Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Tire pressure makes a difference...

First things first, always include checking your bicycles tire pressure each and every time you ride. Just exactly why you do this has a number of benefits that we are going to cover trough out this article.

How to determine the correct  / recommended tire  pressure

In most cases the you can find the recommended tire pressure on the side wall of the tire itself. This particular recommendation is what the manufacture suggests / recommends for optimal performance. Now here's the exception...not all conditions / riding surfaces will require the same tire pressures.


There are a number of effective way's to inflate your tires. The best method without question is to invest in a good quality floor pump that has a pressure indicator gauge. Knowing rather that guessing exactly how much pressure that you are putting into your tires is a good thing. Also for some specialty applications you may want to purchase and old school tire gauge or even a new style hand held digital tire pressure gauge.

Cause & Effect

A tires performance can and will significantly change when the pressure is either too high or too low.

Having a tire that is over inflated will make for a very bumpy and jarring ride. You will also notice that due to the higher inflation less of the tire is actually in contact with the trail etc. This certainly gives you a faster rolling tire...but you will definitely loose overall traction and cornering capability. Most ideal situation for this would be riding on very firm hard or paved surfaces etc.

Riding your tires with pressure too low gives you more tread contact, and climbing traction....BUT beware of flats and or rim damage from running into things or bottoming out the wheel. A lower tire pressure will also create more tire drag which may require a bit more effort to keep the wheels rolling. You may also want to take some consideration in any high speed situations and or hard cornering maneuvers.

Ideally a tire that is properly inflated will take sometime and efforts to figure out. Most will tell you in you can manipulate the tire by pushing your thumb into the tire with a little bit  of effort you are good. Now that by no means is a scientific equation to tire pressure success. Talk with the professionals i.e. those that know. Take the guess work out and go with some recommended pressures depending on the situation and circumstances under which you will be riding. As always be sure to bring a portable bike pump  & pressure gauge with you to make any changes just in case.

Lastly another great bit of advice is keep track of the tire pressures that you run in certain conditions by writing them down, This may seen a bit nerdy, how ever as you get out and ride in different conditions you will be better able to set up your ride more accordingly.

We hope these tips and suggestions help, in the mean time, happy trails & don't forget to take time to stop and enjoy the ride !!! Any other question, comments, ideas or suggestions please feel free to drop us a line: info@growlerbikes we would love to hear from you !!!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Bike Cleaning Tips

Keeping your bike clean does not have to be a hassle. This article will cover a number of helpful tips to cleaning your bike.

So you have not cleaned your bike in a while you say? No worries,  keep reading...we will have you up to speed with all of the latest tips in no time. Believe or not you don't necessarily need to have all of the tools the pro's use to clean your bike. A lot of around the house items when it comes to cleaning your bike will work in a pinch. However...for more information, product guidance etc. please check with your favorite local bike shop.

Suggested "around the house items" for cleaning your bike:

  • Dish Soap 
  • Large Sponge
  • Simple Green
  • Clorox Wipes
  • Pledge
  • Citrus Cleaners
  • Laundry Soap
  • Windex
  • Car Polish
  • Tooth brush
  • Dish Scrub Brush
  • Bottle Brush
  • Good old bucket
  • Garden Hose
  • WD40
Store bought cleaning items / products (Suggested):
  • Bike Wash 
  • Chain Lube
  • Bike Polish
  • Chain Cleaner
  • Set of bike brushes
  • Bike Degreaser
  • Bike Stand

Bike Cleaning 101:

  1. Using a hose (If available) very lightly spray the entire bike / DO NOT Spray directly into any of the critical gear or bearing areas ie: Headset / Bottom bracket / Suspension pivots etc. This will cause some serious damage and other issues. If no hose is available a large bucket with warm water and a cleaning solution will work just fine. (Pro Tip: For serious cleaning/maintenance is to keep separate bucket/brush systems keeping greasy water/brushes away from 'clean' brushes/wash water. It's easy to mistakenly scrub rim braking surfaces with a brush that you might have scrubbed the chain with....not good.) ~Michael Newberry
  2. Start from the top down: Meaning that you want to take the dirt / grime off the bike so that you are not having to clean your bike twice! Generally at this point you want make sure that your are generously sponging and cleaning the entire bike. Once this is finished gently rinse your bike off to remove the dirt and grime etc. If this first effort does not completely clean your bike then simply repeat the process. This not only loosens up the dirt and grime it will make then next phase a lot easier. (Pro tip: Using and old tooth brush or small brush will help get that hard to reach dirt / mud and grime.) 
  3. Using a greaser type product now is a good time to clean the rear cassette and your chain. Some may cleaning the chain is the last thing you do...either way place it with in the cleaning phase as to be able to NOT have to mess up all of your hard work and effort to clean your bike in the first place. If you have one a chain cleaning device works really well. This is a multi step process of  degreasing/cleaning chain then applying the appropriate lubricant desired. Make sure NO matter what after cleaning your bike to lubricate your chain. If left untouched it will begin to rust. When lubricating your chain simply back pedal your bike and very lightly apply your lubricant of choice. Remember a little dab will do you just fine. Using an old rag in hand you can remove the excess lubricant.  It's also a good idea not to forget those jockey wheels on your rear derailleur as well. 
  4. Once you have completed the above steps, make sure to thoroughly dry your bike off. This step sometimes is over looked believe it or not. To get the excess water off try lightly bouncing bike up and down on it's tires. Also if you have not thoroughly cleaned your bike off this is the point where you will be able to tell where you missed some spots. (Pro Tip: If you have disc brakes be sure to wipe the discs off till dry or as best you can, this not only will prevent rust, it should hopefully prevent squeaky disc brakes)
  5. Bike polish etc...Why would I do this in the first place? Well great question, other than one extra added step, polishing your bike will actually keep it cleaner longer! Some will argue this theory...but think about when you wax your vehicle. When it rains etc...the water beads off. Well not exactly sure this type of reaction will happen with your bike. We can tell you that this process will actually impede any of the dirt and grim from easily collecting on your bike. Hence your bike in theory will stay cleaner longer.  
Reader Tips: 
Save the old snow brushes from your car when the scraper blade busts off. Along with Dawn and water, they're perfect for scrubbing the grit off a dirty drive-train, and they (mostly) get into the cogs, too. ~T. Franz

I used a hacksaw blade that I flattened in a vice so the teeth are flush with the surface. I used it for cutting a door jam where it meet the floor like a Japanese saw. Flatten the teeth in a vice will ensure the blade won't rip the t-shirt rag but probably not necessary to do. For the rear cassette I use a hacksaw blade wrapped in a piece of old t-shirt dipped in degreaser. It gets in between the cogs nicely. Also for the same thing I sometimes switch to a 5" length of nylon flat tie down strap also dipped and saturated in degreaser. ~Scott Hamilton

Any microfiber sponge from your local auto parts store and a bucket of car wash soap. Park tool chain cleaner. Wd40 bike wash with old t-shirt if you want that new bike shine! Gets the bike like new. ~David Toth 

Five gallon bucket with hot soapy water, I usually use a mild auto style soap to protect the finish. First use a gentle spray of water to get most dirt loose. Then spray dirty, greasy areas with a good bike grade degreaser let it sit for a bit. 
I use 
long handled auto style brushes a stiffer one for drivetrain and wheels soft for frame. Rinse it of with a gentle spray. I use one of those garden plant sprayer heads. It'll save you dough on bearings.~Dan Park 

Soapy sponge or soft brush for frame & wheels, various separate smaller brushes for the drivetrain. Rinse gently with hose, or 1-gallon pump sprayer if you live in an apartment like me. Park Tool chain cleaner thingy with some degreaser(keep it off the disc) once it a while when it's really ugly. Re-lube everything, drink a beer, smile. ~Glen Wallace

Calvin Jones from Park Tools has a sweet demo video on the site! ~Justin Rumley 

There's a big difference between cleaning a bike and cleaning the drivetrain. The frame and wheels need a soapy degreaser and the drivetrain needs petrol based solvent. Never easy! I usually throw chains away by the time they need that kind of cleaning, after 2-3000 miles they are pretty wrecked and not worth the mess, usually a bit stretched and jumpy as well. Tri-Flow is your friend. ~Ivan M. Altinbasak

Thursday, January 19, 2017

What to bring on your ride...

Riding a bicycle with out question can be one of the most invigorating feelings. As many of you may agree there is certainly no end to the list of places that one can go on a bicycle. That said like any trip that you are about to take or journey you are going to embark on, you need to carry some "necessaries". Getting stuck, breaking down or having a dreaded "mechanical" is going to happen, however making sure that you are prepared is key. Please continue to read as we will dig a little deeper into the suggested items to have with on your next ride / adventure.

The Basics:
Having something to carry your "necessaries" is the first key to success. If you think that your going to remember to put them in your jersey pocket or jacket every time you head out the door think again. I can tell you more times than often... this exact situation has lead to good old hike a bike home, or....the embarrassing phone call to your spouse / significant other. Look it's simple we ride bikes for fun and recreation NO professionally. Well maybe some of you reading this do...but even then you probably adhere to the basic context of this article. That said here are some suggested ways to bring items on your ride:

  • On the bike type carriers:
    • Behind the seat bag
    • Handle bar mount
    • Internal frame mount
    • Rear rack 
    • Front rack
  • Rider carries:
    • Hydration Pack / back pack type
    • Waist Pack
    • Jersey/jacket pockets....
Bring these:

The above listed will make bringing the later suggested items on your ride a thousand times easier. When we say "basics" we mean items such as, repair tools, energy food items, extra clothing, etc. Now of course depending on the nature of your ride, trip, or journey...you would need to pack accordingly. So please keep that into consideration when we say this is a partial list.

  • Multi tool (For making any adjustments /repairs)
  • Extra Tube make sure its for the correct size tire (Hey better to have then have not)
  • Patch kit (Yes they still make them)
  • Extra Tire Sealant (Those running "tubeless" set ups)
  • Energy Food (Energy bar / Gel or good old pb&j)
  • Pump / Frame type or CO2 type inflator
  • Rag 
  • Other Optional Suggestions
    • Extra Chain Master links 
    • Suspension Shock pump
    • Digital Tire Pressure gauge
    • Torque wrench
    • Decent quality chain tool
    • Zip ties
    • Extra clip-in cleat parts
    • Small Zip lock bags
    • First Aid-Kit
    • Co2's  cartridges (For inflator)
    • Small tube of chain lube
    • Beverage opener (:0)
    • Water proof pack covers
    • Good old plastic grocery / garbage bags work in a pinch
    • Spare parts (Trip / ride dependent)
    • Fold able style tires (Trip / ride dependent)
    • Spokes 
Now bear in mind no matter where you put these items etc it is going to be added weight. When we say added weight not a ton but the bottom line is if and when something does happen you are prepared and can ride back home or keep going etc. Of course like anything we do in life comes the actual experience of riding. As you get what you take on your rides more dialed in you should ultimately become what we call "McGuyver". Not sure many of you reading this may get that but it was a cheesy 80's TV show that become cult... (Google it) 

We hope these tips and suggestions help, in the mean time, happy trails & don't forget to take time to stop and enjoy the ride !!! Any other question, comment's, ideas or suggest please feel free to drop us a line info@growlerbikes we would love to hear from you !!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Fatbike vs. Mid-Fat bike....What does it all mean???

I went on my first official "Fat-Bike" ride about a month ago, boy did I have my eyes opened. Being a traditional mountain bike racer etc...I was always hating on these larger circus sized tire bikes. Strange thing is...little did I know how much I would really enjoy riding one and how much of a game changers these bikes are.

How it all happened: 

Phone call with my good friend at Growler Bikes,"  "Hey, I have a demo bike that I want to get you to ride...JUST GIVE IT A TRY." 

Me: "Agh, not really sure that it's going to change my perspective in anyway but what the heck..why not? "

Well, then we insert my shit eating grin when the Growler demo bike shows up....The bike was dialed and ready to go. Essentially all I had to do was,adjust the seat height,dial front shock pressure, and put my pedals on. The weather that particular day was a nice crisp Upstate New York fall kind of day. So of course what better what better way to put it to the test?  Yep....DEMO ride !!!! Whoo-hoo.

Mr. Big Stuff
2017 Growler Mr. Big Stuff 

My initial thoughts:

First off I guess we should explain the terminology...before I go on. When you are talking a "Fat-Bike" the tire width in theory average 3.5 inched and up. However this from a consumers stand point is where it gets confusing....Basically the wheel size breaks down into to this 27.5+ & 29.5+ After chatting with a number of my hardcore convert riding friends...they with out question say that these particular category bikes are here to stay. In fact on my weekly night ride out of a dozen plus riders.... 75% ride a fatbike / mid-fat bike. Just to put it perspective we do ride a a generally brisk pace and ride some pretty dicey terrain at times. Never have I experienced any of my counter parts to slate that their choice of bike was a hindrance.

On the ride:

A bit of an adjustment I can tell you that.... My traditional 29r with much narrower tires..seemed to accelerate much faster. However after spending a few days on the bike this seemed to be a non issue. In regards to tire size..this was actually the first thing I really enjoyed. There was not alot of thought that needed to be put into where the bike was going. (Which was good and bad) I do love riding technical terrain generally and don't mind having to find/pick my line. Now the big difference here being the tire width...AND interestingly enough the much lower tire pressure. The lower pressure was a bit of adjust I must say...to me at first with both general riding and cornering it felt like a was getting a flat tire. However this is EXACTLY the intended way of bike set up. Honestly it took me a little be longer that I expected to be able to build up the confidence to actually trust the bike. Cornering in particular was actually spot on...leading me to believe that I might just be missing out on something with my traditional ride.

Performance across the board was very solid...I did enjoy the way the bike climbs. It seemed that at times I was almost part mountain goat LOL. Actually the one benefit of the wider tires that I really did like. During both seated as well as climbing efforts the bike kept on moving. There were probably a few minor instances where I did get the tires to slip...this coming from quick aggressive pedaling while standing. Also want to add I found the overall geometry and cockpit very user friendly. On the the descents the bike actually felt quite at home....did actually find myself taking on descents that I normally ride with a more speed that normal. The overall wheel base and tire foot print was shinning through here without question. Stability wise...VERY confidence inspiring which I found to be a huge plus. In punchy, technical riding I was using at least a third less energy that I normally would to keep the bike tracking. This again where the bike was instilling more confidence and need for more speed !!!

So in conclusion I say to you give one a try. Yes you may find it's not for you, then again you maybe convinced this is your next new thing. Overall these particular category bikes give you a fresh perspective on both the riding as well as your local trail system. To me I find these bikes the ideal choice for introducing someone to mountain biking once again or even for the first time. It is with out question a nice alternative to "leveling the playing field" for not so technical savy riders.. Or if you are looking to riding pretty much year round...here you go the 27.5+ or 29.5+ bikes could be your next new thing!!

A special thank you goes out to Willo Glynn at Growler Bikes, definitely appreciate the nudge to give your bikes a try. Also for allowing me to keep the one I have now on an "extended demo" lol. Please check them out on Facebook.