El Camino Bike Shop

El Camino Bike Shop
121 N. El Camino Real, Suite A
Encinitas, CA 92024
M-F 10-6, Sat. 10-5, Sun. 11-4

Map to El Camino Bike Shop

Getting the most out of your bike

Now is the time to dust off that old bike in the garage

 A lot of people come into our shop trying to decide if they should get a new bike or just get the old bike working again.  Sometimes this is an easy decision, sometimes not.  El Camino Bike Shop can help you make that decision and below is a short discussion of how to figure it all out.

But before you do anything, bring it by El Camino Bike Shop for  a good mechanical look-see. We don't charge for estimates, so you can get an educated opinion of the status of your old bike.  
working on bike
Half the people who bring their old bikes in to the shop find out that all they need is a little adjustment, the fix of a flat tire and they are on their way to experiencing the world of biking.  If you want to save a little money and mechanical projects make you happy, come to our shop at 9:30am on Saturdays, learn a little bike maintenance (fixing flats and basic adjustments) and fix it yourself.

If on the other hand you find out your old bike is in need of a lot of work, you need to consider how much you want to spend to get that old bike in working order.  If the frame is still in good condition and the parts on the bike are in reasonable shape, a new set of tires, tubes and a basic tune up and your bike will be ready to go.

If our mechanic is recommending that you need a lot of work on your bike (replacing brakes, derailers, etc) you may want to consider a new bike.  The first thing to understand is that bikes have vastly improved in the past 10-20 years. Most significantly the shifting and braking has improved so it's easier than ever.

Whether or not you appreciate the changes, and want to spend money to get them on a new bike only you can decide. That's easy and fun to do. While you are getting your old bike looked over, you can test ride some new bikes to feel how they compare to your old bike. Our experience has been that most people who do this realize that they get a lot more for their money in a new bicycle than what they'd get by spending money to repair the bike they already have -- not everyone, but most.


Great Ways To Bike More Comfortably!

Hey! It's easy to feel great on every bike ride. Just follow our tips!
Bicycling should be fun, not painful! Here are some of our top basic tips for dialing in your ride so that you'll spend every mile all smiles.

First, minor adjustments can make major differences. Seat and handlebar height are great examples. When the seat's right the pedaling's easy. When it's wrong (the most common mistake is too low a seat), you'll work harder and tire faster. Likewise, the bars should be in a natural, easy-to-reach position, not too high or low. If you don't feel right on your bike, be sure to pedal by so we can take a look and make suggestions. (If you ride more than 20 miles per day and/or are training for competition, we recommend a full session with our fitting specialists, for which you'll want to make an appointment.)

Once your position is right here are other easy things to consider for maximum comfort (be sure to click on the photos for larger images and additional information):

1. Get a sweet seat

You've probably already noticed that the places you're most likely to experience discomfort are where body meets Click to enlarge!bike. And, no place is more vulnerable than your posterior, which is why our bicycles come with quality seats. Often, if you're getting sore on rides, especially if you're new to regular riding, you just need to ride a few more times to get used to the seat. But, if that doesn't help, you might like to try a different seat.

There are a myriad of shapes, designs and price levels. It's a personal choice, though, and the best test is trying seats. Also, what works for one, may not work for another. You want one that supports your sit bones (photo, right) and doesn't put pressure on sensitive areas. And, while it may seem counterintuitive, narrow saddles with less padding are usually more comfy than wide, heavily padded models.

Click to enlarge!Keep in mind that there are gender-specifc seats and those that feature cutouts (photo), gel etc. A good seat tip is that there are plenty of women who find men's models more comfortable and vice versa. The key is trying it to determine if it's right for you. We have lots of experience helping riders find the right seat so we'll help you pick a winner.

2. Ride in real cycling shorts
Click to enlarge!
Speaking of posterior comfort, let's talk cycling shorts, another comfort secret no experienced cyclist goes without. A good pair offers ample freedom of movement, excellent breathability and wicking, some type of padding for protection (usually called a "chamois") and sometimes pockets, vents, compression fabric and other high-tech features.

Plus, unlike cut-offs or gym shorts, cycling shorts won't chafe, have no seams to cause numbness and even support your working muscles. We have a nice selection of cycling shorts in all styles (and no, you don't have to wear tight, shiny spandex ones if you don't want; we have plenty of casual ones, too). And, here's an important cycling shorts comfort tip: most are made to be worn without underwear so that you enjoy seam-free comfort.

3. Wear good gloves for comfort and safety

Click to enlarge!Bicycle gloves seem like an extravagance until you consider how important your hands are, how much you use them when cycling (especially if you shift and brake by hand) and what would happen if you crashed. For all these reason we recommend wearing a nice pair of cycling gloves on every ride and we carry a wide selection.

They all include features to enhance your comfort and protection, including padded palms to eliminate any numbness from the nerves in your palms compressed by the handlebars, breathability and wicking to keep you dry and cool, and a snug, sweet fit. You'll also find ergonomic designs, gel inserts and strategically placed padding. And, there are half- and full gloves, road and dirt versions and summer and winter ones, too. Most gloves include absorbant panels for wiping your face even. A great comfort tip that helps even when wearing top-notch gloves is to ride with a secure, but not too-tight grip. And, also, move your hands every 15 minutes or so to keep them relaxed.

4. Ditch the tee and enjoy the comfort of a proper cycling jersey
Click to enlarge!
Cycling jerseys are made from technical fabrics that wick and breathe to keep you dry and comfortable in any temperature. And, while cotton t-shirts are nice for lounging around, they actually absorb moisture and stay wet, cling to you and chill you.

Jerseys don't just fit and feel a lot better, either, they usually also have handy pockets in the back (out of the way while riding), include a zipper for excellent ventilation and can include advanced features like reflective panels, sun protection and more. You can choose racer-style jerseys with bright logos splashed over every inch or subdued, loose-fitting tops that look like your favorite tee, we have a wide selection of both. Tip: If you enjoy rides longer than an hour, be sure to carry energy food/snacks in your jersey pockets.

5. Have happy feet by wearing cycling shoes

Click to enlarge!Your feet power your bike and rotate literally thousands of times per ride so, unless you ride a cruiser-style bicycle with flat, rubber pedals, shoes are a big piece of the comfort puzzle. The problem with plain old sneakers is that they're flexible, which means you lose power with every pedal stroke. And, even if you don't care about efficiency losses, you'll want to avoid the numbness and pain that you can get from pushing down hard on typical bicycle pedals, which can often be sharp and/or small.

Proper cycling shoes address these issues. They're stiff for good pedal power and protection, offer a glove-like fit for comfort and support, and are relatively lightweight so you don't have to carry any more extra weight than necessary. There are minimal road shoes (photo), and also mountain-biking and touring shoes, which have soles designed to flex enough for walking and feature tread for a good grip. Tip: There are also plenty of sneaker-type shoes that are cycling-cleat compatible that offer a happy mix of style and cycling function.

We hope these tips help you enjoy cycling more than ever—and remember that we're always happy to help with any questions about staying comfortable, or anything else cycling. Just let us know. Thanks!

Pedals on bikes

Why should I care about the pedals I use on my bike?

XTR PedalYou see those guys in colorful spandex riding around with pedals that attach to their cycling shoes.  Riding with properly fit cycling shoes and clips tremendously increases your efficiency. 

Would you like to switch to clipless pedals, but are you nervous about falling?  The first few rides can be a little daunting, but there are a few tips to help you along the way:

  • Practice on a trainer.  If you don't have a trainer, come in use ours.
  • Bring your bike into the shop and have us adjust the tension on your pedals so it is easy to release. (Or you can do it yourself - Instructions should come with the pedals)
  • Starting: Step over your bike, clip in one foot, push off and start riding without worrying about clipping in your second shoe. Once you get going it's easier to clip in your second shoe.
  • Stopping: When approaching a stop, unclip the foot you normally put down, at least 30 ft from the stop. Soft pedal to the stop, put down your free foot.
  • Eliminate panic by being prepared.
  • Enjoy your new found power on your bike.


Picking the best fitting Saddle
 Bontranger InForm system
We get a lot of questions about saddles.  Everyone's anatomy is different, therefore each individual will find a different saddle comfortable.  Start with a saddle that is comfortable and fits your sit bones properly.  Make sure it is not too wide or too narrow for your sit bones. 

El Camino Bike Shop has been using Bontrager's "InForm" system for the past 6 months to help  customers find the most comfortable saddles. A special pressure-sensitive saddle fitting bench shows the best saddle for each rider. 

We carry saddles specifically made for a man or a women.  For most of the saddles, we provide a "Comfort Guarantee" which allows you to return your saddle within 90 days of purchase if it isn't right for you.

Fixed Gear Bikes on the Road

What is a Fixie?
Masi Fixie"Fixie" is short for "fixed gear" - A fixed-gear bicycle or fixed wheel bicycle, is a bicycle without the ability to coast. The sprocket is screwed directly on to the hub and there is no freewheel mechanism. Whenever the rear wheel is turning, the pedals turn in the same direction. By resisting the rotation of the pedals, a rider can slow the bike to a stop, without the aid of a brake.  Riding Fixies is growing in popularity and can give new life to an old bicycle or increased value if you are selling an old bike. The Wall Street Journal has the Good & the Bad article about Fixies and Richard Risemberg has a positive article "In Praise of Fixies."

Can my bike be converted to a Fixie?
Horizontal DropoutIf you have an old bike with horizontal drop outs, (old Schwins, Centurions, Peugeots) like the picture to the left, you can make a Fixie.  This old style of dropouts, allows you to tension your chain without a derailer, by repositioning the wheel.

If you are selling an old bike, make sure to look at the back of the frame and see if your bike has this style of dropout.  You may be able to get extra value out of your old frame, even if the rest of your bike is of no value.  So bring those old bike to the Swap Meet and make some cash!

Fixie Culture in North County
El Camino Bike Shop is stocking both bikes and componnets to get people out on their Fixie.  There is a large group of Fixie riders in Downtown SD, and a Fixie group ride on Mondays at 6pm in Downtown Carlsbad.

It is great that people are finding new uses for old bikes and finding new ways to have fun with them.  We thought you would like to see some of the trick aspects of riding Fixies.  Here is a 2 minute video "Street LIfe".  When you look at the Video pay attention how they slide their rear wheels.  They do not coast, so when the peddles are not moving the riders are sliding their rear tires.  The Video shows riders not wearing helmets.  We are not happy that the "Fixies Culture" is to ride without helmets and we continue to hassel our Fixie Friends to put a Lid on their heads.  Fixed Gear 101 discusses the right way to ride and do tricks on Fixed Geared Bikes.



The Perfect Fit on a Bike

The Perfect Fit - The next step in your cycling experienceFiting on a bike

If you are getting serious about your cycling and want to get the most out of yourself and your bike, John Howard and El Camino Bike have the solution. 
John Howard is a legend in the bike community.  A 3-time Olympic Cyclist, 1981 Hawaii Ironman Champion,  USA Cycling Hall of Famer, Holder of Bicycle World Records at both ends of cycling's spectrum of madness:  Speed-  152.2 mph. and  24 hour endurance- 539 miles.  He has made his life mission to help others get the most out of their cycling.

John Howard's Power "FiTTE"™ Analysis
Traditional bike fits fail to take into account joint and muscle dysfunction and often serve to facilitate improper cycling techniques that can lead to low power, continued joint and muscle pain and injuries.

John's solution is a bit different. He evaluate soft tissue to determine the basis of problems and list priority items that you need to consider as part of your training. He creates some therapeutic stretches and strength exercises to solve problems, and increase your ability to leverage more power.  Spin Scan software is used to track real increases in your performance.  This is without a doubt the most cost effective performance enhancement session you will ever complete.   Check out FiTTE System--The Movie