The Solitary Machine

14 Dec

Most of our interactions with bicycles involve the man machine combo. In other words, a human sitting atop a bicycle pedaling it forward.

Working in a bike shop however brings you a new appreciation for the bicycle as an entity in and of itself. Each machine has different balance points and nuances that must be respected when a rider is not present.

I loath seeing bikes left on their own in less than ideal situations. A bike continues it’s journey even when the rider is off doing something else. You know the feeling when you leave your bike alone for a moment and return to find it crumpled in a heap on the floor. With a few precautions you can keep this from happening.

I have always practiced the art of bike pampering when at all possible. It seems strange, but I know for a fact that a bike that is thoughtfully handled performs better than a bike treated only as a tool. Here are a few of my recommendations on ways to leave your bike if you have to step away.

The most common way to rest a bicycle is using two points (handlebars and seat) against a wall. But, there is something wrong with this picture!

This bike is in the same spot only flipped 180 degrees so that it wants to roll into the wall. This way it uses gravity to brace itself and is less likely to get away.

If you don't have a wall or other solid object you can use the curb as a Kickstand. Position your bike so that it rolls backward then use the mecanics of the drive train to prop the bike up with the pressure of the pedal againt the curb. DO NOT try this if it is windy.

If you have no other choice you can lay your bike down on it's side. Drive Side should be up and the non drive pedal should be at it's apex.

While this is an effective way to leave your bike it can damage thingls like computers and lights that may be mounted to your handlebars or stem. I would stay away from this.

There are some things that you should avoid to keep your bike free from scratches or dent and clearcoat cracks. We see it all the time and nothing makes a bike look worse than a big scratch on the top tube. Or a rear der. that is all scratched to heck.

It is NEVER OK to rest your top tube against any type of object to prop up your machine.

It is NEVER OK to lay your bike down with the drive side down. This is asking for trouble and downright disrespectful to your machine.

Another thing that I like to point out is that if you need to walk your bike for any reason. There are two acceptable ways to do this. The first is with your hand gripping the stem and guiding it along next to you. Second is a bit more complex. The more experienced cyclist may be seen guiding their steed with just one hand on the seat. The bike is steered by leaning it one direction or the other.

You can steer the bike with the stem. Being close to the midline of the bike gives you more control on where it goes.

You can control your bike by leaning it side to side.

I hope some of these suggestions are helpful.

Thanks for reading.



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