Tag Archives | bike

Photo by Murillo de Paula on Unsplash

Your college years are a time full of new experiences and adventures. You’re away from home for the first time and it’s now that you’re realizing how amazing campus life can be.

If you’re a biker, or you’re looking for a way to get to campus without using a car or public transportation, a bike is the right choice for you. Sleek, compact, and easy to use, biking can be a great new way to get to know your new campus.

But what about caring for your bike? Do you need to know how to maintain it? If you do, keep reading to learn about simple steps you can take in order to maintain your bike throughout your college years.

Benefits of Biking

Before starting, let’s talk a little bit about the benefits of riding. There are definitely a lot of advantages, but there are three main pros to cycling around campus:

1. Exercise

A little obvious, but exercise is probably the best advantage to using a bike to get around. Just by biking to and from class, or even around town, you’re using your own body as a form of transportation. This is a great cardio workout that lessens the impact on your joints, making it a better choice than running as a sustainable exercise.

2. Competition

Some students are competitive athletes, so they take every chance they can get to become faster and stronger. Biking helps them accomplish this by giving them moderate cardio exercise; it can even be used as a warm up if you’re riding from your dorm to the gym.

If you’re a student who’s interested in triathlons or competitive cycling, biking is a great choice, and with the help of a simple tool known as a power meter, you can keep track of how much power you’re using while biking.

3. Great for the Environment

Biking is also great for the environment. By reducing your use of public transportation or your own car, you’re reducing the amount of emissions in your community. In fact, the Australian Department of Transport and Main Roads has stated that if you bike instead of drive 10 miles each day, you could be saving 1,500 kg of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

Bike Maintenance Tips

Bikes are like cars; they absolutely need regular maintenance. You’ll probably be aware of most of these tips if you already own a bike, but if you’re getting ready to pick a bike out, these tips will be helpful. Keep in mind that these are the main maintenance concerns; there are plenty more.

Check Tire Pressure, Brakes, and Chains Before Every Ride

This is part of the pre-ride check that you may forget to do, especially if you’re already late for class, but checking your bike may help you avoid a flat tire or bike accident when you’re on the road.

You’re going to want to check your tire pressure to make sure that the tire is firm. Deflated tires can signal a leak or tear in the tire, while too-inflated tires can pop while you’re on the road. If you notice either of these problems, add more air with a bike pump or let some air out, making sure to keep the tire firm.

Brakes must also be checked; to do this, squeeze your front and back brake levers located on your bike. You’ll know they’re working just fine if both sets engage smoothly and disengage once you let go of the lever.

Checking your chains is also crucial. If your bike is clean and well lubricated, your bike will operate smoothly; if not, the gears may catch and cause an accident. You will most likely find any problems before they cause an issue on the road by checking the chains, and it can be fixed by quickly cleaning and lubricating the gears and chains.

Lubrication is Crucial

Lubrication is super important to remember for bikes. Because bikes are made up of chains, gears, and bolts, keeping your bike lubricated is necessary for it to work properly.

But it’s not enough to lubricate on a maintenance schedule. You might find that some gears and the chain may need to be lubricated on a more consistent basis, depending how much you use the bike. Only after riding for a while will you get a sense of when it’s time to lubricate the different parts of your bike.

One word of caution here: do not over lubricate your bike. In fact, many bike repair shops will tell you that many of the issues they solve are caused by a person over lubricating or not wiping the excess lubricant from their bike’s chains. You want to remove as much lubricant as possible because the oil could mix with dirt and grime from the road and can wear out the chain much faster than normal.

Store Your Bike Indoors

Leaving your bike out in the rain can rust out the chain and gears, causing your bike to work less efficiently. While you may not notice the wear and tear right away, it is a cause for concern if you continuously leave the bike outside.

If you live in a dorm room, check with the school to see if you can store your bike in your room. If that takes up too much space, try chaining it up in an underground or covered parking area. This will save you time and money in the long run, so do your bike a favor and keep it indoors.

These are just a few tips; a quick search on the web will show you that there are more tips to keep in mind, but these are the most important for students like you. Just by taking a little time out to care for your bike, you’ll ensure that your bike will always be ready for a ride.

Sources:

1. https://www.ilovebicycling.com/101-best-bike-repair-and-maintenance-tips/
2. https://bicyclehabitat.com/how-to/a-simple-bike-maintenance-chart-pg366.htm
3. https://powermetercity.com/category/other-articles/
4. https://www.vipnormanok.com/fitness-tips/9/Cardio-Cycling-vs-Running.htm
5. https://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/Travel-and-transport/Cycling/Benefits.aspx
6. https://www.bicycling.com/culture/advocacy/7-reasons-why-cycling-is-better-than-running

This article was contributed by guest author Melanie Nathan.

Image by sekihan, Flickr

Image by sekihan, Flickr

Convinced about the benefits of cycling? Looking to make a change in your commuting habits? Great! Here’s a guide to what type of bike is right for you. There are tons of different bike styles out there, but below I’ve listed the ones most relevant to city commuting:

  1. Road Bike:

  2. Road bikes are fast, fun and light. They can weigh as little as 18 pounds and create a low centre of gravity and air resistance. Road bikes are great for commuting in warm climates, but they are not great for year-round commuters because most do not have room for fenders, panniers, or wider tires.

  3. Mountain Bike:

  4. Mountain bikes are great because they provide the rugged durability needed for all-season commuting. They have knobbly tires which can deal with the harsh realities of Canadian winters, but can also be fitted with narrower, smoother, summer tires. However, mountain bikes are much slower than road bikes because they are heavier.

  5. Hybrid:

  6. Hybrid bikes take the best aspects of road and mountain bikes to create versatile bike for commuting. Hybrid bikes are lighter and use slick tires for reduced friction. However, because hybrid bikes are a combination of road and mountain frames, it does many things well, but excels in none. Hybrid bikes are too heavy to be efficient road bikes, and too fragile to be efficient mountain bikes. However, for all-season bikes they are a worthy choice.

  7. Cruiser:

  8. Cruiser bikes are big, slow and luxurious. Big fat wheels eat up pot holes and bumps and its big cushy seat is like sitting on a cloud. If style and comfort is above speed then this is the bike for you. Just make sure you stick to the road…or the beach.

  9. Fixed Gear (fixie) and Single Speed (SS):

  10. Fixed gear means that the drivetrain is mounted to the hub with no freewheel mechanism. Basically, this means that you cannot coast: if you’re moving, then so must your pedals. Fixies, most commonly in road bike style, are even lighter than road bikes because they have fewer components. Braking on a fixie involves locking up the pedals to skid. If you’re just starting out, it’s best to also have a mechanical front break. Fixies offer the rider a fun riding experience and are easier to maintain with fewer parts that can potentially break. They are also much cheaper than other bikes.

    Single speed bikes allow coasting because the drivetrain is not welded onto the hub (the part that attaches the drivetrain to the wheel). Single speed bikes offer many of the advantages of fixies with the added bonus of coasting when you’re feeling tired or lazy, and a mechanical front and back brake.

  11. Folding bikes:

  12. Folding bikes are designed to collapse into a smaller form which allows for easier storage or transport. They’re most often used in busy downtown cores when a commuter may combine public transport and cycling. However, they are much smaller than regular bikes, heavier, have more moving parts and have very small wheels. For these reasons I would only suggest using a folding bike if you specifically intend to use it in the city centre or if you have limited storage at home.

The best way to decide what type of bike is best for you is to assess your needs. Are you a speed freak? Do you like to roll along at a slow and steady pace? Will you be cycling in the winter? Do you want to attach panniers so you can carry things? Are you going to take it off any sweet jumps?

Answering these questions will ultimately point you in the right direction. Here’s a quick cheat sheet:

Style
Pros
Cons
Road BikeLight, fast, excellent for smooth roadsLittle room for add-ons, can only be used on roads, expensive
Mountain BikeRugged, all terrain bike, easily upgradableNot very fast, bulky, heavy
HybridCompromise, sturdy all-round commuterOnly use on smooth roads, slower than a road bike
CruiserExtremely comfortable, stylishSlow, heavy, cumbersome
Fixie/SSLight, cheap, fast, easy to maintainNo gears, no coasting, no mechanical brakes (fixie), not ideal for hills
FoldingEasy storage, convenientSmall, heavy, small wheels, not suitable for long commutes

Bicycle fit is also really important to make sure you get the right size. A bike that is too small will make you cramp and will be uncomfortable to ride. It’s best to visit your local bike shop to get a decent fit.

Choosing the right bike for your commute is an important step in keeping you motivated and happy. Take the time to investigate the strengths and weaknesses of different bikes, and explore all of your options. Remember that your new bike is an investment that your body and bank account will thank you for!

This is Part Two of a four-part series on Bicycle Commuting. Also check out:
Part One – Bicycle Commuting: The Benefits for Students
Part Three – Bicycle Commuting: Do I Really Need To Wear Those Unflattering Shorts?