Cycling by Dylan Passmore
One thing that is often forgotten about when a person just starts to get into cycling is the concept of bike maintenance. But cycling is a mode of transportation like any other – it requires upkeep. It is up to you to take responsibility for everything from tire pressure to overall tuning.
There are three things that you can easily check yourself and should regularly. The first thing you should check is your brakes, and you should do this before every single ride. Just take a moment to bike slowly in a safe area and check that both your left and right brake levers are in full working condition.
Tiny bike tire pump by Michelle
Next off, keep an eye on your wheels. You should be checking your tire pressure about once a week if you are biking regularly. Once you get used to this, you can probably check by hand and pump if necessary. But until you get to that point, don’t be afraid of checking with a pressure gauge.
And finally, you should always be paying attention to your chain. If it starts clicking, you will likely need to take it in for a quick tune-up. It will require realigning the axle and most bike stores are happy to do this at no charge. If the chain is squeaking, it will just need to be oiled. To do this, simply clean it with chain cleaner and a rag. Then put chain lube on and wipe it down once. The squeaking should stop – if not, you may need to take it in for a checkup. If you bike in the rain a lot then oil lube is best, but if not, a water-based lube will do just fine.
You may want to consider investing in an emergency kit that you can attach to your bike and take with you constantly. It should contain a patch kit, an extra tube, tire prongs, and a travel pump or carbon cartridge. Just keep in mind that if you are going to rely on a carbon cartridge, it only lasts 24 hours and then the tire will need to be pumped manually.
Tuning by Clean Energy
You can tell a lot about the state of your bike based on the way it feels and sounds. If your bike ever begins to rattle and you can’t quite identify where the sound is coming from, you should take it in to a bike store right away.
As you can see, there is a lot you can do for your bike on your own – but it is also important that it gets tuned regularly so as to keep any major problems at bay. How often you will need to get your bike tuned depends on several factors, such as how often you ride it and where you ride it. A good general rule is that you should take your bike in for a tune-up every 6 months to a year, depending on use. Or if you have the tools and the knowledge, you can do routine tune-ups yourself.
If you are new to cycling, a good option is to take your bike in to a repair store and see firsthand what needs to be done. Urbane Cyclist is located in the heart of downtown Toronto, so it is easy to get to, and they offer a solid tune-up for just $50. If you feel like you know your way around a bike pretty well and have all the tools you need, there are plenty of websites that can help answer some of your questions so you can perform the majority of your bike’s maintenance yourself.
Remember, the maintenance of a bike is as important as the maintenance of a car and should not be taken lightly. You don’t want to get out on a busy road and find that your chain has caught or your brakes are off, so constant upkeep is of extreme importance.
Bike shop by Joey deVilla
But don’t be overwhelmed! There are bike shops all over Toronto that can easily answer your questions and help get your bike working at its best. What is important is that you not settle. Call in to a few places, get some quotes, and when you find a couple that fit your needs, stop by and talk to the employees. You will know when it feels right. Once you find someone that you trust with your bike, everything will seem easier. Finding a store to suit your beginner needs isn’t as difficult as you think!
If, however, you are interested in getting into competitive cycling, you will require a more experienced store. Wheels of Bloor is relatively easy to get to and is well respected by many competitive athletes. If you are interested in triathlons and are willing to travel a little out of the city, your best bet is definitely Enduro Sport. Their staff are knowledgeable and eager to help you get involved in the world of competitive cycling.
Another great tool that is not to be left out is cycling communities. Bike Pirates is a non-profit organization that invites the community to get together and learn more about the benefits of cycling. They provide DIY sessions that will help you learn more about how to take care of your bike.
Or, if you don’t have the time to drop by an actual organization, there is even an online cycling forum where more experienced cyclists can offer you help and advice for all your bike-related questions.
The bottom line is: don’t be afraid to ask for help when it comes to taking care of your bike. Every cyclist out there was new to it at some point in their lives and there are plenty of stores and repair shops with the wisdom and skills to help you and get you out on the road!