San Antonio Sightseeing Trips: The Gruene Bike Trails

Options for San Antonio sightseeing trips are abundant, especially for bicycle riders. The city and its surrounding area are rich with trails that are perfect for two wheels. One of the most popular destinations for cyclists is the tiny town of Gruene, located in between San Antonio and Austin. The location is the site of the annual Tour De Gruene in early November, but the various routes can be enjoyed any time of year. Here’s a look at some of the more popular trails:

  1. A short, 10-mile ride begins in Gruene then heads towards the town of Hunter in the northeast. Along the way, riders have the chance to enjoy some of the Lone Star State’s most picturesque farmland. The return route goes through the little hamlet of New Braunfels, crossing the Guadalupe River twice in the process. An easy journey for even beginning cyclists, the route is exceptionally flat, with only 112 feet of elevation gain during its entire course.
  2. A longer, 20-mile route also starts in Gruene, traveling into Hunter itself. Along the way, riders will traverse meandering country roads surrounded by cotton farms and ranches. On the return trip, the route goes past the Comal County Fairgrounds before returning to Gruene. With 272 feet of elevation gain, this trail is modestly hilly.
  3. An even longer, 30-mile course leads northeast from Gruene and goes directly through Hunter and beyond. It links with York Creek Road, which rewards cyclists by leading them along a pleasant stream heavily shaded with trees. It then returns to Gruene, having led riders over 427 feet of elevation gain. This is about as hilly as it gets in this part of Texas.

One thing that makes cycling a great hobby is the chance to enjoy the comfort and performance offered by modern bicycles, such as the ones sold at Alamo Bike Shop. Drop by soon to see our wide selection and pick up a new bike for your upcoming San Antonio sightseeing trips.

The Mission Trail is One of San Antonio’s Best Weekend Bike Trips

One of the great things about San Antonio is that there’s no shortage of locations for weekend bike trips. This month, we’d like to talk about the Mission Trail, a 14-mile excursion that takes cyclists along the San Antonio River and past the historic missions in the southern part of the city.

The route’s gentle elevation changes and paved surface makes it perfect for families, comfort bike riders, and others looking for a leisurely trip along a scenic pathway. Another pleasant thing about the route is that there are no motorists to share the road with. This makes it ideal for kids, as well as for beginning bikers who haven’t yet developed their road awareness skills.

Trail highlights include plenty of scenic views and generous shade from the sun, due to the mature trees that line the river. However, the main attractions are the missions, including the most famous of Texas landmarks, the Alamo. Founded in 1817, the structure contains relics and other memorabilia, which document the battle with Santa Anna in 1836.

Mission Concepcion is also just off the trail. Built in 1731, it’s a marvelous example of classic Spanish architecture that looks almost unchanged from when it was first built. The wall hangings and ceiling paintings are renowned worldwide for their exquisite beauty.

Also near the trail is the Mission San Francisco de la Espada, built in 1731. It has splendid examples of dams and aqueducts that have been in place and functioning since the 1730s. Mission San Jose, founded in 1720, is known as “queen of the missions” due to its magnificent construction.

Please note that, while water is available on the trail during daylight hours, there are no places that serve food. Riders are encouraged to bring their own snacks and drinks for their weekend bike trips. The Mission Trail is a splendid trip through Texas’ glorious past and is highly recommended for all cyclists.

3 Sources for Vintage Bike Parts

While a lot of people are familiar with the hobby of restoring antique cars, not nearly as many know that maintaining and riding classic bikes is also quite popular.  While bikes from yesteryear may not have the advanced features of today’s models, they were generally very well built, and have a strong nostalgic appeal.  Of course, one of the challenges with this pastime is finding vintage bike parts in good condition.  Here’s a look at some possible sources.

  1. Flea markets, yard sales, and “junk” shops – these can be a real mixed bag.  While finding the exact part you’re looking for might be hard, every once in a while you come across a huge find, like a cycle from the ‘60s or ‘70s in great shape.  Just keep in mind that these sources are hit-and-miss and usually only take cash.  Nonetheless, the occasional terrific find makes visiting them worthwhile.
  2. Craigslist, Ebay, and other online sources – like the options above, these can be mixed blessings.  The sheer size and scope of the Internet makes it highly likely that you’ll find what you’re looking for.  However, you’ll almost certainly be dealing with people you don’t know and will never see in person (except for maybe on Craigslist).  So you’ll be parting with your hard-earned money based on a hope that what you end up with is worth the price you paid.  To minimize your chances of being taken advantage of, we recommend only dealing with merchants that have long-established reputations for treating their customers right.
  3. Your local bike shop – this is often the best source of all.  Bicycle enthusiasts are a tight-knit bunch and love to talk about their hobby.  Come by Alamo Bike Shop next time you’re in the area and tell us what vintage bike parts you’re looking for.  Odds are good that one of our staff will be able to provide you with the right part or a good lead.

 

If you’re in the San Antonio area, drop by and see us, and feel free to bring your vintage bike if you like.  We look forward to meeting you!

3 Tips for Finding Cycling Bikes for Sale

Spring is here at last, and summer is just around the corner.  Millions of Americans are taking advantage of the warm weather to enjoy outdoor activities, and many of them are searching for cycling bikes for sale.  If you’re one of them, here are some tips for picking the right model for your needs.

  1. Ask yourself what kind of riding you want to do.  If you’re new to cycling or haven’t been on a bike for a while, then you might want to consider a comfort bicycle.  These models have wider tires, higher handle bars, and more comfortable seats than other types.  They’re perfect for riding on paved trails, around town, or on the beach.  Many cyclists find that a good comfort bike is the only kind they ever need.
  2. Make sure the bike you’re considering is a good fit for you by comparing it to your body frame.  This earlier post explains how to do this, whether you’re an adult, child, or teen.  It’s impossible to over-emphasize how important this is.  An ill-fitting bicycle is not only unsafe, but riding it will also be more of a chore than anything else, which might turn you off to the hobby.  If you’re buying a bike for a young person, make sure to get one that fits them now, not one that you think they’ll grow into.  This will help to ensure that they get the most benefit from the activity.
  3. If at all possible, purchase your bicycle from a well-established bike shop.  Not only do they carry better-quality cycling bikes for sale, but they’re also usually staffed by long-time riders who can match you to the right model for your needs.  If you live in or near San Antonio, then we invite you to drop by and see our team at Alamo Bike Shop today.  We can get you off to a great start!

Street Bike Parts and Tips For Choosing a New Cycle

Here at Alamo Bike Shop, we stock components for all types of bicycles, including mountain, comfort, and street bike parts.  Street bikes are an increasingly popular option for getting around urban areas.  If you’re considering buying one, here are some basic tips to keep in mind.

Street Bikes 101

Street bikes, also known as “urban” or “road” bikes, are designed specifically for riding on pavement.  They stand apart from mountain and comfort bikes in the following ways:

  1. They’re usually lighter in weight.
  2. They’re ideal for virtually any kind of finished-surface cycling, whether for fitness, commuting, long-distance or touring.  They also make great racing bikes.
  3. They accommodate any level of riding experience, from beginner to veteran.

 

Enough of the basics; here’s how to choose a great street bike.

 

  1. Choose the right size.  This is perhaps the single most important factor in selecting the correct street bike for your needs.  A poorly fitting frame can make your ride uncomfortable or even painful. Knowledgeable staff at your local bike shop should be able to help you determine the best fit for you.
  2. Know whether you want a drop-bar or flat-bar design.  The choice comes down to aerodynamics vs. comfort.  With a drop-bar bike you’ll be riding while bent at the waist, which reduces your air resistance.  However, it can also cause back, neck, and hand pain.   A flat-bar permits the rider to sit up higher.  This is not only more comfortable, it can also be safer, as it allows riders to better see obstacles and other hazards.
  3. Shop carefully. As with other kinds of bikes, street cycles vary widely in terms of quality.  Read reviews, learn about the different brands, and make sure you’re happy with the model you ultimately get.  After all, you work hard for your money, so make sure you get a bike that’s worth its price tag.

One way to be sure that you get a great deal is to buy your next bicycle from Alamo Bike Shop.  Come visit our store to browse our great selection of cycles. If you already have your perfect cycle, feel free to bring it by for repairs or street bike parts. We’ll see you soon!

6 Checks to Perform Before Visiting Local Bicycle Repair Shops

With spring well on its way, cyclists across the country will be visiting their local bicycle repair shops to get their bikes in shape for the riding season.  Why not bring yours to Alamo Bike Shop here in San Antonio soon?  We’ll be happy to give it a complete inspection and tune-up.

Before you come in, though, here’s a series of six quick tests you can use to find out about any potential problems before they become serious.

  1. Pick your bike up about 4-5 inches above the ground, and then let it drop straight down on its wheels.  Listen for any rattles, creaks, popping noises, etc.; these could be signs of loose or damaged parts.
  2. Engage the brakes and let them go.  They should snap back into place immediately.  If they don’t, be sure to get them checked out before your next ride.
  3. Give the tires a close look-see.  Check for any tears, rips, or cuts.  Make sure they’re inflated to the recommended pressure and stay that way.
  4. Spin the wheels.  You should notice no wobbling, squeaking, or contact with the brake pads.
  5. Check the wheel’s quick release levers (they allow the wheels to be removed without using tools).  Make sure the levers are tight and functioning properly.
  6. Check the headset.  This is the tube that connects the frame and the front wheel forks.  Over time it can come loose.  Check for this by applying the front brakes while gently tilting the bike, so that the rear wheel raises up and goes back down to the ground.  If you hear any clicking, you may have headset problems.

Be sure to mention any problems you notice to the experts on our team here at Alamo Bike Shop.  Whether you live in the San Antonio area or will be visiting us in the future, drop by and see us!  We offer a full range of services for your cycling needs: rentals, secondhand bikes, tours of downtown, and repairs.

Secondhand Bikes: Buying Tips for Older Persons

More and more Americans are staying physically active well into their later years.  The benefits of lifelong exercise include better health and improved quality of life. Cycling is an especially good activity for older persons; it’s low-impact and has terrific cardiovascular benefits.  Many seniors are on tight budgets, however, and can benefit from the cost savings associated with secondhand bikes.  So here are some tips for choosing a great bike with the needs of mature persons in mind.

Get Comfortable

For most seniors, the best all-around choice will be a “comfort” or “cruiser” bike.  These models have features such as high handlebars, wide tires, and well-padded seats.  They also feature fewer gears for ease of riding and front- and rear-wheel suspension.

Saddle Up

Most seniors will be comfortable with saddles that are between 8-12 inches wide.  A layer of gel padding is a good idea as well.  It provides enhanced comfort and protects the coccyx and perineum.  Another important consideration is saddle design; horseshoe-shaped ones are especially comfortable and supportive, as are noseless ones or those with a deep indentation down the center.  Leather is a good exterior material, as are the various moisture-wicking fabrics.  They help to avoid chafing and keep the saddle dry.

Do a Test Run

Before buying any bike, take it for a short test ride in the parking lot.  The handlebars should be set at a comfortable height, the saddle should not put undue pressure on any part of the body, and the knees should have a slight bend as the pedal reaches the bottom of the down stroke.  A good bike shop will make sure that the cycle fits the rider comfortably.

If you’re an older person and live in or near San Antonio, then we encourage you to drop by Alamo Bike Shop soon.  We’ll be happy to match you with the perfect secondhand bike for your needs and your budget.

How to Choose a Bicycle Repair Store

A great bicycle repair store is a cyclist’s best friend.  It can be a source of invaluable advice and tips, great repair & maintenance services, and lasting friendships. Most shops are staffed by friendly, knowledgeable professionals, but here are a few things to look for before settling on your favorite bicycle repair store.

Attitude

People start businesses for two reasons.  One is that they are passionate about a product or service and want to provide it to others who will benefit from it.  Others, however, place money above all other concerns.  Which category your local bike shop fits into will become obvious once you visit it.  Ask the staff questions that may require a couple of minutes for them to answer (do this at a time when the shop isn’t especially busy).  Do they address your concerns in a friendly, professional manner, or are they rude or inattentive?  If they recommend a product, do they seem to be doing so with your best interests in mind, or is their goal simply to make a buck off of you?  Do they let you make decisions on your own, or do they try to pressure you?

Knowledge

No bike tech knows everything; avoid any that think they do.  But a capable one should be able to explain the reasons for a suggested repair, answer basic questions, and display a general understanding of the bike business.  He or she should also be courteous and take a moment to address your concerns.  Do the techs at the shop you’re visiting exhibit these qualities?

Appearance

Neatness counts when it comes to any business that’s open to the public.  Disorganized merchandise, dusty and dirty conditions, or just an overall slovenly atmosphere are warning signs.

In the interests of full disclosure, we’re sharing these tips not just to inform you, but also to toot our own horn a bit.  You see, we’re sure that once you visit Alamo Bike Shop, you’ll agree that we live up to the highest standards of honesty, customer service, and professionalism.  Come see us today and find out for yourself! We look forward to becoming your go-to bicycle repair store.

6 Tips for Buying Secondhand Bikes

With the economy still weak in many parts of the country, secondhand bikes are more popular than ever.  Buying one can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars off the cost of a new model.  However, as with any secondhand purchase, it pays to exercise a little extra caution when choosing one.  Some things to look for include:

 

  1. The frameset – Chipped paint and a few tiny oxidation spots are fine, but pass up any bike with dents in the frame, especially if it’s made of aluminum.  Look for cracks or bends where the wheel attaches to the frame (known as the “dropout”).  The front fork should have no play in it whatsoever.
  2. Saddle – Torn ones should have been replaced; avoid the “duct tape quick repair.”  Make sure there’s no play in the saddle; it should be parallel with a level floor.  Sit on it; your leg should slightly bend at the bottom of the down stroke.  Check the seal post clamp for cracks or other signs of wear.
  3. Brakes – Dried-out or worn brake pads are a huge safety risk.  The bike might still be a good deal, but be prepared to replace the pads ASAP.  Rusty or frayed cables, bent or cracked levers, or “mushy” braking are all signs the bike needs replacement parts.
  4. Drivetrain – There should be no play in the crankset.  If there is, the bike probably has worn bearings. Spin the flywheel; any chattering or knocking is a sign of bad bearings.  Shifting should be smooth and crisp in each gear; you’ll need to raise the rear wheel to check for this.
  5. Wheels – Check for side-to-side play.  If you notice any, then the hubs may be worn.  Squeeze the spokes; tension should be the same at every spot.  Loose or broken spokes are a huge red flag.  Tires with worn tread, dry rot, or damage to the sidewalls should be replaced.  Check the air pressure in the tires.  If they can’t hold the recommended level, then the bike has leakage problems.
  6. Bike shop check – if possible, have a local bike shop inspect the cycle before you purchase it.  Here at Alamo Bike Shop we’re happy to perform that service, but we also stock a number of secondhand bikes that are in excellent shape.  Come by and browse our selection soon!

3 Tips for Buying Discount Mountain Bikes

Discount mountain bikes are more popular than ever, thanks to the growing trend towards health-consciousness.  When you combine the fitness benefits of riding a bicycle with the challenge and scenic beauty of mountain biking, you get a one-of-a-kind experience that’s perfect for improving both body and mind.

As with any purchase, however, choosing a good mountain bike, whether new or pre-owned, involves knowing something about the product.  Here are some things to consider:

  1. Of all the bike’s components, the frame is the most important.  Pedals, brakes, etc., can be upgraded.  But if you’ve got a poor frame, then you’re out of luck.  Avoid ones made of high-tensile steel if possible, unless you don’t mind a very heavy bike.  Frames built from chromoly steel or aluminum offer a good balance between strength and weight, with chromoly being the more durable (and heavier) of the two.  If your budget permits it, then titanium and carbon fiber frames offer the best strength/weight ratio.
  2. Disc brakes are a must-have for mountain bikes, as traditional rim brakes are prone to slippage from mud and dirt—two things you’re likely to run into on the back roads.  Front-suspension bikes, known as “hard tails,” will protect your wrists and arms from the shock of rough downhill trails.  For maximum comfort, a full-suspension bike is best.
  3. Pre-owned mountain bikes can be a terrific bargain, but check one over thoroughly before buying.  Inspect the frame for cracks.  Make sure the wheels are true.  Inspect the cables for frayed or stretched points.  Check the suspension as well; it should be smooth, with no leaks or squeaks.  Check all fittings to make sure there is no unnecessary play, and give the tires a good look-over for any weather cracks.

There’s one way to make sure you get a great deal: buy your discount mountain bike from Alamo Bike Shop.  We thoroughly inspect all pre-owned bikes we sell, making sure they’re in premium shape.  We also sell new Jamis bikes, which are unsurpassed for quality.  Come by and browse our selection today!