New year, new season, new bike fit

The new racing season is officially here, and with it, everyone's fancy new gear. But, the new bike and kit won't look as good if you aren't using your equipment to its fullest potential. By now we know that a racer without a bike fit is the equivalent of buying an expensive suit and not getting it tailored. But what exactly goes into a complete bike fit?

We paid a visit to Nate Koch of Ero Sports down at the Carson Velodrome where our own Sarah Bartlett walked us through her second fit. 

1. Getting to know the body

The process begins with Koch checking out the overall build of Bartlett's body. He measures her legs and sees the range of motion she has in her hips even before asking her to put on her shoes. Measuring the body allows the mechanic to make minor adjustments on the bike directly. For instance, if one leg is slightly longer than the other, your saddle or handlebar positions might be changed so that both legs are pulling their load of the work equally. 

2. Feet, Feet, Feet

Then, Koch moves on to Bartlett's cycling shoes. He finds that one of the cleats is positioned further down the shoe than the other, which is a problem. 

"The positioning of the cleats is important," said Koch. "We want to make sure you're getting the maximum length without hurting the knees." 

After, Koch makes Bartlett stand on what seems to be a grown-up version of a giant neon scribble slate from the 90's. Remember these?

Image courtesy of google.com

Image courtesy of google.com

Koch's, of course, is way more legit and looks a little more like this:

The green slate allows Koch to see Bartlett's heat distribution. In less than three minutes, Koch can determine if Bartlett needs insoles or any other added support on the cleats to make her ride feel as comfortable as possible. 

"We want to make sure that when you're clipped in your feet are in the most natural position," explained Koch. 

3. Getting wired up

After the housekeeping things are complete, Koch now makes Bartlett hop on a trainer. After analyzing her for some time, it's time to tape sensors at key points of the body to take precise measurements using Koch's state-of-the-art cameras and computer systems. Koch turns on a fan, putting Bartlett in a temporary Beyonce mode and watches her cadence. 

4. Turning into a stick figure

This point of the fit is probably the coolest. In less than 20 seconds, Koch has a digital reading of Bartlett's degrees of measurements and range on her bike using motion capture sensors. What he found was that she was simply too far forward on the bicycle, causing her hand pain. Bartlett was essentially holding herself from falling over her bike.

"You want to distribute the weight all over your body and you want your elbows to bend and your torso to do most of the work since it's stronger," explained Koch. 

5. Making Adjustments

Now that Koch has a point of reference for measurements, he begins adjusting Bartlett's bike components accordingly. He explains the correlation between certain measurements. For instance, if a cyclist needs his/her seat lowered, then the seat then must also be pushed back in order to properly distribute body weight and prevent injury in the process.

6. Testing, Triangules and Planes

After another quick digital reading, Koch then compares the initial first readings to the current data. He analyzes the difference in degrees and adjusts accordingly if needed. Koch then sends Bartlett for a quick ride outside to test out the new adjustments on a more realistic course other than the trainer. 

Bartlett gives Koch the green light after riding the newly fitted bike. They head back inside to conduct the final step of the fit: triangulation and finding the plane of the bicycle.

Essentially all these words are fancy talk for even more measurements. To triangulate a bike essentially means running a tool around the entire bike to provide the client with specifications on the frame stack and reach of the bicycle. After Koch begins this process, the bike's outline appears digitally on his screen, allowing him to find the plane, or the most symmetric point of the bike. 

7. Complete!

After Koch completes triangulating the bike and finding the plane, he compiles the data and gives it to Bartlett for her to access. His findings show that she needs a longer stem, though he advises her to come back for a follow-up after she makes the purchase. After over two hours adjusting, riding and shifting, the bike fit is complete. 

Bike fitting may seem like an unnecessary expense, but, it is certainly an investment worth making. It makes a racer more productive as well as comfortable. Most importantly, bike fits allow you to index the bicycle measurements that work best for your body. According to Koch, your instinct is still one of the best bike fit tools around.

Nate Koch can be found at Long Beach Bike Fit by Ero Sports. Book your appointment at www.ero-sports.com.

Best last-minute gifts under $150 for cyclists

It’s crunch time for Christmas gifts, and if you’re a major procrastinator, don’t fret, there’s still time. We spoke to three local bike shops scattered around Los Angeles, and here’s what they recommend you purchase:

Photo Courtesy: http://www.kryptonitelock.com/

Photo Courtesy: http://www.kryptonitelock.com/

Tony Zaldua, Mike’s Bike Shop:

Tony suggested a wide variety of things, including, energy bars, gels, tools, jackets and lights. This close to the end of the holiday season, however, he recommends you stick to the basics.

Kryptonite Keeper Lock, $100

Nobody wants to be featured on a Bike Index Instagram post after they get their bike stolen. Help protect the investment of the bike lover in your life by giving them this sturdy lock.

Pedro’s 6-pack Bike Chain tool, $20

Zaldua recommends this small and handy tool for an affordable and practical gift. This tool provides six functions, including a 5mm hex key, flat blade screwdriver, chain tool and 3.2-3.5 spoke wrenches.

Gator Skin and Super Sport Tires, $35-49.95

Although it may seem obvious, this is the most fool-proof gift there is for a cyclist. Tires will never be turned down by a friend that hits long miles on the pavement or velodrome. Just make sure to know the tire size!

You can find all of Zaldua’s recommendations at:

Mike’s Bike Shop, located at 8812 W. Pico Blvd #214, Los Angeles CA, 90035


Photo Courtesy: http://orange20bikes.com/

Photo Courtesyhttp://orange20bikes.com/

T.J. Flexer, Orange 20 Bike Shop:

The owner of this friendly shop located just outside of Silverlake doesn’t recommend you purchase a gift without taking the cyclist in the store. According to Flexer, most people end up purchasing things that the cyclist already has in their inventory. However, here are some practical gifts that the shopkeeper recommends:

Light and motion series set, $40-150

“I typically carry a spare of these lights, but I cannot get enough of these,” said Flexer. These sets, sold individually or in sets are reminiscent of mini flashlights that just look really cool. They are easy to mount and are USB rechargeable.

Orange 20 socks and water bottles, $8-20

Flexer says that you really can’t go wrong with these accessories. In fact, “these are some of the best things that people can agree on and justify,” said Flexer. Who doesn’t want an extra bottle or socks for a rainy day? Plus, you’re helping out a small business and their brand. Win-win.

You can find all of Flexer’s recommendations at:

Orange 20 Bikes, located at 4314 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles CA, 90029.


Photo Courtesy: http://cygolite.com/

Photo Courtesy: http://cygolite.com/

Filiki Hachee, The Cog and Crank:

Much like Flexer and Zaldua, Filiki Hachee from the Cog and Crank recommends the essentials, or what he calls “common sellers.”

TImbuk2 Messenger Bag, $80

According to Hachee, this will do the job if the person you’re gifting needs a solid bag for commutes. They are in stock and begin at $80, which is relatively low for an urban-styled bike bag.

Cygo Lights, $30-100

“Everybody in the world needs a light,” said Hachee. All three of our recommenders seem to agree on one common item: lights. The Cog and Crank currently has these USB rechargeable sets in stock, which are also easy to install and will illuminate the darkest of roads for safety.

Cog and Crank Windbreakers, $150

For that one-of-a-kind gift, splurge on a classic blue, white and yellow windbreaker for the cyclist that is bearing against this weird weather on their bike. Not only will you be supporting this local family-owned shop, but your friend or loved one will look great on those windy or rainy days.

You can find all of Hachee’s recommendations at:

Cog and Crank, located at 4250 Atlantic Ave, Long Beach CA, 90807

Breaking news: FUSAC will not partner with USAC this racing season

The news comes after a sanctioned fixed-gear racing series was set to take place in 2017

Founder Luis Suarez addresses crowd at FUSAC race. Photo by: Allaudin Hightower

Founder Luis Suarez addresses crowd at FUSAC race. Photo by: Allaudin Hightower

It looks like FUSAC will have to delay hosting sanctioned races a little while longer.

Moments ago, SoCal Fixed Gear Series (FUSAC) founder Luis Suarez published a video explaining that his racing organization would not be teaming up with California Bicycle Racing (CBR), which hosts a number of road races in Southern California. Suarez noted the reason for the split was due to high fees.

 

“It wasn’t really anything against CBR or Jeff [Prinz]. It really was more the USAC guidelines and regulations that prevent certain things from happening,” said Suarez.

The difference in price for a racer is significantly different from a road and a fixed-gear race. USAC currently charges a yearly fee of about $70, on top of a $35 pre-registration fee for each race. In comparison, FUSAC costs only $10, making it a viable option to younger cyclists that might be new to racing and simply want to give it a try.  

The difference in price is a give-and-take, as USAC offers closed roads, insurance, portable restrooms and police officers during each race. FUSAC races are completely unsanctioned but draw noticeably larger crowds due to the lower costs and grassroots feel of it all. However, USAC could desperately use the fixed-gear race entries, especially with registration dropping 30 percent last season alone. FUSAC, on the other hand, had a larger women’s field than USAC, and an average of 70-80 men each race. At its peak, OC Brakeless’ Comeback Crit had a total of 153 registrants.

Racers have voiced different opinions regarding sanctioned races in the past. While some welcome the thought of more platforms to race, others worry that USAC is far too expensive and doesn’t align well with fixed-gear culture. Suarez assures that he has the best interest of the entire community as a whole, and not an elite few, in mind. FUSAC’s largest entrants are still the younger, non-elite riders, who race in every event despite getting pulled after only a couple of minutes.

“Please understand that what we decide and wherever we go with this series we have you guys in mind; not just the elite, not just the fast, but every single one of you,” said Suarez.

Suarez also announced that there would be a new format to the existing series. There will still be two races, one for elite men, one for women and but a third category, called “attack,” will give points to the bottom half of the men’s racers. The highest finishing attack rider will receive 1st place in a separate podium. In this scenario, a cyclist that finishes 30th place in the regular elite men’s race could potentially take 1st in the “attack” category. The idea is to give those men that get pulled from races early on an opportunity to taste a craft beer on the Fixed Gear Beer Crew, the organization that puts together expansive podiums for the series.

“We want to celebrate those riders and give them the chance to be recognized for their hard work and passion for the sport,” said Suarez.

Despite the rupture with USAC this season, Suarez is still hopeful for a sanctioned and successful FUSAC in the future.

“We can find our own private locations, insurance and give great prize money out to the podium. It’s all a matter of timing and execution,” said Suarez. “I don’t want us to just rush it just because the idea of sanctioned races sounds good. The community as a whole has to back what we are doing the same way they have this past year. We are all in this together and I think that’s why this is supported so well. It’s “for the kids, by the kids.””




King of Turnbull: The biggest little race in whittier

Last Saturday's King of Turnbull in Whittier turned out to be the "biggest little race" in the Southland. 

Despite a lower turnout than last year, dozens of cyclists rose early to meet up in Whittier's Central Park to race climbs and descends on rough terrain at the Turnbull Canyon. 

First place fixed-gear went to Hunter Grove, second place went to GLK's Kenan Guneil and third place went to Cesar Valenzuela of Zero Miedo. Men's road first place went to Seth Britton. Women's fixed-gear winners included Evelyn Delgado in first, Natalie in second and Ana of SWAT in third. Women's road category winners included Elaina Alvarez, Kelly Blake and Liya K. 

Each of the winners received a plethora of gift baskets, including kits, equipment and shirts from the endless GLK sponsors. First place winner Grove said he would be giving his brand new hand painted frame to his girlfriend as a gift. 

The elevation of each of the four climbs often surpassed the 500 foot mark for over one-mile at a time. After each climb, the cyclists were allowed a short break, only to be stopped by the megaphone and motorcycle revving of the organizers. 

At one point of the race police began to clear out pedestrian supporters, claiming that their lives were in danger due to the oncoming cars on the terrain. At one point, the police presence forced the finish line of the third climb to be moved up to a more dangerous stop sign, where cyclists could blow the complete stop due to the fast velocities. The finish was originally a safer 30 meters before the stop sign, allowing cyclists more time to decelerate. 

Despite the 15 mph speed limit for automobiles and various miscellaneous hikers and runners in the area, police eventually cleared out the organizers and bystanders off the Canyon. This forced the organizers to hold the last climb on the infamous Greenleaf street, a short but steep distance difficult to maneuver on any bike, but more so on a fixed-gear bicycle. 

The ending ceremony took place at Central Park, where even CycleFeed's own Allaudin Hightower turned out a winner, winning a beautiful turquoise blue frame in a raffle.