The Birmingham Bike Festival was a way for amateur cyclists to get professional advice on their bikes and to find social groups for riding.

The Birmingham Bike Festival was a way for amateur cyclists to get professional advice on their bikes and to find social groups for riding.

File photo by Donna Agusti


Keep spring biking smooth with proper maintenance

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published March 28, 2018

 Zoretta Bowman, of Farmington Hills, takes part in a past ride of the Farmington Hills Center for Active Adults bike club.

Zoretta Bowman, of Farmington Hills, takes part in a past ride of the Farmington Hills Center for Active Adults bike club.

File photo by Erin Sanchez

METRO DETROIT — If the slightly warmer temperatures and longer, sunny days have you itching to get back on the bike saddle, you’re not alone.

After a long winter, our bicycles need a little more prep work than just a few pumps of air in those tires.

Denny Norman has been doing bike tuneups for 53 years. He’s averaging about 15 a day at his Center Line store, East Side Bike Shop, now that spring has sprung — or at least has hinted at springing.

“It costs $45, and we look over every nut and bolt on the bike,” Norman said. “Some of this you could, of course, do yourself. But a lot of people come in and do the tuneup for a safety thing. If something is loose, you wouldn’t know until it’s too late and falls off.”

Tony Selvaggio, an avid amateur cyclist, supports a good pre-season tuneup. As the co-owner of Western Market in downtown Ferndale, he knows he’s an expert in foods, not fenders.

“If you’re not a bike mechanic, you might not know a chain is loose or you need a new chain or your brakes aren’t working properly,” Selvaggio said. “A lot of things could go wrong that you wouldn’t know. And it just makes the experience that much better when everything is working right.”

Paul Pasanen is a bike fitter at KLM Bike and Fitness in Birmingham. For more than eight years he’s been performing annual tuneups, and he knows there’s a lot more to bike care than just “greasing the wheels” — or rather, the chain. An expert will be able to tell if your bike is rolling correctly and shifting the right way, and whether the bike’s bottom bracket, wheel bearings and headset are performing at their best.

“Chain wear is easy to overlook,” Pasanen said in a press release. “Your bike could be running fine, and the chain gets stretched. You could end up needing a whole new train drive.”

In a pinch, Selvaggio said, he’s learned some good lessons about bike care online from YouTube tutorials. Which is good, because he rides a lot.

Selvaggio took to a bike about six years ago, he said, when he wanted to lose some weight and walking the neighborhood just wasn’t cutting it. 

“I’m not really a runner, and walking wasn’t giving me a good workout,” he said. “So I developed a few local 16- to 18-mile routes around my neighborhood in the Northwood area in Royal Oak, and I rapidly lost weight.”

Of course, a diet shift to fresh, whole foods helped his weight loss efforts, but after 40 pounds lost — and about 8 pounds of muscle gained — he said biking has become more to him now than a means to an end. It’s a lifestyle that feeds his health and his spirit.

“I started getting together with other like-minded bike people, and it became a very fun, very social thing,” he explained. “Bike groups are a great way to be mentored and learn from experienced riders and the proper way to bike in the city. And once you meet people, they know you and see you around in the bike stores, and you’re not intimidated.”

There are tons of bike group advertisements on community boards in bike shops around metro Detroit, so a social bike experience is easy to find, Selvaggio said. Even Norman, after owning his store for so many years, still likes to get out and have fun with local bike enthusiasts. 

“In April and May, we get together every Tuesday night at the Lumberyard bar at 11 Mile and Schoenherr,” he said. “People bring new bikes, classic bikes. We hang out outside and have some good food and good friendship.”


Ready to hit the road?

KLM Bike and Fitness bike fitter Paul Pasanen and amateur cyclist Tony Selvaggio have a few tips to get you going.

• Track mileage with an odometer.

• Add a saddlebag to hold a few tools, a tube and an air pump.

• Add a holder for your smartphone and water bottle, and stock up on water and snacks.

• Attach a GPS unit or download a smartphone app like Strava or MapMyRide for instant familiarity with trails.

• Consider safety elements like a bell, a horn and flashing lights.

• Always wear a helmet and proper footwear.