Words: Richard Belson, Instructor at the United Bicycle Institute
1.) A couple years back, my son brought a Mylar Spiderman balloon home from a birthday. Eventually, it got droopy, so I finished the job and stuck a folded up Spidey into the seat bag of my commuter. A month later, I slashed my tire on the way to work—I used the balloon as a tire boot by folding it back on itself and placing it between the cut casing and the new tube. Two years later, when replacing the worn out tread, I realized that Peter Parker had been accompanying me through over 500 days of riding to work.
2.) The only way your chain will stay clean is if you never ride your bike. If you ride your bike, you need to clean your chain.
3.) If you want your bike to feel like new again, replace the cables & housing—even if you think it’s in good shape. It wears so gradually, it’s hard to tell that it’s causing any problems. As soon as you shift and brake with the new stuff, you’ll wonder why it took so long.
4.) Don’t underestimate the refreshing feeling of brand new bar tape or grips.
5.) Dunk-degreasing your chain removes more than just the dirty, unwanted exterior gunk off—it also removes the irreplaceable factory grease from its inner mechanisms. We prefer over-lubing a chain with your preferred lube, then wipe off the excess with a clean, dry rag. The extra liquid will wash away the majority of the accumulated dirt and spent lube from the chain’s exterior, while allowing the chain to retain its inner stock lubrication.
6.) Isopropyl Alcohol (91%)—available from most pharmacies and grocery stores—makes a great, affordable degreaser. Also, it leaves no film behind, so it’s great for suspension service, and it won’t harm sensitive parts, finishes or seals. If, after you’ve tried alcohol, you need more muscle, then move to biodegradable or chemical degreasers. But read labels carefully—many degreasers will etch polished or anodized surfaces, or dry out rubber seals.
7.) Learn which derailleur hanger your bike requires, buy an extra, and put it on your keychain. You’ll head Murphy off, and will have it on hand if you ever need it.
8.) Keep a couple different sized master links in your seat bag—if you bail a buddy out of a jam while out on a ride, you may get free beer, coffee, or dinner!
9.) Support your local bike shop whenever possible—you’ll be bummed when they’re gone.
10.) Get and use a Park CC-3.2 and thank me later!
We put together a field guide to being prepared for anything you might encounter on your ride. Pick up a copy of Bicycle Times Issue #41—or better yet, order a subscription—and help support your favorite independent cycling publication.