Monday, August 29, 2016

Etiquette on "Helping" Others with Their Bikes?


I had an interesting encounter over the weekend with a woman I met out on the road. She told me that her bicycle felt uncomfortable. Why? Well, prior to setting off, her neighbour - an Expert Cyclist (what is that, exactly?...) - had topped up the air in her tyres. She said her tyres had felt fine just as they were. He insisted they needed topping up and did it anyway. They now felt hard as rocks and the bike was bouncing her about, but she was afraid to let air out on the go, lest she deflate them too much without a pressure gauge. I pinched the tyres and said that a few quick taps on the valves should get the pressure down to comfortable range, without any danger of losing too much air. I then stepped aside while she did this herself. She already had one "expert" molest her bicycle, I figured, and did not need another stranger stepping in.

The anecdote might seem like a harmless example. But the phenomenon of "helping" others with their bicycles uninvited has come up in conversations here before. And tyre pressure is a particularly familiar context in which this seems to happen. For me, the situation typically unfolds like this:

Fellow cyclist, at the start of a ride: [squeezing my tyre and immediately reaching for pump] Hang on, I'll just top up your air before we set off.

Me: Oh, they don't need topping up please, I'm fine.

Cyclist: But your pressure should be at 100psi. Yours is at 90.

Me: Yup. I like mine at 90. I run them at 90 deliberately.

Cyclist: What! Why? You'll go much faster at 100psi [proceeds to attach pump nozzle to valve]

Me: [grabbing bike away] Thank you, but I disagree. Please don't touch my bike...

Later I might hear that I had been rude to this cyclist. That is fine. I'll take rude, over getting my tyres over-inflated against my will.

And should anyone think that I really do run my tyre pressure too low in that example, now take this story and reword it in the opposite direction. That is to say, there have also been occasions when I've been scolded for running my tyre pressure (same tyres, same pressure) too high. And in those scenarios attempts have been made to let air out of my tyres, without my consent.

The point being, we all might think we know how to set up a bicycle optimally - be it in terms of tyre pressure, saddle height, handlebar angle, or what have you. And certainly it can be frustrating to watch someone with a setup we (think we) know to be detrimental to their comfort or performance. But the way I see it: to interfere with somebody else's bike without their permission - or, worse, despite their protests - is a violation, no matter how well-intentioned.

It's a violation not only in that it's messing with private property, but also in that it's infringing upon another person's sense of agency.

If I see something that looks off about somebody else's bicycle, unless the owner explicitly asks me to alter the thing in question, I wouldn't take it upon myself to adjust their machine. In fact, unless I believe the issue to be a safety hazard (i.e. quick release open, cracked stem, mudguard about to fall off) - I wouldn't even feel compelled to comment on it. I have learned by now to accept a wide variety of setups as "just right" for their owner, no matter how odd or uncomfortable they might look to me.

That said, I do have a bad habit of touching - literally, just touching - people's bikes without always asking for permission. And while I think of this as a harmless form of admiration, it may very well be that some owners find my tactile explorations irksome. So far I've been yelled at only once, but who knows!

Then again, looking at it from a different perspective entirely, a friend has this to say on "helping" people with their bicycles:
Once you touch someone's bike... I don't know, it's like helping them with their computer or website. You run the risk of being held responsible for anything that might go wrong with that bike (or computer, or website) for the rest of its existence, whether it is related to the original problem you helped with, or not! So you better be prepared to take that on...
As someone who has been in this unfortunate role with computers and websites, I am definitely not prepared to take that on when it comes to bikes. So excuse me, while I slowly back away from your machine!




66 comments:

  1. I wonder how much of this is related to gender. I've never encountered it and can't imagine someone doing it to me (and as a fat guy who rides skinny-tired bikes, I run pressures that have surprised more than one bike shop employee) or doing it to someone else. But this feels like one of those things that a certain kind of guy would pull to show off . . . something. I've had some folks mistakenly warn me my chain is loose on my fixed gear (I use a Biopace chainring, so it's an understandable mistake) but that's the closest I've come.

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    1. i think you've named it, an extension of "mansplaining" in this case -a guy seeing himself as saving a 'clueless' female.

      Fortunately, i've not often had to deal with anyone mucking about uninvited with my bike, and comments regarding any unusual aspects of my machine (beyond pointing out some safety concern) are usually answered if at all with a nod or a blank look or just, "yeah."

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    2. In my experience, not as much as it's tempting to assume. I have definitely seen men try to adjust other men's bikes uninvited.

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    3. I think the closest I've come to "mansplaining" about a bike is "Dadsplaining."
      Last year, on my daughter's college campus:
      Me: "Honey if you look your bike like this [bike secured by its back rack only] you make it very easy to steal. Secure the lock around the frame, or around its back wheel here, under these stays."

      My 19-year-old daughter: "I always do it this way, Dad. It works just fine."

      Three days ago on the phone: "Dad, my bike got stolen!"

      Remarkably for me, I resisted saying "I told you so," but I did ask: "Did you lock the frame?"

      The answer: "No, I locked it around the post right under the seat. " !!!???!!!

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  2. No different than any other walk of life.

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  3. Normally if I see someone pushing their bike along the road, I'll ask if they are OK or if they need help. I'll assist if needed. If they say they are fine, I'll leave them alone. There was one time I ran across a girl riding and the aluminum rims were grinding against the pavement with every pedal stroke. I told her to stop. I HAD to put some air in the tires. She said she was new to cycling and was unsure what that noise was. She was very happy with the improvement and how easy it was to pedal.

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    1. Watching someone ride the rims might fall into the safety hazard category for me, but it would depend on the context.

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  4. The dude could tell 10% difference in tire pressure just by touching it? An expert, indeed.

    Tire pressure is like a bloody religion among Freds so you'd better don't mess with that!

    My tires are usually properly underinflated (less than recommended minimum) and I can't even picture anyone convincing me it's "wrong".

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    1. For me around 90psi is the sweetspot for 700x25mm road tyres, which seems to fall into no-man's land between the "lower is better" and "higher is better" camps. So I actually get told disconcertingly often that my tyre pressure is too high/too low. I just shrug and smile and say "I've experimented with different pressures and this works for me."

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    2. Don't tell them you're at 90. Tell them you're at 91.2 or something else random. That should at least give them some pause.

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    3. Depending on the tire, I'm with you 100%, or, 85-90 psi as the case may be...

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    4. For about a decade when nothing better was available I rode the S- tire that said 700x32 on the sidewall but measured 700x26. That measurement was on my already vintage and archaic Frenchy rims, those who rode 19mm rims only got 25mm from the same tire. But of course no one but me rode tires so wide back then. My truck tires were criticized on every ride. These were also the years when I could quiet them down by bumping the pace to 30mph. And these were the years when 700x18 was considered normal, even for loaded touring. If you weren't there you just can't imagine how staunchly the industry, the experts, and everyday riders spouted the virtues of skinny skinny tires.

      Those tires were both horrible and well loved. Neither the industry nor human nature have changed.

      The first step if you want to discuss tires is to measure them. Measure them with a caliper while fully inflated on the wheels you ride. If you don"t measure you are flying purely on the seat of your pants. Flying blind will work and does work for most people, it just makes rational discussion impossible. Right now I can think of two very popular tires that are marked 700x25 and sell in boxes that say 700x25 but come in a 25 version and a 28 version. You buy the tire and install it before you know which you get.

      The bloghost who claims 60kg of personal mass is overinflated at 90psi if Berto/Heine means anything. Substantially overinflated. But I have no safety concern about that at all. I don't understand why someone inflates so high but it barely matters. My partner weighs quite a bit less, uses tires at 27 and 29mm, and insists on 85psi. That is wildly overinflated. She has a perfect 50 year safety record. When she asks me to pump her tires I pump them to 85. Sometimes we discuss that but it never goes anywhere.

      From age 15 to retirement Greg LeMond rode Vittoria CX tubulars at 22mm width and inflated them to 95psi. If it was raining he might go to 90 or even 85. With a 22mm tire that is quite a bit lower than 90psi and a 25. Greg raced at about 65kg. His results were pretty good. My brother beat Greg on two occasions using about the same pressure. This was when fashion and most of the field were at 130 or 140psi. Greg pumped his own tires and talked technical minutia constantly. Everyone knew he was going to beat them most every time and everyone knew he rode softer tires than his competition. People just love hard tires.

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  5. How about the guy riding no hands and texting during rush hour? Do we say something to him?

    Then there's the guy who wants the gauge on his floor pump to go higher. Last weekend he had a great time with 180 psi and now he wants to go for 190 psi. That his rim might become shrapnel and harm bystanders still gives those bystanders no basis to open their mouths.

    Of course when I do something as simple as fetching a pint of cream on the DL-1 without a helmet, I run a gauntlet of helmet police. Including nearly all those who otherwise wish to enforce silence.

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    1. Some of us are pretty good at no-hands. It helps to get your tire pressure right, of course :-).
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3g3_GO0jeY (hands on bars at the Mass Ave intersection, otherwise not)

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  6. This is about respect. You are justified in using a taser.

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    1. Tasers can kill. No one deserves to die for the sort of verbal miscue being discussed here. Could we dial it back a bit folks?

      And could someone please tell me what "respect" means in the twenty-first century?

      I was riding my bike to work last week when another bike passed me on the left at a high rate of speed and made an immediate right turn in front of me. His back wheel hit my front wheel plenty hard. Most people would have landed on the ground. He also entered the intersection on a red light, an intersection that was full of rush hour traffic.

      So I chased him down. He didn't much like it that the guy on the DL-1 was able to chase him down on his S-Works super bike. He spoke first, addressing me as "grandpa", suggested I perform a variety of unnatural acts, and then launched into a tirade about "respect".

      The version of "respect" that I keep seeing is more like deference. I'm supposed to show deference to sanctified consumer goods, and to the paragons who have all that discretionary income. My experience is the more expensive the bike, the more likely the rider is making multiple errors that do jeopardize my safety. But they belong to a higher social class than I do, so I should bow and grovel. I don't do so good at grovelling. You'd best tase me.

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    2. No tasing please.

      My understanding of respect in this context would be...
      . Ride in such a way as to not endanger other cyclists
      . Do not mock other cyclists' bicycle setup, or choice of gear, regardless of pricepoint
      . Leave other cyclists' stuff alone unless help actually required
      . Refrain from ageist, sexist, racist, body-dismorphic, social, and other slurs
      . Do not tase

      I am probably leaving stuff out, but definitely do not tase.

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    3. Anon above - good lord no, sorry. My hyperbole was too harsh - consider me dialed back.

      I do think this is about respect, though - in the case above respect for some else's property, person and choices.

      Peace and happiness (and safe riding).

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  7. Hello, My name is Spindizzy and I am that dude.

    Oh man, I try not to, I promise myself I'm never going to do it again, I write myself little reminders inside my eyelids and I STILL find myself doing it. I go long periods of time without and really don't do it very often anymore but since it takes so long for ones victims to forget(do they ever?), someone out there is ALWAYS thinking of me as "That crazy old fart that thinks my saddle's too low..."

    I absolutely HATE IT when I'M the person being told my tire is low or my wheel needs truing or my nose needs wiped, and I have to consciously fight my impulse to push the offender into traffic. So you'd think I'd be a bit more sensitive.

    Whatever, it's almost certainly a testosterone imbalance.

    Spindizzy

    P.S. I really DO appreciate the help with my website...

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    1. Must remind myself to accidentally run into you with a frame conspicuously lacking in custom-modified vintage parts. "What's that mister? You think this bike would look better with period-correct Campag and that NOS Ideale you have squirreled away in the basement and a hand-sculpted chaincase? Well, I'm no expert, but if you feel it's a safety hazard, do as you must!..."

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    2. Well I never said people don't NEED my assistance and advice of course, just that they typically don't REALIZE it. It's better for everyone if they simply do what I tell them, take what I offer and generally try to be just like me. But that's a lot to expect from folks that don't know any better...

      And as far as letting me get rid of some of the 7 metric tonnes of vintage bicycle crap I'm trapped under? That's really sort of a charitable act and I'm a goner if people stop taking it off my hands.

      Spindizzy

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    3. I wouldn't mind if someone said my wheel needed truing...it's not something easily noticed while I'm ON my bike! But advice is one thing, fixing my bike without my permission is another.

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    4. I've got an NOS Ideale though in the garage as there are no basements in CA. A No. 80 as I recollect - from around '76 :)

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    5. Oooh. Aaaah. I've only got used, hump-centred Ideales. And all ladies (wide) models. And all trapped in storage in Boston.

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    6. DUDE! You cant be saying things like that around here! Do you have ANY idea what some of us would do to get our hands on that saddle? I'm going to have to keep telling myself you were just Trolling us and that saddle doesn't really exist if I want to be able to sleep tonight...

      Spindizzy

      Jeeze! An NOS Model 80. Who could even joke about something like that?

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    7. Spin

      Cool your jets dude. The 80 was Ideale's attempt at a high volume, mid price saddle. Most were hard as a rock, never quite broke in, then broke down quickly. Being as how it is Ideale and there were variants on variants you might have seen a good 80 somewhere once, most were ordinary. OEM on a lot of midrange French bikes.

      Anon 2:04 - There is a reasonable chance you can enjoy your saddle. Get some Proofide on it. A lot of Proofide. Don't let it get wet. At least don't let it get wet before that Proofide has worked all the way through.

      The common good Ideale were #90 & #92. There were lots and lots of small run models and you would be a very hardcore collector if you knew which was which. The way to tell good ones is the leather is like butter. That butter leather is tough and it lasts. Lots of good French saddles had thick, tough leather. Ideale had butter.

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  8. I'm always amused when people I don't even know can't keep themselves from ringing my bike's bell even when I'm standing right there. I mean, if I reached into someone's automobile and beeped their horn, they'd probably start foaming at the mouth...

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    1. My warning device is a squeeze-toy kitten. Everybody pets and squeezes the kitten. Before kitty, I had a squeeze-toy bunny rabbit with long floppy ears. I can't tell you on a family blog what happened to bunny's ears.

      Ringing that bell is normal. I can't explain the psychology for you, it is normal. Live with it.

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    2. Kind of agree that ringing the bell is inevitable.

      And I believe I could do with a squeeze-toy kitten.

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  9. Oh my. One time when I was shopping for a new bike, I stumbled upon a bike shop that had some fancy new computerized system designed to give them "perfect" specs to set up the bike for each person. They took some measurements, punched it all into their computer and proceeded to set up the bike for a test ride with the saddle so high I could barely reach the pedals. I protested, but to no avail - the computer said so, so it HAD to be right. I think I made it about 3 blocks on my test ride before I was in such incredible pain that I wasn't sure I could even make it back to the shop! Needless to say, they didn't succeed in selling me a bike.

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  10. "Three Men on the Bummel" by Jerome K Jerome features a fantastic scene detailing the fall-out from an interfering neighbour offering unwanted "expert" advice on bicycle maintenance.

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  11. The WD40 sprayer is to be avoided. Looking to coat everyone's drive train in gloop to match his own. Just a quick pre-ride lube to keep things running smoothly.

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  12. I guess the strangest/funniest adjustment ever made to my bike was by a fellow who took it upon himself to re-mount my computer from the top of the handlebars where I keep it, to the stem.

    "More aero and symmetrical this way," he said, clearly expecting appreciation - as if this should have been a Eureka moment for me.

    "EXCUSE me?!..."

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    1. OMG. I HATE stem mounted computers. (unless there's no space on the bars, or if it's a touring bike)

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    2. My cheesy wireless computer needs to be set up on the left side; same as the wheel sensor.
      I might have cast a little aspersion at such a fellow.

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  13. Are these the same people that ride around with a backpack full of plastic saddles so they can swap out that "clunky" (read: heavy) Brooks?

    I actually had someone tell me Sunday morning that I shouldn't have wasted my money on my bike (a Soma GR I built in the living room), informing me that it had stupid shifters (bar ends), too many cables (non-aero brakes), a heavy frame (steel), and slow tires (35mm). Interestingly, this guy avoided mentioning the saddle, though he did frown when he saw I was wearing cutoff chino shorts.

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  14. Wow, if somebody was insistently grabbing on my bike and trying change anything, that would be a really big problem with me. I'll talk tire pressures and brake levers and saddle position until the cows come home, but you roll your way and I'll roll mine, thank you.

    On the other side of that same coin, though, I find it to be very rude to not offer help/ be offered help when there is an obvious problem. (I'm not talking saddle position or handlebar tape unraveling, I'm talking a flat tire or something falling off type of deal)

    Young or old, male or female, if I see any rider stopped (aside from an obvious water break or something similar), I'll ask if they need a hand. (I carry tools, patches, tubes, a pump, etc. with me)
    Interestingly, I used to ask, "can I help you?" in those situations, but one encounter with a young woman caused me stop offering for a while, then ultimately just change the way I offer assistance: One time, riding laps through a very short wooded path (only about 4-ish miles in length from end-to-end), I saw a young woman pondering over her tire. As I approached, I hollered over to her, asking if I could help her. She glared at me and told me that she didn't need "rescued" by some man, going on and on. (To be fair, I am rather tall/big, and probably do appear menacing, if you don't know me) I just rode on, thinking unkind thoughts about her. I had planned on riding several laps, but after passing her a couple of times, staring at what was obviously a matter of a simple flat tire (and no means to repair was my guess), I left the path. Maybe her attitude towards me was just frustration at the moment, maybe she was a jerk. I don't know. I do know that for months afterwards, I would silently ride by anybody that I previously would have offered to help. I decided that was just too rude for me to live with, and thought to myself that a simple "need a hand?" may be a different enough approach to not offend. I don't know how everybody perceives it, but it's a genuine offer to simply help.


    Wolf.

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    1. I bet the young lady was wearing a red cape and on her way to visit her Grandma, did she have a basket on her bike also, that would explain lots Mr Wolf !!!!!!!!!

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  15. The thing about biking is, everybody has a very specific idea of how it should be done, but everyone's opinion is different. I think it's all the time we spend by ourselves thinking, trying to figure out how to make things a little bit better. We arrive at what is, for us, an optimal point, and we really think others should be doing things just like that.
    Especially less-experienced cyclists, in my experience. They have been taught by the bike shop, or have read, some very specific advice. Anything else is dangerous and sub-optimal. Those of us who are more experienced have gone through enough changes in our lives to realize there is more than one good way of biking, and are happy to see people doing it at all, usually (excepting genuinely dangerous behavior, risking an accident).

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  16. Also, BTW, I think you're getting more of this because you're a woman. Men tend to want to teach women things, expecting appreciation in return. They are more respectful of the boundaries of other men. I've never had anyone -- so far as I can remember -- make an adjustment to my bike without my permission.

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  17. We've had the tire pressure discussion at our house lately. I ride mine at 90, which is where I had been inflating my wife's tires. But the guy at the LBS insisted they should be pumped up to 120 because they'll go "faster" and won't get a pinch flat. I quoted Jan Heine's research on tire pressure, but she wasn't convinced. Then a friend reported that he pumps his tires to 100 psi. Apparently he's more trustworthy than me, because that's the pressure she's riding at these days.

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    1. I agree that more pressure generally "feels" faster and while the wheel may indeed roll easier on a super smooth surface, most roads are not so smooth. This means any sort of vibration is transmitted through to the rider and if you are no comfortable, then you won't be going as fast as you can. The other problem with tire pressure is that it is somewhat individualized; a 170lb. man will need more pressure then 105lb. woman. Indeed, with any new bike/tires I tend to err to the high side and then gradually back off over time until I find the sweet spot. The bell on my Cross Check has a spring on it, when the tire pressure is too high, I notice that the bell rings on it's own over small bumps in the road. It's funny because to me it's like a little tire pressure alarm telling me to pull over and bleed out a little air! LOL
      -Mas

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    2. I like this. I have a few sections that ring my bell. I'll try dropping the pressure in 5# increments and see how it changes.
      Cheers!

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  18. I've been helping people with their bikes for years with no negative consequences. A few months after I first moved out on my own I was skateboarding down the sidewalk, when I spied a pretty young girl tinkering with her bike. Scene out of a beer commercial really, Short shorts, Low cut top. Anywayz, I ask her if she needs some help!? She says "no you're only like the 5th person to ask" (Not surprising really!) I said, "No, really I used to work in a bike shop" She says "OH!, that's different!" Well, OK I fixed her bike and we've been friends ever since, even though she's not really a bike rider.
    Typically like Spin, I ask if people need help, I notice many times the bewildered look is congruent with having a new bike! Fortunately, I am old enough now that girls don't assume I am trying to pick them up and generally I'm not. Not long ago, I helped a young lady put her front wheel on properly and explained the quick release and how to reattach the v-brake cable and spring. She was quite pleased so I hopped back on my bike and headed down the bike path only to have her pass me like I was standing still a couple minutes later! YOUTH! 8-(

    Generally, People don't comment on my bikes maintenance, I guess it's the way I set them up, but seasoned bike riders look at my bikes and they just give that nod of approval! That says it all! Once they see it they know everything is in it's place and exactly as intended.

    -Masmojo

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  19. Oh, but so many people need so much "help," in so many areas.
    Fortunately, I'm pretty useless in terms of bike maintenance. I can just about keep my tires inflated, and I can lube the chain when it makes that complaining sound, and I can wipe off the sand or the salt, depending on the season. Oh, and I can change a tire (because it costs a silly amount of money to pay someone to swap the studdies on and off and my husband has a cute little bike kit w interesting gadgets inside). None of that is enough to make me feel I can offer aid or advice, though I do catch myself muttering under my breath, "That seat's too low," or "Bet those knees hurt."

    For me, the hardest advice not to give is when someone is lamenting that they can't ride their bike.
    "I wish I could, but ... ... I'll be all sweaty." Ride slower.
    "... but, it's too far." Don't go that far, then.
    "... but, my tires were stolen." Um???
    I've come to see that these aren't really regrets, just conversational noises, so I just smile and nod and say, well, it works for me.

    On the other hand, I don't think I have ever had anyone tell me what to do/ not do w my bike set up, outside a LBS, where they're right in thinking that's why I'm there.

    Do love the idea posted above: tell helpful meddlers the tire pressure is deliberately set at 91.2 or something. (And report back on the look on their face.)

    Best,
    Lil Bruin

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  20. I've a very old book which I rarely use but will now consult Emily Post on this issue. The tips are always useful.

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  21. I don't use a gauge, just pump them up and squeeze them until the feel right. Same for my SS MTB and Brompton, never had a problem.

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  22. Harry says; The old "I work in a bike shop" never failed when I was a commuting mechanic. I carried a variety of the usual spares but mainly several inner tubes of various sizes. Canberra is a bicycle commuter heaven and I'd usually whack a tube in for someone and give them our shop business card inviting them to pop in and pay for the tube anytime. They often bought a spare too and we sold several new bikes this way. I can't remember any no-shows. As for advice about tyre pressure et al, my friends know that I 'know stuff' but still look at me with pity when I mention my set-up :- Clément LGG 35mm at 70/75 psi.

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  23. Assertiveness clearly needed (90 psi is plenty for speed and avoiding pinch-flats). I agree with the post explaining the risk of being held responsible for the bike forevermore having once modified it.
    These days I never touch friends computers or bicycles unless they implore me to help them fix a problem. If I think something could be improved I make the suggestion and explain why. If the owner thinks the idea worthwhile...

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  24. I recall stopping once in a village to make a minor adjustment to my SA toggle chain when a lycra / racer / young fellow-me-lad on a very nice road bike stopped to ask me if I was alright, did I need any assistance or similar. I smiled and thanked him and showed him it was just a toggle chain adjustment so I was alright, but I do think it was nice he stopped to ask. He started running his eyes over my bike and I just had the feeling he was dying to find something he could fiddle with! Had he started up with some unsolicited fiddling of my saddle and bars and tyres, things may have gotten ugly in that quiet little village ... :)

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    1. Then again, he may have been admiring it.

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    2. Could be, I kinda assume that when someone on a really nice roadbike sees my old 3 speed roadster, they are laughing at it. But of course that is nonsense as many people enjoy several different bikes and he may have had a roadster at home himself. Anyway, he was very nice, very polite and I almost wished I had a loose nut or bolt somewhere he could fiddle with!

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  25. Due to car troubles I was forced to ride my bike to work for almost a month (not a bad thing really, in fact I enjoyed it), Every day on the bike path I would see this girl going the other way on a Cruiser, huffing and puffing down the trail, her rear tire half flat. Over the next few weeks it proceeded to get lower and lower and her level of exertion seemed to be getting more and more. Finally on what I expected to be my last regular day to ride to work I saw her and when she passed I said "Your tire's flat!" I was going quick enough that I am not sure if she heard me or understood what I was saying, but I felt so sorry for the tire, I just couldn't stand it anymore! - Mas

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  26. Two issues here: the help issue and the tire pressure issue.

    Regarding help, my approach is to offer gentle observations then let it go. Along the lines of "You've probably considered this but ..." Of course, if it's a safety issue, it may be worth injecting a bit more vigor into the observation.

    Regarding tire pressure, I just listed to an excellent Cycling Tips podcast on the subject. A key point is that what feels fast (high pressure and the associated jarring ride) is not demonstrably fast (as measured by speed, power, etc.). There's a growing body of research that suggests that we should be riding larger tires (perhaps in the 35-40mm range) with supple sidewalls at lower pressures (50-60 psi depending on weight, tire, surface, etc.) than what we've all been told. This becomes a win-win: faster and more comfortable. Of course, frame geometry will often limit tire size.

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  27. Regarding the incident at the first, where someone tries to actually take hold of your rig and "adjust it" when you don't want it adjusted - if I were a woman I would probably do the "short, sharp, loud NO!" that is recommended to fend off grabby males.

    As a guy I would probably say something closer to "if you don't take your hands off my bike NOW you will be very very sorry."

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  28. Love your weblog. If something looks out of place to me I approach it from a perspective of curiosity rather than assuming I know more, I typically learn something new from it. Like you said , the temptation to assume is a tough one to swallow.

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  29. Only tire thing I've ever mentioned (and only once or twice) was "you'd much happier if you replaced those knobbies with slicks, unless you actually ride it off road".

    I've had people give me gearing advice, because they felt I was going to damage my knees (thus far, I have only succeeded in damaging my bike). I've seen some cat 6 racers on my morning commute who pretty clearly don't know the best gears to sprint in, but that's not my problem (e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fa6bzRJKyTA )

    I have helped other people on the road, but only with bona fide mechanical failures, like "pedal fell off" or "chain came apart" and of course "forgot my pump" or "forgot my spare". I did once attempt to get a stranger's wheel with a broken spoke into barely ridable shape, but I'm not doing that again (her spokes were already insanely tight, and spoke nipples were seemingly unlubricated -- and yes, I've built wheels, and yes I can true wheels pretty easily).

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  30. You touch-a my bike, I break-a your face.

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  31. I'd say there are a few aspects to giving advice and help. Firstly, it is clearly unacceptable to alter anything on someone's bike against their protest. Equally, there are occasions when it's inconsiderate not to offer help; when you see someone at the side of the road, clearly trying to mend something, it's only right to ask them if they need a hand, a tool, or whatever. Obviously, in doing this you have to be prepared to say goodbye to your spare tube, you shouldn't claim knowledge you don't have and you should most definitely not force your assistance on someone who doesn't need or want it.

    I think it's also acceptable to point out mechanical faults to people, particularly if you know them to some degree. For instance, I once spotted that a rider's brake QR was open. They'd simply forgotten to close it after changing a tyre. But the ultimate in unaccpetability, going beyond bad manners to being a safety hazard, is changing things on someone's bike (or for that matter any vehicle or machine) without their knowledge.

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  32. My favourite bit of unsolicited advice was that if I removed my front basket (full of stuff and mounted on a custom built rack) I would be more aerodynamic- this from a man in Lycra on a road racing bike. I was a little taken aback as it really doesn't look like my bike ended up the way it is by accident, and it felt like someone saying - 'You know, if you swapped that pickup full of timber for a Porsche 911, you'd get much better acceleration, just sayin'..."
    As far as advising others- I generally only offer unsolicited advice if it looks like danger is looming and I frame my solicited advice as - "I do things this way because of these reasons...but you might feel differently" or "people often do this because they find such and such- you could try that out" - trying to indicate that there is a field of possibilities that one can choose from (while inside being utterly convinced that my approach and choices are clearly the best thought out, most reasonable ones)

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  33. I cannot imagine what sort of mind-set would lead a person to forcibly "adjusting" another bike, against the owner's explicit objections, and then claiming that the owner was rude in rebuffing their "help". My mind boggles. I have only ever offered to help another cyclist when they're in obvious mechanical distress, such as a flat tire or a slipped chain, and it was only a friendly "need a hand?" as I ride past. Most of them time people say no, and we both move on (well, metaphorically, at least). One time a person did take me up on the offer and I lent them my tire pump. Nothing remarkable happened there. It's what I think should happen among cyclists. I only hope that the tale of the pushy tire-inflator is a rare occurrence.

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  34. When-ever I take the bike for a service I notice they always pump the tyres up to the max without my requesting them to do so!

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    1. Oh, that reminds me: whenever I get my bike serviced, they always adjust the saddle quite a bit higher than I like. Not that hard at all to adjust with a QR clamp, of course, but I'd expect a service professional to leave the saddle where I'd left it...

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    2. Most shops will clamp their stands to the seatpost (the safest spot) and if you don't have enough seat-post showing they will usually raise it to get the clamp on there. Good shops will mention that that did it and tried to get it back to where it was. It is best to have a clear mark (a slight line all the way around works) where the seatpost should be at should be set.

      Though, I hope no one would tell you your seat was too low or your frame two big if there wasn't enough post showing.....

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  35. I love this piece. Only you know what's best for yourself. :)

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