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Monday, January 14, 2013

Winter Bike Parking

If you store your bicycle outside in the winter, preferably in your backyard where it is marginally safer from thieves, you may want to consider some protection for your bicycle.

By Smokey Dymny of the Quadra Bicycle Mechanic School

 Yes, it’s winter in Canada and many cyclists don’t seem to have places to park their steed (bike) in a warm, sheltered spot. Instead they are locked to those ugly post-and-ring affairs, which we told the Toronto City Council long ago, weren’t very good for bikes. The edges of those cast aluminum rings are sharp enough to scratch the bike’s paint, AND more importantly, aluminum is a brittle metal, so these rings can be cracked with a two by four piece of wood – so your bike is not exactly safe if left overnight.

Which is why you see some of these rings have now been doubled in thickness to prevent such easy breakage.

Some smart civic employee decided that expensive, brittle aluminum should be made twice as expensive to solve the theft problem. So now, if you have a short U-lock, you know, the one that’s not too heavy to carry around on your belt loops, you can’t get it to fit the extra fat post and ring parking device.

I’ve always admired the City of Vancouver for it’s enlightened approach to bike parking. Their parking racks are diverse, that is they have different designs in different places. They are made of steel tubing which is: round (doesn’t scratch your bike), strong, can’t be broken, and powder coated in different colours to make them attractive. They must have actually asked cyclists how to design those racks.

But, I digress. Let’s get back to winter in Toronto.

You’ve left your bicycle locked to a post-and-ring device and then it snows. The City gets the road ploughed. Store owners shovel their sidewalk. And all that white stuff has ended up piled right where? You guessed it. Right where all the bikes are locked. So now you may not be riding because the bike lanes are also NOT cleared, so you leave your poor bike there, half buried in snow, for weeks or months. The part that is buried, is the most vulnerable. Your drive train. Chain, cogs, chainrings, and derailleurs, if you have them. And if you didn’t oil these VERY well before the snow fell they are all now rusting under a layer of snow and ice. By spring you will be replacing your drivetrain.

Flash! Why not protect your ride with a bicycle cover.

There come for cheap ($12) or a little more if you want better protection. And they keep the elements off your bike. The best ones also have wire threads imbedded in the polypropylene material so that it can’t be easily torn off your bike when you’ve put your lock through it. You may have to lock your bike to a fence when you park at home, and to something else when you ride to school or work. But now you can take your protection with you.

And I assure you that the cover is cheaper than a new drivetrain will be come next spring. So try it!

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Charles Moffat is equal parts bicycle mechanic, cyclist, painter, sculptor, fantasy writer, poet, website designer and pun maker. For more details see



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