Bike Maintenance Essentials

Episode summary

00:00 | Intro
01:04 | Weekly: pump tires, lube chain
05:34 | Change a flat
11:24 | Reseat a chain
13:01 | Fenders
14:32 | Barrel adjustor
17:39 | Toolkit
Video: what’s in Ian’s toolkit
19:49 | Winter maintenance
26:21 | Seat height
28:20 | Brakes
32:09 | When to bring a bike in
39:51 | Worn down tires
43:55 | Services a shop provides
Every good bike shop should have a good dog!
55:55 | Outro

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Attributions

Our theme song is Tanz den Dobberstein, and our interstitial song is Puck’s Blues. Both tracks used by permission of their creator, Erik Brandt. Find out more about his band The Urban Hillbilly Quartet on their website.

This episode originally appeared on The Extra Dimension, a show Ian actively produced from 2015 to 2020 about the social and ethical implications of technology.

This episode was hosted and edited by Ian R Buck, with transcript by the indominable Mike Allen. Christy Marsden is our awesome guest booker, and technical assistance is provided by the super professional Brian Mitchell. If you’re able to help make sure this team gets paid for the hard work they do, please consider donating. We really appreciate it!

Transcript

Ian: [00:00:00] Trying to figure out ways to fix every single thing on the bike while I’m out there. Nah.

Crystal: [00:00:05] Yeah. I mean, so they are such finely tuned machines. It would be like traveling with a piano and expecting to just, like, tune it.

Ian: [00:00:12] Yeah,

Crystal: [00:00:13] It’s like…

Ian: [00:00:18] Welcome to the Streets.mn Podcast, the show where we shape transportation and land use to make our world a better place. Coming to you from beautiful Frogtown Saint Paul, Minnesota. I am your host, Ian R. Buck. Today’s episode features a conversation with Crystal Sursely from Lowertown Bike Shop…

Crystal: [00:00:36] Hello.

Ian: [00:00:37] …About what things everyone should know to keep their bike in good working order. This conversation originally appeared on The Extra Dimension, a podcast I actively produced from 2015 to 2020 about the social and ethical implications of technology. Find the show notes and a transcript of the episode at [https://streets.mn]. And with that, let’s hop back in time to a conversation from early 2020.

Ian: [00:01:04] Okay. So let’s let’s talk about stuff that people can do at home on their own to to maintain their bike. And I guess the first question here would be like, what should people be doing on a regular basis?

Crystal: [00:01:17] So a big one is lubricating your chain. You need to lubricate it probably more often than you think, especially winter riding, which I’ll talk about that separately. But generally with summer riding, every week to two weeks is a good rule of thumb, or once every two weeks or if you like, drive through wet conditions because that can clean off some of the lubricant and cause it to dry out faster. And…

Ian: [00:01:42] So so is this more of a time based thing or should I be paying attention to like my mileage as well?

Crystal: [00:01:49] Both. And also listening to your bike. Okay. [squeaking chain sounds] Your chain will tell you when it’s super dry. I call it squirrels. It sounds like there’s a bunch of little squirrels or mice in your, like, rear wheel area. It kind of just comes from all of the derailleur your cassette and your chain all at once. In fact, I’ll hear people riding on the street and I’m like, twitching, like, “please lubricate your chain that is so loud!” You can also visually see when a chain is dry and that’s a really good time to lubricate. I’m meticulous about my chain cleaning. I’ve actually had one chain last me for 9000 miles and it’s not even super high end. I just keep it looking like new all the time.

Ian: [00:02:32] So we’re talking not looking for rust necessarily. If it gets to the rust point, that’s…

Crystal: [00:02:37] yeah.

Ian: [00:02:37] …You’ve let it go too far.

Crystal: [00:02:39] I’ve actually never had a chain rust out on me until this summer. We did a tour and we had a flash rust rust situation that I’ve never experienced before. We just got caught in such torrential downpours repeatedly in one day that by the next morning everything had like my chain had rusted. I’ve, I couldn’t believe it. I was like, “oh my God!” But I generally, generally would never let my chain rust at all. I just do not let it get to that point.

Ian: [00:03:06] So so what should we be looking for visually?

Crystal: [00:03:09] So if it looks dry, it kind of like gives it a like a light chalky appeal or appearance almost. It’s so when it’s lubricated, you can see a sheen to it and when it’s dry that sheen is gone. Okay. So I like to always keep it with that sheen. And then you want to remember when you lubricate it, apply it liberally basically to each link and then wipe it off. Really good because you’re lubricating the little pins inside, not the whole chain itself. And if you just put the lubrication on and leave it, it actually collects more dirt and makes your chain stretch faster and dry out faster. Okay.

Ian: [00:03:46] Also, should I wipe it down before I lubricate it or just after.

Crystal: [00:03:50] I usually do it after I really like a chain lube called Prolink Pro Gold because it cleans and it lubricates. And so I coat it really good and then I wipe it down. I keep wiping it down. Sometimes I’ll repeat the process if it’s been if it’s coming up pretty dirty or if it is really dirty, I might repeat the process two or three times before I can get it to that. Like, almost like new look. One thing I want to say is WD-40 is not a chain lubricant, it is a degreaser, and it will have the opposite effect. And there is something like my dad was always like, “just put a little WD-40 on it!” and I’m like… That’s… So if you’ve ever been told that, please don’t do that and get some chain lube.

Ian: [00:04:33] Okay, so cleaning and lubricating the chain, anything else?

Crystal: [00:04:37] Pumping your tires at least once a week. At the minimum, if you have a really narrow road tire, you can lose 20 to 40 psi in like 24 to 48 hours. So every couple like every other day I pump to full inflation. And with a road bike with skinnier tires, having the higher psi will help protect against pinch flats most of the time. Okay. Not all of the time, but most of the time.

Ian: [00:05:06] Right.

Crystal: [00:05:06] Yeah. And I think that’s true kind of across the board. I tend to and of course there will be people who disagree because it’s bikes. But I like in summer riding, I really like to just be at full pressure unless mountain biking, which is a totally different…

Ian: [00:05:23] That’s a different ballgame.

Crystal: [00:05:26] Yep. Exactly. 

[00:05:27] [music]

Ian: [00:05:34] So those were a couple of things to do at home on a regular basis. Now let’s talk about some things that are not too difficult to do while you’re out in the field, on the road, you know, as like emergency repair type things. Luckily, like changing a tire yourself is also something that doesn’t take very many tools. For the most part, you just need like the replacement, you know, an inner tube to replace the first one with, uh, maybe some tire hooks that get in there.

Crystal: [00:06:06] And tire levers are huge help.

Ian: [00:06:08] Yeah.

Crystal: [00:06:09] Butter knives are not recommended.

Ian: [00:06:11] No.

Crystal: [00:06:11] Or screwdrivers, because that’s a great way to ensure a pinch.

Ian: [00:06:15] Oh, yeah. 

Crystal: [00:06:16] Yeah. Yeah.

Ian: [00:06:16] I did watch one time, one of the guys who work at Bike Chain just like, take the tires off of my wheel with his bare hands. And I was like, “You… What?!”

Crystal: [00:06:26] It’s something that can be done. And like larger tires, it’s a lot easier, but not fat tires. Those are like insanely difficult, but it’s something we challenge each other to at the shop. Like, can you get this tire on and off with your hands? Your grip strength really improves, your flat changes you do for sure.

Ian: [00:06:43] Okay.

Crystal: [00:06:44] Yeah.

Ian: [00:06:45] It must be like if you go bouldering a lot, you probably have like, yeah.

Crystal: [00:06:49] This is maybe that’ll help like hiring in the spring. Like who can help me change the flats the best. Like I’ll test their grip strength, ask if they do bouldering.

Ian: [00:06:58] There we go. There we go. So yeah, like me personally, I mean, when you’re riding around in town, you’re not too far away from like any given bike shop. And also there’s buses that you can just throw your bike onto. You know, you don’t really need to worry about having to being able to, like, replace it an inner tube and pump it up yourself. I personally find that it’s, you know, useful to be able to do that on the road, you know, because sometimes it’s just it is more convenient to like, do it myself.

Crystal: [00:07:30] And you’re probably going to experience it if you’re biking a lot in the city. I mean, even with really good puncture protected tires, we have insane infrastructure right now, a lot of potholes and a lot of debris, especially in Saint Paul. There are some really good like YouTube tutorials. So if you are stuck on the side of the road and you have the tools available, there’s a good way to kind of guide you through it if you feel that you are mechanically inclined to do so. I believe it’s a skill that is incredibly helpful. I think some people are a little intimidated by it, but I don’t think you have to be. The more you practice, the easier it becomes.

[00:08:07] Yeah.

[00:08:07] Yeah, yeah. And it’s one of those things like that is a great basic skill to learn that is pretty accessible, but the tire levers are a huge help. I highly recommend CO2 cartridges over frame pumps.

Ian: [00:08:21] Okay, quick explanation here about what frame pumps and CO2 cartridges are. A frame pump is a really small hand-operated pump that is compact enough to attach to your frame. And they usually come with like, you know, a little clip on thing that you screw on to your frame next to like your water bottle holder. And then the pump just attaches to that. A CO2 cartridge is a really small little metal cartridge of compressed, pressurized carbon dioxide that you can use to just like press the nozzle of it onto the stem of your inner tube and it will very quickly inflate the inner tube with the compressed CO2.

Crystal: [00:09:05] My mantra is 20 psi and you want to die like that. It takes so much work to pump your tires to 20 PSI with a frame pump that, like a CO2 cartridge is so much easier.

Ian: [00:09:17] Yeah, and I learned the hard way last winter that, like, okay, people told me, okay, you want to lower the pressure in your tires when it’s, you know, really slippery out because then, you know, you get better traction. And I was like, cool. And but I didn’t really know what number I should be shooting for. So I ended up having my my tires much lower, I think, than I should have because I kept getting pinch flats.

Crystal: [00:09:41] Yeah, that definitely will cause them. Did you follow the guidelines in the sidewall of your tire?

Ian: [00:09:45] I don’t remember.

Crystal: [00:09:47] Okay. So on the sidewall of your tire, there’s always well the always but mostly always a stated PSI, a minimum and a maximum. I try to like with winter writing and people can really geek out about their tire pressure. I usually feel safe going about 15 psi under the maximum amount, sometimes 20.

Ian: [00:10:06] Oh wow.

Crystal: [00:10:08] I don’t like to ride really, really low because of the ability ability to get pinch flats. And I usually find that that is low enough for me to like handle just about anything. But again, it’s personal preference, but checking that minimum and I don’t know, I geek out. I’m usually like at least maybe ten psi above the minimum, you know, just to be safe.

Ian: [00:10:30] Yeah.

Crystal: [00:10:30] Yup.

Ian: [00:10:31] And I think also. Part of my issue is that I didn’t have a good way to check that when I was like pumping up my tires away from home because my frame pump doesn’t have a gauge on it.

Crystal: [00:10:43] Yeah. Were you using a frame pump?

Ian: [00:10:46] Occasionally, yeah. Like if I if I needed to change a tire while I was at school or something like that, you know, and I just didn’t have a floor pump in the classroom.

Crystal: [00:10:56] One of the things I do to kind of help guide me, which it’s not super accurate, but it does help if you can squeeze your tire and it can go in, then you’re usually about half your max recommended psi like or less than half. So I like to make sure that I can’t even squeeze it or can squeeze it just a little bit, because I know then that it’s like it’s way too low.

Ian: [00:11:17] Hmm.

Ian: [00:11:17] Yep.

Ian: [00:11:18] Okay. Good. 

[00:11:19] [music]

Ian: [00:11:24] Let’s see other other things that might happen to you while you’re out on the road. I’ve I’ve had my chains just come off of, like, the front chain ring or, you know, that’s usually yeah, usually the front chain ring. And that one’s not too hard to, to fix. You just need to, you know, grab it with your hands. And if you’ve got a derailleur, then, uh, kind of push that forward a little bit.

Crystal: [00:11:50] So that long arm of the derailleur, if you know what the derailleur here is the rear derailleur, there’s a little arm that you can kind of push forward and give you slack to get on to the to the chain rings in front. But if you are dropping your chain fairly regularly, it’s probably because you need a front derailleur adjustment or a rear, depending on where it’s falling off or a rear derailleur adjustment. But that is usually a good indication that like you’ve experienced some cable stretch and your derailleur probably needs a little bit of adjustment.

Ian: [00:12:19] Yeah.

Crystal: [00:12:19] Yeah, that one. Like, it’s also really satisfying to put your chain on when it falls off. I don’t know what it is, but it’s just. It’s actually pretty easy when you realize how easy it is. It’s like, Oh yeah, this. And that is something that I, I am always happy to demonstrate when people come in. Like, it doesn’t have to stop you from riding. It actually only takes, you know, a couple of seconds to pop it back on.

Ian: [00:12:41] And then you have like the kind of, you know, not battle scars, but, you know, you’ve got some grease on your fingers for a little while afterwards. And it’s like, yeah, I got I got my hands dirty on this one.

Crystal: [00:12:50] Just don’t wipe your face. Yeah, I end up with little mustaches sometimes. 

[00:12:54] [music]

Ian: [00:13:01] Yeah, we were we were just talking before we started the show about me having to readjust my fenders all the fricking time. Uh, and, yeah, that, like, fenders are really, really finicky, but the tools that are necessary for that aren’t complicated. I just have a small wrench that’s the right size for the nuts that that hold those in place.

Crystal: [00:13:23] So a nice multi tool with a few different allen sizes are kind of key. Usually the four, six and eight are the most common. Anything in that range usually is helpful. Sometimes there’s a five in there. Yeah, but it’s not too terribly complicated. One thing we have experienced with fixed fenders in the winter is that you can experience something called snow pack, where the snow gets caught between the fenders and your studded tire or even your knobby tire. A lot of us at the shop tend to ride with clip fenders to kind of avoid it and also avoid the nuisance of having to readjust. But the drawback of that is if you have racks, then it can be complicated trying to get them installed.

Ian: [00:14:06] Okay. And so then like, yeah, that’s just like you have too much snow that’s getting caught in there and then more and more snow gets pushed.

Crystal: [00:14:14] In there and then kind of does a buildup.

Ian: [00:14:15] And then you just have lots of rubbing.

Crystal: [00:14:17] Yep, yep, yep. And I’ll have people come in and like, they’re like, Oh, my fenders were rubbing terribly, but they’re fine now. And I’m like, generally snowpack.

Ian: [00:14:25] Mm hmm.

Crystal: [00:14:25] Yep. 

[00:14:26] [music]

Ian: [00:14:26] Yeah. If you find that your chain is jumping between gears when you aren’t shifting, it is sometimes possible to fix that without any tools out on the road. Many rear derailleurs have what is called a barrel adjuster, right where the shifting cable meets the derailleur. There is a circular part that you can rotate clockwise or counterclockwise, and then this tightens or loosens the cable in very small increments, which then affects how far left or right the derailleur sits at each gear. I take pride in being able to like fine tune my barrel adjuster on my rear derailleur to like get it like just right, you know, which is, I think something that I wouldn’t expect most people to have to care about.

Crystal: [00:15:15] Some people really like being able to adjust their shifting using their barrel adjusters. Other people find it incredibly overwhelming and very confusing, like, which way do I turn it to tighten it or to loosen it? The one word to the wise is do not mess with your screws on your derailleur.

Ian: [00:15:35] Okay yep.

Crystal: [00:15:35] We have had like situations where a lot of people try to fix their derailleurs on their own and it costs like three times the amount because it takes three times a time to try to figure out how they messed it up and how we’re going to fix it. So, you know, barrel adjusters, totally fine. If you play with them, you can usually figure out which way is tightening and which way is loosening. But I highly recommend not to mess with the actual derailleur limit screws.

Ian: [00:16:03] Right. 

Crystal: [00:16:04] Yeah.

Ian: [00:16:05] Yeah. And when I when I’ve adjusted the barrel adjuster, I didn’t really worry about like which direction it’s shifting it because I wasn’t doing it by sight, you know, I was just kind of like riding and it’s like, oh, it feels a little bit chunky. Like, I can kind of feel that it’s in between two of them. And so I like turn it a quarter, turn in one direction and then, you know, keep riding. That didn’t do it. Okay, let’s do two quarter turns in the opposite direction, see how that feels.

Crystal: [00:16:30] And that’s a good way to do it. And quarter turns are the key. You don’t ever want to just start spinning it. You want to just incrementally adjust it. And I mean by feel is the best way. And I think that that’s probably why people get confused by it. That’s that was the most confusing thing to me. To figure it out was when I was being taught how to adjust my barrel adjusters. I was taught directionally like, Oh, you got to go clockwise or counterclockwise, and my brain could not compute, like how that transitioned to my derailleur, like, “Well, what do you mean? Like, is it going to go this way or that way?” Like, so feel is probably the best way to to understand what’s right.

Ian: [00:17:07] And you know, I don’t think that anybody actually told me that like you should do it by quarter turn specifically. I think it’s just because the the barrel adjuster has like four little arms on it that it’s just it feels right to like turn it a quarter turn.

Crystal: [00:17:21] Well, I’m glad it’s an intuitive design that’s really good yeah.

Ian: [00:17:27] Very much smarter people than I designed those.

Crystal: [00:17:30] Me as well. 

[00:17:31] [music]

Ian: [00:17:39] All right. So what tools are you going to need to carry with you to execute all of these repairs out on the road? As we alluded to in the cold open of this episode, it is possible to go way overboard and just like carry a hole, like basically a whole bike shop with you. But that’s totally not necessary. I have a video podcast episode that I published detailing the tools that I keep with me. I would definitely recommend going and watching it because it’s, it’s, it’s helpful to see these tools and understand what they do for you. But in short, the things that I keep with me in my tool kit are a spare inner tube so that I can swap that out. A frame pump so that I can pump up an inner tube after I put it in. Some tire levers to help get tires on and off. A small multi tool that has a series of different size hex wrenches and a and a Phillips head wrench, as well as a really small version of like a Leatherman multi-tool, right? That has some pliers and some like pocket knife type things on it, but like a really, really small version of that. So that it’s, it fits in my tool kit. I also have a patch kit with me. I don’t usually trust patches, but in an emergency it’s good to have them. And then I also have a little valve adapter that allows me to I have presta valves on my inner tubes and it allows me to use somebody’s pump, even if if their pump is only designed for Schrader valves. And then I also have with me a short length of like paracord type, like utility cord, just because that’s you never know when that’s going to come in handy. But again, I would recommend watching the video version that I made of this, which can be found at https://thenexus.tv/so115.

[00:19:50] [music]

Ian: [00:19:50] Okay. So, yeah, you mentioned winter maintenance and this was the subject that I got the most questions from, especially in the cycling MSP subreddit.

Crystal: [00:19:59] Awesome.

Ian: [00:19:59] Probably helps that we’re doing this episode in February. So yeah. What kinds of changes do we make to our maintenance schedule in in the winter?

Crystal: [00:20:11] The thing about writing in Minnesota winters is that we have this salt and sand solution that just eat through our drive trains. So keeping your drive train clean is so important, you’re probably going to have to replace your chain. And if that’s the only thing you have to replace in the winter, you’re doing pretty good. Derailleurs, any external gears, all the little pieces that make up a derail year tend to get corroded, stop working, stop moving. A lot of people shifting, stops working about halfway through the winter, sometimes even like a couple of weeks in, depending on the conditions they were riding in. So if you are riding with external gears, I highly recommend cleaning your bike like once a week and then really lubricating the chain. Dawn dishsoap and water. A great way to like base clean getting like surface stuff off their frame. I always find that rubbing alcohol, if you’re just spot cleaning, works really well. Okay, if you can get it in some form of a shower, that’s always the best. Always, always the best. I saw your bike when we came in and I saw it yesterday before you cleaned it. And if you’re just spot cleaning, you’re doing a really good job because that looks lovely.

Ian: [00:21:21] Yeah, I. I used, um, some, some dish soap on a rag and just, you know. Yeah. And of course, like, I had to rinse out the rag probably 15 times over the course of the entire bike.

Crystal: [00:21:34] So yeah. So we recommend people just do single speeds or internally geared hubs for the winter because it actually will save on the cost of repair. Okay. We’ve seen where whole drive trains have to be replaced every spring or every other spring, which could be a couple of hundred dollars to several hundred to, you know, 500, depending on how fancy your drive train is. So since speed isn’t usually your friend in the winter, doing a single speed or internally geared hub if you’re in a hilly area is a great way because then your cost of repair is so much less. And then you don’t have to worry about things not working in the end because you know, you’ve got one gear to worry about. So.

Ian: [00:22:15] But I’m so lazy.

Crystal: [00:22:16] Well, so the amount of effort you’re putting in, keeping your bike clean.

Ian: [00:22:23] That’s true. That’s right.

Crystal: [00:22:23] And it is the switch off. And like you, I believe with bicycles, you can do whatever you want to do, like, you know, whatever works for you.

Ian: [00:22:33] I just have to pay the price.

Crystal: [00:22:34] Exactly. Exactly. And it’s like having gears and cleaning it regularly. And if they keep working and you’re okay with that, like, all right. But a lot of people don’t clean their bikes. Like, in fact, most people don’t clean the bikes. And what I see come spring time is, is a lot of cost and repairs. So for ease or saving in the long run, because the cost of a winter bike is just like a couple seasons of repair. Usually at our shop we use bikes so you can get a winter bike for like 350 bucks.

Ian: [00:23:06] Okay.

Crystal: [00:23:06] You know, there’s there’s different ways to do it. Yeah.

Ian: [00:23:10] So that was actually another question that I got, uh, was when does it make sense to not put effort into maintaining a bike? So, like, if I get a winter beater, how much maintenance should I be doing on that or should I just not care?

Crystal: [00:23:26] I would say you should definitely care.

Ian: [00:23:31] I knew you were gonna say that!

Crystal: [00:23:31] It’s like, “Ugh!” That’s kind of a hard question because I’m like, Of course you should care. I don’t think that a winter bike has to be a beater. Like my winter bike is beautiful. It’s it’s something that I take a lot of pride in. And I’m also super attached to just like all my other bikes. So I maintain it. And if you again do single speed, the cost of maintaining is so much less that, you know, if that’s what’s prohibiting you from wanting to like maintain a winter beater. Now if you’re getting to the point where you have let your bike go and it’s corroded and it’s rusted and every single part of it is gone, you might come in to shop and I might say like, “we can fix it,” or “it might be more cost effective to just get a different bike.” And really that’s kind of up to the rider, but lubricating very, very regularly, keeping it clean, keeping your tires pump like these are always things that like throughout the winter are worthwhile doing.

Ian: [00:24:30] Okay.

Crystal: [00:24:31] Yeah.

Ian: [00:24:31] Yeah.You mentioned belt drives as well. That’s cause those are bikes that don’t have a chain, but they have a it’s not rubber. It’s made it. What is it?

Crystal: [00:24:40] What are those belts often made of carbon.

Ian: [00:24:42] Okay.

Crystal: [00:24:43] So belt drives are awesome because they last about, I think 100 times longer than a chain.

Ian: [00:24:50] Wow.

Crystal: [00:24:50] They I think it’s 100,000 miles before they stretch or something like that. It’s pretty wild. You can damage them in other ways if things are not quite properly set up. But we love them for winter because then you don’t have to worry about the rust. And the people who I know who have gotten belt drives for the winter have been super happy about like the lack of maintenance needed to keep going. And that way you don’t have to worry like nearly as much. And almost all belt drives are internally geared hubs. Yeah. So you can get a good gear range. Yeah.

Ian: [00:25:26] And I mean based on my very limited research like internal gear hubs are rather expensive, yes?

Crystal: [00:25:34] Yeah. 

Ian: [00:25:34] Ok.

Crystal: [00:25:34] Generally they’re quite a bit more belt drives are also a bit more of a investment. But again, you save all that money on the back end. We have seen like quality is really important when it comes to belt drives. Like if you’re not a hard rider, if you’re you know, a pretty. Fair weather, or maybe you don’t push hard or you’re not riding far. The lower quality bell drives are fine, but if you’re a hard rider, the ones that are lower quality have a hard time kind of holding up to being ridden pretty hard. I think that was the only thing to consider while looking at a belt drive. 

[00:26:15] [music]

Ian: [00:26:21] Yeah. Anything, any other things on a bike that that most people would be able to like adjust on their own.

Crystal: [00:26:28] Seat height…

Ian: [00:26:30] Okay.

Crystal: [00:26:30] … is very important. So a lot of a lot of times I’ve encountered people who think they should be able to touch the ground while sitting on their saddle. And this is something I address probably almost on a daily basis during the busy season.

Ian: [00:26:44] Mm hmm.

Crystal: [00:26:45] So you want almost a full extension of your leg with slight bend in your knee while you’re on the down stroke of your pedal. If you’re touching the ground from your seat and it’s not a foot forward bike where it’s made to… to be able to do that.

Ian: [00:27:01] Mm hmm.

Crystal: [00:27:02] Then your seat is probably too low. But to indications that your seat is too low is that your knees are hurting, are a big one, like. And you can blow out your knees by having your seat too low. Which is why some people are like, “Well, it’s just more comfortable or I feel safer.” But you’re risking injury.

Ian: [00:27:19] Mm hmm.

Crystal: [00:27:20] And that’s, like, my main reason for addressing it so often. I’ve been recovering from a knee injury for a couple of years. It’s not from my saddle height, but it definitely affects it. Like I can tell immediately if my saddle’s even like a centimeter too low. I can feel it. You can tell if it’s too high, if your hips are rocking back and forth while you’re pedaling.

Ian: [00:27:40] Yeah, I’ve, I’ve felt a little bit of like just just a little bit of overextension on like behind my knee before, and I’m like, ooh, time to lower that down a little bit.

Crystal: [00:27:49] And that can definitely also cause injury. So it’s important to find your Goldilocks zone and really dial it in and you can nerd out about it over time. Like by the millimeter sometimes. We get really obsessive about our saddle heights, but it’s very, it is one of those things that are very important to keep your your body safe because injury is real.

Ian: [00:28:13] Yeah.

Ian: [00:28:14] Yeah. 

[00:28:14] [music]

Ian: [00:28:20] I remember I mean, when I was a kid, I learned how to adjust the brakes, you know, in a basic sense. But then I then I went and got, you know, a bike that has disc brakes. And I realized, like, I have no idea what to do with these.

Crystal: [00:28:36] So first rule of thumb, don’t touch the disc rotors with your fingers. The oils from your fingers can actually affect your stopping power. And if you do happen to do it again, that rubbing alcohol is, like, pretty great.

Ian: [00:28:48] Mm hmm.

Crystal: [00:28:48] So. And with disc brake adjustment, I highly recommend bringing it into a shop. With rim brake adjustment, I also recommend the same. I’ve seen some really, really funky brake adjustments or like over adjustments because really you just need new brake pads. So it’s unsafe because the stopping power is not correct or people are adjusting their brakes because their wheel isn’t in the in the drops correctly. And that’s like that’s why I’m like, “Oof.” So, if you’re adjusting your brakes, my question is, “Why?” You know? 

Ian: [00:29:24] Yeah.

Crystal: [00:29:24] Yep.

Ian: [00:29:24] I think usually, uh, when I, when I had rim brakes, it was always like adjusting them because there wasn’t as much like tension, like, you know, there wasn’t as much stopping power from pulling the levers is.

Crystal: [00:29:38] The same and probably like your cables break in over time. So that can loosen up some of that you can do with a barrel adjuster. But when you are adjusting a cable by at the brake levers or not, I’m sorry, not the levers, but the calipers themselves.

Ian: [00:29:55] Mm hmm.

Crystal: [00:29:57] It’s it’s kind of, uh, how do I want to put this? Like, most self-adjustments I’ve seen are they incorrect way to adjust it.

Ian: [00:30:05] Okay, okay.

Crystal: [00:30:05] So it’s often done improperly, but it’s super cheap to have a shop to it. It’s like five bucks, you know, it’s a couple of minutes to have a professional do it. If you feel confident in your ability to do it, that’s that’s a totally different thing. You know, some people are more mechanically inclined than others. But if you’re a novice and it’s not something you’re familiar with, it’s not something I recommend just trying out because stopping power is, like, so important.

Ian: [00:30:28] Yeah.

Crystal: [00:30:28] Yeah.

Ian: [00:30:29] And I haven’t, like, felt the need to try to adjust my, um, my disc brakes on my own because disc brakes, like, adjust the amount that they squeeze, accor- you know…

Crystal: [00:30:41] Yeah.

Ian: [00:30:42] …As the as the brake pads like wear down. Yeah.

Crystal: [00:30:45] So I’m really glad you say that. And some of them like some disc brakes can be super finicky about adjustment. Some brakes, disc brakes like low and disc brakes. You can’t even adjust properly. You can never get them to fully adjust properly. You just have to wear down and to like the replacement. I mean, they make me nuts. Cheap disc brakes are like my nemesis.

[00:31:07] Okay.

[00:31:09] I’m like, I would much rather see a pair of, like, decent rim brakes than cheap just brakes. That’s another thing I hear. Like people say, “Well, I heard disc brakes are better than rim brakes.” And I like to say not better or worse, just different except for cheap disc brakes because they’re just bad. But rim brakes are tried and true over 100 years. Disc brakes are great in inclement weather. I really like my disc brakes for winter because I’m dealing with a lot more wet conditions. You can experience brake fade where your brakes just kind of stop working on the rim because they’re not grabbing it if when your rim is wet with rim brakes. But for the most part, you know, I enjoy both.

Ian: [00:31:52] And I like how disc brakes especially like they really sing when you first get out there on a cold day and then you’re like, you’re stopping for the first time.

Crystal: [00:32:01] [Laughing], yep, yep. 

[00:32:03] [music]

Ian: [00:32:09] Let’s talk about recognizing when it’s time to bring a bike into the shop. You mentioned your scheduled visit.

Crystal: [00:32:19] Yes.

Ian: [00:32:19] But other than like just kind of feeling that there’s something wrong with my bike, I don’t really know…

Crystal: [00:32:27] So we recommend, like, a yearly tuneup service at the least. And if you’re riding a lot more than just like a leisure ride or short commuting sometimes or winter riding, that’s a totally different maintenance schedule. You could need it a couple of times a year. My big thing that I look for is chain stretch. So I’ve been talking about lubricating your chain a ton and what happens is if your chain is dry, it can stretch the chain faster. And if your chain stretches past a certain point, then you also have to start replacing like the cassette or the freewheel in back. It can also start affecting your front chain rings and then it gets really costly in repair. So, if you find you’re doing a lot of miles doing that once a year, tune up and then just swinging into your shop and have them measure your chain stretch is a super easy way to save money in the long run. And it’s just a small thing to do. So. Or getting a chain tool yourself.

Ian: [00:33:25] You mean for measuring or for replacing?

Crystal: [00:33:28] Yeah, for measuring your chain. So the rule of thumb is if you have, like below a ten speed chain at 75% stretch, you should replace the chain. And at 1%, you’re probably going to need to replace the cassette in back too. If you’re going beyond that, then you might start shark tooth in your front chain rings or your pulley wheels on your derailleur. If you have 11 speed or a 12 speed, it’s 50% stretch. You need to replace your chain. And if you’re riding an 11 speed pretty regularly or a 12 speed, a chain tool is or I mean, a chain checker is a really great investment. They’re like ten bucks, but 11 speed and 12 speed chains can be pretty costly and more so if it’s like your cassette, way more so if it’s your cassette. So that’s probably one of the things that like and I would go into a shop and ask them to show you how to do it and how to read it because it’s not always super clear, but it is one of those things that’s going to be greatly helpful.

Ian: [00:34:30] Yeah.

Crystal: [00:34:30] And then just once a year tune up and that way you can get ahead of any problems that might happen later down the road and avoid having to do something more costly like an overhaul.

Ian: [00:34:40] Mm hmm. Yeah. One. One thing that I have found really useful is I’ve been recording all of my trips on Strava.

Crystal: [00:34:50] Mmhmm.

Ian: [00:34:50] And so then, like, every time that I take my bike in for something, right, to get the chain replaced or replacing a cassette or whatever, like I’ll, I’ll mark down how many kilometers it is that that the bike has on it in total. And then, you know, then I can subtract things and figure out like, okay, how long, how long did this chain last versus the other ones?

Crystal: [00:35:10] Yeah. 

Ian: [00:35:10] It kind of gives me a better sense for like when I can expect the next one to need attention.

Crystal: [00:35:17] Yeah, that’s one way you can do it. I find that most people aren’t that meticulous.

Ian: [00:35:23] Yeah.

Crystal: [00:35:23] Yeah. I was going to say, do you also chart what you wear in the winter? At what degree?

Ian: [00:35:28] I have. I have heard of people who do that, but I don’t know, I, I do all right. With just kind of keeping that in my head. I find.

Crystal: [00:35:36] Yeah, you can really get meticulous. I’ve heard some really incredible stuff that people do to, to track, you know, their, their maintenance or their, their gear that they need. Oh, but for the most part, like, if you’re not going to be that meticulous, if if you’re not able to be that aware, just that once a year rule is a really great place to start.

Ian: [00:35:57] Okay. 

Crystal: [00:35:57] Yeah. 

Ian: [00:35:58] Yeah.

Crystal: [00:35:59] Oh, and if you’re winter biking just bring it in in the spring when you’re done. Because if you don’t clean it before you put it away, then things are going to seize up and rust out like crazy during the summer. And then you pull that out in the fall. It says first snowfall and all of a sudden you realize your winter bike is toast. So that’s that’s my other rule of thumb with the winter. The winter riding. Yeah.

Ian: [00:36:26] Um, and so should that bringing it in once a year or so, should that also be able to cover like, you know, brake pads and things like, you know, will all of that get checked before it should be a problem?

Crystal: [00:36:39] Yep. Yep. If you get a good comprehensive tuneup, it should check your brake pads. It’ll actually most shops will go completely through your bike and make sure that everything is rolling correctly. So check the adjustment on your bearings, your headsets, your bottom brackets, your shifting, your braking, all of your lubricating, all of your pivot points, making sure your cables are good. These are all part of that process. I do say beware of the the cheap tune ups, because really it’s very limited in what they’re doing, but hopefully they’ll let you know, you know, if something else is going on. I just don’t know how in-depth, like the the $40 tune ups are. They seem to be like, oh, bike, wipe down chain, lube, a tire pump, and then like maybe an adjustment of your shifting and braking. But the comprehensive ones are a little bit more involved. Pro tip: bringing your bike in in the fall or the winter and not on the first nice day of the summer is going to put you ahead of everybody else because everybody waits till that first beautiful day and then they’re like beside themselves that they have to wait to get their bike back. But like them and like hundreds of other people all have thought of it that first nice day. So before you put your bike to bed at the end of the riding season, that’s a great time to bring it in. Just like after you’re done with the winter season. If you’re winter riding and that way you’re ready to go in the spring, you should be able to just pump your tires and ride. Maybe wipe it down, if it’s dusty.

Ian: [00:38:09] Should I if I’m if I’m gonna be, you know, leaving my bike for the rest of the season, uh, until, you know, until next spring or whatever. Should I leave the tires, like, at a lower pressure, or does that not matter?

Crystal: [00:38:24] They’re going to lose pressure as I sit there over time. So if you have tubes, then pumping them up, it’s good. And maybe even like once throughout the winter, just so you avoid going totally flat and then possibly potentially getting a pinch flat when you reinflate them. Hmm. I don’t think that’s as much of an option or a problem. It’s usually that people will let them go flat and then roll their bike to me. And that’s usually when pinches happen. Okay, tubeless tires are a different beast altogether because they have sealant inside them and the more they roll, the better they seal. And if you leave them, they will lose pressure and you always have the potential of them becoming unseated. And then you have to take them into the shop to get them reseated if you can’t do it on your own. So for my tubeless I usually try to like fill them up once a month in the winter so they don’t go completely flat or once every couple of months. I just walk by and check them to make sure they’re not getting to the point where they’re going to come off the rim and then I’ll have a mess on my hands in the future. Yeah, yeah.

Ian: [00:39:30] Literally a mess.

Crystal: [00:39:31] Yeah. It’s terrible.

Ian: [00:39:33] I guess the other advantage of having like a winter bike and a summer bike is that yeah, if I have to take my bike in and leave it for a while, I do have a second bike.

Crystal: [00:39:43] That’s super helpful. 

[00:39:45] [music]

Ian: [00:39:51] How should I recognize that my tires are too worn down?

Crystal: [00:39:56] So depending on the tire, some tires like gator skins on the Continental brand of road tires have like a little almost like a pock, like a little hole, it looks like. And that’s an indicator of when the tread has gotten like once that hole disappears, it means the treads gone, and you should replace them.

Ian: [00:40:16] Mm hmm.

Crystal: [00:40:17] Generally, you can see with your tread that it’s getting pretty worn down. You can also see if there’s any cracking forming around the sidewall by the rim. If it’s an old tire, like some people’s tires last forever because they don’t ride a lot. But the. The rubber will rot out before, you know, they’re ridden down.

Ian: [00:40:37] Mm hmm.

Crystal: [00:40:37] But your rear tire is probably going to go before your front one. It’s the one that takes most of the weight. And I just like to check it for wear a couple of times a season. If you’re getting lots of flats, if you’re picking up a lot of debris, it’s usually a good time to change your tires. I’m a big fan of puncture resistant tires. There’s a lot of cheap tires out there, and those tend to have to be replaced more often. So they’re not a good savings in the long run. You know?

Ian: [00:41:06] And then there’s the obvious, like if there se any bulging or anything like that.

Crystal: [00:41:10] There’s bulging. It’s time like and I’ve seen bulging hip in tires that seem to be fairly new. But there, you know, it happens and people are like, well, I thought I just replaced these a few years ago and something’s happened to the sidewall to compromise that or you know, there’s a number of different reasons that it can happen.

Ian: [00:41:28] Yeah. Yeah. One of my Xerxes that I had written for one winter season, when I put it on at the beginning of this year, uh, like, yeah, I was bumping a little bit in my seat because it had a little bulge and I was like, What the heck?

Crystal: [00:41:43] Yeah.

Ian: [00:41:44] But that happens sometimes, I guess.

Crystal: [00:41:45] Do you usually ride with Xerxes.

Ian: [00:41:47] Yes. During the winter. Yeah.

Crystal: [00:41:49] So those are 45NRTH studded tires. People really like them because they’re grabby. We also very much like the Schwalbe Winter Marathon Pluses because they tend to last much longer. They put a new belt inside of it that really helps with puncture resistance. Xerxes use carbide studs too. Anything in a set of tire with just basic steel studs are not recommended because you’re going to have to replace them pretty often. Sorry. I know you didn’t ask, but I know.

Ian: [00:42:17] No yeah! like. Yeah, what? What? Is there anything else that’s different like, looking for in a, for maintenance for for a studded tire?

Crystal: [00:42:26] So finding a decent set of tire people also like to get the low cost ones. But again, those tend to have really cheap studs. If your studs are falling out a lot, it might be time to replace that studded tire. Sometimes they have kits that can replace them. And riding really low pressure can sometimes make that happen on some tires, not all of them. So I like to make sure to set my studs when I first get my stud, like a new pair of studded tires. I like to ride them at full inflation for usually a week or so. Just kind of help set the studs so they don’t fall out. Okay. And then watching for bulging and watching for cracking. And then when you take them off, if you see the studs coming through the other side, that is like prime time to change them. And that’s why we like the winter marathon so much. Winter Marathon Pluses, because they had just came out with a new belt that has like basically eliminated that, which means a much longer lasting quality product.

Ian: [00:43:32] I believe I did have one flat tire last winter. That was because one of the studs had like poked through the inside.

Crystal: [00:43:41] Yeah, yeah. I saw that a couple of times, a couple of flats last winter as well. That had happened the same time too. And I was like, Oh, okay. 

[00:43:48] [music]

Ian: [00:43:55] Okay. So, yeah, what else? I mean, I guess everything else really should be left to a professional like shop. So what are all the different services that a shop provides? Like I’ve heard of the truing wheels is the thing that happens that I definitely don’t ever want to have anything to do with.

Crystal: [00:44:13] People who really love train wheels, I believe have a little bit of self loathing like it’s all of our wheel guys who love wheels. I’m like the amount of finesse and patience and attention to detail it takes. I’m like, It’s not me. I’m a more of a like smash it out kind of person. So, so yes, truing wheels, which means adjusting the spoke tension to keep a wheel perfectly in round wheels can start wobbling over time. Low quality wheels like single walled rims, especially from pothole impact or heavier riders or being very upright on a bike can put a lot of stress through a rear wheel. So generally, like comprehensive tuneup is is that thing I was recommending before and that at our shop that includes a wheel true, a deep clean of the bike. And then, you know, we go through your bike and make sure everything’s adjusted properly shifting and braking, replace what needs replacing, lube your pivot points and keep an eye out for anything you might need to be aware of. So you can get services that include that. But if you find that you even see your wheel wobbling, it’s it’s usually about 15 bucks, 15 to 20 depending on the shop. And it’s a super helpful thing because if you let that go, you might end up needing a new wheel.

Ian: [00:45:31] Right.

Crystal: [00:45:31] Yeah. Let’s see…

Ian: [00:45:34] And I guess it’s probably worth noting that, like, if you’re seeing a wobble, it might be the wheel or it might be that the tire is.

Crystal: [00:45:42] Like it could be that the tire is wrong, too. Yeah, that’s why I just bringing it in is great, because it could be that you have that bulge in the tire. Sometimes you can discern that on your own and if you can, that’s really helpful. But if not, it’s something that a professional could pick up right away. The beauty part about taking your bike to a shop is not only are you supporting a small local business, but you’re also getting your work warrantied. So like if you try something at home and it wrecks your bike, you might be out a very expensive part. If your bike shop wrecks your bike, well, they’re liable for it. So that’s one of the benefits of going to a shop along with many, many other things. But and then there’s the overhaul. And for our overhaul, it comes with complete bearing replacement. So your wheels have hubs and your hubs have bearings in them, your bottom bracket has bearings in them, your headset has bearings in there. I’ve heard people say like, “Oh, they just need to be cracked open and put new grease in.” Unless they’re sealed, that is not the case because your bearings will sit in a cone or in a race in a certain way and they wear in a certain way.

Crystal: [00:46:54] So if you open them up, you’ve moved those bearings and they’re no longer sitting in round and can actually start destroying other parts internally in the hub bearings, bottom brackets need replacement quite often, especially on winter bikes. And when I say quite often, it’s like, you know, once every few years depending on your riding style I guess, but not always that often it tends to be… I feel like bottom brackets tend to need to be overhauled more often than, say, the hubs do. But having that checked regularly is helpful. If your hubs are not adjusted correctly or your bottom bracket or your headset, then it can cause damage down the road. And so that’s why it’s important to have that checked, like if you have a brand new bike out of the box and it was built and those things weren’t checked, you can destroy your cones or your races or many other things. If you feel grinding this when you’re pedaling, often that’s a good indication that you might need a new bottom bracket.

Ian: [00:47:55] Yeah. Or I, I had a, I had a pedal seize up, uh, on me at the end of last winter. So I think that’s there are ball bearings inside of pedal, right?

Crystal: [00:48:04] There are. You can’t generally replace them, though. You usually have to get new pedals. Yeah. Yeah.

Ian: [00:48:08] That’s what I ended up happening.

Crystal: [00:48:09] Mystery creaks we find are almost always well, not no, they are usually pedals. I mean, they can be caused by many other things, especially if you have like a carbon bike. But pedal bearings usually like if you start pedaling and you’re hearing a creaking or a squealing, like often that’s where the problem lies. Mm hmm. Yeah. And those wear out, especially on cheap pedals pretty quickly.

Ian: [00:48:39] Yeah. I’ve had a surprisingly often, uh, where I’ll take my bike into a shop and they’ll be like, Ah, we need to replace like this derailleur cable entirely. Yeah. Um, is there, is there a way to like. It might not taken care of m bike in the right way?

Crystal: [00:48:56] No, not necessarily in

Crystal: [00:48:58] Derailleur cables are a part that it’s a replacement part so it should be something that you’re probably replacing. They just stretch over time. They get corroded over time. Sometimes the little end caps come off and they fray. They are a really inexpensive thing that affects so much. It’s really amazing to me like how much a cable can impact and they’re like three or four bucks usually, so they’re not crazy, but there’s really not a lot that you can do to like, not have to replace them. You have to replace them faster if you’re winter riding again, corrosion from from our our elements.

Ian: [00:49:37] But yeah.

Crystal: [00:49:38] Yeah, yeah.

Ian: [00:49:39] The, the really obvious time that I had a problem with, um, a shifter cable was when it literally just like severed and came out of the, the, the unit on the handlebars. Yeah. And I was like, well, okay, I guess I’m in the highest gear for a day until I can get to a shop.

Crystal: [00:49:56] I hope you weren’t on a tour then.

Ian: [00:49:58] No, no, I was just like commuting just to to work.

Crystal: [00:50:01] Yeah, that’s. I mean, that’s not as common as just stretch. That’s fairly uncommon. Yeah, I mean, not super uncommon, but that’s probably one of the fewer reasons I see people needing cable replacement.

Ian: [00:50:14] And that was on my that was on my old bike which I had had for almost nine years and definitely was not bringing it in…

Crystal: [00:50:22] Yeah.

Ian: [00:50:22] …once a year.

Crystal: [00:50:23] Yeah. I mean a lot of so many people don’t. And then I also get like my dad, I had to have this whole conversation with him where he was like, “my shifters are just not working. And and the guys at the shop said they were just they’re, they’re old. So I think that my shifters are broken.” And I was like, “I don’t know, I think you might just need new cables, pops.” And finally he just I mailed him some new cables. He lives in Montana and he’s an auto mechanic and he replaced them and he was like, “Oh yeah, no, it’s perfect now!” It’s like, “Yeah, those cables!”

Ian: [00:50:56] I also didn’t realize and this was this was on my old mountain bike when I brought it down to you guys. This was a couple of years ago. And you you told me. Oh, yeah, the front fork here is totally shot. And I was like, I didn’t know that’s a thing that could happen.

Crystal: [00:51:10] Yeah. Yeah.

Ian: [00:51:11] Is that unique to, like to, to bikes that have, um, shock absorption? What’s it called?

Crystal: [00:51:18] Shock Forks?

Ian: [00:51:19] Yes.

Crystal: [00:51:19] Yes, yes. So older shock forks and can often go out. So we deal and use bikes a lot. And so many of my like mountain bikes from the nineties like old hybrids are awesome because I can rebuild them very easily, but like maybe a third of my old mountain bikes, the forks are just shot. They are. On like, entry level, or not or not super high quality ones, they aren’t really repairable, or serviceable. And then on nice ones they’re repairable and serviceable, but it’s expensive and they recommend shock maintenance by the hour, like how many hours you ride, which can get pretty crazy. Like, you know, like for this shock, you probably want to service it once every 25 hours of riding, you know, for for higher end ones, but they seize up, especially on those older mountain bikes.

Ian: [00:52:21] So. Yeah, what, what is what is the result of of a shock going bad? Is it like that you don’t get as much of the shock absorption or is it that like do you lose some stopping power because it’s like things are shifting as you’re trying to brake?

Crystal: [00:52:36] Or so you don’t lose stuff in power from that necessarily, but you do lose the shock ability and that’s the bigger thing to it. And so like on our when we’re fixing up a used bike, if the shocks not working and it has a shock fork, well reselling that is is pretty difficult and it can it adds so much weight to have a shock fork. So if that shocks gone bad, you’re almost better off just getting a rigid fork if you’re not replacing the shock fork itself. And again, depending on the quality of the bike, what that looks like.

Ian: [00:53:11] Right. 

Crystal: [00:53:11] Yep, yep.

Ian: [00:53:12] Yeah. And that’s something that I didn’t learn until I was buying my new bike. Was that like, Oh, yeah, you only need suspension if you’re gonna be really going off road mountain biking. Yeah. Um, when you’re riding around on roads, you don’t need it at all.

Crystal: [00:53:28] It takes out so much of your forward momentum. It makes so much more work for and like in the nineties it was so popular and chocks and dual suspensions and especially in like departments store quality bikes like it was the thing. And so people think like, well, I need shocks because I’m going to be more comfortable and I’m like, that’s not necessarily the case. It definitely is going to make you work harder. And again. What’s right for you is what right what’s right for you. But that’s just like, for the most part, we find they’re not really needed.

Ian: [00:54:02] Yeah. 

Crystal: [00:54:02] Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Ian: [00:54:05] I’m glad that I was talked out of that frame of mind.

Crystal: [00:54:09] Yeah. The other thing we see, too, it was like kind of like I in the seventies, like large road bikes for some reason in the seventies, like Schwinn made all these super large road bikes and it seemed like they’re selling technique was like, if you can get your leg over it, it fits. And the bigger the better. And like I not the case and I’ll get people in who still have that mentality. They’ll think that they need like an extra large bike and they’re, you know, maybe a medium like like no, it’s it’s actually like going to be harder and more painful to ride, you know, if it doesn’t fit you correctly.

Ian: [00:54:50] And I am tall enough that like, yeah, most people can’t get their legs up over, over the top bar on my bike, so…

Crystal: [00:54:56] Yeah.

Ian: [00:54:58] I get to keep that as a point of pride I guess.

Crystal: [00:55:00] I have the reverse where I’m sure it enough where like a lot of bike companies don’t make bikes that fit me.

Ian: [00:55:06] Yeah.

Crystal: [00:55:06] Yeah.

Ian: [00:55:07] Can I just assume that if I walk into a shop, like, for example, if I’m out on a tour, right, you know, how, how sure can I be that they will be able to service my bike and fix a particular problem that I’m having with a component.

Crystal: [00:55:24] So 80% sure that they can do it on the spot, or you know, without having to order something. But there’s so many different standards that is almost impossible for every shop to carry, every everything you might need. We do fine with like tires. That’s pretty common unless and you will know if you have a weird size. So most shops will have what you need. I’d say about 80% like on a general bike. Most things are available.

[00:55:53] Okay.

[00:55:54] Yeah. 

Ian: [00:55:54] That’s good… and my last question is, uh, does every good bike shop have a good dog?

Crystal: [00:56:00] If they’re a good bike shop, I feel like they should have a good dog. It’s becoming more popular. I do have a bias to my bike shop and my dog. It helps though. Certainly.

Ian: [00:56:13] Yeah, yeah, I definitely. Because like walking into a bike shop can be a pretty intimidating experience… 

Crystal: [00:56:19] Yeah.

Ian: [00:56:19] …but you know, having that like friendly face who isn’t going to judge you because it’s a dog.

Crystal: [00:56:26] Exactly. Somebody like help temper your anxiety and you get some for hugs and yeah, it’s okay because I hate that walking into a bike shop does feel intimidating. Like I really that’s something that we really strive to change at our shop because bikes are amazing and there’s so many different styles of people and different styles of riders and like nobody should be expected to know everything or anything for that matter. There’s a lot to know. But I do, I think that the dog helps drastically. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Ian: [00:57:00] So, Lowertown Bike Shop. You guys, uh, believe that a bike can change your life?

Crystal: [00:57:05] Correct.

Ian: [00:57:06] Anything else that you’d like to say about your shop?

Crystal: [00:57:09] So we specialize in new and used bikes for all budgets and all styles of people. That’s really important. And we really believe, like I said, I in sales through education. So we are happy to answer any questions. There are no stupid questions and we have an amazing dog.

Ian: [00:57:26] Excellent.

Crystal: [00:57:26] Yeah, wonderful.

Ian: [00:57:27] And located in the beautiful Union Depot.

Crystal: [00:57:30] I suppose I should say the Union Depot in Saint Paul, Minnesota. We are the last stop on the light rail, so we’re easy to access. Yes.

Ian: [00:57:37] Awesome. Well, thanks for joining me for this episode.

Crystal: [00:57:42] So much for having me.

Ian: [00:57:43] Yeah!

Crystal: [00:57:44] Yeah!
Ian: [00:57:45] Thanks for joining us for this episode of the Streets.mn Podcast! Before I let you go, there’s an upcoming event that I wanted to tell you about: in celebration of World Car-Free Day on September 22nd, several local organizations are teaming up to put on the Car-Free MSP initiative this month. Your goal is to go completely car-free on Thursday, September 22nd, and to help you get some practice, there are resources available to help you plan your trips, fun events to attend, as well as prizes for commuting car-free anytime September 1st-22nd. Find out more at their website carfreemsp.com This show is released under a Creative Commons attribution, non commercial, non derivative license, so feel free to republish the episode as long as you are not altering it and you are not profiting from it. The music in this episode is by Eric Brandt and the Urban Hillbilly Quartet. This episode was hosted and edited by me, Ian R Buck with transcript by the indomitable Mike Allen. Christy Marsden is our awesome guest-booker and technical assistance is provided by the super professional Brian Mitchell. If you’re able to help make sure this team gets paid for the hard work that they do, please consider donating at [https://streets.mn/donate]. We really appreciate it. If you have feedback or ideas for future episodes, drop us a line at [podcast@streets.mn]. Until next time, take care.

About Ian R Buck

Co-chair of the Saint Paul Bicycle Coalition, podcaster, and teacher. Ian gets around via bike and public transportation. "You don't need a parachute to skydive; you just need a parachute to skydive twice!"

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5 thoughts on “Bike Maintenance Essentials

  1. Ian R Buck Moderator   Post author

    Fun fact: recording this episode was what finally got me convinced to buy a belt-drive bike to ride in the winter. We’ll find out how well that pays off in a few months!

  2. Pete

    Crystal is great. She’s like my bike-psychologist; I bring her my problems, and she helps me sort them out. Lowertown Bike is a great resource for Capitol City cyclists.

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