Q: I just got a new bike, and it seems to have more toe overlap than my old bike. Should I move my cleats to minimize this?

A: The short answer is no. Bike fit is the most important part of the riding experience. If you’re not comfortable, then the entire experience—short or long—will be far less enjoyable. If you move your cleats, you will effectively be changing one of the base-fit items. This in turn will change your overall fit and efficiency on the bike.

Toe overlap is something that on many bikes cannot be circumnavigated. It is also something that shouldn’t affect 98 percent of your riding. When you are riding over 7–8 mph, you shouldn’t be turning your bars that far, and if you are, then most likely you should have your outside foot down. It really only affects you when cruising in a parking lot
or at a stop. Don’t let these short and seemingly unavoidable moments affect your overall fit, comfort
and performance. 

Q: Why is every bike going to disc brakes? In my area, we have no big or long descents, and I find my rim brakes do more than enough to slow me down.

A: For many cyclists, this is true, and while disc brakes do offer better braking, it’s not always necessary (although it’s hard to argue against improved stopping power). For me, the arrival of disc brakes was just the icing on the cake, as the real benefit was the thru-axles that often accompanied them. There is little debate that the 12mm thru-axles add significant lateral stiffness to the bike’s front end. This in turn will improve cornering and overall handling for any bike. If you are looking for a new bike, remember to verify that it has front and rear 12mm thru-axles, which has become the accepted industry standard. 

“At the end of the day, disc brakes have helped evolve the total system of the bike, and just like it was over 20 years ago with mountain bikes, they were just a natural step in technology for road bikes.” 

Some forks were designed to use a 15mm front axle, which is a size borrowed from mountain bikes. Although the larger axle will offer the same benefits, the downside is that it can be hard to find road wheelsets that adapt from 12mm to 15mm. Watch out for many of the first-generation disc brake bikes that still used quick-releases and offered debatable performance gains and plenty of dropout flex and noisy, rubbing rotors.

At the end of the day, disc brakes have helped evolve the total system of the bike, and just like it was over 20 years ago with mountain bikes, they were just a natural step in technology for road bikes. Whether you need the added performance when stopping is up to you but the performance that the thru-axles offer is where you will see the most noticeable benefits, no matter your topography. 

Q: What is the deal with everything going aero, even gravel bikes?

A: It was a few years ago at a wheel launch that I was sitting eating ice cream with a few aerodynamic experts who spend nearly every day in the wind tunnel or studying computational fluid dynamics when I was told a shocking stat.

They were explaining that drafting at speed as low as 9 mph offered a slight advantage, and that around 11–12 mph offered a true advantage. This was a bit shocking to me and brought forth a flurry of questions. They explained this was in general terms, and there are things that can affect the stat, but overall, it was true for 98 percent of riders and their positions. 

So, why is everything becoming aero? Because every little hint of wind-cheating shaping can help, even when speeds are low. As the industry evolves its aero designs, they are working on ways to balance compliance, stiffness, aero and reality. Still, the least aerodynamic part of the system is the rider, but if they can minimize the drag on the rest of the system, it will offer marginal gains.

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