How To Setup Your Road Bike For Bad Roads Or Cobbles!

How To Setup Your Road Bike For Bad Roads Or Cobbles!


– So the Northern
Classics are here upon us, and it’s probably my
favorite time of the season. Actually, it is my favorite
time of the season. But what makes these races so special are those cobbled sectors. And this is probably the
only race in the calendar where pros make a huge
difference in their selection of equipment for the race. So you’re likely to see
all sorts of different things being used. And what we’re gonna look at today is how to make your bike
ready for the cobblestones. But the good news is, it’s not just limited to cobblestones. So maybe you’ve got
rough roads in your area, or you just like a little
bit of extra comfort. Today, let’s have a look. (upbeat electronic music) So using wider tires is
a pretty popular choice at these Classics, the
reason being that you can run a lower pressure without increasing the chance of puncturing. That’s good news all times
of the year, let’s face it. In the Tour of Flanders,
though, generally the riders still use 25 millimeter wide tires. Which they use in most
races throughout the year. However, Greg Van Avermaet
apparently has been using 28 millimeter tires this year
in the run up to these races. I wonder if he used them yesterday. I didn’t quite get to have
a good old look though. So for the more brutal
cobbles of Paris-Roubaix, you can in fact see riders
using 30 millimeters. Almost the standard as the width of tire, sometimes even wider. As for tire pressure, as low as 65 PSI. Just to put that in perspective,
when I started racing a long time ago, it was
so common, not obviously Paris-Roubaix, I didn’t
ride that, but you would use 23 or 21 millimeter
wide tires with 120 PSI. That’s such a big difference. So not only do we see wider
tires being used at those classics, we also see
different tread compounds. Yep that’s right, so take
for example continental and their competition
limited tubular tire. Its actually got a different
side wall to the tire. So a little bit tougher than
the standard one, so that’s going to help bouncing over those cobbles. Also the tread compound,
so it’s slightly gripper, so slightly softer that means,
so that’ll help you over those cobbles too, where
they’re quite often a little bit muddy, a little
bit dusty, and they can be a tad slippery. Now what you can also expect
to see is teams roll out tires that are totally
unbranded and they’re likely to be some hand made artisan numbers. So from the likes of FMB,
Dugast, that kind of thing. What I’m going to do
though is fit a pair of 28 millimeters on my bike so I’m
ready for the rough stuff. (upbeat electronic music) Now nobody wants to drop a
bottle whilst out riding, and to be perfectly honest
with you, cobblestones and water bottle cages traditionally
are not a match made in heaven, that’s for sure. The reason being you’re
hitting those cobbles at such force, you’ll quite often
see bottles just fly out of those bottle cages and cause
mayhem behind, believe me. Now the pro’s, they’ve got a
couple tricks up their sleeves. What have they got, well
they’ve got some grip tape and also metal bottle cages. First up grip tape,
self explanatory really, self adhesive tape that you
can put on the inside of your bottle cages to help give a little bit of extra resistance. Do be careful though,
because they do wear away at the bottles on the outside. So if you’ve got your favorite
prize possession bottle that you really don’t want
to ruin, probably best to avoid using that. And also keep an eye out
for any leaks, and also don’t be tempted to put it on your saddle because there was a very
famous photo on the internet a while ago of a tundra
rider who had some grip tape on his saddle, and yeah, the
results were eye watering. (screaming) Now the other option is
the alloy bottle cage. Now with this, basically
you want to push down on it so its a little bit tighter
to actually insert the bottle. Reason being that’s going
to give a firmer grip. So what am I going to do? I’m going to do one of each,
one carbon cage with a little bit of grip tape, and one
alloy one, see what works best. (upbeat electronic music) So vibrations from cobblestones
can be absolutely massive, I told you they were rough, didn’t I? So in the worst case scenario,
a chain can actually dislodge from a chain ring and
essentially leave a rider spinning in mid air if that makes sense. So how do the pro’s combat this? Well firstly, they can
use a chain catcher, so that attaches to the
front derailleur mount and then sits down there on the inside. So in between the inner
chambering and the frame itself. So if your chain was to do dislodge and go all the way over there,
you’re not going to actually lose it totally. You’re just going to go on
to the smaller chain ring rather than going down and
damaging the paintwork of the bottom bracket, which
is never a good look. Now for chain rings, something
on the inner ring like a 46 tooth, is pretty
common in Paris-Roubaix and for the tour of Flanders 42 or 44, that’s not unheard of either. The reason being, if you
are to dislodge that chain on to the inner ring, your
difference in cadence is going to be minimized by having a larger inner chambering
selection, so there we are. I don’t think ill be going
for a 46 tooth inner though. Although, I have actually got
a 46 tooth inner ring here and if I was riding Paris-Roubaix
for instance, for Sportif, I think I’d put it on. The only problem though,
you may well find yourself with at home is you need to
make sure that there is a chambering available for your
chain set particular model. So for instance this Shimano
One, I couldn’t find anything bigger than a 42 commonly available. So ill actually have to put
this one on to an old chain set at home, and whack that on instead. (upbeat electronic music) Now this one is a proper pro hack, little bit of handlebar tape
on the platform of your pedal. But why? Well actually it
can help reduce a little bit of fatigue, so if you imagine how brutal those cobblestones are, 200
and what, 260 kilometers and a quarter of it roughly offroad,
on savage ancient roads. So what you’re going to
do is cut up that tape and put it across the
center of your pedal, and actually it works a
bit like double wrapping your handlebar tape. So essentially, you’re
removing just a little bit of vibration through your stiff
carbon soled cycling shoes. Now the second benefit of
that tape in that pedal is actually they’re gonna
keep your feet slightly more secure in the pedals
because it’s not uncommon believe me, to actually see a riders foot bounce out of the pedal. (cursing being bleeped out) So it is going to make clipping in and out a little bit tougher so pay particular attention
at road junctions. Otherwise there’ll be the
embarrassing moment of (creaking and crashing) falling over because you
can’t get your foot out. So just be aware of that. (upbeat electronic music) So most riders, they
tend to actually ride the cobblestones on the tops of the handlebar. Why? Well you can have a
very loose grip over the handlebars so that you’re
not holding on for dear life, because that’s not what
you want to be doing. You want to essentially
let the bike find its own path through the cobblestones. Plus you can put a little
bit of extra weight back on the rear wheel so that
you’re not putting everything on the front end, which could
end pretty badly on cobbles. Now obviously you’re riding up there, you can’t break there can you? Because when you’re
hitting that pave at speed, the last thing you want to do is start moving your hands around a lot. Especially if you’re
not confident on them. So a number of pro’s actually fit these cross top break levers. They look like miniature
mountain bike breaks don’t they? So the reason behind them really
is that you can still break whilst up there, so if there
was an incident in front of you it’s not a problem to come to a stop. As well as being able to
just feather the breaks to be able to control your speed too. Now using cross top break
levers is not as common as it once was, when it seemed
like every other rider in the Peloton was using
them for Paris-Roubaix. However, in more recent times two riders have actually used them to success. So that’s Greg Van Avermaet
and John Degenkolb. Now I’ve had to actually
borrow Stevie G’s bike, one of my colleagues, to show
them because I can’t fit them onto my bike sadly and I love those integrated handlebars. So good news for Van
Avermaet and John Degenkolb, I won’t be able to use them so therefore won’t be able to challenge them. Sorry lads. (upbeat electronic music) Now if you can’t break
whilst riding from the top, it makes sense that you can’t
change gear whilst riding up there too, but you can. How? With electronic gears, that’s how. So if you’re using
Shimano or Schram, you can in fact use a climbing
shifter here on the top of the handlebar, or the R9150
shifters from Shimano two, or in Schram’s case the blip’s, they simply mount up here connect to your electronic shifters, and you can then change
gear up here on the pave. Also another option is
the sprint shifters, so from Shimano I’ve got sprint
shifters fitted down here. Now they only actually
control the rear derailleur so nothing with the front. Schram’s blip’s though, they
can control both derailleurs. So again you can simply fit
them down here on the drops and you can change gear. Although admittedly you’re gonna be riding much on the drops on the cobblestone. Some riders though in
the past have done it, Tom Boonen for instance. (upbeat electronic music) Now one of the easiest and
most common things you’re going to see on a pro’s bike
Paris-Roubaix and in most cases Tour of Flanders too, is double wrapping of handlebar tape. And what is it? Exactly
what it says on the tin. It’s just putting on
another layer of bar tape, and to simplify the process,
really you’re going to have to remove just a few
centimeters here at the end of the handlebar, and
then a few centimeters here at the top. So with a knife or a very sharp
blade, cut away that layer and then remove it, and
then the same there, and then just wrap your bar tape. Now there is a huge variety
of handlebar tape available. Most riders though, they
will opt for using exactly the same as what they’ve
already got fitted. Therefore they know exactly how it feels and how it handles in the wet. Because handlebar tape can become slippery and if you’re not used to it, yeah, could well lose your grip. Now something else which riders
do use but it’s not always instantly recognizable is
in fact an old inner tube underneath the handlebar tape. No, it’s not inflated, don’t worry. It’s simply cut up into
sections, and that rubber just provides a little bit extra dampening. Now interestingly Tom Boonen,
who was three time winner of Tour of Flanders, four
time winner of Paris-Roubaix, I think he knows a thing or
two about riding on cobbles. He never used to use gloves, that’s right, never used gloves in those races. The reason being he said he could get a better feel for the roads. So, there we are. Maybe it could be to reduce
the chance of getting any blisters from a pair of gloves rubbing on the palms, who knows. Right, you are ready now to
go out and hit that pave. Your hands are going to be comfortable, your feet aren’t going to come out, your chain’s not going to
come off, and most of all you’re going to have so much fun doing it. Remember to like and share this
video with your friends too, and also if you want one of these limited edition cobbled classics t-shirt. Head over to the GCN shop at
shop.globalcyclingnetwork.com And for another great video, this time how to double
wrap your handlebars. Click just down here.