Earth & Bike Month Events

Earth Month - MSU Sustainability

Earth Month – MSU Sustainability

April is Earth Month leading into National Bike Month (May).  MSU Sustainability and MSU Bikes have been busy organizing events, some in collaboration with students and other departments on campus, to raise awareness and inspire our campus community.  This page brings together everything we’ve got cooking!  The Be Spartan Green Happenings page includes some others not listed here.

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MSU Energy Bike Tour (Apr. 11)

https://www.facebook.com/events/212574808941306/

MSU Energy Bicycle Tour 2014

MSU Energy Bike Tour flier

On Friday, April 11th, Sean Patrick Martin (Environmental Studies and Agriscience junior) will be hosting a bicycle tour around campus that will visit various places that are good examples of Michigan State University’s energy consumption and production. The tour will begin in Brody Complex, pass by the MSU Bikes Service Center, MSU Recycling Center, the power plant, the digester, the Nursing School’s geothermal field and conclude at the MSU Dairy Store.

The goal of this tour is to provide an opportunity to critically think about how MSU is currently using energy, the problems it faces and the potential solutions possible in order to make the campus and community a more sustainable place. The route will be about an easy, enjoyable 8 miles over the course of 2 hours (with stops every 10 minutes or so).  Start point: The small amphitheater in Brody Complex south of the cafeteria behind Emmons Hall.  Please register for this event here to confirm your attendance so we can get more concrete numbers on who’s going. It takes like 30 seconds, thank you!

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Lansing Bike Party Season Opener (Apr. 11)

https://www.facebook.com/groups/lansingbikeparty/

This weekly social, slow bike ride that’s been starting on the MSU campus since the spring of 2009, is starting up this Friday.  We meet up at the Eli Broad Art Museum’s west entrance at 5:30 pm and then roll-off approx. 5:45 pm.  From the Facebook event page:

Lansing Bike Party

Lansing Bike Party ride, summer 2013

“Bikes, science and culture combine this Friday into a tripleplay of sociability. Come join the fun! First, it’s the MSU Energy Bicycle Tour, an exploration of Green civic projects on campus, from 3-5 (starting amphitheater S of Brody Cafeteria, finish Dairy Store). Then the LBP meets 5:30 in front of the Broad. Then we‘ll ride around town, taking in springtime views of the Rivertrail and neighborhoods (for half-hr to an hour) then visit Project Hazel, an art opening in a huge old converted warehouse on Hazel St — billed as “art/fashion/music/eats,” hours 6-10. After exploring Project Hazel for an hour or so, or whatever we like, we can ride back as a group, or folks can do their own thing.”

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Celebrate Biking at 2nd MSU Bike to Work & Campus Breakfast  (Apr. 17)

http://msubikes.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/2nd-annual-bike-to-work-campus-breakfast/

Mark your calendars for Apr. 17, 8 am – 10 am, for our 2nd Annual Bike to Work – Campus Breakfast to honor those that pledge to bicycle to work/ campus on National Bicycle to Work Day (which is May 16th, 2014) and celebrate bicycling as an important part of MSU Sustainability’s Earth Month activities.   Join us for a free breakfast in the large private dining room of the Brody Cafeteria.  Just give your name and the event name at the register.

Mid-MEAC's Valet Bike Parking crew

Mid-MEAC’s Valet Bike Parking crew (Brandon and Julie Powers in purple shirts) w/ Tim and Lauren Olson of MSU Sustainability.

4/16 Update:  Kemel Dawkins, MSU’s new Vice President for Strategic Infrastructure Planning and Facilities, will be unable to attend our breakfast due to demands on his schedule.

Enjoy free bicycle valet parking provided by Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council just outside the main entrance to Brody Hall.

There is a limit of 56 people for the room so please RSVP using this form. There is a short survey on the RSVP form which we hope will allow us to have some interesting data to share during the breakfast regarding our attendees and their bike commuting.

We’re lining up speakers now for a panel discussion, raffle prizes and a helmet give-away along with a bike safety trivia game courtesy of our friends at the MSU Council of Students with Disabilities to help reduce brain injury and other bike accidents on campus.

 

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MSU Surplus Store Used Bike Sale, Apr. 19

MSU Surplus Store Used Bike Sale, Apr. 19

Big MSU Surplus Bike Sale (Apr. 19)

The first big bike sale of 2014 will start Saturday, April 19 from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm with more than 300 used bikes with prices as low as $10 each for as-is bikes up to $225 for the nicer ones that have been refurbished by the skilled mechanics at MSU Bikes which come with 30-day free check-overs.  A number of refurbished bikes are currently available for sale at the MSU Bikes Service Center and at the Surplus Store for those who would rather avoid the lines of the big sale.

 

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Donate Your Unused Bikes – Meridian Township Recycling Event (Apr. 26)

http://recycle.meridian.mi.us/events/2014/4-26.pdf

Meridian Twp Recycling Event -04-26-14

Meridian Twp Recycling Event -04-26-14 flier

Have some bikes hanging in your garage or basement, or old bike parts/ accessories that you’d like to donate to someone who needs a bike?  Consider bringing them to the upcoming Meridian Township Recycling Event on April 26 from 9 am – 2 pm at the Chippewa Middle School.  Many other items are being collected the same day.  Bikes will be collected by MSU Bikes and Share a Bike of E. Lansing.

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Greater Lansing Ride of Silence - MSU – E. Lansing (May 21)

When: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 6:00 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: Gather at Wells Hall courtyard (east side of Wells Hall) for sign-in, tying on of arm-bands, etc. Ceremony and bag pipe music will accompany us as we roll off at 6:30 p.m. sharp. Bathrooms should be available in Wells Hall.
Time: Gather between 5:15 to 6:05 p.m., roll-off at 6:30 p.m. sharp. Note: We are bumping up the time again this year in order to return home in more light for the safety of our participants.
Route / Destination: Our destination will once again be the steps of the State Capitol Bldg. Our updated route map is here: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5851132

Greater Lansing Ride of Silence - 2013

Greater Lansing Ride of Silence – 2013

“The 2014 Greater Lansing  Ride of Silence will take place Wednesday, May 21, at 5:30 pm  on the Michigan State University campus. Area cyclists will take to the streets in a silent procession to honor those cyclists who have been killed or injured while cycling on public roadways.

Check out the Facebook Page here!

Bike Safety Tips & Legal Resources

Don't be a Ninja cyclist!

Don’t be a Ninja cyclist!  Be SEEN and LIVE!

The most important thing when it comes to being safe on your bike is avoiding an accident, particularly ones with motor vehicles that can be very serious.  So, we want to first focus your attention on how you can best be seen while riding which is one of the things in your control and easily addressed.

 

Be Seen with Lights & Bright Clothing

Watch this video to understand why it’s important to stand out from your environment.  Trust me, you DON’T want to be the bear if a car driver doesn’t notice you.  Wear the brightest clothing you can find ALL THE TIME; safety-vests rock if you’d rather not flip for a new jacket.

State of MI bicyclist crash facts for 2012.

“78.9 percent of all bicyclists in motor vehicle crashes and 15 of the 20 bicyclists killed were riding during daylight hours.”  Mich. Traffic Crash Facts for 2012.

We’re also very big on good lighting for your bike, especially if you commute or ride on the road (as you should) around campus. We stock a great selection of strong headlights and rear lights to fit any budget.  A tail light is required by Michigan State Law when riding after dark, but if you ask any commuter or experienced bicyclist, they’ll advise you to run with tail and head lights (strobe is best) all day (use rechargeable batteries and you don’t have to worry about the expense of replacing batteries). Why use lights during the day?  Well, when you ride in and out of dark shadowy areas of the roads you can become almost invisible to a motorist who’s eyes haven’t adjusted to the darkness in that split second which could cost you dearly.

 

 

 

Picking a Safe Route

sidewalk-cyclists

Over 90% of all reported bike accidents are the result of sidewalk bicycling on the MSU campus! (courtesy of MSU Photography Services)

Choosing a safe route is probably the most important key to your safety as a cyclist. Our biggest piece of advice: Stay off the sidewalks.  Why? It is against most city ordinances to ride bikes on sidewalks (including the MSU Campus Ordinance) as it’s more dangerous for everyone including the bicyclist.  If you’re going more than 10 mph, even if there are no bike lanes, you have a legal right to ride in the road (just make sure you’re highly visible, ride with the flow of traffic and follow the same rules of the road as motor vehicles).

It seems safer to ride on the sidewalks but cars just don’t check sidewalks for bicyclists when they approach a roadway to make a turn and, on our campus as with most of the cities in the State of Michigan you have NO LEGAL PROTECTION if you do get hit while riding your bike through a cross-walk as a pedestrian as you’re required to be walking your bike to be legally considered a pedestrian.  National statistics as well as our own campus research show that the overwhelming majority of bike-auto accidents occur when the bicyclist is riding on a sidewalk.

For more convincing graphical presentations and resources read more here courtesy of John Allen’s Bicycle Facilities, Laws and Programs pages.   From that web page:

“…riding on a sidewalk is not necessarily safer and in fact, …the risk is approximately four times that of riding on the roadway with traffic.”

If you’d like to learn more about why it’s safer to ride in the road and exactly WHERE to ride in the road you should review the great animations on this website courtesy of the folks at Commute Orlando.

Riding Safe Tips

Once you’ve got your basic safety equipment all set (see below for our recommendations), the next major area of keeping safe while you ride is how you ride and react to aggressive or clueless motorists/pedestrians/other cyclists. The Bicycle Safe website lists common types of bike-to-motorist accidents and how to avoid them. The League of Illinois Bicyclists has a video on the topic of riding safely and defensively on the roads.

If you’re interested in learning more about safe bike riding, consider taking a class from the MSU Bikes Service Center. We’re planning on offering some classes focused on this topic. Drop us an e-mail and get on our bike classes wait list at bikes@msu.edu.

Helmets

The Bike Helmet:  Cheap insurance.  Example of the kind of helmets we normally stock.

The Bike Helmet: Cheap insurance. Example of the kind of helmets we normally stock.

At the top of the list is head safety. We highly recommend the use of helmets when riding around campus – or anywhere, for that matter. We recently had a student with a helmet stop by the Service Center who shared one of the simplest summaries we’ve ever heard for why wearing a helmet makes sense:”When people say ‘helmets look stupid,’ I just say ‘Would you rather look stupid or be stupid?

Eye Protection

Protecting your eyes is highly recommended while you’re riding.  Use tinted during the day and clear for riding after hours or in low-light conditions. Prices range from bargain basement on up.

MSU Bike Safety Video

Check out this bike safety video that a group of MSU Communications Arts students (directed by Katelyn Patterson, they were all volunteers on this project) created for AOP bike tours done in previous years.  Using a bit of slap-stick humor hopefully makes the sometimes boring subject more entertaining.

Fenders

Using fenders will keep your tires from picking up road debris and throwing it in your eyes. Most people associate fenders with keeping water and mud off yourself, but overlook the protection they provide your eyes. We stock a good supply and variety of them.

Bells and Horns

Airzound air horn for bikes

The Airzound – a very loud horn that can be reinflated with any air pump.

Yes, we’re all about bells and horns, too. How many pedestrians, cyclists, motorists are busy talking on their cell phones or listening to their iPods or other radios? Get yourself a nice little bell for letting peds know you’re about to pass them and then consider something stronger like the AirZound Bike Horn for getting yourself noticed by motorists in no uncertain terms. We stock a good selection of bells and horns, including the AirZound.

Michigan Law, Legal assistance and case studies

The League of Michigan Bicyclists has published a very nice summary of the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code which pertains to bicycling here.  They’ve also  published a number of legal columns by two Michigan attorneys (Sarah W. Colegrove and Todd E. Briggs) who specialize in litigating bicycling-related cases. You can read those past columns and get their contact information here.

What to do when hit by a car

We have many bicyclists come into our shop having just had an accident and way too often they report not having reported the incident and telling the driver they’re OK and not getting names or anything only later to find out that they’re injured or that their bike is damaged beyond repair.  Don’t let this happen to you.

The following list is excerpted from an LMB legal column in the site referenced above.

  • Don’t admit liability by stating the accident was your fault.
  • Call the police (911 if there are serious injuries) and make a report.  (The MSU Police non-emergency number is 517-355-2222 for non life-threatening injury accidents).
  • Get driver’s contact and insurance information.
  • Get witnesses’ statements and contact information.
  • Get the officer’s precinct number and contact information.
  • Seek immediate medical treatment for injuries.
  • Report incident to your auto insurance company.
  • Report incident to your homeowners/renters insurance company.
  • Take photos of crash scene, injuries and bicycle.
  • Request copy of police report.
  • Keep folder of all crash information (notes, receipts, log, insurance information, etc.)
  • Contact an attorney to advise you of your rights.

MSU’s commitment to improving traffic safety

In 1995, MSU’s administration made the decision to make improvements to campus roads to improve traffic safety. This has resulted in a drop in automobile-related accidents that result in injuries to approximately 90 percent fewer accidents as of the 2008 accident report. As a result, not only have hundreds of potential accidents been avoided, but MSU was awarded an Outstanding Contributions to Traffic Safety Award from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commission in 2006. Click here to read the award announcement.

A new campus policy calling for their construction/ addition to all new road projects was also adopted at the same time to improve bicycling safety and reduce accidents with automobiles and pedestrians. MSU is approximately 60 percent done with installing bike lanes on all campus (MSU-controlled) roads as of the end of the 2012 construction season.

The All University Traffic and Transportation Committee  advises MSU’s Chief of Police on traffic and transportation safety issues and serves as a way for the campus community to have input to the administration regarding related issues or concerns to include parking of all vehicles (motorized and non-motorized).

Questions or suggestions for more safety information?

We’d love to add more to this page.   Have a story or a tip you’d like to share?  Comment below or contact Tim Potter at pottert@msu.edu

Bike Registration and Impoundment

News:  Campus bike cleanup starts May 5, 2014

Details here: http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2014/campus-bike-cleanup-starts-may-5/

Consider using our enhanced security MSU Bike Garages to keep your bike protected from the weather, vandalism, theft, accidental impoundment, etc.


 

Example new and improved impound tag

Example new and improved impound tag listing all the reasons that a bike might get impounded.

Registration

Registering your bike is not only required by the MSU ordinance it is a very helpful service in other respects that you might not think about.

  • Registration (a free process that gets you a permit or sticker with a unique number) proves your ownership of your bike.  This helps the police (not only the MSU Police but other police outside of campus) be able to contact you if your bike happens to get stolen.  It also helps you prove to the police that you own the bike if you need them to cut your lock (if you lose your key or break it off in the lock; pretty common problem in the colder months on campus).
  • How to get an MSU DPPS permit?  You can easily apply for one online, they’re free and will come to you through the mail in a few days.  Go to this page and click the “online” link in the 3rd paragraph to begin the process.  If you need help finding your bike’s serial number refer to this web page.

Impoundment

Since MSU has over 20,000 bikes on campus the university has rules regarding bikes that are breaking those rules (improperly locked up, abandoned, no registration, etc.).  Go to this page to learn all about the impounding process at MSU so your bike doesn’t get thrown in the bike slammer.

Michigan’s Bike Related Laws

If you wonder about the applicable laws related to bicycling in Michigan here’s a great page that summarizes them all.

Dude, Where’s My Bike!?

Where's my bike?

Worst example of how to NOT lock your bike. Click pic for more. Photo courtesy: http://lockyourbike.wordpress.com/page/3/

‘How to recover a stolen bike and reduce your chances of being a victim’

Being a busy bike shop in the middle of a campus of 20,000+ bicyclists you can imagine that we’ve fielded a few emails and stories about stolen bikes and given this topic A LOT of thought.   Most people  ask, “what do I do now?”.   Some, unfortunately give up on bicycling altogether after getting one or more stolen.

Our best advice for AFTER-THEFT action:

1.  CRITICAL!  Assuming the bike is worth the effort, always report it to at least one police department so that the serial number and other key features are on file in their database(s) which pawn shops and others also refer to state wide and sometimes nation wide.

Stripped bike on campus

Don’t let this happen to your bike!

2.  BEST IDEA! To avoid spending countless hours scouring eBay and Craigslist, etc. to find your bike,  create a Google Alert which means you give Google some key words and your email address and anytime Google finds something online that matches your keywords you’ll get an email! Google search-bots will do it for you!

3.  Stop by the area pawn shops to check their inventory and leave them a flyer with a photo, serial number, etc. so that they’ll be aware and put on notice if someone comes trying to sell it.  Often times serial numbers are very hard to find and/ or difficult to read for numerous reasons, so some pawn shops may unknowingly have stolen bikes for sale.

4.  Post your stolen bike info. incl. photos and all other unique identifying items (serial number especially) to a new Facebook group recently created (http://www.facebook.com/groups/michhatesbikethieves/ ) and get some other eyeballs out there for you as some thieves will likely stay offline to launder stolen bikes.

For those of you reading this BEFORE a theft, here’s my best advice:

Anti-theft skewers for wheels to replace the 'quick release' type that require no tools to loosen.
Anti-theft skewers for wheels to replace the ‘quick release’ type that require no tools to loosen.
  1. Secure any components that have quick-release mechanisms with anti-theft type mechanisms that require a special tool to loosen.  Seats and wheels are commonly stolen when they have quick releases as well as lights and other nice accessories.  Anti-theft skewers for wheels to replace the ‘quick release’ type that require no tools to loosen. Anti-theft skewers for wheels to replace the ‘quick release’ type that require no tools to loosen.
  2. Take detailed photos of your cherished bikes NOW before anything happens to them and record your serial number!  Be sure to document any unique features especially certain scratches (aka your bike’s ‘birth-mark’) that would prove your ownership.  While you’re at it put a rider on your home/ renters insurance with that information.  Keep your receipts of purchase too.
  3. Use the best lock you can afford (U-shaped locks are generally the strongest when used correctly) if you want to prevent theft of your bike.
  4. Lock your bike correctly (for examples of both good and bad locking techniques see pics in this gallery) to a good bike rack or, lacking a good rack, to something that’s not movable and/or easily cut.
  5. Lock your bike in an area that’s highly visible; more secluded areas tend to have more theft as fewer people can potentially catch them in the act; thieves prefer to work when it’s dark and where it’s dark.
  6. If your bike is flashy (i.e. newer, bright colors), and expensive it’s best to NOT lock up outside at night ever; bring your bike inside at night to avoid potential thieves/ vandals.
  7. If you have the option on a large rack park your bike in the middle somewhere and not on the ends.  Bikes on the ends tend to attract thieves and drunks who apparently enjoy kicking bike wheels.  Maintenance trucks, mowers, etc. also tend to hit the bikes on the ends.

More anti-theft tips:

Ever forget your lock and need to lockup for a quick visit to a store or cafe?  Here are a few quick tips:

  • Take your whole bike inside with you; if the staff protest remove (and take it with you) just your front wheel and that will deter most would-be thieves.
  • For older bikes open the quick-release on your rear wheel; as soon as the would-be thief tries to ride off the rear wheel will shift in the frame and lockup (only works on bikes without vertical drop-outs).
  • If you have a newer bike you can remove the front wheel quick-release skewer and pull the wheel out of the fork and set it next to the bike to make it appear broken/ unrideable.
  • Use your helmet and strap it thru one of your wheels and frame; it will deter someone trying a quick ‘grab and ride’ theft.
  • This one is more complex, only works with certain brakes and requires some forethought: adjust one of your brakes with the release in the open position then close it when necessary to lock your brake much like a parking brake on a car.  The bike won’t roll until the brake release is opened.
  • Check out the late Sheldon Brown’s page of additional clever anti-theft tips.

Learn to Ride a Bike!

Metal Skuut balance bike in action

Metal Skuut balance bike in action – click photo for more info. on Skuut balance bikes.

We occasionally get inquiries about how to learn to ride a bike.  While I have offered one-on-one sessions for people just outside our shop there is a very simple way to learn that just about anyone can use to learn.  It’s the method of learning using a “balance bike” rather than “training wheels”.  I’ve used the method to teach grown youth (10-12 yrs. old) within an hour and some of the videos I’ve seen say within 30 min. for younger kids (which I’m assuming is due to them being generally less scared of falling than older people).

In a nutshell, ‘balance’ bikes are like a normal bike except they have no pedals and are designed to help the person figure out how to balance while rolling.  Typically the seats are much lower than on a bike with pedals so that the person can easily touch the ground to help avoid a crash while learning to balance.  A smooth grassy area with a slight decline is the ideal place to learn so that if there is a crash the person doesn’t get hurt. Once the person can roll for 3-5 seconds with their feet up (might take a bunch of times up and down the same hill) then it’s time to put the pedals on and raise the seat a couple inches and encourage them to pedal (on the same grassy hill).  Once they’re able to put the pedaling together with the balance without crashing on the grass then get them on a smooth hard surface (away from traffic and other objects) and encourage them to keep trying the pedaling and within a short while most will begin bicycling!

Here are some videos that will show you how this is done:

This is one of the best I’ve seen: “Teach kids how to ride a bike in 30 minutes or less”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMIyC0tMt1s

Here’s one showing adults learning using the balance bike method too showing that it works for older people as well!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0sifwUaQkg

If you need a smaller bike in order to teach yourself or a child using this method you can rent a bike from us or contact the Share a Bike program in E. Lansing to see if they would loan you a smaller bike for teaching, or you might be able to acquire one from them via a donation (contact them for details).

Good luck learning!

Avoiding Flat Tires

Hisssssss……….

Panaracer tire with Tour Guard, a kevlar based material that greatly reduces flats.

Panaracer tire with Tour Guard, a kevlar based material that greatly reduces flats.  I ride these tires (1 flat in over 5000 mi. of riding up and down Grand River Ave!).  We keep a wide selection of these tires in stock.

Most bicyclists are all too familiar with that sinking feeling you get when you hear a hissing sound coming from one of your tires.  A tire or tube puncture might mean anything from an hour delay in your travels to a day or more out of commission.  Fortunately, the MSU Bikes (just under the Bessey Hall Auditorium off the River Trail with a convenient ramp right up to our door) staff are very familiar with this issue in our daily quest to keep the 20,000 plus bicyclists rolling back and forth from home to class.  We regularly stock (but can also special order just about anything!) a selection of anti-puncture solutions that I’d highly recommend you consider BEFORE you get stranded and BEFORE we get busy with spring!  There are three good options (from inexpensive to more expensive):


-          Thorn resistant tubes ($5 – 10):  these tubes weigh quite a bit more than standard tubes but are about 3-4 times thicker and thus harder for some objects to puncture keeping you rolling.  We have them in all the common sizes and in both standard American Schrader valves and French style presta valves.

Stop Flats tire liners

Stop Flats tire liners, much lighter than thorn resistant tubes and cheaper than new tires.

-       Tire liners:  ($3.50 – $17):  these are installed between your tube and tire to give a protective barrier.  These are considerably lighter than thorn resistant tubes, so if your commute is longer these would be more attractive (weight on your wheels makes a dramatic difference in performance; for every ounce you take off your wheels it’s like taking a pound off the rest of the bike!).   We stock these in 20 in., 26 and 700c sizes.

-          Anti-puncture tires:  ($20 on up):  this is the lightest and most expensive option.  Also happens to be my favorite as my commute is a longish 6 mi. each way and I like to go fast!  Most tire companies offer tires that have anti-puncture properties, some are much better than others in terms of how much protection is provided; we stock a few of the lesser expensive in 26 in., 27 in., and 700c sizes.

Pinch-Flat example

Pinch-Flat example – the rim essentially punctures the tube in two places simultaneously when it bottoms out on the pavement, pothole, etc.

FREE Tip:  Keeping your tires properly inflated helps reduce the most common type of flat known as a pinch flat.  The proper pressure for your tires is normally written on the sides of your tires.  Use the lower pressure in the winter and slippery conditions, the higher pressure during the dry, warmer months of the year. We have a free 24/7 air station outside our shop plus there are air pumps at almost every front desk of every residence hall on campus.  Our brochure has a map of campus showing where air pumps are located (pg. 3). 

Bike Locking Do’s & Don’ts

Example of how NOT to lockup

Example of how NOT to lockup

I was out on campus the other day and saw a pretty nice bike locked up in a particularly bad way which prompted me to take some more pics of other bikes in the same area to show how to both NOT lock up and how to best lock up your bike.  I also included some pics of some helpful anti-theft devices that we sell in our Center to help you avoid becoming a victim out there plus a few examples of what can get your bike impounded by the MSU Police.  Check out the pics here.

The Basic Rules:

  • Use the best lock you can afford (U-shaped locks are generally the strongest when used correctly) if you want to prevent theft of your bike.  We sell a good selection of U-locks and other lesser expensive locks.
  • Lock your bike correctly (see pics in the gallery linked above) to a good bike rack or, lacking a good rack, to something that’s not movable and/or easily cut (on campus the ordinance requires that you lock to bike racks to avoid impoundment).
  • Lock your bike in an area that’s highly visible; more secluded areas tend to have more theft as fewer people can potentially catch them in the act.
  • If your bike is flashy (i.e. newer, bright colors), and expensive it’s best to NOT lock up outside at night ever; use your residence hall bike room if it has one (3/4 of residence halls on campus have them; check at your front desk).
  • Secure any components that have quick-release mechanisms with anti-theft type mechanisms (we sell them in the Center).  Seats and wheels are commonly stolen when they have quick releases.

More anti-theft tips:
Ever forget your lock and need to lockup for a quick visit to a store or cafe?  Here are a few quick tips:

  • Take your front wheel inside with you.
  • Release the quick-release on your rear wheel; as soon as the would-be thief tries to ride off the rear wheel will shift in the frame and lockup (only works on bikes without vertical drop-outs).
  • Use your helmet and strap it thru your rear wheel and frame.
  • This one is more complex, only works with certain brakes and requires some forethought: adjust one of your brakes with the release in the open position then close it when necessary to lock your brake.
  • Check out the late Sheldon Brown’s page of clever anti-theft tips.

U-Lock Woes

U-locked bike

Example of a properly U-locked bike (just don’t forget your key!).

You come out to your locked bike and are in a hurry to get to class.  You quickly jam your key in the lock, try to turn it and it just doesn’t want to turn, so you turn harder, and harder til “SNAP” it goes and now you have to walk or take the bus.  ARRGGHHH!

Does this scenario sound familiar?  Well, you’re not alone.  The good news is that this headache is preventable with a little forethought.

According to a bunch of people who work with thousands of bikes on campuses around the country it seems that virtually every U-lock made will eventually develop rust inside the lock.   When you add ice to the rusty mess opening U-locks can become very frustrating not to mention expensive if you break your key.

Thanks to one of those campus bike specialists,  John Brandt, here’s your solution to eliminating your ‘U-lock Woes’:

The simple solution I’ve found is to put an occasional drop of heavy oil on the moving parts of the locking mechanism that engage the u-bar portion of the lock.  Some of the lube may find its way back into the lock tumblers, but in every case I’ve worked on it’s the sliding-locking-bar/pin that was the problem.  Simple lubrication seems to prevent the problem from ever occurring and usually fixes it if it does.

Lubing a U-lock - pic 1

Where to lube your U-lock.

Specifically:

  • take the lock apart into its two parts
  • set the u-portion aside, it’s just an inert piece of metal
  • turn the key to make the lock mechanism move to the locked position
  • as you turn the key, look into the holes where the u-portion fits
  • some u-locks will only lock one side, other will lock at both ends (photo shows a one-sided mechanism)
  • drip several drops of machine oil (or chain lube) onto the part that you see moving when you turn the key; this is the sliding-locking-bar/pin that engages the u-portion (see photo below)
  • work the key back and forth a few times to get the oil between the moving parts
  • once they move smoothly again, the key should no longer bind and you’re good to go

Even with a frozen/stuck u-lock, there is one thing you can try as long as the key isn’t broken off in the lock and unable to be removed.  Squirt copious amounts of a thin penetrating oil (like WD-40) down the tiny seams where the u-portion enters both sides of the bar of the u-lock (see photo below).  Do it on both sides and don’t be shy with the amount; flood it good.  Squirt a tiny bit right into the keyhole, too, just in case.  If you’re willing to wait a few minutes for the oil to penetrate, you may find that the key turns again if you start by gently wiggling it back and forth to help the oil penetrate even further.  That works on better than 90% of the stuck locks I’ve worked on.  I do not use thin oils like WD-40 to lube locks once they’re working again; it washes off too quickly so I use a heavy lube for that.

Lubing a U-lock - pic 2

Where to lube a U-lock for preventative maintenance.

For preventive maintenance:

  • Check your lock whenever you lube your chain
  • If the turning key seems to bind or turn stiffly, re-lube those parts (you already have your lube in your hand)
  • Prevention is key.  If you leave your bicycle outside in the rain a lot, lube the lock more often;  the more it rains, the more often you should re-lube the mechanism
  • I use a non-greasy lube (Poxylube) for my keyholes so my key doesn’t always come out greasy and stain my pockets( http://www.locksmithledger.com/product/10288074/sandstrom-products-poxyluber-cp200 ), but I prefer a heavy lube for the mechanism because it doesn’t wash off as fast.  (MSU Bikes sells Pedro’s Syn Lube which is a great heavier lube for both your lock and your chain)

My bikes don’t live outside 24/7 like many others do, but I lube all my locks once a year and I’ve never had a problem with any of my u-locks in over 20 years.

John Brandt
Safety, Security & Transportation Manager
The Universities at Shady Grove, MD

Fall Maintenance

Nice rainbow colored bike on campus.If you’re like many returning student cyclists, you probably haven’t seen your bike since last spring. Or maybe you’re a dedicated biker, and you’ve been riding all summer. Either way, now is a good time to check your bike over to see what repairs and maintenance are necessary before you really need your bike to get you to class or work.

If your bike has been stored in a dry location all summer, it may only need air in the tires. If your bike has been ridden or stored outside, it’s likely that many parts have rusted and require lubrication or replacement. Common problems we see each fall are rusted chains, frozen brakes, and damaged wheels.

The following article will show you how to recognize problems with your bike so you can have them addressed. Refer to this diagram if you are unfamiliar with bicycle ‘anatomy’.

Tires and Tubes

First, inflate your tires. Bicycle tubes naturally lose air pressure, so you should check them regularly to ensure they are at the proper psi. The suggested tire pressure will be printed on the side of your tires.  Once inflated, inspect the tires for cuts, holes, or other damage. If you can see the tube poking through any holes, the tires need to be replaced.

Bearings

Your bicycle’s headset, hubs, and bottom bracket should all spin freely without having any side to side ‘play’. Spin the wheels, handlebars, and crankarms to see that they have free movement. Bearings that are too tight will cause resistance. Next, try rocking the bearings back and forth perpendicular to their intended path of motion.

Headset Grab the front brake and rock the bike forward and backward. If you can see or feel the front end rocking inside the frame, the headset is too loose, and requires adjustment.

Bottom bracket Grab the crankarms one at a time and try to rock them toward and away from the bike. If the arm is loose on the bottom bracket (usually the left arm), it needs to be torqued to prevent it from rounding out and falling off. If the bottom bracket appears to be moving side to side inside the frame, it is loose. A loose bottom bracket can sometimes be adjusted, other times it will need to be replaced.

Hubs Grab the wheel and try to rock it side to side. If the wheel rocks on the axle, the hub is too loose. Sometimes a simple adjustment can tighten the hub up, other times, an overhaul or new wheel is necessary.

Wheels

Gently squeeze pairs of spokes to check tension. The spoke tension should feel similar all the way around the wheel. Check for very loose or broken spokes. Lift the bike slightly off the ground and spin the wheels. Watch the rim’s location in relation to the brake pads as it spins around. A side to side wobble or up and down hop mean the wheel requires attention.

Brakes

Here you’ll want to check the condition of the brake pads, cables, and housing, the tension of the cable, and the alignment of the brake pads. Inspect the cables to see that they slide smoothly within the housing, and that the housing has no kinks or tears. Check the brake pads. Pads that are badly worn, worn unevenly, or embedded with debris should be replaced. Squeeze the brake levers and watch the brake arms. They should move freely and the pads should hit the rim at the same time. A brake adjustment is required if the pads are uneven, hit the tire or spokes, if the brake lever can be pulled all the way back to the handlebar, or if any parts of the system are frozen due to corrosion.

Derailleurs

As you did with the brakes, inspect the derailleur cables and housing for rust and wear. Pedal the bike and shift through all the gears, ensuring that the shifting is smooth and the chain doesn’t shift off and the rear derailleur doesn’t hit the spokes of the rear wheel.

Chain

Chains require regular lubrication. If your chain is rusted, or feels dry to the touch, put a drop of chain lubricant onto each roller and then pedal it around a few revolutions. Once the lube has had a chance to work itself down into the rollers, wipe the excess off the sides of the chain. If your chain is too wet with lube it will attract dirt which will prematurely wear the chain.

Tri-Flow - good all-around lube for your bike that we use in our shop.

Tri-Flow – good all-around lube for your bike that we use in our shop.

Use only a lubricant intended for bicycle chains.  Contrary to popular believe WD-40 is not a lubricant. Use a ‘wet’ lubricant in wet weather months and a ‘dry’ lubricant during dry seasons.

Chains do wear down and require replacement with use. If, while pedaling in the higher gears, you find your chain seems to slip off the gears, it probably needs to be replaced. At this point the rear gear sprocket also needs replacement. To extend the life of your gears, have your chain replaced more often.

Now that you’ve gone over your entire bike, it’s a good time to go back and check the pressure of your tires. If they’ve lost pressure, you’ll know you need a new tube. If you have discovered any problems that need addressing, bring your bike into the shop for a free estimate. The sooner the better, as we get busy as the weather warms up.

If you’d like to try bike repair at home, check out Park Tool and Sheldon Brown’s sites.  Original post & content by Melissa Kwiatkowski.

Comparing Bike Lubes

Oiling-a-rusty-chain-on-a-bike

This is the way you should apply your oil NOT with a spray can. Spray-on oils can get overspray all over your rear rim which causes brake failure. Photo courtesy http://www.123rf.com/

Because wet winter roads covered with salt are really harsh on chains and the rest of your bike, one of the most common questions we get in the bike shop is what type of lube is best to use. The short anwer is that dry lubes are for dry conditions and wet lubes are for wet conditions.

Dry lubricants go on wet but dry to a wax. The wax is resistant to dust or dirt and therefore works good in conditions when there is a lot of dust and dirt present. Off-road riders especially will benefit from a wax lube when the ground is dry and dusty.  These types of lubes do not hold up to  wet conditions and will wash off with prolonged exposure to water.

We sell the following dry lubricants:

  • Tri-Flow Superior Dry Lubricant – affordable and easy to use. Apply and go.
  • Boeshield’s T-9 -higher performance dry lube that will also protect better in wet conditions. However, this lube should be allowed to set up for a couple hours after application. It is a bit more expensive.

Wet lubricants go on wet and stay wet after application. They are great for rainy and wet conditions and won’t wash away(as quickly) but attract dirt and debris and therefore should be avoided in dry, dusty conditions.

We sell the following wet lubricants:

  • Tri-Flow Superior Lubricant – thin, wet lubricant for average conditions. Penetrates easily and quickly. Good for most types of riding during summer and fall months.
  • Tri-Flow Soy Lubricant – used for same conditions as the Superior Lubricant. This is an environmentally friendly lube that is formulated with natural soy oil and  biodegrades rapidly. It does require more frequent application.
  • Pedro’s SynLube – thick, wet lubricant. Great for extremely wet and sloppy conditions. Our number one choice for winter riding, as it doesn’t wash off as quickly as other wet lubes. The higher viscosity means it takes a little longer to penetrate into tight places.

    Tri-Flow lubes

    We stock both wet and dry Tri-Flow lubes shown here.

For the best results of any lubricant it is important to start with a clean chain. With any lube you should give it a minute to penetrate after application and then wipe off the excess so it doesn’t get all over the rim of your bike (which can cause your rear brakes to stop working), your pants, your carpeting, etc.  A dripping-wet chain also attracts more grime leading to a real nasty chain that wears out your whole drivetrain much faster than a clean one.

A lighter lube like the Tri-Flow Superior Lubricant, is excellent for keeping other components of your bike lubricated and help prevent them from seizing up.  We recommend a drop of this lube on the pivots or hinges of your derailleurs (the things that shift your gears) and your brake pivot bolts (NOT your brake pads!) to keep them moving smoothly.  Salt water can and will get inside your brake and shift cables and cause them to get  sticky or completely seize from rust and ice, so a little Tri-Flow inside the cable housing will help keep them sliding smoothly.

Finally, Tri-Flow is excellent for bringing a rusty or sticky lock mechanism back to life.  It’ll also help keep it from freezing up by chasing out water.
Stop by the shop any time and we’ll look your bike over for no charge and give you more specific recommendations and estimates for getting it back in shape for spring!

Use Caution When Buying a Used Bike

Used bikes can look to be in good shape, but hide expensive problems.

Buying a used bike seems like a great, affordable option to many people. However, this is often not the case. I’ve seen many people purchase a used bike for $5 and be very disappointed when they learned that the cost to make the bike safe and rideable was over $100.

If you are considering buying a used bike that needs work, you should be informed on what to look for. Recognize what repairs will be needed and what brands to avoid. Many used bikes are simply not worth fixing up.

Recognizing Problems

All bikes will eventually require maintenance. Most used bikes will need the following repairs:

Chain: Replacing the chain is unavoidable for any bike that has enough miles on it. If during a test ride the chain seems to slip or lurch forward while pedaling, the chain and freewheel need to be replaced.

Brake and Shift Adjustments: These systems fall out of adjustment with use and require occasional tuning. Rusted or corroded cables and worn brake pads are another common problem. The cable should slide smoothly and the brake arms and derailleurs should move freely. Cable replacements require a readjustment of the system.

Wheel truing: Wheels with uneven spoke tension require a ‘true’. Untrue wheels will spin asymmetrically and can interfere with braking.

Bearing adjustments: On many bikes it is common for the bearings of the headset, the hubs, and the bottom bracket to become loose. If you can rock the wheels or crankarms side to side, or the headset inside the frame, the bearings are loose and need adjustment. Very loose bearings on cheap wheels often don’t hold adjustments, and require a wheel replacement.

Some used bikes will have additional problems you should be on the lookout for.

Missing or Bent Wheels: Severely bent wheels cannot be repaired and require replacement. If the wheel is damaged, the tire, tube, and freewheel can be moved to a new wheel.  If the wheel is missing completely, all those items will have to be purchased in addition to the wheel.

Missing or Loose Crankarms: Crankarms must be tightened onto the bottom bracket with the appropriate torque. If they are installed too loosely, they can begin to rock, spin, or fall off. This movement often damages the crankarm and a new one must be installed.

Bent Forks and Frames: While bent frames and forks can be difficult to spot, you should be aware of the possibility of this damage on used bikes. Depending on the severity, a bent frame or fork can make the bike unsafe to ride.

Choosing A Bike

The above repairs are very common and ones I see on almost all recently purchased used bikes. If you are considering buying a used bike, budget between $100 and $130 for necessary repairs and maintenance to make your bike safe and rideable.

When it comes to department store bikes (Huffy, Pacific, Magna), it’s often cheaper to buy the same model new than it is to repair a used one. This isn’t necessarily a better option however, because cheap department store bikes will eventually require these repairs anyway. (Sometimes immediately, as these bikes are not assembled by trained mechanics and often require tune-ups when brand new.) Even after a full tune up, a department store bike is still made of cheap materials that break and come out of adjustment easily. My advice is to avoid purchasing department store bikes, new or used.

Bike shop brand bikes (Fuji, Trek, Specialized, Giant, ect.) can be worth fixing up, depending on the amount of repairs needed. Remember to look the bike over thoroughly and estimate what all will need to be done. These brands hold adjustments longer and do not break as easily.

It can be overwhelming to diagnose what repairs a bike needs. A simpler option is to purchase an already tuned used bike. While this may seem more expensive up front, all the additional repairs have been done for you. You can ride assured that the bike is safe and should last many years.

Shifting and Gear Use

Bicycle gears are intended to make the cyclist’s ride more comfortable, but many riders are unfamiliar with or intimidated by their gears. I’ve heard many novice riders exclaim that their gears are too confusing, and so they always ride in the same gear combination.

Bicycle gears are much easier to use than many people think. Learning to shift can make your rides more enjoyable and help you get the best use out of your bike. In this post I will define the parts of the drivetrain, describe how the gears work, and explain how and when to use them.

Thanks to http://simplybike.wordpress.com/ for use of this image.

Let’s start with some basic terminology. Clicking on the image to the left will bring up a larger view.

The front derailleur moves the chain across the chainrings. In this image, there are only 2 chainrings. However, many bikes have 3, and some only have 1. (A bike with only one chainring will not have a front derailleur.)

The rear derailleur moves the chain across the cogs of the freewheel. (Sometimes called a cassette, but for the purposes of this article, I will use the term freewheel.) The number of cogs on freewheels vary, but 7 or 8 are common. A ’21 speed’ bike has 3 chainrings and 7 cogs.

A cable connects each shifter to its derailleur. Tension on the cable pulls the derailleur one direction, and a spring in the derailleur pulls it in the other direction.

Now that you’re familiar with the parts of the drivetrain, let’s look at each system more closely. We’ll use a 21 speed bike as an example.

The Front Shifter & Derailleur

The front derailleur is controlled by the left shifter. Many shifters are marked in some way, often numbered or with an ‘H’ for the high gear and an ‘L’ for the low gear.

The ’1′ or ‘L’ refers to the innermost chainring (closest to the bike). This chainring delivers the least resistance and is useful for very steep inclines or soft terrain. The ’3′ or ‘H’ refers to the outermost chainring (closest to the pedal). This chainring produces the most resistance and is useful for maintaining speed.

For mostly flat areas, like MSU’s campus, many riders find the 2nd (middle) chainring to be the most comfortable. Beginner riders may find it simpler to leave the chain on this chainring and only worry about shifting the rear derailleur.

The Rear Shifter & Derailleur

The rear derailleur is controlled by the right shifter. On a 7 speed shifter, ’1′ or ‘L’ refers to the innermost cog. This cog gives the least resistance. ’7′ or ‘H’ refers to the outermost cog, which produces the most resistance.

It can be confusing for some people that the highest gears correspond to the physically largest chainring but the physically smallest cog. It is better to ignore the size of the gears and remember that the inner gears are lower and the outer gears are higher in both front and back.

If your shifters are not marked, I recommend experimenting with shifting to see where the chain goes. You can them mark your shifters appropriately with a marker or tape.

When & How to Use Your Gears

So what gears should you use, and when? The main thing to remember is that the lower gears produce the least resistance and the higher gears produce the most resistance. Lower gears will give you the advantage in climbing hills and riding on loose terrain like sand. Higher gears will help you gain speed and power and prevent you from needing to pedal as fast. If you feel that the gear you are in is too hard, you should shift to a lower gear. If you are spinning your legs around a mile a minute and feel like you are not getting anywhere, you’ll want to shift to a higher gear. Remember to continue pedaling during shifting.

Shifting bicycle gears is much less complicated than shifting a manual transmission car. It is not necessary to always begin and end in the first gear. However, to make it easy on yourself, you should start in an easy gear and shift to higher gears as you gain speed. Shifting to lower gears as you slow down will ensure the bike is in an easy gear when you start again.

There are a few gear combinations to avoid. Riding with the chain in the innermost chainring and outermost cog (or the outermost chainring and innermost cog) puts a lot of stress on the chain because it is stretched sideways. Riding in these combinations will wear the chain prematurely.

Putting it to Use

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different gear combinations. The ‘right’ gear combo will depend on the terrain, the rider, and their speed, so the best way to learn is to play around and discover what works best for you. As you get familiar with the feel of the gears, you can begin to anticipate what gear combination will be best for upcoming terrain and obstacles. If you are approaching a hill, you’ll know whether or not you’ll need to downshift. It’s a good idea to shift a little earlier than when the gear is needed. That way you can carry your momentum instead of running out of steam.

Hopefully you are less intimidated by your bike’s gears and are now ready to try them out. If you’re still confused, bring your bike in to MSU Bikes (or take it to your local shop) and ask for a demonstration.

Bike Styles

No matter what your motivation for riding, there’s a style of bike best suited to it. Bicycles all share the same general design, however, specializations in geometry, componentry, and materials prescribe certain bikes for specific types of riding. If you’re thinking of buying a bike, you’ll want to consider these differences before making your final choice.

The following guide has been written to help new cyclists differentiate between the many bike styles and choose the one that’s right for them. In each category you’ll find a description of the style’s features, a rundown of its main uses, and an example from one of our manufacturers.

Road – Manufacturers: Fuji, Kestrel

Fuji Roubaix 1.0

Road bikes are built to cover long distances with speed and minimal effort. Racing models are fast, lightweight, and aerodynamic, while touring models have a more relaxed riding position and can accommodate racks for carrying cargo. Both styles have drop handlebars that give the rider multiple hand positions.

Best for: Road and criterium racing, touring, triathlons, club rides.

 

 

Triathlon – Manufacturers: Fuji, Kestrel

Kestrel 4000 Pro SL

Aggressive geometry and unconventional tubing make tri bikes extremely aerodynamic. Like road bikes, tri bikes are engineered for speed. They are the least versatile bike, built exclusively for racing.

Best for: Triathlons, time trials.

 

 

 

Fixed/Track/Single Speed – Manufacturers: Fuji, SE

SE Lager

Designed for track riding, fixed gear bikes lack the freewheeling mechanism that lets other bikes coast. Like spin bikes at the gym, if the wheels are moving, the crankarms are spinning. Because they only have one speed, derailleurs are not necessary. Many fixed-gear bikes also lack brakes. ‘Fixies’ have become popular off the track with riders who enjoy their simple construction and minimal maintenance requirements. Single speed bikes with freewheeling capabilities and brakes are also available.

Best for: Track racing, city riding, and commuting.

 

Cyclocross – Manufacturers: Fuji

Fuji Cross 3.0

Cross bikes are superficially similar to road bikes but the relaxed geometry of the frame results in smoother handling. Greater clearance between the wheels and the frame permits wider, knobby tires. These features help make cross bikes one of the most versatile bike styles. With their original knobby tires, they maintain traction on gravel roads, grass, and hard packed dirt while not sacrificing speed. With slick tires installed, cross bikes can perform many of the functions of road bikes.

Uses: Cyclocross racing, commuting, touring, and road riding.

 

Mountain – Manufactuers: Fuji, Breezer

Fuji Nevada 4.0

Wide tires, low gearing, and suspension assist mountain bikes in going where other bikes cannot. Available features include rear suspension which increases traction over rough terrain, and disc brakes, which aid in persistent speed control on steep hills and in wet conditions.

Best for: Trail and downhill riding, rocky and loose terrain.

 

 

Comfort – Manufactuers: Fuji

Fuji Sagres 3.0

Recreational riders and people with back problems appreciate the relaxed riding position of comfort bikes. Unlike most other bike styles, they are equipped with adjustable handlebars and suspension seatposts. The upright position is both comfortable and practical as it allows the rider to easily see what’s happening around them. Both 26” and 700C models are available.

Best for: Recreational riding and short distance commuting.

 

 

Fitness – Manufacturers: Fuji

Fuji Absolute 4.0 Lowstep

Also called hybrids, flat-bar road bikes, and a variety of other names, fitness bikes have 700C wheels and a straight handlebar. They usually come with thin tires but can accommodate wider ones. They have a more aggressive riding position than comfort bikes. The gearing ranges from that of mountain bikes to that of road bikes.

Best for: Commuting, road and path riding, and exercise.

 

 

City – Manufacturers: Breezer

Breezer Uptown 7 Lowstep

City bikes are set up for commuting. They have upright riding positions, full fenders, chainguards, and racks for carrying cargo. To minimize wear and tear from poor weather conditions, many of them have internal shifting systems. Some models come with generator powered front and rear lights.

Best for: Commuting, running errands, and recreational riding.

 

 

Multiple models in each of the styles above are all available from our suppliers. Visit our shop for pricelists and catalogs for more detailed information on each model. If you’re still unclear on which bike is right for you, contact one of our staff and we will be happy to help you.

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