Did you dust off your bike this summer to cope with quarantine? Are you newly committed to cruising through the winter on pedal power? Ryan Harris from Recyclistas has a few tips to keep you road-ready.
Bikers in Victoria are lucky to have great riding conditions year-round, but if this is your first winter on the bike in a while there are a few things you should know.
1. Light for safety, light for sight
All riders in Victoria must have front and rear lights, but the type you get depends on where you’re riding. Do you need to see or be seen?
If you’re hoping to keep your bike commute going through the winter, keep in mind that it gets dark earlier — and really dark on the bike trails.
“I ride the Galloping Goose from Recyclistas to downtown, and some evenings after work it’s completely black,” Harris says, so a bright front light that shows the trail and unlit pedestrians is a good idea.
If you’re sticking to the streets, show yourself to motorists with front and rear lights — bikes can be hard to see through the raindrops on the windshield.
2. Full fender comfort
Even if you wait for a break in the rain to hop on your bike, the roads and trails around Victoria are often damp through the winter, and full fenders are essential for a comfortable ride.
“A clip-on fender is better than nothing, but full fenders are definitely worth it if you’re planning to embrace winter bike commuting,” Harris says.
It’s not just about keeping the mud streak off your back; full fenders help keep you clean and dry from head to toe and protect your bike too.
3. Replace your chain regularly to prevent further damage
Harris says most riders, even experienced commuters, are surprised to learn that bike chains wear out.
“Mine usually lasts about nine months before it needs to be replaced,” he says.
Checking a chain takes less than a minute at Recyclistas, using a special tool to measure how much your rivets and rollers have worn out. Harris says it’s a great way to ‘take the temperature’ of your bike’s overall health.
“Checking the chain can tell a mechanic a lot about how well a bike’s been cared for, and indicate other problems. It’s similar to tooth decay — the problem can spread and cost more money if you don’t stay on top of it.”
A worn chain will cause premature wear on your gears, which are more costly and time-consuming to replace. If you’ve been riding your bike more frequently through the pandemic, it’s time to check your chain.
Repairs, gear and classes
Recyclistas offers a free 10-minute bike assessment — just pull up to the shop at the junction of the Galloping Goose and Lochside Trails beside the Uptown Mall. Harris or one of the other bike mechanics will check your entire bike, let you know which components need fixing, and give you an estimated cost. In the winter, repairs are typically completed in one or two days.
Stop by the shop for new and used parts, or learn more at recyclistas.ca.