Ten Tech Tips – Oldies but Goodies

By John Wente

These are mostly old tips, but they may benefit some of the 100 (can you believe it?!) new members who’ve joined OBS in 2001, and we can all use a reminder from time to time.

  1. Wax your bike a couple times a year with paste car wax. Makes it much easier to keep clean and it protects the finish. (DON’T wax the wheel rims.)
  2. You can use your leaf blower to dry your bike after you wash it. Works especially good in those hard to get to places and on the bar tape. (Thanks to Joe D. for this one.)
  3. You can get your bike really clean in a car wash, but the high-pressure spray can also wash all the grease out of the bearings. Even some “sealed bearings” can be damaged by car wash spray and most of them can’t be rebuilt. Better to wash the bike at home with a bucket of water and a sponge or rag. Rinse with a gentle stream from the garden hose.
  4. Coat your tubes with baby powder by putting the tube inside a bag with some powder and shaking. Also put some inside your tire casings and turn them round and round to distribute the powder. It well worth the effort–makes changing a flat about 50 times easier and it could prolong the life of your tubes. Powder all new tubes and put them inside zip-lock bags. Then they’re ready for use or to put in your seat pack. (Thanks to Gene R. for this tip)
  5. The links of a bike chain are exactly one inch long, but chains stretch as they wear. To determine if a chain is worn out, hold a ruler up to the chain and line up the zero mark with the center of one of the link pins. Then look down at the 12-inch mark. If the link down there is 1/8 inch or more past the 12-inch mark, it’s time to replace the chain.
  6. If you put on a new chain and begin to experience shifting problems, drive train noise or chain skipping, it’s a sure bet your cog set is worn out. Yup, you gotta replace the cogs too.
  7. Keep a thick, short rubber band on the bike to use as parking brake. Put the band around the left brake lever to lock the front wheel when you lean the bike against a wall or post. This is remarkably effective in keeping the bike from rolling and falling, especially in the Oklahoma wind. A cross section of mountain bike inner-tube makes a great rubber band and will last much longer than the office variety. (Thanks to Denise D. for this one.)
  8. A plastic shower cap is just the thing to keep the saddle dry when your bike has to be out over night (as on FreeWheel or a weekend camp-out tour). Want a free one? Check around the hotel room next time you spend a night away from home. They often have them in the toiletries basket. The elastic in most shower caps will even keep them in place while the bike is transported in the back of your truck or on the roof or trunk rack. (This one came from Suzanne C.)
  9. Do you hear a squeaking sound coming from the vicinity of your pedals? Try spraying the bottom of your shoes in the area around the cleats with Armor All and let it dry over night. Bonus: if some of the Armor All rubs off on the carpet, it’s actually good for it. J
  10. It’s much easier to get a patch to stay on the tube if you clean the area with lacquer thinner AND use the little piece of sandpaper that comes in the patch kit to rough up the surface of the tube. Then apply glue to the tube AND the patch and let it dry until it looks dull before applying the patch. Also, don’t even try to patch a tube when it’s raining or foggy out. The humidity makes it nearly impossible to get the glue to stick. CAUTION: lacquer thinner and rubber cement produce noxious fumes. ALWAYS work in a well ventilated area. Click here for more info on patching.