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Sadly, it’s sometimes unavoidable to ride in the rain. In my experience, the rain actually waits for me to get as far from home as possible before starting. So, when you do get caught in wet conditions, how do you protect your bicycle from the damage from water? Read on for a few helpful bike maintenance tips.
The first step In Bike Maintenance Tips is to get it clean!
The first step after riding in the rain is to get your bike clean. Road grime, mud, and other muck that has accumulated on your bike will hold moisture and encourage corrosion. A bucket of warm soapy water and a sponge is the best way to clean out that crud. Try to resist the urge to point a hose at the bike because pressured water gets into bearings promoting wear.
The second tip – get it dry
Once your bike is clean, use an old towel to get it dry. Rubber parts like tires and grips don’t need a lot of attention, rather focus on all the metal parts. Really try to address the steel hardware and make sure it’s dry to the touch before you’re done.
Then, clean the rims
Unless you have disc brakes, riding in the rain takes a toll on both the rims and brake pads. All the road grime that attaches itself to the rim works like sandpaper, wearing both the rim and the brake pads when you stop. Therefore, after riding in wet weather you will want to focus on getting all that abrasive grime off the rims and pads. If the dirt is left in place, your brakes can start making noise, be less efficient, and wear out quicker.
Lube The Chain
Water and motion will do a good job of scouring all the lubricant off your chain. Additionally, the same road grime that wears rims and brake pads will wear your chain. Additionally, that wear leaves your chain particularly susceptible to rust. To lube your chain, start by propping the bike up so you can rotate the cranks backward freely. Next, Backpedal the bike, while dripping lubricant onto each chain link. Once the chain is well saturated, give a few moments for the lubricant to penetrate the chain. Finally, wrap a rag around the chain, backpedal, and remove all the excess lubricant. Done!
Lube The Cables
Like the chain, cables will lose lubricant and wear quicker in the rain. To keep your bike shifting and braking well, drip a small amount of lubricant onto the cables where they enter the housing. Once capillary action carries a few drops of lubricant into the housing, shift through your gears a few times and squeeze the brakes repeatedly to help the lubricant find its way.
Drain The Bike
A bicycle may appear to be sealed from the elements, but it is, in fact, able to take on water when you ride in the rain. The water that collects inside the frame of your bicycle can destroy bearings, rust a frame from the inside, or freeze in the winter and burst frame tubes. To drain a frame, pull the seat and seat post out of the bike, and turn the bike upside down. Leave the bike for a few hours to drain and then replace the seat and post.
Overall, when servicing your bike after you ride in the rain be aware of the corrosion and wear rain can cause. Focus on getting the bike clean and re-lubricated, ready for your next ride.
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 is 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 to 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.
The best way to find the right bike for you is to do some research on models you like. Then verify their size to your body and test riding your choices a lot. How do you make the best use of your time while test riding these bikes with so many choices? Read on for a complete list of how to test ride efficiently.
Test ride bike plan research
Any good test ride begins with research. First, review what type of bicycle you would like, then check out the websites of some popular brands. Please pay close attention to the prices of each bike and what it buys you. A few things to look for are the number of gears, what type of suspension it has, tire size, frame material, and brake type. Once you have gotten a general sense of what is available, you can plan a trip to the bike shop.
Pick a shop
Before looking further, call a shop closest to you and verify they have the models you want to test ride.
Once you have researched a few bikes you like, give some local dealers a call. Most brand’s websites have a dealer locator to help you find the closest shop. Give a call to the shops closest to you and verify they have the models you want to ride. Because shops can’t stock every possible model in every possible size, call to ensure they have the right model in a size that is close to what you are looking for.
Make a date to test ride.
Check the weather and your schedule, then pick a good time to head into the shop. Keep in mind that shops and roads are less busy during the workweek. Therefore, Monday thru Friday is the ideal time to test ride bikes. If you need to go in on the weekend, call the shop and see when they are least busy and make an appointment if possible.
It makes no sense to test ride bicycles if you are not dressed for the occasion. Wear your Jersey, Shorts, bring your helmet, and bring shoes and pedals if you ride clipless. Another helpful thing is to bring your existing bicycle with you. They can replicate the setup of your current bike to new bikes you would like to test ride.
Bring your ID
When test riding bikes, you are potentially borrowing thousands of dollars from the shop. Therefore, it’s expected for shops to ask for some form of collateral. At the minimum, bring your ID and a major credit card.
The test ride
Test rides don’t need to take hours, but a three-minute spin is rarely enough time to make a real impression. Expect to take at least 15 minutes on each bike, with more time spent on the first few bikes you ride. When riding, try to focus on how the bike accelerates, how easily it changes direction, and how stable it feels. A great way to do this is to pick a set route with some flat area, some climbs, and at least one good descent. Riding the same course with different bikes makes comparing them easier.
Narrow it down to bikes
Once you get a feel for a few bikes, you can start narrowing down your choices. I find it best to pick two and then ride them back to back, concentrating on fit and comfort rather than speed and stability. Have the shop begin dialing in your fit on these two bicycles to see which one really is the best for you. Once you have a bike that rides well and fits well, you are ready to buy.
Buy everything you will need
A bike that rides great is the key ingredient in a great bike ride, but it’s not everything. Remember that your new bike needs things like a water bottle cage, kickstand, lights, and maybe clipless pedals or a better fitting saddle. Consider all the situations you may run into on your new bike and buy the products you need to be prepared.
Hopefully, your next bike purchase will be fun and informative.
Mountain Bikes (MTB) may all look similar, however if you are planning on purchasing a new one there are some substantial differences between them. First lets take a look at the “It looks like a mountain bike” version, then we will look at a true mountain bike.
Trail/Path bicycles that look like mountain bikes
There are some Trail/Path cycles that will look like Mountain Bikes, but aren’t designed for off road use. These Trail/Path bikes are popular because riders like the stability, traction, control, and upright riding position of a Mountain Bike but don’t need the features geared toward off road use.
Trail/Path “Mountain Bikes” have higher bars, narrower tires, and less suspension travel.
Mountain Bikes True to Their Name
A true Mountain Bike is designed to be ridden off road over loose and rocky terrain. These actual all terrain bicycles offer suspension designed for control rather than comfort, are equipped with low gearing designed to navigate steep, loose terrain, and are built using more durable components to hold up to the constant impacts of riding off road.
True Mountain Bikes have more suspension, and larger tires.
Mountain Bike Suspension
A key feature of a true mountain bike is the suspension that allows the wheels to move up and down over objects giving the rider better traction and more control. The amount the wheel can move is called travel. Therefore, a suspension fork that has 100mm of travel can move up and down 100mm (roughly 4″).
What Kind of Mountain Bikes are Available?
Mountain bikes get grouped by their intended riding conditions. As an example, Cross country bikes (XC) are designed to move quickly both uphill and downhill. For example, XC bikes are light and the suspension is most often limited to 100mm of travel.
Trail bikes are like cross country bikes, but rather than being concerned with maximum speed uphill, they focus a bit more on the downhill. Trail bikes have suspension ranges between 100mm and 140mm of travel.
All-mountain (or Enduro) bicycles take the idea of a trail bike a step further. Therefore, they offer more travel and are focused on offering the most amount of control and speed while descending, while still being capable of riding back to the top of the hill.
Within each of those categories hardtails (front suspension only) and full suspension (front and rear suspension) are available as well as electric assist versions (using a battery and powered motor)
What is the Deal with wheel size
Unlike road or city/path bikes, Mountain bikes come in many different wheel sizes. The first mountain bikes were built in Marin County California 40 years ago. Notably, the only tires available were old 26″ balloon tires from the 1950’s which is why 26″ wheels were used. As technology progressed, the benefits of larger and wider tires became apparent. Initially, 26” tires were made wider for more traction (up to 3” wide). Then a few small builders tried the idea of a larger diameter wheel (29”). The benefits of a larger wheels are that objects are smaller in relation the them, offering a smoother ride, and the amount of rubber on the path is greater (better traction). Now there are a half dozen wheel sizes available, that all have their own benefits and drawbacks.
What type of Mountain Bike is best for me?
To start, think about what you want out of your ride. Someone who wants to burn through a loop of their local park as fast as possible, or likes to push themselves on the climbs as much as they do the descent would probably be a good candidate for a cross country bicycle. It’s light weight frame and efficiency will help that rider get more enjoyment/speed out of their ride.
Another rider might like to make good time on the climbs, but push a bit more on the downhill. They ride quickly (trying to beat their friends maybe) but aren’t looking to enter a competitive race. In this case a trail bike helps this rider have more fun.
Finally, another rider might totally live for speeding downhill. Getting back to the top of the hill is only an inconvenience for this person. therefore, they are willing to push a heavier bike up the hill if that weight equates into more traction and more control at high speeds. This rider would love the benefits an all mountain (or Enduro) bike gives them.
Are there any other kinds of Mountain Bikes?
Yes. There are Fatbikes, Downhill bikes, Trials bikes, dirt jumping bikes……The list goes on and on. To delve into all the subdivisions of bicycles, head into your local bike shop. Seeing and test riding the nuances of different bicycles will give you a quick education.
It goes by many names, the rear derailleur. It is also known as the “s,” the “hangdown,” or the mech. Here in the U.S. we refer to it as the rear derailleur. The device that moves your bike’s chain from gear to gear letting you traverse hills with ease. Even though derailleurs are sturdy and relatively maintenance free, they do require attention occasionally. Look below for the step by step instructions on how to adjust your bike’s rear derailleur.
Rear Derailleur Terminology
Twist shifter – A shifting device that rotates around the handlebar like the throttle of a motorcycle.
Trigger shifter – A Shifter that activates by pushing or pulling a set of paddles with your thumb and index finger.
STI shifters – Technical this stands for Shimano Total Integration and speaks directly about one brands type of road bike shifter, but it has become the generic term for any drop bar shifter/brake lever combo.
Thumb shifter – A shifter that can be mounted in many places like; the stem, bar end, brake lever, or top of the bar. These shifters are the most rudimentary type of shifter, and operate by simply actuating a lever with your thumb.
(A) Jockey Wheels- two small wheels on the derailleur on which the chain run. They are mounted onto the derailleur cage
Limit screws- The limit screws control the area of motion a derailleur has. On most derailleurs there are three limit screws: the upper limit, Lower limit, and B-limit. The upper limit screw sets the maximum distance the derailleur can shift in high gears. The lower limit screw sets the maximum distance the derailleur can shift in the lower gears. The B-limit screw sets the distance the upper jockey wheel sits from the cogs.
(B) Barrell adjuster – This is an adjustment device on the back of most derailleurs. It is the area where the derailleur cable enters the derailleur and can increase or decrease the cable tension by threading it in and out.
(C) Pinch bolt – The pinch bolt is where the derailleur cable gest secured.
(F) Derailleur hanger – The portion of the bike frame where the rear derailleur is mounted.
Not defined above is the Upper Knuckle (E), and lower knuckle (D)
Is everything straight?
The cogs your rear derailleur shifts across can have as little as 2.14 millemeters of spacing between them. Considering the spacing is so narrow, look to see that everything is aligned properly before you start adjusting your rear derailleur in vain. Look first at the derailleur itself from behind. You should be able to see if the derailleur itself is aligned properly. A tell-tale sign of damage is when the two Jockey wheels don’t line up with the cogs or each other (see picture).
Next assure that the derailleur hanger is aligned properly. This is easily seen when the derailleur appears straight, but not in line with the cogs. Consequently, if either the derailleur or derailleur hanger are bent, it’s best to take it into your local shop for a remedy.
Step 2, A man has got to know his limitations
Before attempting to adjust the derailleur properly, set its usable range. First, loosen the pinch bolt and let the derailleur run on the smallest cog. Next, pedal forward while visually and audibly inspecting how the chain runs on the smallest cog. The chain should run smoothly without any clicking, or skipping noises. If it runs smoothly, don’t worry about the upper limit. when you do experience skipping or noise, look closely at how the chain runs on the cog (looking from behind is easiest). If the chain isn’t coming directly off the upper jockey wheel and going straight onto the small cog you need to adjust the upper limit. By threading the limit in or out you can adjust where the derailleur sits in relation to that smallest cog (note: the limit screws don’t need to get “tightened” down, they simply act as a stop for the derailleur).
Once the upper limit is set, pedal forward and push on the derailleur lower knuckle until it moves the chain into the largest cog. If the chain has issue getting into the largest cog, or jumps over that cog into the wheel spokes, you need to adjust the lower limit screw in a similar fashion to the upper limit screw.
Rear Derailleur Tension
With the limits set, you can now move on to tightening the cable and trying to shift. Make sure the shifter is in its lowest gear by shifting down while gently pulling on the shift cable. With the shifter in its lowest position, ensure all housing ends are settled into the frame properly then pull the cable taught through the derailleur. With the cable taught, tighten the derailleur pinch bolt onto the cable. Trim any excess cable so that only about one inch of cable extends beyond the pinch bolt and crimp it off as not to fray.
While pedaling, shift one gear up. Ideally, the chain will easily move from the smallest cog up to the next cog. It should stay on the second cog and run quietly and smoothly. If it hesitates to get to the second cog, increase cable tension by rotating the barrel adjuster out. If you cannot increase tension enough with 3 or 4 turns of the barrel adjuster, thread it back in, loosen the cable pinch bolt, pull the cable taught, and tighten the pinch bolt again. Once you have the chain shifting up the cogs easily, check to see if it will smoothly move back down the cog stack by shifting from the largest cog down and inspecting. The only difference is in the adjustment. If the chain hesitates to move down the gears, turn the barrel adjuster in (relieving cable tension).
Rear Derailleur Trouble shooting
What happens if you can get the chain to move up the cogset well, but can’t get it to move back down the cogset easily. In some cases, the cable and housing can be corroded and causing drag. This drag won’t affect the shifting moving up the gear set, but it will stop the derailleur from returning. In tis case, you can clean and lube the cables and housing, or just replace the cable and housing all together.
Additionally, there may be a grinding/banging noise in only the largest cog. That noise is caused by the upper jockey wheel running on the largest cog. To remedy this, tighten the b-limit screw until the noise subsides.
Finally, a common problem is if you get skipping while pedaling up steep grades or under load. If your derailleur is adjusted properly, and you’re getting skipping, it may be related to a worn out drivetrain. As your chain ages, it stretches slightly. As the chain stretches, the front face of the gears will wear in unison with the chain stretching. Once the chain stretches beyond the point where it will mesh with the gears, you will experience skipping under load.
Working on your own bike is fun. Also, your appreciation for the technology and engineering that goes into what is considered a simple machine will grow with each turn of the wrench. Periodically, you will run into a problem you cannot solve. If that is the case, bring your bike to your local shop, talk honestly with the mechanic about what you tried and what you are trying to accomplish. As a result, you will find that most mechanics will be happy to teach you what you need to know.
With wet pavement, this bike pic Tuesday, give your bike a little TLC soon after finishing. Here are some bicycle maintenance tips to keep your equipment in top shape. HaveFun!
This bike pic Thursday, what better way to continue your summer fun than riding an e-bike on your #NextBikeAdventure. View all the fun ideas and bike destinations in the latest Iowa Bike Guide or the Minnesota Bike/Hike edition. Then plan your next outing with family and friends at one of the HaveFunBiking Destinations.
Thanks for Viewing Another Bike Pic of the Day
We are now rolling into our 15th year as a bike tourism media. As we pedal forward our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike and have fun while we highlight all the unforgettable places for you to 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 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 use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.
As we continue to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your #NextBikeAdventure – Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 8th year of producing this hand information booklet full of maps.
Remember, 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. We may be around the corner with one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo appearance while you are riding and having fun. You could be in one of our next Pic of the Day.