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Tim's Tips for Urban Cycling

Tim’s Tips: How to be on the go like a pro.

Hi, my name is Tim. Tim from Timbuk2.

I’ve owned and worked at bike shops, raced bicycles, and was a bicycle mechanic at the Tour de France, Olympic Games and have spent most of my life on or around bicycles. As a 26 year veteran of daily San Francisco commuting and cycling without a single vehicular mishap (knocking on wood), I feel compelled to share what I know about safe cycling in a major metropolitan city. Urban cycling can be challenging and hazardous, but with some helpful advice, it can be a healthy, environmentally friendly, and rewarding experience.

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Tim's Cycling Tips

  • Lube your chain at least 3 times a year. Go to your local bicycle shop and buy the chain lubricant they recommend. Spray it on and wipe off the excess with a rag. An oiled chain keeps your bike quiet and efficient.
  • Check your tire pressure twice a month- pressure limits are marked on the side of the tire. Look closely, sometimes the pressure ratings can be hard to read. Get a good floor pump from your local bike shop. Correct tire pressure reduces flats and most importantly requires less energy to ride.
  • What to carry? Tire levers, inflation device (CO2 or pump), spare tube and mini-tool. Your local bicycle shop sells all these items and can help set you up with a road repair kit. Latex gloves are nice too! Nothing’s worse than being caught by the side of the road with a flat tire. Keeping some basics with you can prevent a long walk or expensive Uber ride home.
  • Front and rear lights are a must in the winter or at night. Actually at any time visibility is an issue. Most of our backpacks and all of our messengers have a vista loop for attaching a clip on rear light. Safety first! In some cities it’s required by law.
  • Another efficiency tip. Saddle height should be a slightly bent leg at the bottom of the pedal stroke. A properly fitted bike ensures you use all your leg muscles without overextending.
  • Messenger hack, grab handle makes a great U-lock stash.
  • Pedestrians ALWAYS have the right of way. For cars AND bikes.
  • Ride in the right side of the bike lane and ONLY pass on the left of another cyclist. This avoids confusion and accidents. Also, ping your bell or callout as you're passing from behind, “on your left.”
  • Phone call or text message? Pull over to take it. Safety first. ER room visits are expensive.
  • Watch for opening car doors. Always stay attentive and try to anticipate in advance all that is happening around you.

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