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Complacency In Bicycle Maintenance Means Serious Accidents, Injuries

Updated on August 5, 2016
kenneth avery profile image

Kenneth has been a member of HubPages for five years. He is retired from a 23-year career in the weekly newspaper business.

Greetings, sweet followers

Today, boys and girls, we have a lot of material to cover and it is arguably the most poignant hub that these fingers have ever engineered. But do not take my word for it. Read every line carefully and when you are finished, you will look at your wife or girlfriend and say, "Wow! I never knew that there was so much information about bicycles."

The lovely  Ava Gardner circa 1950 enjoyed a ride on her bicycle
The lovely Ava Gardner circa 1950 enjoyed a ride on her bicycle | Source
Irina Demick, 1962
Irina Demick, 1962 | Source

The bottom line

I kid you not. A wide margin of Americans as well as most people in Europe and other countries have been exposed to the bicycle and over the years it has grew from a "toy" of luxury to a needed-tool in all facets of society. A bicycle saves valuable gasoline as well as help to provide us with clean air. The bicycle is rather simple to operate and if you have a repair to do, there is not a need for an engineer from M.I.T.

My first encounter with a bicycle was in 1965. My dad and I visited our Western Auto in Hamilton, Ala., where (a) Mr. Buster Mixon, (complete with cigar in the left side of his mouth), sold my dad my first bike for $15.00. Mixon was a sales wizard. His logic was this: "Austin, (my dad's name), let him (me) start out learning to ride on this used bicycle and then when he's ready, you can come back and I will show you all of the new bicycles we have."

My dad was sold. I was sold. I was getting a bike! I felt at that moment that I was almost a man. Although my bicycle was used, I felt and acted different. But one obstacle stood in my way from being a smooth biker: Learning how to ride my bike. That was short work due to my dad telling me how to maneuver the handle bars as I peddled so the bike would not fall over.

Brigette Bardot circa 1950
Brigette Bardot circa 1950 | Source
Marcello Mastroianni  and Virna Lisi 1965
Marcello Mastroianni and Virna Lisi 1965 | Source

I loved my $15.00-bike

But in the months ahead, I wanted matching fenders for the front and back. So my dad stopped by to talk to the Mr. Mixon who sold him my bike and see about fenders to make my bike look complete. The fenders were a smidgen too big, but my dad being a self-taught engineer, fitted them to look just right and then I was as proud as anyone with a newer bike with my new fenders colored white and my bike the color red.

The next year my dad saw fit to get me a new, a brand new, chrome-fitted, red bicycle from our Western Auto and when I sat on this bicycle the first time, I felt as good as if I were sitting in my first car. I treasured my bicycles, both old and new.

Sure, I had a wreck or two and learned from them. And over the years from then I became attached to my bicycle as I am sure that the first men and women were who were intrroduced to this new "fad" as it changed our idea of transportation forever.

And now, a musical video about bicycles

Are you now or were you ever a big fan of the bicycle?

See results

Bicycling: At first, a dilemma for ladies

In the beginning days of the bicycle, the few bicycle factories made one style of bicycle that one was just for guys--the middle bar below the seat was straight. But soon the ladies of that day "took a shine" to riding a bicycle, but with society expecting that ladies always wear a long dress, it was a tough for the women to sit back and watch the men have a great time riding their bicycles.

Then a brainstorm hit another bicycle engineer. Why not design a bicycle for girls? And so a girls' bicycle was produced with the steel bar below the seat taking a dip so the woman riding the bike could remain all the lady she was and still enjoy a bicycle ride.

Oops! What guy could resist helping a pretty girl who has been in a bicycle accident?
Oops! What guy could resist helping a pretty girl who has been in a bicycle accident? | Source

Evolution of The Bicycle

  • 1817—Draisienne or the "Running Machine": Invented by Barn Karl von Drais, Germany; This machine was less like a bicycle, in the modern sense of the word. It did have a typical bicycle frame and two wheels, but it was propelled by walking (apparently the bicycle allowed more of a gliding walk), as opposed to peddling.
  • 1860s—Velocipede or Boneshaker: Two-wheeled bicycle with pedals and cranks on the front wheel. It was known as the bone shaker because the combination of a wood frame and metal tires made for a very uncomfortable ride over cobblestone streets.
  • 1870s—High-wheeled bicycle: One of the first models to be called a "bicycle" (after its two wheels). The high wheel allowed the rider to travel farther with a single rotation of the pedals. Moreover, a metal frame and rubber tires provided a more comfortable ride than the boneshaker.
  • 1885—Rover Safety bicycle: Invented by John Kemp Starely, England; Featured a strong enough metal to make a chain, plus it had two same-sized wheels and a similar frame to today's bicycles.
  • 1888—Pnuematic tires: Invented by John Boyd Dunlop, Ireland; Develops air-filled tires that provide a smoother ride than the previously used hard-rubber tires.
  • 1920s—Kid's bicycles become popular. 1940s—Built-in kickstands developed.
  • 1960s—Racing bicycles become popular and feature dropped handlebars, narrow tires, numerous speeds and a lighter frame.
  • 1980—Spurred by mountain biking and extreme sports, mountain bicycles become a popular consumer item and feature sturdier frames, larger wheels and flat handlebars.
  • 1996—Mountain bicycles appear in the Olympics.

Guy looking cool posed with a bicycle
Guy looking cool posed with a bicycle | Source
1907. Girl in front  is Winnie, the other is  Edna. I know this is  not bicycle related, but it  broke the monotony.
1907. Girl in front is Winnie, the other is Edna. I know this is not bicycle related, but it broke the monotony. | Source
 Coconut bicycle  obviously used  for transporting coconuts
Coconut bicycle obviously used for transporting coconuts | Source
English bicycle  made in 1948
English bicycle made in 1948 | Source
 Cool kid with  bike in late 30's  or early 40's
Cool kid with bike in late 30's or early 40's | Source
Bicycling has always been a great way for couples to interact
Bicycling has always been a great way for couples to interact | Source
Boots, boys, bikes in 1976
Boots, boys, bikes in 1976 | Source
Looking cool is easy when you know you are riding a safe bicycle
Looking cool is easy when you know you are riding a safe bicycle | Source
Saddle shoes gang 1908
Saddle shoes gang 1908 | Source
1880 Big Imperial  was an early hit  among bicyclists
1880 Big Imperial was an early hit among bicyclists | Source
 Early photo  of girls with bicycles
Early photo of girls with bicycles | Source

Yes, even the joy of riding a bicycle comes with a responsibility. Each bicycle owner must learn that a bicycle is not a toy, but a regular vehicle that falls underneath the jurisdiction of police officers, so the bicycle owner must operate his or her bicycle with the utmost safety procedures.
With that being said, I need to tell you the headline for this block-buster-of-a-hub:

Complacency In Bicycle Maintenance Means Dangerous Accidents, Injuries

First Things First - - before you, the new bicycle owner, take to the bicycle-riding areas, you must (in some parts of our country) pass a bicycle riding test and the test is just as critical as a driver's license test for automobile operators. Once you pass this bicycle riding test, you must do the following to make sure that your bicycle is safe for the road.

Air Pressure - - in your tires is very important. Copy this information down to make sure that you put just the right amount of air in your tires to achieve top performance from your bicycle. Proper tire pressure lets your bike roll quickly, ride smoothly, and fend off flats. Narrow tires need more air pressure than wide ones: Road tires typically require 80 to 130 psi (pounds per square inch); mountain tires, 30 to 50 psi; and hybrid tires, 50 to 70 psi. NOTE: even with the correct amount of air pressure, make sure that you do not have an air leak and you can do this easily by placing a drop of water on the stem that comes through the rim. If you see bubbles, then air is leaking from the tire and you should fix it immediately.

Tire Treads - - in each tire must be checked frequently to see if your tires are wearing down in a correct fashion. If you have the wrong air pressure, your tires will wear incorrectly thus making your bicycle vibrate thus leading to a dangerous accident. You might find this tip laughable, but I am only looking out for your safety.

Rims - - of your bicycle must be checked to make sure that the small dip in the road you ran through accidentally did not warp the rim. A warped rim may not impress you enough to be concerned, but many bicycle owners would testify that they wished that they had checked the condition of their rims and avoided those costly accidents.

Spokes - - in your rims are an important item on your "Bicycle Check List." If the spokes are too loose, the wheel will be out of balance and have to be balanced by a professional bicycle technician. That is unless you do it yourself by searching the internet for articles on "Do-It-Yourself Bicycle Maintenance."

Bicycle Frame - - is arguably the most-overlooked part of equipment on your bicycle. Over a long period of time, dents and scrapes not repaired to replace the paint can lead to any bicycle's sworn-enemy: Rust. Oh, my. Rust. How often do bicycle riders take their sturdy frame for granted. They pay for their complacency later by forking over big bucks to get their frames repaired by a bicycle mechanic who knows his business.

The Seat or Saddle - - is another item that may go unchecked and get you into serious trouble. Comfort is the key to a happy bicycle ride. But if the seat is loose you can get distracted trying to tighten the screws and that can send you into a ditch quickly. Take that extra time to make sure that your seat is tight and that there are no small tears or rips to let the fibers start easing out.

Fender Braces - - are also important to the dedicated bicycle rider. Now do you really enjoy a casual bike ride with that annoying rattle coming from loose fenders? Sometimes, depending on the rider's riding style, fender braces can become loose and the screws can either fall out or let the fenders scrape against the bicycle frame. If you check the fender braces then you are on your way to being a "bicycle safety expert."

Reflectors - - should be "the" number one item for checking before embarking on a fun-filled, safe bicycle ride. The law says that bicycles, motorcycles, scooters, even ATV's have reflective devices that when seen by other riders, the possibility of dangerous accidents can be avoided. NOTE: if your reflectors have become cracked or worn, maybe it's time to get new ones.

Handlebars - - yes, the handlebars rate high on the "Bicycle Safety List." Imagine what can happen if you are cruising along the boulevard and down a steep grade, but suddenly, you lose control of your bicycle due to loose handlebars. Due to the respect I have for my great followers and their fantastic mental state, I wisely choose to not write the awful details of what can happen if you ride your bicycle without checking for loose handlebars.

Handlebar Grips - - left unchecked are like riding a tightrope (greased with Blue Bonnet Margarine) across Grand Canyon. The answer is way too awful for you to read.

Pedals - - that are not working properly are just as dangerous as loose handlebar grips or fenders. Pedals that are slick or do not move with ease can cause you to have to work extra hard to keep the bicycle moving at a desirable speed. Checking pedals is not a time-consuming task. You will thank me (in the comments box) for reminding you of this vitally-important checkpoint.

Headlight - - should be checked at least three times a month even if you do not ride your bicycle at night. A bicycle headlight is the same as a smoke detector as it operates on batteries. Make sure that the headlight batteries are always fresh and the lens of your headlight is clean. Simply said. "How can you expect to ride at night if you cannot see two feet ahead of you?"

Kickstand - - could pose the argument that "it" is the "orphan of bicycle parts," and it would be right in its protest. Amateur bikers and non-caring bicycle owners only think that a kickstand is just a kickstand, but think again. It has to be attached to the bicycle by screws or bolts and if those are loose, then you are going to spend an awful lot of time picking up your shiny bicycle. Do not be humiliated by a loose, overlooked or kickstand that is taken for granted.

Saddlebags or Basket - - should be kept clean and tip-top shape for these places is where you stash and transport your valuables. Who wants to stash their bottled water, snacks, or school books in a nasty, unkempt basket or saddlebag.

Gears and Chain - - should always be checked first. There is a saying among bicycle riders: "Loose chain equals pain." So make sure that your bike's chain is always oiled and working above standard operating levels along with your gears provided you ride a bicycle with various gears and you will be wearing a smile while cruising along with your other bicycle riding friends.

Reflective Pole - - with the orange triangle flag at the top should never be guessed at and hope that it is in good shape. Make sure that the pole is secure along with the reflective flag. The life and bicycle you save might be your own.

GPS - - should be configured before each bicycle ride. Hey, it used to be fun "just" "winging it" and leaving the maps behind. But not anymore. We are not living in the 50's anymore and our society is more advanced and sometimes violent. Keep your GPS upgraded and always keep your signal turned to the "on" selection. You never know when that signal may help to rescue you from violent offenders who love nothing better than to beat you up and steal your bike.

Horn, Bell - - or whatever warning device you prefer is important to the complete bicycle owner and rider. In simple terms, if the warning device is not working or gives off a weak sound, it is time to change the batteries or get an upgrade altogether.

I am not advocating that you become obsessed with checking, oiling, shining, or doing a morning or evening ritual of checking your bicycle although this is not a bad thing. Just be mindful of your bicycle and its components. Each part plays a crucial role in doing its part in helping you to always enjoy your bicycle and stay out of local emergency rooms.
"Happy biking."

And a peaceful good night, Akerman, Mississippi.

Actress, Amber Heard  rides a bike easy  as drinking water
Actress, Amber Heard rides a bike easy as drinking water | Source

© 2016 Kenneth Avery


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    • kenneth avery profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Avery 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama


      That is fine. At least you rode your bike.

      Many times since my teenage years I look back very sad and wonder whatever happened to my bicycle. You may think this strange, but when I was living with my parents until 1975, my bicycle was always stored in an outside building that my dad kept his keepsakes safe.

      But when I married in June of that year, he never mentioned my bike at all from that time until the day he passed.

      Of course as an adult I had more important things on my mind, making a living, helping to raise a daughter and just surviving.

      Maybe I should have asked.

      Now I am sad all over again.

      Talk to you soon, good friend.

    • faith-hope-love profile image

      John Ward 

      2 years ago from Richmond, British Columbia, Canada.

      I was over 40 when I first Rode a Bike.


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