Bicycle abandoned in the shed? Here’s what to do (Third in a series)

Our Community Bikes

The Our Community Bikes store front on Main Street, Vancouver. Our Community Bikes is a division of PEDAL. (photo by Marian Dork)

It’s a common situation: You have a great bike but don’t get out on it often enough, and now it’s been sitting untouched in the garage or shed for a couple years. This is the time for you to wipe off the cobwebs, do a little tune up, and get out for a leisurely ride.

Cycling is a great leisure activity, as well as a low-impact form of exercise and an eco-friendly method of transportation, like for those quick trips to the store for a loaf of bread. If you don’t like to bike on the streets, nature trails that allow bikes are a great way to get some exercise. The Stanley Park seawall is also a great place for cycling.

If what your bike is in bad shape, Vancouver has some great DIY bike repair shops. You pay for the use of tools and equipment, and you can get advice and direction from the staff and volunteers.

Jesse Cooper, of PEDAL depot on Ontario Street in Vancouver, says, “We are a DIY repair shop and normal repair service centre. We also sell used donated items that are for repair or refurbishment. We teach mechanical procedures to folks who want to learn, among many other things. So consequently our space is busy with the general public hunting through our bins or repairing their bikes.”

There is also a fairly new DIY bicycle repair shop – Kickstand – located at Venables Street and Commercial Drive in east Vancouver.

The Kickstand website states, “Kickstand is a an East Vancouver cycling resource centre that advocates for a diverse cycling community through education, mechanics and creativity.” It offers “accessible work space for you to fix your bike in a supportive atmosphere,” and is run completely by volunteers.

These DIY locations have lots of bike repair stations, so they’re especially useful if you are doing a major overhaul.

However, if all you need is a simple tune-up, here’s a short guide to some basic pre-ride checks and fixes for your bike.

1. Clean – A clean bike runs smoother and has fewer issues. You can clean your bike using a basic cleaner, a rag and an old toothbrush. Clean everything. The less water you use the better.

2. Oil the chain – Grease the chain and other parts of the drivetrain while rotating the pedals (the drivetrain includes the pedals, chain, chainring, derailleur, and rear-wheel cassette). A well-lubricated bike will work more efficiently, but make sure to wipe off any excess grease.

3. Check the tires – Inspect the tires for holes or cracks, particularly on the sides where the tires don’t hit the ground. Changing a tire is an easy task, using tire levers and a pump to re-inflate the inner tube. If there are no holes, check tire pressure and top it up with a bike pump.

4. Test the breaks – Check the brake pads. They may need to be replaced or adjusted. When you squeeze the brake lever, both brake pads should reach the rims at the same time.

5. Test the wheels – Lift the bike and spin the wheels one at a time. They should spin easily with no contact with the brake pads. Now that your bike is road ready, enjoy.

Jaclyn Sinclair

Student with an interest in all things Lifestyle, with a particular love for photography and photo-journalism.

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