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Sunday, June 24, 2007

FIXING AND MAINTAINING YOUR BIKE FOR AN OPTIMUM RIDE!


I haven't posted in a while and I guess you can figure out why. Especially if you live in the snowbelt, it's summer and riding is a major part of my agenda. I can't write and ride at the same time now can I?

This year I decided to ride a single speed coaster brake cruiser. The decision was first based on looks (They do look cool!) and also on the fact that I was tired of hauling all the tools necessary to fix a busted derailleur or brake calipers everytime I go for a decent ride. A coaster brake cruiser requires very few tools and it lightens the tool bag big time. A cruiser also builds a good pair of legs!

A one speed cruiser bike is very demanding on hills and it's pretty heavy. So everything you can do to help yourself to move forward with less effort helps. These tips apply to any kind of bike. They are things that most people overlook or don't know about that robs them of a very enjoyable bicycle ride. Let's face it, the easier and more comfortable a bike is, the more you ride. So here it goes:

  1. TIRE PRESSURE: Buy a floor pump with a gauge and check your tire pressure on a regular basis. Rubber tubes are porous to a point and you do lose air over time. A low pressure tire will slow you down a lot. Pump it up to the prescribed pressure and you will see a huge difference.
  2. WHEEL AND PEDAL AXLE BEARINGS: The bearings in your bike are what makes everything turn smoothly. Make sure they are greased properly by doing a simple check, turn the front and back wheels to see if they turn freely. Get the chain off the front chainring and see if you can turn the pedals without feeling any resistance.
  3. LUBE THAT CHAIN: It sounds crazy, but a badly lubed chain will rob you of some power. I noticed this when I ran a recumbent with a chain 2 and a half times longer than a regular bike. The thing ran a lot better when the chain was properly lubricated.
  4. IS ANYTHING RUBBING?: If you are riding with a brake pad rubbing on the rim all the time, this will take away a lot of your pedaling power for nothing. Again, spin the wheels to see if they turn freely. Check also if the wheels are sitting properly in the frame and that the tires or not rubbing on it.
  5. SEAT POSITION: If your seat is too low, you will have a hard time pedaling and you might even hurt your knees. I have seen people riding their bikes with their knees sticking out sideways countless times and somehow they don't seem to enjoy themselves.
  6. GEARS, USE 'EM IF YOU HAVE 'EM: Give yourself a chance and leave from a dead stop on a lower gear. I often see people leaving a traffic light on the biggest chainring in the front, pedaling hard, looking in pain and hurting their knees. Use the middle or small chainring and learn to shift that bike or get a one speed cruiser!
  7. PUT YOUR BIKE ON A DIET: Do you have any kind of junk on your bike that you don't use or that is there for no purpose? If so, remove it. A heavy bike will show it's bad side when climbing hills or going against a hard head wind. You are the only thing powering that beast, so every ounce counts.
Bike maintenance not only preserves your bicycle, but it also makes for a more enjoyable ride and like I said before the more fun it is, the more you do it.

'Til next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

8 comments:

Jason said...

Good point about downshifting before stops. I've observed that problem with a lot of bikers myself. Personally, I don't prefer to switch between chainrings too much during my daily commute as the low gears on my cassette are adequate unless I'm tired and hitting an especially steep hill.

Kevin D said...

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Neil said...

You're not kidding about saving weight. I was riding back from work the other day (for the first time, actually), and I noticed the biking was a lor harder than usual. I attributed it to tiredness at the time. When I got home, I pulled my panniers and trunk bag off the rack, and fir the first time realized how heavy they were. 20 pounds! That's 2/3 the weight of the bike. Won't make that mistake again.

Gerry Lauzon said...

I hear you Neil, I took out the 45lbs cruiser today and couldn't believe how hard it was to push it uphill. However, it has great momentum when going downhill!

Gerry :)

Patrick Belardo said...

Hi Gerry,

My fiancee and I bought bikes a few years ago. We've barely ridden them, unfortunately. We plan to bring them on vacation next week. When she pedals her bike, it always sounds like she's "between" gears (a rattling/grinding sound). What could cause this? Is it easy to fix?

Gerry Lauzon said...

Patrick, sounds like the rear derailleur needs to be adjusted. It's possible that the cable is a bit slack. Check out the article about how to adjust the derailleur in the sidebar. You might only have to play with the cable housing adjustment screw on the derailleur body by unscrewing it to put more tension in the cable.

Gerry :)

Therese said...

I just purchased an older, but in very nice condition, women's Schwinn Collegiate 3-speed. The frame is straight, and everything seems in order, except it is very difficult even for a teen to pedal. I noticed the shifter was a little rusty and difficult to shift out of 1st gear, but after oiling it and working on it a bit, it operates fairly smoothly. Any suggestions? The tires are in good shape, tube was replaced, and rims and spokes look straight and not rusted. Thanks. inland crab

Gerald said...

It sounds like your bike is stuck in 3rd gear and that's why it's hard to pedal. You should have like a little chain coming out of the hub. Pull on it to see if it moves, it should. You'll have to get that adjusted in order for it to work.

Good Luck

Gerry :)