5 odd things we do with our bikes, that we’d never do with our cars

I’m sure many fellow cyclists can relate.

1. Avoid maintenance, until the brakes barely work

Abandoned bikes in Camden London

I was having a chat with a friend of mine recently who runs a bike shop in London. Someone came in to the shop with £200 worth of repairs to their bike that needed doing. They decided they would leave it until after Christmas and rode the bike home.

If you went to visit a car mechanic and you were told that something on the engine needed fixing, you’d book it in there and then. You wouldn’t say: “Oh, just one of my brakes works and one of the wheels is falling off, I’ll sort that out later”.

Obviously, it’s different for car owners. If a car doesn’t pass its MOT, it can’t be driven on the road.

I believe it’s a testament to the low-maintenance magic of bikes, that even with a bike that clearly needs some attention from a mechanic, you can keep riding it.

You’ll notice this all the time riding in London. A squeaky bike will pull up next to you at the light or someone’s chain will slip as they try to pedal when the light turns green. I’ve done it myself. I won’t adjust my brakes even though I’m pulling the brake level all the way back. In fact, right now I need to replace my front tyre as it’s clearly worn out and I keep getting punctures. Oh.. I’ll leave it.

2. Lock it to a lamppost

Knog Party Combo Bike Lock

I added number 2 in here, because I like the image of a car owner trying to lock their car to lamppost.

3. Never get someone’s details in an accident

In a car, someone bumps you in the car park and you immediately ask for their insurance details.

On a bike, someone comes out of a side road, doesn’t see you, slams in to you with their bumper and you go flying over your handlebars.

You brush yourself off, apologise and ride home, only realising when the adrenaline wears down how serious that is.

Why don’t we instantly ask for insurance details?

See: Steps to keep in mind if you are ever in an accident

4. It’s 20 years old, I’ll keep riding it

Dutch bikes in London

I love this about many bike owners. Many of us see no need to upgrade, the older our bike is, the more we love it and inseparable we get from it. When a car hits 10 years old, it’s time for a replacement.

5. We never clean our bikes

Dirty rear jockey wheel

Whilst I’m sure that there are plenty of people out there that never clean their cars, much like there are plenty of people out there that regularly wash their bike, the vast majority of us don’t bother keeping our bikes clean. You know it’s getting bad when you look at a bike component and can no longer identify it – is that the rear derailleur?

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15 Responses to 5 odd things we do with our bikes, that we’d never do with our cars

  1. Greg 19/11/2014 at 5:10 pm #

    Worth pointing out that squeaky brakes (point 1) are usually completely fine. Can be caused by a great many normal things such as flecks of aluminium embedded in the pads / rim from regular braking and water being squeezed between the pads and rim when using V brakes.

    Don’t worry if you have squeaky brakes – it doesn’t mean your brakes are faulty.

    Chain slipping though – that’s definitely one to sort out.

    • Jude 21/11/2014 at 11:18 am #

      Phew! I’ve got the most ridiculously squeaky front brakes at the moment. They squeal every time I use them, and they’re particularly loud in the rain.

      I’ve got absolutely no idea why they’re making so much noise. I know it’s not because they’ve worn out as I just replaced them a few weeks ago. I don’t mind the noise too much, as long as they work (which they do). They also let other people know I’m there, which kind of helps too.

      • phil Hamilton 21/11/2014 at 11:32 am #

        They probably need minor adjustment to make sure that the pads are not lifting off the rim when you apply braking pressure. (The rear of the pad should be about 1mm off the rim when the front part initially makes contact.)
        Some people like the squeal as it make everyone aware of your presence. Better than trying to ring a bell and brake!

        • Andreas 21/11/2014 at 6:24 pm #

          I’ve had the same Jude in the past with new brake pads, the sound wore off after a couple of weeks of riding for me.

  2. Mark 19/11/2014 at 8:27 pm #

    I don’t think this general difference in attitudes exists. Personally I’ve been driving my car for months with a rough-running engine, leaky sunroof and a stereo that doesn’t work, because it does the job and I haven’t got around to fixing it. I’ve never replaced a car while its economical to keep it running, except when lifestyle changes have dictated a different type. My bike, on the other hand, I tinker with, fix every little problem, and upgrade regularly. Some of my friends are just the same as me, some the other way around….

    • Andreas 21/11/2014 at 6:25 pm #

      Tis true Mark – it’s a bit of a tongue in cheek post and it certainly won’t apply to all car drivers/cyclists 🙂

  3. Paul Bunnell 21/11/2014 at 11:42 am #

    summer bike … winter bike … spring bike … sketchy area bike … bike I lend to visitors cuz ain’t no one riding my summer bike (2) … winter bike (2) … spring …..

  4. Jackie 21/11/2014 at 11:45 am #

    Guilty as charged on all counts m’lud 🙁

    Must try harder.

    • Andreas 21/11/2014 at 6:26 pm #

      Don’t be hard on yourself – I’m not too proud to report I can’t remember the last time I gave my bike a really thorough clean!

  5. Tony 21/11/2014 at 12:04 pm #

    I regularly clean and maintain my bike. I check the brakes every time I ride it. I never lock it to a lamp post because it is too expensive to insure, so it is never out of my sight. My old bike is also similarly maintained. I bought it second hand in 1976. I do lock this to lamp posts.
    I clean the chain and cogs regularly. I bought a good stand so that my back doesn’t ache after an hour of maintenance.
    I haven’t had an accident recently involving another vehicle but I was nearly wiped off the road the other day. I took the driver’s details with my Mobius camera and am in contact with the vehicle’s owners. See http://youtu.be/4KE4FFDa0RQ

    • David Cohen 21/11/2014 at 6:36 pm #

      Ditto, pretty much to the word, re cleaning one’s bike. It’s worth keeping the drive train clean, and it’ll give you much better ride performance – the difference is really noticeable after cleaning a really mucky drive train. Go on, give it a go…

  6. Beth 21/11/2014 at 2:17 pm #

    I’d encourage people to keep their bikes at least a little bit in shape, though not necessarily tip top all the time. I saw a guy pull away from the lights recently and his whole front mech (including pedals) fell apart! He was really lucky that nobody ran into him from behind but it was pretty scary. I like squeaky brakes – much more effective than a bell for announcing your presence.

    • Andreas 21/11/2014 at 6:27 pm #

      Ouch – that sounds extreme Beth. I must admit, I always give my bike a quick once over after I haven’t ridden it for a while to make sure handlebars are still secure, pedals and so forth. We’ve written about the M check previously if its of interest to any readers: http://www.londoncyclist.co.uk/the-bicycle-m-check/

  7. Joe 26/11/2014 at 12:59 pm #

    If you’re locking your bike against a lamp post (or leaving it outside anywhere) it’s always worth checking your quick release skewers before setting off. I left my bike locked up outside work the other day, and a few minutes into my journey I hit a pothole, causing my back wheel to fall out of the dropout! Luckily it stayed attached to the bike thanks to the chain, but when I stopped and had a look at what was going on the skewer was as loose as loose could be.

    Someone had clearly had a go at getting my rear wheel off, which made it not only dangerous to ride but also caused me to buckle a brand new FSA Team 30 wheel! Oops!

  8. Vanessa 15/04/2015 at 4:37 pm #

    Omg, that’s so me! I need to wash my bike, it looks like i’ve been riding on the farm.

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