How to keep your bike from breaking down
My first lesson about who the Bike Pirates were came about because my own bike was a hunk of junk - at least it was in the hands of someone who knew nothing about bike mechanics.
Lured by its beautiful frame (I am a sucker for anything forest green) and thick tires, I paid a couple hundred dollars for a ride that took most of the force of my legs to move.
I like a good workout, but when I am cruising along the streets in the summer or trying to get to work I would prefer if my face didn’t resemble a hot water bottle.
I tried to get it repaired but was told that was just the way the bike worked.
Reselling a broken bike seemed like a sure way to screw my karma for life.
The first plan was to leave it out on the street for anyone to find but a former friend noticed the Bike Pirates at an outdoor event and dropped off the bike to them.
I plan to buy another bike this summer, but for someone who just uses it for short cruises the idea of paying $300 (on the low end) for something I don’t know how to take care of and fix myself leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
So back to the Bike Pirates where I can purchase an old bike and learn how to overhaul it myself.
The brainchild of a member of Toronto’s anarchist community, Bike Pirates is designed as a space where people of all incomes, beliefs and backgrounds can learn how to fix their bikes. The entire organization is volunteer run. I wrote a short story about my trip to the workspace here.
I filmed a video, but some head-scratching technical troubles ( I am about as handy with a finicky Mac as I am a bike) is holding that up. Stay tuned.
Here are some tips from volunteer Ainsley Naylor on how to clean your bike or keep grease and grime from causing damage.
Her full text is below.
“Details on cleaning your bike:
To clean your bike you should use a *Degreasing* agent — not soap, which will leave a film/residue. Bike shops and places like MEC carry degreaser, which can be used on your entire bike to clean off surface rust, grease, dirt, sand, etc.
You can dilute this up to 1:10 and use a spray bottle to apply it. Wipe with a rag. For more stubborn rust on mechanical parts (i.e. chain and gears) you may need a wire brush, and for cosmetic rust you can use steel wool — it does a great job of cleaning up handlebars and fenders (etc.).
You should always be sure to wipe off all degreaser before lubing your chain. Chain lube should be applied every time you clean your bike and after every time you ride in the rain, or if you chain seems dry (every month or two depending on how much you ride).
Chain lube comes in many varieties. natural/biodegradable, light, heavy, dry lube are all things you may find in a bike shop. These are generally intended for different environments — one lube is better for being out in the weather, and one is better for indoor/track riding. One is better for bikes with lots of gears and one is for single-speed chains. Ask around and decide which is best for you. Prices vary.
Apply lube to a clean chain. You only need one drop per chain link. After applying, run chain through your gears then wipe off all excess/visible lube. You really just need it to seep into the inside moving parts of the chain links. Too much lube will attract more dirt and debris and get things dirtier than you want."