Innovative Energy Engineering



Bicycles

This site focusses on modern bicycles and modern technology. Many opinions exist about specific technologies and methods. Go to any forum and ask about what lube to use, what brakes and drivetrain are best and one easily ends up in a heated discussion. Before doing any specific work I recommend to read or at least browse the references. There is a lot of information on the Internet including youtube. for the better or worse, anyone can post on the net. some information is good, some not so good, some is outright wrong. The below references are very well reviewed and of high quality. For specific questions, and after you researched on your own, it is a good idea to post a question on one of the below forums.

Frames and component material can be cheap, light and strong - pick two. As a general rule the lowest price components are the heaviest with shortest life (and less nice operation and performance). Spend more money and the components tend to work better, are lighter and can last longer. Those are the components I like to select At some point prices will be even higher and weight will be less - but the weight loss can be at the expense of longevity (for example titanium cogs instead of steel). those are the components racers should select. but unless you live by racing and your sponsor provides the equipment, the weight savings are not worth the money. The law of diminishing returns is true again. If you can lift the bicycle easily, it is light enough.

Types of Bicycles

Bicycles come in many shapes and the market is very competitive. Before deciding on a type of bike decide what type of riding you want to do. The two main types of bicycles are:

Many bicycles exist in between and marketing blurries the lines

Frames

Most modern frames are made of aluminum or carbon fiber. Modern aluminum framing is hydro-formed (non-round tubes) to provide stiffness and flexibility where needed and to reduce weight. imagine a bike should flex a bit up and down to reduce road vibrations, but it should not flex sideways. Carbon fiber uses similar shapes and strategic layering of carbon layers. Carbon fiber can achieve more of that with less weight, however it is more expensive and labor-intensive. with cost being an object a good compromise is to use a well-designed aluminum frame with a rigid carbon fork to reduce vibration for any bicycles not requiring a suspension fork. This provides equal or better ride comfort than cheap suspension forks at less. Some bicycles still use steel (cheaper, but heavier), some use titanium (lighter but more expensive) and exotic materials like bamboo are used in niche applications.

Suspension

Suspension forks are offered on many bicycles including the very cheapest ones. They are useless off-road (the safety labels even state they are not for off-road use) and don't provide more comfort than good carbon fiber rigid forks. No suspension is better than bad suspension. A good suspension fork cost around $500 and uses air springs and oil dampers. It is obvious that a $300 bicycle does not have such good fork.

Where to buy

The simplest and cheapest bikes and parts are sold through big-box stores. those bikes also are referred to as BSO (bike-shaped-objects) because the quality typically is low and actual use off-road or over many miles ruins those bicycles quickly. Many quality brands are sold through a local bike store (LBS) only and often come with some advice and the purchase price includes minor tune-ups. Similar amounts of money get you similar amount and quality of bike.

An inexpensive alternative is to order a bicycle online from direct vendors like bikesdirect and Canyon. The price / value ratio typically is much better than from an LBS and the choice is large. One drawback is you can't test-ride the bikes and need to perform some minor assembly. You decide if the savings are worth it.

Parts can be ordered from many online stores. For some reason European stores often are cheaper and faster than many US stores (even with shipping). Shop around.

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