Don't see yourself becoming a bike commuter? That's OK. You do not have to "become" anything if you just want to try riding your bike. We have some octogenerian relatives who have been known to ride their bikes to the grocery store. I don't think they ever stopped to figure out if they are "bike commuters".Read More
In addition to being a fabulous recreational vehicle, your bike can be a super-utilitarian machine for getting around the city even when you're not using it to get to work. I love to use my bike for grocery shopping. My supermarket of choice has a nightmarish parking lot. If I ride my bike, I don't even have to set foot in it, and I can carry a lot more than if I walk.Read More
If you are puzzled and frustrated by the number of gears on your bicycle, you are not alone. For most riders in our flat Chicago landscape, any number of gears above seven seems completely unnecessary. It is a rare Chicago cyclist who has ever used all the gears on their bike inside city limits. Most bikes come factory-equipped with more gears than you can count on your fingers and toes, and few salespeople take the time to explain how to use them correctly. Consequently, many riders don't know how to shift gears for maximum benefit.Read More
How often is it, that while traveling through a vibrant college town, or a quaint lakeside village, we think to ourselves: I could live here; if I lived here, I would be happy. Yet few of us have the option of uprooting our families and livelihoods, and relocating on a whim to the first picturesque town we see.Read More
Were it not for the invention of the hybrid bike, urban cycling in the US would not be what it is today. What started out as cross between a mountain bike and a road bike resulted in a new bike category, offering a more comfortable sitting position, and more sensible tire width than either of the parents. And, what started out as a compromise between two styles of riding, actually created a riding style all of its own. Thanks to their versatility, utility and ease of use, hybrid bikes made urban biking accessible and convenient for all. For the majority of urban cyclists, a hybrid is still a great choice, because it adapts well to a variety of uses.Read More
Many people think bike commuting is for the dedicated few. Maybe you don't want to commit to that type of lifestyle. Maybe riding a bike doesn't fit in your daily schedule. Or maybe you're not sure if you'll like it. At least not all the time.
That's OK. Biking doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. You can use your bike when convenient and enjoyable, and still use the car when you really need it. You may find that when you take that approach, bikingwill become your preferred transportation alternative.Read More
There are few things more dispiriting than wheeling your bike out on a crisp morning and discovering you can't ride, because the tires are flat. Because we work in a bike shop, quite often we forget that many people are completely mystified by bicycle tires.
Whether you ride your bike regularly, or leave it hanging out in your basement or garage, the tires will naturally lose air over time. It's like the balloon you brought back from a party: after a few days, it doesn't look so good. Bike tires don't lose air quite as rapidly as a balloon, and they can also be readily refilled. The trick is to know how and with what.Read More
Bicycle theft is rampant in many urban neighborhoods, and Chicago certainly has its share of the problem. Whether you are riding an expensive bike or a garage-sale model, having your bike stolen is expensive, inconvenient and downright maddening. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to make your bicycle a less likely target.Read More
One of our goals at Cosmic Bikes is to help more people become comfortable using a bike as part of their lifestyle, and therefore, we'd like to help people overcome the 5 Basic Obstacles to Riding a BikeRead More
Getting a flat is pretty darn inconvenient. Don't make it any more so by leaving your flat changing essentials at home. Here is what you need to be able to change a flat anywhere:
- Spare tube. Make sure that it is the right size and valve type for your bicycle. Not all types of holes can be patched, and replacing a punctured tube with a brand new one is simply faster and more practical than patching a tube on the curb. You can patch the old one at home, if it is salvageable.
- Patch kit. Regardless of what I just said, you should carry patches. Occasionally, a brand new tube may leak air, or you may get a second flat because you haven't properly identified the cause of the original puncture.
- Tire levers. These are essential for removing the tire from the rim. Please don't use a screwdriver; it can damage not only the tube, but the tire and rim as well.
- Portable pump suitable for use with the type of valve you have. Usually, the smaller the pump, the longer it will take to fill up the tire, but even a very small pump is better than nothing.
- A wrench, if your bike does not come with quick release wheels. Generally, 14 and 15 mm wrenches are needed loosen nuts on front and rear wheels, but an adjustable wrench will do in a pinch.
- Just in case: cell phone and money.
Carry those whenever you are more than walking distance from home.
Most importantly, practice changing a flat before you leave home. If you come to Rapid Transit to have your flat fixed during non-peak hours, we often have time to show you how it's done. But it is usually not enough to be shown: you have to practice it yourself.
Click here for a step-by -step tube changing tutorial.
Most adult bikes today are equipped with quick release (QR) wheel retention devices on both wheels. QR's are very reliable in keeping the wheels securely attached to the bike, provided you know how to use them correctly. And, despite the fact the QR's have been in wide use for several decades, many people are still unfamiliar with how they work. Please, do not ride your bike without knowing how to use the quick release.
The QR is not simply a wing-nut to be twisted as tight as possible. If you are using it that way, your wheel could come off your bike while you are ridingRead More
How the *bleep* do I fill this up? If you have to ask, chances are your bike is not equipped with the type of valve pictured above.
This is a typical Schrader valve, found not only on the majority of bicycles, but also familiar to anyone who's ever filled up a car tire. If the tire is low, simply apply the head of any pump or gas station compressor firmly to the tip of the valve, and blow.
But don't take it for granted that your bike comes equipped with the common Schrader valve.Read More
Before you begin changing a flat on your bike, you will need to remove the wheel from the frame. Click here for instructions on removing a wheel on a typical hybrid bike.
Chances are your tire has gone flat all the way. If not, unscrew the valve cap, and release any remaining air by pressing down on the valve core. If you have Schrader valves, press the valve core with a pointed object, as shown above.Read More
Have you ever been plagued by recurring flats? You keep fixing the tube, or taking it back to your bike shop, you ride for awhile, and, boom! It goes flat again.
Let me just say that yes, there are mystery flats. There probably is a cause for them, but it cannot be reasonably identified by either you or the mechanic(s). However, in most cases, people continue to get recurring flats, because the the thing that caused the original flat has not been correctly identified.Read More
The majority of bicycle wheels you are likely to encounter are comprised of four parts:
- The tire.
- The inner tube.
- The wheel itself, which includes the hub, spokes and rim. For the purposes of flat repair, we will be talking primarily about the rim.
- The rim strip.
The picture above shows the front brake setup on a typical hybrid.
To get the front wheel out, you will first have to release this brake. The brake cable is housed in a metal casing called the "noodle", with a cable stop, which falls into a slot on a little swing arm attached to the main brake arm.
To release the brakes, you will need to squeeze the brake arms together, and lift up on the noodle to remove the cable stop from the slot. I find it easiest to push the brakes together with the heels of my hands while I manipulate the cable with my fingers. If you have larger hands, you may be able to squeeze the brakes together with one hand, and pull the cable with the other.Read More
You may notice that we spend an inordinate amount of time talking about air in the tires. Why, how much, how often, and how to. We do this because, just when we think we have comprehensively covered this topic, we see people riding around on tires as soft as a stomach-sleeper's pillow.
Putting air in your bicycles tires will (1) keep them from getting pinch flats (which should be the only reason anyone would need), (2) help you travel faster and more efficiently, and (3) not seem very hard, or take a long time, once you know how to do it.Read More