Bike frames are made from a variety of materials, the most popular being steel, aluminum, titanium, carbon fiber, and even bamboo. If you are looking for a new bike for commuting, running errands or adventure cycling to exploring new parts of the city, each choice has advantages and disadvantages for price, ride comfort, durability, style, and maintainability. While bike brands usually have standard materials they like to use for their bikes, if you look around you can usually find the bike style and frame material you prefer in a hybrid, road, gravel, mountain, or ebike. Which frame material is the best choice?
The single most important thing a cyclist can do to keep a bike running at its best is to clean and lubricate the bike chain on a regular basis. This is within the skill level of even the most elementary rider and is a low-cost procedure—it only requires at a minimum some bike lubricant and a rag and can be performed indoors in an apartment or garage or outdoors in any environment your bike is in. There are different levels of cleaning from basic, to moderate, to deep cleaning and which procedure you use will depend on the condition of your drive train and how dedicated you are to bike maintenance.
One of the upsides of the COVID-19 pandemic is a boom in outdoor recreation. Activities such as hiking, cycling, boating, fishing, camping, picnicking, and winter activities (skiing, snow shoeing, snowboarding, tobogganing) have seen increased interest. Participation in outdoor recreation usually hovers around 50% of the population, but last year it increased to 69%. As stay-at-home restrictions have relaxed, many people discovered that outdoor pursuits are an appealing response to living with COVID-19. The desire to focus on health and wellness and make the best of these trying times has resulted in more people getting outside to play.
If you are a year round cyclist biking in the harsh conditions of winter you will find these have taken a toll on your bike’s performance. Even if you do not bike when there is snow, ice and salt on the ground, you might someday get caught in the rain or dust and road debris will build up on your bike. Even though bike frames will resist water and grit, dirt can creep into the components and get trapped in the moving parts. A little soap, water, and lubricant applied on a regular basis will boost your bike’s efficiency. But there are some things you should do to get it done and done faster and others you should not.
Sharon Kaminecki and others comment on adventures in bicycling and other stories