Bike Wheels

If you talk to an experienced cyclist about upgrading your bike, I’m fairly certain they would tell you that one of the most important things you can do is to change the wheels. The theory being that a lighter set of wheels will transform the way your bike rides and unlock new levels of performance. So, I thought we might take a closer look to see if wheels really are the best way to invest your money when upgrading your bike.

Rotation Weight

First, let’s discuss the most quoted reason behind the thought that wheels are the best upgrade for your bike: the effective rotating weight. The theory being that the rotating mass of your wheels has an effect three times greater than the equivalent static mass, meaning that saving 50 grams from your wheelset would be like saving 150 grams from your frame.

Unfortunately though, that’s only partly true, because rotating weight has no greater or lesser effect on the power that it takes to sustain a speed, even when climbing, than the equivalent static weight. That’s not to say that it has no effect at all – It does. Saving any weight at all from your bike will enable you to climb faster.


However, the greatest benefit from lighter weight comes when accelerating and decelerating. It takes less energy to get a lighter pair of wheels up to speed than a heavier pair, making them more responsive. So, from a standing start, I will save about 0.1 seconds by the time I get to 30 kilometers an hour. And that’s about an entire bike length.

It might not sound like much but it will certainly add up over the course of a three-hour ride. And in a race, it can be the difference between winning and losing.


You wouldn’t think that kind of minimal difference would be detectable out on the road. But even swapping out an already decent set of wheels with better ones can make a difference. Your bike will feel faster, climb well, and generally handle much better, but the difference might not be coming from the reduction in weight but actually from a significant improvement in aerodynamics.

You see, the wheels generally represent about 10% to 15% of your total aerodynamic drag, although it can be as little as 0% or as much as 20%. That might not sound like all that much, but if you swap out your wheels for a really aerodynamic pair, you might be able to reduce that figure by about 25%, meaning that your total aerodynamic drag would reduce by about 2% to 3%.

And that’s not to be sniffed at. Generally, aerodynamics will have an effect that’s much greater on your speed than weight, although the exact nature of your route or course will determine that. But if you combine the right set of wheels that are both lightweight and aerodynamic, then your bike is going to be significantly faster on just about any course.

Comparing to Other Upgrades

Clearly, though, we need to put this in the context of other upgrades you can make to your bike. First of all, I’m going to discount training aids like a power meter, because although these can make a huge difference, they rely on you putting the work in over a long period of time in order to actually make those gains, and ultimately make you faster.

I’m also going to discount a bike fit, because although those are undeniably a good investment for your cycling, it’s not exactly an upgrade. What about tires though? A well-chosen tire can save a good few watts of rolling resistance. In fact, the difference between a really good tire and a garbage tire can be as much as 20 watts at 40 kilometers an hour, and that’s per wheel.

Similarly, changing parts of your bike to increase your comfort is quite a good idea. So swapping your handlebars and saddle, even your seat post if you’re suffering on the bike, could be a worthwhile investment. But while it might help you get more out of yourself on the bike, it’s not actually making the bike itself go any faster.

Gears are a common upgrade, given that they wear out anyway and regularly need replacing. But it has to be said that (from my experience) there isn’t really any performance benefit when it comes to replacing gears with more expensive ones, when done on a component by component basis. But what is undeniably a performance upgrade is maintaining what you’ve already got.

So upgrading some of your hardware and replacing parts as-and-when needed will keep your bike running smoothly and efficiently, therefore making you faster.


But despite all of this, there is one last factor to take into consideration: aesthetics. Now, many of you will feel that making decisions based on aesthetics is silly. And technically speaking, that’s true, but I’m going to respectfully disagree. To me, aesthetics do matter.

Your bike may looks good with standard wheels, but replacing them makes the bike look seriously cool. I would be proud to open my garage to a bike that looks amazing. And that’s value to me should not be underestimated, because perceptions and emotions have very real bearing on performance.

Humans are emotional, and emotions affect performance. Feeling good is a great way to go faster.


So, are wheels the most important upgrade? Well, short of keeping on top of your bike maintenance (which really isn’t an upgrade at all), then yes, I think wheels do have the biggest bearing on the performance of your bike. Tires for rolling resistance, lightweight for lower inertia, and improved aerodynamics for outright speed. However, whether or not a set of wheels that cost more than your entire bike will make your bike perform better than a new and more expensive one is a matter for debate.


Can cycling really cause sexual dysfunction in men?

This topic has been increasingly discussed and debated in recent years, but studies do show that men who engange in prolonged bicycle riding without a proper saddle fit may be at risk of developing erectile dysfunction (ED), especially in older men. However, this risk is dependent upon several factors, such as weekly number of cycling hours, the cyclist’s weight and skill level, and the bike’s fit.

Erectile Dysfunction – What is it?

Erectile dysfunction (also referred to as “impotence”) is a condition marked by the continual inability to attain or keep an erection firm enough to engage in sexual intercourse. Normally, the cause for ED is health-related, such as heart disease, low testosterone levels, diabetes, atherosclerosis, nerological conditions and chronic alcohol consumption. Smoking, obesity, and an inactive lifestyle are the most common examples.

How Can Bicycles Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Besides the health conditions listed above, there can be physical causes for ED when damage occurs to the nerves, muscles, blood vessels or tissues associated with getting an erection. Long-term perineal pressure (the area between the anus and penis) caused by prolonged cycling in the same saddle position can create this type of damage and lead to temporary ED. However, if the underlying problem is not addressed the damage to penile tissues could become permanent.

Some of the factors which contribute to bicycle-related erectile dysfunction include the style of saddle used, the cyclist’s weight (more weight equals more perineal pressure), and how intense the cycling is. Cyclists who race tend to have a lower risk for developing this type of ED because so much of their body weight is distributed to the pedals, relieving much of the saddle pressure.

What Are the Symptoms of Bicycle ED?

Reduced blood flow to the perineum causes pain, numbness or tingling in the perineum long before men develop ED. If you don’t have problems with pain, numbness or tingling, stop worrying and enjoy your ride. If you do have pain, address the problem before it gets worse.

Some symptoms of constricted perineal bloodflow include pain, tingling or numbness. These signs will manifest well before any ED issues come along. Luckily, for those who do develop symptoms of bicyle erectile dysfunction, reversing the condition before permanent problems occur is not difficult. If you don’t have any of these symptoms, don’t worry about it and enjoy the ride. However, if you do experience any pain or numbness, take the necessary measures to correct it before things get worse.

How to Prevent ED From Cycling

If you’re a guy experiencing numbness, pain or discomfort while riding your bike, try using the tips below:

  • For longer rides, try standing on the pedals every so often to stretch the legs and allow bloodflow to return to normal.
  • Keep in mind to alternate your position often as you ride, by standing and shifting back or forward as necessary.
  • Make adjustments to the saddle in order to minimize pressure points.
  • Try using a “no-nose” seat, or a seat with a cut-out area to eliminate excess perineal pressure.
  • Ironically, seats with a too much padding can actually create more pressure and numbness; use something that’s on the firm side.
  • To avoid unnecessary pressure, remember to always tilt the saddle downward or level, not in an upward postition.
  • Raise the handlebars if necessary in order to prevent leaning forward too much.
  • Make sure to wear high-quality cylcing shorts with a good pad.
  • Position the seat just high enough so your knee is only slighty bent with the pedal

What Type of Bike Saddle to Use

Fortunately, there are more saddle designs and styles to choose from than ever before. One type available is a saddle with a cut out area in the middle which dramatically decreases pressure on the perineum and penile tissues. Studies have shown that this design is effective and many riders have found them to be superior in comfort when compared to traditional seats.

Other seats not only have a cut out middle section, but a nose which faces downward as well. Research has indicated that this design in particular seems to be best at reducing any restriction of penile bloodflow.

Other studies have also shown a benefit from using a wider saddle compared to a narrow one. According to computer analysis, the rider’s weight is more evenly distributed on a wider saddle, reducing more pressure on the perineal area relative to a narrower saddle.

By keeping a few of these guidelines in mind you’ll save yourself from any potential problems down the road and enjoy more comfortable riding, too.

For more information on erectile dysfunction, including male enhancement products and testosterone supplements, visit

Every so often, your bike will need a thorough cleaning. This includes putting your bike on a stand, degreasing the drivetrain and thoroughly cleaning everything.

Here’s a video showing how you can give your bike a deep cleaning, including how to degrease the drivetrain. It should only take you about half an hour to do, and will have your bike looking pretty much like new again.

A guy wrote to the me list saying he was giving up on riding long distance. Lets call him TOC, for “tired of centuries”. Hed ridden two 100 mile rides, finishing one in 8 hours and the other in 7:30. After each he was really tired.

Ahem. I wonder what it is like to ride that fast? I remembered my first century ride, the Salem Bicycle Clubs Watermelon Ride. It took 13 hours. That time did include a wrong turn for some bonus miles over a hill and into a headwind, running out of water with miles left before the final rest stop and then spending over an hour there. That was followed by eight miles or so straight into a 20mph headwind that had arrived in the afternoon. There was also more time spent lying on the grass in a city park, getting up the wherewithal to keep going. After that ride I was really tired. I was also happy that I hadnt taken a short cut to the end of the ride. Id gone the distance.

My initial response to TOC was to point out how quickly he’d ridden. Extremely fast for a first time century rider. Today I sent him another email. This one included more reasons for continuing with long rides.

A bit more on centuries. I rode 128.7 miles yesterday. It took 11:40 ride time and 13:19 wall time. Today Im disinclined to move. Maybe it was the 1000 foot climb from the Columbia Gorge to the plateau over the river. Maybe it was the additional 3000 feet needed to climb up to the unnamed summit on USFS road 23. Maybe it was the 600 foot climb out of the Lewis river. Probably not. I think the tiredness comes from the final climb, 1500 feet starting with over three miles at 7.5%.

Not much can compare to a well earned 26 mile 2780 foot descent.

The views of Mounts Adams, Hood and St. Helens were stunning. The wildflowers were beautiful. Riding in the shade of tall pines and firs refreshing.

None of this would have been possible had I given up after that first 13 hour century ride.

There was 7970 feet of elevation gain on that route. While climbing the last one, the 7.5% one, I contemplated which of my systems was giving out. The legs? The lungs? The will to push them to more discomforting efforts? That contemplation became moot when I crested the summit and started downhill. Frequent pulses of the brakes kept my speed down in the comfort zone for the initial switchback descent. Not fun to throw away the gained energy. Then I hit the straight stretches with very mild downgrade and kept the bike moving along at a brisk pace. This was much more to my liking. In retrospect the worst part of the final climb was thinking about its difficulty while doing it. Well, that and dropping my bike one of the times when I got off to walk.

As I wrote to TOC, none of this would have happened had I given up.


If you’re like most people, you know you should get a little more (maybe a lot more) exercise than what your current routine includes. The trouble is, many people have a hard time deciding what activity will give them the exercise they need without costing a fortune or leading to boredom. Forget that gym membership you will never use and don’t worry about buying just the right piece of fancy equipment. Get up, go out to the garage, and get out your old bicycle.

One of the best exercises you can find to get yourself out the door and moving is bike riding. Most of us learned how to ride when we were children, but when we discovered the joys and convenience of a driver’s license, many a great bike landed in the garage without a second thought. Today is the day to think again.

Cycling can be done anywhere– Whether you live in a city or out in the middle of nowhere, you can hop on a bike and be getting some quality exercise in minutes. Bike riding can help with your balance, give you a cardiovascular workout and add in some much-needed relaxation without much in the way of special equipment. While a helmet is a wise investment, you can wear any comfortable clothing and your tennis shoes and be on your way.

Biking is a terrific family exercise. Even the baby can join in by simply adding a carrier to the back of one of the adult’s bike. Many families regularly cycle together, enjoying the bonding time as well as the exercise.

For the truly adventurous, mountain biking can add a whole new element of fun and activity to this once routine sport. With the wider tires on a mountain bike, much more challenging terrain can be explored without the risk of injury. Mountain biking doesn’t need to involve mountains at all- it is perfectly acceptable to take your mountain bike on the same trails you used to hike on. Many communities are building mountain biking trails that offer plenty of challenging countryside at a variety of skill levels.

Whether you are mountain biking or road biking, you can easily step up your daily physical activity and enjoy the great outdoors on two wheels. Go on out to the garage- you know you left a bike out there- what are you waiting for? Get on your bike and ride.


Here are a few tips to make your rides much more pleasant and enjoyable:

  1. Signal your approach to pedestrians, especially if they’re old. A bell is better than “On your left!”. “Good Morning” or “Afternoon” or “Hello!” in your most friendly voice is even better. Old people, or boomers who busted their hearing with loud music might not hear the bell.
  2. At least once a year change something on your bike to jostle your complacency.
  3. If you ride with groups slip to the back and join the conversation there once in awhile.
  4. Set your bike computer so you can’t tell how fast you’re going. Use duct tape if necessary.
  5. Bark back at the dogs, moo at the cows.
  6. Count the critters on a ride.
  7. Listen for the wing beat of a bird as you ride alongside it.
  8. Sing like you’re in the shower, if you don’t sing in the shower use this as a chance to sing.
  9. Volunteer to ride with someone who doesn’t ride or doesn’t ride very often. Don’t tell them how to ride, just be there. Well, maybe remind them to stop at stop signs and the like.

You say that you are safe, and that you will notice, and stop for a little kid; but your keen observational skills missed 7 cops wearing safety yellow.

The speaker was a cop. He was speaking to a bicycle rider while writing a ticket for running a stop sign. The statement occurred during a recent sting operation in Portland’s Ladds Addition. The message, or the $242 ticket, got through to the rider. Since then he’s been “super careful” about stopping at all stop signs. This behavior has generated a couple of comments from pedestrians. As the rider tells the story “twice pedestrians have told me that I was one of a very select few that actually stopped to let them cross at a stop sign.” The comments from the pedestrians have caused the rider to wonder just how safe he used to be. He thought he was riding safely, giving pedestrians space as they deserve. Now that he’s actually stopping, he’s being told he’s riding safely.

Anyone commented on your riding lately?