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Bike Maintenance Tips

Marc Sanchez

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Chuck Cowen's bike repair shop
(Marc Sanchez)
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Today's Bike Safety Rodeo in Naperville. Ill., is part of National Bike Month -- and it is not just for kids. A lot of grown-ups are taking up bicycling as a way to get from here to there without paying $4 or more a gallon. And it's a great way to get some fun and exercise.

Perhaps you've been thinking about getting back on that rust-colored thing that's been leaning against the side of your garage for six years. But every time you look at it, you see all the fixing-up you'd have to.

So let us help you! We asked Minneapolis-based bike shop owner Chuck Cowen to give some tips on fixing up that bike:

The main thing people should look for is making sure the safety features on the bike work. Making sure the brakes work. For bikes that have been sitting around for a long time, you really have to watch out for dry-rot on tires -- especially if they've been sitting out in UV rays, they can blow out very easily.

Also, bikes that have been sitting out in the weather can get a little rusty, which can make your brakes not work that great. That's something you'll want to get checked out as soon as possible. Most of the other stuff, you should bring it by a shop and have a general safety check. Make sure all the nuts and bolts are tight.

There's a little maintenance every year you'll have to do. The initial cost of a new bike is $500 or so, depending on what you want to spend, what's comfortable for you. The amount of money you're going to save in gas, daily, and parking fees -- especially if you work in the downtown areas -- is going to be substantial. Riding a bike will pay for itself in a year, at least.

If it's been a while since you've been on a bike, or you've got your old bike out, or you're going to get a new bike, some of the things you need to watch out for are inattentive drivers. Most vehicles don't think that bikes have any right to be on the road, so be aware of that. But you do. Make sure, if you're riding at night, that you're plenty visible -- maybe some tires with reflective sidewalls, front and rear lights, maybe a safety vest. You should probably be wearing a helmet.

You should try to find the bike lanes that are easiest to get you to and from work or the grocery store. Just be aware of your surroundings, as far as traffic, potholes in the road, lights and stop signs at intersections. It's not as hard as it looks. It's very easy. If you have anywhere from a mile to a 10-mile commute, you're going to be there before you know it. And, you probably won't even break a sweat.

Oh, and it's going to be super-fun to ride your bike back and forth to work. It's a lot easier than you think it is. You'll feel good at the end of the day. And after a couple of months, you'll be getting there in half the time than when you started.

  • Music Bridge:
    Hi-Fi Gets A Pounding Pt. 3
    Artist: Dub Syndicate
    CD: The Pounding System (On U Sound)


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  • By Culla Akins

    From Little Rock, AR, 05/21/2008

    Amazing!! Chuck Cowen was SO informative and impressive..AND he is my dear son-in-law to boot! I really
    really am blow away! Wow... NPR!

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