A bright, shiny bicycle and helmet - in the carport or on the front porch - is a great invitation to healthy, happy and safe fun this summer. Now is a good time time for cleaning, adjusting and tightening things on bikes - yours and the kids’ - before getting on the streets to ride. Because kids grow like weeds and grown-ups might grow - or shrink - a little, a thorough inspection and some adjustment are important in these wonderful May days.
If last year’s jeans and tennis shoes don’t fit, your bike might also be the wrong size. That doesn’t mean that you have to run to the shop for a new one; it means it’s time to learn the many different ways that a bike can be adjusted to make it "grow" as you grow - or shrink, as the case may be.
To get better acquainted with your bike, ask at a reliable bicycle shop for information on changing things such as proper seat position, handlebar height and tilt, smoothness of pedal rotation, condition of the chain and other matters.
Not only can the saddle be raised or lowered, it can be leveled and moved sightly forward or back. It must be tight on the seat post, pointing straight ahead; unusual saddle positions can cause injuries.
The length and height of the "stem" that holds handlebars can be adjusted to fit growing bodies. Longer arms might call for a new "gooseneck" that puts the bars forward.
Very little change in a thing like that can make for greater comfort and better use of your energy.
When the local girls’ college went coed, we needed a sport that fellows and girls could enjoy together.
When I suggested a bicycle class, the college president shouted, "There’s nothing to teach about bicycling! If you can stay up, you can ride a bicycle!"
Fifteen minutes later he was convinced that he also had something to learn about bicycling! I was asked to draw up a plan for four classes a week. Each student paid a small fee, and in four semesters the fees had paid for the 16 new Peugeot and Raleigh bicycles, which our son Walt sold the college at a special price.
Walt taught the technical part during that first semester, and I made voluminous notes to follow thereafter.
In inclement weather the class learned to prepare bikes for airline transport, to clean and take care of the bikes and how to plan and pack saddlebags for long bicycle tours. Fellows helped the girls replace cables that control brakes and gears.
Everyone helped prevent rim rust by putting a small dab of clear Vaseline where each spoke comes through the wheel’s rim. Damage is said to be caused by water and wrenches!
Kids - and some adults - cause damage by using wrenches without proper knowledge. A common example is related to the chain.
Advice: Leave it alone!
A skilled service person will explain this to you.
Cleaning a bike chain requires throw-away rags, plastic gloves and fresh, colorless oil. When a chain is black and makes marks on the rider’s slacks or bare legs, many people think this is "black oil."
Surprise! Oil is not black! Oil should not be squirted directly onto a chain!
The black is grit and junk that accumulates when too much oil is present. The chain is a series of many joints, each of which can be damaged by road grime and grit.
A frequent wipe with a clean rag will convince the rider that oil is colorless and is to be used on the white rag - sparingly.
Check this with your bike dealer; he wants to keep you happy.