Category Archives: Riding Tips

Bike Locking Tips

As with all college campuses, bike theft is a persistent problem here at PSU. You can dramatically increase the security of your bike by following these simple steps:

Try to avoid leaving your bicycle out overnight

We understand that living on campus may make it difficult to store your bike indoors, but try to avoid leaving your bike parked outside overnight, if possible. If you can’t store your bike inside your living space, check out our indoor bike garages or see if your campus building has available bike parking.

Always use a u-lock or heavy-gauge chain

Cable locks are not sufficient enough. U-locks provide the most anti-theft protection when used properly. Always buy a new, packaged lock to avoid buying used locks that could be compromised or outdated.

Lock your bike through a portion of its frame

Only locking through the wheel leaves the rest of your bike susceptible to theft. Secure your bike by passing the u-lock through a portion of the frame and secure quick-release wheels with a second u-lock or an added cable. Also remember to remove all detachable accessories including lights, bags, etc.Bike Locking diagram

Take a picture of yourself with your bike

Have a friend snap a photo of you next to your ride to show as proof of ownership in the event that your bike does get stolen. Even better: write down your bike’s serial number on a piece of paper and display it in the photo as well. Upload the photo to your phone or email so that you can access it from anywhere.

Register your bike with PSU and Bike Index

Registering your bike provides Portland State with a valid record of your bike’s physical description and unique serial number. In the event that your bike is lost or stolen, we have an increased likelihood of identifying and returning it to you. You can also sign up with the Bike Index to have your bicycle added to a nationwide registry. The Bike Index automatically publishes stolen bike reports to social media and boasts a pretty high recovery rate.

Summer Riding Tips

With the spring and summer months comes better weather and, for a lot people, more time on their bike! But just because the rain and mud are gone doesn’t mean that you have nothing to worry about. Rising Portland temperatures can be very dangerous and heading out for a ride in the summer heat takes some planning and precautions in order to remain safe and responsible.

Clothing:

It’s best to wear breathable fabrics to allow for greater air flow around your body. If you’re not too keen on sweat-wicking jerseys, you can go casual by choosing lighter weight materials such as cotton. If you do go the tight-knit Lycra route, make sure there’s plenty of built-in ventilation.

Sunglasses:

Aside from making you look cool, sunglasses will also shield your eyes from the glare of the sun, as well as provide protection against any dust or debris that may be present in the air.

Helmet:

To deflect the hot summer sun, we recommend wearing a light-colored helmet and making sure that it’s very breathable with plenty of air vents to keep your head cool and dry. But, even if you do get hot and sweaty, never sacrifice your safety by riding without a helmet. Try pulling off the road and taking a break to cool down or get a drink of water.

Water:

With temperatures on the rise, staying hydrated is possibly the most important aspect of summer riding. Dehydration can be deadly so drink lots of water! Make sure you always have plenty of water bottles or a hydration pack to take with you when you head out for a ride or commute. You can also plan your route to take you past a restaurant or convenience store where you can top off your liquids. Your water consumption will increase greatly compared to the cool winter months and you should always plan on having a source of hydration even if you’re only biking a short distance.

Sunscreen:

Apply a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 or above before heading out for a ride, and carry it with you to reapply at least every two hours or more frequently if you’re sweating heavily. Also, to avoid the direct sun, try finding a shaded or tree-lined route.

Acclimate:

Everyone adapts differently to climate, and if you’re not used to riding in heat or humidity then you’ll need to plan ahead and acclimate yourself to the hotter environment. Start off with shorter rides in the early morning or late evening, when the temps are cooler. Eventually, you can work your way up to longer, mid-day rides.

Slow Down:

Don’t push yourself to keep the same pace as you would on a milder day. If temperatures will be particularly high, plan ahead and allow yourself more time for your commute so you can take it nice and easy on your way to where you’re going.

Recover:

When riding long distances in the summer heat, it’s important to recover afterwards. Continue drinking lots of water to stay hydrated and replenish. Try escaping the heat by stepping into an air-conditioned space or relaxing in the shade.

[Bike] Ride + TriMet = TrideMet:

TrideMet | verb | \ˈtrīd-‘met\

:To commute utilizing a combination of bicycling and riding TriMet buses, light rail and/or commuter rail systems.

First [and only?] known use:

Just now.

Synonyms:

convenience, sustainable, healthy, awesome, win, more.

Yeah, yeah… “TrideMet” is a stretch and probably won’t stick, but I got your attention didn’t I? Despite it’s made up name, biking and riding public transportation, might be a great option for your or a friend who lives far from campus. TrideMetting can save you the stress of driving yourself, finding and paying for parking. Get your morning exercise AND read a book! Try doing that while you drive (don’t actually). Know someone who drives to the MAX station? Try convincing them to save a little gas and bike that leg of the trip. There might even be relevant MAX or bus stops closer to their homes, but don’t offer parking.

How to TrideMet

TriMet offers a selection of bicycle parking options: indoor bike parking, electronic bike lockers (eLockers), reserved bike lockers and your standard bike racks. The Beaverton, Gresham Central and Sunset Transit Centers offer secure, indoor bike parking. Both indoor parking and eLockers require card access which can be purchased from TriMet. For bike locker locations and availability check here.

If you want to use your bike once you’re downtown as well, it’s super easy to load your bike onto the MAX or the bus rack. Be weary that there might not always be room, so plan for that. A little hesitant to load your bike on a bus rack? You can check out their how-to page or ask the driver for assistance.

Remember that living far from campus doesn’t have to mean driving every day. Explore your options! Find a stop within biking distance and try leaving that car at home.

Commute tips from your Bike Hub mechanic Ahmed

wetAh, fenders! Otherwise known as rain protectors, rain guards, mud guards, or any other term that attempts to describe their usage. Just like people, they come in all shapes and sizes. They pair with a compatible bike looking for love. Do yourself a huge favor, as a commuter and as someone who wants to arrive to their destination looking and feeling clean. Purchase some fenders. For under $30 you can keep yourself totally clean and dry in the all-day drizzle we live in almost year round. Even when it begins to pour, as long as you have a proper rain jacket with those fenders, you are living large.

Ask anyone who has been caught in a spontaneous spring rain about the terrible feeling of having no hope. No way out. Even after the downpour has stopped, they know they’re going to be covered in a terrible, oily brown, leftover rain water 5 minutes into their ride. So, what are you waiting for? Once you have a solid set of fenders, you will forget about taking that humid TriMet bus and enjoy smelling the fresh spring air while cruising to campus.

Image Source

Dan’s Tips #3: Protect Ya’ Bike!

I just realized that if you say “Dan’s Tips” fast it sounds like “Dance Tips”. I have those too! Maybe the next maintenance class will turn into a hip hop dance class! Those two things work together, right? Less than 2 weeks to go for the Bike2PSU Challenge! I hope everyone’s having a great week so far. I just finished off some leftover donuts from the biker breakfast this morning. You guys really need to come eat more!

This week is about bike security. Unfortunately, bike theft is a reality that we all have to deal with. I’m sure many of you have experienced this first hand and it’s very uncool. Here are some easy things you can do to protect your bike while it’s out of your sight.

  1. Use a good lock! – Locking your bike up properly is your best defence against theft. Invest in a good quality “U-Lock”. Don’t use a cable lock or a lock that your dad used when he was in school. They are easily cut and thieves will always target bikes that have cheap locks. We offer locks starting at $45 ($30 for members) that will do the job. If your bike is a little on the expensive side, the higher end locks ($45-100) might make sense for you.
  2. Bike Garage – For added security when you’re on campus, you might consider getting a spot in one of our secure bike parking garages. We have several locations on campus. Each location has secure access so only people who have permits can get in. They also have a workstand with tools and a pump. The cost is $15 for a term or $45 for the year.
  3. Take your Lights – Anything that’s easily removed from your bike should be taken off when you lock up your bike. Lights are probably the most common and most costly accessory stolen from locked bikes. I usually leave mine on when I’m running into the grocery store or something quick, but if you’re on campus or downtown make sure you take it in with you.
  4. Register your Bike – In the unfortunate event that your bike does get stolen, there are a few things you can do to make it more likely that you’ll get it back. Register your bike on Bike Index or Project 529. Both of these websites have a pretty good success rate for finding stolen bikes. You can also post the info on the Bike Portland stolen bike listing. You’ll also want to make sure you report the theft to the police. It’s important to do this so that the city has a better understanding of where and how bad the problem is.

Thanks for reading and have a great, bike secure week!

Dan’s Tips #2: What’s all the noise about?

We’re almost through 2 weeks of the Bike2PSU Challenge now and it almost happened. I was tempted by the Portland weather gods! I almost gave in and took the Max home last night. My credit card got within inches of the ticket machine. At the last second, I pulled back and came to my senses. I thought about all of you having to deal with the exact same thing and I’m sure you didn’t give in! Right?? Keep it up everyone!

This week’s tip is about listening to your bike. You can tell a lot about what’s wrong or what’s right with your bike by keeping your ears open. “My bike is making a funny noise” is one of the most common issues we deal with at the shop. Finding the noise and fixing the problem can sometimes be a long and frustrating process. I’ll go through some of the most common creaks, scrapes, pops, and squeals and hopefully you’ll be able to diagnose and fix the the problem yourself. At the very least, you’ll be able to better describe what you’re hearing when you bring it into a shop for service.

Noise #1: “My bike is just really loud”

  • Make sure your chain is lubricated. If your chain looks shiney or makes a metallic noise while you pedal, it’s time to lube it. While you’re at it, go ahead and lubricate the pulleys in your derailleur (the little wheels that your chain go through). Doing those two things will solve most of your noise related issues!
  • Feel free to stop by the Bike Hub and use our lube. We’ll even show you how to do it!

 

Noise #2: “My bike makes a creaking sound”

  • If it happens when you put a lot of force on the pedals, like when you’re going uphill, it’s most likely an issue with your drivetrain (pedals, cranks, and bottom bracket). Start with the easiest first. Pull your pedals off, grease the threads, and tighten them back down. If that doesn’t fix it, we’ll have to take crank and bottom bracket out and do the same.
  • We’re happy to go through all these steps with you. Just be prepared to hang out with us for a while!

 

Noise #3: “My bike makes a scraping noise when I pedal”

  • Look for anything that might be getting in the way while you pedal. Is your derailleur cable hitting your crank arm? Is your kickstand in the way? These things are easy to adjust and you should always look for the easiest solution first!
  • Does it only happen in certain gears? Your shifting probably isn’t adjusted quite right, and the derailleur might be scraping against the chain. Sometimes it’s as easy as tightening the cable.

Hopefully this helps you diagnose your bike noises a little better. Look for the most obvious/easiest things first. Pay attention to any big changes. If the noise gets louder and scarier sounding, don’t hesitate to bring it in and have us check it out. Usually it’s no big deal, but it’s always reassuring to have someone with experience tell you that. Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a dry and creak free week!

Commute Tips from your Bike Hub Mechanic Amanda

Don’t Fear the Tracks — Respect the Tracks

Everyone has heard some variation of this tale: you’re riding along, enjoying the feeling of the sun on your face and the breeze through your helmet (hint hint), when all of a sudden the MAX tracks sweep up out of nowhere and turn your dreamy spring ride into a tangle of scrapes, contusions and embarrassment. You vow that you will never, ever ride anywhere near the tracks ever again.
If this sounds familiar, it is probably easy to imagine the tracks as a sinister beast, lurking and waiting to introduce you and your sweet ride to a world of pain. This is far from the reality though. If you are cautious about traversing the tracks, there is no reason to fear them.diagram showing perpendicular track crossing

Two things to keep in mind when crossing the tracks: Cross them as close to perpendicular as possible — that is, cross at a right angle to them. This way, it’s impossible for your wheel to make the deadly slip into the track.

cross-tracks-angle
Sometimes 90 degrees isn’t possible or safe. Instead, try to cross with at least a 45 degree angle.

Also they’re made of metal and provide less traction, so if you find yourself cornering on them, try to take as wide an arc as possible – especially when it’s wet outside. Follow these two guidelines and ride fear-free!cross-tracks-Lturn

 

Images from: http://www.ibiketo.ca/blog/crossing-streetcar-tracks-some-tips-tricky-manoeuvre

Dan’s Tips #1: Pump up the Tires, not the Jams!

Part of the joy of riding a bike in the city is being engaged with your surroundings. It’s taking in the sights and sounds and smells, all of the crazy conversations you hear when you’re stopped at a light. That stuff is entertaining! All you headphone wearers miss out on all that! You also miss out on all the “On your left”s and “Heads up”s. That guy on the Broadway bridge who doesn’t seem to notice that you’re trying to get by…headphones. Don’t be that guy.

Listening to music while you’re working out is great, I get that. It passes the time and totally makes sense when you’re running in place at the rec center. When you’re trying to navigate through busy streets and bike paths it’s one of the most dangerous things you can do. It disorients you and greatly increases your chance of getting in an accident. Just today I saw someone with headphones in cross the tracks right as the Max was coming. DON’T DO IT! Please, just don’t!

The mechanic tip for the week is all about tires. It’s pretty basic stuff, but also really important. Your tires are your connection to the road and knowing how to take care of them will keep your commute smooth and problem free. Here’s what you need to know!

  • Inspect your tires for any cuts, cracks and any debris (glass, thorns, squirrel teeth). Any cuts that are bigger than 1/4 inch and you should seriously consider replacing that tire.
  • Check your tires for wear. Keep in mind that your rear tire will wear faster than your front. New tires will be nice and round in the middle. If your tire looks flat (or square) it’s time to replace!
  • Choose a tire with good puncture protection. If you spend just a little extra on your tires, you’ll save the headache of getting stranded with a flat tire and missing your final. I tried to use that excuse one time. No luck!
  • Keep your tires inflated to the proper pressure to avoid pinch flats and excessive tire wear. This number is usually printed on the side of your tire. (ex. 60-80 p.s.i.)

If you’re interested in learning how to fix your own flat tire, come to one of the Friday Flat Fix clinics at the Bike Hub. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know!

Pump It Up!