Keeping your bicycle rolling

Tips for finding a bike repair shop and knowing when you need one.
As kids, few of us could wait until the day we could ditch our bikes and driveeverywhere. Today, it's not uncommon to find someone giving up the old Sundaydrive for the pleasure of a nice long bike ride.

Whether it's on-road oroff, biking can be a great way to get some exercise. And since your bike willmake you feel better, here are a few tips to keep your bike in perfect healthwith some regular service:
  • Know your bike

  • It's wise to familiarize yourself with thebasic operations of your bike. Read your owner's manual, consult your bikemanufacturer's website or talk to an expert. Many routine maintenance proceduresare easy to do at home. What's more, you'll be more likely to have a solution ifyour bike malfunctions while you're on a ride, far away from a service shop.

  • Adapt to your conditions

  • Bikes respond differently basedon the environment(s) in which you ride them. Even rugged mountain bikes mayneed more frequent tune-ups if they are ridden in rain, mud, or exceedinglydusty conditions. Keeping your bike clean is a must to extend the life of yourparts, but even cleanliness won't make up for excessive wear and tear. As abaseline, you should look at having a professional tune-up for your bike atleast twice a year.

  • Professional bikes require professional service

  • Mostbicycle shops offer service on bikes they sell, as well as service for bikes ofsimilar makes and models. See these profilesof bike shops.

    Expect to be turned away to do the work yourself ifyou take a bike you bought at a department store to be professionally serviced.Usually the parts and expertise at bike shops tend to be geared towardhigher-end (meaning higher-priced) bikes. When you buy a higher-end bike, talkto the dealer about their service plans. Some shops offer free or discountedservice for the bikes they sell.

  • It may not be pedal-in, pedal-out

  • Major tune-ups orsignificant repair jobs take time, at least a few hours. If the shop is busy,you might be without your bike for a day or two. Plan on having an alternatemode of transportation to get back home. If you're just looking for a minoradjustment, most bike shops should be able to handle that while you wait.

  • Listen

  • A good bike technician can tell how you're ridingsimply from working on your bike. Ask for advice about regular maintenance andriding techniques (such as shifting) that can help reduce wear on your bike.Remember that most bike technicians are avid riders themselves and can offergreat insight.

    Bicycling is a fantastic source of exercise andrecreation for the whole family. If you keep your bike in shape it will do thesame for you.

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