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Bicycle Care and Maintenance

A human on a bicycle is the most efficient machine on earth in terms of energy expended for mass moved.  A human on a bicycle is also the most efficient lifeform on earth, in terms of distance traveled for energy expended.


ABC's of bicycle Safety:

The ABC’s: Air, Brakes, Chain

Before every ride, be sure to check the “ABC’s” to make your ride safer and help your bike last longer.

A is for Air: Having properly inflated tires helps prevent flats. Check the sidewall of your tire for the recommended tire pressure. While you’re checking the air, take the opportunity to ensure your quick-release levers and thru axles (if you have them) are properly tightened as well. Then, before you ride, make sure you have your patch kit and pump with you.

There are two types of valves bicycles use:

Presta: The skinny and generally longer valve with a pointed tip which requires the nipple to be untightened to inflate the tube

Schrader: The thicker and wider valve that fits nearly all pumps and inflating devices.

B is for Brakes: Squeeze your front and rear brake levers to make sure that the brakes engage properly and smoothly.

C is for Chain: Look at your chain and all the gears. Keeping your chain lubricated and everything clean will ensure your bike shifts easier and the drivetrain (made up of the front chain rings, rear cassette, rear derailleur and chain) last longer.


If you have a bike with just one speed, such as a coaster brake, then you can skip this section.


If you have a 3, 4, 7, 8 or 14 speed bike with an internally-geared hub, you can pretty much shift into any gear at any time, although you should take the pressure off the pedals before you shift. Make sure older 3-speed bikes are adjusted properly from time to time.


Most bikes have derailleurs (pronounced de-rail-er). These derail the chain from one sprocket to another.


The front derailleur controls the chain over the two or three sprockets between the pedals. These sprockets are called "chainrings" or "the chainwheel." The rear derailleur controls the chain over the sprockets on the rear wheel, often called the "cassette" or "freewheel."


The shifter for the front derailleur is on the left side of the bike, and the one for the rear derailleur is on the right.


The smallest front sprocket turning the largest rear is the easiest gear, generally called "first" or "low" gear. First is great for starting out and hill-climbing, but it's too slow for riding on flats or downhill. If you stayed in first all the time, you'd be pedaling really fast, yet the bike would move very slowly. The largest front turning the smallest is "high" gear. High is great for going down mild hills and when the wind is at your back, but is a very hard gear for going up hills.


What about all those gears in between? The number of 'speeds' or 'gears' your bike has, is the number of chainrings times the number of rear sprockets. So, if you have three in the front and six in the back, that's three times six, or 18 speeds. But how do you know when you're in 7th or 8th gear? You don't. Well, you can work out the math so you know each successive gear combination. But most people don't bother. Just find a gear that feels right for the terrain at hand. Experts say that the optimum pedaling speed, called 'cadence' for most people is between 60 and 70 revolutions per minute (RPM).


A few drops of lube on the derailleur and brake pivot points makes all the differenceLube It or Lose It

A bicycle is made up of a bunch of moving metal parts, many of which are meshing with each other. In order to keep these parts from grinding each other to dust as you pedal merrily along, they should be lubricated.

Spinning parts containing bearings, such as the wheels, pedals, bottom bracket (what the crankset is mounted to), and headset (the mechanism that connects the fork to the frame and allows steering), come from the manufacturer packed with grease. About once a year, these components should be dismantled, checked and greased. But, because special tools are needed and the work is required only occasionally, you may prefer to leave this job to a bike shop mechanic.

What you can do quite easily is lubricate the chain and pivot points on the brakes and derailleurs. Use a light lubricant such as Tri-Flow and don’t apply too much, because that will only attract dirt and grit that can actually accelerate parts wear.

You can tell when a chain needs lube, because the links will appear bright and shiny, and when pedaling you’ll hear squeaking. But only apply enough lube to put a light coat on the chain (about one drop per link). Any more than that and grime and gunk will build up. One good technique is to apply the lube (pedal backwards while the bike is leaning against a wall and put some paper down to catch drips), let it sit a bit and then wipe off the excess.

When  they say lube pivots, it means the places on the derailleurs and brakes where things move. For example, on a side pull brake (as found on most road bikes), the brake pivots on bolts and you can apply a couple drops of lube at these points. Don’t get any lube on the brake pads!

For derailleurs apply the lube where the body of the derailleur moves (photo). Here too, be sure to wipe off the excess.




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