress all in black either. You can adjust your attire depending on what time of day you’re going for a ride. In the daylight, florescent colors are most important. Think bright green, yellow, and orange here. At night it doesn’t really matter what you wear because nobody can see you anyway. What’s more important is wearing something reflective so you’ll stand out against a car’s headlights.

2. Don’t Pass on the Right!

While it’s very tempting to creep alongside a bunch of idling cars and get to the head of the line, it’s usually safest to just wait directly between cars at an intersection. When you pass on the right you set yourself for the right hook, one of the most dangerous crash scenarios for cyclists. If you really want to get to the head of the pack, consider passing a car or two on the left. You’ll run the risk of getting stuck between two lines of traffic of course, so pay attention to the lights and be prepared to immediately merge into your lane!

3. Ride Loud in Proud in the Center

You’ll usually want to stay to the right-hand side of the road if there’s a wide shoulder or bike lane, but what if the bike lane is obstructed or there’s parked cars next to the shoulder (setting you up for getting doored)? You’re never obligated to ride in a bicycle lane if it’s not safe to do so, and if you’re as fast as other cars it’s much safer to ride smack in the middle of the lane.

This makes it easier for oncoming and approaching traffic to see you, but it also prevents motorists from unsafely attempting to pass you in a single lane. As far as preventing any door crashes, a good rule of thumb to follow is if you can reach out and touch a car’s side mirror, you’re too close.

4. Buy a Better Bell

This isn’t necessarily about staying visible, but if you cycle in an area with a lot of pedestrians you’ll likely run into situations where they tend to cross in front of you. Pedestrians often look for just cars, and if they don’t see any they could step directly in your path. A loud bell does wonders for alerting pedestrians to your approach. BikePacking wrote a great article on the pros and cons of some of the most popular bells available today.

While some of these tips are inconvenient, they’ll go a long way in helping you stay safe on the road!

This article was written and created by Rachel Gaffney from www.personalinjury-law.com, an organization dedicated to providing the public with information about personal injury and safety information. Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice, and it is intended for informational use only. Be sure to review your local cycling ordinances to ensure you ride safe and legally.

How to Increase Speed and Endurance

May 12, 2018 / no comments

Photo courtesy of Matt Saling

Article courtesy of Jackie Edwards

HOW TO INCREASE SPEED AND ENDURANCE

Over 66 million people in the United States are cyclists and for good reason. Cycling is excellent exercise, providing numerous health benefits and a great cardio workout. While many cyclists use their bikes to commute, get around town, or for recreation, an increasing number are power users who enjoy long distance rides and competing in races.

If you’re one of them, you’re probably wondering how you can increase both your speed and endurance without wrecking your knees or hips, both of which are crucial to being able to ride properly and enjoyably. Traditionally cyclists were told to do slow, and low intensity rides up to 6 hours a day for 12-16 weeks to build endurance, but seriously, who has time for that? Here are some tips that can help you increase endurance and speed without having to spend hours a day doing it.

Polarized Training

Polarized training is based on the theory that we should train either easy or hard and avoid middle ground. In essence, sticking to the opposite “poles” of intensity.  While this means no threshold intervals, which many cyclists find to be little more than torture, or boring tempo sets, it also means the hard work is VERY hard and the easy part long.

A polarized training system should have three zones:

  • Zone 1-High volume, low intensity, achieving 80% of maximum heart rate
  • Zone 2– 80-88% maximum heart rate
  • Zone 3- High intensity, over 88% maximum heart rate.

Interval Training

Studies have shown that when cyclists did two interval training sessions per week for three to six weeks, they improved their endurance and aerobic power output by up to 4%. To do this, 80% of your rises should be in the zone 2 intensity, and 20% at a very high intensity (zone 3 and above). For optimal benefits, do hard intensity intervals between 30 seconds to 5 minutes to build both your aerobic system and your resistance to muscle fatigue. This should be done twice a week with at least a day of recovery in between.

The rest of the week do your rides at a moderate aerobic pace. Be sure to also get plenty of water and sleep, eat right and don’t skip those recovery days. You risk damage and inflammation if you do.

To increase your speed, find a quiet, flat road where you can ride without stopping. After your warm up, do the following intervals:

  • High intensity for 8 minutes
  • Recovery for 4 minutes but don’t stop riding
  • High intensity for 4 minutes
  • Recovery for 2 minutes
  • High intensity for 2 minutes
  • Recovery for 1 minute
  • High intensity for 1 minute
  • Repeat from 1 minute back up to 8

This workout can be done several times a week. In between do your regular moderate intensity rides.

Cycling is fun, healthy and challenging. If you’re into racing or just want to enjoy your long rides more, try our workouts. They will get you in top shape while increasing your speed and endurance, and you won’t have to give up your day job to do it.

 

Biking and knee health

November 14, 2017 / no comments

How does cycling impact your knees?

A big advantage of cycling is that it’s a low impact sport. This means it is easy on your joints attracting people of all ages. Repetitively spinning your leg over and over again takes its toll. Knee pain is the most frequent injuries in cycling, from professionals all the way to amateurs. So, how does low impact exercise cause this? In this article we explore some of the main causes of bad knees, and ways to fix them to keep you cycling.

 

Too far too quickly
Trying to do too much, too quickly can cause knee pain. The knee is supported by connective tissue. If you push yourself too much, by rapidly increasing your distance, speed or climbing, then you are putting added pressure on your knees. They will not be acclimatised to dealing with the added load. The result is inflammation of the knee, triggering pain. Just like building up muscles, you need to gradually let your knee joints get acclimate to the added load; only increase ride lengths or times by 20% when you first start cycling. Furthermore, always warm up which gets the connective tissue in your knees ready for load bearing; start out with each ride with gentle cycle at high cadence to get the blood flowing to your joints and muscles.

 

Poor fitting saddle
Having a bad fitting bike can cause all sorts of misgivings. Too long of a stem is bad for your back, however, for knee pain, the biggest culprit is saddle fitting. If the front of your knee is the problem, try raising the saddle a bit or moving it back in relation to the handlebars. If the back of your knee hurts, try lowering the saddle a bit or moving it forward a bit in relation to the handlebars. Imagine pedal motion is the arm of a clock; you can check positioning by placing your pedals in the 6-o’clock and 12-o’clock positions and rest your heel on the lower pedal. Your leg should be straight, which equates to a 20- to 25-degree knee bend when clipped in. When both feet are positioned parallel to the floor (3 o’clock and 9 o’clock), the forward knee should be over the ball of your foot.

If you find pain persists, we recommend getting a professional bicycle fitting. This will ensure you have a bicycle set up which puts you in the best position to eliminate pain.

 

Over Training
Cycling works specific muscle group, primarily quadriceps. If cycling is your main exercise, it is likely you have overdeveloped quadriceps and underdeveloped glutes and hamstrings. This imbalance can put pressure on your knees, which require an equal balance for support. Cyclists should rectify this imbalance; strengthen all muscles groups, by doing resistance-training exercises for all muscles in your legs, core and back. There are cyclist’s specific routines, and also tailored to specific goals, such as longer endurance or more powerful sprinting. British Cycling and Training Peaks are good resources to find a routine to support your needs.

 

 

 

Too high gear
A common mistake by cyclists, particularly those starting out, is to cycle in too high a gear. It often seems that a higher gear is faster. However a faster cadence in a lower gear is now considered better. ‘Mashing’ gears with cadence below 70rpm puts a lot of strain on the knee joint. The school thought is that higher cadence gives you better endurance as you rely more on the aerobic system, which can recover faster than the muscular system. A cadence sensor may be a useful training aid to help you understand correct cycling gears. This fits ether on the crank or wheel, with a computer display in the handlebar. This displays live cadence data during the ride, so you know if to change gear, and also post ride data to analyse your pedal habits.

 

Weak core
Core is not just about strong abs; your core, is actually group of muscles including abs, hip and glutes. These help stabilise and support body movements. The core supports riders in the saddle providing a platform to push off and balance. Over a long ride, just as leg muscles fatigue, so do core muscles. A weakened core results in less support and cyclist legs becoming lazy and moving side to side while pedalling.

It is important to train your core off the bike. You can find specific training exercises for cyclists, aimed at core strength. You should train your core at least once a week, and ideally when you have time away from the saddle to allow sufficient recovery.

 

Stretching
Throughout the pedalling rotation, leg muscles remain slightly contracted, and not at full stretch. Over time, this shortens the muscles and connective tissue, causing reduced flexibility. If you have poor range of motion, your pedalling may end up causing pain as your kneecap is unable to track in a healthy fashion. You can minimise this by doing a warm down stretch after every cycle. Additionally, foam rolling all leg muscles can keep legs feeling flexible. If you have long standing pain, getting a sports massage can help break any knots or tensions areas in your legs.

 

Pedal position
Where you put your feet on your pedals has a big effect on your knees. Cleats should be positioned so the ball of your foot is directly over or even a bit behind the pedal axle. Your cleat angles should be aligned with the natural angle of your heels, since unnaturally toeing in or out can stress your knees. Road cleats can also have float adjusted. This is the amount the shoe can move before unclipping; too little and the knee can be forced into painful positions too much float allows the knees to toggle all over the place which not only wastes watts, but stresses your joints. Nikola Innovation Pedals have taken this a step further with revolutionary ZIVO technology by allowing your legs and knees move in their intended position.

Feel free to give us a call or drop a note if you have additional questions or comments on your knee health.

 

Simple Bike Pedal Maintenance

October 2, 2017 / no comments

Guide to maintain, service and fit pedals

 

Pedals have a thankless job; they get stepped on, rained on, dragged through mud and smashed against rocks. One could be forgiven for not looking after them, and buying cheap replacement after replacement. However, investing in a quality pair of pedals can dramatically enhance your cycling experience. Take care of your pedals, and they’ll last a long time too. This article presents some instillation and maintenance techniques that will help extend the life of your pedals.

 

Removal
Bike pedal axles thread into the crank arms of the bicycle. To remove them you will either need a pedal spanner or hex key. The right (drive side) pedal will loosen anti-clock wise, while the left pedal will loosen clock-wise. They are threaded this way so any cycling tends to wind them on tighter, instead of dropping off mid ride! This does mean that if they’ve been ridden for some time they may be hard to remove. There is a few techniques to remove a seized pedal; you can try using both a spanner and hex key at the same time. You can use penetrating oil in the thread to loosen up the bind. As a last resort heating the crank arm will expand the metal however this is not recommended for non- mechanical types.

 

Cleaning
It’s good practice to get your pedals clean before servicing as it reduces the chance of introducing dirt into the pedal body. Give the pedals a good rub down with degreaser. Alternatively, wash with hot soapy water and ensure you take the time to dry  thourougly before servicing.

 

Greasing the bearings
At this stage it’s worth knowing if you are able to actually re-grease your pedals; Many cheap standard flat pedals are not serviceable. They are designed with sealed inaccessible bearings, the whole pedal is to be simply thrown out and replaced when worn.

More expensive platform and clipless pedals are serviceable. You may find a grease port on some designs, where you can top off grease with a grease gun. Other models require the axle to be removed from the pedal body, grease applied and then tightened up again. Many manufacturers offer rebuild kits with new bearings, seals, hardware and instructions. Depending on conditions, you should re-grease every few thousand miles.

Installation
Now it is time to reinstall the pedal. If the bike pedals are single sided you can tell which is the left and right pedal. Modern pedals are usually marked ‘R’ and ‘L’. Older French or Italian pedals may be marked ‘D’ and ‘G’ or ‘D’ and ‘S’.

Before threading the pedals on it’s recommended to clean the pedal thread and the thread in the crank arms with a bit of degreaser. You can then lightly grease both sets of threads which will help the next time you remove them for servicing. To install, you’ll need a pedal spanner or hex key. The material of the pedal axle is usually harder than the materials of the crank so take care as it’s easy to damage the soft thread of the crank.

 

Blocking debris
In wet conditions, the cleats retention mechanisms on clipless pedals can become clogged with mud and grime. Some pedals are designed to minimize clogging with ‘wide cages’ yet no pedal will ever escape all bad weather. Wearing shoe covers can help block mud. However, the best tip is to spray your cleats and pedals with a thin lubricant such as WD40 which will fling off while cycling, taking any grime with it. Adding too much or thicker oil will just attract excess crud to the area. Some say kitchen cooking spray is surprisingly the best for blocking mud and crud. We will leave that up to you. Either way, make sure you spray into the spring mechanism too.

 

Cleat replacement for clipless pedals.
The most important maintenance with most clipless pedal systems is not actually the pedal but the cleats on your shoes. These are very prone to wear with the inevitable walking that you do. Worn cleats in turn wear out your pedals faster, making it double as bad to not replace them. You can buy ‘cleat covers’ to wear over your cleats and protect them from excessive wear which can help extend life.

On racing shoes, where the cleats protrude from the sole, expect to replace cleats at least once a season. If you use touring, or MTB, shoes, which have the cleat recessed into the sole, your cleats will last much longer, with some people claiming years of service!

Whatever cleat, the first sign wear is when it becomes difficult to either click your shoe in or out of the pedal. You should consider a new set when this happens. Also, replace your cleat if the front edge of it becomes thinner than about 1mm. Don’t forget, use anti-seize grease on the mounting bolt threads when fitting new cleats – it’ll be much easier to remove them later!

An Idea is Born

March 12, 2017 / no comments

An Idea is Born

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AN IDEA IS BORN

I spent this past weekend working with a local university mentoring new entrepreneurs refining their ideas. A thought that won’t escape their frontal-lobe that could be the next great idea. Their concepts range form, already in prototype testing to mere sketches in a notebook. The participants spanned from college freshman to forty-something with a nudge or mental itch they desired to resolve.

 

The participant pitches were delivered with confidence, with fear and trepidation, with cockiness, with PowerPoint failures, and with many warts however each one presented their story as best they could. Listening to over 100 participants was an episode of Shark Tank on steroids. Seeing each person with a belief in his or her unique idea is hard to explain. The best way to describe these ideas is somewhat like a piece of art. They are unique, cherished by their owner, unfiltered, maturing, and wonderful. What is reality is most ideas remain a mental notation kept warm with hope and good intentions from the proprietor never to be seen.

 

The notion of mentoring and coaching is to help germinate these ideas, suggest next steps, or just encourage a person to get up and speak. Our job is removing fear of embarrassment and accepting the fact that thousands of failures are ok. Some mentors feel it’s their responsibility to judge the merits of the idea propping it up or shooting it down based upon their professional opinion. I feel an idea should be respected and treated with care regardless if its market population is one or a billion. Only the owner should have the right to progress or scrap the idea.

 

What is fun about these events is to see the cutting edge frontier. The new technology presented included artificial intelligence search engine optimization tool creating behavioral algorithms optimizing websites. A grill accessory guaranteeing perfectly cooked food through integrated thermometers and timers in the grates. A software/app scouring millions of dockets measuring attorneys effectiveness by case wins and type creating a rating system matching client needs with the best attorney.

 

We are a bike pedal designer and manufacturer, as well as promoters of innovation and improvement. If you have an idea stuck in your head then we encourage you to take a step. Do not be afraid. Several of us here are fans of Elon Musk. Yes he is smart, works tenacious hours, and able to process things quickly. But he is just a dood self-taught in programming who likes to read science fiction books. He overcame many fears and built a company that announced this week they are sending two civilians around the moon. Think about his risk and life responsibilities and compare that to your idea.

 

Call anyone of us at Nikola if you need help with your idea and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.

September 2016 Patent of the Week- Amphibious Bike

September 16, 2016 / no comments

September 2016 Patent of the Week- Amphibious Bike

Patent illustration for an amphibious bike

Patent illustration for an amphibious bike in the water

A patent was filed in June 1974 for the protection of the idea creating an amphibious bike. Benjamin Carter Locher of St. La Porte Texas created a bike which can be converted to use in water with an added propulsion and floating system . This was accomplished by attaching pontoons on both the front and rear of a bike.

A principal feature and object of the invention is to provide a readily retractable and deployable flotation gear that is adapted to be carried by the cycle in retracted position when the cycle is operated on the land and in the deployed position when operated in water.

Full patent information can be found here.

July 2016 Patent of the week

July 8, 2016 / no comments

Sail Bike

In 1899 RUDOLPH SORENSEN of Nebraska patented an idea to utilize the wind to naturally power a bike.  To accomplish this, the user attached a small mast and sail onto the rear of the bike.  The mast and sail is positioned to capture wind when riding in the correct direction.  The rider unleashes the sail bound around the mast taking full advantage of nature’s free resource.

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Mid June 2016 Patent of the Week

June 20, 2016 / no comments

Mid June 2016 Patent of the week

 

In March 2011, David Mandelbaum filed a US patent for a device to protect cyclists from automobile and road traffic. The extension alerts drivers thereby creating a three feet space between cyclists and vehicles. The device is made from flexible materials allowing it to bend in the event contact is made. The flexibility allows the rider to maintain balance preventing damage to cars or vehicles.US20120060746A1-20120315-D00000

Road Bike Pedal Patents and Other Bike Patents

October 20, 2015 / no comments

Road Bike Pedal Patents and Other Bike Patents

Stainess steel high performance pedal (clipless) front view 2

Stainess steel high performance pedal (clipless) front view

Our company Nikola Innovation is developing a revolutionary road bike pedal technology providing riders comfort to their knee and hips while improving performance. We began this journey over six years ago entering into a bike industry that commands $70 billion a year in sales and over a billion riders in the world. Our focus is establishing a brand through science driven development and results orientation.

In 1899 the Commissioner of the US Patent office, Charles Duell, allegedly stated “Everything that can be invented has been invented” I am guessing if he actually said that and had I been around in the 1800’s, he’d likely have encouraged me to try farming or carpentry or a realistic trade instead of being an inventor. After researching patents in the bike industry, Charles would have fallen off his horse if he saw the numbers of patents issued for our beloved bike since his time.

Here are the quick facts regarding the patents in existence related to the bike. Researching just “bicycle” patents, you will find over 1.22 million patents exist, but that’s not the whole story. Searching individual cycling component blossoms the number to over 2 million. The bike frame has over 635,000 patents issued which is amazing by itself. Take 10 steps back from the frame built in the, 60’s, 70,’s and 80.’s and as my neighbor pointed out, he can’t see a difference Handlebars have over 400,000 patents, bicycle wheels anther 131,000. There exists 237,000 patents issued for the bike pedals and we added one more in 2013 with two more pending. A measly 57,000 for the bicycle seat which is ironic the most uncomfortable part of the bike has the least amount of patents.

The reason I started this exercise is to understand what has been discovered and avoid infringing on other’s patents. What made this exercise easier is we developed a motion more so than a component. A road bike pedal moving laterally in prefect unison with the crank arm is a new thought process and a natural way to pedal. Hearing from the nearly thousand people who ride or tested the Nikola pedals stating the motion “feels natural” is music to our ears.

When developing this performance pedal, our three goals to convert non-believers to believers were:
1. Must be intuitive to ride with no re-training necessary.
2. Low cost of change for bicyclist meaning no need to buy a new bike to gain the benefit
3. Most importantly it needed to work providing natural feeling comfort and performance.

Beginning in November we will send out a featured bike related patent which deserves merit and fun to read about. We welcome your thoughts on an area of the bike you wish to hear more about.