Random Bicycle Advice

I don’t know where else to put this, and thought it might be useful to someone here (maybe). Some obscure/esoteric bicycle advice:

  • If you’re using inner tubes in a performance oriented bike, spend the extra couple of bucks to use ultralight tubes. The difference is worth it.
  • Use good tires. Yes, they cost real money- but they dictate an awful lot about how your bike performs, so they’re the last place to scrimp on.
  • Advice from racers/pro’s is worth precisely squat unless you’re a racer or pro. Pro cyclists are paid to ride what they ride- they would (and do) ride all sorts of horrible shit because it’s their job. Their opinions/equipment choices shouldn’t matter to you unless you’re getting paid to ride, too.
  • You don’t need more gears; you need the right gears.
  • The front brake should be your best buddy. When you need to stop in a hurry, it’s where all your braking power is- make friends with it.
  • Frame pumps are better than mini pumps and CO2. That there are no good mtb frame pumps in production seems to be a market gap.
  • Steel is a perfectly lovely material for frames, stems, and forks.
  • Change your brake and shifter cables more often than you do. Change the housing, too.
  • Wax chain lube is gross and weird.
  • Full fingered bike gloves are better than half-finger gloves. Yes, even on road bikes.

Bridgestone MB-3


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I got this bike in high school, around 1994 or so. Actually, it wasn’t this bike- it was a teal MB-4. It was a gift, and a way to get me to stop borrowing and breaking my mother’s MB-5. I broke a chainstay on the original bike a year or three later, and this was my warranty replacement frame and fork. That was a bit of luck, too, because by that time Bridgestone had pulled out of the US, and I had to track down the former rep and see if he had a frame around that he could give me. He did, and I’ve ridden this bike ever since.

Originally, of course, it was built up as a regular mountain bike. The sub-genres of bikes we have now weren’t yet a thing, so that meant it was setup for twisty technical New England singletrack. Think: narrow flat bars, toe clips, 2″ tires inflated to 35 psi, and a rigid fork. Classic. The build evolved over time (and as I broke things), but it was pretty much always setup for trail riding.

Then, I went away to college and needed to bring a bike. I took this, and before I went I put 1.5″ slick tires on it, got rid of the granny chainring, and added toeclips. It became my first commuter bike. Around 1999, I bought a Specialized Stumpjumper Pro, and that became my “good” mountain bike. The Bridgestone morphed into a single speed (32 x 16… remember when that was the thing?), and stayed that way for years. I raced cyclocross on it a few times like that with the addition of Conti Cross Country tires in 1.5″. As I got older and had my own children, the bike turned into a seven speed burrito slayer- single chainring, front rack & basket, flat pedals. Built for pedaling on bike paths with kids.

I’d been toying with the idea of putting 700c wheels on it- apparently they’ll fit (sorta?) and you can run adaptors to get the brakes to work… but I didn’t have any spare 700c wheels lying around, so I thought I’d test it out for gravel with the existing wheels. I swapped the bars and stem, got some vintage Dura Ace STI levers, re-geared it (and added a front derailleur for the first time since 1998!), and refinished a saddle to match.

It’s my “gravel” bike, now- and it’s totally in it’s element. The handling and frame still feel excellent, and the drivetrain works beautifully for the terrain I ride here. Eventually, it might be fun to see how 650b wheels look in there (the brakes don’t require an adaptor for those- I’m unsure of the tire clearance, though), but it’s pretty sweet as-is. I suppose a slightly narrower/lighter tire would be cool too, but that’s really just splitting hairs.

So there you go- a 24 year old bike that’s still finding new ways to be useful and wonderful. Long live the Bridgestone.