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On the Efficiency and Maintenance of Bicycles

There’s a question I get asked a lot when I tell people how much I ride: “Shouldn’t you be skinnier since you ride your bike so much?” Apparently not. In fact, from a recent Super Science Study Lab Report Google search, I learned that riding bike is the most efficient means of transportation humans have come up with – up to 5 times as efficient as walking – which kinda makes sense since you can’t coast while walking (unless you have Heelys).  There are several studies comparing bicycles to walking, swimming, horse riding, and car driving, and the bicycle beats them all, hands down. (I would cite the information, but being as I don’t really understand much of it I will suggest you learn independently. Maybe we can compare notes.) Anyways, this leads me to the conclusion that if your bike isn’t easy to ride, and easier than walking, it probably needs mechanical attention. Bicycle maintenance can feel discouraging, and you are not alone – this is one of the main reasons many of us stop riding. There are a few simple things you can do to make your bike go and stop as it should, efficiently. I present to you the ABC Quick Check.


Air – check tires weekly and fill to recommended pressure.

The pressure in your tires is crucial to your bicycle’s performance, and tires naturally lose pressure over time. Locate the recommended PSI ratings on the side of your tires and try to keep your tire pressure within that range. I like to inflate my tires to the max and deflate as my environment dictates. Lower pressure grips better and creates a softer ride, but creates more rolling resistance. A balance of these traits is based on your personal preferences. Explore and see what you like!


Brakes – confidently stop without unwanted resistance.

Stopping is just as important as going. While sitting on your bike, slowly roll forward and apply your brakes. The brakes should stop the wheels firmly when applied, and be free of unwanted contact with the rim/ disc when not engaged. Sloppy brake performance can be fixed by unscrewing barrel adjusters. Be careful and check your brakes between small half turn adjustments.

Them's some shiny brakes

PC: Fezzari Bicycles


Chain – is it smooth and quiet or squeaky and gritty?

The mechanical components of a bicycle are all on its exterior. This subjects these parts to all the environment can dish out. Regularly lube your chain. Remember that excess lube attracts dust and airborne debris. Use a rag to remove excess lube after applying.


Quick – releases need to be tightly fitted.

If you can flip your quick release lever with one finger, it is too loose. Tighten by holding both sides and tightening the non-lever side until you feel some resistance. Check the alignment of your wheel while tightening. It can be easy to misalign the wheel if not paying attention.


Check – it over regularly.

Inspect your bike for frayed cables, worn tires, and loose parts. Take it for a short test ride before going for a longer distance. The longer your bike sits, the more it’s subject to corrosion and cable fatigue.


If you have any questions or hesitations about any of these steps contact your local bike shop. Shops are happy to go over the ABC Quick Check and we gladly give free estimates if you bring your bike in.

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