Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bicycle Safety 101: Spring Tune Up

In hopes of providing a bit of bicycle safety and education, I'm going to start a new series on this blog: Bicycle Safety 101. This will be a series where posts will cover topics like riding with traffic, bicycle laws and other correct and good things that may help make your ride safer. Having great bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure is one thing, but educating users – pedestrian, cyclists and automobile drivers – enhances the experience for everyone.

The Spring Tune Up. Ready to ride? Well, maybe you are, but your bike may not be! Before you get out on that first 10+ mile ride, make sure to look over your machine. Test the brakes, air pressure in the tires, and oil your chain. Take a test ride around the block. Look at the condition of your tires for any cracks. Check your spokes – if they are coming lose, they'll need tightening (probably best by a mechanic). Check out your helmet (because you should always wear one!) for any dings, cracks and for overall condition. If it's looking a little's probably a safe bet that it's time to buy a new one soon. If you have kids, you may have to raise the seat if they have grown.

If the bike has been sitting idle for more than a couple of months, I highly suggest getting a thorough tune-up. If you're a handy-person, or determined to become a BIY (Bike-It Yourself) person, use a reference guide and give her a good once over! And don't forget to search You Tube for some great videos. If that's not your speed, there are many cycle shops that can provide a variety of tune-ups. Check out Clemson Cyclery, Sunshine Cycle Shop, The Great Escape or just Google "bicycle repair, sc" to find your shop of choice.  

It's always good to have chain lube, an air pump, an Alan wrench/hex key and a ratchet set handy at home for simple repairs, too. Investing in these tools will go a long way in your biking budget and simplifying your life. And if you're not sure how to use these, talk to your bike mechanic the next time you have a tune-up. S/he should be happy to give you a few “tools of the trade” that will make your biking experience better.

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