Bicycle tires naturally lose air
If you drive a car and you’re like me, you go weeks, maybe months, before you check tire pressure.
Thanks to technology, you don’t even have to remind yourself to get out the air gauge–a dashboard light is your nanny. That’s when you find the tires on the van have dropped to 30 psi from 36 psi–though you probably knew something was wrong when you wanted to drive to Peoria but the van favored Kickapoo.
This laid-back monitoring strategy, questionable when it comes to cars, fails entirely when it comes to bicycles.
Compared to a car tire, a bicycle tire is thinner and holds less air at higher pressure. That’s the reason you need to check your tires daily (700×23 tires), weekly (700×28), every two weeks (700×38) or every three weeks (29 x 2.1). You have to replace that lost air or risk a flat tire when the inner tube is pinched between the ground and the rim.
Keep in mind these air-check intervals are only examples; you may find it necessary to check more often than suggested, or, in the unlikely case you’re running a super-thick Goodyear bicycle tire from 1953, less often.
How much air does your tire take? One method is to check the tire’s sidewall for an answer. You might see something like MIN 45 PSI/MAX 75 PSI. Split the difference and inflate to 60 psi.
Got a new bike? Get a new floor pump with a built-in gauge. Got an air compressor? Well then, use it.
Your rear derailleur is not a kickstand
This will seem pretty obvious. Your rear derailleur isn’t nearly as long as a kickstand; there’s no way it’ll hold your bike off the ground.
You’re absolutely right. So if you’ve been laying the bike down on the derailleur side, whether to park it or transport it inside a car, STOP DOING THAT RIGHT NOW.
If you lay your bicycle down, always lay it down chain side up. And if your bicycle should ever fall on the derailleur side, check to make sure the derailleur still hangs straight down, not toward the bottom of the rear tire.
Why is this important? If the derailleur is misaligned and you try to shift into the lowest gear (the biggest cog in back), you may shift the derailleur into the spokes instead.
The resulting chaos isn’t a kickstand either, though it may force you to park the bike.
A quick-release lever is not a wingnut
There are two ways to use the quick release attachment on a bicycle wheel: the right way and the wrong way.
If you look at a quick-release lever and think it’s a one-sided wingnut, you’re using it the wrong way. You don’t spin the lever around and around until it seems tight enough–you spin it around and then FLIP IT OVER TO SECURE IT.
Chances are that your quick release lever has a curve to it. When the lever is open, it curves away from the the bicycle. When you flip the lever over to the closed position, the lever curves toward the bicycle.
That action, of flipping the lever over, employs a cam to securely clamp the quick release to both sides of the fork (at the front of the bicycle) or the frame (at the back of the bicycle).
Maybe a video will make this clear. If not, stop by the bike shop for help. You absolutely want to get this right.
Quick note to the bicycle expert
You know all this. Live it every day. It might even be said that you have a very particular set of skills. In any case, I leave you today with a few words from 2015 about sharing your knowledge with others.
(Those words are not here. They’re in the last link. In the paragraph just above this one. And by golly, if you don’t click that link, I will look for you, I will find you, and, well, let’s leave it at that.)