Category Archives: News

Being visible and noticed doesn’t end when the sun comes up

by John Brown

Now with spring riding soon in full swing, stay visible and noticed. Wear clothing that makes you stand out to others while riding your bike or walking. Being noticed by others is the key to avoiding accidents. Focus on the two forms, passive and active visibility, to help stay safe. Things like reflectors and bright colors, especially in patterns that make you stand out, are forms of passive visibility. While lights and blinkers are great examples of active visibility, most people focus on nighttime visibility. Though, far more hours are spent in broad daylight riding a bike. Here are a few tips to keep you safe and visible whenever you ride.

Clothing that makes you more visible and noticed

Read on to see where each one is helpful and most efficient.

If you were driving a car which cyclist would grab your attention first?

The easiest way to be visible is to wear obvious clothing. Whereas black may be slimming, it doesn’t offer others the best chance to see you. The most visible color available is high visibility (hi-vis) yellow. It is bright yellow not found naturally and sticks out against the backdrops on most normal roads and paths. If hi-vis yellow isn’t for you, try to wear other colors that would stand out, like bright blue, red, or orange. Better yet, an obnoxious pattern of several above-mentioned colors, so you are sure to be noticed.

The most visible color available is high visibility (hi-vis) yellow.

Lights that make you visible and noticed

Many companies are recommending riders use their lights during the day and at night for a great reason. Active forms of visibility like blinking lights do a lot to attract the attention of others. For best visibility and longest battery life, use your lights in “blink mode” rather than a steady beam.

Reflectors that makes you more visible and noticed

Most cars sold in the US are equipped with daytime running lights. For that reason, the reflectors on your bike will shine back at drivers during the day and alert them to your presence. Beyond the standard reflectors your bicycle comes with, think about adding adhesive reflective tape to bags, helmets as well as your bike.

Position

Being visible while riding can be as simple as your position on the road to be noticed. In situations where there isn’t enough room for a bike and car, be sure to take up enough space to ensure no driver could miss seeing you and try to “squeeze” past. Also, ride at a controlled speed where there may be blind corners, driveways, or crosswalks. Additionally, don’t stop in places where others can’t see you until it’s too late.

When making a lane change, signal your turn and making eye contact with those you are approaching.

Signal

No amount of visibility will make up for erratic riding. Be sure to signal where you are going so auto drivers, other cyclists, and/or pedestrians know where you are headed. When overtaking riders or walkers from behind, be sure to let them know where you are going with a simple “on your left” or “on your right.” Then, give them a moment before passing and ring a bell if you have one.

Kids

Kids riding bikes is something we need to preserve in this digital world. The best way to keep kids on bikes is to keep them fun and safe. Try to have two adults riding with kids if possible, one leading and one following. Be sure to remind children of how and when to signal, and dress them in colorful clothing. Because kid’s bikes are lower to the ground than an adult bikes, they can go unnoticed. A flag mounted to the bike reminds drivers that there is a bike below.

Following these tips will limit the chance of an accident and keep your ride fun and safe.

About John Brown, the author

As a lifelong cyclist and consummate tinkerer, John operates Browns Bicycle in Richfield, MN. It all started for him in grade school when the bike bug bit, and that particular fever was still there. Now, and over the past thirty years, he has worked at every level in the bike industry. Starting, like most, sweeping floors and learning anything he could about bikes. He eventually graduated as a service manager and then as a store manager.  Through the years, he has spent extensive time designing and sourcing bicycles and parts for some of the largest bike companies in the world. All the while focusing on helping as many people as possible enjoy the love of riding a bike. In that pursuit, he has taught classes (both scheduled and impromptu) on all things bikes. John also believes in helping every rider attain their optimal fit on the bike of their dreams. Please feel free to stop in any time and talk about bikes, fit, parts, or just share your latest ride. You can also see more of John’s tricks and tips on the Brown Bicycle Facebook Page.
Bike commuting is an easy way to increase fitness, jump start your energy level, and enjoy nature. Read and learn about what you need to commute in comfort.

Bike commuting necessities and niceties to make your ride great

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Bike commuting is an easy way to add miles, increase fitness, jump-start your energy level for the day while enjoying nature, especially with warmer weather. Once you start commuting by bike, you will find the hassle factor lessens while your overall trip acts as your workout for the day. You are saving yourself hours in the gym. Here is a list of other beneficial necessities to make commuting by bike much more enjoyable.

Win this e-bike at HFB

Bike Commuting Necessities

While commuting by bike, there are very few items you need to get started. Ultimately, the only thing you have to have is a bike. However, here is a list of items that will make your ride safer and a few that will make it easier to function properly at work or class once you are there for added comfort and safety. Past functioning, you need to stay safe on the bike, too, so I consider all these things necessities.

Helmets

First and foremost, a helmet is an essential product you can buy after the bike. While self-preservation typically keeps us upright on our bikes, while commuting, we need to consider many other actions we need to protect ourselves from. Now that you’re commuting, wearing a helmet isn’t just a logical safety choice but can be very comfortable. Read here to learn how helmets protect you, become lighter, fit better, and are more comfortable than ever.

Lights

While the helmet is a crucial safety product, it is not the only important one. Lights, whether it is day or night or your level of bike riding skill, are essential to ensure you have the safest ride possible. Sometimes, when riding in conditions without optimal visibility, you need a little added illumination. That’s where proper lighting comes in.

Locks

When commuting, you can’t be with your bike at all times. You’ll have to leave it unattended for extended periods, making it susceptible to theft. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t help protect it. Here’s some info on the different bike locks and other tips to ensure your bike’s safety.

Waterproof Bag

Being caught in the rain is not possible when commuting; it is inevitable. To protect your possessions, invest in a waterproof bag. For example, a messenger bag made with a PVC liner can easily carry all your stuff and keep everything dry. Plenty of waterproof panniers are available for riders looking to take their things on the bike.

Bike Commuting Niceties

The following items aren’t necessary for commuting but make your trip quicker and more comfortable.

Shoes and pedals

Most riders only consider clipless pedals a competitive advantage, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Few things are as practical as clipless pedals and cycling shoes when riding a bicycle. There is a simple equation that always holds: control = comfort. In the quest for more control of your bike, secure your feet in place on the pedal. By doing this, you can use muscles more efficiently, be connected to your bicycle more directly, and relieve excessive strain on your feet. Read here to see how easy it is to learn to ride “clipless.”

Rain gear

The best way to stay dry is to wear waterproof clothing. While most synthetic fabrics still insulate when wet, being wet diminishes their ability to keep you warm. A jacket and pants are a great way to start, but socks and gloves make the outfit complete. In their most basic form, many materials are waterproof, but as soon as they are perforated with stitching, zipped closed with generic zippers, and left to be loose at all the cuffs, their waterproofing goes out the window. Before you go out and buy anything labeled “waterproof,” understand that all waterproofing is not the same.

Cycling shorts

Shorts come in all shapes and sizes. Tight shorts are popular because they offer comfort and unencumbered movement around the bicycle. Baggy shorts are trendy for their casual look and the advent of pockets. Even cycling skirts (called skorts) offer excellent comfort and a tremendous off-the-bike look. The padding will make your ride more comfortable, whatever short you decide.

Fenders

Fenders are a standard option for many. They are light and sturdy and keep you dry when riding in wet conditions. If you don’t want to keep them on your bike at all times, snap-on style fenders are available, while a more permanent option is a bolt-on fender.

For winter, studded tires are helpful.

Like winter tires for your car, studded tires are available for your bike. They usually have a few hundred carbide metal studs inserted in the tire to give you traction in icy conditions. These tires are typically twice as heavy as a non-studded version, so be sure to use them only when necessary.

Bike commuting is a great way to enjoy the outdoors while traveling to and from school or work. It is an excellent exercise that will give you better attention, higher energy levels, and some free time to think without critical or significant distractions.

About John Brown, the author

As a lifelong cyclist and consummate tinkerer, John operates Browns Bicycle in Richfield, MN. It all started for him in grade school when the bike bug bit, and that particular fever was still there. Now, and over the past thirty years, he has worked at every level in the bike industry. Starting, like most, sweeping floors and learning anything he could about bikes. He eventually graduated as a service manager and then as a store manager.  Through the years, he has spent extensive time designing and sourcing bicycles and parts for some of the largest bike companies in the world. All the while focusing on helping as many people as possible enjoy the love of riding a bike. In that pursuit, he has taught classes (both scheduled and impromptu) on all things bikes. John also believes in helping every rider attain their optimal fit on the bike of their dreams. Please feel free to stop in any time and talk about bikes, fit, parts, or just share your latest ride. You can also see more of John’s tricks and tips on the Brown Bicycle Facebook Page.
A great way to spend a Monday morning, out with dad one more time on a Minnesota mountain bike trail.

Bike Pic May 14, a Tuesday morning on a Minnesota off-road trail

What a great way to spend a bike pic Tuesday morning before the rain. This photo shares the fun on a Minnesota mountain bike trail.

So, adjust to the warmer temps, have your rain gear ready, and get into the zone when continuing your time outdoors for that #NextBikeAdventure. View all the great ideas and bike destinations in the latest Iowa or Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide. Then plan your next outing with family and friends, and check out more stories at Let’s Do MN.

Thanks for viewing today’s bike pic

As we roll into our 21st year as an outdoor media, enjoy!

As we pedal forward, we aim to encourage more people to bike and have fun while highlighting all the unforgettable places you can ride. As we continue to showcase more places to have fun, we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. Enjoy the information and stories we have posted as you scroll through.

Do you have a fun bicycle-related photo of yourself or someone you may know we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to [email protected]. Please Include a brief caption for the image, who shot it, and where. To be considered, the photo (s) sent to us should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide. If we use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continue encouraging more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your #NextBikeAdventure. Also, check our 15th annual mobile-friendly MN Bike Guide, a handy booklet full of maps of fun places to bike and hike.

Bookmark HaveFunBiking.com on your cell phone and find your next adventure at your fingertips! Please share our pics with your friends, and don’t forget to smile. With one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo appearance while you are riding and having fun, we may be around the corner. You could be in one of our next Pic of the Day.

Have fun as we pedal into spring 2024!

Biking around Hastings new 10-mile Scenic Circuit loop describes the route that follows along both the Mississippi and Vermilion rivers for all ages and skill levels

Hastings’s 10-mile trail loop allows bicyclists scenery along two rivers

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking

Biking along the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) is just one of the many fun opportunities cyclists can enjoy when visiting Hastings, MN. As this historic river town expands its bicycle infrastructure, I had to return to Hastings last fall to check out the completed 10-mile trail loop.

Dubbed the “Scenic Circuit,” cyclists of all ages and abilities find this scenic trail loop along the Vermilion and Mississippi rivers breathtaking. Cyclists will discover many unique points of interest in the city parks and trails along this dual river trail system. For those who would like to add a few extra miles to this Scenic Circuit Loop, it’s easy following the MRT to Schaar’s Bluff and beyond. See the Hastings HaveFunBiking map for more options.

Starting in Historic Hastings

The old mill ruins from 1857 to 1894 produced high quality flour under the name "Belle of Hastings."

Here at the old mill ruins, flour was produced under the name “Belle of Hastings.”

Starting our ride in the historic Hastings Downtown Area, we found plenty of parking options when arriving. We used the city parking lot under the Highway 61 bridge as a gathering place to start our ride. After you get back, it’s a short walk along 2nd Street (the city’s downtown main street) for a snack or meal. We choose to ride the Scenic Circuit counter-clockwise for this review, leaving from Levee Park on the MRT.

Following the Mississippi River Trail out of Hastings

Just west of downtown Hastings, this metal sculpture was made from materials collected from the river clean up.

This metal sculpture was made from materials collected from a river clean-up just west of downtown Hastings.

In the first few miles of riding the trail through Jaycee Park, we enjoyed an aerial show of several Bald Eagles. Then the art along the river was also interesting. Several markers explain the river’s history, and one marker explains the river clean-up project several years prior. The giant dragonfly (above) was made from different metals dredged from the river under the Clean Water Act. Further along the Scenic Circuit, the trail passes by U.S. Lock and Dam 2. Here it’s always fun to stop and watch boats of all sizes move through the locks from the viewing platform.

The trail running along the back water here is a perfect place to view wildlife and and other bird species that frequents this area.

The trail along the backwater is perfect for viewing wildlife and other bird species that frequents the area.

Another highlight before leaving the river bottom is pedaling along the picturesque causeway before climbing out from the river’s bank. At the top, for those who would like to add a few more miles, Schaar’s Bluff and the new trail out to Dakota County’s Spring Lake Park, where buffalo roam, is an option (See below the milage to Schaar’s Bluff and Spring Lake Park). To continue along on the 10-mile Scenic Circuit, riders should take a left, crossing Nininger Road, and then follow the city trail south, down Pleasant Drive.

From the Mississippi to the Vermilion River

Now, on the western side of Hastings, the Scenic Circuit jogs a little further west along 4th Street, from Pleasant Drive – then heads south on the wide paved shoulder of General Sieben Drive. After crossing Highway 55, those who need a sweet treat will find Culvers on the corner. Continuing south, the route turns east onto River Shore Drive. Then, in about an eighth mile, watch for the trail to cross the road and head north to Northridge Drive. You should take a right and continue east on the Circuit Loop.

These cyclists enjoyed a perfect day to ride Hastings 'Scenic Circuit'.

These cyclists enjoyed a perfect day to ride Hastings ‘Scenic Circuit’.

At Pleasant Drive, take a right; the trail follows the road south to the Vermilion River. On the east side, after crossing the bridge, pick up the trail that flows with the river back into Hastings. You will soon discover why this section of the trail is such a popular part of the MRT.

Along the Vermilion River

Biking and rollerblading Hastings "Scenic Circuit is perfect for all ages and skill levels.

Biking and rollerblading, the “Scenic Circuit is perfect for all ages and skill levels.

As the Vermilion River flows swiftly to the east, the trail along this scenic stretch of river offers nature lovers a peaceful ride through serenity. From here, cyclists and walkers alike will enjoy the two underpasses, one on County Road 46/47 and the second at U.S. 61, to avoid traffic. After passing under Highway 61, the Scenic Circuit is now entering Vermilion Falls Park.

Vermilion Park

As you cross over the Vermilion River you will notice all the padlocks attached to the railing.

As you cross over the Vermilion River here, you will notice all the padlocks attached to the railing.

Riding into the park, at the first trail intersection, you can park your bike and walk about 100 feet to view Vermilion Falls. Continuing east and taking a left at the trail’s “T,” you are now on the bridge, where it’s easy to view the falls overhead as they cascade towards the Mississippi River. You will also notice all the padlocks on the bridge’s railing.

No one knows exactly when, why, or who started this European trend in Hastings. But this romantic ritual has become very popular, with hundreds of locks attached to the fence on the old railroad bridge that is now a part of the Scenic Circuit trail. The practice invites lovers to hang a padlock on the bridge and toss the key into the water below. The city parks department finds the trend touching for now and plans to leave the public love notes (locks) alone as a wall of art.

Another historic option to check out is Old Mill Park, about an eighth mile ahead. Here is another opportunity to park your bike, walk down to the old mill ruins, and maybe hike one of the many trails along the Vermilion River.

The trail crosses the railroad tracks from Mill Park and continues north towards Downtown Hastings. At the next split in the trail, riders should take a right and then follow the MRT signs back to the downtown area for some fun.

Enjoy Historic Downtown after your ride.

Over the last few years, downtown Hastings has been going through what many call a “Riverfront Renaissance.” With events scheduled throughout the spring, summer, and fall, the historic Main Street atmosphere is the perfect place to end your ride. Stop to shop, dine, or stroll along the Mississippi River Trail next to the Scenic Circuit  Loo. After our ride, we found several options for cool refreshments and dinner downtown. You can find more options in our At-A-Glance article.

If you didn’t bring your bike along, Hastings has a bike-share program. The Zagster bike station is located under the bridge on 2nd Street, and you will need a credit card to activate the locking system to the cycle you wish to ride,

More miles to Schaar’s Bluff and Spring Lake Park.

Returning back to Hastings from Schaar's Bluff its approximately 6-miles.

Returning to Hastings from Schaar’s Bluff, it’s approximately 6 miles.

The trail loop also connects to several neighborhood parks and the Mississippi River Regional Trail. Known by many as the “hidden jewel” of the Upper Mississippi River Valley, view some spectacular scenery along the way as you pedal along. Riding out to Schaar’s Bluff takes around 12 miles.

This newly completed section of the Mississippi River Regional Trail offers cyclist an occasional view of the river, bridges that cross deep ravines, prairie flowers that border along limestone bluffs.

This newly completed trail offers cyclists an occasional view of the river, two new bridges that cross deep ravines, and prairie flowers that border limestone bluffs.

If you choose to ride out to Dakota County’s Lower Spring Lake Park Reserve and cross the two new bridges on this trail, it will add an extra 8 miles and is well worth the extra effort, with the Bison now there!

The maps in the new MN Bike/Hike Guide offer many fun places to explore

Now in our 15th year of publishing the Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide, tied to all the information at HaveFunBiking.com, we hope you find all the bike-friendly maps helpful in planning your next adventure. To help you select your next fun outing with family and friends, we have added some suggested route options to most of the maps, along with helpful tips and interesting places to get some refreshments. So bookmark the 2024 Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide so it’s ready and at your fingertips for that next bike adventure.

The MN Bike/Hike Guide is full of maps and tips for your next outdoor adventure.

Where can you find a printed copy of the MN Bike/Hike Guide?

As in the past, the Minnesota guides will continue to be available at the Minnesota Tourism Welcome Centers and many local libraries if you would like a printed copy. These handy pocket-size guides are perfect for paging -through, copying a map, or jotting down a few notes when planning your #NextBikeAdventure.

Please help us by sharing your comments on this year’s Bike/Hike Guides

We would like to hear from you as we update the guide. What do you like about the MN Guide, and how can it be improved so we can continue to add more helpful information in future editions? Please review this digital edition of the guides and share your comments with [email protected] – Thanks!

Get the latest bike/hike news and a chance to win an e-bike.

Join our monthly newsletter and have a chance to win an E-bike while getting regular HaveFunBiking updates and promotions.

Good luck, have fun, and share your next adventure at HaveFunBiking!

Win this E-bike at HaveFunBiking.com

When you sign up for our email updates at HaveFunBiking.com (HFB), you are also entered for a chance to win this E-bike. The all-new Avenue Electric Bike by Pedego. Please fill out the form below to enter. Good luck!

Your entry will give you a chance to win this E-bike and a complimentary e-subscription to the HFB Blog. The blog features bike-friendly maps and tips on new bike destinations posted at HaveFunBiking.com. When planning your next adventure, we will also inform you about what’s new in bicycle-related products and gadgets.

Good luck, and share this contest for the Avenue E-bike, with your friends!

About Avenue E-bikes

The Avenue E-Bike is a beautifully designed electric bike perfect for urban riding or commuting. It has a step-thru frame for easy mounting and dismounting. The bike also has a powerful 500W 48V power system with a fully integrated battery.

Everyone’s favorite bike media company is giving away a set of wheels

Managed by Constant Contact, the HaveFunBiking (HFB) e-database is a news media source sharing outdoor activities, mainly centered around Minnesota destinations. Since the beginning of 2003, HFB has promised that our email list will never be sold or shared, and you can always opt-out at any time. Plus all individuals signing up for this prize drawing for the e-bike can expect no sales appointments or calls.

The fine print

Deadline to enter: 11:59:59 PM PT, October 14, 2023
Sweepstakes drawing date: October 13, 2024
Selection Process: The Grand Prize winner is selected using a computer-generated selection method to ensure that each drawing is conducted entirely at random. We will notify the winner via email and phone. Once contacted, the selected winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is randomly selected. 
Number of winners: 1
Eligibility: You must be 18 years old or older to win.
Approximate Retail Value: $2,299.00 USD

Bike noises can ruin a great ride and may be easy to fix with these tips

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Bikes are fun to ride, and any distraction from that fun can be annoying. One distraction that is easy to eliminate is noises your bike normally doesn’t make. The reason they are easy to eliminate is that each noise is telling you what’s wrong. Here are some of the most common noises and their causes.

Annoying bike noise from corrosion

Before we get into the annoying noises themselves, we should talk about what causes them. Most annoying noises are caused by corrosion between two surfaces or excess wear. Noises from corrosion can be remedied easily, whereas parts that are worn out need to be replaced. In most cases, corrosion is not visible to the naked eye but can be removed with solvent and guarded against in the future with a little grease.

Annoying Noises or Creaks

“Creaks” are the most common and annoying noises on your bike. It usually sounds like you are opening a rusty door when you pedal and subside when you stop pedaling. Creaks are attributed to either the pedals or the bottom bracket (fancy name for the bearings on which your cranks turn).

If there is side-to-side movement in one of the pedals or the entire crank, you should take your bike into a bike shop to have it serviced. If there isn’t any play, the crank is probably associated with corrosion. Removing the pedals and greasing the threads, taking off the chainrings (large gears attached to the crank), or removing the crank and greasing the bottom bracket spindle will usually silence the bike. If the creak persists, take your bike into the shop for a more thorough examination.

Annoying Noises or Clicks

Unlike creaks, clicks rarely follow any rhythm and usually come from the handlebar, seat, or seat post. An easy way to test where the click is coming from is to do it off the bike. With your feet on the ground, flex the bars from side to side. If you hear a click, loosen the stem, clean the bar, and apply a thin layer of grease before reinstalling.

The seat and seat post can be treated just like the bars. While off the bike, flex the saddle forward and backward. If you hear a creak, remove the saddle, clean the saddle rails, apply grease and reinstall. The next step is to remove the seat post from the bike and grease the seat tube before reinstalling it.

It is important to note that carbon fiber posts and frames should not be greased. Instead, use a carbon fiber friction paste-like Park Tool’s SAC-2.

Bike noise squeaks

Squeaks sound like you have a mouse or small bird trapped somewhere in your bike. Like creaks, they are usually rhythmic but can continue even while not pedaling. A lack of lubrication usually causes squeaks. Typically, a bearing’s rubber seal rubs against a metal surface, and the vibration causes a squeak.

The easy remedy for a squeak is to first locate it by spinning each wheel independently. Next, spin each pedal independently. Finally, try backpedaling. Listen for where the noise comes from, then apply a wet lubricant like Park Tool’s CL-1 to where the rubber seal meets the metal. Spin the offending part until the noise disappears, then wipe off any excess lube. Additionally, chains can sometimes squeak as well. To correct that, just clean and lubricate your chain.

Brake Squeal

If you squeeze your brakes and hear a noise like a small squeak or a fog horn, you may suffer from brake squeal. A brake squeal is caused when the brake pads touch the braking surface and vibrate rather than build friction. The noise you are hearing is that vibration.

Before you get too concerned, brakes will often squeal when wet and be silent again when dry. However, if the noise persists when dry, the two major causes are adjustment or contamination. With an adjustment issue, the brake pads are hitting the braking surface at an angle that causes them to vibrate, and readjusting the pads should solve the problem.

The solution for contamination is somewhat more involved. The first thing to do is determine what type of brake you have, rim or disc. If your bike has rim brakes, your brakes use rubber pads to press against the rim near the tire. For disc brakes, semi-metallic pads press against a steel rotor mounted to the center of the wheel.

To clean a rim brake, use soap and water (Dawn dish detergent works well) to wash the rim and brake pads. Also, scour the rim and brake pad surface with sandpaper or Scotchbrite. For a disc brake, start with soap and water as well and scour the rotor surface. If the noise doesn’t subside, take it to your local shop for pad replacement.

Clunks

Clunks are the sound of one object hitting another and are usually heard when you run over a gap in the road or a curb. Most clunks are serious and should be resolved as quickly as possible. They’re serious because something on your bike is loose or worn out.

The most common things to come loose are your wheel’s hubs or the bicycle’s headset. Grab the rim and gently push side to side to test and see if the hubs are loose. For the headset (the bearings on which your fork and handlebars turn), turn your bars 90 degrees, squeeze the front brake, and rock the bike forward and back. Take the bike in for service if you feel any play or rattling.

Clunks are also often found in suspension forks and seat posts. If you feel a clunk only when dropping off an object and have checked your hubs and headset, chances are your suspension needs attention. Suspension service is best left to your local bike shop. They can assess if the suspension needs either service or adjustment.

Service

In most cases, noises from your bike signal that bringing it in for service is good. A trained mechanic can assess and remedy noises far faster than you. That doesn’t mean that you can’t do any of these repairs at home. In fact, most of these problems are easily fixed with little attention. Before entering into the noise tracking project, the only consideration is how much time you want to devote to it. Hopefully, these tips will give you the confidence to try.

Helpful tips to consider before purchasing an e-bike

With the popularity of e-bikes (electric-assist bicycles), here are some helpful tips and questions to ask when buying a bike. The top question we have been asked here at HaveFunBiking.com, along with the price of an e-bike, is how the new government rebate program works. What are the e-bike types and styles and battery/motor options available?

This is followed by the range or distance you can expect to travel on a charge, riding in rain and snow and maintenance tips. In conclusion, after reviewing the following tips, we suggest visiting several bicycle shops that carry electric-assist bicycles to narrow down the right bike for you. Ask them specific questions we have touched on here. Then, like buying a car, test-ride the e-bike you want.

Different types  of e-bike displays in the Eco-Building at the MN State Fair

Top 10 questions asked when selecting an e-bike.

1. An e-bikes cost, and what about the Minnesota Tax Credit

Has the idea of touring by e-bike piqued your interest?

There are many variables when buying an electric assist bike, including the distance you can ride and how you will use it; the number of times you can charge the battery; its weight (bike and battery); the warranty; and whether you will need to take out a loan to finance the bike? Along with a good warranty, the quality of standard parts or upgraded parts on the electric bike can increase the price from $2,000 to $6,000 or more. Plus, having adequate insurance coverage for possible damage, theft, and liability can increase the price.

See more information on the cost of buying an e-bike here.

What’s the skinny on the MN Electric-Assisted Bicycle Rebate

The Minnesota Transportation Finance and Policy bill included a new electric bike rebate program that takes effect July 1, 2024. In the 2023 session, four million dollars were appropriated for the 2024 and 2025 calendar years. This Rebate Program will allow $2 million to be used starting July 1, 2024. Then again, consecutively, 2 million dollars for 2025 will be available until June 30, 2026.

The credit maximum is $1,500, depending on your income. To qualify, an Individual must assign the credit at the time of purchase after July 1st with an eligible retailer that is in the rebate program. If you qualify, this will reduce the cost of purchasing an e-bike. For more information on the rebate, contact your local bike shop or see Minnesota Tax Changes.

2. Consider payment options to get the right e-bike

Enjoy the Micro-Mobility experience for hauling cargo or kids.

To get an electric bike that will fit your needs over the next two to five years, find out if the bike shop or bike manufacturer (if buying online) offers a no- or low-interest loan. Some lending institutions, like Affinity Plus, offer low-interest bicycle-specific loans and let you borrow 120% of the cost of the bike, allowing you to buy accessories like helmets, locks, baskets/panniers, lights, etc.

See more information on financing here.

3. Check the bike warranty, and then insure it

Many bikes come with limited or full warranties. Typically, e-bikes may come with a 2-year warranty on parts, motors, and batteries. Some e-bike brands have a 5-year, “no questions asked” comprehensive warranty. So, learn what sort of warranty is being offered before you buy. A reputable e-bike company will have its warranty information on its website.

A warranty should be a part of the purchase price.

It is recommended that you Insure your new bike. Check if your car, renter’s, or homeowners insurance can bundle an e-bike into your policy. If not, look at an insurance company that often covers theft and collision protection for your e-bike, similar to automobile insurance. Many companies, like AAA and Velosurance, even offer roadside assistance for bicycles and e-bikes.

See more information on warranties and insuring an e-bike Here.

4. E-bike types and gear options

There are two types of motors: the wheel hub type and a center crank model pictured here.

There are so many types of e-bikes available! First, what is your primary use for buying an e-bike? Is it for commuting, hauling cargo, off-road riding, touring, or riding in winter conditions? Once you know how you will use the bike, check out the nationally defined classifications below and your state DOT statutes for e-bikes:

  • Class 1: e-bikes are pedal-assist only, no throttle, with a maximum speed of 20 mph
  • Class 2: e-bikes with pedal assist and throttle, with a maximum speed of 20 mph
  • Class 3: e-bikes are pedal-assist, with or without a throttle, with a maximum speed of 28 mph.
    Most states consider e-bikes with a maximum speed of 20 mph “OK to use all non-motorized bike routes.”

See more on the types and speeds of e-bikes here.

5. What’s the battery’s range and life before recycling?

A centerpost battery for an electric bike
A center post battery mount is standard for many electric bike models.

The general rule is that a 36-volt, 10.5Ah (ampere-hours) battery should get 20 to 40 miles per charge, with the average weight of rider + gear & cargo being less than 200 pounds in ideal weather conditions. You’ll get fewer miles the higher the assist level you use. You may enjoy 50 miles or more on a single charge on low assist. To maximize the life of your e-bike battery, try to charge it before it is close to empty.

Recycling your battery: Call2Recycle is helping e-bike owners recycle their batteries. On the right side of their website, please type in your zip code to get a list of places that will recycle your e-bike battery when it’s time to replace it.

For a more in-depth look at how volts x amps = watts can give you an approximate range, click here.

6. Weight limits, and a size that fits you

There are many sizes and types of e-bikes and trikes to test ride.

Most manufacturers recommend a maximum combined weight of around 275 pounds for a rider and gear & cargo on an e-bike. Cargo bikes are meant to carry small people or big loads and can accommodate riders + gear up to 400 pounds or more. Typically, e-bikes can handle total weights more than described by manufacturers’ specs. However, it may reduce the range or increase maintenance, including wheel spokes repairs.

Most e-bikes weigh between 30 and 65 pounds, with the battery weighing anywhere from five to 15 pounds. The battery’s weight increases with voltage, but its capacity (range) also increases.

For more on weight limits and restrictions, click here.

7. Maintainance and your options to have your bike repaired

Like a regular bicycle, always start with an ABC’s (Air, Brake & Chain) check before you ride to maximize your e-bike investment. You should schedule a tune-up every six months or every 1,000 miles you have ridden. This will protect your warranty. Check the manufacturer’s service recommendations to what they specify.

If you’re buying an e-bike online, see what sort of repair service or online support the company provides, or make sure your local or favorite bike shop can fix the electrical components of the e-bike you select. Bikes with Bosch drivetrain systems are well respected and offer the following information for care and longevity. 

For more information on maintaining our preparing an e-bike, click here.

8. Riding an e-bike in the rain or snow

E-bikes work well year-round.

Like most standard bicycles, E-bikes are water-resistant and can be used in most weather conditions. You may need accessories (like rain gear or studded tires) to ride safely. Most e-bike models also provide a high-quality, water-resistant casing to protect your battery when wet and cold. You can ride an e-bike at any temperature, but the colder it is, the more it may impact the battery’s range. Bring your battery (or the entire bike + battery) inside if you’re not riding it. Do not leave the battery on the bike if parking the e-bike outside at any time in the winter.

Click here for more information on riding an e-bike in rain or snow.

9. Keeping your new e-bike safe and secure

To protect your e-bike investment, consider using a U-lock with a cable lock when locking your bike outside (also recommended for indoor public storage areas). Another anti-theft device to consider is a GPS track tag. Ask your local bike shop for their recommendations. Again, having adequate insurance coverage for possible damage, theft, and liability is wise.

For more information on securing your e-bike, click here.

 10. What else should I do before purchasing?

A test ride should be part of the plan indoors or out before purchasing.

Have fun and test-ride the e-bike(s) you want to focus on. One of the essential parts of buying an e-bike is taking the model(s) you are most interested in for a test ride. Like buying a car, test-ride the e-bike will help you finalize your decision once you have narrowed the selection down. Visit several bicycle shops that carry the e-bike brands you are most interested in. So grab your helmet and go for a test ride. Consider these questions while test-riding that new e-bike:

  • Does the e-bike fit the way I like it to
  • Do I feel comfortable on the e-bike climbing hills
  • And finally, is the quality and functionality over everything I expected while riding?

Now that you are back from your test ride, does the e-bike you like fit into your budget, and does it have a warranty? An e-bike is a significant investment, whether $1,500 or $10,000. So, with a warranty, you can rest assured that your investment is well covered. For more information on scheduling a test ride, click here.

Have fun on your new e-bike. We would enjoy hearing about your experiences here at HaveFunBiking!

With an e-bike, it’s easy to bring along your faithful friend or haul cargo.

As birds and flowers return, here are several spring events to enjoy!

Thanks to the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota (Bike MN) recent newsletter. Here are more spring bike/walk events scheduled for May and into the summer that might interest you.

Kick-off Your Riding Season in Edina on May 4th

Join Edina Rotary for their first-ever Edina Rides for Education fundraiser! Fred Richards Park (7640 Parklawn Ave, Edina) check in between 9 AM and 11 AM and ride the family-friendly 5 or 10- mile loop on the beautiful Nine Mile Creek Trail. Early bird pricing through April 22nd. Come support Edina Education Initiatives!

Edina Rides Registration and Details40 Day Countdown to the Meander

Countdown to the Meander

On May 25th, the first annual Med City Meander takes place in Rochester. It is a 32-mile relaxed tour of Minnesota’s third largest city. Click here for BikeMN/We Bike Rochester member discounted registration, or use the button below if you’re not a member yet. Limited to 500 riders! From tree-canopied riverside paths to gentle Driftless bluffs, this carefully curated route will feature convenient rest stops all along the way! 

MCM Details & Registration HereCan’t Get Enough 2024 Bike Walk SummitCheck out Streets.mn’s podcast featuring many great advocates across the state.

Doing Some Spring Cleaning? Donate that old bike.

We tend to think the best bikes to have are the ones that get ridden. Do you have something gathering dust that you may want to donate? Check out our resource page here for organizations you can donate used bikes to ranging from cities like Mankato, Rochester, the Twin Cities and Duluth. Did we miss any? Email us at [email protected] to get another organization added to the list.

Now You’ve Got More Space for More Bikes!

By this time, the Twin Cities Bicycle Club and Biking with Baddies bike swaps will have already occurred, but we’re aware of one more this spring, sure to have plenty of used bikes, parts, and accessories to dig through. Twin Cities Bike Swap May 19 Long Lake Park (a benefit for MN Cycling Center). Pro tip – come prepared as a buyer. Know what wheel and crank sizes you have, axle types and widths, and tire sizes you’re shopping for. Haggling is expected, but be Minnesota Nice!

Tour the Twin Cities with BikeMN this September!

Tour the Twin Cities with BikeMN this September!
Bringing together the great trail networks and organizations that make the Twin Cities a bicycling destination, the Twin Cities Bike Tour has something for everyone. We’ve even got a DJ/Joyful Riders led mass start for the short family-friendly route! Every route has a limited capacity so sign up today! Click here for your BikeMN member discount for the 20 or 46 mile route or use the button below to take advantage of early-bird pricing.

TCBT Details & Registration Here

More Events!

ALL APRIL LONG – 30 Days of Biking Continues!APR 17 – Saint Paul Bicycle Coalition Monthly MeetingAPR 18 – Saint Paul Bike Ride Season Kick Off with MoveMNAPR 20 – Powderhorn 4:20 – MplsAPR 23 – Webinar How to Use Cargo Bikes to Improve Your LifeAPR 26-28 – Driftless Gravel Camp – Winona AreaAPR 27 – Earth Day Gravel Grinder – NorthfieldAPR 28 – Miesville 56 – MiesvilleAPR 29 – Paved Paradise book topic discussion – Saint PaulAPR 30 – Paved Paradise book topic discussion – RochesterMay 4 – Hastings/Prescott Bike TourMay 4 – Fulton Gran Fondo – MplsMay 4 – Bird & Bison Bike Tour – HastingsMay 4 – Granny’s Gravel Grinder – PrincetonMay 4 – Edina Rides – EdinaMay 10&11 – Smart Cycling Course – Mpls Have an event to share? Add it to our statewide Community Calendar!

Southeast Minnesota has a new bike ride tradition

Join “We Bike Rochester” in southeast Minnesota as they celebrate the incredible trail network that meanders around the city with Med City Meander (MCM). For years, “We Bike Rochester” has been working to bring community engagement around biking and walking. MCM has partnered with the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota (BikeMN) to create an event highlighting local businesses, beautiful natural areas, and outdoor fun in Rochester. Register today and save!

One of many art sculptures to enjoy when riding Rochester’s trails

A new annual tradition coming in May to southeast Minnesota

The Med City bicycle tour starts and ends at Cascade Lake Park on Saturday, May 25, in Rochester, MN. The MCM ride features a signature 32-mile relaxed tour of Rochester’s trail system, highlighting what makes the “Med City” a dynamic and vibrant community. From tree-canopied riverside paths to gentle driftless bluffs, this carefully curated route will feature convenient rest stops along the way! The city offers a vast network of trails and bike lanes. Ride the North and South Trails, along Cascade Creek, Bear Creek, and more! Check out some of the trails on the City of Rochester’s Parks and Recreation Map or the “We Bike Rochester” route library.

All MCM routes are on paved trails

The MCM features a signature relaxed tour of Rochester’s trail system, highlighting what makes Med City a dynamic and vibrant community. You can also do as many laps (2.5 miles) around Cascade Lake as you’d like. Registering is unnecessary if you only want to ride this lake loop. Just show up and have fun.

On the MCM 32-mile route, check-in is from 9 to 10 a.m. All riders should be underway by 10:15 a.m. Rest stops and SAG support services end at 2 p.m. Riders will enjoy food and drink at rest stops along the route. Helmets are required. Protect your melon! Safe cycling to all Meander riders!

All bikes are welcome!

Electric assist bikes, as outlined in the Minnesota definition of e-bikes in Class I, II, or III. All bikes with pedals are welcome to join BikeMN rides. On the ride, no charging stations are provided, so make sure your battery is fully charged and the route you select suits your battery’s range. Analog bicycles, adaptive bikes, tandems, recumbents, tricycles, cargo bikes, burley-style kid trailers, and even well-behaved (and leashed) pets are welcome!

You are also encouraged to familiarize yourself with your bicycle before the ride and feel comfortable riding with larger groups.

Where to stay when visiting Rochester

Are you visiting Southeast Minnesota, and exploring more of the fun trail system here?  Check out the lodging suggestions here at Experience Rochester.

About the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota (BikeMN)

BikeMN is working to make Minnesota a state where bicycling is safe, easy, fun, and cool for everyone. The mission of BikeMN is to provide leadership and a unified voice for bicycle education, advocacy, and efforts to make Minnesota more bicycle-friendly so that more people will ride bicycles more often. See more at www.bikemn.org.

About “We Bike Rochester” Bike and Walk Advocates (WBR)

We Bike Rochester is a non-profit 501(c)3 and a chapter of​ the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota. WBR  encourages individuals and families to walk and bike as part of a healthy lifestyle. “We Bike Rochester” works with city, county, and state governments, businesses, and non-governmental organizations to improve the community’s infrastructure. To add new opportunities for walking and biking. This new ride is new, and profits from the Med City Meander will go to improve signage, outdoor kiosks, mountain bike trail construction, and other improvements in the Rochester area.