How to show your significant other you really care
Yes, we’re talking about your bike
By Taylor Moyle
“Your bicycle invigorates you, strengthens you, relaxes you, lets you vent your frustrations without interrupting, nodding off or making judgments. Your bicycle helps you meet other people. Your bicycle always goes where you want to go. And if you buy your bicycle a box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day, you get to eat them all.” ~ Scott Martin from roadbikerider.com
There’s a good argument to be made as to why your bike is the best Valentine. It takes you places, keeps you healthy and makes you look better. It does a lot for you, so why not do something for it?
We asked some of Toronto’s dandiest bicycle shops for tips on how to best maintain your favourite Valentine - your bike - this February.
What is your favourite product for bike maintenance during winter?
Brent Robinson from Sweet Pete’s Bike Shop
One of the most overlooked maintenance items is proper chain lubricant. Wet lubes like Muc-Off Wet or Finish Line work well. Wet can really help save a chain from rusting during the wet winter months. Wet lubricant is more viscous than most and sticks to the chain to help shed off as much water as possible while keeping the chain moving smoothly. In the winter it's crucial to keep as much water off of the chain as possible. This lubricant is also great for locks.
Jeremy Axon from Urbane Cyclist
My favourite product for bike maintenance during winter is oil or lube. The messy and salty conditions of riding the streets of Toronto wreaks havoc on your bike. Oiling your chain keeps your wheels turning smoothly, but winter temperature changes mean you can get ice and gunk all in your brake and shift cable housing. A thin lube on the cables and in the housing keeps them moving smoothly. Personally, I choose a Pedro's lube.
Fred Sztabinski from Fix Coffee+Bikes
All-season lube. This’ll make sure your bike is riding smooth, particularly when slush and muck are spraying up into your bike bits, and when deep freeze temperatures threaten to seize up some of your vital components.
What other ways can cyclists take care during the winter?
Full coverage fenders like the SKS Longboard are a must. They really help keep the slush and salt off of the frame and components, keeping your bike in better condition. Puncture resistant tires are also a great idea, as there's more debris in the street during winter.
What we recommend at Urbane is that you get a winter tune up, in which we grease, lube and tighten all parts to be prepared for the corrosive elements present in the winter months. Removing all the grime from your drivetrain is a dirty job but someone's got to do it. Cleaning off the braking surface of your rims and brake pads if you haven't moved on to disc brakes is a good idea.
Give your bike a scrub and wipe down to clean off the salt and other guck every once in a while, to avoid needing a major deep clean and potential part replacements when you go in for a spring tune up. Also make sure you don’t let your tires get too deflated: rubber can get brittle in the cold, so low tire pressure can cause cracking quicker.
Do you have any tips on specific ways cyclists can ride during winter so their bikes don’t get dirty in the first place?
If you're riding in the winter, your bike is going to get dirty. Having full coverage fenders helps a lot as they can catch most or all of the spray coming off of the tires. We also recommend using a bike wash and a rag to wipe the bike down to remove the grime and dirt every week or two. Don’t use too much water as it can cause corrosion to build. Also, don’t use a pressure washer as it can get rid of grease which is necessary for your bike to run smoothly.
There is no way to ride without getting dirty in Toronto. I supposed if you have untouched virgin fields of snow to ride across on a fat bike, then you can stay clean. But riding in Toronto streets, all the dirt and muck and grime that comes from automobiles is what you have to ride through. There's no avoiding it.
Full wrap-around fenders will help keep the bike (and rider) cleaner. Better not to worry about your bike getting dirty and just keep riding the way in which you’re most comfortable and safe. I cringe to think a cyclist might swerve to avoid a slush puddle and end up putting themselves in harm’s way.
What is something extraordinary you do for your beloved bike to keep it in good shape during winter?
I don't know if it's out of the ordinary, but I always bring my bikes inside at home. Even if you don't have the space or you live in an apartment like I do, it's still worth setting aside some space with a mat for your bike. I also used studded tires for the first time this winter and was shocked at the improvement they made. They gave me more confidence when riding in snowy conditions. They're not cheap to put on, but if you're planning on using your bike all winter, it's something to consider.
The oddest thing I've ever done to care for a bike is spraying the frame with PAM. Cooking spray is often hydrophobic so the water and snow falls right off of it.
I wish I had something really cool to share here. I don’t. There’s no secret to good bike maintenance, and any shop mechanic or salesperson will tell you – keep your tires properly inflated, clean and lubricate your chain and other moving parts, and check your bike every so often to make sure nothing’s loose (a simple drop test, listening for any unusual clangs, is any easy way to do this).
And, when your old winter beater bike finally gets too old and rusty to employ these excellent winter riding tips, just remember this dandy advice:
“The bicycle is just as good company as most husbands and, when it gets old and shabby, a woman can dispose of it and get a new one without shocking the entire community.” ~ Ann Strong, Minneapolis Tribune (1895)
Brooklyn Bicycle Co. bike photo courtesy of Sweet Pete's Bike Shop
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