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What Neurosis You Running?

Posted by on May 15, 2017
Wondering what's going on in New York City these days?  Well head on over to the Bike Forecast where you can learn all about what this guy thinks about bike lanes:

Spoiler alert: he does not like them because his logic is as fuzzy as his mutton chops.

Anyway, this past Friday I operated a bicycle with those curved-type handlebars they use in the Tour de France over a variety of road surfaces:

I even ventured onto the secret mountain bike trails I can't tell you about because it's a secret:

As you can see, the deer was nonplussed:

The bike I usually choose for these sorts of rides is my Milwaukee, now in summer mode with no fenders and plumpish tires:

Note the fetching tool roll, by the way:

(A tool roll for a rolling tool.)

Indeed, between the Cambium, the chubby Paselas, and the rubbery bar tape I bought on a whim and ended up really liking I daresay I was almost too comfortable:

It goes against all reasoning that a bicycle without any misshapen crabon or cutting-edge decoupling devices could still offer such a pleasant ride, but the scranus knows what the scranus knows.

Also noteworthy is that somehow I managed to arrive at the appropriate tire pressure with a minimum of fuss, which is not the way it's supposed to work.  In fact, based on what you read in cycling magazines and websites it seems as though inflating your tire should an incredibly delicate process that lies somewhere between baking cream puffs and defusing a bomb in terms of sheer meticulousness required:

When you sit on a bike, your tyres compress. If they compress too much, they’ll writhe and squirm on the rims, making the bike harder to control, increasing rolling resistance and putting you at risk of pinch punctures. If they doesn’t compress enough, the ride will be harsh and there will be so little rubber on the road that grip will be reduced.

Somewhere in between those extremes, there must be an ideal compromise. How do you find it?

I dunno, inflate your tires until they're not squirmy anymore?  Am I missing something?  Apparently so:

Engineer Frank Berto, who investigated this issue for Bicycling magazine back in the late 1980s, came up with a formula based on the weight on each tyre (link is external); he reckoned that the happy medium involved a tyre being compressed 15 percent of its height.

As a recreational and touring rider, Berto was probably more interested in comfort than speed, so this idea is controversial, because Berto recommends lower tyre pressures than most of us use.

Comfort more interesting than speed?  Silly recreational riders!  Don't they know putting up with unnecessary suffering is what makes you a "real" cyclist?  Always add at least 10psi for some gratuitous scranial pain, otherwise your Rapha-esque riding smirk might soften around the edges.

Anyway, here's the chart:

And here's how to determine "wheel load:"

To determine the right pressure, you’ll need to measure the load on each wheel. Put a bathroom scale under one wheel and enough wooden blocks, books or old magazines under the other to level the bike. Lean very lightly against a wall to steady yourself and sit in your normal position on the bike. Get someone else to read the scale for you. Repeat the process with the scale under the other wheel.

Though if you're really so concerned with finding the optimal tire pressure that you're willing to try the above, there's an even better method: find a dark room, lock your bike inside of it, and don't open it again until you've gotten a freaking life.

Plus, it's only a matter of time before some Fred cracks his skull open on the toilet while trying to weigh his bike in the bathroom.

And of course you'll need an accurate gauge:

To set your tyre pressure right you’ll need a pressure gauge. Track pumps usually have one built in, but they’re often not very accurate, especially if the pump is a bit old and has been kicked around the workshop floor.

Though the truth is that if you always use the same pump the gauge only needs to be relative to itself.  I haven't even looked at the numbers on my pump gauge in years, I just know generally which angle the needle should be pointing depending on which tires I'm inflating.

Then again I clearly don't know how to ride bicycles.

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