Useful Bicycling Information
This page is a work in progress, so please visit regularly to find out the new information we will be putting on it.
Bicycle chains and lubrication:
Most bicycle chains come with a grease on them known as packing grease. Packing grease is a thick sticky grease designed to keep the chain from becoming rusted before it gets to you. Most new chains sold individually or on a new bike never get this packing grease cleaned off. Bikes ridden with a chain which still has packing grease on it will pick up grime and grit from the road or trail and thus wear out your chain and drive-train prematurely.
Chains should be lubricated with a proper amount of lubrication made specifically for bicycle chains. Many chains are Lubricated with the wrong type of lubrication and or to much lubrication, both of which will cause your chain and drive-train to wear out prematurely. Use only a lubrication designed for bicycle chains and apply only a small amount of this to each link of the chain. When the chain starts to make squeaking sounds you will know it is time to lubricate it again. Just listen to your bike!
Southwest Bicycle Works can supply you with the superior lubrication that we use and give you a demonstration of how to use it.
The Quality of chain you need depends on the way you intend to use it. A lower quality chain will work fine for bike which are ridden for recreation and thus not subjected to harsh weather, however a really low quality chain will just rust and then not work. Commuter Bikes should have a plated chain which can withstand the elements it will be used in. Mountain, Touring, and Race bikes need chains which will be able to handle the specific requirements they will be used for.
Tyres and Tubes:
Most bicycle tyres take a high amount of air pressure (which is stated on the side of the tyre) and thus the pressure will leak out over a time period of a week to a month. Really high pressure tyre will lose pressure daily. It is essential to check your tyre pressure regularly as having to low of pressure can hurt the rim of your wheel and will make it harder to pedal your bicycle. It is recommended that you have a floor/track pump to keep your tyres properly inflated, as frame pumps are only intended to be used for emergencies and make it difficult to get the correct pressure in the tyre.
Tyres are made with and with out a puncture resistant belt. In the South West of England (as well as other places) it is a good ideal to have a tyre with a puncture resistant belt do to the thorns on the road as a result of the cutting of the hedges. To take puncture proof to the extreme, one can have a gel put in the tube which will seal the puncture if one should occur(this will however add extra wait to your bike).
The light which you need to use depends on what you wish to use it for! Do you just want to be seen with it or do you want to see with it? If you are riding around town at night you can get buy with a entry level light set that will allow you to be seen by people in cars. As there is usually street lighting, you will see more due to the street-lights than due to the entry level lights. Even though a entry level light will allow you to be seen, a higher level light will make you even more visible and perhaps allow you to see something too. Expect to spend between £15.00 and £30.00 for this level of lights.
If you want to see with your light and you ride outside of a town you will need to invest in a much brighter light. These lights are not cheap running from £50.00 on up, but expect to spend at least £200.00 if you really want to see where you are going.
Rear lights should be as bright as possible and be able to be placed in as many different places as possible. If you can have your light in an unusual place people will be more curious as to what you are thus making them more cautious.
Using your lights during the day time can make you much more visible too. I noticed that when I was riding through villages with one lane of traffic during the morning commute time, cars which were suppose to give me the right of way gave no attention to me without my light. If I had my light on(a light to see by) they would yield the right of way to me just as if I was a car.
The same goes with rear lights, If you use it during the day you will have a better chance of being seen. On club rides with riders who have their rear light on it becomes evident that the light looks like a beacon even in the daytime.
The lock you need depends on where and for how long you are going to lock your bike. In general nothing beats a good U lock. U locks are however hard to carry and difficult to lock your bike and wheels with. A couple of option to help with these problems are, use a cable with the U lock to lock your wheels, and leave the U lock attached to the bike rack if you lock your bike at the same place all the time.
If you are locking your bike for short periods of time a cable lock should work fine, but always be leery of inexpensive locks.
If you are locking your bike in London or Bristol make sure to use a quality U lock or heavy chain lock as even then you will need to keep you fingers crossed. No matter where you are, the only sure way to keep your bicycle from being stolen is to keep it next to you.