Ride the Puddles

Cycling on a Budget

Sugoi Bike Shorts

I’m a cheap #%^@ (I learned to spell bad words at Race Junkie). I own two pair of bike shorts and I got them both from the clearance section of a local bike shop.

This particular shop sells mainly Sugoi bikewear, so . . .

The first pair is six panel and I got them for $30.

The Good:

They fit well.

The chamois seems to be just a little thicker than the chamois in their 8 panel bro.

The Bad:

Sugois’ 6 panel shorts are stupidly sewn. Pulling them in any way (as you have to do in some manner if you intend to wear them higher than your ankles) puts stress on the first row of threads in each seam and the threads above do not reinforce. So if one thread pops, that’s it, you can count on all the threads at that location popping. Then you have a nice hole in your fairly new cycling shorts.

The hole in my shorts opened at the top of my butt. I have a hot butt, so it wasn’t all that embarrassing, but still irritating.

I sewed the first hole and changed how I pull them on. The very next ride a second hole opened 1/4″ below the first. I sewed that one, too, then reinforced the previous repair.

Since then it’s all been good, but I wouldn’t recommend Sugoi 6 panel shorts.

The pair I bought next is an 8 panel short that I paid, I think, $40 for.

The Good:

The fit is amazing. It’s as if they were made just for my behind.

The seams are sewn flat, so each thread reinforces the others.

Though the Chamois seems to be very slightly thinner than the chamois in the 6 panel shorts, it’s actually better at padding me hinter parts over long rides.

The Bad:

There is no bad. I love these shorts and I love them more for getting a discount on them.

Now, what I don’t get is why Sugoi half#$$es their 6 panel shorts. I can see that the flat seams might cost more if they were done by sweet little polish women on sewing machines. But, come on, it’s all sewn by machines, so what’s the extra expense?

I don’t care if it was on clearance, there’s no reason for a $30 pair of shorts (which were really $45 shorts) to come apart and no excuse for screwing customers with shoddy seam work.

Since buying these two shorts I’ve found other sources for low cost shorts in different brands. So I won’t be buying Sugoi anything again and I can’t recommend that you do, either.

Road Wheels

During my research on the Mavic R-Sys problems I read many times that they were over priced, not a lightweight option and that they had the areo characteristics of a brick.

So I went to a couple forums (Velocipede Salon and Podium Cafe and asked for reader feedback on what wheels they felt were the best value. I define value as the highest quality for the least money, but I got some interesting input that expanded my ideas on that a little.

There is a ton of interesting information in these discussions. Remembering that Bikezilla’s first focus is on newer riders, I’m only including information of wheels that seem accessible to that group.

In the comments to this post, Revolution Wheels was recommended. Their price is at the top end of what I’m considering, here. But if they’re as thoughfully and well made as the site claims, then they’re probably worth an extra few months of saving for.

Vlaanderen90’s Pick:

Fulcrum Race 5 and Race 7.

“They get the job done and they are dirt cheap.”

GregM’s and The Team Chef Picked:

Forte Titan’s (Front), (Rear).

Several people were fans of Neuvation wheels sets, especially their R28’s, and M28 Aero’s. The real contest for best value seems to be between them and Williams (especially their System 30’s).

TedVDW recommends Campagnolo’s, especially Zonda and Eurus wheel sets, based on price (between $400 and $500 US) vs strength, durability and stiffness.

Over the short term (1 – 2 seasons) Caleb recommended Easton and if you want something with more long term reliability (5 seasons) he and GearGuyWB suggested DT Swiss RR 1.1.

There were enough fans out there for the DT Swiss line of wheels that even though they come in at the higher end of what I think a newer rider might want or need, they’re probably worth some time in investigation and consideration.

Alfa75 recommends Velocity Aeroheads for their price vs durability. The Aeroheads are listed as a Track wheel, which would have me leary about their ability to handle road conditions, especially for a larger rider. Alfa75 has 10K on his with no problems, so at $250 a set they might be worth considering.


In the comments to this section an anonymouns reader said:

“The aerohead is a clincher. Since when where clinchers allowed in velodromes?”

I don’t follow track racing so have no answer for this, butI wrote Velocity about it and Matt responded:

“The wheels are under the track section because they come with a fixed gear hub, the same type of system used on track bikes. Clincher rims are used by many riders at the velodrome, although tubular tires are preferable for their lower rolling resistance and superior grip to most clincher tires.

Our Escape rim is almost identical to the Aerohead, except that it is compatible with a tubular tire. You’ll find our Aerohead road wheels under the names “Helios” and “Nuvian”. Either set is available with Aerohead or Escape rims. If you have any other questions, let me know.”

Shimano wheels were both heralded for their low cost and blasted for being unreliable crap, which would seem to say that, in general, they are not really a good value.

Wheels with “Shimano, Campagnolo, Chris King or DT cassette bodies” (GrantM) and those hubs in general seem to be highly favored. I think that would only include the higher end Shimano parts. Low end Shimano anything tend to be flat-out garbage.

Though GrantM says, “. . .in my experience, the shimano and campy ones (cheap wheels) suck the least, and it’s not even close. I’d estimate the shimano cheap hub body failure rate at 2-3%, and some of the others at 25-50%. It’s quite rare to see a shimano freehub fail in less than 2 or 3 years, and it’s very common to see non shimano oem freehubs making noise in a month.”

So you might want to look more deeply into that issue on your own.

At the same time Mavic and Zipp seem to have the fewest fans and most criticism in relation to their reliability and value. Velomax wheels took a huge hit because their hubs tend to fail catastrophically (maybe they should be called VeloMavics).

There was a lot more information in those threads, but it wasn’t stuff I thought my target readers could benefit from. However, if you’re a little more experienced cyclist and want some good advice on wheels and their components, you might really appreciate reading the full discussions.

Cyclometers Widgets

Cyclometers (cycling computers, bike computers).

These are tiny units, smaller than a matchbook, that weigh just ounces and mount easily and reliably onto your bike.

They aren’t only for the ridiculously anal. You don’t need to be obsessed with every smallest detail of your ride to quickly come to appreciate a cyclometer.

And, while you CAN spend more money than you shelled out for your wife’s engagement ring, you don’t need to in order to find a quality unit with great functionality.

They’ll feed you information like speed, average speed, maximum speed, time, temperature, cadence, average cadence, maximum cadence and quite a bit more depending on the model you have.

The least expensive units have wires from wheels and or crank (pedals) to the actual cyclometer, which sets on your handlebars.

— Bell Cyclometers

I picked up my Bell cyclometer for under $10 and four years later you can still find at least one of their models in that range. They also have more upscale models (which I haven’t used) at around $15 and $20.

The Bell was my very first cyclometer. Worked great. Excellent quality and the least expensive of any unit out there. You’ll find that to be the case with a lot of Bell equipment.

They have (or had) a quirk I really hate, though; They don’t stop calculating average speed until a good thirty seconds after you stop. So every time you have to wait for traffic to pass as you wait at an intersection your recorded average speed will tick, tick, tick downward, losing anywhere from a tenth of an MPH to three tenths of a MPH every time you stop.

Absolutely infuriating, not to mention unacceptably inaccurate in that one respect.

They’re still great for keeping track of how fast you’re actually traveling and how far you’ve gone either during a single ride or over the course of a season.

— Schwinn Cyclometers.

Really superb product. Great functionality, great reliability, still a really nice price point.

You can pick them up in the $10 – $20 range.

And unlike my original Bell, they stop calculating your average speed every time you stop.

There is one limitation, however. I’ve never found a Schwinn that calculates cadence (though I’ve seen it on packaging). If I had I would have stuck with them.

Instead I moved up to . . .

— Cateye Cyclometers

If you’ll read reviews on Amazon the #1 complaint about cyclometers that measure cadence is a difficulty in installing the magnet and the sensing unit for the cadence properly, and a lack of reliability after installation. Several models even have complaints about this magnet being poorly constructed and falling apart, making that feature entirely unusable.

So when I laid down my $40 for my new Cateye “Astrale 8” cyclometer I also paid the cycling shop a little extra to install it for me. That way I know that A) it was properly attached. B) Tested to ensure proper functioning and C) I’m protected against failure due to installation issues and possibly due to workmanship.

It was worth the little extra for that peace of mind.

UPDATE: After about 500 miles logged in about 30 uses the plastic tab the locks the unit into the cradle broke. Frustrating.

BUT! In LESS than five minutes after I emailed the company with my complaint, they’d written back offering to send free replacement parts. I sent them additional information they requested and literally less than 45 minutes after my first email the new parts had been shipped.

I’m a little nervous about the new parts lasting any longer than the originals, but that was some sweet customer service. I’ll keep you posted on how the new parts hold up.

UPDATE 2: Parts got here in about 4 days. Amazing service, really.

But when I asked about what I could or should do to strengthen the tab (actually, I knew it was a stupid question, but I was baiting the service guy) I was told to avoid using it in cooler temps and to be very gentle when removing the computer from its dock.

So this is a problem they’re aware of, yet they refuse to address it through improved materials and production.

Because of that I really can’t recommend Cateye.

The limitation of low end, cadence-counting cyclometers like the Cat Eye “Astrale” is that they only count basic cadence. They don’t record average and or maximum cadence.

That’s another step up and another $15 – $25.

After that you can keep on moving up. There are wireless units, units that work with a heart rate monitor, units that work with a power meter. You can get as much functionality as you want to, but at ever increasing price points.

Homemade Sports Drink

This can also be simmered down to a concentrate and used as a “sports gel”, though I’m not sure how you’d store and carry it in a way that allowed you to consume it and still ride safely. Guess you’d have to stop.

To me it’s easier to just combine it with my hydration.

I got this idea from a discussion over at, but can’t find the original discussion to link to. If I find it I’ll put it up.

I start with equal parts honey and raw sugar (natural sugar, Sugar in the Raw, unprocessed cane sugar, it comes under a few different names), about 1/2 cup each, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt (I use iodized table salt or sea salt, but use whatever kind of salt you like), and about 2 cups of water.

Then it depends on what I have around.

Right now I have some free form amino acid goo that I found in the back of the fridge. It didn’t smell bad so I’m adding about a tablespoon per batch until I run out. I add this after cooling.

I have a big jar of chewable vitamin C (500 mg), so I toss in one tablet per batch.

Ditto with potassium / magnesium tablets.

Then one tums per batch for the calcium and maltodextrin.

Heat all on low until it steams, then break up the tablets and let it steam another ten minutes. Stir it good, then strain out the remaining solids as you pour into whatever container you’re using.

It tastes good by itself, but I usually add it to something, or something to it.

You can do a few things with it (plus whatever you think of on your own).

1. Use it as is in your water bottle.

2. Mix it with gatorade (I specify gatorade because I use the powdered stuff to save money and as far as I know it’s the only brand that comes in powder form).

This is what I’ve been doing with it. I mix one batch with two quarts of gatorade and split it between my water bottles.

3. Depending on if you’ll use it as is or dilute it with water, add 1 tsp to 3 tbsp of coco powder (I use the unsweetened stuff).

4. Nix the Gatorade and brew up a batach of tea (I use green tea, peach flavored tea and blueberry flavored tea). I prefer the taste of this to any of the others.

There is also an electrolyte replacement product called Elete that you cold mix in. I don’t use it, but I would if I wasn’t so damned cheap.


2 Responses to “Cycling on a Budget”

  1. TheBloomingCyclist said

    Dude. awesome. good stuff.

  2. Larry Woodman said

    I bought a Acclain Turn signal brake light horn Bicycle bike ? I have a recumbent Terra Trike which I would like to put it on but the wire for shop light is not long enough to reach the front brake to add it would known the gauge wire or do have said wire to add? larry woodman at

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