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A Common Sense Way To Ride A Bike

Updated on May 28, 2014

The Disregard For the Bicycle As A Serious Tool

This topic might strike you as completely absurd, but having seriously ridden for many years I have noticed a lot of differences between those who have a passion for riding and those who only occasionally ride.

For some reason the bicycle is regarded as little more than a recreation device or as a toy in the United States. It hasn't always been this way, but with the rise of the automobile the bicycle was relegated to the role of a plaything or exercise machine. Therefore many Americans treat the bicycle as something for kids to play on and as an occasional family activity. It is seen as something to buy cheaply and stash in the garage or leave outdoors in the weather when not used for long periods of time. As a result when the bike is finally brought out covered in spiderwebs and dust it is no surprise that it will need work done on it so that it can perform as intended.

Keep It Simple

I’ll keep it simple:

Maintain your bike. If you don’t know how or don’t have the tools take it to a shop at least once a year if you ride it much at all. The more you ride it the more you will need to keep track of it's maintenance issues.

Bicycles are a more serious vehicle than many people realize. It has the potential to get you seriously injured or killed. Aside from incidents involving getting hit by a car, many accidents are the rider's own fault and much of that is attributable to poor maintenance and neglect.

Keep It Adjusted

Have your bike adjusted to fit you. If it can’t be adjusted then get a better bike. This one is not right for you. It is more difficult to control and you can hurt yourself on a poorly fitted bike.

  • You should be able to straddle the bike with both feet flat on the ground and no part of your anatomy in contact with the frame.
  • The saddle, or seat if you prefer, should high enough that when you are sitting on it and your feet are on the pedals, your leg is nearly straight when your pedal is in the down position.
  • You must be able to reach the handlebars while sitting on the seat.

Use the Features That the Bicycle Has

When you ride; use your gears if you have them. It makes no sense having gears if you never use them. The gears are there to make riding easier. Shift down to go up and shift up to go down.

  • If you don’t understand how they work, find someone who can explain and demonstrate them.
  • If the mechanism is broken get it repaired.
  • Lubrication of the moving parts including the cables is required. Just a drop of regular 30 weight motor oil is good enough.

Bad brakes are dangerous, you can get seriously injured or even die. It's awfully difficult to avoid an accident if you can't stop.

  • If they don’t stop the bike you will have to get them fixed
    • Slack in the cable is the number one reason brakes don’t work. Next is worn out brake pads. Sometimes the brake itself is damaged or it is missing parts. Sometimes the entire brake is missing. Take it to a bike shop or learn how to fix it yourself.
    • Lubrication of the moving parts including the cables is required. Just a drop of regular 30 weight motor oil is good enough. DO NOT LUBE THE BRAKE PADS!

Keep it Simple and Within Your Ability

If you are unable to do these things single speed bike may be your best bet with the benefit of eliminating the handbrakes, which is one less thing to maintain.

Be Careful

When you ride pay attention to what is going on around you. Look at the road surface; keep an eye out of broken glass and debris. Be aware of traffic and lock your bike when you leave it.

Typical Bike Problems

Have You Ever Had Problems With A Bicycle Gear Shifter?

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