Wednesday, November 5, 2008

getting a bike education

Okay. I know that bikes are pretty simple machines...BUT they are not something that I grew up working on. I understand how bikes work (for the most part) but there are some basic maintenance things that I definitely did not know about. This was made clear to me when I flipped my bike over and reddish orange rust water poured out of my handlebars (yeah, I felt like a horrible parent at this point). My first problem is that I expose my bike to all kinds of good stuff like sand, mud, salt water, dirty street water, and rough streets. The second problem is that after a ride I was just leaning my poor bike against the house and calling it a night. This is no way to be treating an object that I have to depend of for transportation, recreation, and exercise. So, to make it up to my faithful companion, I treated her to a shopping spree, day at the spa, apologized profusely, and begged for forgiveness.

Instead of just totally winging it, I decided to go into the Bike shop and ask for some advice. Let me just go ahead and tell you right now. If you ever want to get a bike mechanic fired up, just mention that you have used WD-40 on your chain. I mean WD-40 can do anything, right? Umm. Wrong. It is actually a degreaser which will strip the much needed lubrication off of your chain and create unwanted friction and wear to your chain. (If you are trying to clean the gunk off the chain, go for it, but then apply lube). If you don't believe me, check out this dude: Now if you are like me and want to use something that is environmentally friendly and biodegradable to clean your bike, there are products like Pedro's Bio Cleaner and Simple Green Bike Cleaner. As for lubrication... I just bought some White Lightening Clean Ride self cleaning wax lube and it is working nicely on my chain.

So what about the rest of the bike? Well... Some parts use medium-weight grease for lubrication and others use oil. I still haven't really gotten all that down yet, but I will sure to keep you informed as I figure it all out. For now: The one part of my bike that has really needed help is my break cables, and I have had friends use both oil and grease. Sometime in the near future I need to just make the commitment and buy some of both.
So after a nice bath, a relaxing chain oiling, a deep metal cable massage, and a new indoor parking spot, my girl was feeling like a brand new mountain bike... except for the half broken hiking headlamp that was rigged to the front of the handlebars. Needless to say, I now have the new cateye headlight which makes night biking SO much safer. I also bought a "rescue tool" that looks like something McGyver would have killed for... it is basically a pocket knife on steroids. Granted I have no clue what any of the 20+ parts do, but I am sure I will find out and knowing me, it will be on the side of the road, in the middle of the night, while it pours down rain... and I will tell you all about it.
Until then I will be exploring ways to stay warm as the temperature drops.

1 comment:

Magellan said...

I need to have a Nikki work shop so you can teach me how to care for my bike. I will trade you food for bike care tips if you like and we can make a date of it.