Recreation

Rediscovering your bike? Here are some tuneup and trail tips from Iowa cycling experts

Ryan Baker, owner at World of Bikes, takes down a road bike for a customer to test ride in 2013. Getting older bikes tun
Ryan Baker, owner at World of Bikes, takes down a road bike for a customer to test ride in 2013. Getting older bikes tuned up has kept Baker and other bike shops busy. (Liz Martin/The Gazette-KCRG)
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Let’s go for a ride.

Based on new bicycle sales and the demand for repairs and tuneups at area shops, it appears more and more people are saying that during these days of isolation and social distancing.

Even as more activities return with restrictions, cycling is something people can do to get outside, get some exercise and keep danger at a distance.

“We’ve seen a lot of bikes that have been dug out of the garage, that haven’t seen the light of day in years,” said Ryan Baker, owner of World of Bikes in Iowa City. “It’s very good to see.”

If buying a new bike isn’t an option, getting that “dated” bike out of storage is a good option. Logan Orcutt, one of the owners at Goldfinch Cyclery in Cedar Rapids, said, he too, is “seeing it all” these days.

And, like Baker, Orcutt is happy to see more people getting their bikes ready for a ride. He said a simple tuneup can “breathe a whole lot of life into a bike.”

He said the first step is “prioritizing a safe ride.

“That’s where the conversation starts,” Orcutt said. “It’s safe to assume there are going to be a few moving parts that need to be addressed.”

The first thing to look at is the tires, Baker and Orcutt said.

“Air in the tires and lube on the chain ... it’s a big thing,” Baker said. “These two things can make a bike functional.”

Also, check the brakes and the drive train.

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“Most (bikes) have multispeed drive trains,” Orcutt said. “In time. that cable stretches and that shifting falls out of tune.

“That can almost always be worked out.”

All shops have tuneup options, from basic to a complete overhaul.

Once you’ve had your bike tuned up, where do you go? Thankfully, both men said, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City — and many areas in Eastern Iowa — have bike lanes on streets. Trails also are a good option.

“Go out and explore,” Baker said, noting bikes must follow all traffic laws (no buzzing through stop signs or lights). “(But) know your surroundings and pay attention to people around you.”

Orcutt said if you haven’t been on a bike in a long time, start with your neighborhood.

“It’s therapeutic in many ways,” he said, adding to “stay clear of the busy streets.”

If a trail is more appealing — with no motorized traffic — know proper etiquette. For instance, always announce yourself when passing.

“Trails are not just for the bicycle,” Orcutt said. “Be aware and coexist with other trail users.”

And always — always — wear a helmet.

“A helmet is a lot cheaper than a trip to the ER,” Baker said.

Both men hope this trend continues and welcome all to the bicycle community.

“It’s been kind of fun to talk to those people,” Baker said. “Hopefully they become cyclists.”

Orcutt said “cycling is an activity that knows no age.”

“Cycling is an activity that is safe to do,” he said, whether you are “rediscovering” it or your “curiosity has peaked.”

World of Bikes tips

These are from Roger Baker on how to get your bike prepped for a new season:

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1. Air up the tires. If you don’t remember the correct pressure, check the sidewall of the tire for recommended pressure.

2. Give it a bath. Use soapy water and wipe down the frame. Gentle rinse from the hose. Avoid using a power washer.

3. Lube the chain. Use a bicycle specific lube. No WD40 or other household oils. Apply a coat, let it soak, wipe off the excess.

4. Check the brakes. Make sure both brakes are operational and have good power.

5. Check the gears for smooth shifting.

6. Check the axle nuts or quick release skewers on the wheels and make sure they are tight.

7. Is the seat adjusted to the proper height? Your leg should almost be full extended at the bottom of the pedal stroke.

8. Check your helmet for proper fit. The front of the helmet should come halfway down the forehead and be a snug fit.

9. Lights are the law in Iowa after dark.

10. Have fun

Goldfinch Cyclery offerings

A basic tuneup consists of ...

— Adjust front/rear derailleur

— Adjust front/rear brakes

— Degrease and lubricate chain

— Lubricate external cables (brakes and shifters)

— True wheels

— Properly align and torque down bars, stem, seatpost, and pedals (hub, headset and bottom bracket adjustments if applicable)

An overhaul consists of everything from the tuneup, plus ...

— Remove all parts from the bike for thorough cleaning

— Repack grease in all serviceable bearings

— Installation of all parts purchased with this package

Hall Bicycle Co.

A list of FAQs on the Cedar Rapids shops website includes “how often should I pump up my tires, and to what pressure?:”

“Often. Road bikes should be checked weekly, or every time you ride. Hybrids should be checked about every 2 weeks, and mountain bikes about the same. Your tires will be marked on the sidewall with the recommended pressure range. For most use, the middle to upper part of the range is OK, but a larger, heavier rider should stick to the upper end of the range, and a smaller rider can be more at the lower end to allow for a softer, more forgiving ride.”

Hall’s basic tuneup consists of ...

— Air in tires

— Lubricate chain

— Align brakes

— Adjust derailleurs

— Adjust headset

— Lateral wheel true (front and rear)

— Adjust hubs

— Inspect/adjust bottom bracket

— Update electronic firmware

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