Chiswick Cycle Watch’s Newsletter

The latest from SNT Officer Kevin Howes on life on two wheels

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Hello and welcome to the latest edition of the Chiswick Cycle Watch newsletter.

With the arrival of the warm weather many of you will be dusting off your bikes or possibly upgrading to a brand new one in which case the last thing a cycle retailer will do before they hand over a new bicycle to its owner is a safety check to ensure its safe operation. For those of you who already have a bicycle there are two ways to do this. The first of these is a bicycle service at a cycle shop costing £40 approx which will include adjusting the brakes and gears which I wouldn’t suggest you do yourself unless your proficient in addition to the more simple tasks that most of us can do ourselves such as checking that all the nuts bolts and quick releases on the bicycle are all tight and secure, that the tyres are in good condition with no splits or perishing of the rubber or excessive wear of the tread and that they’re inflated to the correct pressure which makes pedalling easier.

Using a bicycle specific lubricant on pivot points such as the brake callipers (not the brake blocks) the gear and brake leavers on the handle bars and the chain and gears themselves will ensure trouble free operation of the bike’s controls and drive train.

The simplest way to do the last is to turn the bicycle upside down and use one hand to cycle the pedals while applying lubricant sparingly to the chain with the other. Most bicycle retailers sell a large range of bicycle specific lubricants for different conditions but for general use a can of TF2 which is green in colour and can be brought for under £3 in any Tesco Extra store is great. This has the advantage of being a Teflon based lubricant and unlike WD40 or 3 in 1 oil or grease it won’t attract dust and dirt onto the chain and gears which causes a highly erosive paste to form. It should come with a very thin applicator tube which I’d advise always using as it makes application much easier and sparing.

Whatever lubricant you use make sure none of it gets onto the brake blocks or the braking surface of the wheel rims that the brake blocks touch or you won’t stop when you need to!!! Finally if you do notice any odd sounds and/or movement coming from the bicycle when you first use it it’s better to play safe and take your cycle to a shop so they can check it out and advise you.

With more people using their bikes in the fair weather there is always a rise in bicycle thefts, especially of expensive models in any condition or a new bicycle of any value. If you are buying a second hand bicycle from eBay or Gumtree be very careful as many stolen bicycles are sold or “fenced” on these sites and although you may initially think you’ve got a bargain, if “your” bicycle is later found to be stolen it will be returned to the original owner and although the police will do their best its unlikely the seller will have left any tracks.

A good way to spot the dodgiest sellers on eBay is to check their feedback and see whether they ever buy any goods or ever sell anything other than bicycles or, on Gumtree, by Googling the contact mobile telephone number given. This will show how many times that number has been involved with Gumtree sales and if they are all for bicycles then I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions. This method was used to good effect recently by the Turnham Green Ward team to identify, arrest and convict a cycle fence and recover ten high value bicycles. His mobile number was connected to over two hundred bike adverts on Gumtree which would have netted him £80K per annum had he been allowed to continue. This gives you some idea off the problem we’re facing.

As for securing your bicycle then our advice is simple:

Always lock it even if you’re just popping into a shop for a couple of minutes. If you’re leaving it for any amount of time then leave it in a busy area where people walk by regularly. Avoid leaving it outside in a front garden or public place at night if at all possible.

Use two types of lock, a D Lock and a good heavy duty cable lock, both secured to the frame and a solid object and not touching the ground as a thief will use the ground as an anvil when smashing D Locks. Using different types of lock will discourage the amateur thief as they tend only to come equipped to deal with one type of lock and cutting a cable lock or breaking a D Lock takes two very different types of tool. Remove any quick releases from your wheels and saddle and replace them with secure versions.

Get insured, some household policies cover cycles but check that your expensive new mountain bike or racer isn’t over the claim limit. Also a claim on specific cycle insurance shouldn’t affect your no claims discount on you home policy.

All members of Chiswick Cycle Watch have their bicycles registered for FREE on Non members can do this for themselves, again FREE of charge on the website and only need to enrol and find your bicycle’s frame number which is usually on the bottom of the frame between the pedals. Entering the details is easy and once you’ve left your contact details you’re protected. The immobilise database is linked to the National Mobile Property Register which is available to police 24/7 and has resulted in several arrests recently in Chiswick where thieves were stopped on stolen bicycles identified by checking the frame numbers. It can also be used to record the serial numbers of anything from mobile phones to iPods to TVs and cameras helping you to beat the casual thief or burglar!!!

For more information the London Cycling Campaign is currently running a Beat the Thief campaign with an informative video on You Tube.

Finally some words on cycle safety equipment.

I always wear a cycle helmet when cycling and it proved its worth to me when I was hit head on by a careless car driver, went onto the bonnet and my head broke the car’s windscreen before I was dumped back onto the road with my bike in a heap. The impact split the helmet in half but the only injuries I received was a bruised leg!!!

The natural reaction to falling off a bicycle is to put your hands out to save yourself. This is all well and good unless you’re not wearing cycling gloves!!!

Eye protection is always a good idea and stops stone chips and flying insects!!!

High visibility vests don’t just work at night in fact their bright colours are designed to be seen in daylight while the reflective strips work at night!!!

Remember to take a full water bottle with you as well especially in hot weather. You’ll be surprised how quickly your feel like a drink!!!

For a decent cycle helmets go to you local retailer cycle and don’t buy a second hand one on eBay. Poundland does a good range of cheap gloves, bottles, cycling glasses and tyre repair kits etc.

Anyway have a great summer and enjoy your cycling.

Yours in cycling

Kevin HOWES PC 201TX
Chiswick Homefields Safer Neighbourhood Team

Run by PC Kevin Howes at Chiswick Safer Neighbourhoods, Chiswick Cycle watch is a scheme aimed at promoting cycle safety and security in the local area.

June 12, 2010