Bikes, Commuting, Maintenance and avoiding the rogues

Cycling……. the affordable alternative to car ownership. Discuss

Our infrastructure might not be as good as Holland or even as cycle savvy as York. There’s no denying that bicycles are more popular than ever. But have many of you thought about using your bike as a means of transport to work? For the best part of 17 years I commuted from Consett to Wallsend by bike. It wasn’t always easy, more of a choice. With the right clothes it’s not so bad. My preference was always towards the journey in. I’d mix it up at times by taking a different route back when time allowed.

Now I hear you say it’s too far, I’m not fit enough. But you’re going to get fitter by doing it. Catch 22 right? By no means am I suggesting that you consider doing it every day. A friend of mine who id meet at Derwenthaugh Country Park, near Swalwell, used to drive and park up, then we’d cycle the remaining 9 or so miles together.

However the majority of commutes are much shorter than this. There’s a statistic somewhere that puts it between 3-5 miles. Around 30-45 minutes from the average person. If we replaced 2 journeys of this type a week, we’d be healthier and save money to boot. Cycling with your kids to school or of course persuading the secondary school kids that it’s beneficial would help us all.

The area formally known as Derwentside has the advantage of having many bridleways and quite roads to travel along. When I’m trying to get an idea of what type of riding folks visiting the shop I often ask them for the type of cycling that they do and enjoy. This informs me of the level of service proportional to its future use. There are some exceptions to this. If a bike is in too bad shape I may have to declare it uneconomical to repair.

Because cycling has become so popular, there’s a huge problem with supply and demand. Bikes are still being produced, but lead times are very long. Also some essential service items are also very difficult for us to source too. It’s never been more important to look after your bike. In particular the drivetrain; That is the Chain rings, at the front attached to where you pedal, the chain and finally the cassette or sprockets in the centre of the rear wheel on the right.

The above diagram is a simple bike check. This should take no more than a couple of minutes and should be performed before you ride the machine off down a hill for example.

The chain is the main item that we need you to look after. Keeping it oiled with a good quality bike specific lube, no that doesn’t necessarily mean expensive-our most popular is £6. But realise that the oil that’s keeping everything running smoothly also attracts dirt. Over time this build up, if it’s not removed will form a very effective course paste which will wear out the very things that are difficult to source at the moment.

Chainset- The spiked rings are the chain rings
The rear wheel showing a freewheel/cassette

So what are you to do. At the very least, wipe the chain off once a week. This can be achieved by turning the pedals backwards wiping off the chain with a rag

So, very briefly a warning of sorts. We’ve noticed a rise in the number of home made bikes or Frankenstein’s. These are generally assembled from a collection of parts. On a lot of occasions by people that are trying to cash in on the popularity and low availability of new bikes. Unfortunately in the majority of cases these people have very little if any professional or shop experience. This will almost certainly lead to parts being fitted to a cycle which are not compatible.

What you will get from coming to a independent bike shop is good advice. We are aware of a few of the dubious sellers on Facebook and can save you time, money and heartache. These people don’t care that the bike you just bought isn’t safe. An independent bike shop or Insured professional mechanic will be able to advise you.

We don’t always get it right first time, but we’ll always work together with our customers to provide the best impartial service.

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