Friday, January 30, 2009

On the trainer with Masiguy

Masiguy puts his Speciale Fixed on the rollers and finds the smoothness of the pedal stroke. Ah, to live in San Diego -- during a week when some of us found ourselves snowbound in our driveways, Masiguy set up his trainer in his.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Century Cycles is "Best of the Best!"

Tooting-Our-Own-Horn Time: Kudos to Petch and the whole Medina crew for winning this award for the fourth straight year!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Shoveling our way in and out

We are open for now, but call if you plan to stop in today, as we probably won't be here much longer...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Have You Checked Your Chain Lately?

When you bring your bicycle into the shop for service, you may notice that we try to seat a small metal tool onto your chain. What we're doing is measuring the amount of wear in your bicycle's chain--and (indirectly) the wear on the cogs and chainrings.

Over time, as you ride your bicycle, the chain rollers and pins slowly wear down. As they wear, the chain actually gets a little bit longer, mainly because the holes in the rollers get ground open (bigger hole) and the pins get ground away (smaller pin). The rollers can be pulled apart further under tension because the metal is worn away. Cyclists often call this wear "chain stretch". The downside is that as the chain wears and elongates, it slowly wears down the rear cogs, chainrings, and rear derailleur tension pulleys as well. In short, failing to replace a worn chain gets rather expensive.

The bicycle tool companies have some really slick, cheap and easy to use gauges that measure how much chain wear is acceptable, and when it's time to start anew.

Here are three "chain checkers" as we call them. Top is a $10 Wipperman model, middle is the $12 Park Tool and bottom is a $38 Rohloff. I personally don't care for the flexy plastic Wipperman, so let's forget about it. The Rohloff is very nice, but about 3X the cost of the Park tool and isn't demonstrably any better. Winner is: Park CC-3 in a landslide financial decision.

The Park Tool CC-3 is likely the most commonly encountered. The Park and the Rohloff are
very similar and by far the easiest ones to use. Hook one end of the tool into any chain roller and try to seat the opposite end into the chain. The tool basically pushes the rollers apart to see how far they separate. If the tool will not go in at all, Perfect! Hooray! All is well in your chain's world. Now get out there and ride! If the tool will drop in on the .75% marking, it's time for just a new chain. Congrat's! You've ridden some miles and caught the wear at the ideal moment in time. If the tool drops on the 1% mark, things are going to cost some money. The chain and cassette are goners. Drivetrain parts need to be replaced as sets. A new chain alone will not seat properly on worn rear cogs. The chain will skip out of gear under load (think "big hill") and no amount of adjustment can put the metal back on the cogs.

Not all the parts need to be replaced if the wear measures at approx 1%. The chainrings up front live longer lives than rear cogs by virtue of their larger size and the fact that the chain wraps around more of the ring's circumference compared to the rear cog wrap. A bigger ring spreads the load over more teeth, thus less wear. About 1/3 of the total teeth on a rear cog engage the chain. That 15 tooth cog you ride the most? Gee, maybe 5 teeth holding. That 1% of wear didn't sound like much to me either. That's why it matters.

Keep the chain clean. Lube it often. Get--and use--a chain cleaner. The cleaners work incredibly well. All the drivetrain parts last longer if you clean the road or trail grime from the chain. It'll shift better, too. Finally add that $12 Park Tool chain checker to your tool arsenal. Try to drop it into your chain every month. It'll take you more time to find it than to use it. Replace the chain as soon as the .75% wear mark drops in. Used monthly, you can replace the chain several times before you need to replace the rear cassette gears. It's typical for a chain to last about 2,500 miles before it needs replaced. It'll go longer if kept clean and lubed. Lighter riders get more mileage, too. (Lucky!) Finally, keep in mind that there's some significant money to be saved with such a cheap tool. Last time I checked, those 9 and 10 speed cassettes weren't getting any cheaper. Surely I mentioned that the bike just plain works better when all the parts are within spec? And that's why you really use the tool.

Bike Lane To Go

This is another contender for the good idea/bad idea category, but I have to admit that personally, I'm still on the fence about this one. What do you think?
It's a lighting system that projects a moving bicycle lane down on the pavement around you. It's done with "laser" beams (make air quotes with fingers).

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Interviews with Giant BMX Pro Taj Mihelich

One of Giant’s newest Athlete Ambassadors is BMX pro Taj Mihelich. He’s featured in a couple of online interviews, where he talks about his new sponsor. You can read the interviews at BicycleUnion and BMXUnion.

Recently, Taj got a chance to ride the BMX Park at Giant’s corporate HQ with Giant pros Kurt Sorge, Heath Pinter, Chris Arriaga, and Jeff Lenosky. After discovering that his Giant Method Team suffered pinched brake cable housing somewhere in transit between Austin, TX, and LAX, Taj made a quick field repair and got back on course.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The three back pockets: What do you carry where?

This week's "Hot Deals for Cold Days" are on cycling jerseys, which got me thinking about the three back pockets on them -- and what to carry in them.

Alex Stieda, the first North American to wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France (with 7-Eleven in 1986), wrote about what he puts in which pocket in the November issue of Bicycling:

I carry extra gloves or a phone (in a zip-lock bag) in the left pocket and a tightly rolled vest or jacket in the middle one. Food goes in the right pocket -- because I'm right-handed, that's the easiest pocket for me to reach and thus the place where I stash items I'll use most often.

I asked Scott what he carries where. He says he usually doesn't carry too much. When he does, Clif Bloks or Gu packs are in the right pocket and perhaps a nylon jacket is in the middle pocket. He keeps his cell phone and spare inner tube in his seat bag.

So...what do you carry where??

Thursday, January 22, 2009

WABA-rama at Obama inauguration

Up for a little more Obama inauguration news, as it relates to bicycles? The League of American Bicyclists reports: "Thanks to the Washington Area Bicycle Association (WABA), over 2,000 bike riders were allowed to enjoy the 2009 Presidential Inauguration and all its crowded festivities while they knew their bikes were being watched in one of WABA's free Bike Valet parking lots (photo above). WABA provided two convenient bike valet stations in downtown D.C. that were manned by its staff and volunteers."

News release: Century Cycles Night Rides on the Towpath Trail start April 25

PENINSULA, OHIO (January 19, 2009) – Century Cycles kicks off its 14th year of Century Cycles Night Rides on the Towpath Trail on Saturday, April 25, 2009, helping northeast Ohioans experience one of their favorite bicycle paths in a whole new way – by moonlight.

Century Cycles Night Rides on the Towpath Trail are free group bicycle rides at night along the Towpath Trail in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Led and supported by Century Cycles staff, each moderately-paced ride is approximately 15-20 miles long and takes about two hours. Open to all skill levels, a Century Cycles Night Ride is a fun family outing, a unique date night, or a just a great bicycle ride with friends.

The 2009 schedule of Century Cycles Night Rides on the Towpath Trail is: Saturday, April 25; Saturday, May 16; Friday, June 5; Saturday, June 27; Friday, July 10; Saturday, July 25; Saturday, August 8; Friday, August 28; Saturday, September 19; and Friday, October 9.

All Century Cycles Night Rides begin at 8:00 p.m. Meet at Century Cycles’ Peninsula store (1621 Main Street, on Route 303 between Route 8 and I-271, next to the Winking Lizard Tavern). Parking is available at the Lock 29 Trailhead, just north of the store. Helmets and bike lights are required. Children 15 years old and younger must be accompanied by an adult.

For more information about Century Cycles Night Rides on the Towpath Trail, call Century Cycles in Peninsula at 330-657-2209. Online, please visit or e-mail

“After 14 years, Century Cycles Night Rides on the Towpath Trail are more popular than ever, with each ride averaging 75 – 100 people riding everything from tandems to mountain bikes,” says Scott Cowan, owner of Century Cycles. “It’s a thrill to help people discover the joys of riding a bicycle at night. I recommend folks plan to arrive early – to have plenty of time to get ready for the ride – and plan to leave late, since the group usually ends up at the Winking Lizard after the ride, trading stories of past cycling adventures.”

# # # #

Giant wins today's stage at the Tour Down Under!

Today in the third leg of the Tour Down Under, Rabobank’s Graeme Brown out-sprinted a field of more than 40 riders in the final charge to the finish of a wild and windy stage in Adelaide, Australia.  Riding the Giant TCR Advanced SL Team Bicycle, Brown survived fierce winds and a powerful breakaway—including 7-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong—to claim the victory and keep second place on the podium, with the same time as leader Allan Davis of Quick Step.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Giant Defy 1 gets rave reviews by Bicycling Magazine

Bicycling Magazine likes the Giant Defy 1 road bike, and Century Cycles is your source for Giant bicycles in the Cleveland and Akron area!
Featuring a cover shot and inside photo spread, the March 2009 issue calls the Defy 1 a "Smooth Saver." Highlights of the review include:
  • "Giant’s new road machine takes comfort and performance to new levels of affordability, with, top to bottom, dependable Shimano 105 parts, high-tech hydroformed tubes, and a solid FSA crankset."
  • "Giant’s Defy 1 is stable, even at speeds exceeding 50 MPH, thanks to the rock-solid frame and trustworthy geometry."

The Giant Defy 1 is IN STOCK now in our stores! Please call for size availability.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Welcome, President Obama, and welcome back, Lance!

Congratulations and good luck to our new President, Barack Obama!

Today also marks the official return of Lance Armstrong, who rode his first professional race today since winning his 7th Tour de France in July of 2005. Lance placed 120th in the first stage of the Tour Down Under. See this New York Times article for more discussion about his goals and aspirations for his comeback.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Steelyard Commons Towpath Trail brouhaha

An article in yesterday's Plain Dealer cites several negative opinions about the design of the new Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail segment through the Steelyard Commons shopping plaza. One critic compares the fenced-in section behind the plaza to a "cattle chute," while another points out the lack of trees and other greenery.

Personally, I think they do raise some valid points, but the first time I rode this trail, none of that occurred to me. I just reveled in the fact that a new trail connection had finally been finished, and I think it was a great example of the public-private partnership that is needed for more projects like this. I kind of sympathize with the developer in saying that it's a good example of how "no good deed goes unpunished."

We're talking about an area that was formerly a steel mill that is now a strip mall. It's not part of the National Park, nor a part of the Metroparks, so I was not expecting to see a lot of trees, greenery, deer scampering next to me, and bald eagles soaring overhead. They made some attempt, with the vintage machinery and interpretive displays, to incorporate the history of the area.

I could be pursuaded to agree with the critics about the safety of the fenced-in area. It does not give you a lot of bail-out room should there be a lot of trail traffic, or if you should happen to see any unsavory-looking human characters hanging out and waiting for you up ahead. I can see how the adjacent railroad has valid safety concerns, but the need to separate us from the truck traffic on the other side was probably a design decision made by the insurance company more so than anyone else.

That same section, when riding south, also just ends abruptly, and you have to walk through a short patch of grass and dirt, then hop off of a curb, in order to re-join the road. I realize that this was probably because this section will eventually be connected to an as-yet-uncompleted section that will connect to Harvard Road to the south, but they could have provided a more smooth temporary transition in the meantime.

When heading north from Harvard and Jennings roads, the connetion to the mid-plaza loop is seemless and well-designed, and provides good access to the stores and restaurants.

What do you think?

Volunteers needed for Stark County Park District


The Stark County Park District is seeking volunteers to join its Trailblazers group. The volunteers cover 60 miles of park trail, including 25 miles of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail.

To get an application and arrange an interview, contact volunteer coordinator Jennifer Martin at 330-477-3552 or go to Interviews will be conducted through Jan. 30.

Five training classes covering first aid, bicycle repair, park history and regulations, and communication skills will be offered on five dates in February and again in April. Volunteers are asked to work at least 32 hours a year.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cleveland bicycle messenger is the "go-to" guy for local weather

Since I'm always keeping an eye on cycling-related news in our region, I set up a Google Alert to let me know when the words "bicycle" and "cleveland" (among others) appear in new stories on the web. I didn't think very much of it the other day when a quote from Cleveland bicycle messenger Daniel Dominic showed up in a story about the recent cold weather snap we've been having. But then it showed up again the next day, and a few more times the day after that when the Associated Press picked it up.

A quick web search for "daniel dominic ohio" will show you many of these stories, including the Akron Beacon-Journal, Toledo Free Press, Fox 8 Cleveland, and WFMJ-21.

Daniel, if you're out there reading this, tell us what you're up to today, and more about your 15 minutes of fame!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Public meeting for new bike trail near Tallmadge

Here's a chance for citizens to make their opinions heard and help make a positive difference!

The Metroparks Serving Summit County is planning a new bike-hike trail in the Tallmadge area. The proposed new trail will be called the Freedom Secondary Trail, and will start at the Portage Hike and Bike Trail in Kent, connect to the Tallmadge Trail, and continue west to the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail. A possible spur will connect to the Metroparks Bike & Hike Trail in Munroe Falls.

A public meeting is being held on Thursday, January 22 from 5:00 to 7:00pm at the Tallmadge Community Center at 80 Community Drive, Tallmadge, Ohio 44278. The meeting will be an open house format, where visitors can see graphic displays, talk to park staff and consultants, and make comments. For more information about the meeting, call Park Engineer Paul Wilkinson at 330-865-8040 x210.

Even if you have no concerns about the trail, just showing up would be a great way to let local officials know that there is interest and support for these kinds of projects!

(This post was based on information found in an article by Stephanie Kist in the West Side Leader.)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

House Minority Leader Is Anti-Bicycle and Against People Who Walk

This has been making the rounds like wildfire via e-mail today; we figured we'd help pass it on...

Each year the bicycle/pedestrian community gathers in Washington, DC to share ideas and to speak with our Federal elected officials. A number of citizens from Ohio have made this trek and have tried for years to get an appointment with someone from Congressman John Boehner’s office. Neither the Congressman nor his staff has agreed to meet with their fellow Ohioans and constituents. Because he is the House Minority Leader, Representative Boehner is the second highest-ranking member of the U.S. Congress, and every American who walks or rides a bicycle is affected by his opinions.

On Sunday’s Meet the Press program, the Congressman’s anti-bicycle and anti-pedestrian stance became more public when he said “I think there’s a place for infrastructure. But what kind of infrastructure? Infrastructure to widen highways to ease congestion for American families? But if we’re talking about beautification projects or we’re talking about bike paths, Americans are not going to look very kindly on this.”

Apparently, the congressman believes urban sprawl is the answer. In his mind smog, pollution and asthma must be good things. In addition, he apparently:

  • Ignores the numerous studies documenting that the overwhelming majority of Americans favor more bike paths
  • Is ignorant of the obesity epidemic that causes diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and dozens of other chronic illnesses which are killing us and crippling our healthcare system
  • Does not understand that bicycling, walking, and other non-automobile methods are valid transportation for people
  • Cares nothing about the 33% of Americans who do not drive due to age, personal circumstances, physical impairment, or poverty
  • Is not aware of the significant economic benefit that walkable / bikeable neighborhoods create or that more people walking and biking foster safer, more vibrant communities
  • Fails to appreciate that the Cincinnati/Dayton area benefits from over 200 miles of multi-use paths that are shared by cyclists, walkers, joggers, families, seniors, and others
  • Is unaware that two of the country’s Top 100 bicycle retailers are located in Cincinnati/Dayton
  • Does not know that the Cincinnati/Dayton area is home of Ohio’s two largest bicycle clubs and numerous walking groups
  • Does not care that the Ohio Bicycle Federation is headquartered in Dayton

Whether you are a seasoned bicycle commuter who doesn’t use bike paths, or an occasional rider who is intimidated by riding on streets, anyone who rides a bicycle or walks should take issue with his comments, the insulting tone in his voice, and his anti-bicycle / anti-pedestrian stance. His stance endangers not just bike paths, but also other projects, such as crosswalk improvements, better signage, new striping and sharrows, education programs, bicycle parking improvements, and multi-use paths.

With massive transportation and roadway projects expected soon, we need to remind our elected officials that streets, transportation systems, and infrastructure should include ALL users, not only cars and trucks.

The most effective communication tool in this case is the fax machine (they are inundated by e-mails and sending regular mail can take weeks to clear security). You can send a detailed letter or you can send a simple handwritten note such as “I Bike and I Vote!”

Here are the congressman’s fax numbers:

  • 202-225-0704 (Washington, DC office)
  • 513-779-5315 (local office #1)
  • 937-339-1878 (local office #2)

To send a message to any other elected official, their contact info can be found on Please also consider forwarding this e-mail to people you care about who ride a bicycle or walk.

A cozy bike for a sub-zero day

Cykelparkering! Other post titles considered:
  • One less car, one more bald sheep.
  • Where the rubber -- er, yarn, -- meets the road.
  • How good is Derrick? He's such a good mechanic, he gave this bike a tune-up.
  • Leave it to the Swedes.
  • Envious of Rocky River's winter building projects, Medina decided to get crafty.
  • Um, Grandma? For Christmas I said I wanted a "kite kit," not a "bike knit."
  • Sweater shaver optional.
  • I know it's been a little slow at the stores, but this is ridiculous.
  • You should see the scarf!
  • Does this make me look fat?
  • Jag har inte slutfört något av allt det jag började på förra veckan.
(Thanks to wombatgrrl - via Christine - for the tip.)

National Day of Service at OCBC

This Monday, January 19th, as part of the National Day of Service for Martin Luther King day, you can do your part to promote bicycle safety education by helping the Ohio City Bicycle Co-op get ready for spring -- building shelves, sorting bike parts, lubricatling chains, and pumping tires. Mechanical ability is helpful, but not required: you can learn while you serve!

Besides honoring Dr. King's memory and helping to equip the co-op's bicycle safety education programs, your sweat equity will earn you volunteer credit toward lessons, shop-use membership, and refurbished bikes.

At least one hour of service is requested, anytime between 12:00 noon and 4:00pm. Orientation and training sessions will be held at 12:00 noon and 2:00pm. Work clothes are recommended. Gloves, all tools and supplies, and light snacks are provided.

Please sign up for the OCBC event here:

See a video from Michelle Obama about the National Day of Service here:

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Giant PreRunner LX Jog Stroller on Sale!

Take your infant or toddler along for the ride on your daily run with the Giant PreRunner LX Jog Stroller. We've got a limited number available at a special price while supplies last! Normally $374.99, we're offering them for $299.99!

Giant’s PreRunner LX Jog Stroller makes it easy to include your child in your active lifestyle. This lightweight stroller sports an aluminum frame, 20-inch wheels and smooth tires for easy rolling. The fleece padded shoulder straps and 5-point harness make this stroller safe and fun. Plus, the PreRunner folds and has quick-release wheels for easy portability and storage. And, there's even a parking brake for additional safety and convenience.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Our Latest eNewsletter

The January '09 edition of the monthly Century Cycles eNewsletter was shipped out in the wee hours of the morning today. If you didn't receive it, you can read it online here.

If you'd like to receive our eNewsletter and other e-mail updates in your Inbox, go to this page to sign up! We don't send out lots of spam, just our eNewsletter once a month, and occasional specials and announcements. If you ever change your mind, our un-subscribe process is easy, hassle-free, and immediate! And of course, we don't sell, rent, trade, or barter your e-mail address to anyone else, ever!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Staff Profile: Ken Hagedorn

For Rocky River staffer Ken Hagedorn, working at Century Cycles is a family affair. His sister, Kathy, is married to Derrick Kortvejesi, Peninsula's head mechanic, and it was Derrick who referred him for the job over 10 years ago. A classmate of Scott Cowan's, Ken is also a Class of 1978 alumni of Bay High School. He now lives in Rocky River, close to his aging parents.

Q. Even though you work at different stores, are there any disadvantages to working with your brother-in-law?

A. Believe me, they are all advantages, no disadvantages. I've always been into bikes, but I've learned more about bikes from Derrick than anybody else.

Q. What was your first bike?

A. I got a red and chrome tricycle when I was about two years old. I tried to stand on it, then fell over and split my chin open. Funny enough, my first two-wheeler was also red and chrome - a no-name brand I don't remember - and I split my chin open on that bike, too. I also had the Schwinn with a banana seat that a lot of boys had back then. When we were growing up, my brother and I rode our bikes everywhere with a pack of buddies.

Q. How many bikes do you currently own?

A. Five built, three or four in progress. All road bikes.

Q. What's your favorite bike?

A. My 1998 Bianchi Campione is what I like to ride the most, although I haven't been riding for the past two years due to an injury. I own fancier bikes, but the Campione is a classic and I have about 13,000 miles on it.

Q. What three words describe how you feel on a bike?

A. Rhythmic, relaxed, and - even though it's more than one word - enjoying the fresh air.

Q. What's your favorite ride?

A. My regular ride is a 20-mile loop that I can do before work. The most beautiful place to ride is on Chagrin River Road on the east side.

What do you like to do when you’re not working at Century Cycles or riding a bike?

Hunting, fly-fishing, shooting, learning to play guitar, and anything to do with music.

What do you like about working at Century Cycles?

It’s easy to sell something I love. Bicycles are personal and specific, not like some other products. And I love to see the look on little kids’ faces when they see their first two-wheeler.

What’s this I hear about a tattoo?

After 48 years, I figure “what the heck!” I’m thinking of putting a Fender Stratocaster on my bicep. We’ll see.

Has being a cancer survivor changed your outlook?

I try not to sweat the small stuff, although I’m better about it on some days than others. I have neuropathy in both hands and feet as a side effect of the chemotherapy. In the winter, I have to take extra measures to make sure they stay warm. Besides that, it’s not a worry or a daily concern.

What was your biggest accomplishment on a bike?

I rode 130 miles in one day and that was amazing. It was physically exhausting, but worth it. I still can’t believe I went that far on a bike.

What one piece of advice do you try to share with customers?

Easily 90% of the folks don’t know bicycle maintenance basics, through no fault of their own. When they bought the bicycle, nobody ever told them, and they don’t think they need to do anything to it. I try to tell everyone to lube the chain every 100 miles, put air in the tires at least once a week, and get regular yearly tune-ups. Those simple things will prevent a huge repair bill and also help a bike last for years and years.

TechTalk: What You Need to Know about Bottom Brackets

Like last month's TechTalk topic of headsets, the bottom bracket is another area of the bicycle that poses many mysteries, even for some experienced do-it-yourself'ers. A full discussion about about bottom brackets on its own could fill a book about the history of bikes, but here are a few basic facts to help give you a general understanding of what this component of the bicycle is all about.
The bottom bracket is mainly a small axle, or spindle, and set of bearings, along with the pieces that hold it all together. Your pedal crank arms are connected to either side of the bottom bracket, so this area is really where the rubber hits the road, so to speak, when it comes to transferring the energy from your leg muscles into the chain and gears of the bike.

Shown above, top-to-bottom: loose-bearing bottom bracket with square taper spindle, square taper cartridge bottom bracket, Shimano Octolink bottom bracket, Truvativ external bottom bracket cups.

The bottom bracket is situated inside the bottom bracket shell, which is the sort-of sideways cylindrically-shaped part of the bike frame at the bottom where the pedals connect. The inside of the bottom bracket shell is threaded, so that the pieces of the bottom bracket itself can be screwed into the frame. There are many different types of threading that have been used over the years, but the majority of bike frames manufactured and sold around the world today use English threading. The most important thing to know about English threading is that on the left-hand (non-drive) side of the bottom bracket shell, the threads are right-hand, or "normal" thread (i.e. "righty-tighty, left-loosey"), but the threads on the right-hand (drive) side of the frame are left-hand, or "reverse" thread.

Other thread types, mostly found on older frames, are Italian, French, Swiss, as well as some obscure others. The thread types differ in the size of the threads, and the direction of the threads on the drive side and non-drive side.

Many older bottom brackets use loose ball bearings, which are held in place with retainer rings. A bottom bracket overhaul is the process of disassembling the bottom bracket, cleaning all of the parts, cleaning the threads in the bottom bracket shell, cleaning the bearings (or replacing them, if necessary), then re-assembling the whole system. When assembled, the cups that hold the bearings in place must be tightened just right--tight enough, but not too tight--to provide the smoothest possible pedaling action.

As with most other bike components, a liberal amount of grease is spread on the threads before installing them. This prevents the threads from slipping out of adjustment, and prevents them from rusting and freezing up, making adjustments and removal easier in the future. Sometimes, the bottom bracket threads are also wrapped with teflon plumber's tape. This helps to create an even sturdier bond, as well as helps to eliminate knocking and grinding noises coming from your pedaling motion.

Most modern bottom brackets use cartridge bearing systems, which are usually a self-contained unit. Some cartridge bearings are sealed to help protect against water and other contaminants. These bottom brackets provide a less maintenance-intensive system, with a much longer lifespan. The overhaul process with this type of bottom bracket is somewhat simpler; sometimes the sealed bearings can be replaced, but usually the whole bottom bracket is replaced.

The primary distinguishing feature among most modern bottom brackets is the method by which the crank arms are attached to the spindle. Historically, as well as currently in many low-end to medium-quality bikes, the most common spindle is the square taper. On a square-taper bottom bracket, the ends of the spindle are shaped like a square with the corners somewhat rounded off, but the size of the square gets bigger as you move inward along the length of the spindle. The mounting holes for the crank arms have a hole with a similar square shape. The crank arms are simply pressed onto the spindle and held in place with a bolt; as the bolt is tightened, the crank arm gets tightened into place as the bolt wedges it further and further onto the thicker part of the spindle.

The advantages of the square taper system are that it is common, and therefore easy to find replacement parts, and relatively simple. The disadvantage to this system is that because the crank arms get wedged tightly onto the spindle, removing them for service can be difficult. After you remove the bolt, you must use a special crank arm remover tool to un-wedge the arm from the spindle. After this process is done over and over through the years, the mounting holes in the crank arms can get worn out, to the point that they can't be tightened enough to stay in place reliably on the spindle, so the crank arms must be replaced.

You should note that not all square-taper parts are interchangable, as there are some differences in spindle size and taper size among different manufacturers (e.g. Shimano vs. Campagnolo).

To improve on some of the deficiencies of the square taper design, Shimano designed a system that they called Octolink, where the ends of the spindle have 8 splines, and the inner edge of the crank arms have 8 corresponding grooves. There are two versions of Octolink, referred to as V1 and V2, which differed in the depth of the grooves between the splines. Shimano patented this design, and so not very many other manufacturers made parts that were interchangable with Shimano's system, as other manufacturers had to pay a royalty to Shimano to use their design.

To get around the Shimano patent issue, King Cycle Group, Race Face, and Truvativ got together and came up with their own splined bottom bracket design, and published the specifications as an open standard, so that anybody could produce parts that were interoperable with their design. They called their system the International Splined Interface Standard, or ISIS for short. ISIS uses a set of 10 splines on each end of the bottom bracket spindle.

Both Octolink and ISIS were popular with racers and other riders requiring high performance characteristics, as the increased diameter of the bottom bracket spindle provided a much stiffer, and therefore more efficient, interface. However, with the ISIS design, the increased diameter of the spindle required that the individual bearings be much smaller in order to fit them inside the bottom bracket shell. Because of the smaller bearings, the ISIS bottom brackets are prone to wear out much faster than the other designs.

To provide the stiffness advantages of Octolink and ISIS bottom brackets, and overcome the durability issues of ISIS, most major component manufacturers have come up with their own designs using external bearing bottom brackets. These designs have seemed to be very successful, and are now very common on many mid-range to high-end bicycles. They can be recognized by the knurled bearing compartments visible between the crank arms and bottom bracket shells. These systems are very easy to install, with only one special tool required to tighten or loosen the bottom brackets cups into the shell, and no special tools required for crank arm installation or removal.

Shown above: external bottom bracket as visible on the Raleigh Clubman bike.

Many purists dislike the external bottom bracket design purely for aesthetic reasons, while others view it as a stop-gap measure until a more robust long-term solution is available. One such solution is on the verge of acceptance, a design known as BB30. The BB30 design is already being used by a couple of high-end road bike manufacturers. The design uses a much larger standard diameter for the bottom bracket shell, giving bottom bracket and crankset designers much more flexibility in choosing spindle and bearing sizes. Also, there are no threads in the bottom bracket shell, which reduces the possibility that the frame can be ruined by an improperly installed or adjusted bottom bracket. The only apparent disadvantage to the BB30 design so far is just that it will take some time for frame manufacturers to embrace the standard, as they will have to re-design their frames to use the new BB30 shell design, re-tool their factories to produce the frames, and make difficult decisions about how much manufacturing time they should devote to producing the new frames versus the old frames, which will still be in demand for many years.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

"Flats Connections Plan" would add parks, trails on west bank site

A recent article posted by Steven Litt, Architecture Critic for the blog, outlines the latest plan to rehabilitate The Flats area near downtown Cleveland, including hiking and biking trails, and that elusive final stretch to the shore of Lake Erie for the Towpath Trail. Read the whole article here.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bicycles Built for Three

The Surly Bikes Blog recently referred to this article that appeared on the back cover of the December 2008 edition of Life Advice, the Met Life insurance company's newsletter. It's about a woman who traded in her minivan for a Surly Big Dummy bicycle. Don't worry about squinting to try to read the image below; scroll down to see where we've reproduced the text for you...

When author Sarah Sweedler decided to replace her minivan, she drew up a list of criteria for her next vehicle. Fuel economy and environmental friendliness ranked high, as did versatility. She needed something that could shuttle her two daughters to school and schlep groceries for a family of four. And having driven her ultra-practical family van for the past 11 years, she wanted her new ride to be fun. After kicking tons of tires, watching fuel prices and global warming soar while the economy plummeted, Sarah chose something practical, yet sporty--a Surly longboard bike. "This bike is totally versatile," Sarah says. "It's huge and sturdy. What I love most about it is that every errand fulfills multiple goals--fresh air, exercise and no more feeding the meters and dealing with parking tickets. It's great." Sarah points to bicycling's long history as a vital transportation mode in America. Whether racing, winding up mountains or cruising beach boardwalks, bikes have always metamorphisized to suit their environments. The longboard, funny-looking though it may be, is just one more incarnation. Besides helping Sarah increase her fitness and decrease her carbon footprint, the longboard supports Sarah in modeling healthy, admirable behavior for her children. "My kids are getting the message to get out in the world and move around because it feels really good. There's such beauty in riding a bike--the continuity of going somewhere, the sensory experience of seeing, feeling, smelling. I love the fact that you understand the landscape better. The whole gestalt of it is wonderful," Sarah says. Sarah's daughters, Sophia and Alex, enjoy the ride as much as Sarah; perhaps even more, since they don't have to peddle up the steep hills that characterize the Bay Area. "My girls are always telling me we don't need a car. They think the bike is a hoot." Riding a bike as part of daily life, rather than strictly for exercise, is deepening Sarah's relationships with her children, the environment and her community. "When I pull up to a stoplight, people talk to me. I'm not hiding out in a metal box," Sarah says. Since much of Sarah's riding takes place in city traffic, she's forced to pay attention to her surroundings in a way she rarely managed when driving the minivan. "Bike riding is very meditative," she says. "Being totally present is part of the joy. When it comes to this bike, there is absolutely no downside." If you're thinking of emulating Sarah, take care to follow her safety tips. Always wear a helmet and make sure your kids always wear theirs. Ride defensively--never assume that motorized vehicles with which you share the road will look out for you. Stop for red lights, stop signs and pedestrians. Whenever possible, choose the least trafficked routes. Equip your bike with a horn and wear a whistle. Always stay alert.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Park Tool celebrates 45 years

I'm not firing on all cylinders yet this morning, so while waiting for Derrick's Death by Coffee to warm me up, I was perusing the latest issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. I saw a short blurb about Park Tool celebrating its 45th anniversary this past year, and thought it might be of some interest to some of our blog readers.

Park Tool got its start when Howard Hawkins and Art Engstrom, owners of the Hazel Park Schwinn store in St. Paul, Minnesota, realized that there were not enough bike-specific tools to make their repair jobs easier, and so took their business in a new direction. One of the first products they created was a stand that held a bike up off of the ground to make it easier for mechanics to reach any part of the bike. This product led to today's version of the popular bike workstands that are found in our shops, as well as just about every bike shop around.

Park Tool has become the de facto standard in the bike industry for reliable tools, kind of the equivalent of Craftsman Tools that you'd find in the average home garage or auto shop. They are what we use in our repair shops, and the first that we recommend for anyone looking to do their own bike repair at home.

Park Tool is still based in St. Paul, and is still a family-owned business, with Howard Hawkins' son Eric now in charge. Over 80% of their products are made here in the good ole' U.S. of A! You can read more about them at, and peruse their products that we either carry in stock or can order from our Special-Order Catalog.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Lure of the Open Road

The Lure of the Open Road is an unlikely tale of a World War II-era bicycle trip taken by Thelma Popp Jones and her best friend Doris Roy Gibson. The two young college graduates left their New York state homes and traveled around the Eastern US and Midwest, an experience that forever changed their lives. Thanks to Brent in the Peninsula store for the link!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Medina Bike Club and Century Cycles Team Up

The Medina County Bicycle Club has offered a new service on their website called "Ask the Mechanic." Don, our Medina Service Manager is fielding questions from Medina County Bicycle Club members and visitors to the website. Century Cycles Medina is proud to be able to offer this service to Medina Bike Club, and if you have any questions about your bike and are looking for a convenient, easy forum to get those questions answered, head on over here and ask Don!

Giant Anthem X2 Wins Mountain Biking UK Challenge!

Mountain Biking UK, the best-selling cycling magazine in the United Kingdom, has done a trail test of four bikes for its January 2009 issue, and the Giant Anthem X2 wins hands down! In a head-to-head-to-head-to-head challenge against the Specialized FSR XC Pro, the Kona One20 Primo, and the Trek Fuel EX7, the Anthem X2 is the clear winner. The editors say many nice things, like this:

"There's one bike here that is truly outstanding...Giant's Anthem X2 blew us away. Superb composure and trail connection from only 100mm of travel and rocket ship responsiveness from the super light frame make this a must have for anyone who measures their rides in tens of miles."

You can click here to read the full review article from Mountain Biking UK (PDF file, requires Adobe Reader software).

We've got one Giant Anthem X2 coming on a special-order for one of our customers in Medina, but we do have in stock a few of the Anthem X2's more economical brother, the Giant Anthem X3! So stop by for a test ride!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A life defined: Gary Fisher

"In 1974, I blacksmithed the now famous klunker from scavenged objects. Then I started to hear that high form of recognition: 'You can't do that,' and 'It won't work.' I knew I was onto something big." -- Gary Fisher, pioneer mountain-bike builder
I saw that quote in an Adventure Cycling eNewsletter last month and it's a reminder that, like so many successful visionaries, Fisher had to overcome the naysayers. But that's in the past. What about the future? Here's Fisher's inspiring vision:
Somebody asked me the other day why I spend so much time doing bike stuff. The question caught me off guard. My first response was that bikes are as good a pursuit as just about anything else I can think of. Then I realized something else: it's not really about bikes. I mean, it is. But. It's about being outside, it's about communing with something big, it's about meeting people. Bikes are forward momentum. They are machines with inherently positive motives. I like that. Always have. Not going to stop any time soon.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Don't trust the bungee, part deaux

My post from last summer about finding bungee cords on the side of the road, was for some reason, one of our most-viewed blog posts of all time. So, I figure people must be interested in hearing about bungee cords, so here's an exciting update.

During my rides to work just since the beginning of this year, I found both the record largest and record smallest bungee cords of all time! These were found along Rt 91 between Hudson and Twinsburg, apparently a popular bungee-cord hangout spot.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Links in the chain: The bicycle as truth

This image and "the bicycle as truth" are the inspiration for a terrific New Year's Day post from a blogger devoted to bicycle advocacy in high heels. -- Copenhagen Cycling Chic
A good explanation of the most important mountain bike news EVER in northeast Ohio. -- CAMBA
Bicyclists welcome at Obama's inauguration January 20. -- Bike Radar
50 states. 100 bike blogs. -- 100KM
Ride a bike through Shanghai with model Elyse Sewell. -- YouTube

Winter Hours Begin This Week in Peninsula

PLEASE NOTE: Beginning Monday, January 5, 2009, we will begin our Winter Hours of Operation in the Peninsula store. The hours are:

Monday through Thursday: 10:00am - 6:00pm
Friday and Saturday: 10:00am - 5:00 pm
Sunday: 12:00pm - 5:00pm

Hours in Medina and Rocky River are unchanged:

Monday through Thursday: 10:00am - 8:00pm
Friday and Saturday: 10:00am - 5:00pm
Sunday: 12:00pm - 5:00pm

As always, you can find our currently-in-effect hours of operation at

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Product Review: Axiom Odyssee Full Suspension Rack

For the average cyclist, a rack is a rack is a rack. However, I've done enough touring and commuting to become somewhat of a "rack geek," and my favorite new product of the year is the rack that I've just installed on my winter commuter bike. It's not technically a "new" product, just new to me.

Just about any rear rack can be set up on a standard road touring bike without any issues. However, a mountain bike with disc brakes throws a monkey wrench into the works. There are a couple of disc-specific rear racks available that we've carried in our stores, like the Axiom Journey Disc and the Topeak Explorer MTX Disc. These are decent racks, and they use extensions on the lower mounting tabs to get around the disc brake mechanism. But, depeding on your frame geometry, they don't work 100% of the time, and they still require that your frame have rack mounting eyelets.

Enter the Axiom Odyssee Full Suspension Rack. The lower mounting points are attached to your rear wheel quick release skewer, and the upper mounting brackets are clamps that wrap around your seatstays. This makes the rack compatible with virtually any bike, from 24-inch to 700C wheels (I'm curious to test it out on my 29er). The only bike it won't work on is a full-suspension bike that has suspension pivots on the seatstays near your rear dropouts. Available by special-order for $46.99, and it comes with all the brackets, clamps, and hardware you need.

Here it is in action on my bike. As you can see, it works great with the Axiom Waterproof Panniers, as you would expect, and leaves plenty of clearance for my big feet.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Pics from the ABCDEFGHIJ Ride

The sub-freezing temperatures yesterday didn't prevent about 50 people from venturing to Medina for the Medina County Bicyle Club's annual ABCDEFGHIJ ride, a New Year's Day tradition for 33 years! Among the brave and hearty were our owner Scott and his girlfriend Jo, who can be seen in this pre-ride photo in the bottom-right:

And here out on the road on their tandem:

Our ace mechanic Don from the Medina store made it to the ride as well, although not in time for the group photo!