Table of Contents:
Which brand is the best?
How much do I need to spend on a good bike?
How can I get the best price on a good bike?
What type of bike is best for me?
How do I use a quick release lever?
How often do I need to oil my chain?
How much air should I put in my tires?
My bike worked great for the first month or so, but now it doesn't
shift as well. What happened?

If my helmet has a dent in it, should I replace it?
How high should I set my seat?

Which brand is the best?

The best brand is the one that offers the bike that is right for you!  The bicycle market is very competitive, so the differences in quality and value (at a given price point) are minimal.* Some companies are more responsive when it comes to warranty claims, and some may have slightly more durable paint etc., but the overall quality of the bikes is about the same.  Velocipede Peddler has chosen proven companies that stand behind their products and that have been around long enough to ensure your "lifetime" frame warranty is worth the paper it is printed on. First and foremost, your selection should be made on the fit of the bicycle.  Just like in the shoe business, all size 10's are not the same.  Typically, you will "fit" two frame sizes for a given model and brand.  Test ride both sizes to determine the better fit.  Now try some of our other brands to see how they compare. Choose the model that fits the best since you will be spending hours in the saddle for many years.  It is a good idea to narrow your choice to three brands before you test ride.  Trying to ride too many bikes can be confusing and lead to frustration when it comes time to decide.  Three bikes are usually adequate to give you an idea of what's out there. *One of the most important things to consider when looking for a "good" bike or the "best" brand is the shop that it comes from.  Unlike cars, motorcycles or jet skis, the bike you buy will be assembled at the store that you buy it from.  If cars were sold this way, wouldn't you look for the dealer with a reputation for the highest quality? The assembly quality of your next bicycle will have the largest bearing on the overall performance and durability.  Velocipede Peddler has one of the best staff of trained mechanics anywhere.   If the faces at our shop look familiar, it's because they are the same faces that have been here for years.



How much do I need to spend on a good bike?

As you may have noticed, you can purchase bikes for as little as $100 at your local toy store or you can spend more than $5,000 for some elite race bikes.   Is there that much difference?   Yes! Each bike was designed with a specific rider in mind.  The more expensive bike may not always mean it's a better bike for you. This chart is hardly scientific, but it should give you a rough idea of price vs. performance in the bike industry.  Just like buying a pair of snow skis, try to buy a bike that will suit your ability as you become more serious about riding.  It can be expensive to trade-up.



Less than $250 Most department store bikes fall into this range.  They can be adequate for someone who would like a bike for an occasional ride.  Because of poor build quality and stock boy assembly, they are often plagued with mechanical problems such as poor brakes and poor shifting.   Bearings will fail and rims are prone to bending if these bike are used regularly.   Most are only offered in one size, so fit can be a problem.  Many end-up as "garage furniture" because a bike that doesn't shift or brake well is no fun to ride.
$250-$350 This is where most bike shops start their model lines.  These bikes are aimed at the same market as the department store bikes, but the quality of the parts, size offerings and assembly will provide much better performance, comfort and durability.  Bikes in this range are a smart choice for campus commuters and neighborhood cruisers alike.   Lighter, stronger frames, no-rust aluminum wheels and stainless steel spokes suit the needs of many recreational riders.  Mountain bikes in this price range are designed primarily for on-road use and comfort.
$350-$500 This is where bikes become more specialized in their function.  Frames will be 100% cro-moly construction or aluminum.   The component durability increases.  The design intent is for someone who will use his/her bike more than just occasionally. Mountain Bikes: Notice that the stems on models in this range are lower and longer than the less expensive bikes.  Combined with a slightly longer top tube, these are the least expensive MTB's that are designed for trail use.   They're still good on pavement despite more aggressive tires and lower riding position.   Suspension forks in this price range are good performers on the little stuff but may be overwhelmed by the demands of aggressive off-road riding.
$500-$750 Between $500 & $750, components reach peak performance for recreational use.  However, aggressive riding may place excessive demands on the components leading to a shorter life.  This is a good range to be in if you are a serious recreational rider.  Long tours and moderate trail riding are the intended uses of these bikes. Mountain Bikes: Most will have true off-road geometry that stretches you out over the bike and lowers your center of gravity.  This makes the bike very stable off road but less comfortable on road.  Suspension forks are tuned to the demands of off-road use.
$750-$1300 All the performance of the most expensive bikes in all conditions.  More expensive bikes will offer greater durability, lighter weight and in some cases, better craftsmanship, but enough performance and durability are here for all but the most serious riders.
$1300 and above Exotic materials, the lightest weight frames and unmatched component durability are all qualities that make these the bikes the choice of serious riders and racers.  These bikes are designed to meet the demands of high mileage and/or aggressive riders.
How can I get the best price on a good bike?

Everyone wants to be sure they are getting the most value for his/her money.  One way to make your dollars go further is to take advantage of last year's models .  Just like the auto industry, dealers need to make room for the latest models, so bikes will usually go on sale in August.  Last year's bikes are just as attractive as they were a few months ago, but you can often save about 10% off the regular price.  Selection is also best on sale bikes in August, especially for those who are shorter or taller than average.  Margins are slim in the bike business, so it is uncommon to find prices much lower. If you are shopping one model from store to store, you will notice that prices are almost exactly the same.  The minor difference in price should not distract you from buying from the shop that you think offers you the best service.  Remember that all shops are not created equal since it is the shop that responsible for the assembly of your new prized possession.



What type of bike is best for me?

This can be a difficult question to answer.  Below is a brief summary of the major types of bikes and their uses.  See what's right for you!

Mountain Bikes: Mountain bikes can be classed into three categories by price.  Mountain bikes under $350 are designed for road use.  They feature the upright riding position similar to hybrids but they also offer a wider tire with a softer ride.  The wide tires offer more stability in soft dirt and allow for limited trail riding.  Mountain bikes between $350 and $500 have more aggressive geometry and tires but they still allow for reasonable comfort on pavement.  Mountain bikes above $500 offer aggressive geometry that is perfect for trail riding but these bikes can be poor performers on pavement.
Hybrids: Not as durable as a mountain bike or as efficient as a road bike, yet they're more durable and comfortable than a road bike and more efficient than a mountain bike.  Hybrids are great for short and medium distance rides on pavement or hard dirt.  Skinny tires limit their potential on soft surfaces. Road Bikes: Designed for long distance touring and club riding, road bikes are still the most efficient way to travel.  However, light wheels and a dedicated riding position make them a poor choice for short trips or commuting around town.

How do I use a quick release lever?

One of the most common problems we see when bikes come in
for service is a quick release that has been used in an unsafe manner. When used properly, the quick release lever is a very safe, convenient and reliable feature.  CONSULT YOUR OWNER'S MANUAL or visit us at the shop for a demonstration. You should be following these steps:

1.) Move the lever to the OPEN position and set the wheel so it is in firm contact with the frame/fork of your bike. 2.) With the lever about half way between the OPEN and the CLOSED position (pointing straight out and parallel with the wheel axle), tighten the quick release adjusting nut on the opposite end of the quick release axle until finger-tight. 3.) Place the quick release lever in the palm of your hand and swing it into the CLOSED position.  You should be able to read the word CLOSED on the lever when you are done. The lever and wheel axle should now form an "L" shape.  Open and close the lever to ensure that it is tight enough.  As you swing the lever from the OPEN to the CLOSED position, you should feel the lever begin to tighten when it is parallel with the wheel axle. It will become progressively tighter until it has been closed completely.   (DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CENTER THE WHEEL BETWEEN THE BRAKE PADS AS YOU CLOSE THE QUICK RELEASE.  If the wheel is not centered between the brake pads when you have closed the lever, you have not placed the wheel in the frame completely or you may need a brake adjustment.  Consult your dealer for details.) 4.) It is important to position the quick release lever in such a manner as to avoid accidental release.  For the front wheel, the closed lever should be pointing up.   When closed, the rear quick release lever should be aimed between the chainstay and seatatay of the bike.

How often do I need to oil my chain?

You should oil you chain enough so that it does not rust or create friction on the gears.  The easiest test is to rub your finger across three links of the chain.   If you now have oil on your finger, chances are that you have enough oil on your chain.  If there is not oil on your finger, you should consider oiling your chain.
Be sure to use a bicycle-specific oil.  These special lubricants attract less dirt and last longer than a simple 3-and-1 oil you may find at a hardware store.  Do not use WD-40 on your chain.  WD-40 will protect your chain from rust but it is a very poor lubricant and tends to collect dirt very rapidly.
We suggest applying lubricant liberally to you chain as you turn the pedals to work the oil into the chain.  After you have applied the oil, use a rag to remove as much excess oil as you can.  The goal is to oil the moving surfaces inside the chain.  The surface of the chain needs only enough oil to prohibit rust from forming.  Finally, you should not oil the gears on your bike directly.  The chain will carry enough oil to the gears to provide protection. Any excess will attract dirt and grime.

How much air should I put in my tires?

One of the most common causes of rim damage is under-inflated tires!  You should check your tires on a weekly basis to ensure you have adequate pressure.  Your tires will lose pressure on their own over time.  Skinny, high pressure tires tend to loose pressure faster than wide tires.
On the side of your tire, their will be a suggested pressure rating.  It is dangerous to ride your bicycle if your tires are not inflated enough or over-inflated.  Skinny tires will require a specific pressure.  Wider tires will list a range of pressure.  Generally, a lower pressure will improve traction (within the pressure limit of the tire) while higher pressure will decrease rolling resistance.  It is important to consider your weight and riding style when determining which pressure is best for you.  If you are a larger person or an aggressive rider, you should use a higher pressure.  Lighter riders or those who are less aggressive can use a slightly lower pressure and enjoy a softer ride.
Do not use an air hose from a gas station when inflating your tires.  Gas station air hoses are designed for car tires and therefore move a greater volume of air than a pump or small compressor.  Often, these air hoses will build pressure so quickly that a bicycle tire will explode.

My bike worked great for the first month or so, but now it doesn't shift as well. What happened?

If you have recently purchased a new bike, it is likely that it may require a tune-up after the first month of use.  Even the best built bikes will have a break-in period and often require a minor tune-up.  Bike shops anticipate this and most provide a free tune-up within a specified time period.  Even if you bike is running perfectly, we encourage everyone to take advantage of their free tune-up.  It will allow a mechanic to inspect your bicycle for any possible warranty issues, oil your chain and air your tires.  It could serve as the ounce of prevention that potentially saves a pound of cure down the road.

My brakes squeak. Do I need new brake pads?

Often the answer is no.  The noise you hear can be caused by many things.  As brake pads wear, they can come out of alignment.  A simple adjustment is often the cure.
A second cause may be a build-up on your brake pads.  Dirt, aluminum from your rims or other contaminants can build  deposits on your brake pads and cause them to make noise.  Before you take your bike to the shop for service, consider lightly rubbing the braking surface of the pad with a light grit (#200+) sand paper.
You should never apply any lubricant to the surface of your rims or brake pads for any reason.

How often should I bring in my bike for a checkup?

This depends on how often and where you use your bike.  A good rule of thumb is once per year.  If you ride often or in wet or sandy conditions, it may require more frequent check-ups.  Estimates are free so you should not hesitate to bring your bike to us if there is ever a question.

If my helmet has a dent in it, should I replace it?

Yes! Bike helmets are made for only one impact.  Even if your helmet does not appear damaged after a crash, you should replace it if you know you hit your head.  Almost every helmet manufacturer provides a low-cost or free replacement policy.  Storing your helmet in a hot car can also compromise its effectiveness.  Consult your helmet owner's manual for details.

How high should I set my seat?

Many people have knee trouble as a direct result of a seat that is too high or too low.   The easiest way we have found for people to set their seat to the "correct" height is by the following method:
1.)  Sit on your bike next to a wall so you can steady yourself or have a friend help.
2.)  Rotate the pedals so that your left leg is in the 7 o'clock position.   The goal, here, is to place one pedal as far away from the seat as possible and stretch your leg out as much as possible.  The crank arms should line-up with the seat tube of your bike at this time.
3.)  Place the heel of your foot over the axle (center) of the pedal.  If you have toe clips on your bike, you may need to flip the pedal over to do this.
4.)  Now, try to lock your knee.  You should be able to place a small amount of pressure on the pedal at this point with your heal.  If you have to stretch to reach the pedal (or rock your hips) to provide any pressure, your seat is too high.  If you can not lock your knee without lifting yourself off the seat or rocking your hips, your seat is too low.
5.)  Repeat this procedure with your other leg.  Most of us have one leg that is slightly longer than the other.  Adjust the seat to accommodate the leg that is shorter.
The above method will accommodate most riders.  We invite you to experiment with adjusting your seat up or down slightly until you are satisfied but you should be within +/- .5 inch of the "correct" position by using our method.  If you have not been on a bike in a long time, have a child seat installed, or do not feel comfortable with you seat at the height prescribed above, do not use the above method.   If you would like one of our sales people to help you with setting your seat height, please bring your bike to the shop and we will do our best to help you.

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