Epicenter Cycling - Santa Cruz Bike Shops

Locally Owned and Operated with Shops in Santa Cruz and Aptos

1730 Mission St, Santa Cruz 831.423.9000 - 8035 Soquel Dr, Aptos 831.662.8100

Epicenter Cycling, with bike shops in Santa Cruz and in Aptos, is your home for Trek bicycles, electric bicycles, bicycle rentals, bicycle repairs, bicycle fitting, and bicycle service. We carry electric bikes, pedal-assist bikes, mountain bikes, road bikes, urban bikes, comfort bikes, dirt jumpers, women's bikes, kids' bikes and beach cruisers from Trek Bicycles, Electra Bicycle Co., Vintage Electric, Blix Bicycles, Fit Bike Co., Wallerang, and Haro. Our friendly and knowledgeable crew is here to assist you seven days a week. Locally owned and operated by family and friends.

E-Biking: The Fountain of Youth

Photo courtesy Blix Bikes.

Photo courtesy Blix Bikes.

More and more people every day are discovering how electric bicycles (also called e-bikes or pedal-assist bikes) can powerfully impact their lives. We at Epicenter especially love how electric bikes make an active lifestyle accessible to those who otherwise may lead sedentary lives. This includes folks who begin to experience physical (and subsequently mental) barriers as they age, making it difficult or even impossible to ride a traditional bike.

EXERCISE FOR HEALTH … AND FUN

It’s no secret that being physically fit is very important no matter what your age. Regular exercise can prevent or significantly reduce risks of obesity, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and dementia, including Alzheimer’s. Routine exercise can slow the aging process, boost the immune system, improve balance and flexibility, keep muscles toned and the heart strong, and much more.

However, as we age, engaging in regular exercise can be a challenge due to physical issues such as arthritis, sore knees, longer recovery periods from surgery or illness, and other factors. Getting outdoors for some much-needed movement can become more of a chore than an enjoyable activity, and many older people find themselves procrastinating day after day. Although exercise is known to be a natural mood-enhancer due to the endorphins raised during activity, that’s no help to people who feel especially intimidated by exercise.

If you can relate to feelings of discouragement and frustration, an electric bike is just the thing for you. Say hello to fun exercise that you’ll look forward to!

GO AT YOUR OWN PACE

Electric bicycles employ a technology called “pedal assist” via a motor that gives you a slight “push” feeling as you begin to pedal. Yes, you do pedal an e-bike — this is not a scooter or moped — but YOU get to control how much assistance you want to use, i.e. how much effort you want to put into pedaling. Exercise does not have to be difficult and heart-pounding to reap the rewards. Go at your own pace and intensity and let the endorphins work their magic. We bet you’ll find that pedaling an electric bike is so fun and accessible, you can’t wait to get out for your regular ride. Therefore, you’ll be riding longer and farther, getting more exercise!

There are many different types of electric bicycles, including those designed for getting around town and those for exploring dirt roads and trails. Smile as you climb that once-intimidating hill. Enjoy quality time with your spouse/family. Watch your social life improve as you say “yes” to mixed-level group rides, having the confidence to keep up with friends. Rekindle your passion for the outdoors as you navigate your local singletrack trail system. You may even love getting around by e-bike so much that you’ll want to ditch your car!

OPTIONS FOR CONVENIENCE AND COMFORT

Many electric bike models come equipped with (or can be accessorized with) baskets, panniers, or racks which make them ideal for shopping, beach days, and picnics. There are even electric cargo bikes for hauling more items. Some models are designed with a step-through frame; ideal if you have flexibility challenges or other physical issues as they are especially easy to mount.

TRY IT, YOU’LL LIKE IT!

Are YOU ready to give an electric bike a try and recapture your youth? Discover for yourself how pedal-assist technology makes it possible to commit to a pain-free and FUN exercise regimen … for a longer, happier, healthier life well into the golden years and beyond.

Learn about the most popular e-bike models we carry here, and come by for your free test ride today!

Photo courtesy Blix Bikes.

Photo courtesy Blix Bikes.

10 Ways to Save Money with Preventative Bicycle Maintenance

Clean and lube your bike chain frequently. A dry chain or dirty drivetrain will wear faster.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Ben Franklin — scientist, inventor, politician, philanthropist and business man — was a smart man worth listening to. Some simple preventative measures can keep your bike dialed and save you money in the long run.

Here are our top ten suggestions:

  1. Clean and lube your bike chain frequently. A dry chain or dirty drivetrain will wear faster.

  2. Replace your chain before it’s too late. The chainrings and cassette wear out if the chain is ridden too long. You can use a chain checker tool to know when to replace your chain.

  3. Inspect your wheels for any loose spokes. Wheels become very weak if some of the spokes lose tension. The wheel will last longer if the wheel has even tension.

  4. Re-grease the bearings in the pivot points of your frame. The frame and linkage can fail when the pivot bearings are frozen stuck or worn out.

  5. Wipe down the outside of the suspension stanchions and seals every ride. It will help reduce dirt from pushing past the seal and contaminating oil.

  6. Replace the oil in the front and rear suspension every 100-150 hours of riding. Contaminated oil will allow the bushings to wear into the fork stanchions and add friction. The body of the rear shock will wear out and the shock will not work properly.

  7. Check your tire pressure daily. The easiest way to get a flat is to ride with too low of pressure. The tire will also wear out faster if ridden with low psi.

  8. Tighten every bolt on your bike. Bolts can rattle loose overtime and cause expensive damage.

  9. Inspect your brake pads often and replace before the metal backing damages the disc rotor or rim surface.

  10. Bleed your hydraulic brakes once a year. Remove contaminates and the brakes will last longer.

Feel free to come by anytime to chat with our crew about these recommendations and more — we’re here to help YOU fully enjoy the cycling lifestyle!


Additional bike care resources:

Epicenter Cycling's Guide to Getting Around Town by Bike

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So, you’re interested in using a bicycle for transportation, but you’re not sure where to start. We’re here to help set you up for success!

First of all, we applaud you for giving the get-around-by-bike lifestyle a try. There are so many great benefits to yourself, your community, and the planet when you choose a bike over a car. Whether you’re looking to simply run errands by bike, commute to work, or full-on ditch your car, you’re making a positive difference.

Benefits of Getting Around by Bike

Starting your day off with a bike ride boosts your energy, focus and well-being. Even just a 20 minute pedal to the store and back offers incredible health benefits.

Keep in mind, too, the financial benefits of choosing your bike vs. your car even for simple errands. Put that gas and parking money into a jar and watch it build up fast. Getting rid of your vehicle entirely, of course, can have a massive impact on your financial situation. In addition to saving on gas and parking, you’ll lose the registration and insurance bills. Plus, naturally, the cost of bike maintenance and repairs is a fraction of that for autos. 

You’ll sleep better, too … not only due to regular exercise, but because you’ll be content in the knowledge that your choices and actions are making a powerful impact on your community and planet. The less you use your car, the less emissions are being let into the air — imagine the ripple effect as more people opt for two wheels over their vehicles.

And let’s face it … the less traffic one has to deal with, the better one’s mental health, right? That thick cross-town congestion that leaves you feeling frustrated and stressed? Cruise on by those vehicles moving at a snail’s pace and get to your destination faster and happier. Opt for an e-bike to get there sweat-free!

So, there’s the WHY … now for the HOW TO!

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Choosing the Right Bicycle

First and foremost, of course, you need a BIKE. Although you can certainly get around town just fine on your mountain or road bike, or even that old klunker you discovered in the back of your dad’s shed, a bike designed specifically for getting around town and commuting is the best way to roll.

But there are so many options! How do you know which is best suited for you?

Electric vs. Traditional

Let’s start by taking a look at electric vs. traditional bikes.

While traditional bikes tend to cost less than their pedal-assist counterparts, the benefits of an electric bike should definitely be considered when looking at options. Here are a few examples of why we’re so stoked on e-bikes:

  • You can get where you’re going faster

  • You’ll enjoy the climbs

  • You can arrive to work and other destinations sweat-free

  • You get to decide for yourself the speed of travel and amount of exertion: use more assist on the days you need it (not enough sleep? no problem!) and less when you want to get your heart pumping a bit; get a full-on work out by pedaling as fast as you can in all modes, or by turning off the assist entirely

  • Barriers to cycling such as physical limitations are removed

  • Families and other groups of cyclists with varying abilities can bike together, as pedal-assist levels the playing field

Style Choices

Epicenter Cycling carries both electric and traditional bikes in urban/commuter, comfort/cruiser, and cargo styles. 

Urban/commuter bikes put the rider in a dynamic, forward position (from slightly bent to moderate). Many models — called hybrid bikes — are as efficient on dirt paths as they are on pavement. Electric versions we recommend include Trek Super Commuter 8s, Trek Verve+ and Trek Dual Sport+. Traditional models include Trek FX3 Disc, Trek Dual Sport, and Trek Verve Disc.

Comfort/cruiser bikes put the rider in an upright position and most boast a cushy saddle and wide handlebars. Electric versions we recommended include Blix Aveny, Electra Townie GO! 8i, and Blix Sol. Traditional models include Electra Cruiser Lux 7d, Trek Verve Disc, and Electra Loft 7i.

Cargo bikes allow for the transportation of bigger loads, and even kids and pets. Electric versions we recommended include Blix Packa and Xtracycle Edgerunner E-Swoop. We recommended Xtracycle Swoop as a non-electric option.

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No Cash? No Problem!

So, you’ve got the motivation, but not the cash. You know that in the long run … or actually even the short run! … a bike will pay for itself and then some. When you factor in the cost of gas, parking, registration, insurance, maintenance and repairs, it’s easy to see which method of transportation will make your bank account swell. But, the reality this minute is you simply don’t have a bike in your budget. That’s okay; we have some solutions for you.

Trek Credit Card

At Epicenter Cycling, we offer a Trek credit card that boasts a 0% APR for one year after your purchase. This will give you the grace period you need and in that time, you’ll be stashing the cash saved by riding your new bike.

Ecology Action Bicycle Loan Program

If your employer is a member of Ecology Action’s Transportation Member Services program, you qualify for a 0% interest loan. Borrow up to $750 to purchase a bicycle and the gear needed for getting around town by bike. If your employer is not a member of this unique program, be sure to bring it to their attention. This is a great way for your employer to support its community by making alternative commuting options accessible to more people … and thereby reducing traffic congestion, air pollution and parking shortages!

Learn more about the Ecology Action Bicycle Loan Program here

UCSC Bike Library

If you are a UCSC student or faculty/staff member, you may borrow a bicycle from the university’s bike lending program. Bikes are loaned out for quarter-long periods, and participants receive general support, safety instruction, and assistance with maintenance. Loaner helmets, locks, and lights are also provided.

Learn more about the UCSC Bike Library here.

Employer Incentives

More and more employers are discovering the benefits of supporting alternative commuting options for a better business practice and healthier community. Be sure to check with your workplace to see if they offer any financial incentives and support for bicycle commuters.  

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Gearing up for Safety and Comfort

Now that you have a bike, or one is on the horizon, it’s time to look at what clothing and accessories you’ll need to safely and comfortably run errands and/or commute to work. 

Apparel and Shoes

Clothing needs for getting around by bike are determined by a variety of factors. If you’re using your bike to run local errands on those sunny, warm days, pretty much anything goes. Just be sure to ALWAYS wear a helmet, and closed-toed shoes are best. If riding in a skirt or dress, consider wearing a cycling chamois underneath and be sure the fabric can’t get caught up in your spinning wheels or drivetrain. It’s a good idea to don a hi-vis or reflective vest over your street clothes.

Bontrager Circuit Convertible Windshell Jacket in “Visibility Yellow” — remove the sleeves to turn the jacket into a vest!

Bontrager Circuit Convertible Windshell Jacket in “Visibility Yellow” — remove the sleeves to turn the jacket into a vest!

Not afraid of a little weather? A breathable, waterproof jacket or shell is a must. We love Bontrager’s Circuit Convertible Windshell Jacket in “Visibility Yellow,” as its sleeves can be easily removed, turning the jacket into a vest for those warmer temps. For optimal comfort and protection, rain pants (easily pulled over your cycling tights/shorts or work pants) are a smart investment. Water resistant shoe covers will keep your tootsies warm and dry — check out Bontrager’s S1 softshell shoe cover for temperatures above freezing, and the S2 for below. Trust us … the right rain gear, even in the worst weather, will allow for you to enjoy your ride.

What to wear when commuting by bike to work is one of the top concerns for would-be bicycle commuters. If your commute is an easy route, or you’re maxing the assist on an electric bike, you may not even break a sweat. In this case, you can likely go from bike to desk in the same outfit. In fact, getting around town by bike is becoming so popular, there are cycling clothes designed specifically to double as office attire! Again, it’d be prudent to wear a hi-vis or reflective vest over your office clothes.

Pro tip: If you’re wearing loose pants, be sure to fasten a hi-vis, reflective leg band around the bottom of your right leg to prevent the chain from catching on the fabric.

However, if you’ve worked up a bit of a sweat, or you prefer to bike in your cycling kit, you’ll obviously want to change your clothes. If you don’t commute by bike every day, bring a change of clothes on your vehicle commute days to store at the office. Otherwise, select wrinkle-resistant attire that will pack well in a pannier, backpack, or basket. Don’t forget your work shoes and socks!

Be sure to allow for the time you’ll need to clean up and change after arriving at work. It’s a good idea to store some essentials (a towel, lotion, comb, brush, deodorant, etc.) at your workplace, instead of carrying them back and forth every day. Some workplaces provide showers, and lockers, but a washcloth or baby wipe bath and gym bag will do just fine, too. Co-workers will be intrigued by your post-ride glow and wonder what you’re up to! We bet you’ll boast a bicycle commute posse before too long.

Packs, panniers and baskets

Ortleib Back-Roller Classic pannier; comes in a set of two.

Ortleib Back-Roller Classic pannier; comes in a set of two.

There’s a wide variety of gear designed to carry what you need for your workday or pick up from the market. Options include panniers, baskets, backpacks, hydration packs (with room for extra items), and messenger bags.

If you’re committed to a rain or shine commute, be sure your selection is waterproof, and reflective elements for added safety are desirable, too.

We especially love Ortleib Back-Roller Classic and Back-Roller High Visibility panniers; the Bontrager Interchange Trunk Deluxe Plus rear trunk bag partnered with the Bontrager Interchange Rear Rack; the Electra Quick Release Front Basket; and the CamelBak Mule 100-ounce hydration pack.

Safety Gear and Accessories

By far the most important is a HELMET. Don’t go one single pedal stroke without a helmet on … and not just any ol’ helmet. We strongly recommend a Bontrager helmet with WaveCel technology (check out the Specter, preferably in hi-vis yellow). WaveCel’s ground breaking technology reduces the chance of concussion to 1.6% any time you have an unexpected meeting with the pavement. Learn more about WaveCel here.

Bontrager Specter helmet with WaveCel technology in “Hi-Vis Yellow.”

Bontrager Specter helmet with WaveCel technology in “Hi-Vis Yellow.”

Another must-have is a set of lights. No, reflectors are NOT enough. Day-time running lights (front and rear) are crucial ... yes, lights in the day-time! Needless to say, lights are critical at night as well. Be sure to keep them charged. We recommend the Bontrager Ion 100 R/Flare R City Bike Light Set which comes with both front and rear rechargeable lights. A handlebar mirror and bell are handy accessories for boosting awareness as well.

Hi-vis and/or reflective leg bands and/or hi-vis shoe covers will boost your visibility a great deal. These items stand out especially well due to your legs and hands being in motion.

Protect your hands and absorb shock from the road with a good pair of cycling gloves. Gloves come in many different styles and materials; come by to check out our selection and feel free to try them on. Be sure to protect your eyes as well with cycling eyewear which reduces glare and protects from UV rays and debris. 

Other items to consider are a water bottle and cage (holder), a rear view mirror, a flat repair kit (tire levers, a spare tube, CO2 cartridge or air pump), and a floor pump to keep at home and/or at the office.

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Being safe and confident on the road

Don’t let the fear of getting in an accident hold you back from pursuing your dream of getting around town by bicycle. Although this concern is one of the biggest reasons people are hesitant to commute by bike, it can be easily mitigated with proper route planning and the right safety gear.

SCOUT A ROUTE

Don’t let the fear of getting in an accident hold you back from pursuing your dream of getting around town by bicycle. Although this concern is one of the biggest reasons people are hesitant to commute by bike, it can be easily mitigated with proper route planning and the right safety gear.

Before you make your first commute by your two-wheeled vehicle, drive the routes available to you to see which feels the safest to you. Until you’re more comfortable on the busier main roads, stick to local side streets, and consider choosing a longer route with less traffic as well. Santa Cruz County is implementing more and more bike lanes; look for these green lanes when establishing your route.

Practice

Practice riding around a parking lot to get used to the feeling of cars being close to you. Also, although for the most part you should be looking where you’re going, it’s a good idea to practice checking on what’s happening behind you while still holding your line. To master the skill of peeking behind you without swerving, practice doing so on the painted line in a parking lot.

Pro tip: If you struggle to stay straight while looking behind you, practice by sticking your left arm straight out behind you, then turn (head, shoulders, and neck!) and look over your left shoulder. Using your left arm as a guide this way will help you ride straight; you’ll soon be executing this move smoothly and won’t need to put your arm out.

DON’T RUSH

Allow for some extra time so you won’t be worried about being late. Stress may cause you to make poor judgment calls … you want to keep your cool.

FUEL UP

Be sure to eat a nutritious meal and be hydrated as well. Not having the appropriate “fuel in the tank” can also cause you to make poor judgment calls.

BE SEEN

As outlined earlier, another important way to be safe is to ensure you are SEEN. Choose a helmet, clothing, and other gear in hi-vis yellow for daytime cycling, and reflective materials for after dark. Run front and rear lights even during the day. Make noise when needed to ensure you’re seen: use a bell, whistle, horn, or even shout. And last but not least, never assume a driver sees you — make eye contact to make sure.

FOLLOW THE RULES

Always follow the rules of the road and follow the same traffic laws as if you are driving a car. This includes stopping at stop signs and traffic lights, traveling with the flow of traffic, and yielding to pedestrians and other vehicles. Use hand signals to communicate with auto drivers, pedestrians, and other cyclists. Stay alert, scanning ahead and anticipating issues. Leave the headphones for the gym; you need to have all senses ON.

RIDE RIGHT

Proper riding technique will keep you safe, as well. Ride in control at all times, and at a speed that allows prompt reaction to the unexpected. Be prepared to brake at any time, so keep your hands on the brake levers when not making hand signals. Keep a safe distance — at least four feet — between yourself and other riders and drivers. Be vigilant for doors opening when passing parked cars, and also be extremely careful crossing driveways, parking lot entrances/exits, and side streets. Similarly, keep an eye out for vehicles coming from the opposite direction who might turn left across your path.

It may seem counterintuitive, but make it a habit of keeping a buffer zone between yourself and the curb, even if feels like you’re riding too close to the flow of automobile traffic. Motorists will be more likely to see you, and less likely to squeeze by you.

Be courteous

It’s not enough to be a wise, safe bicycle commuter … be courteous as well. Communicate clearly and thoughtfully through hand signals, eye contact, and other means. If there are five or more cars behind you, pull over and let them pass. And most importantly — smile! Because … bikes!

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Establishing a Routine

Make your commute an efficient one by establishing a routine. Being prepared makes a world of difference. Get things set up the night before. Keep a checklist by your bike to double check that you have everything before you head out. In the morning, you’ll be all set to roll out with a smile.

  • Check tire pressure; top off the air if needed

  • Charge lights

  • Check the weather report and plan clothing and gear accordingly

  • Fill hydration bottle(s) or bladder

  • Lay out bike clothes (or pack a change of clothes) and accessories (socks, gloves, helmet)

  • Prepare your lunch or other items needed for your workday

It’s a good idea to find a spot you can permanently store a flat repair kit vs. unpacking and packing it every day. You can attach items to  your bike (ask us how), or stash them in your pack, panniers or basket. Promptly replace any tubes or cartridges you may use, so you don’t forget.

Pro tip: Keeping your bike tuned up will minimize chances of mechanical issues on your way to work, which cost you time and cause undue stress. Our basic tune-up costs just $79; our experienced mechanics will torque all fasteners, align and adjust brakes, align and adjust shifting, adjust the headset, inspect the bottom bracket, lube the chain, and inflate the tires. And guess what? If you purchase(d) your bike at Epicenter, you get unlimited FREE basic tune-ups for the life of your bike!

Flat Tire? You Got This!

Another thing that would-be bike commuters get a little nervous about is the rare, but dreaded, flat tire. Of course, you can prevent flats in the first place by running quality tires appropriate for your bike and the terrain you are riding, and keeping them inflated with the proper amount of air for your particular tire.

That said, it certainly doesn’t hurt to be prepared. You just need some one-on-one tutelage from our crew — we’re happy to teach you! — and a flat repair kit (tire levers, a spare tube, CO2 cartridge or air pump). You’ll go from anxious to confident in no time flat. Pun 100% intended, of course.

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Keeping Your Bike Safe

Your bike will bring you a great deal of joy; don’t let a great deal of sorrow over its loss interfere with your new-found freedom. Savvy cyclists know that you never, ever, EVER leave your bike unlocked while unattended … even for a few seconds. Following are some options for keeping your bike safe from bike thieves.

Bike Lock

Any old lock isn’t enough! We highly recommend you invest in the Abus Bordo Granit XPlus Level 15 folding link lock, available in two different sizes. This lock offers the cleanest integration plus great attachment versatility, and it would take a power tool to bust it.

The Abus Bordo Granit XPlus Level 15 folding link lock is our top-rated bicycle lock.

The Abus Bordo Granit XPlus Level 15 folding link lock is our top-rated bicycle lock.

The next best option is the Abus City Chain Level 12, also available in different lengths. This lock is slightly heavier, but — being a chain lock — makes a powerful statement. It, too, would take a power tool to bust. It can be stored in a pannier, bag pack, or wrapped around the frame.

A more budget-conscious option is the Bontrager Elite Keyed U-Lock with Cable. Use the cable to secure the front or rear wheel, and the u-lock to protect the frame. This lock can be bolt cut, but it at least offers some protection in lower risk areas.

We suggest supplementing any bike lock with Delta Hublox Anti-Theft Security Skewers for wheel theft prevention. These innovative skewers replace the stock skewers on your bike and require a special tool to unscrew.

Workplace Storage

If you’re allowed to bring your bike in to your workplace, all the better! But we highly recommend you lock it up there, too.

e-Locker

An especially safe place to leave your bike while you work or run errands is at BikeLink on-demand bike parking facility. These “eLockers” are found throughout Santa Cruz (and many other Bay Area communities; see map of locations here). Each bike goes into its own space, and you can store your helmet and gear with your bike, too. It’s faster than locking both wheels to a rack and your bike will stay dry in rainy weather, too. Learn more and sign up for your BikeLink card here

Register Your Bike

A bicycle license sticker issued by the Santa Cruz Police Department tends to deter bike thieves, and having your bike registered may aid police in finding your bicycle if it is ever lost or stolen. Registration is free and never expires; register on-line here.

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Embracing the Cycling Lifestyle

Now that you have the inspiration and confidence, and the bike and gear — get out there and ride. Don’t feel that you have to dive all-in at first. Start off slowly, and once you have the hang of things, keep realistic goals as you add more days. Preparing for success is the secret to a comfortable transition.

Don’t forget, we’re here to guide and support you the whole way — come on by (1730 Mission Street on the west side of Santa Cruz or 8035 Soquel Drive in Aptos Village), call (Santa Cruz 831.423.9000; Aptos 831.662.8100), email, or DM us on Facebook or Instagram.


Epicenter Cycling's Guide to Bike Helmets

Noggin Protection 101

Did you know the earliest known helmets date back to 900s BC? Like many modern advancements, these protective shells were designed for military battle. Pre-1970, the bicycle helmet existed in a surprisingly basic form. As the sport of cycling grew, impact-related data accumulated and it became clear that the most distressing injuries to cyclists were blows to the head. The advancement of humankind has been dependent on our cranial capacities. Therefore, whether you ride trails, the road, or just pedal around town — wear a helmet. You gotta protect your noggin!

The 3-5 Year Rule

It’s not enough that you wear any old lid. Your helmet shouldn’t be more than three to five years old (depending on use) or have been in a crash, whether you can see cracks or not. Your helmet’s interior components (foam, etc.) break down over time and you won’t necessarily see that deterioration. Pay attention to the age of your helmet and make no excuses about replacing it when necessary. We recommend replacing your helmet every three years if you ride several times a week. Similarly, if you are a weekend cruiser and take good care of your helmet, you can likely get by with a 5-year trade-in schedule.

There’s a crucial exception to the three to five year rule: when you experience any crash where your helmet took a solid blow. This is because even if you cannot see cracks on the outside of your helmet, there may be nefarious cracks hiding with-in the helmet’s interior matrix. These cracks reduce the effectiveness of your helmet therefore increasing the risk of serious injury the next time your noggin takes an unexpected meeting with a solid surface.

Safety First

When presented with the question, “Why wear a helmet?” your reflexive response is probably: “Safety!” Indeed, according to Epicenter owner Shawn Wilson, “a helmet is the cheapest health insurance money can buy!” Our sales manager Chris Ray adds, “Every time I put on a helmet before a ride, I teach my daughter the importance of safety.” Our marketing coordinator Michele Charboneau, who’s a former horseback riding instructor, can’t help injecting a few words here about the importance of properly fitting chin straps. “Snug that strap up! Your helmet isn’t going to do any good when it flies off your head on impact because the strap was loose.”

The technology revolution has helped engineers and scientists develop tools to better understand traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). The bike industry closely follows this critical topic to take advantage of new developments and produce top of the line cycling helmets. Here’s the skinny on some of these safety developments.

WaveCel

In March 2019, Trek / Bontrager unveiled a groundbreaking helmet technology called WaveCel. This revolutionary material is proven to be up to 48x more effective than standard EPS foam at preventing concussions from common cycling accidents.* This is a major milestone in cycling history that will change the cycling industry and make helmets better for all riders.

Standard foam helmets are designed to protect against direct impacts. But WaveCel accounts for how most cycling accidents actually happen: ungracefully, with twists, turns, and angled impacts. On impact, WaveCel's collapsible cellular material absorbs energy in multiple ways and then disperses it in a remarkably effective way.

WaveCel is exclusive to Bontrager helmets, which are initially being offered in four models. Choose between town/cruise/commute, road/commute and MTB options; all offering a range of colors. Learn more about WaveCel in our article announcing this new technology here.

MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System)

MIPS (which stands for Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) is another example of impressive cycling safety gear technology. With roots in Sweden, a country known for advocating a bicycle-centered lifestyle, MIPS research drove the bike industry to integrate innovative neuroscience-based technology to the bike helmet’s familiar in-mold composite skeleton. The MIPS system is a “low friction layer” that sits between a rider’s head and the helmet’s shell. This layer is scientifically proven to reduce rotational motion by absorbing and redirecting rotational energies and forces transferred to the brain from angled impacts to the head.

MIPS is available in Bontrager, Bell and Giro helmet models we recommend for a range of cycling disciplines.

Drop-In Coverage

In hospitals, doctors and neuroscientists are discovering cornerstone information for the development of safety gear. Meanwhile, in labs, chemists are developing lightweight polymers for helmet shell composite. Cycling engineers are utilizing this research and technology to produce innovative solutions that mitigate serious brain damage from impacts we all eventually experience on two wheels. One of these developments is Drop-In Coverage which extends helmet protection to the area of your skull that protects your brain stem, and wraps around the circumference of your lid for balanced comfort. This anatomy-inspired design reduces the whiplash effect sometimes experienced after particularly rough encounters with Mother Earth.

Hi-Vis and Reflective Features

Believe it or not, we’ve had customers say neon helmets look “dorky.” We beg to differ. In fact, we think it’s dorky NOT to wear neon when pedaling pavement. Although daytime running lights are always the first line of defense when it comes to being seen, helmets in hi-vis colors truly stand out and get noticed. Some helmets even come with reflective elements which are especially important at night.

Consider the experience of one of our regular mountain bike customers who started commuting by bike after landing a local job. When she bought her Trek FX commuter, she used her Day One 15% discount by purchasing a set of lights designed for day-time visibility. She thought this would be enough to feel safe from distracted drivers as she made her way through the city streets to and from work.

One day she stopped by to let us know how much she was enjoying the commute-by-bike lifestyle. She mentioned that she was still a bit leery of distracted drivers, and we chatted again about the benefits of hi-vis kit components. It dawned on her that “neon helmets served a greater purpose than re-living the 80s.” Indeed! She stopped by again after a few months of running hi-vis and was happy to report that vehicles were consistently giving her comfortable space on the road, making her feel much safer.

Neon … there’s nothing dorky about it.

Other Features & Tech

Safety aside, there’s a lot more to consider when choosing a helmet these days. Factors such as breathability and weight are determined by the type of riding you’re doing. For example, if you enjoy hammering the miles on your road bike, you’ll want to look at lightweight, well ventilated, aerodynamic models. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a solid, full-face lid model is appropriate for gnarly descents on technical singletrack; sure, it will be heavier, but that added protection may save your life if your head meets a tree.

Furthermore, there’s always new technology to enhance your riding experiences and comfort. Following are some features we’re especially impressed with.

Bontrager Blendr System

Blendr is the ultimate system for clean and easy integrated installation of lights, computers, and other accessories. We love using this system to easily and securely attach a Bontrager Ion light or GoPro in the top vent of your helmet.

Pro tip: GoPros can be tricky to quickly and adequately mount in a way that prevents Blair Witch class footage. You know what we’re talking about … your buddy returns from a bike trip stoked on the footage he caught on his GoPro. You sit down with beverages, turn on the tele, and white-knuckle your way through vertigo prevention as you watch him through the beautiful landscape that is Moab. Save yourself the woozies — gift your GoPro’ing buddies a Bontrager Blendr!

Boa System

You may think there is little difference in the form fitting features found on the back of many modern helmets. Au contraire! The Boa system is incredibly smooth, precise, and can be adjusted using predictable clicks. With the structural integrity of Bontrager’s Headmaster II system and the unique Boa fit, this feature will make the helmet feel like your favorite beanie. A FormFit brow band tightens the front of the helmet using the pads; a mechanism that makes for cooler rides because of space created between the shell of the helmet and the pad. The Boa system makes a difference. You might have to experience it to believe it, so do come on in and check it out.

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So, Which Helmet Is Right for You?

With so much to consider, how do you know what kind of helmet is right for you? Don’t worry, we’re here to help! We carry a wide range of helmets from the best brands for the following general categories: Urban Riding & Casual Cruising; Road Cycling & Commuting; Cross Country & All-Mountain Riding, All-Mountain & Downhill Riding; and Pump Tracks & BMX.

Read on for information about these different types of helmets and which models our crew especially recommends. And feel free to stop by and try on as many lids as you like.

Pro tip: Bontrager helmets come with a one year guarantee. This means, if you crash your helmet in the first year of ownership, it will be replaced free of charge. Also, Bontrager and Epicenter each donate $1 to People for Bikes for every Bontrager helmet purchased!


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Helmets for Urban Riding & Casual Cruising

You might ponder the necessity of donning a helmet to cruise over to the coffee shop or head down the street to check the surf, but remember that accidents can happen anywhere, at any time.

We know of one young man who is a hardcore downhill rider, but his worst crash was a low speed collision with a vehicle after a ride, one block from his house. The impact was so powerful his helmet cracked.

Another valued customer we talked to was coaxed by his wife to wear a helmet on his West Cliff surf checks. At first, he wasn’t stoked … isn’t it nerdy to wear a helmet on a cruiser? He soon discovered the answer to that question: absolutely not. On a ride home one night, he pedaled quick to get some speed to attack a punchy climb. No cars, no other riders, no train tracks; yet, he stacked on his bicycle because his chain fell off. Pure mechanical failure caused an accident that resulted in a crack on the inside of his helmet.

Moral of these stories? Wear a helmet every time you hop on your bike!

Bontrager and Giro make some great lightweight, cool looking helmets for your cruises around the community. We especially recommend the Bontrager Charge WaveCel, Bontrager Solstice MIPS, and Giro Caden MIPS.

BONTRAGER CHARGE WAVECEL  not only looks snazzy, it gets an A+ for safety, too. This helmet is perfect for commuters, e-bikers, and everyday riders, with great fit and the advanced protection of WaveCel technology.  Available in Black Matte, Battleship Blue Matte, Era White/Black Matte, or Radioactive Yellow/Black Matte.   Watch this video  to learn more about Charge WaveCel.

BONTRAGER CHARGE WAVECEL not only looks snazzy, it gets an A+ for safety, too. This helmet is perfect for commuters, e-bikers, and everyday riders, with great fit and the advanced protection of WaveCel technology.

Available in Black Matte, Battleship Blue Matte, Era White/Black Matte, or Radioactive Yellow/Black Matte.

Watch this video to learn more about Charge WaveCel.

BONTRAGER SOLSTICE MIPS  is a great helmet that combines value and purposeful design. An aerodynamic shape and five-front recessed channels maximize airflow to the top of your head and reduce potential drag as you zip through city streets.  Solstice will get you where you need to go by efficiently navigating wind-resistance and keeping you cool, so “helmet hair” isn’t a thing when you get to the office.  Available in a variety of colorways.

BONTRAGER SOLSTICE MIPS is a great helmet that combines value and purposeful design. An aerodynamic shape and five-front recessed channels maximize airflow to the top of your head and reduce potential drag as you zip through city streets.

Solstice will get you where you need to go by efficiently navigating wind-resistance and keeping you cool, so “helmet hair” isn’t a thing when you get to the office.

Available in a variety of colorways.

GIRO CADEN MIPS  is the ultimate cosmopolitan companion. This stylish helmet carries a fit-system that allows for easy, en-route adjustments using a rear dial. Giro gave Caden the option of a visor to allow your vogue to shine through. It also features reflective accents that add to your visibility on the road.  Conveniently, Caden has a built-in lock port so you can easily lock your helmet with your bike — now that’s too cool!  Available in a variety of colorways.

GIRO CADEN MIPS is the ultimate cosmopolitan companion. This stylish helmet carries a fit-system that allows for easy, en-route adjustments using a rear dial. Giro gave Caden the option of a visor to allow your vogue to shine through. It also features reflective accents that add to your visibility on the road.

Conveniently, Caden has a built-in lock port so you can easily lock your helmet with your bike — now that’s too cool!

Available in a variety of colorways.


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Helmets for Road Riding and Extended Commutes

Roadies and cyclocross enthusiasts, your helmet lingo speaks aerodynamic, lightweight, and artistic ventilation features. Commuters, you want efficient protection that will reduce sweat and maximize protection so you arrive at your destination safe and fresh.

At Epicenter we have a selection of helmets that were designed by engineers and tested by riders with these specific characteristics in mind. We especially love Bontrager XXX WaveCel, Bontrager Specter WaveCel, and Bontrager Circuit MIPS.

BONTRAGER XXX WAVECEL  is an aerodynamic road bike helmet with advanced WaveCel technology for the best in protection and performance.  Available in White Gloss, Black Matte, Azure/Black Matte, Red Gloss, or Radioactive Yellow/Black Matte.   Watch this video  to learn more about XXX WaveCel.

BONTRAGER XXX WAVECEL is an aerodynamic road bike helmet with advanced WaveCel technology for the best in protection and performance.

Available in White Gloss, Black Matte, Azure/Black Matte, Red Gloss, or Radioactive Yellow/Black Matte.

Watch this video to learn more about XXX WaveCel.

BONTRAGER SPECTER WAVECEL  is a lightweight, breathable cycling helmet for all types of riding with the advanced protection of WaveCel technology.  Available in Radioactive Yellow Gloss, Black Gloss, Vice Pink Gloss, Viper Red Gloss, or White Gloss.   Watch this video  to learn more about Specter WaveCel.

BONTRAGER SPECTER WAVECEL is a lightweight, breathable cycling helmet for all types of riding with the advanced protection of WaveCel technology.

Available in Radioactive Yellow Gloss, Black Gloss, Vice Pink Gloss, Viper Red Gloss, or White Gloss.

Watch this video to learn more about Specter WaveCel.

BONTRAGER CIRCUIT MIPS  is the go-to helmet for a rider who does it all. It’s the perfect safety gear choice that will give you all the protection you need for your after work and weekend-road rides, fierce cross-cycling races, and trail journeys.  Circuit is specifically designed with regard to aerodynamics. At Bontrager, engineers use wind-tunnel technology and modify a model’s design based on user experience from professional riders. The product is an artistically ventilated and lightweight rendition of a model designed to please the masses.  Available in a variety of colorways.   Watch this video  to learn more about Circuit MIPS.

BONTRAGER CIRCUIT MIPS is the go-to helmet for a rider who does it all. It’s the perfect safety gear choice that will give you all the protection you need for your after work and weekend-road rides, fierce cross-cycling races, and trail journeys.

Circuit is specifically designed with regard to aerodynamics. At Bontrager, engineers use wind-tunnel technology and modify a model’s design based on user experience from professional riders. The product is an artistically ventilated and lightweight rendition of a model designed to please the masses.

Available in a variety of colorways.

Watch this video to learn more about Circuit MIPS.


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Helmets for Cross Country, Trail & Moderate All-Mountain Riding

Cross country and all-mountain riders, your helmet lingo includes maximum safety and breathability (essentially water retention). You value the costly and timely investments you have made for the health and well-being of your brain.

We, too, care about your health and safety while shredding, so we recommend the Bontrager Blaze WaveCel, Bontrager Rally MIPS, Bontrager Quantum MIPS, and Bell Sixer MIPS.

BONTRAGER BLAZE WAVECEL  is a trail-tested mountain bike helmet with advanced WaveCel technology for comfort and protection on any trail, any time.  Available in Black, Slate, Roarange, or Miami Green.   Watch this video  to learn more about Blaze WaveCel.

BONTRAGER BLAZE WAVECEL is a trail-tested mountain bike helmet with advanced WaveCel technology for comfort and protection on any trail, any time.

Available in Black, Slate, Roarange, or Miami Green.

Watch this video to learn more about Blaze WaveCel.

BONTRAGER RALLY MIPS  raises the bar in comfort and protection. Ride all day on the toughest trails knowing you’re well protected with extended coverage and kept cool with ample vents. The adjustable visor makes this helmet perfectly compatible with goggles. Internal-recessed channels maximize ventilation and minimize hydration-reducing sweat.  Available in a variety of colorways.   Watch this video  to learn more about Rally MIPS.

BONTRAGER RALLY MIPS raises the bar in comfort and protection. Ride all day on the toughest trails knowing you’re well protected with extended coverage and kept cool with ample vents. The adjustable visor makes this helmet perfectly compatible with goggles. Internal-recessed channels maximize ventilation and minimize hydration-reducing sweat.

Available in a variety of colorways.

Watch this video to learn more about Rally MIPS.

BONTRAGER QUANTUM MIPS  is designed for the ultimate adventurer. The Headmaster II fit system promises distinct structural integrity, which translates to a distinctively snug and comfortable fit. A cycling safety gear favorite, Quantum has a removable visor making it the perfect town and trail companion. Its moisture-wicking pads are removable and washable keeping every ride as fresh as the air.  Available in a variety of colorways.

BONTRAGER QUANTUM MIPS is designed for the ultimate adventurer. The Headmaster II fit system promises distinct structural integrity, which translates to a distinctively snug and comfortable fit. A cycling safety gear favorite, Quantum has a removable visor making it the perfect town and trail companion. Its moisture-wicking pads are removable and washable keeping every ride as fresh as the air.

Available in a variety of colorways.

BELL SIXER MIPS  features extended half-shell coverage for rowdy trail adventures, plus an adjustable visor for superior compatibility with your eyewear of choice. It even boasts a strap gripper at the rear of the helmet for added stability when running goggles as well as an integrated camera/light mount. This lid is also very well ventilated.  In addition to standard sizes, the Bell Sixer also accommodates noggins with more circumference.  Available in a variety of colorways.   Watch this video  to learn more about Sixer MIPS.

BELL SIXER MIPS features extended half-shell coverage for rowdy trail adventures, plus an adjustable visor for superior compatibility with your eyewear of choice. It even boasts a strap gripper at the rear of the helmet for added stability when running goggles as well as an integrated camera/light mount. This lid is also very well ventilated.

In addition to standard sizes, the Bell Sixer also accommodates noggins with more circumference.

Available in a variety of colorways.

Watch this video to learn more about Sixer MIPS.


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Helmets for Aggressive All-Mountain & Downhill Riding

Riding especially aggressive and technical terrain requires a helmet that boasts maximum cranial coverage. Full face helmets are designed to provide the protection of motorcycle helmets and come in many variations including those with a removable chin bar for a breathable ascents.

Shop favorite all-mountain and downhill helmets include Bell 3R MIPS-Equipped, Bell Super DH MIPS-Equipped, and Giro Switchblade MIPS.

BELL SUPER 3R MIPS  is designed with aggressive all mountain riding in mind. Twenty-three vents and a removable chin bar make the 3R a friendly long-climb companion.  For descents, overbrow ventilation allows gravity to push cool air into your shell. Warm, lighter air dispels through rear vents, reducing sweat. As sweat inevitably accumulates, fear not. Bell has hooked you up with a Sweat Guide that pulls moisture toward your helmet’s pads … away from the windows drawing your line.  Available in variety of colorways.

BELL SUPER 3R MIPS is designed with aggressive all mountain riding in mind. Twenty-three vents and a removable chin bar make the 3R a friendly long-climb companion.

For descents, overbrow ventilation allows gravity to push cool air into your shell. Warm, lighter air dispels through rear vents, reducing sweat. As sweat inevitably accumulates, fear not. Bell has hooked you up with a Sweat Guide that pulls moisture toward your helmet’s pads … away from the windows drawing your line.

Available in variety of colorways.

BELL SUPER DH MIPS  is ideal for the downhill charging, bike park shredding all-mountain ripper … that rider who is all dirt, all day. Bell designed this dome-protector with progressive layers of EPS foam. This method uses varying densities to create a protective structure that specifically mitigates impact vibrations. This thoughtfulness will keep you calm, cool, and collected as you navigate your way down the ride of your life.  The Bell Super DH boasts a removable chin bar for those pedally occasions, and is ATSM downhill certified.  Available in a variety of colorways.

BELL SUPER DH MIPS is ideal for the downhill charging, bike park shredding all-mountain ripper … that rider who is all dirt, all day. Bell designed this dome-protector with progressive layers of EPS foam. This method uses varying densities to create a protective structure that specifically mitigates impact vibrations. This thoughtfulness will keep you calm, cool, and collected as you navigate your way down the ride of your life.

The Bell Super DH boasts a removable chin bar for those pedally occasions, and is ATSM downhill certified.

Available in a variety of colorways.

GIRO SWITCHBLADE MIPS  is surprisingly lightweight and also boasts the convenience of a removable chin bar, yet is also ATSM downhill certified. Giro accomplished this by leveraging stainless steel hardware and a series of internal anchors molded directly into the EPS foam. The rigid chin bar is easy to remove and to install. Rear grippers and an accommodating visor allow for a snug goggle fit, and a mount exists for your camera of choice.  Giro says the Switchblade “is the most complex helmet [we] have made.” We say, “Giro, you done good!”  Available in a variety of colorways.

GIRO SWITCHBLADE MIPS is surprisingly lightweight and also boasts the convenience of a removable chin bar, yet is also ATSM downhill certified. Giro accomplished this by leveraging stainless steel hardware and a series of internal anchors molded directly into the EPS foam. The rigid chin bar is easy to remove and to install. Rear grippers and an accommodating visor allow for a snug goggle fit, and a mount exists for your camera of choice.

Giro says the Switchblade “is the most complex helmet [we] have made.” We say, “Giro, you done good!”

Available in a variety of colorways.


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Helmets for Pump Tracks, Dirt Jumps & BMX

If you live to rally berms, pump rollers, and send it off jumps at your favorite pump track or bike park, be sure to protect your noggin with an appropriate lid. The Bell Local is sharp OG, and a crew favorite — check it out below. For maximum safety, we recommend a full face helmet. See suggested models in the “downhill” section above.

BELL LOCAL  offers style and preventative protection — no compromise. Lightweight and extremely breathable (ten vents!), this lid boasts a solid ABS hard plastic shell and industry-backed EPS foam liner. An adjustable fit-system — Bell’s ActionFit — allows for in motion adjustments.  Available in a variety of colors and patterns.

BELL LOCAL offers style and preventative protection — no compromise. Lightweight and extremely breathable (ten vents!), this lid boasts a solid ABS hard plastic shell and industry-backed EPS foam liner. An adjustable fit-system — Bell’s ActionFit — allows for in motion adjustments.

Available in a variety of colors and patterns.

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Epicenter Cycling’s Guide to Caring for Your Mountain Bike

Photo of Ryan “R-Dog” Howard by Ian Collins.

Photo of Ryan “R-Dog” Howard by Ian Collins.

We know you LOVE your bike. Your bike makes you feel like a hero! You know the feeling: the dirt is tacky, you're carving turns, catching some air ... you can do no wrong. HERO.

And you ARE a hero, whether you're a weekend warrior, racer, or explorer. Getting on your bike means breathing fresh air, finding focus, and recharging in solitude or with friends and family ... all of which give you the energy to be the best that you can be.

To support you in being the dirt-slaying hero you are, here is a guide to maintaining the health of your steed.

Pre-Ride Maintenance and Safety Screening

When we suggest checking over your bike before a ride, we don’t mean ten minutes before you are heading for the trail head. Schedule some time when you won’t be rushed, and also have an opportunity to get something fixed if necessary.

Check Your Handlebars

Place hands on grips, press down with weight, and try to rotate them back and forth. If your handle bars have any movement make sure to tighten. This can be done very quickly at home with a 3-way hex wrench, usually 4 or 5 mm.

Long-term maintenance tip: Every year, lube the screws that connect the handle bars to headset with a squeeze of Park Tool grease + a Q-tip.

Retightening the stem clamp bolts with a Park Tool 3-way hex wrench.

Retightening the stem clamp bolts with a Park Tool 3-way hex wrench.

Check the Stem Tightness

This is the gap area where the headset meets the frame. To check, hold the front brake and rock the bike back and forth. If you feel any movement or play, first loosen the stem clamp bolts and tighten the screw at the top of the stem to a quarter turn more than finger tight. Then, straighten the handlebars and retighten stem clamp bolts.

With your left hand holding the front brake as you rock the bike back and forth, you can feel for play between the headset and frame with your right hand.

With your left hand holding the front brake as you rock the bike back and forth, you can feel for play between the headset and frame with your right hand.

Check the Bearings

These include: headset (feel for roughness, or vibration); front wheel (hold fork and spin front wheel; should spin nice and freely, no roughness); pedals (should spin freely, no noise); bottom bracket; rear wheel; rear shock, if full suspension. If this sounds like Greek to you, come by and we’ll demonstrate.

Check Your Brakes

Check the brake caliper bolts; make sure they are tight. Check pads for wear; make sure the pads are present and aligned, each pad an equal distance  from the rim or rotor. Ideally, the wear on your pads should be equal, if this is not the case it may indicate an alignment issue.

Your brake levers should have enough tension to pull to about one inch from the handle bars. If your pads are worn and/or your levers are loose, we can help you get them adjusted properly.

Ideally, the wear on your brake pads should be equal. Notice how, in this case, the left side is more worn than the right. This may indicate an alignment issue.

Ideally, the wear on your brake pads should be equal. Notice how, in this case, the left side is more worn than the right. This may indicate an alignment issue.

Check Your Tires

Make sure your tire pressure meets the minimum psi; this info can be found on your tire. There’s a fine art to running different amounts of tire pressure depending on terrain. We will cover this in details in another post (plus other helpful tire tips!), but in general, you want to run the psi indicated on the tire to avoid pinch flats and other issues.

Be sure look at the tire tread. If tread is visibly bare in center of tire, it’s time to swap it out for a new one. Pop on over and our knowledgeable crew can set you up.

For this tire, the acceptable pressure range is 30-50 psi. It’s helpful to have a pump with a dial at home.

For this tire, the acceptable pressure range is 30-50 psi. It’s helpful to have a pump with a dial at home.

Check Your Wheels

Prior to hopping on your two-wheel vehicle always, always make sure your front AND rear skewers are secure and tight. It’s good practice to set levers to between the 12 and 3 o’clock positions so they cannot be opened while riding.

Also, check to make sure the wheel spins straight. If not, come see us before you hit the trail. If you don’t notice a wobble at this checkpoint, but do on your ride (wobbly climb or squirrelly descent), you know it’s hot time to get that rear/front wheel trued.

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Check Your Seat and Seat Stay

Make sure the seat is properly aligned (by getting on bike or eyeballing), and routinely check to make sure nuts and bolts connecting your seat to the seat post are tight and secure. If you move the seat back and forth and there is any play, you will need to tighten the connecting screws.

Also check the seat stay (the ring that holds the post in place). Use a 3-way hex wrench (usually 4 or 5mm) to tighten clamp if needed.

Lube Your Chain

Lube your chain every 40 miles or at end of your ride if the bike gets wet or muddy. To effectively lube your chain, first be sure to clean it before applying the chain lube. You can use a chain cleaner such as Park Tool’s CB-4 Bio ChainBrite, or at the very least wipe the chain down with a rag.

To apply the lube, backpedal while applying a thin stream to one revolution of chain. If you have a quick release chain link use that as a point of reference to ensure you cover the entire chain. If you do not have a quick release, back pedal three to four full rotations to ensure that full coverage.

Before wiping the chain, ride around block, or back pedal for 30 seconds to a minute. Then, use towels to clean dirt/muck from the cassette on rear derailleur. And using a towel, put the chain between your left index finger and thumb (use the bottom chain, moving from cassette to front ring), and use same rotation pattern described above.

Too confusing? Feel free to ask our service department for a quick tutorial!

Pro tip: We use Dumonde Tech because it lasts the longest and is best in class for protection of your chain.

To apply chain lube, backpedal while applying a thin stream to one revolution of chain.

To apply chain lube, backpedal while applying a thin stream to one revolution of chain.

Check Your Suspension

Take a look at your fork (front shock) and rear shock (if you have a full suspension bike). If you notice a lot of grit, grime, or build up around your the seals, it’s time for some professional service to keep that cush under your tush. And of course, it shouldn’t feel like you’re riding a jackhammer. Our mechanics can work their magic and get that buttery feel back for you.

Fork (front shock): Let’s face it — forks are expensive, and unless intentional, not ideal to replace. Proper fork maintenance will make your fork last as long as your love … a LIFETIME! Your fork maintenance schedule is determined by your riding style and conditions. If you aren’t sure of how often you should service your fork, stop by and chat with one of our experienced, knowledgeable mechanics for a recommended schedule tailored for YOU.

Here’s an example of a maintenance schedule based on a conservative riding style and three two-hour rides per week:

  • At four months (yes, even in that first year of ownership!), get the lowers removed and cleaned.

  • At eight months, have the wiper seal replaced (this seal is responsible for keeping dirt out.

  • At twelve months, get a complete overhaul, which includes draining the old suspension fluid from your fork, removal of the fork’s lowers, and a thorough cleaning of the stanchions and lowers, followed by an installation of fresh seals and oil.

If you ride aggressively, and in particularly dusty or dirty conditions, you’ll obviously want to service your fork more frequently. Keep in mind that following a recommended fork maintenance schedule will keep your fork running smoothly for much, much longer than if you don’t.

A healthy, happy looking front fork.

A healthy, happy looking front fork.

Rear shock: The rear shock on a full suspension bicycle allows your back wheel to soak up impacts, providing you with more comfort and control on your trail days. We recommend servicing the air can every 100 hours, and the damper every 200 hours. Again, this depends on your riding style and conditions. Be sure to get a professional overhaul yearly to replace seals and suspension fluid.

And a healthy, happy looking rear shock.

And a healthy, happy looking rear shock.

Post-Ride Maintenance Routine

After your awesome date with your bike, you’ll want to give it some love as well. This might be a great time to run through the checkpoints outlined in the Pre-Ride Maintenance Routine so you are all set for your next ride, instead of scrambling at the last minute because your week got too busy.

And if your steed got dirty, here are some pointers for sprucing it up:

Rinse

Use a hose to give it a rinse. Yes, a hose. You may have been cautioned against using a hose to wash your bike, but it’s important to know that spraying water on your bike will not cause damage. It’s HIGH PRESSURE that causes damage and can push out grease from bearings.

To avoid this, use a low to medium stream setting and take care not to directly spray the hubs, the bottom bracket, or anywhere with bearings. With this in mind, if you don’t have access to a hose, a water bottle will suffice.

If your steed needs a more thorough cleansing after an especially dirty ride, use a bucket of warm water and these supplies:

  • Brushes (we recommend the Park Tool BCB-4.2 bike cleaning brush set which includes a gear brush, a bottle brush, a combo bristle and sponge brush, and a frame cleaning sponge)

  • Solvent for the chain (you can’t go wrong with Finish Line Speed or Citrus degreasers)

  • Soap (Finish Line makes a great surfactant called Super Bike Wash)

  • Lube for pivots and derailleurs (Dumonde Tech is our favorite)

Dry

Dry your bike off well with a soft, clean towel. An old beach or hand towel works great.

Lube the Chain

See instructions on how to do this in the “Lube Your Chain” section above.

Epicenter mechanics are experienced, knowledgeable and friendly! Stop by or call with any questions and we’re happy to help.

Epicenter mechanics are experienced, knowledgeable and friendly! Stop by or call with any questions and we’re happy to help.

Other Necessary Maintenance

Along the way, you’ll want to maintain other aspects of your bike. This section may be a bit more information than you want to assimilate. But don’t worry, that’s why you have us. We’re happy to do the wrenchin’ so you can get out and play!

Whether you do it yourself, or put your trusted steed into our capable hands, we can’t emphasize enough the importance of regular maintenance. Worn-out parts degrade other parts, and that means unnecessary, expensive repairs. Regular maintenance will keep your machine running STRONG and smooth.

Drive Train

This is your bike’s “motor.” A worn drive chain does not feel good to ride! There are several components to look after in your drive train: the chain, the front chain ring, the cassette, and the front and rear derailleurs.

Chain: In addition to lubing your chain weekly, every few months you should check the wear on your chain. There is a special tool for this practice. Even with the most loving use, your chain will loosen over time (typically every 1,000 – 1,500 miles). This will cause increased wear on your cassette and chain ring, which may result in an expensive fix. Proper chain maintenance will extend the life of your front chain ring(s) and rear cassette.

Front chain ring: Keep an eye on your front chain ring. If the teeth start to look like little shark teeth (hooked), you should seriously consider replacing the component.

Cassette: This component will need replacement if the chain is skipping when you know you have a healthy chain.

Derailleurs: Ideal maintenance includes wiping dirt and grime from your rear derailleur after each use. If riding in dry conditions, wipe the pulley wheels with a rag and use a brush to clear dirt in between cassette rings  every other use or so. For the front derailleur, you can use a brush to wipe debris from the chain ring and the space between ring and derailleur.

Dropper Post

We recommend you get your dropper post professionally serviced every 200 hours. Servicing this component is intricate, and requires experience and precision, so we don’t recommend any DIY maintenance.

Pivots, Cables & Housing, Bearings, and Brakes

Lastly, here are a few other very important maintenance recommendations from our mechanics. Remember, the more preventative care you invest in, the less likely you’ll wind up with a major repair bill down the line.

  • Pivot service every 300 hours

  • Cables and housing every 300 hours, for optimal performance

  • Bearings (headset, bottom bracket, and hubs) service every 300 hours

  • Brake bleed service every 1,000 to 1,500 miles

The above maintenance is incorporated into tune-up and overhaul packages we offer by our professional mechanics. We recommend that you tune-up your bike at least once per year; more often for frequent riders. Stop by to chat with our crew to determine the best service regimen for your bike.

Photo of Casey Brown by Ian Collins.

Photo of Casey Brown by Ian Collins.

Be Your Bike’s Hero

You want your bike to last as long as possible, and the more regularly it is cared for, the better it will perform, and longer it will live.

We are happy to guide you on DIY procedures, and on scheduling service. Whether you want to do the service yourself, or bring your bike into the shop, be sure to add regular bike care to your routine. If you purchased your bike at Epicenter, remember you get unlimited FREE basic tune-ups for the life of your bike. Give us a call to schedule an appointment.

Your bike makes you feel like a hero — be a hero for your bike. The better you take care of your trusted steed, the better it will take care of you!

Epicenter Cycling’s Guide to Caring for Your Road/Hybrid/Cruiser Bike

Cyclists enjoying a spin on the road.

Commuters, roadies, and pleasure cruisers … We know you LOVE your bike. Your bike makes you feel like a hero! You know the feeling: the air is crisp, and you feel the energy of each pedal stroke diffuse deep into your bones ... you're flying high, Superman cape streaming behind you.

And you ARE a hero. You take time to make time for your healthy lifestyle. To those who seek a strong life balance, you are the example. When you get on your bike you feast on fresh air, finding focus and inspiration — all of which give you the energy to be the best that you can be.

To support you in being the conscientious hero you are, we’d like to offer some tips on maintaining the health of your steed.

Pre-Ride Maintenance and Safety Screening

When we suggest checking over your bike before a ride, we don’t mean ten minutes before you are heading for the trail head. Schedule some time when you won’t be rushed, and also have an opportunity to get something fixed if necessary.

Check Your Handlebars

Place hands on grips, press down with weight, and try to rotate them back and forth. If your handle bars have any movement make sure to tighten. This can be done very quickly at home with a 3-way hex wrench, usually 4 or 5 mm.

Long-term maintenance tip: Every year, lube the screws that connect the handle bars to headset with a squeeze of Park Tool grease + a Q-tip.

Retightening the stem clamp bolts with a Park Tool 3-way hex wrench.

Retightening the stem clamp bolts with a Park Tool 3-way hex wrench.

Check the Stem Tightness

This is the gap area where the headset meets the frame. To check, hold the front brake and rock the bike back and forth. If you feel any movement or play, first loosen the stem clamp bolts and tighten the screw at the top of the stem to a quarter turn more than finger tight. Then, straighten the handlebars and retighten stem clamp bolts.

Check the Bearings

These include: headset (feel for roughness, or vibration); front wheel (hold fork and spin front wheel; should spin nice and freely, no roughness); pedals (should spin freely, no noise); bottom bracket; rear wheel. If this sounds like Greek to you, come by and we’ll demonstrate.

Check Your Brakes

Check the brake caliper bolts; make sure they are tight. Check pads for wear; make sure the pads are present and aligned, each pad an equal distance  from the rim or rotor. Ideally, the wear on your pads should be equal, if this is not the case it may indicate an alignment issue.

Your brake levers should have enough tension to pull to about one inch from the handle bars. If your pads are worn and/or your levers are loose, we can help you get them adjusted properly.

Your brake levers should have enough tension to pull to about one inch from the handle bars.

Your brake levers should have enough tension to pull to about one inch from the handle bars.

Disc brakes: Ideally, the wear on your pads should be equal. Notice how, in this case, the left side is more worn than the right. This may indicate an alignment issue.

Disc brakes: Ideally, the wear on your pads should be equal. Notice how, in this case, the left side is more worn than the right. This may indicate an alignment issue.

This is an example of a toe-in brake. We do this sometimes when the brakes get really squeaky.

This is an example of a toe-in brake. We do this sometimes when the brakes get really squeaky.

Check Your Tires

Make sure your tire pressure meets the minimum psi; this info can be found on your tire. There’s a fine art to running different amounts of tire pressure depending on terrain. We will cover this in details in another post (plus other helpful tire tips!), but in general, you want to run the psi indicated on the tire to avoid pinch flats and other issues.

Be sure look at the tire tread. If tread is visibly bare in center of tire, it’s time to swap it out for a new one. Pop on over and our knowledgeable crew can set you up.

For this road tire, the acceptable pressure range is 80-110 psi. It’s helpful to have a pump with a dial at home.

For this road tire, the acceptable pressure range is 80-110 psi. It’s helpful to have a pump with a dial at home.

Check Your Wheels

Prior to hopping on your two-wheel vehicle always, always make sure your front AND rear skewers are secure and tight. It’s good practice to set levers to between the 12 and 3 o’clock positions so they cannot be opened while riding.

Also, check to make sure the wheel spins straight. If not, come see us before you hit the trail. If you don’t notice a wobble at this checkpoint, but do on your ride (wobbly climb or squirrelly descent), you know it’s hot time to get that rear/front wheel trued.

Always, ALWAYS make sure your front and rear skewers are secure and tight. Like THIS.

Always, ALWAYS make sure your front and rear skewers are secure and tight. Like THIS.

NOT this.

NOT this.

Check Your Seat and Seat Stay

Make sure the seat is properly aligned (by getting on bike or eyeballing), and routinely check to make sure nuts and bolts connecting your seat to the seat post are tight and secure. If you move the seat back and forth and there is any play, you will need to tighten the connecting screws.

Also check the seat stay (the ring that holds the post in place). Use a 3-way hex wrench (usually 4 or 5mm) to tighten clamp if needed.

Lube Your Chain

Lube your chain at least once per week, and definitely at end of your ride if the bike gets wet or mucky. To effectively lube your chain, first be sure to clean it before applying the chain lube. You can use a chain cleaner such as ParkTool’s CB-4 Bio ChainBrite, or at the very least wipe the chain down with a rag.

To apply the lube, backpedal while applying a thin stream to one revolution of chain. If you have a quick release chain link use that as a point of reference to ensure you cover the entire chain. If you do not have a quick release, back pedal three to four full rotations to ensure that full coverage.

Before wiping the chain, ride around block, or back pedal for 30 seconds to a minute. Then, use towels to clean dirt/muck from the cassette on rear derailleur. And using a towel, put the chain between your left index finger and thumb (use the bottom chain, moving from cassette to front ring), and use same rotation pattern described above.

Too confusing? Feel free to ask our service department for a quick tutorial!

Pro tip: We use Dumonde Tech because it lasts the longest and is best in class for protection of your chain.

To apply chain lube, backpedal while applying a thin stream to one revolution of chain.

To apply chain lube, backpedal while applying a thin stream to one revolution of chain.

Check Your Suspension (for Non-Rigid Frames)

Some cross bikes and hybrid commuters boast front suspension. It’s important to take good care of that fork as they can be expensive to replace. When riding regularly you should service your fork at least once per year or every 100 hours of riding, whichever comes first. This is because dust, etc. collects and can wear down your stanchions and internal suspension parts. If you notice a lot of grit, grime, or build up around the seals, it’s time for some professional service.

Based on a riding schedule of about five rides a week, in your first year of proprietorship you should service your fork three times per the following schedule:

  • At four months (yes, even in that first year of ownership!), get the lowers removed and cleaned.

  • At eight months, have the wiper seal replaced (this seal is responsible for keeping dirt out and lube in).

  • At twelve months, get a complete overhaul, which includes draining the old suspension fluid from your fork, removal of the fork’s lowers, and a thorough cleaning of the stanchions and lowers, followed by an installation of fresh seals and oil.

If you ride aggressively, and in particularly dusty or dirty conditions (cyclocrossers, we’re talking to you!), you’ll obviously want to service your fork more frequently. Keep in mind that following a recommended fork maintenance schedule will keep your fork running smoothly for much, much longer than if you don’t.

A healthy, happy looking front fork.

A healthy, happy looking front fork.

Post-Ride Maintenance Routine

After your awesome date with your bike, you’ll want to give it some love as well. This might be a great time to run through the checkpoints outlined in the Pre-Ride Maintenance Routine so you are all set for your next ride, instead of scrambling at the last minute because your week got too busy.

And if your steed got dirty, here are some pointers for sprucing it up:

Rinse

Use a hose to give it a rinse. Yes, a hose. You may have been cautioned against using a hose to wash your bike, but it’s important to know that spraying water on your bike will not cause damage. It’s HIGH PRESSURE that causes damage and can push out grease from bearings.

To avoid this, use a low to medium stream setting and take care not to directly spray the hubs, the bottom bracket, or anywhere with bearings. With this in mind, if you don’t have access to a hose, a water bottle will suffice.

If your steed needs a more thorough cleansing after an especially dirty ride, use a bucket of warm water and these supplies:

  • Brushes (we recommend the Park Tool BCB-4.2 bike cleaning brush set which includes a gear brush, a bottle brush, a combo bristle and sponge brush, and a frame cleaning sponge)

  • Solvent for the chain (you can’t go wrong with Finish Line Speed or Citrus degreasers)

  • Soap (Finish Line makes a great surfactant called Super Bike Wash)

  • Lube for pivots and derailleurs (Dumonde Tech is our favorite)

Dry

Dry your bike off well with a soft, clean towel. An old beach or hand towel works great.

Lube the Chain

See instructions on how to do this in the “Lube Your Chain” section above.

Epicenter mechanics are experienced, knowledgeable and friendly! Stop by or call with any questions and we’re happy to help.

Epicenter mechanics are experienced, knowledgeable and friendly! Stop by or call with any questions and we’re happy to help.

Other Necessary Maintenance

Along the way, you’ll want to maintain other aspects of your bike. This section may be a bit more information than you want to assimilate. But don’t worry, that’s why you have us. We’re happy to do the wrenchin’ so you can get out and play!

Whether you do it yourself, or put your trusted steed into our capable hands, we can’t emphasize enough the importance of regular maintenance. Worn-out parts degrade other parts, and that means unnecessary, expensive repairs. Regular maintenance will keep your machine running STRONG and smooth.

Drive Train

This is your bike’s “motor.” A worn drive chain does not feel good to ride! There are several components to look after in your drive train: the chain, the front chain ring, the cassette, and the front and rear derailleurs.

Chain: In addition to lubing your chain weekly, every few months you should check the wear on your chain. There is a special tool for this practice. Even with the most loving use, your chain will loosen over time (typically every 1,000 – 1,500 miles). This will cause increased wear on your cassette and chain ring, which may result in an expensive fix. Proper chain maintenance will extend the life of your front chain ring(s) and rear cassette.

Front chain ring: Keep an eye on your front chain ring. If the teeth start to look like little shark teeth (hooked), you should seriously consider replacing the component.

Cassette: This component will need replacement if the chain is skipping when you know you have a healthy chain.

Derailleurs: Ideal maintenance includes wiping dirt and grime from your rear derailleur after each use. If riding in dry conditions, wipe the pulley wheels with a rag and use a brush to clear dirt in between cassette rings  every other use or so. For the front derailleur, you can use a brush to wipe debris from the chain ring and the space between ring and derailleur.

Pivots, Cables & Housing, Bearings, and Brakes

Lastly, here are a few other very important maintenance recommendations from our mechanics. Remember, the more preventative care you invest in, the less likely you’ll wind up with a major repair bill down the line.

  • Pivot service every 300 hours

  • Cables and housing every 300 hours, for optimal performance

  • Bearings (headset, bottom bracket, and hubs) service every 300 hours

  • Brake bleed service every 1,000 to 1,500 miles

The above maintenance is incorporated into tune-up and overhaul packages we offer by our professional mechanics. We recommend that you tune-up your bike at least once per year; more often for frequent riders. Stop by to chat with our crew to determine the best service regimen for your bike.

Take care of your bike and your bike will take care of you.

Be Your Bike’s Hero

You want your bike to last as long as possible, and the more regularly it is cared for, the better it will perform, and longer it will live.

We are happy to guide you on DIY procedures, and on scheduling service. Whether you want to do the service yourself, or bring your bike into the shop, be sure to add regular bike care to your routine. If you purchased your bike at Epicenter, remember you get unlimited FREE basic tune-ups for the life of your bike. Give us a call to schedule an appointment.

Your bike makes you feel like a hero — be a hero for your bike. The better you take care of your trusted steed, the better it will take care of you!