CLINTON — “Get that dusty old bike down from the hook, dust it off and let’s get it ready to hit the road,” says Austin Hawks, a Clinton resident who teaches Agriculture Education at Clearfield High School and repairs bikes on the side.
At a recent Clinton City Community Enhancement Program class, Hawks demonstrated simple ways to “get your bike ready to roll in no time.”
Hawks covered the basics of a bicycle checkup, which included how to tune up, make repairs and maintain your bicycle.
No matter how often one rides, Hawks said, it’s important give the bike a tuneup at least once a year. Because bikes typically lie dormant during Utah’s winters, Hawks said it’s important to make a checklist of the main things to do before taking the bike out on the road.
Hawks, a Utah transplant from Washington State, is a self-taught bike repairman. He said he liked to ride bikes in college but, having the budget of a college student, he couldn’t afford repairs.
“I read a few books, magazine articles and web pages and started working on my own bikes. Then I got a job at a bike shop, and I’ve been working on bikes ever since,” Hawks said.
“I ride my bike to work every day come sun or sleet.”
He said he likes to see people riding bikes and enjoys teaching them how to do repairs because, if they are on a well-running bike, they will enjoy the ride more and ride more often.
He said there are a few basic preseason preparations one can do each year to feel safe and have a better ride.
Keep a checklist of six basic things to do before taking the bike off that hook in the garage, he said.
Hawks suggested starting at the front of the bike and working to the back.
Check the headset, or the bearing assembly that connects the front fork to the frame and permits the fork to turn for steering and balancing. Do this by bouncing the bike up and down and side to side. Pick the bike up about 5 or 6 inches off the ground and let it drop.
Hear any odd noises when it hits the ground? That could mean there are loose parts, he said.
Next, check the brake pads for wear, especially uneven wear. Squeeze the brake levers and watch the brake pads. They should hit the rim at the same time. If they don’t, adjust them accordingly.
Also, clean the chain by rubbing it with alcohol. Use engine degreaser if it’s really dirty. Lube it with a quality bike lube. Never use WD-40, as that just attracts dust and dirt, making the chain even dirtier, he said.
Check the hubs — the center part of the wheel that consists of an axle, bearings and a hub shell, which typically has two flanges to which spokes can be attached — by rocking them side to side to see if they are loose or have any play.
Tires should be inflated to the proper pressure. If the tire has any dry rot or cracking around the sidewall, the tire should be replaced.
Once the checklist is completed, do a basic tuneup. Checking all cables and housing for any cracks, crimps, rust, dirt and looseness.
Because the cables are complicated, Hawks suggests taking the bike to a bike shop for replacements or repairs to them.
He said a quick way to tune a bike is through the barrel adjustments. Barrel adjustments make the cable housing last longer, thus making the cable tighter, Hawks said as he demonstrated how to clean a cable and cable housing.
Brian Downard, 51, who attended Hawks’ tuneup class, said his family members are avid bike riders. He started riding bikes at 5 years old and still rides around three times a week for up to five miles.
“I came tonight to gain more knowledge on repairs, since my wife and I and our six kids all have bikes. It certainly would benefit us to do our own repairs if we can,” Downard said.
David Pearson asked Hawks, “How do you know what size bike is right for you?”
Hawks said if it feels good, it fits you. He added that the seat height should be at your hip and that you should choose a seat that works for you.
Handlebars should be wherever you are comfortable with them.
Hawks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.