May is National Bike Month, and for the next few weeks, leading up to Bike to Work Day on Friday, May 20th, we’re going to be supplying you with healthy doses of insight and entertainment to encourage you to choose to use your bicycle as your method of transportation. We’re going to Revolutionize National Bike Month, and when Bike to Work Day 2011 arrives, you’ll be ready to roll with all of the essential information that a bicycle commuter needs.
Whether your bike is new or old, making sure that it is mechanically sound is one of the most important aspects of ensuring that your commute is comfortable and safe. We know that there are a lot of busy bike commuters in the DC area, so for our first Revolutionize National Bike Month enterprise, we ventured out to provide a few lucky cyclists with a quick, on-the-spot tune-up, compliments of our master mechanic and co-owner, Pinkey.
See Pinkey in action and after the video, check out our tips on how you can keep your bike in good shape.
Clean Your Drivetrain!
A simple and fast way to lengthen the life of your drivetrain components is to keep them clean. All of the road dirt that accumulates on your chain, cassette and derailleurs creates additional friction as those parts move together to power your ride, so keeping them clean and well-lubricated not only looks great, but will improve the quality and durability of your ride. To get started, you’ll need a biodegradable solvent, bicycle lubricant, and some rags. With your bike elevated (in a repair stand is the easiest way, but feel free to get creative), wipe off your chain and your cassette using a rag dipped in the solvent. Remove as much of the road dirt as possible (hint: with the bike elevated, you can pedal backwards while carefully holding the chain). Once you’ve cleaned the components, apply a moderate amount of lube to the chain while pedaling backwards. Make sure to cover the entire length of the chain and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, use a different rag to remove the excess lube from the outside of the chain. You only need the inside of the links to be lubricated, and excessive amounts of lubricant attract dirt.
Inflate Your Tires!
Tire inflation is an essential aspect of bicycle maintenance. Properly inflated tires will not only help you to ride more efficiently, but also you will experience fewer flats and longer tire life with proper inflation. To begin, know your valve type. For presta valves, you will need to unscrew the tip and gently press down on the tip to open the valve. For schrader valves, simply attach your pump head to the valve. There are many different types of pumps, so be sure to read the instructions for your particular model to ensure that you are using the proper setup based on your valve type. To determine what tire pressure you need, check the sidewall of the tire, where a recommended PSI range is printed. Pressure varies based on tire type and size as well as riding conditions and rider weight, but it is important not to inflate past the manufacturer’s recommendation. Be sure to check your tire pressure regularly, as the rubber in your tubes is porous and it is natural for tires to lose pressure over time. We also recommend carrying a spare tube on your commute, just in case.
Visit us at any location to learn more about these tips, to get a free service estimate on your bike, or to find out more about Bike to Work Month!