Why are bicycle flags NOT more popular?

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Flag waving for cyclists…

Out of the ten other touring cyclists we have met, not one has had a flag. All the motorists, motorcyclists and truckies we have met have been extremely complimentary about our flags. They truly DO want to be able to see us as far ahead of them as possible. I have heard complaint after complaint from motorists about cyclists not being visible – so why so few flagwavers?

I think partly this is because of the perception that flags are for kids. A peception I believe may even extend to the manufacturers themselves who do not seem to make flags as durable as they could.

Ours, for instance, did not stand up to high winds or being taken off the bike repeatedly. The glue beneath the flag quickly dries out and the flag requires duct tape or a plastic clamp to secure it.

Also, some flags are designed to go on the back wheel axel and come with a metal plate to attach it there. For a tourer, this is hopeless as your panniers and rack are in the way.

Instead, we have had to devise our own attachment system using a hacksaw, cable ties, a twig and reticulation connectors. We attach the reticulation piping to the rack with cable ties then place the flag inside it secured with a twig as the pipe is too large for the flag.

The attachment system…

Plastic reticulation connectors, reticulation ends and cable ties can be purchased for under a dollar in most hardware stores. We keep a hacksaw on our bikes taped on along with our spokes and have used this to saw off the metal attachment plate. And a piece of wooden doweling can be used but twigs are freely available under any tree…

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Cheap ways to attach flags…

Many flags that we’ve seen come in two parts which is very handy. In cities, when we are walking our bikes along the pavement, we have to be very careful not to whip people in the face with it. It is much easier to take off half your flag than the whole flag and, when necessary, the disconnectable top half becomes an excellent and humane dog deterrent!

Unfortunately, there is a lot of stress on the plastic at this halfway point which we have tried to alleviate using cable ties and which the flag manufacturers have tried to alleviate using connecting metal clamps on the latest flags.

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Flags come in two parts…

Ok, so you may look like a dork with a flag. But is it that much dorkier than lycra? Isnt it better to look like a dork than to look like roadkill? Flags are inexpensive and available from bike stores everywhere.

For those of you who are ready to take your cycling to the next level by installing your own components – or if you simply want to add a new frame while keeping your old components – here’s a great video demonstrating how to build your own bike starting with just the frame.
 

 

Bicycle-erectile-dysfunction

Can cycling really cause sexual dysfunction in men?

This topic has been increasingly discussed and debated in recent years, but studies do show that men who engange in prolonged bicycle riding without a proper saddle fit may be at risk of developing erectile dysfunction (ED), especially in older men. However, this risk is dependent upon several factors, such as weekly number of cycling hours, the cyclist’s weight and skill level, and the bike’s fit.

Erectile Dysfunction – What is it?

Erectile dysfunction (also referred to as “impotence”) is a condition marked by the continual inability to attain or keep an erection firm enough to engage in sexual intercourse. Normally, the cause for ED is health-related, such as heart disease, low testosterone levels, diabetes, atherosclerosis, nerological conditions and chronic alcohol consumption. Smoking, obesity, and an inactive lifestyle are the most common examples.

How Can Bicycles Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Besides the health conditions listed above, there can be physical causes for ED when damage occurs to the nerves, muscles, blood vessels or tissues associated with getting an erection. Long-term perineal pressure (the area between the anus and penis) caused by prolonged cycling in the same saddle position can create this type of damage and lead to temporary ED. However, if the underlying problem is not addressed the damage to penile tissues could become permanent.

Some of the factors which contribute to bicycle-related erectile dysfunction include the style of saddle used, the cyclist’s weight (more weight equals more perineal pressure), and how intense the cycling is. Cyclists who race tend to have a lower risk for developing this type of ED because so much of their body weight is distributed to the pedals, relieving much of the saddle pressure.

What Are the Symptoms of Bicycle ED?

Reduced blood flow to the perineum causes pain, numbness or tingling in the perineum long before men develop ED. If you don’t have problems with pain, numbness or tingling, stop worrying and enjoy your ride. If you do have pain, address the problem before it gets worse.

Some symptoms of constricted perineal bloodflow include pain, tingling or numbness. These signs will manifest well before any ED issues come along. Luckily, for those who do develop symptoms of bicyle erectile dysfunction, reversing the condition before permanent problems occur is not difficult. If you don’t have any of these symptoms, don’t worry about it and enjoy the ride. However, if you do experience any pain or numbness, take the necessary measures to correct it before things get worse.

How to Prevent ED From Cycling

If you’re a guy experiencing numbness, pain or discomfort while riding your bike, try using the tips below:

  • For longer rides, try standing on the pedals every so often to stretch the legs and allow bloodflow to return to normal.
  • Keep in mind to alternate your position often as you ride, by standing and shifting back or forward as necessary.
  • Make adjustments to the saddle in order to minimize pressure points.
  • Try using a “no-nose” seat, or a seat with a cut-out area to eliminate excess perineal pressure.
  • Ironically, seats with a too much padding can actually create more pressure and numbness; use something that’s on the firm side.
  • To avoid unnecessary pressure, remember to always tilt the saddle downward or level, not in an upward postition.
  • Raise the handlebars if necessary in order to prevent leaning forward too much.
  • Make sure to wear high-quality cylcing shorts with a good pad.
  • Position the seat just high enough so your knee is only slighty bent with the pedal down.no-nose-seat

What Type of Bike Saddle to Use

Fortunately, there are more saddle designs and styles to choose from than ever before. One type available is a saddle with a cut out area in the middle which dramatically decreases pressure on the perineum and penile tissues. Studies have shown that this design is effective and many riders have found them to be superior in comfort when compared to traditional seats.

Other seats not only have a cut out middle section, but a nose which faces downward as well. Research has indicated that this design in particular seems to be best at reducing any restriction of penile bloodflow.

Other studies have also shown a benefit from using a wider saddle compared to a narrow one. According to computer analysis, the rider’s weight is more evenly distributed on a wider saddle, reducing more pressure on the perineal area relative to a narrower saddle.

By keeping a few of these guidelines in mind you’ll save yourself from any potential problems down the road and enjoy more comfortable riding, too.

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