Friday, January 28, 2011

Reading List

I'm not going to complain about the snow. Don't get me wrong, I am not a fan, but complaining isn't going to help and it's getting old.

To avoid falling into the glass-half-empty winter curmudgeon trap I've been doing bike-y things from the warmth and comfort of the indoors. Like reading. There's interesting stuff out there.

Here is what (and in what order) I typically read:

I start at Boston Biker. No, wait. First I get a cup of coffee. Then I go to Boston Biker. It's a nice way to catch a bunch of the latest in one place. I also like to scan down the left side to see what other blogs have updated recently. Of the 'left side Boston Biker blogs' I particularly like Chic Cyclist and the Humble Cyclist.

Then I move on to Lovely Bicycle!. I'm not as big a fan of vintage as she is (that's not to say I'm not a fan of vintage, just not as big...), but I do think the tone she uses to share her cycling experience makes it more accessible to more people.

Then I move on to Bike Snob NYC. I will say that sometimes I have to take a break to see other blogs. I like a little snark. I think it can be funny, and has its place, but I also think it should be used sparingly (it's like refined sugar on the food pyramid of comedy). I will say I'm enjoying it for now.

Next I go to Bike Shop Girl. 'Empowering women in cycling.' Amen. I find the layout of the site to be a bit cluttered, but the content is a-ok! disorienting, but it's probably just me (I like my websites nice 'n linear).
Then I check out what Joshua has to say over at Arc En Ciel Bicycle Studio. You can always count on some nice pics there.

Then I like to check out some local frame builders' sites, and admire their handiwork. I also like to check with MassBike and NEMBA to see what's new.

Any other suggestions? I've got 51 days to fill until spring...

Monday, January 24, 2011

More Learning Opportunities

So the basics are covered. What if you want to learn more? As promised here are the details about... I'm not sure what to call it yet... Advanced bicycle instruction? Bicycle maintenance tutoring? One to one maintenance classes? Individual bicycle maintenance instruction?

Want to learn something (or everything) specific about your bike? Maybe what you're looking for isn't covered in the offerings of the various bicycle maintenance classes out there. Or maybe the large class format isn't for you. Hub Bicycle is now offering individual bicycle maintenance instruction. In this class the student/teacher ratio is 1:1.

It's up to you what's covered during your instruction time, but examples of topics include:

  • wheel maintenance
  • wheel building
  • drive train maintenance and adjustment
  • bleeding hydraulic brakes
  • suspension maintenance and adjustment
  • bearing overhauls
  • head to toe (or handle bar to tires) tuning

Email me (still emilyathubbicycledotcom) with your thoughts, and we can put together the curriculum for your bike class. Evening and weekend times are available so we can find time to fit into your schedule. The cost is $60/hour for instruction and use of shop space & tools. Any components needed (hubs, spokes, rims, bleed kits, drive train parts, etc.) are 15% off retail price.

With a wide range of experience in the bike industry and a commitment to continued learning, I've got a noggin full of bike info that I'd love to share. Come on in to fill your noggin, too.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Learning Opportunity

Basic Maintenance/Fix-a-Flat Clinics are here!

When: 1st Weds of every month (2/2, 3/2, 4/6, 5/4, 6/1, 7/6, 8/3, 9/7, 10/5. 11/2 and 12/7), 7-9pm

How much?: FREE! (no joke)

There's limited space so email infoathubbicycledotcom to reserve your spot.

This is a basic class, no bike knowledge necessary. Really. Don't be intimidated. No need to bring your own bike, we'll have some here. You'll learn about fixing flat tires (the most common bike problem), as well as at-home maintenance that'll help keep your bike healthy.

Want to learn something beyond the basics? Drivetrains, brakes, wheels, wheel building, all of the above? We'll have opportunities for that, too. Details soon (probably Monday, keep an eye out...) here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tech Summit

I love school. If I could afford it I would be a professional student. Thankfully, there are opportunities for me to indulge my inner student and outer bike geek. Like last month's Race Mechanic Clinic and this week's Park Tool Tech Summit.

Three parts hands-on instruction, one part infomercial. A handful of companies brought their latest and greatest tech for us to take apart, service, inspect and (hopefully) put back together. It was a good chance to see what each of these companies have put their R&D money into, and where they think the industry might be going. The 'selling' part of each clinic got a little tedious, but just like watching late night infomercials, you need to take every statement with a grain of salt. The three parts hands-on were great.

One surprising thing I learned was about Avid hydraulic disc brakes. Have these babies on your MTB ride? When was the last time you had them bled? You need to bleed them at least once a year. What? Why? Well, because Avid brakes use DOT fluid. DOT fluid has a high boiling point, so you don't burn it up while you're shredding it. So that's good. On the other hand DOT fluid is hydrophilic, so it'll suck up all available moisture. Right out of the air. So... even in that sweet sealed brake system, your brake fluid has been spending time contaminating itself. If you don't have DOT fluid brakes (probably mineral oil), it's still important to bleed them at regular intervals.

Maybe you're thinking that your brakes feel fine. If it ain't broke, right? Well, why wait for something to brake? Why do you change the oil in your car? Because if you don't your engine will blow up, which is much more expensive than $29.99, and it takes more than 10 minutes to fix. If you take the time to maintain your gear, you can spend more time riding it during the season. That goes for more than just brakes. Maintenance= better performance + longer lasting parts= cheaper in the long run + more trail time in season.

Brake bleeding is included in our Mountain Tune. Which is our service special of the month (and a half)! Regularly $100, it's $90 to get your ride ready for spring, now through February 28. Aaannnnd, $10 off of that if you're a NEMBA member.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Back to work.

Well the staycation is over. Highlights include snow biking, baking and sewing. I also tried this thing- 'hiking'- where you just go walking on mountain biking trails. It was pretty ok.

Staycation postcard

Lowlights include driving. Most of all driving in this:

Maine winter postcard- "Wish you were here. And that you were driving."

While it was fun and relaxing(ish), I'm really happy to be back in the shop. Really. I mean, yes, the basement flooded, again. And there's some serious non-flood related reorganizing and renovating to do. But I'm glad to be getting my hands dirty. This week we're still appointment only. I think, based on the way things moved along today, we should be back with regular hours next week. I'll keep you posted. Also- on the to do list is to finalize plans for clinics/classes for the up coming year, as well as some new service offerings. So keep an eye out.

Now, back to work.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Car Trouble

I have a pick up truck. It's called "The Wimpy", because it is. I don't drive it fast or often. I'm not a 'car (truck) person'. I use it for the shop to haul stuff, for ride support, to collect parking tickets, and to go mountain biking. In the last couple of weeks I've been to three different garages (the alternator blew up the battery, the e-brake was broke, it needed to be inspected, etc.), and I had pretty terrible experiences*.

I was told by the first two garages that I needed a bunch of work done before I could get a passing inspection sticker. Fair enough, I guess, it's an old truck. I asked them why I needed the work done, because I'm not a 'car person' and I wanted to know more about it. I couldn't get a straight answer. Like the information was too special or complicated to share with me. It was frustrating.

I'm usually on the other end of the repair transaction. In this case, I really didn't like it. I try to treat everyone fairly here in the shop (outside the shop, I can't make any promises). If you want something explained, I'm happy to do it.
Even if you're not a 'bike person'. There's no special club you need to be in, and if you're interested, bikes are not too complicated to learn about. At the very least, it's another chance for me to talk about my favorite subject. Want to know more about your bike? I'll tell you all about it. Want to know how I install those brake pads? I'll show you. I'm putting this post up here so you can help hold me to my word. Ask questions, please, please, please. If you don't want to know about bike, and you just want it fixed, that's fine, too. I'll fix it. Fairly. I promise.

*I ended up finally taking it to Zohrab at Somerville Auto Service. He was great, and really honest. "Don't take your truck to -----------. Those guys are Monkey Fighters. Nothing needed to be replaced, only adjusted. They steal from people."