By Lily Wan
Be Your Own Bike Mechanic
Illustrations by Samantha Schuyler and Emma Roulette
The wheels on the bike go ‘round and ‘round. And they go ‘round all day long so you better take proper care of them, and the rest of your bike. Get some basic know-how and save yourself a little money by checking out this easy at-home maintenance guide. Don’t be afraid to get your hands a little greasy. Of course, for more complicated procedures, it’s best to consult the experts at one of the local bike shops.
Hit the Trails
- Hawthorne Trail
- One-way distance: 16.5 mi.
- Connect at paved path on 2nd Ave. and 6th St. and follow it south to SW Depot Ave. Trail across the street and just keep on riding)
- Waldo Road Greenway
- One-way distance: 8 mi.
- Connect at Old Archer Rd. + SW 28th Pl. and ride to the airport, passing the Hawthorne Trail connection on the way.
- Paynes Prairie
- Cone’s Dike — 8.4 mi. round-trip
- Chacala Trail — 6.5 mi. round-trip
- Bike straight south on 13th St. until you hit the park entrance where you can grab a map to the trailheads. Make sure your bike is suited for the unpaved pathways!
- mini bike pump ($10)
- WD-40 ($4)
- rag ($0, I guarantee you have one at home)
- 8/9/10 mm wrenches ($4)
- spare tube ($7)
DIY: Fix a Popped Tire
- Deflate your tire if it’s not already pretty flat
- Pry your tire off the rim, carefully working it around the entire circumference.
- separate the tube from the tire and locate the puncture or gash. pick out anything that may be sliced into your tire.
- grab a dollar bill, fold it neatly to the contour of the tube and place the tube back inside the tire.
- re-inflate, and zip on home
- make sure to properly replace your tire once you’re back
To those mechanically challenged, fear not — this is just some simple tinkering and it’s worth it. It’ll save you at least $25 on your yearly tune-up. This basic tune-up includes adjusting front and rear brakes and shifting, tightening bolts, a tire check-up and a good overall lube job.
Start with flipping your bike upside-down, so that it’s stably balancing on the saddle and handlebars. Depending on your handlebars this may be difficult, in which case just prop your bike up on something so that the back wheel isn’t touching anything.
- Degrease and lube the chain (Recommended degreaser: Simple Green (biodegradable, citrus-based all-purpose cleaner (mix 1:1 with water), lube: Tri-Flow)
- Apply degreaser to chain near crankset while back-pedaling.
- Lightly hold a rag around the chain and continue back-pedaling.
- Repeat process with lubricant, but be careful not to over-lube!
- Recommended: clean chain every few months, and re-lube after it rains.
2. Simply re-inflate your tires.
3. Tighten bolts with the 8/9/10 mm wrench.
4. Check brake pads to ensure they’re not “toed-in.” If they are, just adjust them, using a heavier tool to knock the pads back into alignment if necessary.
Know the Law
A quick outline of what police look for when ticketing bikers and the policies they abide by. Police pull the most people over for:
• Not stopping at stop signs.
• Riding with earphones in.
• Failing to yield to a pedestrian.
• Riding with no lights at night.
They do not pull people over for (but technically have the power to):
• Riding with one earphone in.
• Failing to signal a turn.
Police Bike Stop Policy:
• First stop — Biker is given a written warning and a pamphlet about bike safety and rules of the road.
• Second stop — Officer can choose between a citation or another warning.
Important: Bike citations are the same form and the same cost as citiations given to cars/motor vehicles.