Bicycle riding is one of the best things a person can do for the environment and his or her personal health. Riding a bike requires only the power of the body and does not produce any noxious emissions. It's quiet, and bikes are able to gain access to places where cars are not permitted.
According to Glumac, a full-service engineering company specializing in sustainable design, using one gallon of gasoline in a car produces about 20 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions directly, or 26 pounds if you account for processing the fuel. Opting for a bike instead of a car can have profound environmental benefits.
Bicycles are most useful and efficient when they are properly maintained. Failing to maintain a bike means it could be relegated to a dusty corner in the garage. To keep bikes in ideal working order, consider these bike maintenance tips.
• Keep the bike clean. A bicycle is a collection of moving parts. Over time mud and debris can get lodged in gears, tires and other components, impacting the performance of the bike. Regular washing ensures that the bike will operate at peak capacity whenever you decide to go for a ride. High-pressure hoses may damage sensitive bearing systems, so it's better to use a damp rag to carefully clean the bike. Brushing or buffing away debris can be handy as well. Consider how frequently you ride the bike and where you ride it when determining how often to clean the bike.
• Maintain proper tire pressure. Much like with car tires, air pressure in bicycle tires can impact the ride and likelihood of damage. According to the CARE Exchange, a group of riders involved in fundraising cycling events, too little air in tires can increase the likelihood of punctures to the inner tube. Low air pressure can put more pressure on bike components and accelerate wear and tear. Plus, it can make for an uncomfortable ride. Similarly, too much pressure can cause the tires to blow out or provide a less enjoyable ride. Always keep tires at the pressure rating listed on the tire's sidewall.
• Keep the chain well lubricated. One of the most crucial steps to maintaining a bicycle is to keep the bike chain and other moving parts lubricated. This reduces excessive wear caused by friction and can prevent gears from ceasing up. Lubricants also can help prevent rust and corrosion. Apply lubricant to the chain, brake and derailleur levers and cables. But too much lubricant can be a bad thing, attracting dirt and reducing performance. Use only as much as the bike needs and wipe away the excess.
• Get a tune-up. It's beneficial to periodically have an experienced bike mechanic look over your bicycle. Bearings may loosen slightly, and brake and gear cables can stretch. Take the bicycle into a bike shop so the staff can give it an overhaul, addressing any areas that may need a little fine-tuning. Bike shop employees typically are knowledgeable in bicycle maintenance, and they can provide a wealth of information on other cycling-related subjects.
Bike riding is a popular pastime and an activity that is beneficial to the environment. Maintaining a bicycle is a great way to ensure it operates as efficiently as possible.