Archive: Stress-Free Bike Commuter Tips Clinics

Does your bike commute to campus scare you?  Looking for the safest route to/from campus?

Learn the basics of bike commuting and get one-on-one help choosing safe routes with help from MSU Bikes’ staff!



Come to the MSU Bikes Service Center and get a review of everything you wanted to know about riding your bike safely to work/ campus and for other errands around town.  The 2nd part of each class will be focused on helping you find the safest and most stress-free route to and from campus.  Attendance will include your own personal map of the safest, most enjoyable route to/from campus.  Your instructor will be Tim Potter, MSU Bikes’ Sustainable Transportation Manager who’s been riding the region’s roads for many years.


These 1-hr. workshops are FREE and limited to 5 people per session so we can give the personal attention/ advice promised.


MSU Bikes Service Center Exterior, fall 2017
MSU Bikes Service Center Exterior, fall 2017

Classes are being offered on March 26 – 29th.  They’ll be held at the MSU Bikes Service Center and start at 5:30 pm (see this map for our location & visitor parking on campus (check box for visitor parking – nearby lots are faculty/staff permits only til 6 pm – so be careful).  Our door will be closed/ locked since the shop closes at 5:00 pm; just knock and we’ll let you in!

RSVP required here:


If we don’t get at least 2 people for a session by 2 pm the day of the session it’ll be cancelled.  So, PLEASE be sure to provide your email address when RSVP’g so we can let you know if it’s cancelled, rescheduled or other last minute things that might arise.


Tired of a wet backside and feet?

Yep, it’s cold and wet out there and you like getting to class and home again quickly by bike but don’t enjoy the wet stripe up your backside and soaking feet all day long.  What to do?  Make your own?  There are plenty of ideas out there….

Examples of DIY bike fenders
Examples of DIY bike fenders (courtesy of The Plume Kickstarter –

These ideas can save you some $$ and give you some protection for the short term, but if you want to keep the junk off you and your bike for the long term come on into the Center and check out the various fenders we stock to fit just about any bike made starting at about $12.00.  The pics below show you some examples of commercially available fenders incl. some that we stock in our show-room.

Pros-Cons of Different Fenders – Different Bikes
If you’d like to read more about the pros-cons of different sorts of fenders and the strategy of having a ‘rain bike’ vs. using one bike rain or shine, read this excellent blog by Jan Heine of Bicycle Quarterly.

Personally, I’m a big fan of full-coverage fenders (whether plastic or metal) vs. the shorter “beaver tail” style rear and mini front fenders that don’t block that much of the water and other gunk coming off the roadway before during and after rain. The other critical issue mentioned in Jan’s article above of a “rain bike” vs. a nice-weather bike is the salt factor here in the Midwest. I have a ‘bad weather’ bike as I don’t want to subject my nicer bikes to road salts as it will quite rapidly destroy anything metal on a nicer bike.  I write that from experience of having gone thru several ‘bat weather’ bikes.  Even if you try keep the exterior clean by wiping or spraying it off the salt water that gets inside the frame and other spaces will rust and destroy anything metal.

Learn to Ride a Bike!

Great compilation video of learning to ride using a balance bike (courtesy of J. Nogami).

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:

Adults can learn too!
Adults can learn too! This young lady learned in about 15 minutes!

A series of three videos I shot after successfully teaching a young adult woman (June 2015):

Some additional videos:

This is one of the best I’ve seen that you should encourge your kid(s) to watch:

Another great one:

If you need a bike in order to teach yourself or another adult you can rent a bike from us; for access to smaller bikes for teaching children 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 and/or teaching!