The Most Useful Tool In Your Garage....

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It has zero moving parts, costs less than $15, and can save you thousands in repairs over the life of your bike. Do you have one?

There seems to be no end to the number of tools on offer. With a wide range of ‘standards’ making mockery of the very word, your tool box is always growing. There is one tool, however, that works with ever brand, every speed, and any bike, and it could save your a ton of money each season. It’s the chain gauge.

The chain tool, the chain checker, call it what you want. This handy tool can do more for your bike than you think. By checking your chain once a week, you can track the wear of your chain and your drivetrain, helping you replace parts early to get more life out of every link and cog.

The chain gauge will offer you two different numbers, .75 and .1. With a wear indication of .5, most parts manufacturers recommend replacing your chain. Doing this on time and consistently means you’ll only have to replace the chain without suffering a decrease in shift performance. Some riders can get two, three, four, even more chains without having to address any other drive train parts!

If you wait until 1, you may need to replace your chain and cassette together. This is because those parts wear together, and installing a new chain might cause skipping and the dreaded ‘mystery’ shift when you’re putting down the power.

Just how long and how many miles you get from each chain can vary widely based on your type of riding and conditions. A single ride in the rain and sand can eat away your chain’s life span quickly; each fall, an especially wet Out’n’Back can be enough to knock the life out of a relatively new chain! Based on our experiences, checking your chain once a week is enough to identify wear patterns. Road bikes ridden in dry conditions can usually get 500 miles or more; mountain bikes, however, can wear in half the time due to dust, sand, and the unique torque they face on the trail.

Stop by and we’ll grab you a chain tool and show you how to use it. By staying ahead of your repairs, you’ll save a lot of money in the long haul and face fewer big repairs, which means your bike spends less time in the shop and more time out on the roads or trails!

Summer Threads: New City Bike Shop Kit Just Arrived!

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Freshen up your wardrobe and show the world who keeps you rolling! 2019 City Bike Shop kit is here.

You loved it when the City Bike Shop Racing team lined up in it last year, and now it’s your turn to rock what we’ve been told (and, full disclosure, we agree) is the best looking CBS kit ever. Designed by our very own Nate Farran, the kit is hitting the shelves just in time to break out shorts sleeves and bare those knees!

Made by Sugoi, these fit relatively true to size for an athletic, race-ready fit. Our current stock includes bibs, jerseys, vests, and jackets in a wide ranges of sizes. Because it’s single order, smaller and larger sizes might be more limited and could go quick…but when the stuff looks this good, it all is going to fly off the shelves.

We’ve stuck with our game plan of unveiling our team’s new kit and offering the previous year’s duds without sponsor logos. Let’s just say you are DEFINITELY going to be able to spot the 2019 City Bike Shop Racing kits once the guys and gals get out there wearing them!

Stop by and check out the new threads, show your City Bike Shop pride, or find a gift for your pedaling pal.

Gravel Rubber: WTB's Nano 40

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In northern Michigan, girth matters. We’ve been riding the WTB Nanos, and they’re the right tire for a lot of local riding.

With more bikes blurring or erasing the line between gravel, road, cyclocross, and even mountain biking, the importance of rolling the right tire to handle it all makes more of a difference than ever. We’ve all been there; riding a fast tire on pavement that slides all over the place in the dirt, or a heavily treaded dirt tire that rolls like a slug on anything hard-packed or paved. It’s a lot to ask of a tire, when you think about it. For decades, the demands of each tire was relatively narrow. Slicks stayed on pavement. Treaded tires stayed on dirt, usually on a completely different wheel size. Today, tires have to do more.

Finding the tire for your style of riding and where you ride is key. Here in Traverse City, we have a lot of rough, cracked roads, so a supple tire is important. Our gravel isn’t really ‘gravel’ as other places would have it. Here, we have sand. With sand, width is the biggest factor for a tire, and we’ve found that a 40mm tire serves as the best benchmark for anyone mixing pavement, gravel, and trail. In other parts of the state, the clay base mean 28mm or 32mm tires are fine; up here, you might as well back a towel, because you’ll be spending a lot of time with your butt in the sand.

Enter the Nano. We first started riding this tire three years ago, and with thousands of miles on them and plenty of other tires tested, we keep coming back to these. The deep chevron tread offers a firm footprint for dirt and an almost paddle-like impact on the sand. It’s a low enough profile that it doesn’t hum or feel slow on pavement, either, which is a good thing; they ride so well on so many surfaces that you’ll spend a lot of time on these on the roads getting around town or riding up to the trailhead.

And yes, these are darn good on the sandy Vasa Pathway and the flowy Singletrack, too. The key for these tires is finding the right tire pressure. We never have them over 40 psi which, to the thumb-press, feels rather firm. On a tubeless rim, 20-25 is a good range, and between 25-30 psi if you’re using tubes.

That tube or tubeless decision is a bit of an important one. While not heavy per se, they’re slightly on the heftier side for a 40mm tire, though the ‘race’ version, which require tubes, might save you a few grams.

We’ve got black and skin wall Nanos in stock to suite your flavor.

Got a gravel tire you dig? Let us know!

2019 Bike Benzie: A Can't Miss Tour (Or Race!) In Northern Michigan

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There are plenty of events that pop up throughout the summer, but Bike Benzie is one we never miss.

Northern Michigan is home to an endless calendar of fun races and rides. It’s tough to find a weekend without at least one or two really unique events on the agenda, so much so that it’s hard to choose which ones to to hit. One we always show up for is a small little race and tour that gives us a chance to enjoy the roads of Benzie County and the lake shore, plus ample slices of pie. It’s nearly June, and that means it’s Bike Benzie time!

Bike Benzie is a fundraiser for the Benzie Sunrise Rotary. Over the years, the ride has shifted shapes to meet the interests of riders from all over the region. It’s current form offers a little something for everyone; there’s a 100 mile tour, 62 mile tour, 62 mile race, 62 mile team time trial, plus a 30 mile tour to get newer riders out for a stroll. The start and finish at Crystal Mountain Resort puts all over those routes onto some beautiful, low-traffic roads that even locals just don’t get a chance to ride nearly as much as we’d like.

Those 62 mile events are the real favorite. While a lot of riders head on to enjoy a 62 mile tour, there are two chances to get a little competitive, too. The 62 mile race is a grand fondo-type mass start event that suits riders who want to go hard. The team time trial offers teams a unique chance to combine four-man and three-woman teams to take on the same 62 mile course.

No matter if you race or ride, everyone gets a delicious meal once back at Crystal Mountain, complete with live music, plenty of pie and cookies, and a very friendly group of people to relive the action of the day with! With so many great food stops, make sure you leave room for after; they’re going to try to feed you as much as they can!

For more on the Bike Benzie, and all the good work the Benzie Sunrise Rotary does for the community, head here. Online registration ends May 30 at 8 pm, so get you and your pals signed up!

"Silly Ka-Neg-Its" :: City Bike Shop's Wild Wednesday Knights

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"Silly Ka-Neg-Its".

City Bike Shop is certainly a cast of characters, and there’s no better example of that than our Wednesday night team rides. Sometimes on the road, often on the trails, occasionally on the gravel; the rides are decided on a whim and decidedly whimsical. They are always fun. Sometimes, we share Captain Bradferd’s recaps here on the blog, and this one is a can’t miss. Don’t know who he’s talking about? It hardly matters.

"Beware ye that show up to a Joust with a pen knife."  Searching for the West Side Grail required the right bike as was evident when guest leader Tim the Enchanter arrived sitting atop his mountain bike. In fact all Mud Lake residents arrived on them. The quest started out civil enough , at least terrain wise, with a mixture of actual gravel and pave. However, shoot outs began early as Pac Man Jr flexed his muscle on the first climb. Throughout the knight, Pac Man Jr rained hell on all-comers much like Sir Lancelot . Charges were made by Vlad the Impaler ( formerly Vicenzo ), the Dead Pirate , The Admiral, Deano ,Contador, and Tim the Enchanter. Not far off the back, tapping out a steady Tempo, was Cindy Lou Who  and off in the distance Roy silently pulled Steve O and Jeff "Rube" Hall back to the quest Caravan. Speaking of Rube he was no  brave Sir Robin as he suffered intensely throughout the quest.

For approximately 30 miles Tim the Enchanter led flyers, throwing one mile gaps within two mile distances. The logging road from Hell known as " Bad Naughty Zuet" took a serious toll as experienced sand master Steve O was forced to throw it in into a 130 rpm spin at the start. The Admiral was able to throw a flyer in at the end of Bad Naughty Zuet however his valiant effort was thwarted by a neutralized peloton.  The final shoot outs were initiated by Tim the Enchanter; however Jr Pac Man bridged huge gaps to lay siege on the rest of we Ka-Neg-Its. As most of the Ka-Neg-Its laid over at Camelot de Duby for grog, Contador , Rube and Insano made their  way through the forest of 'Ni" as twilight settled in. As fate would have it Rube decided to take his own route back to the lot as we crossed the Spillway of the Black knight and ended up making a horrid Sandy* trip back,,,, one more pineapple for the road.

So Here you go the best Quest players. Special thanks to Tim the Enchanter for kicking our coconuts.

Sadistic Rider-                          Tim the Enchanter  Llama

Masochistic Rider-                    Rube Hall  Llama

High RPM in Sand-                   Steve O  Llama

Team Player-                             Roy  Llama

Agitator-                                    The Admiral  Llama ( a trend is a foot)

Chase Group-                           Dead Pirate  Llama and Deano Llama

White Jersey-                            Contador  Llama

Best Mt Biker-                           Cindy Lou Who Llama

Best Sr Rider-                           Vlad the Impaler Llama

Best Rider-                                Jr. Pack Man  Llama

Backyard Bucket List: Three Places You Need To Ride in Northern Michigan

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It’s finally starting to feel like spring, and with warm temps and superb trail conditions, we’ve got three places you need to ride….and soon!

One of the best parts about riding in northern Michigan is that there’s always someplace new to roll. All over the region, both new trails and old favorites are always improving, adding mileage, and offering new experiences to locals and visitors alike. We’re spoiled, and all these opportunities come thanks to organizations like Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association, Leelanau Conservancy, and Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. We’ve picked one trail from each for you to put your northern Michigan bucket list.

Glacial Hills. NMMBA, the GTRLC, and Antrim County have turned Glacial Hills from a neat network of trail into the destination trail it seemed almost fated to become. Professionally designed and machine built, Glacial Hills offered the region its first glimpse of a unique blend of natural and flow trail. Using the natural terrain of Antrim County, just outside of Bellaire, and retaining the wild, beautiful views, Glacial Hills draw thousands of riders north each and every season. The trail is in peak bloom through May, with a wide array of wildflowers lighting up the trail side.

Open to bikes, hikers, and runners, the trail boasts one of the most dedicated trail crews around. Nearly two dozen volunteers take care of the trail on a bi-weekly basis, responding to downed trees within a few hours, and offering a manicured place to shred no matter what. There are three trailheads to choose from, and you’re going to want to stop by and support one of the trails biggest advocates, Short’s Brewing, after the ride.

Palmer Woods. For years, there just weren’t many trail opportunities in Leelanau County. With the footpaths at the Leelanau State Park off limits, most riders stuck to hot lap at 45 North Winery’s 3 mile trail. All that changed with the addition of Palmer Woods. The Leelanau Conservancy unveiled the first phase last fall, with all machine-built trails, rock gardens, drops, and plenty of beginner-friendly lines as well. It’s a place where riders learn new skills with a massive smile on their faces, and a great way to work a bike ride into your trip to Glen Arbor, the Sleeping Bear Dunes Lakeshore, Leeland, all points north.

Arcadia Dunes. This is really the crown jewel in the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy’s growing collection. Arcadia has been compared to Glacial Hills, and vice versa, thanks to the flowing, ribbon-like quality of both networks. Perhaps Arcadia in particular, it’s the sort of trail that sends riders up over 1,000 feet of elevation 11 mile lap, but you’re never really quite sure where or how, because it never felt that hard. Like Glacial, the Arcadia is awash with wildflowers through May and often into June. It’s also a wonderful place to simple slow down and enjoy the trails. If you come to a stop, you’ll be surrounded by peace and quiet, with the trail often completely to yourself!

Arcadia is also just across the road from Lake Michigan. Take a second after your ride to peek over the bluffs and enjoy some incredible views, and perhaps even catch sight of a freighter or two!

Looking for more places to ride…and a bike to ride them with? Stop by City Bike Shop and we’ll point you in the right direction for the perfect road or trail.

The Perfect Arcadia Grit & Gravel Bike Is...

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After a glorious day of racing at Mud, Sweat and Beers, plus a full day of embracing beer and tacos on Cinco de Mayo, it’s time to look at to the next big (and local) thing: Arcadia.

Arcadia Grit & Gravel offers up one of the most unique concepts in the state. The mountain bike race has relied on a route that’s like nothing else to provide both a fun experience and a killer challenge to racers of all abilities. To start, the race combines nearly 10 miles of pavement, gravel, and two-track, plus two key climbs, to sort riders out. An opening ascent two miles in and another long, grueling climb near the 8 mile mark serve as separators, but there is plenty of time to be gained in the sinuous, rolling pavement in between.

The reward for all that cranking is arguably the best singletrack in the state. The Arcadia trail system combines two loops of flowing, winding, exhilarating trail on either side of a lonely, quiet gravel road that splits the trail in two. Riders are often giggling throughout these two sections of trail, and the final two miles back to Arcadia and the finish are simply a blur. Throw in blooming trillium at the roadside and some sunny weather, and there’s hardly a more beautiful race on the calendar.

But that sharp divide in terrain gives some riders a bit of indecision. A gravel bike for the first half, and take your chances on the trail, or is is smarter to survive the paved surfaces and thrive in the singletrack? It’s a decision that’s heavily influenced by your level of confidence in bike handling. We take a look at two options, one with drop bars and one for our mountain bikers.

Giant Revolt 2. The ideal rig for giving it a go on the gravel. The Revolt 2 comes with a 2x drivetrain that offer up a wide range of gearing options for the steep opening ascent of Erdman Road, which sees pitches over 11% and much of it in loose sand. Alternatively, you’ll have a big gear for stomping away on the pavement and will be able to stretch the bunch on the long paved downhill. But what about the trail? Well, the Revolt fits up to 700 x 48 or 650 x 2.0 tires, so you can get some pretty wide rubber on there for more traction once you hit the singletrack. You can see all the Revolt options here.

Scott Scale RC. For the singletrack shredder, going with a feather light hardtail is the way to go at Arcadia. While the race is just about 50/50 between gravel and singletrack, most racers would argue that the most important part comes with the sharp right turn into the woods at the top of Taylor Road. The ascent of the longest climb in the race almost immediately tosses riders from wide open roads to tight, twisting, trillium-lined singletrack, and if you hit it tired, you can get gapped quick. That’s why riding your lightest hardtail is a really smart option. To survive the gravel and pavement, make sure you’re running a 32t or bigger chainring to avoid spinning out. Once into the trees, slap off your lockout and get shredding! Check out the full Scale family here.

Do you have any tips for riders taking on their first Arcadia Grit & Gravel? Let us know in the comments!

Mud, Sweat and Beers 2019: Race Week Check List

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For Pros to beginners, Mud, Sweat and Beers is often the very first tilt of the season. It’s been a full six months since Iceman, and you may have forgotten what check before you hit the start line. We take you through a few things to do this week to make sure your rig is ready to shred.

You can’t gain much fitness in the final five days before a race, but you can take care of some of the technical details to avoid mechanicals and get the most out of the hard work you’ve put in to get ready for the event. We offer a quick race-week tune up to check and tweak some hard-to-adjust things like your bottom bracket and hubs, but there are plenty of things that you can do to make sure you’re all set.

  1. Tubeless refresh. When’s the last time you added sealant to your tires? If you aren’t sure, it’s probably time, especially if your bike hasn’t seen much action over winter. Adding 2-4 oz of your preferred sealant is the best way to avoid flats. Make sure you stick with the sealant you used last time; Stan’s and Orange Seal don’t interact well and may not seal a puncture as quickly. It might also be a good time to remove the tire and wipe out all the old, dried sealant, too. Ideal Day: Do this on Monday to make sure everything seals up and holds well.

  2. Drive Train Check. Use a chain gauge to check the stretch and wear of your chain. If it’s beyond .75, it may be time to replace your chain and cassette. If the weather looks bad, it may not be a bad idea to stick with your worn drive train until after the race so you don’t put some destructive miles on new parts. Ideal Day: Tuesday. This gives you a little time to ride the new stuff and make any adjustments that might be necessary.

  3. Torque It Down. Take a T25 or adjustable torque wrench and check your stem, seat post, and other bolts that you may have adjusted this spring. It’s also a good time to check for any play in your hubs, see how tight your thru axles or quick releases levers, even your how firm your pedals are installed.

  4. Spin Those Pedals. Pedals often get neglected. Take a second to feel for side-to-side play in your pedal body before a race to make sure you’re as efficient as possible. You can also spin the pedals and listen to a grind or a jerky, uneven turn. That means your bearings are dry and may need to be serviced. If you ride Crank Bros Egg Beaters or Candy pedals, you might also look to make sure that the springs aren’t rusted and move evenly. Ideal Day: Wednesday, so that you have time to ride new or serviced pedals a time or two before the event.

  5. Shock Pressure. Making sure your fork and shock are good to roll is key. Check your pressure and make a note of how the settings contribute to your recon ride. Play with a few psi firmer or softer, and make sure you adjust for sag as well. Nate is a genius at getting your fork or full suspension set-up for the trail. If you need pointers, stop by! Ideal Day: Every day. Keeping an accurate record of your suspension can help you make the right adjustments for how and where you ride.

There are few things as thrilling as tearing through the woods with your pals, and nothing more disappointing than having that experience soiled by a flat tire or loose part. Take five minutes a day this week to check one of these easy adjustments off your list, and if your bike needs more, get it into City Bike Shop soon! From everyone at the shop, have a wonderful race and we’ll see you at the start line!