Thursday, July 10, 2014

Which cycle to buy?

This is a question that has come up time and again. I used to wonder why people don’t do sufficient research before asking. And then it struck me that as a newbie, even I had no idea of which cycle to purchase. After riding now for nearly a decade, I feel that a simpler comparison would help people decide what they can purchase based on what they need.

Here is a simili of what each cycle is like




MTB (Mountain Bike) : The advantages are like an SUV. this cycle has fatter wheels, a thicker frame and can take a beating. You can ride an MTB with disdain. No need to be overly worried about potholes on the road or bumps. Pavement hopping and staircase descents are possible with this. Manoeuvring is easy in traffic due to the straight handlebars. The disadvantages of an MTB are the higher tyre to road friction leading to an increase in effort required to keep moving. The inherent advantage in this is also that one can burn higher calories by riding shorter distances due to the higher effort required. An MTB is for those wanting to feel the rush of adrenaline as they rush through trails or the rain or jump over bumps. Like an SUV, it can be ridden on the tarmac too but the full capabilities are not being used.

Hybrid Bikes: These cycles are the newest design keeping in mind the need for people who need to ride longer for just the sake of riding. Like a family sedan car, they are capable of doing a little bit of everything. They offer easy riding at less effort, better manoeuvrability in traffic and can soak up potholes and bumps fairly well. They cannot be used for heavy stunts or constant beating on pavements. While many people do stunts on hybrids due to their light weight, the manufacturers do not recommend it. Hybrids are difficult to use on trails like MTBs and are difficult to attain high speeds like a road bike. They are perfect for the city rider who spends most time on tarmac with the occasional bad patches. This is a perfect buy for people wanting to use it for only commuting to work and the nice leisure weekend rides.

Road Bikes: The final word in speed. Like a sports car, they are built with strong thin frames and thin wheels for the least effort and the highest speeds possible. The riding position is crouched and the riding dynamics are all made for speed. Manoeuvring in traffic is a little difficult and its ability to withstand hard shocks is a bit low. As the rims are very thin, they could get bent easily especially if the wheel hits hard at high speeds.




  1. Fatter Wheels for more abuse
  2. Stronger Frame for more abuse
  3. Carefree riding
  4. Road quality does not really matter
  5. Relatively affordable
  1. Higher Rolling Friction
  2. More effort for same distances
  1. Larger dia wheels for more acceleration
  2. Thinner tyres for more speed
  3. Capable for endurance rides
  4. Lesser effort required
  5. Most affordable
  1. Neither for speed nor hard riding
  2. Most useful for city riding only
  3. Bad roads are felt harder
Road Bike
  1. The ultimate in speed
  2. Light weight, therefore lower effort
  3. Highest endurance riding
  4. Least effort required
  1. Most expensive
  2. Lesser ability to withstand hard shocks and bumps
  3. Road quality matters

Folding Bike: The folding bike is a very unique bike which serves a specific use. It is mostly used for urban riding. Do not let the small wheel size fool you. These cycles can go quite fast on the road due to a clever combination of oversized cog gears. Talk about great engineering. These cycles are perfect for those who need to use multiple modes of transport everyday. The cycle can be folder and unfolded in less than a minute. One can cycle to the train station, fold the bike and take it on board, alight from the train, unfold it and ride to work. Folding bikes are are very useful for being transported to places with ease. Manufacturers who make folding bikes are BTwin, Dahon, Tern etc.

The decision to purchase has to be done only after trying the various manufacturers’ offerings. Each brand of frame is built ever so slightly different. One should take a demo and see which one fits best to the body type and structure.

What to look for:

Frame: Aluminium frames are light, strong and most importantly, rustproof. Most good manufacturers offer long guarantees on the frame for manufacturing defects. Companies like Trek have long offered and still offer a lifetime guarantee on the frame for the lifespan of the first owner.

Carbon frames are very light and very strong. They are also rustproof but care needs to be taken while assembly and repair as they can withstand pressures to a large extent before they crack. Unlike Aluminium, they do not bend and are not malleable. They are brittle but need a large amount of force to break them. Carbon frames are preferred on road bikes as their light weight helps the rider achieve higher speeds

Steel frames are the traditionally available in VFM cycles. They are strong,heavy and can withstand huge forces. But they do rust if not taken care of properly and their extra weight means higher effort to cycle.

The right mix for pricing vs performance is still aluminium today. There are other exotic frames available in Titanium but these are more expensive.

Bottom brackets: The most basic models do not offer sealed bottom brackets. In the rain or mud, the crank gets stuffed with water or mud leading to a constant cleaning required. Sealed bottom brackets allow the rider to ride in the rain and do not need constant servicing after every downpour.

Geared or Fixie: Geared bikes allow for easier riding as accelerating from constant stopping is easier. Higher speeds are also possible. Most importantly, gears are very essential for inclines and climbs. If you live in a place where there is heavy traffic or inclines or both, it is wiser to pick up a geared bike especially one with the “granny” gear in the front for steep climbs. Fixies are the gearless bikes which offer lesser maintenance but can get tiring if you need to constantly accelerate and brake.

Pedals: The choices available are plastic or alloy pedals. Ideally, alloy pedals last longer and do not break even with heavyset riders. They can also withstands being struck by pavement sides or road bumps. Plastic pedals although strong ultimately may bend out of shape or break.

There are numerous other components but for first time riders, the above points are to ensure a hassle free ride.

Happy Riding!

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Book – Three Truths of Well Being – by Sadhguru


Been a while since I was so desperate to read a book till its end. No matter how sleepy I was, time had to be made every night to complete a part of this one. Perhaps the word to describe it is “Simplicity”. Sadhguru has actually given a short, sweet and contrite set of material on how to approach life by covering the three most basic simple things.

Body, Food and Mind

That’s it. He has not gone round and round trying to explain something which we don’t even know. Instead, he has left his words for us to decide. Believe it or don’t, doesn’t matter. He has just given instructions based on experiences and the collective knowledge of our elders. What I loved most is that he has not tried justifying anything. He just says “here’s the truth. Here is the checklist. Try it out.”

As icing on the cake, there are simple, clear instructions at the end of each chapter for those interested. They are indeed feasible and anyone can try them for a peek into oneself. No hold barred, no preparation necessary, no religious connotations. Just basic humanity being addressed. There is also an Isha Kriya DVD with the book for a very simple start into meditation for those interested.

I will be reading this book again and would ask you to try it too.