May Community Artist: Blythe M. Davis

Blythe M. Davis’s art will soon be showing on the walls of our Minneapolis shop!

Cycles for Change is excited to announce our next artist: Blythe M. Davis! Blythe makes creative and whimsical Wild REcycleD bike pieces. Her work is inspired by Pablo Picasso’s 1942 work, Tête de Taureau (Bull’s Head), and–similar to C4C’s reuse ethos–Blythe uses collected bike components that have been salvaged from Twin Cities bike shops and local community members. The wood bases of her art are created from found wood or thrifted game boards, old signs, cabinet doors, cutting boards, and plaques. You can find Blythe’s pieces in our Minneapolis shop (2010 26th Ave S) beginning Friday, May 4, 2018.

To learn more about Blythe and see more works, visit www.blythemdavis.com or follow her on Instagram: @blythemdavis_art.

It’s AmeriCorps Week!

It’s AmeriCorps Week!
 
Our AmeriCorps VISTA, Paj, started in August 2017 as our Volunteer Coordinator. In the last 7 months, Paj has done some amazing work! He’s evaluated our former volunteer programs, created an orientation for new volunteers, created positions for a new St. Paul Open Shop volunteer program, and is currently recruiting Volunteer Shop Mechanics and Volunteer Shop Assistants for this program, which will begin next month. If you are interested in volunteering at Open Shop in St. Paul, you sign up for an orientation here: https://cyclesforchange.org/open-shop.
 
Additionally, Paj has had an instrumental role in our pilot Sprouts Program for youth in St. Paul. He helped create the foundations of the program as well as two additional skill levels that youth can achieve. This program is slated to begin later this year.
 
We are excited for what Paj will bring to C4C in the next five months of his year of service with AmeriCorps VISTA. When he completes his service he plans to get his PhD in Applied Anthropology.
 
Thanks for all you’ve done, Paj!

Statement on Giro and Bell Products

We at Cycles for Change have made the decision to discontinue orders from Giro and Bell whose parent company, Vista Outdoors, contributes significantly to the National Rifle Association. We are working to find an alternative helmet supplier at a similar price point and quality. This decision was made because we do not support the NRA. Its mission and work run counter to our own values of equity and justice. If and when Giro and Bell are sold to a company that aligns more closely with the values of promoting safe and violence-free communities, we will resume orders from them. We’re grateful for your understanding and support. We realize this is a small step toward making the world a safer place, but we thank you for accompanying us.

From the Mechanic’s Bench: DIY Spring Tune-Up

 

During the winter months, our mechanics will be providing blog readers with maintenance and mechanics articles on different skills, knowledge, and tips for safe riding.

In this article, Andrew Magill suggests how to get your bike (or trike) ready for spring riding–DIY style.

 

Here are some suggestions for checking and preparing your bicycle for spring riding. They apply equally to bicycles which have not been ridden over the winter, those which have been ridden over the winter, or a “new to you” bike that has not been repaired by a pro.

You can do these checks at home, at a C4C Open Shop night, a Grease Rag FTW-only Open Shop night, or take your bike to our retail service department for a free check and labor/replacement parts quote. Open Shop, Grease Rag, and Retail are available at both shop locations.

Essential Checklist:

  • Lightly clean the entire frame and fork of the bike and look for serious rust and dents or cracks. Pay special attention to higher stress areas including the fork, headtube, chainstays, and bottom bracket area (you are not likely to find anything, but it’s good to check).
  • Check tires and wheels: add air to the tires so they are within the PSI range printed on the tire’s sidewall. Check tire condition–look for worn-out tread, cuts, or cracking sidewalls.  
  • Check that the wheels spin freely and are true (wheels that are true do not have large wobbles as they spin). Check that the wheels are secured in the frame properly.
  • Clean and lubricate the chain.
  • Check that the brakes securely stop both wheels and that the brake lever is not hitting the handlebars before the brake system stops the wheel.
  • Check the seat height (for most folks the seat should reach their pants’ side pocket area as they stand next to the bike).
  • Do a short test ride in a safe area where to test the brakes, shifting, steering, and to ensure smooth pedaling.

Important Checklist:

  • Check brake pads for wear and braking system for proper adjustment by spinning the wheel and squeezing the brake. Check the condition of the brake cables and housing.
  • Check the sides of the wheels for rim wear and look for any broken spokes.
  • Check the bearing systems for proper adjustment and wear/contamination.
  • Try to move the wheel from side to side in the frame. Spin the wheel. There should not be any movement (but there may be a slight amount of wheel flex). A loose or a grinding hub needs service.
  • Grab the crankarms and try to move them side to side. If they are able to move sideways, the bottom bracket will need adjusting or replacing. Check that the cranks and pedals spin freely.
  • Check headset bearing adjustment/condition.
  • Check chain for wear/stretch by using a chain checker. Inspect the teeth of the front chain rings for wear or damage.
  • Lubricate derailleur cables and derailleurs while testing for proper shifting (ability to reach all gears and no dropped chains).
  • Check condition of shift cables and housing.
  • Remove, clean, and grease seat post with the appropriate lubricant.
  • Check condition of bar tape or grips.

Checklist for accessories, if any:  

  • Are the bolts for racks, fenders, light mounts, or water bottle cages tight?
  • Are the lights and lock functioning?
  • Do you have the accessories you need (such as a rack or a basket for carrying things with you when you ride)
  • Do you have clothing to keep you comfortable and visible when you ride?
  • If wearing a helmet (recommended!), check the condition of it.
  • We have a variety of new and used accessories at both shop locations.

Okay, grab a snack and head out for a ride!

C4C Retail and Open Shop mechanics are always here for you–come visit us (especially if you just baked cookies)!

–Andrew

Welcome Norman and Anne, our new Mpls Retail Managers!

 

Norman Whitfield and Anne Sombor have joined the Cycles for Change team as co-Retail Managers at our Minneapolis shop! Please help us in welcoming them to our team!

Norman (he/him/his, they/them) was born and raised in Indianapolis, IN, and has been in love with bicycles since he first learned how to ride at age six. He has a thing for cruisers, but an absolute obsession with Aero-styled T.T. bikes. He enjoys studying, designing, and building one-of-kind custom art bikes.

Anne (they/them) started biking in high school because of a love of the outdoors. In 2010, they moved from their hometown in upstate New York to Minnesota where they now bike around with instruments or sewing machines. They play all the string instruments, study Hungarian as a hobby, sew cycling caps in their free time, and use Photoshop in German. You can find them wrenching at the Minneapolis shop using their favorite tool, the lever extender.

February Community Art

 

The newest set of art will soon be showing on the walls of our Minneapolis shop!

The artists: Tantrum Art Collective

“We are urban artists bonded by our resilient experiences, challenging society as it is through experimental arts, community education, relationships, and action. The skills amongst our collective include painting, puppet-making, curating shows and installations, photography, ceramics, sculpture, stencil art, murals painting and other mixed-media forms. Since 2010, we have organized shows on topics ranging from our love of Minneapolis, to the human impact on our environment, to confronting police violence and systemic injustice.”

Their art will be displayed during the month of February.

From the Mechanic’s Bench: Lubrication

 

During the winter months, our mechanics will be providing blog readers with maintenance and mechanics articles on different skills, knowledge, and tips for safe riding.

In this article, Jacob Schile reports on the importance of–and difference between–wet and dry lubricants.

 

It’s been a wet and wild winter! If you’re riding out in the snow, or getting your bike ready to ride in the spring showers there’s no doubt that you and your bike will get a little wet! Fortunately, there are wet lubricants available which will resist water and prevent salt from wearing out a chain. There are even rad rust-resistant chains to stand up against St. Paul’s salt spray! Woohoo!

Frequently Asked Chain Lubrication Questions:

When should I reapply chain lubricant?

A dry chain lube should be reapplied when exposed to water, or applied weekly if riding daily.

A wet chain lubricant should be degreased and reapplied every week to two weeks. If the chain is not thoroughly degreased before new chain lube is applied, the old lubricant will get thicker and attract more dirt and grime. A wet lubricant is much better for wet riding, but will require more attention in degreasing and reapplications.

Do I have to use a wet chain lube if I’m only riding in the rain occasionally?

No, but you will have to reapply chain lubricant after drying the chain, as the rain and puddles have washed away the lubricant.

Example of chain and gears well past needing cleaning:

Rust-Proof Chains!

Is that such a thing? Yes! Well, mostly! KMC introduced their newest EcoProteq chains in 2013. We at the shop have been using the chains for our winter commuters with excellent results! KMC EcoProteq chains are tested with 650 HOURS of salt spray! They are a little louder, but a wet chain lube helps quiet them down! Available for all drivetrain types! Single speed up to 12!

Winter Overhaul Sale

 

Winter can be hard on your bike–keep it running smoothly!

We are offering a $100 Winter Overhaul for your bike ($145 value)! This includes bearing overhaul (cleaning and re-greasing bearing systems), drive train maintenance, braking system maintenance, and basic wheel truing. Price includes labor only–if parts are needed, those are sold separately. Additional charges may apply to some bikes. Your service mechanic will give you an estimate of the total cost when you drop your bike off. Stop by either retail location and get your bike ready to take on the rest of the winter!

Valid until March 1, 2018.

From the Mechanic’s Bench: Winter Self-Care

 

During the winter months, our mechanics will be providing blog readers with maintenance and mechanics articles on different skills, knowledge, and tips for safe riding.

In this article, Anneka Kmiecik highlights self-care tips for winter and biking.

 

I think winter is beautiful. I love the soft snow piled on sleeping gardens and the steam rising off downtown in the morning sunlight. After a chilly bike ride–the wind nipping at my cheeks and my breath coming out in dragon puffs–I love walking into my home and feeling toasty. But even as much as I love winter, the short days, below zero temperatures, and howling Canadian winds can wear me down, especially when I’m out on a bike. So what to do? SELF CARE!

Here are some of my favorite self care tips:

 

  • FOOD: Your body burns more calories working to stay warm. I pack some nutrient-dense snacks–nuts, chocolate, dried fruits–in my bag so I can refuel after riding in the cold. I also cook more with cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, garlic, chili, cumin, pepper, and other spices associated with warming foods. Traditional Chinese medicine teaches that foods have cooling, warming, or neutral characteristics. And in winter, I seek out warming foods to add to the warming effects of my body.
  • SKIN: Although we might not realize it, winter quickly dehydrates us. I make a concerted effort to drink lots of water, which is good for my brain and my skin. I carry lip balm with me (and use it frequently). And I have a tub of Shea butter to slather on my hands.
  • MUSCLES: It’s harder for our muscles to warm up when it’s only 15 degrees out. Taking a few moments to stretch calves, hamstrings, and quads can help a lot. And don’t forget a few shoulder and neck circles to get out the kinks from being hunched up in the cold!
  • MIND: Do things that help you relax and feel positive. I like putting a few drops of a favorite essential oil in the bathtub and then taking a warm shower. If you’re a bath person, a mineral salt soak is heavenly. Put up some bright colors in your room to keep the gloom away or consider adding a full spectrum light.
  • LET YOURSELF TAKE A BREAK: Not feeling the bike ride today? That’s OK! We all have days where we need to rest and let our bodies rejuvenate. Take time to listen to your body and rest when you need it.

Those are a few of my favorite tips. How about you? What do you do to take care of yourself in the winter?

– Anneka Kmiecik

From the Mechanic’s Bench: Light up the Night

 

During the winter months, our mechanics will be providing blog readers with maintenance and mechanics articles on different skills, knowledge, and tips for safe riding.

This month, Andrew “Light up the Night” Magill is highlighting the importance lighting.

 

As we enter the time of year where hours of daylight are few, it’s important for bicyclists to be visible when they are riding in the dark. This is accomplished by bicycle lights, reflectors on the bike, and reflective clothing. One easy way to make your bike more reflective is to purchase tires with a reflective strip on the sidewalls. The motion of the wheels helps drivers to see bicyclists. Many folks also add reflective tape or decals to their bike–more surface area equals more reflection. You can find reflective vests, jackets or pants, and gloves with reflective material.

Bike lights are also essential. Minnesota law requires that, at a minimum, bicyclists riding in the dark have a front light and a rear reflector. A rear light is highly recommended as well. A dim front light allow bicyclists to be seen by motorists, but it will not do much to light the path of travel. Bicyclists riding on dark roads away from ambient light or city lighting will want a brighter front light.  

Not able to spend a whole lot of money of lights? Cycles for Change carries a basic set (front and back) for about $15. We also sometimes have used lights for sale. The U of M’s Boynton Health services is a resource for free lights–check in their pharmacy. Want to spend a little more on lights? USB rechargeable lights are an option. Another option is generator lights–there are older models available: used and state of the art new ones (you will need a special hub or wheel for these). The brightness of bicycle lights is usually measured in lumens or in candlepower. A 50 lumen rear light will be relatively bright. Front lights can range for 50 to 800 or more lumens.  

Where folks mount their lights is important–lower on the bike helps a bicyclist to see the road or path better, while a helmet-mounted light shines in the direction they turn their head. For extra visibility, it is recommended to  mount a rear light on legs or wheels, as the movement will stand out to drivers (find wheel-mounted systems online). Multiple lights makes bicyclists more visible, and it’s nice to have a backup if one light runs out of juice or stops working. Also, many studies suggest blinking lights are more visible to motorists than a solid beam. When riding in the street, a bicyclist’s position in the lane of travel can also affect ability to be seen during the day or night.

Safe riding means being visible, and at night this means proper lighting and hi-viz (high visibility) or reflective clothing. For more information on this important and fascinating topic, try a simple internet search. I used the search term “car light reflection at night, bicycles.” C4C staff love to talk about riding, bikes, and lighting, so come visit us! In the meantime, ride visible, ride safe, and keep smiling. – Andrew Magill