Love your Bike

4 easy steps to woo and win your two wheeled love, this Valentine’s Day – even better than a box of chocolates !

1) Get your bike’s heart Pumping

The fastest way to your bicycle’s heart is through the tyres.To keep safely pumping up those hills, regularly inflate your tires. Road bikes should be checked before every ride and mountain bikes at least weekly.

Properly inflated tyres make your bike easier to pedal, are less prone to punctures, andeduce wheel damage by absorbing bumps. If you really want to get your Valentine’s heart racing, look at getting a good high-pressure floor (track) pump that has a built-in gauge. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended tyre pressure (written on the tyre sidewalls). If you are clueless about the difference between a Presta and Schrader valve or need some advice on fixing a flat, then join our upcoming Bike Fix 101 workshop. This hands- on learning experience covers in-depth puncture repair and bike care and is designed for beginners and cyclists who want to be more self-sufficient. For those looking to take their bicycle repair skills to the next level sign up for the Bike Fix Advanced course!


2) A Bottle of Lube

Lube is the champagne of bicycle romance. It can be applied to the chain and the pivoting metal parts on the brakes and derailleurs to keep them moving smoothly and prevent corrosion. The secret with lube is to apply a little, but often.

If you hear a squeaking noise when pedaling, you need lube!

  1. There are lots of different kinds of lube around, and it is best to choose one that suits the conditions you ride in (wet or dry, some are good for both). The best lubes are also biodegradable, solvent- free!
  2. Many lubes work best when applied to a clean and dry chain, so if necessary brush the dirt off or use a biodegradable degreaser to remove the grit.
  3. To apply lube, lean the bicycle against a wall, or put it on a stand to keep it stationary.
  4. Put some paper down under the bike to catch drips.
  5. Drop the lube onto the top side of the lower section of chain with one hand whilst turning one of the pedals backwards with my other hand to rotate the chain. Always follow the manufacturers instructions as each lube has a different application technique.
  6. For wet lube, leave it on for a bit and then wipe off the excess with a rag. For dry lube, let it dry completely and do not wipe off the excess.

You can also
 apply a couple of drops of lube to the pivot points on the derailleurs and brakes – i.e. the point where they move. On side-pull brakes, this would be the bolt that the brakes pivot around. Don’t get any lube on the pads and wipe off any excess.

3) A Day at the Spa

If you can’t afford a day at the spa for your bicycle, then grab a bucket, some sponges, eco-friendly dishwashing liquid and a hose.

It is a good idea to clean your bicycle whenever it gets coated in mud and dirt –  a clean machine is a life long Valentine…

  1. Gently spray off mud with the hose. Do not blast the water sideways at the bike as this can push water into the hubs, pedals and bottom bracket. Always spray water only from above and don’t ever direct it toward greased parts.
  2. Fill the bucket with warm water and a bit of eco-friendly cleaning liquid (like Clean-It-All from Enchantrix). Use a soft sponge or brushes to remove stubborn dirt.
  3. Be sure to also remove any dirt that may have become embedded in the brake pads to prevent wearing and scratching of the wheel rims.
  4.  Rinse off the soap by dribbling water from above.
  5. Dry off parts with a towel, or air dry.
  6. Relube after washing because wet parts can rust.
  7. Give your love a quick touch up: For steel frames, you can touch up paint chips immediately to prevent corrosion. Nail polish makes a great alternative if you can’t find a paint to color match.

4) A night on the town

Valentine’s day is not complete without a bit of freewheeling fun, so take your bike out and explore some of Cape Town’s scenic routes and rides together, you never know what you will find….

I found a whole philosophy of life in the wooing and winning of my bicycle.

Frances Willard, author and activist.

Illustration by Tegan Phillips

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