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Wheels.11

Bicycles and other non-motorized wheels

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{Wheels.11.11}: William Maloney {qajaq} Mon, 08 Mar 2004 22:16:16 CST (HTML)

Hah! Kitty, things have changed, believe me, in 20 years!

I have a (nominally) 24-speed bicycle, but that number comes from multiplying the 3 gears on the chainring (at the pedals) times the 8 gears on the cassette (at the back wheel). In reality, there's a tremendous amount of overlap in those combinations; and in practical terms, I have a 10-speed . . . all eight rear gears connected to the middle of the front gears (which is where I nearly always ride), then from the lowest of those combinations, I can drop down one more step on the chainring or, from the highest combination I can go up one step on the chainring.

When I bought the bicycle (it's a road bike), I had them swap out the standard chainring for a mountain-bike chainring for the lower gears. The kind of riding I do, I don't need those high-end speeds, but I do need all the help I can get on the steep hills.

On my previous bicycle, I used tires that were slick on the center and knobby on the sides. In straight-ahead riding, I'd have the low-resistance slick surface under me, and on corners I'd get some of the knobby into play. Sounds great in theory, but the only time I ever had the bike slide out from under me was on knobby tires--taking a corner too fast. Equipment cannot replace common sense.

I do recommend Kevlar-lined tires. When I was commuting to work on the bicycle, I got several flats from things as small as staples--just the little, skinny things you use in offices. But after I put on the Kevlar tires, I never had to change a tube again.

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