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Even if you don’t know what friction is, you are subject to its effect. It’s because friction is a basic physics that you can’t avoid, and it’s necessary for optimum movement. However, sometimes, friction can limit the speed you need while cycling.
Basically, friction refers to the resistance that hampers the movement of an object. So, if you are experiencing too much friction while cycling, you need to take steps to reduce it. For a cyclist, there are two types of friction to care about – mechanical (of the cycle) and aerodynamic (external).
Cyclists usually consider the following to reduce friction – lube the inner parts of the cycle, wear an aerodynamic helmet, bend forward while riding, wear lighter clothes, pedal harder, and many more.
Let’s get into the details.
As mentioned earlier, there are two types of frictions that cyclists need to care about. The first one is the mechanical friction that occurs within the structure of the cycle. This is the friction between different parts of the cycle. If you don’t take care of the parts of your bikes for a long time, the friction will increase.
This type of friction is of two types.
- Drivetrain Friction
- Tire and Wheel Bearing Friction
Drivetrain friction occurs because of the pulley wheels when they rub against the chainrings and the sprockets. This causes tension and hence, friction.
The wheel bearing and tire friction occur when you are trying to go faster.
The second type of friction is the aerodynamic friction that simply occurs between the cyclist and the air he/she cuts through. It’s the resistance you get from the airflow coming against you.
Why Do We Need to Reduce Friction?
The reason behind the idea of reducing friction is simple.
- Friction will definitely reduce the motion and movement of your cycle. Meaning you won’t be able to run as fast as you want to.
- Internal mechanical friction causes damage to the inner parts of the cycle.
- Overall, friction reduces the lifetime of your cycle.
What Are Some Things Cyclists Do to Reduce Friction?
So, what are some of the hacks that cyclists follow while reducing friction? Well, it depends on the type of friction.
1. Reducing Mechanical Friction
Cleaning the Parts
This might be an obvious option, but cleaning the parts of your bike is a default way to mitigate friction. Make it a habit to clean the bike after every other ride, if not possible, after every ride. Using a pressure washer is a good way to make sure that you reach the toughest to reach corners of the inner parts.
Using Lube Oil
Another vital part of anti-friction tools is lube oil. You need to use proper lube oil and grease the chain accordingly. Lube oil, wax, dry lube, anything will do, as long as you are using it on a regular basis.
Go for the Big Ring
If you can go for a bigger ring and high-up the cassette, then there’s no reason you should not go for it. This makes it easier for the parts to move and face lesser friction.
Make sure you are checking up different parts of the bike like chainring, chain, front and rear derailleur, sprocket, etc. If any of the parts are showing signs of wear and tear, you should immediately go for a replacement.
Using Narrow Tires
Going for narrower tires for higher pressure actually works great. This will definitely lower the rolling friction.
Don’t Over-shift Gears
Shifting gears too often is also a reason why the gear tools are subject to friction. Try not to overdo it. Keep it as straight as possible for as long as you can.
Use steel frame
Compared to the aluminum frame, the steel frame demands less energy while riding, which makes it possible to mitigate friction.
Put the Chain Parallel to the Frame
This is a no-brainer but placing the chain parallel to the frame causes less friction than usual. You may need to adjust it from time to time, but it will eventually work great.
2. Reducing Aerodynamic Friction
Wear Minimal Apparel
The lesser you wear, the lighter you become. Hence, you face lesser friction, as well. So, make sure you don’t put on too many clothes on you. Go for half-sleeves to weigh lesser.
Keep it Dry
Make sure that the attire you put on is clean and dry. Dirty clothes get sticky if you are sweating too much and will definitely increase your weight and will block air more than usual.
Use Bikes with Fewer Gears
As we have already mentioned, frequent gear shifting causes friction. So, if possible, go for a bike that comes with fewer gears.
Don’t Bend over the Handlebars
Try not to bend over the handlebars when you are pedaling. This can increase the friction on your skin and will create more pressure on your body and the bike.
Use Aerodynamic Helmet
Yes, an aerodynamic helmet is a thing, and it works. It helps you channel the air smoothly over the helmet and let it flow without hampering your speed. However, a bit of bending here is necessary, but not too much.
If you are still feeling that the friction is higher, and you are not getting the speed you need, it’s recommended that you should pedal harder and faster. It can reduce friction instantly to some extent.
You May Also Read: Why Does My Bike Chain Slip When I Pedal Hard?
While friction is a good thing to keep everything in control on earth, it’s boring if you are riding a bicycle. Of course, a bit of friction is necessary to keep the bike from falling down; reducing it can give you a better riding experience. We hope the tips we shared to reduce both mechanical and aerodynamic friction will help you in person. Try out these methods, and let us know in the comments what your experience has been!