My bicycle’s computer, what used to be called a speedometer, finally died.  I shopped around and found that the same model is no longer available so I bought a different but well-known American brand name (manufactured in China, of course) as a replacement. 

I carefully followed the instructions as I installed the mounting hardware, the connecting wire, the sensor unit, and the spoke magnet.  I then punched in all the data: tire size, miles or kilometers, 12- or 24-hour clock, and the correct time.  I then took it for a spin and all worked fine until I tried to reset the trip odometer back to “0”.  Instead, it dumped all the data as if I’d removed the battery.  I started all over, checking the instructions very carefully.  Same result three times, so I quit, figured that it must have a bad chip in it.  I removed and repacked everything and returned it for a refund and exchange.  I put the new one on and it had the same problem.  Drat!  I removed and repacked everything but since there was a website on the package, I contacted customer service: 

“I have just purchased my SECOND [brand and model] from [store] in Rolla, MO. Both are defective. After following all the set-up steps and a test ride, I tried to reset the trip meter. I held down both buttons for 3 seconds. Instead of resetting, it dumped ALL the data and requires new set-up as though the battery had been removed. I returned the first one to [store] for refund and will do the same with the other. Not asking for a refund; just telling you that you have a quality control problem. TWO identical malfunctions.”

Next day, after returning it, I received a reply from customer service:  “Hi, It’s Not a Malfunction it is a misprint in the manual you only need to push and hold the left button for 3 seconds.  Thanks, [Representative’s Name]”

Oh, for goodness’ sake!  So how was I supposed to know THAT?!!  Once again, a well-known American company switches all of its manufacturing to China but then fails to inspect its delivered goods.  It might not be a “malfunction” but it most certainly is a “quality control problem”. 

Oh, well; life and Chinese manufacturing of US consumer goods go on. 

Nice bicycling weather is finally here, at least between the rains and that’s what fenders are for, to keep the spray off of you when you pedal through a puddle and along wet pavement. 

If you have not yet done so, it’s time to clean and lubricate that bicycle, check the tires, wheels, spokes, axles, gears, brakes, steering, and everything else and start enjoying your rides.  Be sure to have a tire pump, spare inner tube or patch kit, and tools for fixing a flat. 

Whether you run errands, commute to work or school, race, leisurely ride the roads and trails, or loop around the city park pathways, it’s good for your health while also fighting pollution and saving the planet, so pedal proudly! 

If you are still uncertain as to what sort of bicycle you should get, you likely do not want a road-racing bike.  Pedaling at high speed while hunched over in an aerodynamic tuck over down-turned bars is an art that takes lots of practice, skill and endurance.    Modern lightweight narrow-tired road-racing bicycles are marvels of technology and engineering and with the right hands and feet, they can achieve impressive speeds and distances.  But most of us, and especially novice riders, want a bicycle for transportation and errands, not competition. 

Hunching over in an aerodynamic tuck is essential in racing, but up to about 12 mph, sitting straight upright is fine.  Not only is it comfortable, it sets your head higher than the roofs of most cars so that you can better see the roadway and surrounding traffic. 

Personally, I do not worry about the bicycle’s weight.  If you are not racing, why pay a fortune to shave off a few pounds?  And if you intend to carry any cargo while running errands, well now it’s really silly.  Besides, if you really want to shave some weight, lose a few pounds pedaling that bicycle and you will feel doubly good about it while saving all that money. 

Given that local roads often have drain grates, cracks, potholes, and other obstructions, and many county roads are gravel or even dirt, I suggest wider tires.  Personally, I will not get another bike with tires narrower than 1.75 inches. 

A low-geared bicycle pedals easily from a stop but soon spins out; you cannot pedal fast enough to keep up.  A high-geared bicycle could go fast on flats and downhill, but is very hard to start and very strenuous up hills, especially at low speeds.  A mid-geared bicycle might seem to be a good compromise but in hilly terrain, it is simply miserable all around.  Hence the wonders of multi-speed gearing.  If you need help on this, advice is readily available.  

So, what has upright seating, cargo carrying capacity, wide tires, and wide range gearing?  You might look at comfort bikes and cruisers; both tend to meet those specs.  I enjoy my entry-level hard-tail mountain bike.  Hard-tail means a fixed rear without a suspension which I don’t need on normal rides.  In fact, the front suspension is optional but the bike came with it and was a good deal.  Besides, sometimes on those long gravel descents, it is really nice as it smooths out all that vibration.  I added fenders and a cargo rack and later replaced the knobby tires with smooth road tread ones.  They have a better grip and make far less noise on roadways. 

But don’t overthink it.  Just start riding and enjoy it. 

I hope that I’ve dispelled some concerns and encouraged others to give bicycle riding a try.  Perhaps we’ll meet soon.  I’ll ring my bell!