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Bike tune-up tricks for better cycling performance

Do you want your bike to go faster, ride more effortlessly, and shift smoother after your annual bike shop check-up? Here are some bike tune-up tricks that you may want to keep handy.

Bike tune-up tricks to remember.

Improvements in these areas are often relatively easy to accomplish with just a few simple steps. Try out these four simple tune-up tasks below, which don’t require any special knowledge or tools, and you should see a long-lasting improvement in your bikes performance and ease of riding:

1. Clean your chain and lubricate often

Light lubrication is the key, wiping off excess to prevent dirt build up.

Light lubrication on your bike chain is the key; wipe off excess to prevent dirt build-up.

The chain and sprockets on your bike play a key part in the transfer of power from your legs to your wheels, making them go round and round. When the crank and gears collect dirt and grit and get gummy, not only does it slow you down, but they also wear out faster. Keeping your chain clean and lubricated is one of the best ways to keep your bike working well.
• How to clean your chain – quick and easy check out this video.

Tip: Use lightweight oil specially designed for bikes. Please avoid motor oil as it is too heavy and will quickly attract dirt and crud. Want a big greasy chainring mark on your leg? Using too much oil or the wrong kind is a guaranteed way to get one. Light lubrication is the key, and wipe off excess at the end.  

2. Lubricate the moving parts of your derailleurs.

Keep your derailleurs clean for smooth shifting.

Keep the derailleur on your bike clean for smooth shifting.

Your bike has quite a few moving metal parts that are vulnerable to dirt and moisture and should be lubricated regularly to keep your bike happy and is in good working condition.

Pivot points on the brakes and derailleurs are good examples of places you should target because they are vulnerable to attracting dirt and grit due to their placement on your bike. You can spot many of these places by watching your bike in action and seeing where metal parts move against and around each other.

For instance, think about your brakes. Most road bikes are mounted on a bolt on the frame above your wheel. Then, when you squeeze the lever, the brake pivots around this bolt as it contracts. These places where you want to apply a couple of drops of oil.

3. Inspect your brake pads.

check your brakes to see that the pads are clean and aligned correctly.

Check your brakes on your bike to see that the pads are clean and aligned correctly.

A quick check of your brake pads will often reveal potential problems that are easy to fix. You want to check:
• Are your brake pads adequately aligned? Brake pads are the little rubber things that clamp down on your rims to slow you when you squeeze the brake levers. Make sure they are hitting the rims evenly and aren’t either rubbing the tire or missing your rim partially or entirely.

• Are the brake pads toed in? The bike brake pads should also be “toed-in,” which means the leading edge of the pads should touch the bike rim first when you lightly apply the brakes. The pads squish a little, and you should get complete contact to the rim when you squeeze down hard – This helps prevent squeaking.

• Check for junk embedded in the brake pads. Inspect the surface of the brake pads where they meet the rims, and using a sharp pointy instrument like a knife, pick out any bits of sand or metal that may have become embedded in the pad. Removing this grit prevents the pads from wearing and scratching your rims and helps them provide more even and consistent stopping power. Need more info, check out this video.

4. Check the pressure on your tires.

Always check your tires air pressure.

Always check your bike tires’ air pressure.

Checking the tire pressure is one of the simplest things you can do to have the best results. And surprisingly, most people overlook this both on their bikes and car. Paying attention to keeping the proper level of air pressure in your tires accomplishes many things, including:
 Makes pedaling easier
• Protects your rims from damage
• Prolongs the life of your tires
• And it makes it much less likely that you will get a flat

And, checking for proper air pressure in your tires before every ride is quick and easy to do.

Simply look for the recommended air pressure for your bike’s tires. It will be printed on the sidewall of the tire in both English and/or metric units. When you know what that number is, inflate the tire, and check the air pressure as you pump go to ensure that you’re on target. You’ll need a tire gauge, either built into your pump or a separate gauge, to measure the tires’ air pressure. Be sure to check the pressure frequently as you pump up the tire so that you do not overinflate your tire. See this video for more information.

Also, take a quick moment to check your tires for proper inflation before each ride and add more air if needed. It is not uncommon for tires to gradually lose air over several days, even without having a flat that needs to be replaced. Taking just this simple and easy step will prove to be a valuable one to you in the long run.

If you are still having problems, need to adjust the derailleurs, or get some new tires if the ones on your bike are several years old, visit your local bike shop, they will fix you up and share some more easy maintenance tips.

Now go out and have fun riding!

The Minnesota Ironman is a little over a month away. Couple that with 30 days of biking for your best April ever. Read how to get ready and stay motivated!

Minnesota Ironman Could Be Your Crowning Glory to 30-Days Of Biking

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

With spring officially here, the 51st Minnesota Ironman Bicycle Ride is now just a little over a month away and coincides perfectly with the 30-Days of Biking. If you are not familiar with this international movement to ride your bike each day in April, what better way to crown your achievement. Ride your bike each day through the month. Then on April 30th, gain bragging rights while touring one of several scenic routes (25 to 100-miles) at the Minnesota Ironman Ride, out in Waconia!

Make a Pledge To Do 30-Days of Biking and The Minnesota Ironman

Participating in the 30-Days of Biking is as simple as pledging to ride 30-days in April and sharing your photos and reason for riding with the hashtag #30daysofbiking. What could be a better reason then getting ready for the Minnesota Ironman? Taking the 30 day pledge and then registering for the Minnesota Ironman Bike Ride is an amazing motivation to get out there and feel your best!

Your rides all Count

Minnessota ironman ice cream

A quick trips to the store, riding in an underground parking lot, or pedaling inside on your stationary bike counts

April is the gateway to summer here in the Minnesota. Average highs are normally in the 50s and 60s that help bring about the emerald landscape that Minnesota summers are known for. Plus, April is the perfect time to integrate biking into your weekly routine. A quick bike trip to the grocery store, a leisurely ramble around the block after dinner, or an adventurous journey into the wilds of Minnesota. They all count towards your 30-Days of Biking pledge. Beyond those rides counting toward your pledge, they also prepare you for the Ironman and the summer ahead.

If you are a bit more ambitious and need some support in your 30-day’s or pre-Ironman training, reach out to Coach Bob McEnaney. He’s at Total Cycling Performance and a Minnesota Ironman partner. Bob is available for individual coaching services and runs bi-weekly indoor trainer rides (Monday & Thursday) at Penn Cycle’s Woodbury location. He also publishes weekly workouts on Wednesdays that are a great way to stay motivated.

Kickoff April the Right Way

There is no better way to get started with your 30-Days of Biking pledge than ridding with others who have made the same commitment. On Saturday, April 1st, meet at the Commons Park, in Minneapolis. Bell Lap Coffee is offering artisan roasted coffee staring at 11 a.m. and a  ride leaves at noon. Surly Brewing, knows how to finish up a great ride. They are hosting an after party for the riders at their brewery (every ride is rewarded with one complimentary beer or beverage).

Is your Equipment Ready?

If you haven’t done it yet, pull your bike out of storage and do your A, B, C’ Quick Check (air, brakes and chain/crank). Start by cleaning it, then Lube the chain, put air in the tires, and take it for a ride. Taking a ride will give you a good idea of how far out of adjustment your bike may be. If your bike is not working well or you need a bit more gear to stay comfortable riding in spring weather, stop by your local shop now.

When you bring your bike into a local shop for service, take time to make sure your bike fits you properly. A good bike fit will lower the chance of repetitive motion injuries and make you a more comfortable and efficient rider. You can have a friend help you check the basics or have your shop take a professional look. Both Eric’s and Penn Cycle are Ironman sponsors and certified bike fitters that can help your.

Riding 30 days in April will also expose you to all types of weather. Use the poor weather days to test your riding clothing. Be sure you have the gear you need to be comfortable in poor weather, as you may need it for Ironman Sunday.

With just 30 days separating you and the Minnesota Ironman there is no time to waste. Use daylight savings and the warmer weather to your advantage and ride as frequently as you can. The more time you can put on your bicycle before Minnesota’s first major bike ride will pay off. Especially when planning and participating in your #NextBikeAdventure this spring and throughout the summer.

Help with a Wise Bike Wednesdays ABC Quick Check from a League of American Bicyclist Instructor, so biking to school is fun.

Wise Bike Wednesdays – ABC Quick Check Your Way to Fun


Wise Bike Wednesdays has a reminder,“Before You Go,” always remember your ABC’s:

A is for Air

B is for Brakes

C is for Cranks, Chain, and Cassette

Quick = is for quick release lever – make sure it’s tight!

Check = take a quick ride to check it all before you go on your next bike adventure!

With many students heading back to school this week biking is a great way to get some exercise, be green, and avoid the traffic and congestion of a long bus ride to school. 

Whether you’re a parent getting your kids on their bike to get to school or someone who will be responsible for your own bike and adventure, it’s important to remember the key safety rules for biking.

You can check these basics in the HaveFunBiking digital Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide on page 60-61. If you have our print copy, check it out on page 30.

Help with a Wise Bike Wednesdays bike rodeo training course lead by instructors of BikeMN, so biking to school is fun.

Help with a Wise Bike Wednesdays bike rodeo training course, lead by instructors of BikeMN, so biking to school is fun.

Thanks for viewing Wise Bike Wednesdays, here at HaveFunBiking. 

Now rolling into our 10th year as a bike tourism media, our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike and have fun. While showcasing all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more place to ride to and have fun we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin.

Learning to use turn signals at a Wise Bike Wednesdays rodeo training course lead by instructors of BikeMN, so biking to school is fun.

Learning to use hand signals at a Wise Bike Wednesdays rodeo training course, lead by instructors of BikeMN,

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know that we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to: [email protected]. Include a brief caption (for each), of who is in the photo (if you know?) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we do use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continues to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your next bike adventure – Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 8th year of producing the guide.

So bookmark HaveFunBiking.com and find your next adventure. And don’t forget to smile, while you are riding and having fun. We may capture you in one of our next photos that we post daily.

Have a great day!