One of my two readers, Brian, has asked me about basic bike care. There are a two easy steps I follow. First, I pump up the tires before every ride, and second, I take it to my local bike shop for pretty much everything else. Told you it was easy!
Now, you might be saying to yourself, “But Jim, isn’t using tools and putting parts on stuff manly, and aren’t you the manliest stack of rocket muscles who ever shaved his legs with a pink razor?” The answer is, of course, yes on all counts, but its also annoying to work on bikes unless you have all the proper tools and there are one hell of a lot of bicycle tools.
That said, I do try to keep my road bike chain clean, but that’s mostly because I don’t want an ugly grease spot on my sleek shaven right calf.
Pump up The Tires
Air molecules are sneaky. They slip out of your bicycle tubes just like you might slip out of a lame party. It’s important to pump those suckers up before every ride in order to avoid getting what’s called a “snakebite” flat.
I’m not a herpetologist but I know that snakes only attack semi-flat tires for some reason.
This sneaky leaking of air pressure is the issue that car people are trying to address by filling tires with the exotic gas Nitrogen. Nitrogen’s molecules are slightly fatter than oxygen molecules, so they don’t leave the party as easily. They are too fat to fit down the stairs.
Unfortunately there is no way to get Nitrogen into a bicycle tire merely because there isn’t an easy way to get your hands on any. It’s not like you can just pull the stuff out of the air, after all.
Go to your local bike shop
Robert M. Pirsig wrote the book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” which is one of my favorite books. It’s all about the calming effect of working with one’s hands and doing things right the first time. This is a good argument in favor of doing all your mechanical work yourself.
On the other hand,
The only Zen you find on tops of mountains is the zen you bring up there.
-Robert M. Pirsig
So, working on bikes is a zen activity if you consider it to be one. By that rationale, taking your bike to the local bike shop and having them get their fingernails all gross is every bit as zen as doing it yourself if you have the right attitude.
Personally I’d rather spend my time arranging my coin collection or texting monkey noises to Cheryl than working on my bikes.
As both of you know, I’m currently trying to shed as many of my possessions as possible, and what are facts and details but the possessions of the mind? I think we can live happily with relatively few of either.
I’m going to try to find out!