There's a great adage in the home decor and organization field...you've probably heard it on one of those room makeover TV shows. The phrasing varies, of course, but the central idea, "When you run out of floor space, you've got to go up."
Says Ernest Hemingway, "it is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.”
We couldn't agree more. Nowhere looks more like itself than the way it looks on two wheels. And no matter your pursuit, there's a bike for it. Whether you're looking to spin for miles through country lanes on a road bike, run errands on a stout commuter bike built for comfort on city streets, or zip down tree-lined single track on a mountain bike, at the end of all the fun and adventure, you're going to have to get back to where you started. Safely, efficiently, and, hopefully, comfortably.
Bikes have moving parts...it's precisely what they're designed to do. And things with moving parts need maintenance to keep them moving smoothly. And since a bike's very design is to move forward as its parts move, you either need to a) get your bikes wheels off the ground while maintaining access to gear shifts and break levers and b) grow two more arms and hands.
Summer's a great to bust out that bike for everyday travel like going to work, or for longer travel... like the entire East Coast. The East Coast Greenway (ECG) is a one of a kind bike trail that will eventually cover the entire East Coast—all 3,000 miles from Maine to Florida. And you can get started now...
Let's say you've learned to make basic adjustments on your family's bikes, and then assembled a basic bike-specific tool kit to keep things running smoothly and avoid labor costs and long turnaround times at the bike shop. Let's say you actually enjoy it, and have learned to appreciate the zen and simplicity of keeping things running smoothly. Let's say you're actually good at it.
If that's the case, then it's time to really upgrade your collection of tools to tackle almost any problem your bike might have.
Once you've identified the essential tools you should take with you on every bike ride, and built a small tool kit to keep things running smoothly, it's time to look at assembling the right tools and materials to keep your bike in good shape without having to take it to the shop every time you need a small adjustment.
A lot of that comes with knowledge, but you can find loads of free information on simple adjustments online, and especially on YouTube. The trick is to make sure you have the right tool to tackle whatever you're learning.
Bikes, by their design, have moving parts. And as we know, anything with moving parts requires a little care and maintenance from time to time. If you, your friends, or your kids enjoy riding (and you should!), it's important to keep all those parts in good running order to keep everyone fast, make riding as easy as possible, and to stay safe on those roads.
A bicycle is an amazing machine. Easy to ride, but full of all sorts of moving parts that work together smoothly when everything is aligned, just so. As an active cyclist, I advocate for making friends with your local shop - they'll likely give you basic adjustments for free. But there's plenty of tune-ups you can do at home to keep things running smoothly, and save the trip.
So, as riding season seems to finally be poking its head in and cyclists of all types are getting prepped to ride regularly, here are five easy tune-ups you can do to get your bike ready for spring.
There's all sorts of reasons you might need to hang your bike inside your home: perhaps you live in an urban area, and it's really the only place to put it. Or maybe, you just love cycling so much you wanna pay homage to its design, and you'll proudly display your ride as a piece of functional art.
The bicycle basket is a long standing accessory that's great for carrying anything from picturesque picnic supplies to laptops to bulldogs apparently. The copper piping makes for a slightly antique or hipstered look and could be all the makeover your bike needs. Alternately, just build the basket and keep it around the house, fill it with plants, fill it with dogs, etc.
I was suited up. Snow pants, ski goggles, lobster mitts, and long underwear all around. A super-warm super dork, in full regalia, atop my beloved, radiation-green, single-speed Salsa El Mariachi mountain bike. Just another day, mid-winter in Minnesota, doing something that I love: snow-biking.
What's that? Where you live it's warm and snowless in January? Well, gay kaken aufen yam, as they say in Yiddish. Uh, I mean, good for you! But not here. If you don't find a winter sport to do here in Minnesota, then you are liable to go stark raving mad, quicklike, come the fleeting daylight of December.
For me, snow biking has opened up a whole new world of outdoor winter physical activity. I'm not much of a skier, and hockey's not my thing. Ice fishing is a thing; but it doesn't make any actual sense. So when I discovered winter mountain biking, it gave me, well, it gave me a reason to go on living, to be honest. You know... that and my kids.
This happened: my brother and I were out for a bike ride (mountain bike; single track) early this spring. It was the first day of open trails, so the place was packed. And it was my brother's first time on a mountain bike, so we were going a little ... um, slow. Dudes in latex gear on fancy bikes were passing us left and right, as if we were going in reverse. We felt a little like rookies, but we were still having fun.
Then a guy with tree-trunk-sized quads flies by us on a cross bike (y'know, skinny tires), and 20 seconds later we come across him stalled on the trail with a flat. He was getting ready to walk all the way back out to the
Cycling enthusiast and maker OddJob has created the "BAR T.A.B.," a "take along bar" mounted to the inside of a bicycle frame. It's basically all our favorite things in one simple project.
Bikes are relatively simple machines. Which means: unless they're totally rusted a rotted out, they don't really "go bad," and any old bike - either a forgotten one in your garage or a find at the secondhand store - can be lubed up and become ready to ride.
I've gone on before on ManMade about my love of simple machines that work well, and that the bicycle is the most perfect and useful example. And for years, cyclists have been trying to figure out safe and efficient ways to move more than just human bodies from one place to another.