Advice from a Bike Mechanic
We asked Sanjay Patel, bike mechanic at Cyclemania on the Danforth, for tips on getting your bike ready to rideWhat to do with your bike after it sat around all winter
Pump up the tires
Make sure the handlebars are tight, give them a twist (they shouldn’t be too stiff or too wobbly)
Give the wheels a spin, make sure they are spinning freely
Make sure the brakes are working
If you’re not sure what to do, bring it to your local bike shop
Make sure your chain is moving smoothly
Look for stiff links
If there are stiff links, you need to either unseize them yourself, remove those links, or replace the chain
A little rust on the chain is fine, as long as it’s moving. A bit of redness here and there will come off if you ride it. It’s stiffness you’re looking for
Lubricate the chain so it moves well
It’s best to use a bike specific chain oil
Something like WD40 can work but it doesn’t last very long
In a pinch you can also use olive oil
Lock it up!
A wire lock is only good for a very short period of time when your bike is still in view, or in addition to a u-lock, like to secure your wheels or seat. Wire locks can be cut with really simple tools and quietly.
A u-lock will offer more protection at any given time, because people need a bigger tool to cut it. Chain locks are similar to a u-lock, they just need to be thick.
U-locks are a bit more expensive than wire locks, but they’re what you need to spend to stop the bike from getting stolen.
A good u-lock will cost at least $50
You can use pumps at some bike stores, gas stations and TTC stations. Having one at home is convenient, and a good one will cost about $40.
Bells are a must-have, and cost around $10
Stay aware: don’t wear headphones or use your phone while biking
On buying a bike from a store or online
Buy new or used from a store, unless you really know bikes yourself or you really trust the person
You can see a lot of bikes listed for sale online of various price ranges and qualities, and you could be thinking you’re getting a good deal whereas there’s a part that needs to be replaced and that part is going to cost more than the cost of the bike. Or people might try to deceive you
Make sure you test ride before you buy any bike. There’s no one right type of bike for you. Get something you feel comfortable on. To figure that out you need to test ride
How to carry stuff on your bike
First, figure out how much stuff you want to carry. That can determine whether you want a simple front basket or a more robust rear luggage rack
If you’re going to be getting a bottle of wine or a little bit of groceries, a front basket would be okay
If you’re hauling around clothes, laptop, groceries, stuff for kids, etc., then a rear luggage rack is going to offer you more options. You can get a big rear basket, or bags that are removable
A spring tune-up at Cyclemania costs $75. It includes:
Full inspection and adjustment
Tightening nuts and bolts
Readjusting the gears
Tightening the breaks
Balancing the wheels
Pumping the tires
Making sure the bike is ready to ride
If you’re bike isn’t working properly, you risk really serious injury and damage
This article appears in the May/June 2023 Issue.