MSU Bike Polo Fridays

After playing on January 11, 2013 in the IM West Turf Grass Arena.
After playing on January 11, 2013 in the IM West Turf Grass Arena.

Come play bike polo in the best (only?) indoor bike polo arena in the Midwest!

Right in the middle of the MSU campus at the IM West indoor turf grass arena every Friday evening from 5:45 pm – 7 pm for spring semester 2014!  Unfortunately all participants/ attendees have to be MSU ID holders (students, faculty/ staff, etc.) to get into the IM facility.  Sorry. I’ll be looking for an off-campus site to open things up more.

MSU Bike Polo Fridays poster
Print out and post this poster wherever you can!

We can provide a limited number of loaner bikes if you don’t have a bike to play on (or would rather not risk damaging your nice bike).  Helmets are recommended.  Polo mallets are also available to borrow if you don’t have your own (here are some DIY instructions for making your own mallet).

If you can please come to the MSU Bike Project workshop at Demonstration Hall at 5:30 pm to help bring the loaner bikes and mallets over to the Turf Arena. 


2013 Blog Traffic Report

Crunchy numbers

Wordpress-2013-blog-report graphic

(courtesy of the friendly WordPress computers)

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people.  This blog was viewed about 52,000 times in 2013.  If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 19 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

In 2013, there were 15 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 30 posts. There were 79 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 50 MB. That’s about 2 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was August 9th with 473 views. The most popular post that day was New Secure Bike Parking Facilities on Campus.

Full report here.

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Secure Bike Parking Facilities on Campus

Michigan State University is certified as a silver level Bike Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists (as of Nov. 2015; click here to view MSU’s basic profile), but the high population density and unpredictable weather can be quite unfriendly to bicycle hardware and riders.

Two secure bike parking facilities (north and south campus) opened in the fall of 2013 to help alleviate some of those concerns for students, faculty and staff.

MSU Bikes, a service unit of MSU Surplus & Recycling, worked with multiple units on campus to develop and install the MSU Bike Garages, enhanced-security parking facilities inside two vehicle parking ramps.

The two locations are inside the car parking ramps on Trowbridge Road and Grand River Avenue.

The MSU Bike Garages are fenced-in spaces on the ground level, providing protection from theft on all sides and some shelter from the elements. Access is controlled by the university’s card sensor technology seen in buildings across campus, and the caged instead of solid walls provide a safe level of visibility inside and outside the structure.

Inside the facilities, cyclists can lock up their ride in a row of Lightning Bolt™ racks, which are designed to keep bikes upright and work especially well with U-locks. Riders can also take advantage of a Dero Fixit™ station and air pump, similar to the self-serve amenities outside the Bikes Service Center in Bessey Hall.

The Bike Garage in the Grand River Avenue ramp can hold up to 50 bikes, while the one in the Trowbridge Road ramp has space for 23. Annual and shorter term memberships provide are available immediately and provide access to both facilities.  Since there is a physical capacity of 73 bikes that can be parked between the two facilities and membership will be available on a first-come first-served basis.

“Campus cyclists now have new options: if you live too far away from campus to ride your bike the whole way you can keep your bike in the garage over night and have it ready to ride once on campus.”  said Tim Potter, MSU Bikes’ Sustainable Transportation Manager, who oversees the operations.  “Or, if you find the garages too far away from your office consider keeping a 2nd inexpensive bike locked in the garage and then lock your nice bike in the garage and ride the cheaper one to your building.”

One of our customers’ top 10 favorite things about the bike parking garages:
1. Your campus bike (and all its removable parts) will all be there when you need them.
2. Your campus bike will stay dry and rust-free over nights and weekends.
3. It’s lit and safe in the dark winter mornings and evenings.
4. Your campus bike won’t get kicked in on the racks after the bar crawls.
5. You can park your car in the Grand River ramp then jump on your bike to get around campus fast – great during campus construction, game days or when the inner lots are full (that’s all the time.)
6. Leave a bike securely parked on campus and you’ve got easy access to the river trail for weekend rides.
7. Rent is cheap.
8. You get the most optimal parking spot on Grand River.
9. There’s a handy bike pump and repair stand. Super deluxe.
10. Your friends who bike in other cities will be jealous that you have such a luxurious work feature!
(courtesy Marian M. Reiter, Graphic Artist II, Agriculture and Natural Resources Communications)

To sign up for the service either come by our Center and fill out our Bike Garage membership application or do it online via this form; we’ll give you a unique frame sticker and get your MSU ID authorized to access both facilities within 24 hrs.

Continue reading “Secure Bike Parking Facilities on Campus”

Dude, Where’s My Bike!?

Where's my bike?
Worst example of how to NOT lock your bike. Click pic for more. Photo courtesy:

‘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 ( ) 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.

Looking for Special Accessories or Parts?

Velo Orange-brand saddles
Velo Orange-brand saddles

Looking for special parts or accessories for a restoration or jazzing up an older vintage bike maybe for someone’s birthday or a Christmas present?  We can special order stuff at great prices from many vendors.

Here’s a short list:  Velo Orange (French-style focus), Merry Sales (SOMA, Nitto, Dia-Compe, other smaller boutique brands; their entire product catalog – w/out prices- can be viewed here), Compass Bicycles (home of Cycles René Herse, Bicycle Quarterly, one of the best quarterly journals on randonneuring-style bikes and related technologies and distributor of Grand Bois parts and accessories from Japan) and United Bicycle Supply (owners of, their public website; excellent for repair parts for older bikes/components, awesome tool selection).

Rene Herse crankset from Compass Bicycles
Rene Herse crankset from Compass Bicycles

Give us a call if you’d like a quote and availability.  Our prices can often beat what you can buy these items for elsewhere and you get our excellent pre- and post purchase advice and assistance you wouldn’t get if you purchased them direct.

Honjo Fenders - 4 styles from Merry Sales
Honjo Fenders – 4 styles from Merry Sales

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:

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!

Our 2012 Blog stats in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for our blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 43,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 10 Film Festivals

Thanks for helping make our blog so wildly popular!

Click here to see the complete report.

Memories from World CX Championships

Jonathan Page rocking a Fuji Altamira CX 1.0
Jonathan Page rocking a Fuji Altamira CX 1.0 in the World CX Championships 2013

Tim had the good fortune to be able to experience this event and took a bunch of photos of these world-class athletes in action.  Take a look at his fav pics here on  For Facebook users, check them out here.

Avoiding Flat Tires


Panaracer tire with Tour Guard, a kevlar based material that greatly reduces flats.
Panaracer Pasela tire with ProTex, a kevlar-based material that greatly reduces flats.  I ride these tires (1 flat in over 6000 mi. of riding up and down Grand River Ave!).  We keep a wide selection of these tires and other tires with flat protection 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):

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 make your ride much more enjoyable (easier to pedal) it reduces your odds of getting the most common type of flat that we see here in our shop known as a pinch flat or “snake bite” (as it puts two holes in your tube).  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).

–          Thorn resistant tubes ($8 – 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:  ($15-17):  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 can order 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.

Fuji Scoops Up U.S. National CX Champion Jonathan Page

(reposted from ASI press release)

Jonathan Page,U.S. National Cyclocross Champion signed with Fuji
Jonathan Page,U.S. National Cyclocross Champion signed with Fuji

Philadelphia, PA (January 30, 2013) – Fuji Bikes is proud to announce that it has reached a sponsorship agreement with U.S. National Cyclocross Champion Jonathan Page, who tallied his fourth national title in commanding fashion earlier this month in Wisconsin – notably crossing the tape without a bike sponsor.

Click here to read the rest of the release….

Still some clearance deals available on 2011 and 20011.5 Altamira CX 1.0s if anyone is in the market for a high-end CX bike!

2011 Altamira CX 1.0
2011 Altamira CX 1.0 – Click for full specs.

Bike Locking Do’s & Don’ts

Example of how NOT to lockup
Example of how NOT to lockup – click to see more examples and how TO lockup properly too.

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 (click on the pics in the gallery to get captions/ more info).

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 but refuse to sell cable locks as over 90% are to blame for bike thefts.
  • 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.


The Right Way to lockup!
Click to see more examples and how TO lockup properly too.

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.


  • 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( ), 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

Local Advocacy & Social Groups

July 27 Ride Around Town - at the new Park Lk. Rd. Burcham round-about
July 27 Ride Around Town – at the new Park Lk. Rd. Burcham round-about under constrution.

Lansing’s Friday Nite Ride Around Town Weekly social ride starting at MSU Beaumont Tower at 5:30 pm (roll-off at 5:45 pm) during warm months of the year.  Destinations vary but are generally within 10 mi. and involve food and drink.  Speeds are low.  Dress brightly and bring lights for the ride home (which is often times getting dark).

Friends of Meridian Township PathwaysWe’re all about promoting, supporting & helping maintain the existing Meridian Township Pathway network as well as doing what we can to see more pathways get built to complete the network both adjacent to roadways and off-road corridors like the Inter-Urban Pathway.

Valet Bike Parking at Great Lakes Folk Festival
One of the MMATC community services, Valet Bike Parking at a Great Lakes Folk Festival in years past.

Mid-Michigan Active Transportation Coalition (MMATC):  This is a diverse group of citizens from Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham counties.  It is the advocacy group of the TCBA (see below).  We joined together in 2009 to promote policies, programs, and planning which integrate active transportation choices in the Mid-Michigan community.   By doing so, we bring about positive changes in biking, walking, and transit infrastructure and to see an increase in the number of citizens who use these choices as an alternative to strictly automobile use.

Google group discussion group
(where most of the action occurs):   Monthly meetings are the third Wednesday of each month from 6 – 7:300 pm at Gone Wire Cafe, 2021 East Michigan Avenue, Lansing.
Tri-County Bike Assn: The area’s largest bike club who’s members have lots of good group rides about every evening of the week.  Their DALMAC tour from MSU campus to the Mackinac Bridge is their main fundraising event of the year.

MSU Bikes Joins MSU Surplus and Recycling Team

John Bieda (R), Service Supervisor and Taylor Allen (L), student mechanic, work at the MSU Bikes Service Center on Tuesday July 17, 2012.
John Bieda (R), Service Supervisor and Taylor Allen (L), student mechanic, work at the MSU Bikes Service Center on Tuesday July 17, 2012.

EAST LANSING, Mich. — MSU Bikes – Michigan State University’s one-stop shop for all things bicycles – is now part of MSU Surplus/Recycling, a move that will not only streamline its booming business but make it easier for Spartans to find and ride a bike.

The re-organization of MSU Bikes from MSU Physical Plant to Surplus/Recycling makes sense in a lot of ways, said S/R’s Kris Jolley.

“It’s going to streamline the business,” he said, “and, at the same time, allow for more access to bikes.”

Read full article here…