6 Checks to Perform Before Visiting Local Bicycle Repair Shops

With spring well on its way, cyclists across the country will be visiting their local bicycle repair shops to get their bikes in shape for the riding season.  Why not bring yours to Alamo Bike Shop here in San Antonio soon?  We’ll be happy to give it a complete inspection and tune-up.

Before you come in, though, here’s a series of six quick tests you can use to find out about any potential problems before they become serious.

  1. Pick your bike up about 4-5 inches above the ground, and then let it drop straight down on its wheels.  Listen for any rattles, creaks, popping noises, etc.; these could be signs of loose or damaged parts.
  2. Engage the brakes and let them go.  They should snap back into place immediately.  If they don’t, be sure to get them checked out before your next ride.
  3. Give the tires a close look-see.  Check for any tears, rips, or cuts.  Make sure they’re inflated to the recommended pressure and stay that way.
  4. Spin the wheels.  You should notice no wobbling, squeaking, or contact with the brake pads.
  5. Check the wheel’s quick release levers (they allow the wheels to be removed without using tools).  Make sure the levers are tight and functioning properly.
  6. Check the headset.  This is the tube that connects the frame and the front wheel forks.  Over time it can come loose.  Check for this by applying the front brakes while gently tilting the bike, so that the rear wheel raises up and goes back down to the ground.  If you hear any clicking, you may have headset problems.

Be sure to mention any problems you notice to the experts on our team here at Alamo Bike Shop.  Whether you live in the San Antonio area or will be visiting us in the future, drop by and see us!  We offer a full range of services for your cycling needs: rentals, secondhand bikes, tours of downtown, and repairs.

How to Choose a Bicycle Repair Store

A great bicycle repair store is a cyclist’s best friend.  It can be a source of invaluable advice and tips, great repair & maintenance services, and lasting friendships. Most shops are staffed by friendly, knowledgeable professionals, but here are a few things to look for before settling on your favorite bicycle repair store.

Attitude

People start businesses for two reasons.  One is that they are passionate about a product or service and want to provide it to others who will benefit from it.  Others, however, place money above all other concerns.  Which category your local bike shop fits into will become obvious once you visit it.  Ask the staff questions that may require a couple of minutes for them to answer (do this at a time when the shop isn’t especially busy).  Do they address your concerns in a friendly, professional manner, or are they rude or inattentive?  If they recommend a product, do they seem to be doing so with your best interests in mind, or is their goal simply to make a buck off of you?  Do they let you make decisions on your own, or do they try to pressure you?

Knowledge

No bike tech knows everything; avoid any that think they do.  But a capable one should be able to explain the reasons for a suggested repair, answer basic questions, and display a general understanding of the bike business.  He or she should also be courteous and take a moment to address your concerns.  Do the techs at the shop you’re visiting exhibit these qualities?

Appearance

Neatness counts when it comes to any business that’s open to the public.  Disorganized merchandise, dusty and dirty conditions, or just an overall slovenly atmosphere are warning signs.

In the interests of full disclosure, we’re sharing these tips not just to inform you, but also to toot our own horn a bit.  You see, we’re sure that once you visit Alamo Bike Shop, you’ll agree that we live up to the highest standards of honesty, customer service, and professionalism.  Come see us today and find out for yourself! We look forward to becoming your go-to bicycle repair store.

6 Tips for Buying Secondhand Bikes

With the economy still weak in many parts of the country, secondhand bikes are more popular than ever.  Buying one can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars off the cost of a new model.  However, as with any secondhand purchase, it pays to exercise a little extra caution when choosing one.  Some things to look for include:

 

  1. The frameset – Chipped paint and a few tiny oxidation spots are fine, but pass up any bike with dents in the frame, especially if it’s made of aluminum.  Look for cracks or bends where the wheel attaches to the frame (known as the “dropout”).  The front fork should have no play in it whatsoever.
  2. Saddle – Torn ones should have been replaced; avoid the “duct tape quick repair.”  Make sure there’s no play in the saddle; it should be parallel with a level floor.  Sit on it; your leg should slightly bend at the bottom of the down stroke.  Check the seal post clamp for cracks or other signs of wear.
  3. Brakes – Dried-out or worn brake pads are a huge safety risk.  The bike might still be a good deal, but be prepared to replace the pads ASAP.  Rusty or frayed cables, bent or cracked levers, or “mushy” braking are all signs the bike needs replacement parts.
  4. Drivetrain – There should be no play in the crankset.  If there is, the bike probably has worn bearings. Spin the flywheel; any chattering or knocking is a sign of bad bearings.  Shifting should be smooth and crisp in each gear; you’ll need to raise the rear wheel to check for this.
  5. Wheels – Check for side-to-side play.  If you notice any, then the hubs may be worn.  Squeeze the spokes; tension should be the same at every spot.  Loose or broken spokes are a huge red flag.  Tires with worn tread, dry rot, or damage to the sidewalls should be replaced.  Check the air pressure in the tires.  If they can’t hold the recommended level, then the bike has leakage problems.
  6. Bike shop check – if possible, have a local bike shop inspect the cycle before you purchase it.  Here at Alamo Bike Shop we’re happy to perform that service, but we also stock a number of secondhand bikes that are in excellent shape.  Come by and browse our selection soon!

3 Tips for Buying Discount Mountain Bikes

Discount mountain bikes are more popular than ever, thanks to the growing trend towards health-consciousness.  When you combine the fitness benefits of riding a bicycle with the challenge and scenic beauty of mountain biking, you get a one-of-a-kind experience that’s perfect for improving both body and mind.

As with any purchase, however, choosing a good mountain bike, whether new or pre-owned, involves knowing something about the product.  Here are some things to consider:

  1. Of all the bike’s components, the frame is the most important.  Pedals, brakes, etc., can be upgraded.  But if you’ve got a poor frame, then you’re out of luck.  Avoid ones made of high-tensile steel if possible, unless you don’t mind a very heavy bike.  Frames built from chromoly steel or aluminum offer a good balance between strength and weight, with chromoly being the more durable (and heavier) of the two.  If your budget permits it, then titanium and carbon fiber frames offer the best strength/weight ratio.
  2. Disc brakes are a must-have for mountain bikes, as traditional rim brakes are prone to slippage from mud and dirt—two things you’re likely to run into on the back roads.  Front-suspension bikes, known as “hard tails,” will protect your wrists and arms from the shock of rough downhill trails.  For maximum comfort, a full-suspension bike is best.
  3. Pre-owned mountain bikes can be a terrific bargain, but check one over thoroughly before buying.  Inspect the frame for cracks.  Make sure the wheels are true.  Inspect the cables for frayed or stretched points.  Check the suspension as well; it should be smooth, with no leaks or squeaks.  Check all fittings to make sure there is no unnecessary play, and give the tires a good look-over for any weather cracks.

There’s one way to make sure you get a great deal: buy your discount mountain bike from Alamo Bike Shop.  We thoroughly inspect all pre-owned bikes we sell, making sure they’re in premium shape.  We also sell new Jamis bikes, which are unsurpassed for quality.  Come by and browse our selection today!

5 Back-to-School Bike Maintenance Tips

As summer changes into fall, students get ready for another year of school. For many of you, your bicycle is as essential as a good computer or plenty of notebook paper. But, like other mechanical devices, bicycles need regular care in order to provide safe, reliable service. So here are some bike maintenance tips to get you ready for the new school year:
1. Remove the chain entirely and soak it in a good solvent for several hours to remove built-up grime. Then inspect it carefully for signs of wear. Apply a good lubricant to it afterwards.
2. Clean the drive system and underside. This is best done while your chain is soaking in the solvent. First remove the wheels. Then get a good bike brush, a container of soapy water, and a rag. Starting with the rear derailleur, work the wet rag into all of the moving parts. Continue with the chain ring, pedals, cranks, and front gear mechanism. Use the brush to scrub hard-to-reach areas and to remove any built-up stains or scales. Move on to the handlebars, seat, crossbar, and wheels.
3. With the wheels back on, spin them to make sure they turn easily. If you have disc brakes, visually inspect the rotors to ensure they are even. If you have V brakes, then make sure that the blocks don’t rub the wheels while they’re turning.
4. Turn the wheels again, but this time, watch the bottom bracket and front gear mechanism. Be on the alert for signs of snagging or any unusual noises. If anything causes you concern, bring your bike by Alamo Bike Shop for a look-see.
5. After reinstalling your chain, spin the wheels once more. Be on the alert for any sign of chain “stretching.” Then give the rest of the bike a good washing and take it for a test ride to make sure everything feels right.
By following these simple steps, you can help ensure that your bike will stay in top condition and continue to be a safe, fun means of transportation for years to come.