There's not much better than getting out on a nice day and taking a ride on a bike. It doesn't matter whether you just cycle occasionally or if you actively take part in competitions, we could all use a tip or two to pack lighter, smarter, or keep your bicycle on the road longer. These lesser-known biking hacks are meant for everyone, whether you're an expert or still just thinking about getting into cycling. There's something here for those of every level, so better check them out!
Always Make Sure To Wipe Away Extra Grease
Every bike chain needs to be oiled from time to time, but that doesn't mean that there should be grease caked all over your chain. It's good to remember to wipe your chain down with a clean rag after every service. The chain is one of the most important parts of your bike, and you want it to perform at its best, which means it needs to be kept clean.
If you don't know exactly how much oil you should apply to your chain, a simple solution is to wipe it down with a clean rag as you rotate and oil.
Use Plastic Wrap To Protect Tire Tubes
Most of us store our spare tubes in a bag, but we fail to wrap our tubes in something protective while it's in there. This could result in it rubbing up against something and becoming damaged before we even have a chance to use it. A simple solution is to wrap your spare tube in something like plastic wrap. You don't even have to store it in your bike, and you could just secure it directly to your bike above your pedals.
Whatever your preferred method of storage, ensuring that your spare tube is wrapped and protected can save you a lot of trouble down the road if you ever need it.
Add Wet Wipes To Your Kit
There's one simple piece of kit that's super versatile, doesn't take up much space, and should be in everyone's bag. Wet wipes can come in handy for cleaning both your bicycle and yourself should the need ever arise. Not to mention, they're great at getting rid of grease and grime. They're also handy if you've been cycling all day and want to stop for lunch or a quick snack.
In short, they don't take up much space and they're incredibly handy to have, especially if you plan on being out on the road or trail for a while.
Pack A Bottle Of Tire Sealant
Sealant is a must when riding through rough terrain. The last thing you want is to be stuck somewhere after a sharp rock or some glass punctures one of your tires. It also usually comes in a small bottle that's pretty easy to pack in your bag or on your bike above your pedals. In any case, it's always worth bringing a can, just in case you do run into some trouble.
Most sealants are able to repair multiple leaks, but it's always worth just checking out some reviews before you invest in something that could save you some serious time and trouble.
Use An Inner Tube To Wrap Noisy Chains
While it is really more of an annoyance, chain slap can usually be easily fixed with a couple of simple items. One such easy fix involves wrapping your chainstay with an old inner tube. This should keep your chain from slapping against your bike when you stop pedaling, or you're going down a hill. Another fix involves insulation tape, but an inner tube works just as well, and it's easier to remove.
When you get some time, it might also be worth figuring out why your chain is so loose in the first place, as the issue could get worse if not remedied.
Equip Your Bike With A Derailleur Bag To Store Parts
If you've ever found yourself on the side of the road with a broken bicycle, then odds are you probably found yourself wishing you'd brought a couple of extra spare parts or tools. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to pack those spare items in an efficient manner, and one such way is a derailleur bag. You can use one to store spare bolts, a chain, or just about anything else you need.
The best part is that these don't take up a lot of room, so you still have plenty of extra space on your frame to attach whatever else you might need.
Take Advantage Of Warranties To Fix Your Shoe Tension Systems
If you've invested in a pair of cycling shoes, then you want to make sure that everything is functioning as it's supposed to be. That includes one of the most important parts of the shoe, the tension system. However, sometimes a dial will fall off or break. If that happens, remember that most companies will fix or replace a dial if you just give them a call and talk to someone about your warranty.
You don't have to replace the whole shoe, and you can be back to pedaling before you know it without having to go out and spend a bunch of money on new shoes.
You Can Use A Card To Separate Brake Pads
A number of different issues can arise with brake pads during a ride. However, a lot of these usually only require that you separate your pads and then put them back into place. A quick and easy way to do this is to use a credit card or some other card you might have in your wallet. It can help you create a gap before putting the pads back into place.
It's a quick and easy exercise if you don't have the tools you need, but always be sure to use a card that you don't need or want anymore.
Utilize A Koozie For Storage
The great thing about most bicycles is that there are a ton of places to store things if you're a bit inventive, from spots inside your helmet to most places on your frame. However, if you find yourself needing a bit more stage space, you could always use a beer koozie to store things like folded tires or bags of spare parts or tools. The storage a koozie offers is limited, but it works for small items.
It's also pretty easy to attach to your frame, whether it's a hard or soft koozie. The only thing we don't recommend storing in there is actual beer, at least not until after your ride.
Keep Your Old Bike Packaging
One of the best parts about cycling is taking your bike to new places to ride and explore. However, if your new place happens to require a plane ride, then getting your bike there probably seems a bit daunting. A simple solution is to take your bike apart and use your old packaging to wrap everything up, from your pedals to your helmet. Also, remember to reuse the old bubble wrap and any foam that may have come with it.
Not only will this help protect your bike, but it'll also help make traveling and shipping a bit easier as well. In addition, you're recycling old packaging material in the process.
Pack Some Latex Gloves
In addition to wet wipes, latex gloves can help keep you from getting super greasy when you're forced to make a repair or fix a flat on the trail. In turn, this helps keep the rest of your bike and your helmet cleaner. It's also just generally a great idea to keep some gloves in your bag to help protect yourself against abrasions when you're working or making repairs.
The gloves don't necessarily have to be latex, and they can pretty much be any material that offers a little bit of protection because the last thing you want is a nasty cut that burns the entire time you're riding or exercising.
Make Sure Your Bike Skewer Stays Clean
Your bicycle has a lot of moving parts, and it's important to keep all of those parts clean. One of the most important parts of your bike is the axle, which is where a lot of dirt and grime can build up. If too much gets stuck in there, then your axle can seize up. You can use a quick-release skewer to make cleaning this area a bit easier.
Just remember to give everything a bit of lubricant before taking off again in order to make sure that everything is working as it should and doesn't rub.
Dollar Bills Can Be Used As Patches
If you find yourself out on the trail with a blown tire and you don't have any patches on hand, then don't fret too much. If you have a dollar, you might be able to patch up a hole in the side of your tire. They won't last forever, but they might be able to get you far enough to get some help, especially if you're using a newer polymer note.
You can also use a bill as a boot if you fold it up and then place it on the inside of your tire before giving it some air.
Freeze Some Of Your Water In Hot Weather
Depending on where you're at, the heat can make exercising and cycling unbearable. If it's pretty warm where you live, then consider freezing the water in your bottle before heading out. You only have to freeze about half of your bottle and this should keep the rest of your water cold while turning into a slushy throughout your ride. You can either drink the rest or use it to cool off later.
Depending on the type of bottle you're using, everything should be nice and melted about an hour into your ride. If not, then just freeze less the next time you go out.
Lift Your Handlebars If You Notice Discomfort
Comfort is extremely important when cycling, not just for comfort's sake but also for your body. If you're wrists or back is sore after a long ride, then it might be time to raise your handlebars a bit. You can try and raise them about a centimeter and see how that feels the next time you're exercising. Odds are it's going to be a lot better on your hands and body than lower handlebars.
Cycling is all about balance, so it might take a couple of different positions to figure out what position is best for you, but you shouldn't be feeling a lot of pain in your hands and lower back.
Use Ski Straps To Attach Whatever You Want
When it comes to cost, cycling isn't the cheapest sport or way to exercise out there. In all honestly, accessories can get pretty expensive. Luckily, if you want to save a little money while still getting out and enjoying the outdoors, there are plenty of ways to do so. One such way involves using rubber ski straps to attach things like sleeping bags or tents to your back in place of expensive equipment made specifically for cyclists.
You don't have to go out and spend a ton of money on new equipment if you've already got some sleeping bags or tents lying around your home.
Hook Your Hand To Your Pocket When Looking Back
Hooking your hand closest to the curb is a cycling term that simply means putting the hand closest to the curb in your pocket when looking back. It helps prevent a lot of torso rotation and helps you stay better balanced, but it does take a little bit of practice as it forces you to keep straight. It can also help keep you safe from traffic and other cyclists.
While it takes a bit of practice, it's worth mastering and can help keep you safe while exercising or cycling. Just remember to hook the hand closest to the curb.
Secure A Cue Sheet To Your Bike
This one is really more for those who like to compete. If you're worried about having to navigate while cycling, then a simple fix is to secure a cue sheet on your bike. This way, you don't really have to dedicate a whole lot of effort to trying to figure out where you're at, and you can better focus on your race. You may have to alter your sheet differently depending on what your race looks like.
However, the whole point of a cue sheet is to keep things simple, so try keeping directions to a minimum and study the route a bit before it's time to bike.
Don't Use Too Much Torque
While bicycles are pretty durable, they're not vehicles. All of the parts on a bike are pretty small, which means they can't take an extreme amount of pressure. That's one of the reasons you should be careful not to use too much torque when working on your bike or replacing a part. Of course, you don't want to use too little torque and risk something coming loose or falling off, either.
When it comes to this, it pays to actually read the manual and figure out how much torque a part or repair warrants. If not, you could find yourself breaking something or losing a pedal while riding.
Make Your Water Bottle Cage More Secure
Most water bottle cages out there are pretty well made, especially if they're made out of metal. However, you can always make them better. A great way of doing this is by using skateboard grip tape. It can help keep your bottle safer, especially if you're on a trail, while also helping keep it more secure on inclines and rocky roads. If you sweat a lot, the tape is a definite must.
Just cover your bottle in some grip tape, and it can save you from having to backtrack down a trail or road in order to find that bottle that you lost.
'Lock' Your Bike With Your Helmet Strap
So, this one isn't really meant to protect your bike from a dedicated bike thief, but it can help protect you from a quick grab-and-go. You can use the strap on your helmet to securely lock your tire while you hop off for a second. Again, this isn't meant to protect you overnight or anything, but it can prevent incidents if you don't plan on being away from your bike for awhile.
It also doesn't cost a thing because you're just using the straps on your helmet. If you do plan on locking up overnight, then you might want to invest in an actual lock.
Use An Old Water Bottle To Store Tools
Could you go out and buy a special bag to store all of your tools? Sure. Would you spend a bit of extra money on a bag made specifically for cyclists? Yes. The solution? You could also just use an old water bottle to store all of the tools you need. Just cut one in half and use some duct tape to patch everything back together after you fill it with tools.
Not only is it cheap and effective, but it can also be stored between your pedals if you have a water bottle holder on your bike. Just make sure it's secure.
Use A Level On Your Seat
As we said before, cycling is all about balance. As such, it's important that things like your seat are completely level and where they need to be. Luckily, you don't need an expensive tool for this, and you can use just about any level you have lying around the house. Of course, it helps if it's not a really long level but the important thing is that your seat comes out level.
When it comes to the height of your seat, then this really depends on what kind of cycling you plan on doing, and there are a ton of resources out there breaking down each one.
Use Some Carbon Assembly Paste On Parts
There's probably nothing more frustrating, short of pedal problems, than when your seat post slips. Luckily, there's a pretty simple solution and it doesn't take up much room in your pack. You can use some carbon assembly paste on your seat post, and just about any other part on your bike for that matter, in order to keep it from slipping or coming off. The paste will add some needed friction.
It can also help keep you from over-torquing when you're trying to get something back on. The past also works on parts like handlebars and stems if you're having issues there.
Use A Box To Pack Snacks
While it's not too difficult to pack enough to keep you going when cycling, it can be annoying when you're left eating crumbs after a long ride. You can try and keep everything together by using a sturdier pouch or even a box when packing food. This should help prevent things like cookies or granola bars from becoming complete dust when it comes time for a quick snack or lunch.
Unfortunately, we don't have a hack for a cheap snack box, but they are well worth the money as you can pretty much store anything you want in them and they're safer than pouches.
Swap The Tent For A Tyvek Sheet
While biking and camping can make for the perfect combination, it can sometimes be a struggle to pack everything you need on a bike. That's why it's important to save space wherever you can, and one such way of saving space is by getting rid of a tent and replacing it with a Tyvek sheet. A sheet will provide you with all the shelter you need in most situations.
It also gets rid of one of your largest pieces of gear and frees up space for other things. Not to mention, it drops the amount of weight you're carrying, which is important on a bike.
Always Bring A Pump
Out of all the gear you can bring, a small pump is probably the most important. It can save you from a number of different situations. It's probably second only to your helmet in terms of the things you bring with you while cycling. The worst thing you can do is have a simple flat tire and not be able to quickly pump it up and be back on the road.
Not only this, but a pump allows you to make a number of different repairs, from patches to replacing your tire on the side of the road. It all requires a pump.
Use A Bigger Tire For Rough Roads
Taking some of the pressure out of your tires can make your ride a little bit smoother, but it can also compromise your safety and lead to tire failure. Instead, try using a larger tire when you expect to run into bumpy roads. The larger tire can be filled with slightly less pressure while also still being safe to ride on. The larger tires will also provide you with better grip.
Most bikes out there are meant to be able to handle tires with different widths, so swapping tires is usually as simple as swapping pedals. Still, it's usually a good idea to check your bike's manual.
Invest In A Pocket Protector
Not only are there a lot of moving parts on your bike, but you also move quite a bit when cycling. All of this movement makes it likely that something falls out of your pockets while you're on the road. So, it's usually a good idea to invest in a pocket protector for items like wallets, keys, and phones. Not only does it protect things like phones, but it makes you more likely to notice something falling out.
If you have enough storage space, then it's usually better to just put the protector in a saddle bag but if not then it puts everything in one place while it's all in your pocket.
Store Your Bike Using Old Tires
Bike racks can get pretty pricey, so it's always nice to have other options. If you have an old tire or two, then you can make a do-it-yourself bike rack that will work until you can get a proper rack. It's important to note that it won't be super sturdy, but it will work, especially if you have a lot of exercise equipment already stored in your garage or shed.
There are plenty of resources online that go through how to make one of these step by step, but as you can see from the photo, it's not that hard to throw together.
Keep Shoes Clean With A Magic Eraser
It doesn't matter what kind of exercise or sport you like to do, it's always hard to keep your shoes clean. That's especially true if your shoes are white. Luckily, there's a simple way to clean white shoes and it doesn't take a whole lot of effort. You can use a magic eraser to quickly scrub and clean white shoes after a ride or two to make them look brand new again.
Just add some water to the magic eraser and it should work wonders in getting off all of that dirt and grime that accumulates from your pedals and bike.
Pack The Night Before
It doesn't matter if you're a morning person or not; the last thing you want to be doing the morning before a ride is trying to scramble and get everything together. So, the next time you have an early morning ride, try packing everything the night before. This means getting things like your helmet and whatever else you need together, and in one place so you're not looking for it in the morning.
It can also be handy to make a checklist of things you might need or want to take with you and mark things off as you organize the night before.
Get Inventive With Photos
Sometimes you're just going to be at a place that isn't level and your bike stand isn't going to work. Other times, it's just going to make your bike lean too close to the ground. So, try getting inventive when you want to take a photo and use a stick as a stand. You can wedge it between the ground and your pedal and it'll make your bike look more level.
This will make your bike look a lot better than if you'd just used the stand, which can usually cause it to lean pretty close to the ground and look uneven.
Use A Water Bottle To Clean Your Bike
There are a lot of moving parts on a bicycle, and you don't usually want to get your hand stuck in most of those moving parts. That's why it's always a good idea to use a spray bottle to clean things like brakes or chains after a ride. Spraying everything down can keep your hands safe from debris and other things like glass, which can get stuck in all of those moving parts.
Of course, a hose also works. If you find yourself on a multi-day trip, then it might be worth it to bring a spray bottle for evening washes.
Use Old Soda Bottles To Make Fender Shields
Protecting the back side of your bike is important. There are a lot of moving parts back there. That's why fender shields can work wonders in the rain. However, what do you do if you don't really have fenders back there? You can make some using old soda bottles. Just cut them in half and use superglue to glue everything together, and you're ready for the wet weather and terrain.
If you already have fenders but they're a bit smaller than they need to be, then you can just use the soda bottles to extend them as long as you want.
Fig Newtons Are Great For Cycling
Exercise snacks can get ridiculously expensive. Luckily, there are a couple of options that are great for you while also being relatively cheap. One of the best options is fig newtons. They're great at giving you energy, and they have a ton of fast-burning carbohydrates. Not to mention, they're much less expensive than pretty much every other option out there. Fig bars are another great option that's relatively cheap.
You also can't go wrong with other dried fruits, such as raisins or apricots. All of these options are great alternatives to granola bars and other expensive snacks.
Invest In A Handlebar Bag
For most people out there, a handlebar bag is going to be the way to go. They don't provide a ton of space, but they usually provide enough for the essentials, such as your phone, wallet, and keys. They're also really simple to install and generally look pretty good on a bike. They are generally a bit less pricey than some of the other bags out there as well.
However, if you find yourself needing a bit more space, then it might be worth it to look at a couple of other bags that allow you to store more.
Remember To Pack The Essential Snacks
While simple snacks like fig newtons are great for when you're on the go, you shouldn't forget to pack something a bit heavier for lunch, especially if you plan on being on your bike for a while. Things like bananas are great for keeping you charged while cycling. Another meal that's a bit heavier than a fig newton is an Uncrustable, which is used by long-distance athletes to keep them going.
It doesn't matter so much what you choose, as long as you remember to pack and keep safe during your ride so you don't find yourself out of energy during long trips.
Mind Your Bike Rack
This one might seem pretty obvious, but there's no telling how many times people have completely forgotten about their bikes when pulling into their garages. The results are usually bad for both your bike and your home. So, always remember to mind your bike rack when pulling into your home. It's also worth remembering when going to other places, such as drive-thrus. You don't want to be that person who runs into their home with their bike rack.
If that happens then odds are you're looking at replacing more than just your pedals and it's probably going to be time for an entirely new bike and garage door.
Replace Small Parts Regularly
This one isn't so much a hack as it is just proper bicycle maintenance. A bike is sort of like a sports car in that while it's made to do one or two things, parts still break and have to be replaced regularly. That's why it's important to replace the small parts and "service" your bike on a regular basis. For example, even if your chain hasn't broken, it might be time for a new one.
This is especially true if you haven't replaced some of these parts in a while. The last thing you want is to have a failure out on the trail or on the side of a road.