- 1 Buying a bike
- 2 Accessories
- 3 Good cycle practices
- 4 Routes
- 5 Links
Buying a bike
This is a mish mash of comments from the redbrick boards on bicycles. Contributors include Gavin, Gliceas, Sandman
Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: cambo Thinking about getting a bike for cycling in and out of work. I've seen a few people here talking about cycleways.com on Parnell St. Are they the best place in town to get a bike ?
People tend to recommend cycleways on Parnell St when buying bicycles in town. They have a website, decent prices and are well located. Other places are cyclogical on the quays, Joe Dalys in Dundrum, and a bunch in Ranelagh, Rathmines, Georges St etc. Duff Cycles  in the Omni Park Shopping Center have always been pleasant, a few members have bought bikes there. Other might add more here.
When buying bicycles, there are three main types, road bikes, mountain bikes and hybrids. Roadbikes or 'Racers' are what ya see in the Tour de France. They go fast. You won't be reading this if you are looking to buy a roadbike.
Mountain bikes are what you had as a kid, typicaly heavy enough bikes, flat handle bars, reasonably upright posture when cycling them. Mountain bikes can come with front suspension (hard tail frame), front and rear suspension (full suspension) and no suspension.
Hybrid bikes are as you might think, a combination of the two above types. The posture of a hybrid is the same as a mountain bike, but the bikes tend to be lighter, thinner tyres and not have suspension. Or at least only have suspension on the saddle post. For cycling through town as the original question asked, I would recommend a hybrid bicycle with no suspension.
Suspension is somewhat debatable. I cycle a mountain bike with front suspension and thinish tyres. (1.5") I prefer to have a bit of suspension as the roads on my route can be cack and occasionally it's necessary to mount the kerb to go around traffic. However, suspension detracts from your speed, by absorbing some of the the downward force applied when pushing on the peddle. You might think, 'Well feck that, I won't be zooming around, the suspension will keep me comfortable' but after a few weeks of cycling, being able to go a bit faster can start to look quite appealing. A compromise is to ensure that the bicycle you can buy enables you to lock out the suspension. You still have the added weight of the heavy front forks, but the lack of suspension will result in a speed up. (I have aspirations of going mountain biking, which is why I stick with the mountain bike and don't get a hybrid)
Check as many bits as possible (pedals, pedal housing, brake/gear levels and so on) are rust-proof. Pedals should be sealed to prevent road gunk getting in and causing problems.
Basically, ask the sales guy:
"What's most likely to break first?" and "How much will it cost to fix?"
He'll tell you the brake / gear cables might need tuning after a few weeks on the road. Reply "yes, obviously, but apart from that ...?" :) Also, see will he throw in your first servcie (to tighten said cables) for free.
See is there a front chain guard to stop your trouser cuffs getting destroyed with oil :) Be prepared to tuck your trousers into your socks.
Most people put the bike on their house insurance. The house cover should go up to bikes worth 500euro, beyond that you might need to add the bike to the policy and pay more.
If you are renting, apparantly a crowd called http://www.123.ie will insure the house contents and your bicycle.
CyclingIreland provide bicycle insurance through http://cyclesure.ie/ which covers theft, accidents and more.
Bells are useful to have and in fact are a legal requirement. They can be slightly dangerous though. You shouldn't rely on a person getting out of the way when you ring your bell, they tend to ignore em. Always be ready to brake when going through an area with lots of pedestrians, don't worry so much about making sure they know they have inspired your ire by ringing your bell furiously.
An alternative to a bell is an air horn. These could be of more use than a bell as they are so loud. To be used only in an emergency though.
Lights & Reflectors
There are several requirements under law concerning lights & reflectors.
Legal requirements are:
- You are required at all times to have a rear reflector
- From "half an hour after sunset and ending half an hour before sunrise on the following morning" you must have a front and rear lamp. Flashing lights are actually not legal. http://www.citizensinformation.ie/categories/travel-and-recreation/vehicle-standards/lighting_of_bicycles_in_ireland
Broadly speaking, there are two types of bicycle lights. Those that allow you to see and those that allow you to be seen. For commuting through the city center, ones that allow you to be seen are usually enough. These are typically LED lights, running off AA or AAA batteries, usually with a flashing option. The other type of lights are for use on dark roads with no street lighting. These type of lights can be extremely expensive, come with their own powerpack. They are usually halogen, but increasingly more powerful LEDS are also being used.
The best approach is to have a set of lights on the bike which are non-flashing. Then, on your person/bag, put smaller flashing lights. These can help if you come off your bike at night. Non-flashing lights make it easier for drivers to gauge your speed/distance.
The best low range rear bicycle light is the Planet Bike Super Flash. http://ecom1.planetbike.com/3034.html
There are a range of decent front lights. The one I recommend for serious visibility on a budget is a Fenix L2D. http://fenix-store.com/product_info.php?products_id=195 This is actually a handheld torch, but with twofish lockblocks https://www.fenix-store.com/product_info.php?cPath=25_66&products_id=273 can be attached to a bicycle. This torch allows you to see on pitch black roads and be seen going through the city center. Get rechargable AA batteries, at least 2700mah.
There are alternative ones, as bright, available at dealextreme. Anything that uses a Cree LED is going to be bright. http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.7938 I haven't used these, so don't know how good they are. Substantially cheaper than the Fenix though.
For flashing lights, I found these lights bought them off ebay. It's a LED Band. It's not one of the green reflective strips with 4 dim red leds in it. They are quite bright, glowing reasonably well for the whole length of the band.
A number of people seem to make them, Nite-Ize, Polybrite and a korean crowd do knocks off called Twinkler.
I bought the Twinkler version off ebay from here http://stores.ebay.com/CycleJerseys-UK
The delivery price ain't fantastic, but at least it's quick. I bought an Amber one and a white one. The picture on the website is misleading for the white one though, it's actually multicoloured, Red, Green, Blue lights. Looks a bit odd, but highly visible.
I put the amber one on my ankle, it's easily spotted when cycling along. The other one goes on my arm. I found an american place on ebay selling the Nite-Ize ones a bit cheaper
Get a reflective, Hi-Vis jacket. If you're around DCU, head into Heitons up in Santry, a builders store with cheaper jackets.
In the rain
Get a light rain-jacket, and waterproof trousers. Waterproof boots help too.
You'll heat up in no time once you get going, so don't smother yourself with overcoats and whatnot. Wear a decent pair of gloves (I use padded ski gloves) as your hands tend to freeze when cycling in cold rain. Gloves are also handy in that they stop you getting cut when you skid off on wet, icy roads.
Basically, as long as you're wrapped up, cycling in the rain is no hassle. Just remember to allow extra stopping distance. Your brakes will be wet. And if you try to jam on, the whole bike will just shoot from under you :)
Disc brakes can be an advantage here if you are willing to fork (ho ho) out a bit of extra cash. They are superior to v-brakes in the wet.
I tend to not wear waterproof trousers as I end up sweating so much in em that I get just as wet as if I'd been rained on. Decent waterproof trousers may prevent this.
There is substantial debate as to the merits of helmets for cycling. I won't get into it particularly much. Whilst they may not safe your life, they can make certain falls less painful. All the stores mentioned at the top will stock em. Any helmet they sell will adhere to the safety regulations, the most important thing is to buy one that is comfortable on your noggin.
Pump and spare tubes
You will get a puncture at some point. With a bit of practice, fixing a puncture can be done fairly quickly. You will need bicycle levers (these are much more useful than forks or spoons) a spare tube and a pump. Rather than take the tube from the bike, fix it with a puncture repair kit, wait for the glue to dry and put it back in, the smarter bet is to just have a spare tube you can swap in. You can repair the burst one at home. This guy has a detailed description on how to handle punctures
An advantage of thinner tyres is that you can pump them up to a very high pressure, which reduces the likelihood of a puncture. There are also tyres with puncture prevention, these have kevlar lining on the side. Any decent bicycle shop will have them.
Keeping your bicycle
When Gavin replied to Kevin's post about getting a good bike lock he has helped loads of us keep our bikes safe. Here's the origional post as posted on redbrick.help
From: Gavin Newsgroups: redbrick.help Subject: Re: Bike Locks Date: Tue, 3 May 2005 21:58:47 +0000 (UTC) On Tue, 3 May 2005 Kevin wrote: > Hey, > > Anyone recommendations for a good bike lock, for securing a mountain bike? > > - Kevin
I did a lot of reading about this a few months ago. Have a look at http://www.sheldonbrown.com. He has lots of cycling articles and a good one on bicycle locks.
The end points were :
- Its all about pissing the thief off and making them look for an easier target.
- Use two different locks, the thief will need to carry two seperate pieces of equipment to nick the bike. I use a chain/padlock & Ulock. More on this.
- If you have a detachable front wheel, take it off and lock it to the back wheel. Lock it with the ulock, passing it through the rear triange and onto something immovable. The less space available in the lock, less room for leverage on behalf of the thief. Taking the wheel with you doesn't increase your security.
- Take your detachable saddle with you, or replace the quick release bolt with an alan key one. Someone will just nick your saddle and chuck it in a bin, cause they are scummers.
- Other obvious things. Park it in a public place, not in some secret location no one will ever find it. A secret location means a thief can spend their time working away on the locks without worrying about passers by. Lock it to an immovable object.
That's most of what I can remember. The lock I settled on was a rather large Abus Granit lock and chain for 90 euro. I bought it in The Great Outdoors, funnily enough. They have a reasonable bicycle accessories section in there. Last time I went in, they were out of that exact lock though. You could also head into a locksmith and ask for a boron alloy chain and good padlock. Something like a 13mm boron chain requires a hydraulic bolt cutter to get through it. The best padlocks are the ones that only have room for one link to be fit through. No space for a crowbar to get in there then.
My second lock is a fairly cheap combination ULock. If you get a Ulock, make sure it doesn't have a circle key. Google for Bic pen attacks ! The best Ulocks are Kryptonite ones. As above, make sure you get a flat key one. I see the New Yorker one mentioned a lot.
If you get a large chain & padlock, leave em at your target location.. I.e I leave mine locked to the bike rack in DCU, it's too heavy to be carrying it on my bike everyday. I have the ulock for quick tops. Also, never leave the padlock resting on the ground, you are leaving it open to getting whacked with a hammer. Wrap the chain good and tight about the frame and the 'immovable object'.
There are standards for locks, one of which is the SoldSecure label. http://www.soldsecure.com/Leisure.htm There is a very good youtube video showing that in fact the SoldSecure ratings are not as accurate as they claim to be. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VC3hFr8p2ck The second lock shown is the one mentioned above, that I bought from the Great Outdoors.
Apparently the more expensive Kryptonite locks can be bought on ebay, and are better value than from cycling shops.
That's around about it. In conclusion, get a Granit chain and a Ulock & don't ever lock your bicyle in the city center if you love it.
Good cycle practices
People might put in comments about cycling through town, what to do and what not to do. There are a number of books about cycling through urban locations, a google will find em.
Cyclists are not required to cycle near the kerb. This is a myth, perpetuated by society in general in order to keep motorised traffic moving as quickly as possible.
The rules of the road state "keep to the left", but this rule applies to motorised traffic as well; it means that all vehicles must stay as close to the left of the road as is safe to do so. Cycling to the left of the lane can be safe if the lane is wide enough to accommodate you and passing vehicles with sufficient space in between. However, in most cases, lanes are only designed to be for one vehicle.
Kerb <- 1m -> Cyclist <- 1.5m -> Motor Vehicle
When cycling through town, or for that fact anywhere, there are occasions when it is safest to move into the center of the lane. This is particularly the case when there is not enough room for a car to safely overtake you. By cycling in the middle of the lane, the car will not attempt it. If you are over beside kerb, they might.
Similarly if cycling along a line of parked cars, do not stay in close, give them the mandatory door length space between you and them.
If approaching a left turn, it might be best to enter into the main lane of traffic. This way cars turning left will not squash you as they turn. Indicate of course that you are moving into the main lane of traffic. I find that drivers invariably allow you in, if you indicate, as they are nervous of making you go spat. Also, moving into the main lane makes it easier for oncoming cars turning to their right to see you and also for cars emerging from the left turn ahead to see you. (this is also why a front light at night is important, so as oncoming turning cars can see you)
Trucks and HGVs are the primary killer of cyclists. The classic situation seems to be where a cyclist goes up the inside of a truck turning left. The driver can't see the cyclist and the cyclist is crushed. This site, http://www.movingtargetzine.com/forum/discussion/598/hgv-blind-spots-from-nozzer/, has an excellent description of blind spots and how to cycle around/near trucks.
Never trust motorists not to kill you. It is your responsibility to be assertive in order to keep them at bay.
You are no longer legally required to use any form of cycle lane or cycle infrastructure. Thus, it is up to you whether to use them or not, depending on your skill or experience. In many cases, it is safer to ignore them.
A mandatory cycle lane (solid white border) means that motorised traffic cannot drive or park in the lane. It does not mean that cyclists must use it.
There are a number of laws relating to the use of cycle lanes and cycling on the road in general. Theses are nicely presented at http://www.geocities.ws/cyclopath2001/legal.htm
As mentioned above disc brakes offer superior performance to V-Brakes, especially in wet weather. When braking, the various books and sites I've read advise using your front brakes first, not your back brakes. Front brakes offer much greater stopping force. To avoid going head over heels, don't jam on the brakes as hard as you can. If travelling particularly fast, shove your arse up and over the back of the seat, moving your weight over the back of the bike, this will prevent you flying forward.
Be particularly careful in wet weather, skidding on your front brakes is remarkably scary.
Check your brake pads regularly enough, if you head a scraping sound from em when you brake, make sure you change them quickly. You might have worn the pad away and the metal underneath is shredding your wheel rim to pieces.
Various Gurus differ on traffic lights. At a dangerous junction, where it is difficult for a cyclist to get in the correct lane, it can sometimes be safer to move out while the light is red so as to get ahead of the waiting cars.
In general I obey all junction traffic lights, but tend to go through pedestrian lights. This is illegal of course, you are required to obey all lights. A number of traffic light junctions (in Dublin anyway) now have cyclist zones in front of the traffic that lets you be in front of where cars are (supposed to) stop, these let you legally be ahead of the traffic.
Wheelies are extremely cool and must be performed in front of lots of people for the best effect. To achieve wheelie perfection, one must practise on a green area. Concrete areas can result in broken arses. To capture your wheelie fame for all to behold, ensure that you have a friend along with some sort of camera shooting skills. Perform wheelie, record result and bask in adulation. This may in fact not be a good cycle practise.
Getting to and from DCU from various locations can be easier and safer by going via certain routes. A map showing routes and times around Dublin in general is available at http://273k.net/cycling/googlemaps_times.html created by and copyright of Robert Fitzsimons.
Another good link is http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/ Its very handy for route planning and figuring out your distances in advance. Yahoo Maps now has updated maps of dublin, and it's route planner can do a similar service.
DCU into the City Center (O'Connell Street)
- Leave via the Ballymun Road entrance, and go down the Ballymun Road.
- At the junction of Griffith Avenue and Ballymun road, go straight on. If the traffic is stopped at this point, move into the righthand lane, out of the cycle lane, otherwise when the lights change you will get stuck on the inside of car or buses turning left.
- Go straight on, down Mobhi Hill, and move back into the cycle lane, keep an eye on the left behind you, cars don't turn to the left sometimes and can surprise you.
- Go past HomeFarm road and down to the bottom of Mobhi Hill. At the bottom turn left onto Botanic Ave.
- Go all the way up Botanic road to the junction with upper Drumcondra road, staying in the middle in most places, as there is not enough room for cars to overtake, if there are oncoming cars.
- Get to the top of the queue, if the traffic lights are red. If you saw the lights turn red, then cross the road onto the path at Fagans and press for the pedestrian crossing. Cross the road when the green man arrives. This way you can get ahead of all the cars
- When on Drumcondra road, go to the left onto a slip road at the public toilets, this leads you onto a shared cycle path/footpath facility. Go to the end of this path, right up to the junction and back onto the main road.
- Stay in the bus lane and zoom along this road, making sure to move out occasionally when the road turns to the left, to ensure you don't get squashed.
- Turn left onto Parnell Square, go straight on and you are on O' Connell St.
- Stop somewhere for icecream after securely locking your bicycle.
Dundrum to DCU
For getting from Dundrum to DCU my route is
Dundrum -> Clonskeagh -> Ranelagh -> Canal -> Camden St -> Georges St -> Dame St -> Westmoreland St -> O Connell St -> Parnell St -> Nt Gt Neorges St -> MountJoy Square -> Belvedere Rd -> Dorset St -> Drumcondra -> Collins Avenue -> DCU From Dundrum to Dame St and from Drumcondra to DCU there are reasonable cycle lanes.
City Center to BlackRock/Dun Laoghaire
Head out through Pearse St. & Grand Canal Dock, Over the canal and follow road round to the right. Take the left before "the big red pub" onto Pembroke st. out onto the beach road and straight along the strand road to merrion gates (Road crosses the dart line). From Merrion gates, theres a cycle lane until booterstown station, and then enter the park on the left... theres about a mile and a half of cycle lanes in the park away from the traffic. Exit the park in the SE corner and take the back path behind Blackrock station and then follow the road up into the town center. From there its a pretty much straight run down the coast road (by Seapoint, Salthill & Monkstown) to Dun Laoghaire.
Rathfarnham to City Centre
This way avoids alot of traffic lights and also alot of the heavy traffic on the canal. Sorry for the lack of roadnames, I'll update as I get to know more of them. From Rathfarnham, cycle past the river and up into Terenure. In Terenure take the right hand turn to go towards Rathgar (this is officially a No Right Turn but I've never had any trouble doing it). At Rathgar, take the road to the right of the Church. Keep cycling straight until you reach the first set of traffic lights and take the slip road to the left. Cycle on this road until you reach the shops. About halfway along the shops, there's a right hand turn. Go down this road and at the end of this road there should be a Church. Go around the Church and straight on until you reach the traffic lights. At the lights turn left onto Palmerston Road and keep straight until you reach the next lights. At these lights, turn right and this will bring you into Ranelagh. In Ranelagh, turn left at the traffic lights and head out of Ranelagh. Shortly after Ranelagh there's a right turn onto Northbrook Road, go down this road and this will take you onto Dartmouth Square. Go around this and this will bring you onto Leeson St Upper. Cycle down Lesson St and into the City Centre.
http://www.chainreactioncycles.com - Northern Ireland, free delivery , decent enough.
http://ontrackdublin.com/ - Fixed gear and track specialists, Cook St.
http://www.cyclesuperstore.ie - Ireland
http://www.cycleways.com - Ireland
News & General
http://www.irishcycling.com -Irish news
http://www.cyclingnews.com - World News
http://www.mtbr.com/reviews/ - all your MTB products & bikes reviewed
D.I.Y Repair & Maintenance Tips
http://www.sheldonbrown.com - Plenty of good advice on this site. Ignore the dodgy design and scary photos.
Groups & Activists
http://www.MTBIreland.com - MTB Ireland, forums here as well.
http://home.connect.ie/dcc/ - Dublin Cycling Campaign
http://www.madmtb.com - Mountain Biking Association of Dublin, based in Rathfarnham