Get Rolling on Your Bicycle!
Article written by Scott Forsythe from Daves-Bike.com.
If you are getting going on a training schedule that includes cycling at regular intervals, or have looked out the window and have seen the light, you will need to get that bicycle out from under any cobwebs or out from the dark corner it may have been parked in last year. A few moments spent examining your two-wheeled situation will greatly enhance the quality of your riding experience and it’s fun!
The first thing you really should do once you get the bike out from storage is to do the walk around. From a safety perspective, this is a valuable exercise. Begin by examining your tires. On the side of the tire (known as a sidewall) there will be a number that tells you how much air pressure to inflate the tires to. It is important that you keep the tires at full pressure so that they roll well and are less inclined to pick up small road debris, which cause flat tires. There are two types of valves that are used. The traditional valve you see on your car tire and other inflated equipment is what is known as a shraeder valve. This is an easy thing to deal with as you can simply remove the cap and place the pump on it and go. The more fancy valve that is used pretty much on any bicycle sold in a bike shop over $450.00 is known as a presta valve or the skinny valve. To inflate tires that are equipped with a presta valve, it is important to remember to remove the cap and unscrew the nipple all the way to the top. This opens the actual valve, allowing air to be pumped in. The next thing you must have is a presta valve adapter which screws on over the skinny valve like the cap would; only this allows you to hook up a standard air hose. Once you pump up your tire, remove your adapter and remember to screw down the nipple all the way so the air doesn’t bounce out. If you don’t remember to unscrew the nipple when inflating a tire with a PV, it will drive you nuts and you might get frustrated right out of inspirational moment! In addition to getting air in the tires, this would be a good time to look at the condition your tires are in. When rubber sits around for a while, a condition known as dry rot develops. This is a chemical breakdown of the compounds in rubber that cause the tires and tubes on your bicycle to crack and dry out. Tires that have a lot of cracks in the treads and sidewalls need to be replaced, as they will soon fail you. Inner tubes that are a few years old will become porous, and they will not hold air very long.
Now that we have our bike out and the tires are inflated, we should take some time to look at the quick release axles. Most decent bikes are equipped with a quick release axle on the front wheel and usually the rear. These things should have the quick release skewer firmly pointed upwards on the non-chain side of the bike. Sometimes when bikes are stored away, the wheels were removed and perhaps hastily put back on incorrectly. I don’t think I need to go any further in telling you what might happen if you are riding a bike with a wheel that isn’t secured properly! To properly use a quick release skewer, make sure that the wheel is securely positioned right where it should be, and properly centered in the fork of the bike. Check to make sure that the wheel is in fact right up the middle of the bike, thus not hitting the brakes as it passes by. The lever on the quick release device rotates up and down. Many people twirl the lever around in a circle to secure it to the bike, but it goes 90 degrees up and down. The lever on the front should match the one on the rear, pointing upward on the non-chain side. It is important to know that when you go to put the quick release lever into it’s secure position; it will begin to grab at the point where it is parallel to the ground. As you push up on the lever it will lock the wheel onto the bike. While most of the time you will be concerned with the front wheel, it is just as important to do that same for the rear. If you need to adjust the tension on the quick release lever so that it is grabbing about halfway through the upward turn, tightening or loosening the cone shaped nut on the other side can do this. If you have an older bike with a worn out quick release lever, replace the skewers! Skewers range anywhere from $10 a piece and up and can be fun and fancy if you like!
Is your seat properly adjusted? You want to have good leg extension as you pedal to get the most from your pedal strokes. A slight bend at the knee is good, you don’t want to hyper extend your self. It is important to note that if you don’t like the looks of that seat on your bike, there are many comfortable options available for around $30.00 If you even think your going to be uncomfortable, check out a nice comfortable gel saddle. There are many styles available. Comfort is important.
Before we get rolling out the door, let’s take a moment to look at the chain and cables of the bike. The mechanical systems of a bicycle are mostly based on cables and springs. Cable and spring tension determine how crisply brakes and gears respond to the controls. If cables become frayed at the ends, they could snap when you would least want them to (which is never!). This is very critical with brakes for obvious reasons. Take a moment to study your bike a little and see if the cables aren’t frayed and coming apart. Also regarding cables, if the housing that the cables travel through is kinked and cracked you will notice a sluggish response from your gears and brakes. This can be replaced along with the inner wire. Dirty and rusty cables will slow you down. The chain of your bicycle might need a small amount of Teflon based lubricant. If you have been out and in the elements, sometimes the weather can knock out the lube from the chain and it’s rollers. You will know when you need a little lube by the constant squeak of the dry chain, which is being worn out faster with each pedal stroke. To lube the chain, drip or spray some Teflon based lube (I prefer Tri- Flow) into the center of the chain so that it drips into the rollers that are between the links. Wipe off any excess with a paper towel or rag as you let it pass through your hand. Be careful not to use too much too often as it will gunk things up.
Now were rolling! A few moments spent on some of these basics will enhance your cycling experience and you might discover how much fun bikes can be!
Have a happy and heartfelt ride!
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