How to maintain your bike for a full season of Toronto cycling

Sponsored feature: presented by Pedalinx

Statistics Canada 2011 data shows only 1.2 percent of Torontonians bike to work, but that has likely increased over the past six years, with the success of the Bloor bike lane pilot project as our most promising sign that the city can make progress with some consensus building. 

As more people discover the benefits (and joy) of cycling, the demand for basic bike maintenance skills will continue to increase. Shops like Pedalinx offer cyclists that knowledge and assistance, as well as a full array of cycling products and services to keep you safe on the roads and pathways this year.

To help you get ready for cycling season, we requested some expert tips from Rodney Merchant, the General Manager at Pedalinx who has over 20 years of experience as a competitive cyclist, mechanic and operations manager. 

Basic Maintenance 

Check Your Tires

Weekends go too quickly, but you should take a few moments before the work week begins to check the air pressure on your tires with a good quality pump and gauge. Merchant says Pedalinx staff use a Specialized AirTool Comp pump (pictured below), which automatically adjusts to your valve type. 

The side wall of your tire will show the air pressure range for that type of tire. Be sure to keep air pressure within that range, which should also be adjusted for the approximate weight of the rider – a lighter rider will be at the lower end and a heavier rider at the upper end of the range. Running your tires at the correct air pressure allows you to enjoy your ride with more comfort and also reduce the risk of getting a flat.

For cyclists looking to invest in a bike with tires that never require inflating and can never go flat, Merchant recommends Specialized’s Alibi model, which features the Nimbus Airless tire. It’s made out of solid rubber and rides similar to a pneumatic tire.

Specialized air pump tool.jpg

Lube Your Chain

Keeping your chain well lubricated will ensure your ride flows smoothly and increase the lifespan of your cycling hardware. Use lubricant that’s specifically designed for a bike chain – not WD-40 or 3-in-1 oil. At Pedalinx, Merchant and his team prefer Tri-Flo bike chain lube.

To get started, shift the chain into the largest chain ring in the front and the middle gear in the rear (if your bike has gears). While turning the pedals backwards with one hand, apply a liberal amount of lube to the top and bottom of the chain. After the lube is applied, continue rotating the pedals for a minute while holding a clean rag lightly around chain. You’re trying to remove the excess lube here – not doing so will result in the chain picking up excessive dirt and grime from the road.

Lubing your chain more often is recommended if you are riding in a lot of wet or dusty/muddy conditions. In those conditions, turn the pedals backwards and wipe the excess dirt and grime off the chain before applying the lube as described above.

Keep It Clean

Wiping as much dirt, grime and salt as you can off your bike reduces the chance that these contaminants will get into your shifter/brake cables and housing – or into the various bearings in your wheels, bottom bracket, headset or any suspension parts if applicable.

Wipe down your wheel rims too, as this reduces the grit that accelerates the wear of your brake pads. Be careful not to get any chain lube or grease on the braking surface of the rim. If you have disc brakes, do not wipe these with a rag as you risk getting contaminants on the rotors, which will transfer to the brake pads and reduce the braking efficiency. Disc brakes are designed to stop in dry, wet or muddy conditions, so it’s the one part of your bike you don’t have too worry to much about cleaning!

Some riders like to wash down their bike with a power washer. Be very careful when you do this to not aim a high-pressure jet of water at any of the bearing seals – water can work its way past the seals, wash out the grease and potentially damage the bearings or the frame should the bearings start rolling without a protective layer of grease.

Biking at Night

Safety and Security

Be Seen & Heard

Safe riding in Toronto requires being seen and heard. Pedalinx offers a wide range of lights and bells that help prevent collisions with drivers and pedestrians, while also preventing you from getting a ticket and fine (it’s the law to have lights and a bell on your bike).

Rechargeable USB lights are one of the biggest innovations for cyclists. They’re compact, brighter, run longer, recharge quickly, are more waterproof and help reduce the environmental footprint in comparison to lights that have disposable batteries.

You can also check out Pedalinx’s selection of helmets with integrated lights, clothing made with highly reflective material, tires with reflective sidewalls and Specialized commuter bike models with reflective paint jobs.

Protect Your Ride

Keeping your bike secure in Toronto is no easy task, but the following tips will make your ride much less of a target for those soulless bike thieves.

Get a good quality U lock – Pedalinx offers locks with a $1,000 anti-theft policy – and always lock your bike by the frame to a secure post (not a tree). Fill up as much of the lock as possible with the frame, post and one of your wheels inside. This prevents any potential thieves from getting a tool in the U to twist and leverage the lock into breaking open.

Secure your wheels and seat post by running a cable through your wheels and saddle, then locking the cable loops with your U lock. You should also replace any skewers with quick-release levers on your wheels or seat clamp with a skewer that requires a tool to release. (The most secure of these is a $100 skewer set kit offered by a Canadian company called Pinhead.) 

It is recommended you lock up your bike somewhere with good foot traffic, as bike thieves hate an audience, or in the secured bike parking areas increasingly offered by companies, apartment buildings and condo developments.

Finance a New Bike

Located at 531 College Street, next to the bike lane, Pedalinx is the only downtown shop featuring Specialized brand products. The store selection includes hybrids, single-speeds/fixies and road bikes.

Financing is now available. Walk out with a new bike for as little as $4.25 a week or $0 down and 12 equal payments at 0% interest on any bike over $500 through May 31, 2017.

Take a virtual tour of the store!


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