Importance of a good lock to foil thieves who want your bike

Keep your bike secure

This is the fourth and final part in a series on bicycle riding, maintenance and repairs gleaned from free clinics hosted by Garry Norkum, owner of Cyclepath in Kelowna (plus a few from the Sheriff). First up, how to try to prevent bike theft.

• Make bike security a high priority. The Orchard Park and Capri Shopping centres in Kelowna are the worst places for bike theft. Even bike shops aren't immune. There is not a bike shop in Kelowna that hasn't had a break-in or attempted break-in.

• One bumper sticker seen around the city warns: "Cable locks are a thief's best friend." They can be cut in seconds with a wire cutter or bolt cutter. Friends have had bikes stolen when only left for a matter of minutes with a cable lock.

• Chain locks are better and U-locks are the best but they are not foolproof if a thief has a cordless grinder with cutoff discs. However, those are noisy and produce a lot of sparks. "Chains and U-locks are heavy but they are good exercise," says Norkum with a grin.

• A U-lock or folding metal lock can attach the frame and rear wheel to something very strong such as a street bike rack or stationary post. Ideally, a secondary chain or cable can secure the front wheel as a visual deterrent. Some bikes now come with a built-in Abus rim lock.

• You should also register your bike with a photo and its serial number on Garage529. It now includes more than 400 law enforcement agencies, universities, bike clubs and bike shops, and has three million registered users around the world. Bike theft has been reduced by as much as 70% in some areas.

• Some modern pedals come with cleat attachments on one side of the pedal and a flat surface on the other, so you have the choice to clip in or not during your ride. Leg power is more efficient if you are clipped in (360 degrees of power) but you must be adept at unclipping with a sudden, unexpected stop. Clipped-in cyclists have all toppled over at some point.

• Some shoes for road cyclists now come with bigger cleats but there are rubber covers so cyclists don’t slide (and click) when walking around.

• Cycling-specific shoes have a stiff sole. If you use running shoes with a soft sole, you not only lose power but your toes can curl over the front of the pedal producing toe burn or "hot spots." Pedals are your platform for propulsion so you might want larger pedals; they come in many shapes and sizes, says Norkum.

• Rim (caliper) brakes can slip when wet, muddy or inadvertently contaminated with chain lubricant. "Definitely, disc brakes are more consistent and don't fade," says Norkum.

• The quick-release on axles should be pressed down with the palm of your hand temporarily when remounting a wheel. Once the bike is upright and wheels are back on the ground, undo the quick release and retighten it with the pressure of two fingers. Check that the tire and rim are centred in the brake area.

• Some tires are thicker and puncture-resistant. You can also squirt in Slime Tube Sealant to seal any leaks as they occur. However, as Slime ages (six months to a year), it can ball up and you can hear it rolling around. Then it's time for a new tube or fresh Slime inside a tubeless tire. Slime can also be used with dirt bikes, wheelbarrows and riding mowers for up to two years. (Caution: If a tubeless tire is slashed and doesn't seal, Slime is messy when you try to insert a spare tube to get you home.

• Don't use automotive fluids on disc brakes. If you get chain lubricant or degreaser on a disc, clean it off with rubbing alcohol.

• Don't wear underwear under your padded bike shorts as it takes away from the features of the bike shorts. You get what you pay for—$40 versus $100.

• Manufacturers are starting to make drop seats (controlled by a switch or lever on the handlebars) standard equipment for lowering the seat so your feet are flat on the ground when stopped at a traffic light and for lowering your hind-end weight when descending hills. When you take your weight off the saddle and press the lever, the seat springs back up.(Starting at $200)

• Your bike bag should include a spare tube, set of three tire levers, a repair kit with glueless patches (they take up less space), a CO2 inflator and two cartridges, a tire marker, surgical gloves (to keep your hands clean as well as for some warmth when chilly outside), small wetwipes for cleanups, a backup pump with correct nozzle for Schrader (old-style, automotive) and Presta tire valves, a metric Allan key set, a chain repair tool, a small amount of money and perhaps anti-chafing cream.

• Most Kelowna cyclists with regular bikes stay on flat terrain.

"Unless you are doing cardio five days a week, you are not going up steep hills," says Norkum.

One answer, of course, is an e-bike. Its pedal-assist feels like someone is pedalling along with you.

There are two basic e-bike motor choices—mid-drive (like a motorcycle) or rear hub drive. The weight of the mid-drive motor is lighter and more centred. Many shops don't recommend rear hub-drive motors for serious mountain biking because there is so much more weight is in the rear.

• When purchasing an e-bike, it's important to test it it where you ride, advises Norkum.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.


How to extend the life of your bicycle's chain

More bike maintenance tips

This is the third part in a series on bicycle riding, maintenance and repairs, featuring tips from free clinics hosted by Garry Norkum, owner of Cyclepath in Kelowna (plus a few from the Sheriff).

First up is how to extend the life of your bicycle chain.

• Use dry lube chain lubrication in the hot and dry Okanagan, not WD-40, not cooking oil, not automotive engine oil or motorcycle chain lube (the latter has higher chain speeds). Dry lube is thin, evaporates and leaves a teflon lubricant on the chain. Use wet lube when off-road mountain biking.

The Sheriff's solo technique - nicknamed "Use Your Head" - is for those with a bike kickstand on the left rear side and a bike rack. Kneel on the right side beside the cassette, place your head (with helmet) against the rack and push gently, raising the rear wheel slightly off the ground. With your left hand inside the bike rack supports, drip lubricant onto the chain as the chain rotates around the cassette while your right hand slowly rotates the pedals. Any excess lube on the sprockets goes onto the rollers as the chain rotates around the cassette.

Many cyclists try to lube the chain midway between the cassette and pedals, and the excess drips onto the ground (or on your rear tire). No kickstand? Have your cycling buddy lift the rear tire off the ground by pulling up on either the seat or bike rack.

• Use a biodegradable chain cleaner. A plastic chain-degrease chamber with brushes does a decent job of removing grease and dirt buildup. Use often, especially after dry, dusty trails. Move the braided edge of a dishcloth soaked in cleaner up and down to clean between chainrings or buy the long-bristle brush with its curved chainring cleaner. That stiff brush with cleaner can also remove built-up grit from the derailleurs.

• Think of the three contact points (five actually) - feet on the pedals, bum in the saddle and hands on the handlebars.

You can vary the height of the saddle (and add a suspension seat post for more comfort) so the angle of your legs is correct. You can raise or lower the handlebars if you have the older style "quill stem" which can move up and down. A newer style of stem can only move up and down a small amount so you can adjust the height with a limited number of spacers or change the stem to one with a more upright angle.

Norkum says there are probably 30 different stems to vary not only the height but to bring the handlebars closer to you or further away. There is also an adjustable (heavier) stem that rotates at an angle up and down, and is then tightened at the correct height (not recommended for serious mountain biking).

Handlebars also come with different heights so you don't have to stick with the standard flat bars that come with many bikes. The handle grips on the ends of the handlebars also come in a variety of shapes and softness from hard plastic to foam to gel. Softer grips will wear out faster. Some have an ergonomic design to better support your palms.

• Don't bend your wrists when your hands are on the grips.

• If you lean too far forward, it can be hard on your back and neck. Road cyclists typically lean right over putting a lot of pressure on their hands. Comfort hybrid cyclists sit in a more upright position. The key is finding which position is the most comfortable for you and your biking style. The more upright you are, the more weight you put on your bum and the less weight on your hands. Don't forget that you can move your saddle back and forth on its rails about two inches. "It's a matter of finding the right compromise and comfortable fit," says Norkum.

• Look at the width of the front or "nose" of the saddle, which will fit between your thighs. If it is too wide, it could potentially rub and chafe your inner thighs, in which case you should choose a narrower saddle.

Many saddles come with a cutout in the middle which takes the pressure off that area of your body. They're intended for both men and women now, says Norkum.

Once your saddle is set at the correct height with the supplied quick release, you won't likely change it. However, that quick release means someone can steal your expensive saddle and post so a lockable clamp should be considered. There are also lockable axles to prevent wheel theft.


• Friends of the South Slopes will hold its annual general meeting Wednesday, April 17 at the Robert Hobson Environmental Education Centre, 2363A Springfield Road in Kelowna, A social is planned for 6:30 p.m., with the meeting at 7 p.m. A limited number of Myra-Bellevue park maps will be available for $5 each. A $20 donation or more and will get you a free map.

• Friends of Knox Mountain Park will hold its annual general meeting at 5 p.m. April 24 at the Ellis Street branch of the Okanagan Regional Library in Kelowna. The guest speaker will be UBCO professor Greg Garrad, who will speak on the Kelownafonia Project, as it relates to Brandt's Creek and Knox Mountain Park.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Riding, maintenance and repair tips for cyclists

Dealing with bicycle issues

This is the second part in a series on bicycle riding, maintenance and repairs.

Here is a point-form summary with tips from Garry Norkum, owner of Cyclepath in Kelowna, which has offered free bicycle riding and maintenance clinics for several years (plus a few from the Sheriff).

First up is how to get as comfortable as possible on your bike or e-bike.

• Depending on the manufacturer, bike frames can come in as many as five sizes, measured from the centre of the crank to the top of the tube where you insert the seat post. The bicycle-guider.com website says there are seven ways to measure a bike. The simplest method to determine the correct frame is using your height to determine a hybrid bike size:

• Four feet 11 inches to five feet three inches = 13 to 15 inches

• Five feet three inches to five feet seven inches = 15 to 16 inches

• Five feet seven inches to five feet 11 inches = 16 to 17 inches

• Six feet to six feet two inches = 17 to 19 inches

• Six feet two inches to six feet four inches = 19 to 21 inches

• Six feet four inches and taller = 21-plus inches.

Keep in mind, these are general guidelines, but one bike size wrong can make a huge difference.

• Raising the stem that holds the handlebars will shift more weight from your hands to your bum. Road racers can use a small narrow saddle because they bend over placing a lot of their weight on their hands. When you sit more upright, you are more likely to need a larger saddle. A bigger seat is not necessarily better, though, because it depends on your “sitbones.” Feel how far apart they are with your thumb and forefinger, hold that distance and see if it matches the soft parts of your prospective new seat.

Some stems are adjustable (about $25 and $30) and saddles can be as inexpensive as $35 to $45. Those are usually the two major items that shops change. You can also switch out handlebars, raising your hands even higher.

• Most saddles are mounted on a rail so they can be adjusted back and forth as well as angled. A level can be used to ensure the saddle is perfectly flat. Saddles with a slot or soft spot in the middle eliminate pressure on that part of the body.

• Too many cyclists have their saddles adjusted too low. A half-inch can be critical. If you raise your toes with your leg straight while seated, your heel should clear the pedal as you swing the leg forward, says Norkum. When riding, your knees should be slightly bent when your foot is at the lowest part of the pedal stroke.

• If your saddle is too high, you can have hip issues. Your bum will rock back and forth sideways, says Norkum.

• Once your saddle is at the correct height, scratch the post next to the quick release to mark the spot. Magic Marker wears off.

• Tubes are porous, so they leak. Check tire pressure regularly—hybrids once a week, road tires every two to four days.

• Tire levers are only used to remove the edge of a tire. Use them opposite the valve stem and slip the hook end under a spoke.

• Once a flat tube is removed, the hole found and marked (tire still on rim), place the tube valve next to the valve hole in the rim. Cup your hand over the tube outside the tire tread and slide your hands and tube around the tire and rim until you get to the marked hole in the tube. That's where (on the tire) you will hopefully find whatever caused the flat, eg. A nail, glass or, especially in the South Okanagan, a cactus thorn or puncture vine barb. Feel with your fingers inside the tire as well to see if the puncture-producer is there.

• The inside of rims have rim strips that separate the tube from the ends of the spokes. However, strips can shift and wear out so check them when you repair a flat or replace a worn tire.

• When using a new tube, inflate it slightly, which makes it easier to insert under the tire.

• If you push the edge of the tire deep into the rim, you can usually roll the last bit of tire edge onto the rim with both your hands, all the way around, without using the tire levers. If you leave the tire out in the sun for 10 minutes, it becomes more pliable.

• Don't use the ends of your fingers to roll the tire back onto the rim, use the palms of your hands. You'll have more power to roll it onto the rim. If the last bit of tire edge doesn't want to go over the rim, press with your hands along the opposite side of the tire, pull and stretch the rubber tire like an elastic band.

• If the valve is crooked after inflating, let a little air out and move the tire around the rim enough to straighten the valve out. As well, when a tube is under-inflated, the tire can move around and make the valve crooked.

• Always use both brakes. Remember right rear. Same with shifters—right rear. Don't lock up the front brake, especially when coming downhill. Instead, push your weight to the rear and use more rear brake. Front brakes produce more braking power (try it on your bike).

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

With bicycle riding season here, it's time for riding, maintenance and repairs tips

Bicycle tips 101

The 2024 bike riding season is already well underway, thanks to recent record-breaking temperatures.

But newbies, and even those with some experience, always have questions (and challenges). Free bike clinics offered in recent weeks at Cyclepath in Kelowna had many of the answers.

The spring clinics actually started before coronavirus restrictions on large groups when owner Garry Norkum invited members of the Okanagan Slow and Steady Hikers (Meetup.com) to a series of free clinics at his 2169 Springfield Road business.

COVID brought a temporary halt but clinics resumed as soon as restrictions were lifted.

Here is a point-form summary of tips from Norkum for bike riding, maintenance and repair (plus a few from the Sheriff). First up, the confusing business of gearing.

• The best pedalling cadence is at least 60 strokes (or revolutions) per minute, at least once per second. The goal is to choose a gear from many gears that will maintain the same workload on your body—not the same speed—regardless of the terrain, whether you are going up or down hills.

"It's better for the bike. It's better for your knees. It’s better for your body. And it works much more efficiently," says Norkum.

• Most cyclists don't pedal fast enough. The key when approaching and starting to climb up a hill is to downshift before pedalling becomes too difficult. Avoid shifting under load because your chain can come off or snap. When approaching a hill, downshift, downshift, downshift.

The following information is generally speaking for regular bikes with multiple gear sprockets or chainrings on the front, usually three, i.e. 24-speed. Many e-bikes have only one sprocket on the front.

• You are probably going to use the middle gear (of a three-ring chainring) on the front most of the time, going up and down on a seven-, eight- or nine-ring cassette on the rear wheel. To remember which shifter is which—right rear. It's the same for brake levers.

• You may not realize it but there is duplication in your gearing, thanks to the three sprockets on the front. So, the reality is there are about 12 to 15 usable gear combinations on a 24-speed bike, says Norkum. Having three sprockets or chainrings at the front and eight at the back doesn't provide 24 different gear ratios. If you upshift once in the front and downshift once at the back, you will produce the same gear ratio.

• In addition, some combinations, such as using the smallest sprocket or chainring at the front and the two smallest at the back, means the chain will be at a large angle with lots of wear and noise. In fact, it would be the same combination when using the middle chainring on the front with a middle chainring at the back producing minimal wear and noise.

• To minimize the angle of the chain between the front and rear sprockets, when using the low gear in the front, stay in the lower half of the rear gears (the large rings). When you are using the high gear in the front, use the top half of the rear gears.

It can be confusing because the small gear in the front (No. 1 or “granny” gear) is for easy low speed and the large gear (No. 3) is for high speed. In the rear, it is the reverse. The small gear goes very fast for high speed and large gear goes slow for lower speed.

• You can also use a gear change technique called "overshoot" by pushing the gear change lever on the handlebar past its usual switch point which snaps the chain onto the next gear ring, says Norkum.

• Some bikes have gear-number displays on the handlebars but you don't need them.

"Shift by feel," says Norkum, by trying to maintain that spin or cadence of at least 60 revolutions per minute. If pedalling gets more difficult, shift to a lower (easier) gear. If pedalling get easier, shift to a higher gear.

• It should be easy to pull your shoes out of toeclips if you use them. You are physically restrained with those equipped with straps and can/will fall over with a sudden stop. Everyone who uses them has fallen over at some point. It's not only embarrassing but painful.

• All metal pedals, especially those with raised bumps, are better than plastic pedals which can be slippery.

• The ball of your foot (wide part at the front) should be over the pedal.

• When removing the rear tire and rim from the bike to repair a leak or change a tire, it is easier (the chain will be looser) if the chain is on the smallest gear at the front and the smallest gear at the rear. Then, you know you will place the chain back on the smallest gear of the rear cassette when the tire or rim is mounted back on the bike.

First, undo the axle quick-release and unscrew the axle so it's loose. On some bikes, unscrew and remove the entire axle. Put it where its grease won't get dirty or spread somewhere unintended.

Pull the derailleur or gear-change mechanism to the rear as you slide the tire and rim out and then back into the axle slots on the frame. The bracket on rim brakes (not disc brakes) must be undone to get the tire and rim on and off. Don't forget to re-tighten the bracket and check that its brake pads are aligned properly with the rim. Toe in pads slightly can reduce or eliminate squealing.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

More Making Tracks articles

About the Author

J.P. Squire arrived in the Okanagan Valley from flatland Chatham, Ont. in the middle of the night in the spring of 1980. Waking up in the Highway 97 motel, he looked across the then-four-lane roadway at Mount Baldy and commented: "Oh my God, there's mountains." Driving into downtown Kelowna, he exclaimed: "Oh my God, there's a lake."

The rest is history. After less than a month in Kelowna, he concluded: "I'm going to live here for a long time." And he did.

Within weeks and months, he was hiking local hillsides, playing rec hockey at Memorial Arena and downhill skiing at Big White Ski Resort. After purchasing a hobby farm in the Glenmore Valley in 1986, he bought the first of many Tennessee Walking Horses. After meeting Constant Companion Carmen in 1999, he bought two touring kayaks and they began exploring Interior lakes and B.C.'s coast.

The outdoor recreation column began with downhill ski coverage every winter as the Ski Sheriff but soon progressed to a year-round column as the Hiking, Biking, Kayaking and Horseback Riding Sheriff.

His extensive list of contacts in Okanagan outdoor recreation clubs, organizations and groups means a constant flow of emails about upcoming events and activities which will be posted on Castanet every Sunday.

You can email the Sheriff at: [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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