PedalMagic.com

When it was time to teach my kids to ride bicycles, I first started with the traditional method of holding the back of the bike while running along behind them.  That did not work well for either my children or my knees.  In the search for a better way, I landed on using the method found at PedalMagic.com.

This site sells you a relatively short video to watch online.  The video demonstrates a non-intuitive but effective method for children to become acclimated to balancing on a moving bicycle.  In my own experience with my non-athletically-gifted children they all learned to ride using this method in 10-minutes or less.  I have since helped other neighborhood children learn in a similar amount of time.

Arguably, a method such as this might be considered more of an intangible “hack” than a tangible “tool” – but for me it was very cool either way.

-- Daniel Barenholtz  

[Given the cost and nature of the training, Pedal Magic offers a straight forward guarantee if you're not satisfied with the video. --OH]

Pedal Magic Video
$20 for 48 hours access

Available from PedalMagic.com



Mountain Bike!: A Manual of Beginning and Advance Technique

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A few weeks ago while rushing down a trail on my bike I wiped-out and broke a rib. I wished I had read this book earlier. Its completely hand-drawn tutorial of mountain bike techniques and skills would have cured my mistake. Each page is hand drawn, full of humor, packed with experience, and conveys memorable lessons. Author Nealy’s hilarious one page cartoons are more effective in teaching crucial things than either text or video. Although it was written — I mean drawn — in 1992 it’s still amazingly valid. The bikes have changed but the skills and challenges are the same. It’s a really great how-to.

-- KK  

Mountain Bike!: A Manual of Beginning to Advanced Technique
William Nealy
1992, 176 pages
$12

Available from Amazon

Sample Excerpts:

Before you begin a self-training session RELAX, this ain’t Wall Street. You can’t lose riding a mountain bike. If you are working on a technique and you fail two or three times in a row, STOP!! Do something else and try again later. This is called “Training To Failure” (positive progressive training; pushing the envelope). If you push a training session beyond three successive failures you are “Training To Fail” (negative regressive training; more pain than fun). As you become more adept at self-teaching and pushing yourself appropriately you’ll be able to discern where good (beneficial) training ends and bad (regressive) traning begins. [Hint: lack of fun marks the spot.]

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Cone of Movement – The amount of lean a rider can exert on his/her bike is determined by the focus of his/her stance: in a seated position, the cone of movement is focused on the seat [fig. 1] and is relatively small. The greater the obstacle, the larger the cone of movement must be to surmount it. [fig 2.]

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From a standing position the cone of movement is huge compared to sitting. This gives the rider an exponentially greater number of options in terms of leans, weight shifts and control.

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On level or down-sloping trails you can keep your pedals and cranks clear of ground clutter by keeping your cranks more or less level and pumping the pedals up and down.
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Ratcheting

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Another excellent reason to hang onto your bike in any fall is a loose bike’s proclivity to become a very gnarly projectile during a wipe-out!
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Don Casey’s Complete Illustrated Sailboat Maintenance Manual

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When I need to repair anything on my sailboat this is the first book I turn to. The illustrations are excellent. The book is actually six books compiled into one, which makes navigation of it a bit difficult but not impossible. The explanations are very clear with detailed information on things such as fiberglassing with resin versus epoxy, electrical wiring, and inboard diesel engines.

As a companion to this I find my subscription to Practical Sailor magazine to have up to date first hand reports on sailing equipment and products from porta potty deodorizers to bottom paints to navigation systems.

-- Monty Zukowski  

Don Casey’s Complete Illustrated Sailboat Maintenance Manual
Don Casey
2005, 896 pages, 1st Edition
$33

Available from Amazon

Sample Excerpts:

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Symmetry
From directly forward and astern, the hull should appear symmetrical and the keel perpendicular to the deck. Sighting the hull through the gridwork of a plastic plotter simplifies this determination. Any detectable difference from one side to the other suggests major trouble. (p 11)

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Galvanic Corrosion
A more insidious problem is galvanic corrosion. Connecting the green wire to an underwater fitting completes the circuit between your boat and all other nearby boats with their own green wires grounded. With seawater as the electrolyte, every grounded fitting essentially becomes part of a big battery. (p. 557)

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If your fittings are less noble on the galvanic scale than your neighbor’s, they are anodes and begin to erode. This can be bad news if you have an aluminum outdrive in the water and your neighbor’s underwater fittings are bronze and stainless steel.




Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance

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I’ve been using this book for over a year and so far haven’t found anything it doesn’t cover when it comes to maintaining my bike. Zinn includes lots of step-by-step instructions with clear illustrations. I was a complete novice prior to reading this, and now it’s nice not having to run to the bike shop for every little thing I need fixed. It gives me confidence to tackle things I normally wouldn’t attempt.

-- Rob Lewis  

[Note: Velopress has put together a sample PDF including a few chapters from the book.--OH]

Zinn & the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance
Lennard Zinn and Todd Telander
2010, 464 pages
$17

Available from Amazon

Sample Excerpts:

Chains
A bike chain is a simple series of links connected by rivets. Rollers surround each rivet between the link plates and engage the teeth of the cogs and chainrings. It is an extremely efficient method of transmitting mechanical energy from the pedals to the rear wheel. In terms of weight, cost, and efficiency, the bicycle chain has no equal, and— believe me—people have tried without success to improve on it for years.
To keep your bike running smoothly, you have to take care of the chain. It needs to be kept clean and well lubricated in order to transmit your energy efficiently and shift smoothly. Chains need to be replaced frequently to prolong the working life of other, more expensive, drivetrain components because a chain gets longer as its internal parts wear, thus contacting the gear teeth differently than intended. (p 51)

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(p. 55)

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(p.198)




QuickFix Mudguard

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This mudguard solves the problem of wanting to keep the clean aesthetic of my bike while staying free of mud during rides. In the past I haven’t liked to clutter up my bike with permanent mudguards, etc. With the Quickfix Mudguard I can snap it on and off whenever I need it without the use of tools.

When I’m not using it, it folds away into my bag where it takes up no space, and it’s really light. It’s also easy to wash and simply requires that I take it off and run it under the tap. It’s made of polypropolene so it’s very hard-wearing while also being strong but flexible at the same time.

-- Helen Wilson  

Quickfix Mudguard
$19

Available from Wiggle
Manufactured by Full Windsor

Sample Excerpts:

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The Full Windsor Quickfix Mudguard clips onto the bike frame




Origin8 CargoUnit

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The Origin8 CargoUnit is a great piece of “why did this take so long” common sense technology. These are handle bars that have an integrated basket which is large enough to hold a bike lock, a grocery bag, and anything else that will fit. The construction is rugged, true to Origin8′s line of strong/light components.

These are superior to any number of bolt-on accessories because the basket is part of the handlebars. Aftermarket baskets bounce, come loose, and scratch up the finish of whatever they’re attached to. Because the basket is one with the handlebars, there is none of that. Plus, there’s no way to steal the basket as they are welded together.

Speaking of the weld, these are not toys. The gauge of the tubing and the strength of the joints are on par with pro equipment. This product is serious, and comes at a rise & width to replace bars on fixies, hybrids, or even BMX geometries.

-- James Roche  

Origin8 Cargo Unit
Available in black, white, and silver
$106

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Origin8



Ergon PC2 Bike Pedals

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I’ve been using these larger-than-usual ergonomic bike pedals this bike riding season. I’ve always had foot problems from cycling. Almost all bike shoes are too narrow for me and clip-in pedals are small and create pressure points. The Ergon pedals are slightly concave which allows the foot to easily find a position of comfort.

These pedals are extremely comfortable all day long, and I have found that they increase pedaling power. Sure they look geeky, but they are one pragmatic tool.

-- Curtis Wenzel  

Ergon PC2 Bike Pedal
$80

Available from REI

Manufactured by Ergon



Kryptonite Evolution U-Lock

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I live in Baltimore, a city that still struggles with crime. As such, I take the security of my belongings seriously, and no place is this more evident than with the thing I most often leave in public: my bike.

In the past, and in safer cities, I have used steel cable locks without any problems. However, while locking my bike up around Baltimore I would frequently see the cut remains of thick steel cable locks. My dismay was reinforced when I saw a video of the time (mere seconds) it took to cut through even a thick steel cable lock with a pair of bolt cutters. Disconcerted, I asked my bike-savvy friends for a better solution. The universal answer was a Kryptonite U-lock coupled with a steel cable used to lock both your front and rear wheel to the bike frame and an immovable object.

I have a mixed history with Kryptonite. Eight years ago I owned and used an early version of their U-lock. Its size, weight, and ungainliness left much to be desired. In addition the model I owned had an embarrassing reputation for being picked by nothing more than a simple Bic pen. So I was wary when everybody and anybody with any knowledge about urban bike riding told me to use a Kryptonite lock.

After a few months with the new U-lock it is clear that eight years of substantial design changes have made a difference. Not only have they fixed almost every issue I had with my old U-lock, but they have made it smaller, lighter, and more secure.

Favored by bike couriers, the U-Lock is designed to couple the front wheel to the frame of the bike while locking to an external post, stop sign, or other immovable object. What Kryptonite has done to make this more usable is by shrinking the width and length of the U-lock so that it fits snugly into most back pockets (while the shorter length means it doesn’t fall out while riding). This subtle change makes it far easier to carry the lock thereby avoiding the need for a bag, or even for attaching it to the frame of the bike through a plastic connector (which are, at best, unreliable and prone to breaking).

In shrinking the lock for portability Kryptonite has also made it more difficult for bike thieves to steal the bike by preventing them from fitting a car jack between the lock and the steel bar (the main technique used to bust larger U-locks).

The one downside to Krytponite’s U-lock will always be its significant heft. The lock is predominantly made up of a solid chunk of hardened steel, and as such it weighs a considerable amount. But the knowledge that my bike is safer is much less of a burden than the few ounces of steel.

-- Oliver Hulland  

[For those interested in something even more secure and don't mind the extra heft, Kryptonite makes an overbuilt U-lock that is a bit more expensive available at Amazon.--OH]

Kryptonite Evo Bike Lock and Steel Cable
$49

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Kryptonite



Knog Boomer Tail Light

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I have had countless bike lights stolen over the years. Part of this is due to forgetfulness, but also to the difficulty of quickly removing the light from the bike when I’m finished with my ride.

Knog lights have fixed this problem through the use of silicone cases. The stretchy silicone easily wraps around any bar on the bike, providing a secure, but flexible, attachment on even the bumpiest of roads. In the past, Knog has been criticized for producing lights that were were more ornamental than functional given their under-powered LEDs. However, the Knog Boomer changes that.

Unlike previous Knog lights I’ve seen, the Boomer tail light is super bright. The three LEDs produce 15-lumens on their highest setting, which, while not significant compared to many high-end flashlights, is plenty for its intended use as a rear tail light.

The unit’s battery life is respectable (12-hours flashing on full brightness) and is made even more palatable through the design’s inclusion of a USB-port that allows for easy charging on any powered USB hub. It might seem strange to rely on a USB-port for charging, but the ubiquity of the interface has made it almost more commonplace than outlets (and even without an outlet you can substitute any iOS charger). Not only does my laptop have two, but my desktop monitor has six, while my external keyboard has another.
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Being able to quickly charge my tail light means that it is more likely charged when I ride. Recently, however, my light ran out of juice on a bike ride to a friend’s house. Not only did she not have spare batteries, but she didn’t own a battery charger and so I would have been out-of-luck with most traditional non-wired lights. A quick plug-in to her computer meant that I had a charged light to get me home. While many may complain about the lack of versatility that is associated with using AAs or AAAs, the convenience of a built in charging unit has, for me, far outweighed the benefits of quickly being able to switch out batteries. For those less inclined to charge via USB, Knog makes a non-USB version.

At a time when I am riding my bike more than ever the Knog Boomer tail light has earned its place as one of my favorite bike accessories. It is representative of smart functional design that makes me more likely to be seen, and with any luck a bit safer while out riding.

-- Oliver Hulland  

Knog Boomer Tail Light- USB Rechargeable
$30

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Knog



Dero Track Rack

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I bought this hanging bike storage system on a recommendation from a bike junkie friend who owned 8 or more bicycles. Tandems, single speed, mountain bikes, road bikes: you name it, he had one, and he stored it on his track rack.

My friend did the heavy work with the research and ultimately recommended the Dero Track Rack when I asked him how to solve my bicycle storage problem. The track went into the basement ceiling with no problem at all: lag bolts into the overhead joists. The track is super strong. The rollers that install in the track look like they are machined to aircraft standards. In short the whole getup is first rate.
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The track has rollers that glide along the track and suspended beneath are a number of “S-hooks” from which you hang the wheel of a bike. What is amazing is how you can move the bikes along the track much the same way you slide shirts in your closet…only easier. The Track Rack has been a lifesaver for me, and now all my bikes are neatly organized and hang from the ceiling.
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They are secured so there is absolutely no chance they will be knocked over by anybody. The Track Rack has moved from the basement to the garage, and when I sold the house I made sure to take the Dero Track Rack with me. I can’t see ever parting ways with my Dero Track Rack. It is THAT cool.

-- Bruce Tunno  

Dero Track Rack
$259-539 (price varies based on dimension, call for a quote)

Available from and manufactured by Dero Bike Racks