Frequently Asked Bike Questions and Biking Tips

Here is a list of frequently asked biking questions questions. I also have included some helpful tips for those just starting out in the sport.

1. You need a good bike.

You need a good solid bike under you. A Huffy from Targets probably will not do the job so look at name brand bikes such as Giant, Trek, Specialized, or Cannondale, bought from a regular bike shop. These bikes will have good quality components and will not leave the rider stranded  with a blown bottom bracket in the middle of Scott County KS. Additionally, the weight, comfort, and pedaling ease of the slightly higher priced bikes will make the ride more enjoyable.

More importantly, the people at the bike shop will have a bike that is the right size for you, and will set it up and fit it properly to you. This is very important because if the bike is not adjusted properly you will notice your knees, or other parts of your body hurting during long rides. The process for setting up a bike to fit a rider can take several hours if done properly. The bike shop will take several of your measurements and adjust the bike accordingly.  Then you will test ride the bike and they will make more adjustments as needed. 

While I am talking about bike shops I would like to say you need to develop a good relationship with your bike shop and the mechanics that work on your bike. They are bike enthusiasts and want to do all they can to help you enjoy your ride and be safe. In the Wichita area the bike shop I have a very long relationship with is the Bicycle Pedaler www.bicyclepedaler.com The are great people and have a great selection of bikes.


How much should you spend? A good quality bike will start around $300.00. I know this sounds like a lot of money. However, if you are serious about riding 60 to 70 miles a day for a week you do not want to have your bike let you down.

2. Get a good quality cyclo-computer.

A cyclo-computer  will tell you your speed,  how many miles you have gone, and many models well also tell you elapsed time and avg. speed. When riding please leave your computer set for distance and speed, NOT Avg. speed. Many people get hung up on their average speed and tend to not enjoy the ride if they are going too slow. On a long tour our motto is "WHO CARES!" Our average speed is little importance. We are out to have fun, see the sights, and enjoy the companionship, not set a speed record.

3. Comfortable riding clothes.

Many riders find a pair of comfortable shorts and a cotton teeshirt work just fine for them on most rides. You do not have to wear spandex shorts and coolmax jerseys unless you want to. However, I do recommend wearing regular biking equipment.

 Jerseys  wick moisture away from your body to keep you cool and comfortable and they make a nice fashion statement :>).   I have visited with  a number of people  who say they overheat wearing Jerseys and prefer to only wear tee shirts. Personally, I would still go with a Jersey. I have an over heating problem if the temperature is over 90 and I take care of it  by pouring a little water from my water bottle on my head, chest, and back. This will usually take care of the problem. If it does not I find a shade tree and have a nap. :)

On a 50 mile ride padded spandex bike shorts can make for a more pleasant day riding then you might have wearing just regular shorts. The biking shorts give support to muscles and other areas that need it. Please make sure you get a pair that work well with you. Wear them for a hundred miles or so to see how they feel and break in before you go on the big ride. I have several pairs that work well for short distances, but cause sores if I go farther than 50 miles. Also, and this is important, do not wear underwear under your bike shorts. Bike Shorts are designed to work against your skin and underwear being in that mix will cause all sorts of problems. :>) 

Add a good pair of riding gloves, preferably gel filled, a good helmet, and a good pair of sunglasses and you are ready to go.

4. Tires

Tires are often over looked as an important part of your biking equipment. If you ride a mountain bike and most of your riding is done on asphalt look at getting slicks or near slick tires. You would be amazed at  the amount of effort it takes to push a big set of Knobbys down the road. Slicks will help you go farther faster, and you won't be nearly as worn out at the end.

Tire air pressure is very important when riding. Use maximum air pressure in your tires when you are out on the road. This will cut down on the amount of rolling resistance you must overcome and will make your day more enjoyable.

Flats are a problem wherever you go. A number  of people like to use Slime in their tires. This will prevent most flats but I find it to be very messy if you change tires  for different riding needs. I prefer to use liners like Mr. Tuffy, or buy tires that have a built in Kevlar liner in them. I have only had one flat using liners and that was a side puncture. The Kevlar lined tires will give you a better ride than tires with Mr. Tuffy installed. However,  you can move the Mr. Tuffys to any tire you choose.

To get a set of tires with the belt in them you will usually have to order them on-line.  I usually ride them for  2000 to 2500 miles and then change them out for new ones.

5. SUNSCREEN.....

It is imperative that you wear  SPF 30 or 50 anytime you are  on your bike longer than an hour in the summer. I usually start my long rides around seven in the morning and  will stop early  in the day to apply my sunscreen.  Mr. Sun will find any place you forgot to put the sunscreen and turn it bright red from the reflection off the asphalt. So the earlier you apply the sunscreen, the better off you will be.

I rode Cycle Montana a few years ago and many people forgot to put their sunscreen on because it was so nice and cool. However, they paid for it the next 2 days by being extremely burned. I missed a few spots where my shorts came up higher than my tan line, and it gave me a tender reminder to be more careful in the future. I also burned my ears and nose which was very unusual for me but we were in the saddle for up to 8 hours each day and Mr. Sun had his way with me.

6. Delicate Matters

On a more delicate matter I would recommend that you always carry some Toilet Tissue in your bike bullet pack. When doing long distance cycling adventures we are usually out in the country far from any facilities, and when nature calls it is much nicer to have some soft tissue to take care of business with than a, corn cob, pine cone, tree branch, bunny rabbit, ect.

I would also recommend small bottle of liquid sanitizer type simply pour into hand rub dry this for obvious reasons we are out in the country and when you get sag stop or someplace to eat it is just a good idea have some means to clean your hands.

On a related matter lets discuss saddle sores and delicate rashes for a moment. The only thing that needs to be said is, A&D ointment. Carry it with you and use lots. If a certain rash gets out of control and toilet paper feels like sand paper, get some Tucks medicated pads or Wet Ones to use instead.   It will definitely improve your attitude. :>)

7. What to carry with you when you ride?

You should have a small  seat pack attached to your bike to carry stuff.   I would recommend the following list of things to have on the bike  every time you ride:

  • Sunscreen
  • Tire repair kit with patches and tire levers (Know how to use these items)
  • A spare tube (Place it in a baggy with a little flour in it so it won't stick to the tire)
  • A frame pump or some means to inflate a flat tire.
  • A small tool kit (Small Crescent Wrench, full set of Allen wrenches, a flat and Phillips screw driver)
  • An old white cotton sock. I know, you are thinking is he kidding? No I am not. It will make a nice grease rag to wipe your hands on if you throw your chain and have to put it back on. I also saw a young lady use it to stop the bleeding of a severally injured rider after he took a bad fall.)
  • Spare Money (For sodas and snacks or, emergency phone calls. I just throw all of my change in when I buy things out on the road. This way if I forget to take money with me I always have some.)
  • Some form of secondary ID  ( Always carry ID on you, but a backup is always a good idea. I wear a set of dog tags plus my Drivers License. I learned this lesson  the hard way when a older friend  had a heart attack while out running in the country. He had No ID on him so it took 12 hours before authorities could notify his family.)
  • Cell phone
  • A bike mirror of some kind. (You need to be able to see traffic coming up behind you, just in case)

8. Where can I get more information on biking?

I would recommend joining a bike club. This is an excellent way to meet new people, find out where the good riding spots are in your area, and just have a good time. Don't think that clubs are just for racers, most of the membership will be riders just like you out to have fun. You will find riders with all skill levels and a group that will ride the same way you want to. Club rides are a blast, and a great way to gain experience. Check out the clubs on my links page, or visit the one I am proud of,  The Oz Club   Don't know where to find a bike club in your area? Just go to your nearest bike shop and ask, I bet they will even have an application under the counter.

9. Most of all,  Have FUN!!!!!!!

All pictures and material on this site © Klent Harkness, All Rights Reserved. All information offered on this site is advice only. I am not a Physician and I am only relating personal experience and my own opinions  on this site. Please seek the opinion of  your personal Physician  before starting any exercise or diet program. I get an annual physical and my doctor monitors both my exercise and diet programs. Yours should to.  .....Klent