CicLAvia is coming! Check your bike.April 5, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Posted in Resources | 3 Comments
CicLAvia is coming April, 15 2012 and we know you’re all excited to join thousands of people enjoying 10 miles of open streets in Los Angeles. We’re excited too! Before you hop on your bike and head for the CicLAvia route, LACBC recommends you check your bike to make sure it’s in good working condition before the big day. With a little more than a week to go, now is the perfect time. Here’s a few things you can do. If you are unsure about any of these, you can take your bike to one of many shops that offer discounts to LACBC members, or you can visit one of many local bike co-ops, like Bici Libre, where they will show you how to fix your own bike!
If your tires are flat, pump them up. Most likely, that’s all you need to do. Tires lose air over time so if your bike has been sitting for a while, it’s normal for your tires to be low or flat. Use a pump designed for bikes. You can blow out your tire using the pump at a gas station. If your tire simply won’t hold air, you’ll need to repair or replace the tube. If you don’t know how to fix a flat, learning how to do it will give you greater confidence to ride more often. You can find the information in our Resource Guide! While you’re focused on your tires, check to see if the tires are worn – is the tread gone, can you see the threads in the tire? If your tires are worn, replace them. If they aren’t worn, check for sharp objects like bits of glass and remove them.
Make sure your brakes are working properly. If you have hand brakes, both front and back should firmly stop the wheels and the brake levers should not touch your handle-bar when you squeeze them as far as they will go. If you have pedal brakes, you should be able to make the rear wheel skid to a stop on a dry, flat surface. For rim brakes, your brake pads should align properly against the rim. The pads should not touch the tire, nor should they get too close to the spokes.
Is your helmet cracked or badly worn? If yes, replace it. A cracked or worn/old helmet will not protect you. Does your helmet fit? Is it adjusted correctly? Both are important. Your helmet should be snug and must be worn so that it covers your forehead (not tilted back). Just a little above your eyebrows is a good rule of thumb. If you can easily rotate the helmet when it’s on your head, it’s too loose. Check the straps. The side straps should come to a “V” under your ears and the chin strap should be snug (not too tight) under your chin, when closed. A lot of helmets have an adjuster wheel or a slider at the back of the helmet to further tighten the helmet on your head. The adjuster should help make the helmet snug, but not so tight that it’s uncomfortable. If your helmet simply can’t be made snug, it’s too big. If you can’t adjust it to keep the helmet from fitting too tightly, it’s too small.
Quick Release Levers
Most modern adult bikes have a quick release lever to secure each wheel to the frame/fork. The lever should be fully closed and should be a little bit difficult to open and close again. When the lever is closed, it will say “close” on the side of the lever facing out. If the lever is too lose, you can make it tighter by opening the lever, turning the knob on the opposite side of the wheel clockwise, and then closing the lever again. Repeat this until the lever leaves a slight imprint on your palm when you close it. When closed, it’s a good idea to orient the lever so that it closes against the front fork or the frame. Some riders prefer to have the levers pointing backward, which is also okay.
If your chain is rusty, replace it. If it’s dirty, clean it with a rag and then lube it with a bike-specific chain lube. Most come in bottles that will enable you to apply lube to each link of the chain, one drop at a time. Your chain should be clean, rust free, and should move smoothly and easily.
The big picture
Look over your bike and check for anything that might be wrong. Do you see any cracks in the frame? Are your brake cables frayed? Is your handlebar loose? Does your bike make any funny sounds when you ride it? If you’re not sure what’s wrong or you don’t know how to fix the issue, take it to a shop or co-op now!