Bicycles -- are people REALLY this ignorant?

With spring here my little repair shop I run out of my garage for bicycles is starting to show signs of life again… but I just thought I’d share a little tidbit of info you may or may not have heard.

WD-40 and Penetrating Blaster ARE NOT LUBRICANTS

They are penetrating cleaners. They wash away the road gunk, dissolve rust, AND any lubricant. Sure, it will free up something that’s frozen due to rust or wear, but that doesn’t make it a long term permanent solution; in fact they can do more harm than good!

The reason this came up is I just spent the past hour and a half taking apart two hub spindles and filling them with marine bearing grease. Local bike shop told the guy he needed new spindles front and rear – on reference a co-worker of his sent him unto me. He’d been hosing it down with WD-40 before EVERY ride because it was the only way he could even get the bike to move!

The bearings had some wear spots, Opened up my parts bin and replaced the ones that needed it… every time he road he was grinding down the parts; thankfully the cups and cones were in good shape, the bearings were just seized in the cage. Soak in WD-40, pressure wash away the WD, pack full of marine bearing grease, good as new. Spins freely and with no real resistance; probably rides better than it did new. $80 labor instead of the $180 in parts and $200 labor the local shop was gonna nail the guy.

… and I gave him instruction on PROPER lubrication; in particular LEAVE GREASE FILLED BEARINGS ALONE!

Lemme just say this one more time people: WD-40 is NOT a LUBRICANT – I don’t care if it’s bicycles, CPU/Case fans, air conditioners, wall fans, or a squeaky door. WD-40 IS NOT A LUBRICANT!!!

Still, a pleasant change of pace for me from the usual computer stuff. Lemme just say this again, TD IS NOT A LABEL, NESTED UL/DL ARE NOT TABLES, OPENDIR/READDIR IS NOT AS GOOD AS GLOB, and JUST BECAUSE IT’S TEXT DOESN’T MAKE IT A PARAGRAPH!

Same thing really.

as a dedicated cyclist, i applaud your efforts, sir

both my bikes (i have two kuwahara caravans) are almost 30 years old with tens of thousands of miles on them

even though i have sealed brackets, i ~still~ drip the old 3-in-1 in there each time i, ahem, lube my chain

oh, wait… 3-in-1 is okay, isn’t it?

Same with locks, and every locksmith should tell you the same thing. Sure, you’re lock won’t move today and you can get it to move with some WD-40, but after you’re inside, you lube it with real lube. WD-40 was used on our door handles and they pretty much dried up into mummified husks.

Drop’lDo is awesome though.

3 in 1 is fine because it won’t seep into the bearing driving out the grease – which is what WD-40 or PB-50 will do (what they were DESIGNED to do!). For my own rides I like something a bit heavier on the chain like liquid wrench “white lithium”, silicone grease or white lightning – but that’s because I’m a wet rider. Look at the little girly men not going out because of a little water…

As such I’m also more of a greaser than a oiler; though yeah, nothing wrong with 3 in 1. “Back in the day” I swore by Marvel Mystery Oil on chains…

One just has to be careful when using thick lubes like waxy/silicone/lithium greases to clean regularly; they’re dust magnets from hell; which means if you do a bunch of dry riding the chain, chain-wheel and sprocket can get a pretty nasty coat of mung on them. (which can cake onto the chainguard too). On my own ride I’ve got to pop the rear wheel off and clean the sprocket with a wire brush sometime this week, just from the buildup.

… and having worked marine maintenance on a sailing vessel, I HATE mung.

Did a second repair today too, so business is picking up… not bad for a unofficial hobby… operating by word of mouth out of the garage and I’ve had ten clients in as many days.

This new guys problem was simple – stupid malfing center-pull caliper breaks were so out of whack they were rubbing against the tire not the rim… he tried fixing them using brute force and just set them even more out of whack… and the tensioner on the de-railer wasn’t taking up the slack at all because the lower pivot was frozen. Gave it a wash and wax too before the guy came back; looks like a whole different ride since the kid left it out over the winter on the college campus down the road.

Not that I advocate de-railers; probably because I can’t go 20 feet down the road on one without dropping the chain; internal gear hub or nothing. People keep thinking I’m riding a fixie when I’ve got a 3 speed with a coaster brake. Thinking if I make enough this season from bike repairs I’ll upgrade my ride to a nuvinci drive. Sure it’s a bit heavier, but I’m EXERCISING so what’s a little more weight? It’s why I laugh at a buddy of mine who goes to the Gym, leg presses 750, vertical lifts 500, and then obsesses over having the lightest bike possible. Whiskey tango foxtrot?

I mean sure, mines a big fat all steel Micargi knockoff of a Schwinn “cantilever” type frame, but at least it’s comfy. Really transformed it into a ‘real’ bike when I got rid of the 42 tooth one piece ashtabula cranks for a true BB and Eight-inch brand cranks (narrower stance too) and a 46 tooth chainwheel. This lean into a backbreaking position with silly short (and therein no leverage) bars and but-crack seats might be fine for the Tour de France, but is definitely not for “Middle aged man”, and his sidekick “Drinking Buddy”.

Anyone else out there ride for exercise, fun or commuting? (not to drag my own thread off topic). I was riding 20 miles a day for exercise last year, until the doctor told me to cut back (apparently that’s too much exercise for a 5’4 200 pound 42 year old). Doing about six a day now, holding at about 192 pounds… which is actually nice because for a while I never thought I’d get below 210; that was a hard barrier to break.

Hey look, Me 40 pounds ago…

Still beats the tar out of the 260 pounds I had ballooned up to before I started riding… or the 320 pounds a medical mis-diagnosis and incorrect medication brought me to as a peak six years ago… though the programmers diet of Doritos and Coca Cola probably wasn’t helping either.

Ah, Americans. We’ll do anything to lose weight… other than eat right and exercise.

Yes, my wife and I got bikes last year—for exercise and recreation—and we are really loving them. I’ve got to admit, though, that when it comes to maintenance, I haven’t got a clue. Any tips on basic maintenance? (The discussion above was a bit over my head, as I don’t know the names of all the bits and pieces. Never was much into machines, I’m afraid.)

Keep an eye on the rim brakes and make sure they lie flat and line up with the wheel rim regularly. Avoid getting lubricants on the rim during maintenance and if you do, clean the rim with a degreaser (windex will do) since you grease up that rim, you ain’t stoppin’ for nobody.

Regularly re-lubricate the chain. As mentioned above 3-in-1 is good for fair weather riding, you can also use some of the simple lubricants like “Liquid Wrench” – just avoid anything that says “penetrating” or that is a cleaner – like WD-40 or PB-50 – as that can seep into the areas that are greased and … well, wash away that grease leaving you with no lubrication. Do NOT apply excessive amounts of lubrication to the spindles (the center part of a wheel that is bolted to the frame) as that can also seep in and wash away the grease…

… and no grease inside the bearings can quickly lead to mechanical failure. One little drop of oil is usually all you need there.

If you ride wet or get stuck in the rain, pat the bike dry when you get home, allow to air dry for at least 8 hours, then apply a drop of oil to the spindle mounts and re-lube the chain.

If you check your tire pressures on hot days (>75F/24C) when the air inside the tire has expanded and the rubber is softer, you want to measure/inflate to five pounds over the rating listed on the side of the tire! Otherwise during the first cold snap you ride you’ll be under-inflated! I suggest testing tire pressure before EVERY ride. A tire that ‘looks ok’ or ‘feels ok’ can be as much as 15 pounds under-inflated – resulting in the bike being more prone to fishtailing if you hit a patch of loose earth and significantly more prone to

If you get a flat, do NOT ride it on the rim; that will just bend the rim being something ELSE you have to spend to replace; and a LOT of shops won’t lace a new rim onto hubs anymore or even have a truing stand – which means you’re looking at buying a whole new wheel. (wheel = hub + spokes + rim + any sprockets). Even more dangerous if you’re a fat ****… like me, you risk splitting the weld on the rim; a catastrophic failure that … well… isn’t pretty.

If you have a multi-speed de-railer type bike (which most multi-speed bikes are de-railer types; basically jumping the chain from gear to gear in mid-air by applying shearing force to it – such a SOUND engineering design) check that the tension arm (the part that dips down below the hub to take up slack in the chain) is properly moving. This is one item you can go high-hog on with the oils. Because it hangs down farther it’s the location where the most gunk – road dust, water and mud from puddles – tends to gather so a proper cleaning and lubrication of that is something you should really do every… eh, 50 miles/3 months or so of fair weather riding (whichever comes first).

To that end, I can’t emphasize enough how handy a odometer is. Knowing how far you’ve gone can help you set up a maintenance routine if you ride frequently.

Also, NEVER ride a bike that’s just “sat there” for several months without checking that the chain moves freely, the various cables for things like brakes move freely, and that there’s no ‘grinding’. Lubricants can seep out and dust can collect on it; a good soap and water cleaning with a sponge, brisk rinse with a high pressure hose, pat dry with a towel, air dry (at least 2 hours) and then re-lubrication of the chain and single drops of oil at all the spindle ends is often a good idea. It’s the most basic of maintenance and often the most neglected.

Case in point I did that today with mine; even whipped out the white-wall cleaner to get them back to shocking white – pretty cool given they’d yellowed from all the road salt over the winter.

Since cold temperatures and snowstorms don’t really deter me a whole lot; I can dress warm windproof leathers with ski-mask and I’ve got a set of homebrew spiked tires I can switch to. (which are my old road set with penny nails melted in with a second busted tube preventing them from damaging the normal tube).

You’ll notice I talk a LOT about lubing the chain – it’s the most common point of failure and often the most poorly maintained item. There’s really no such thing as overlubricating (at least until it’s splattering everywhere as you ride, that might be time to ease up) while failing to keep up with it is the leading cause of dropped chains, broken chains, or just plain hard riding. It’s not flexing easily and freely, you’re just making more work for yourself.

Oh, and if you have a seized up rusted chain, that you think you might have to replace? Put it in a plastic tup and hose down with a penetrating cleaner like WD-40 or PB-50. Let sit for at least 8 hours. Then take a bucket and fill with soapy water (dishwashing liquid works good) and clean the chain as best you can with a harsh stiff bristled brush. It should already be freed up and working. Take it into the yard and hit with the garden hose using a sprayer to get rid of the soap; then just oil the devil out of it. A good method for this is to let it soak in a pan of motor oil (used works as good as new! Nice recycling tip!) for a few hours, then paper-towel off the excess. Toss it back on ready to ride.

While sure, a replacement chain is only five bucks, a lot of time they won’t match the wear pattern of the old sprockets (rear) or chainwheels (front) meaning replacing those too, or facing stiff rides or dropping the chain. It’s often better to put the effort into revitalizing/saving the old chain instead of having to replace everything. This wear can also effect gear ratios you don’t use a whole lot, which is why many older derailers have certain gear combinations that ride ‘harder’ than others. You ride around in 6th all the time on a ten speed because you’re afraid to shift (know plenty of people who do that too) you’re actually making it harder to shift in the long run.

Again, why I like internal gearboxes instead… like my cheap little Shimano Nexus three speed. Everyone thinks it’s a single speed, until I drop into third and leave the 22 speeds in the dust… Though I’ve rarely gotten it up past 20mph. A good comfort speed for me seems to be 16mph. Our friends across the pond in the UK know all about said technology, what with Sturmey-Archer having made them since what? The 1920’s or something?

Though I really do think these are the future once they get the weight and price down:

Most ‘real’ cyclists freak out about how much it weighs, and at $360 just for a bare hub, it’s priced out of most ‘comfort riders’ ballpark.

I always thought WD40 was for inflating tyres :slight_smile:

that’s funny :slight_smile:

I recently found out that WD-40 can also remove those stubborn paint from model cars and i use them for my squeaky doors. dont know how long it would last but at least for now my door doesn’t give out that annoying squeak every time i open it.

Damages the plastic though (you might notice some wrinkling on the surface after prolonged exposure) – try pine sol. Dissolves the paint and won’t touch the plastic at all.

I know a wee bit about painting miniatures too… and taking bad paint jobs off of them.

It’s a lot cheaper too, and can be reused many more times since the paint doesn’t mix into it, and instead globs off to the bottom.

– edit – also pine-sol tends not to ruin clear plastics; WD-40 will make it cloudy.

Many thanks, Jason. Really handy tips. (I don’t think I need to bother any bike forums now!)

Wow, that looks amazing.

I used to bike 45minutes to school/work each way for a few years before we moved to a town with a train. It sucked.

Around here, the wind always blows, and while it has a direction that direction tends to always be MY FACE. I rarely have tailwind. Arg.

I don’t take care of my bike. I have some plastic around the chain so if it’s not squeakin I don’t touch it, but it gets very little dirt on it so it generally only gets greased during checks which I don’t do every year.
It’s parked outside because that’s where I can park it. Kids like to slit the gel seats of bikes open with knives so I have a hard little plastic seat. Kids also like to slit the tires for fun and since my bike’s not a race bike, while we can patch the hole if the tire needs replacing the whole damn bike has to be taken apart because of the brakes. Apparently race bikes (what my husband used to have for years and years) you can just take the tire off, done.

Absolutley agree with “don’t ride on the flat tire”! That said, I’ve done it and will continue to, because when I’m out in the middle of nowhere I don’t have 2 hours to hoof it home, which is how long it takes me to walk a bike to civilisation. It will destroy the wheel itself, but I accept that. Though sometimes if you just dent one side of it, on a crappy bike like mine the shop might just hammer the dent out and check that it’s still strong enough and that’s fine for me. I no longer bike those long distances. And very happy.

Biking never put me in shape. I’d be out of breath and huffing and puffing on a 4-gear bike no matter how often I was on it (which was at the time more than 5 days a week). Crawling up dijks and this while standing and pumping even.

Once I started running, though, amazing: I can now ride a bike. Biking wouldn’t get me in shape but running would. However my husband says the shape of my bike and how it makes me sit causes me to work harder to move it, which is probably true but one thing I insist on is being able to put my foot on the ground. Most bikes sit too high for me (and I’m actually a bit taller than Crusty).

We have a lot of “wiel-renners” here (bike racing guys with the spandex and the logos and the helmets… yup, Netherlands is a land of everyone from grandmas and kids to businessmen on bikes, riding with traffic, but the only folks with helmets are the racing freaks) and while most of them are these skinny athletic guys I’ve seen plenty of fatties (unfortunately still in spandex) who can outrace anyone. They’re strong and have excellent stamina. Makes me think that while you’re working your body and improving your CV system, you don’t necessarily lose weight simply because you’re making bike effort. Maybe because you’re sitting? Not sure.

:eek: We all have to wear helmets here, freaks or not. Even little kids get thrown in jail if caught without a helmet. Nah, not really, but they do get in trouble. A guy I knew one day slammed into the back or a parked car on his bike. He went flying over the top and landed on the top of his head. His rock hard helmet was gouged out horribly, but he was fine. If that had been his skull on the bitumen … o dear.

I’m waiting for folding handles:

I had a bike once, but it wouldn’t fit in the trunk of my car.
Someone told me “You’re supposed to ride it.” Hah!!! Kids say the craziest things.

them’s fightin words, sonny :smiley:

actually, that’s pretty funny

nice one


We designed them that big to make you buy a rack that clamps onto the back of the car to carry it. Good consumerism, make you buy accessories.

On the subject of bicycle locks – steel cable type, keylock NOT combination (or both like mine, where you need the key AND combo), and when chaining you you want to go through the frame and front tire… both tires if possible. ESPECIALLY true if you have one of those stupid quick-release fronts… pull that tire and chain it, the rear wheel and the frame together.

Be VERY wary of number combination only locks – you can pop one of those in about 20 seconds if you know how.

Though you have to remember that locks on bicycles are like locks on cars, homes or businesses; they are there to keep honest people out. They won’t slow down someone who knows what they are doing one bit.

It’s like computer security, where the old joke goes “The only secure system is one with zero access.”

Here in NL people just pick bikes up and put them in the getaway bus. Every bike has a lock around the back wheel but these don’t stop people from walking away with them (carrying). But, you can’t insure your bike without one, and two keys. I’m glad I can carry a bike away since people like to park a crapola in our (limited) rack out front and leave them there for months… I can carry them over to the racks in front of the grocery store and free up a rack for us.

It must be sue-happiness: kids here are on bikes as soon as they can walk, no helmets. Inline skaters always have pads, and a surprising number of teenagers skateboarding have knee/elbow pads, but bike helmets are for guys going as fast as cars and acting like they own the bike path (cause they don’t want to stop or slow down for things).

I’m sure people fly off their bikes here, but it’s rare enough you don’t hear about it and if you do, oh well, it must’ve been your fault and you deal with it. There are more bikes than people in this country and it’s a major source of transportation for everyone, and I don’t think anyone has proposed people wear helmets just to ride a bike. So you’d think if it was a problem everyone over here would have concussions or something. People do get hit by cars and die now and then though. Not that a helmet would be a good thing then, it would take you from becoming dead to becoming a drooling vegetable.
I know which I prefer.

That said, we ride a motorcycle and I’m a big fan of “all the gear all the time” on those.