10 Things We Learned at Changing Gears

This summer, Check Your Head partnered with Kickstand, an East Vancouver cycling resource centre, to host a youth-friendly bike skills event. We learned about bike safety and maintenance, including hands-on skills like how to patch a tire. Missed the event? Here are 10 tips to help you become a more confident and capable cyclist.

  1. Did you know a clean bike is more efficient? Clean your bike regularly, especially if you ride in the rain.
  2. You can clean your bike chain using supplies you probably already have at home. A spray bottle full of water and dish soap works great as a degreaser. Cut up some old cotton t-shirts to use as rags. Don’t forget to oil your chain after cleaning it.
  3. Get in the habit of doing a quick safety check before you ride. Just remember your ABCs. A: Make sure there’s enough AIR in your tires. B: Test your BRAKES. C: Inspect your CHAIN; it should be lubricated and free of dirt and rust.
  4. An under-inflated tire is more likely to get a flat! Make sure to put air in your tires regularly. Just don’t go over the recommended range listed on the side of the tire. We popped a couple of practice tires at Changing Gears by over-inflating them. Oops.
  5. According to the law, you need a bell on your bike if you’re riding on the road. If you’re biking at night, you need lights too.
  6. Putting your bike on the bus for the first time can be intimidating! You can practice on a model bike rack at HUB, a non-profit organization that addresses cycling issues in Metro Vancouver. Or check out this music video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boiQKDHq7nk
  7. HUB also provides bike education, organizes events like Bike to School Week, and offers other resources for cyclists. Check them out online: https://bikehub.ca/
  8. Gears matter! Learn to use the right gears when going up or down hills and you’ll be a more efficient cyclist. Higher gears (the big chainring up front and the smallest sprocket at the rear) are great for speeding down hills. Shift down (to a smaller chainraing at the front and bigger sprocket at the back) when you are climbing a hill.
  9. Avoid cross-chaining! That means your chain is at an extreme slant, either a high gear (big chainring) at the front and a low gear (big sprocket) at the rear, or the opposite. Cross-chaining is inefficient and it can damage your bike chain over time.
  10. Don’t own a bike stand? No problem! Just flip your bike upside-down and you can clean and oil your chain or do whatever else you need to do.

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 Special thanks to the Youth Philanthropy Council for their generous support, which made this event possible!

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