By: Emi (Dacian) Garhartt
So you've decided, its time to pull that bike out of the shed, garage, basement, or perhaps even the void because;
"I've gotta get some exercise, fresh air and get out of the house."
Fantastic! You are taking a great step towards helping yourself reduce stress and improve cardio! Cycling is good for your joints and mental health to boot!
But, uh oh. That thing is probably not safe or ready to ride. You notice the bike has flat tires, rusty and/or frayed cables and maybe something looks bent the wrong way.
"Is that supposed to be bent like that? Do I need to take it to a bike shop?"
Generally, that part is probably not supposed to bent, those cables need replacing, and you might need a new inner tube or two. Especially if your bike looks like the photo on the left.
Spot the difference!
"Does my bike need a mechanic?"
Yes, it does! Bicycles are complex vehicles that require expertise to ensure safe operation. Don't worry though! Your local bike shop can help you get back in the saddle again!
"Awesome! I'll just throw my bike in the car and drive over!"
Slow your roll! You might want to consider washing the bike first! Especially if it is covered in spiderwebs, dust, or caked in dirt from that last offroad ride so long ago. It's a common courtesy and is very appreciated by your local bike shop's mechanics! Trust me!
All you really need is some dish soap, water, and a rag. Just go at it as if you were doing the dishes or washing your car; get it all soapy and rinse it off. Don't use a high-pressure stream of water if you are using a hose. Then let it air dry or dry it off with an old towel.
"Okay, I washed my bike! When I drop off my bike, I should expect it fixed same-day, right?"
Probably not. A bike shop repair workload can vary from day to day; you aren't the only one who decided to take their bike into the shop this week!
Granted, some repairs are easily completed while you wait.
A flat tire, for example, can usually be sorted out in less than 10 mins.
A full tune-up, on the other hand, may take a few hours to complete and there probably are a few bikes in the repair queue ahead of yours that also require a full tune-up.
It's best to expect on average, at least a week for turn-around time on your bike service. However, for a more accurate timeframe estimate for your individual case, check with your local bike shop by phone or email prior to bringing in your bike. They might have a repair queue pushed out two weeks or more during busy times.
"But I want to ride right now! I don't want to wait!"
That's rough. Unfortunately, we are all often unable to do things that we want to do during, say, a global pandemic for example. Believe me, when I say, you also aren't the only one who feels that way about wanting to ride your bike! Frustration is a normal reaction! Just keep in mind, your friendly bike mechanics are doing their best to get everyone back on bikes ASAP!
"Okay, I understand. But what can I do to be more prepared next time?"
Glad you asked! Having your wheeled steed in reliable working order is invaluable! Bikes have proven over and over that they provide useful transportation in times of crisis.
There are two basic, simple things you can do to make sure your bike is ready when you are!
Take the bike to your local bike shop for a tune-up or safety check at least once a year. - Winter is the best time to support your local bike shop! Many have sales on tune-ups! - Springtime is usually busy for bike shops, so expect turn-around time to be higher.
Have a floor pump of your own at home! - Tires/innertubes will naturally lose air over time, so you'll need to keep it topped up! - Flat tires due to lack of adequate air pressure are the most common avoidable repair! - Inflators for car tires are more likely to cause a blowout. A way too high volume of air! - Floor pumps can also be used to inflate basketballs, pool floaties, and similar things!
"That's it? Really?"
Not really, but at a bare minimum, it's what you should be doing to keep your bike rolling.
We could get into more complicated things, such as learning to clean and lube your chain, change your own flat tires, etc. However, that's something extra you can do to further your own knowledge and know-how!
It's never a bad thing to learn new skills! Plus, we will be making our own videos showing you those skills in the future!
Stay safe, stay sane!
VICE - How to get (Back) into biking during coronavirus
World Resource Institute - Biking Provides Lifeline during the Coronavirus Crisis