Even if it's been years since you've last taken a ride, there's something about summer that just makes you want to hop on two wheels and get outside. For those of you who might need a little advice before getting back on the road, we caught up with our friends at Public Bikes to give you their tips for summer cycling.
What tips do you have for someone who hasn't taken their bike out for a while?
All bicycles deserve a little TLC. Public bikes are designed to be as dependable and care free as possible, but like all machines a little maintenance goes a long way. Here are our top tips to keep your bike running in tip-top shape and keep you riding safely.
1. Pump up your tires. The single most important piece of maintenance is to keep your tires fully inflated. Unlike cars that can go for years without an injection of air, bike tires need extra air as often as every few weeks. When the weather changes, all tires lose some pressure. Make sure to always keep your tires pumped-up so you have a comfortable, smooth, and safe ride. 60-80 PSI is the standard for most hybrid bikes.
2. Clean and lubricate your chain. Bike chains like oil - it keeps them happy, silent, and smooth for years to come. This may seem messy but it’s really pretty simple. All you need is some chain lubricant (from your local bike shop) and an old rag or t-shirt.
3. Check your brakes and cables for wear. For obvious reasons, reliable brakes are the most important safety feature on your bike. Lift up your front wheel and give it a spin to make sure the pads are not rubbing against the rim. Next, check your brake cables and consider replacing them if you find fray or rust. These adjustments are not for the novice, so you should consider taking your bike to your local shop for assistance.
4. Safety check the bolts on your bike. Even a properly tightened bolt can loosen itself over time. Use a hex wrench to check every bolt on the bike, paying particular attention to the stem, fender, and rack bolts. There's no need to over-tighten these bolts, as this can cause problems too, but make sure nuts are all firmly secured.
5. Safety check your helmet. Protecting your noggin is always important - you should take a good look at your helmet occasionally to see if it needs replacement. Look for cracks or abrasion along the shell and liner. Small cracks will indicate aging and that it’s time for a replacement.
Any tips for keeping cool on summer rides?
Riding your bike in hot weather conditions can seem daunting, but the great news is that you don’t need to be a “hardcore” cyclist to do it. There are some simple things you can do to keep cool on those summer rides.
1. Go early or in the evening. A great and very obvious way to beat the summer heat is to avoid riding during the hottest periods of the day. There’s plenty of daylight in the summer, so consider heading out early or at the end of the day when the UV index is the lowest.
2. Dress for the weather. While there are tons of technical clothes for cycling you can buy, you don’t really need most of them for shorter rides. Consider wearing layers that are more breathable or that assist with wicking away sweat. Your clothing color can also be a critical choice. Darker colors tend to trap rather than reflect heat, so opt for white and lighter colors. Lightweight socks and a breathable helmet with a visor is always a must too!
3. Stay hydrated before, during, and after. Throw a cold bottle or two of water in your bottle cage or bike bag so that you can easily access while on the go. During your ride, try to consume at least a bottle of water each hour and be sure to thoroughly hydrate before and after your ride.
Any favorite local rides to share?
The weekly “Butterlap” ride in San Francisco has always been a personal favorite. This leaderless ride offers a casual pace with a rotating list of regulars every Wednesday and welcomes new riders anytime. It’s a moderate 17-mile loop that takes you through part of the iconic "49-Mile Scenic Drive," along the coast, through Golden Gate Park and the Presidio. It really does capture much of the beauty the city has to offer and it’s also a great option for those looking to maximize their riding time before or after the workday.
Ready to hit the road? Don't forget your helmet!