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House-training your bike, step by step

In my cycle commute to work, I regularly see three types of bikes outside all day and night. Each represents a clear perspective about bike ownership.

Some neighborhood lawns have kids’ bikes randomly strewn about. Most of these bikes are responsibly put away at night, but others remain as horizontal lawn ornaments until a parent picks them up. After enough cycles of rain damage and rust, they are routinely discarded at a yard sale or recycled as scrap metal.

If bikes are left outside as rusting toys, they are disposable, and quality doesn’t matter.

Other times, bikes are clearly used for transportation, but with no effort made to protect them from the elements. In this case, the bikes have some value, but the components are disposable.

Expect to routinely replace all steel components, including chain, gears, tires, brake pads, and bike rims.

In the third and most interesting category, people clearly want to protect their bikes from rain and snow, and create ways to make protection  happen.

Out of the apartment, and off the deck. But not out of harm’s way.

Tarps and hanging bikes from the deck rafters both get bikes out of the elements, but still result in condensation rust. Oil your chain regularly and wipe down your frame frequently.

This bike looks dry, and sometimes it is. But humidity and condensation will make it rust over time.

Assuming your investment in transportation and recreation is worth protecting, here are three steps toward house-training your bike.

1. Put your bike in a transition space.


The first step in house-training your bike is to bring it inside a non-people room.

In suburbia, if you have enough room, the storage location may be your garage. Or, if you don’t have a garage, it may be a purchased or hand-built bike shed.

While still having some condensation issues, a bike shed gets your bike out of sight for higher security.

In highly populated areas such as NYC, this protection may take the form of a dedicated “bike room” for the apartment or work building.

Bike rooms are typically at least partially heated or ventilated, eliminating the condensation problem.

While protecting bikes more from the elements, bike rooms or bike cages also create a security problem. Large collections of expensive bikes, even locked up, are attractive targets for bike thieves.

A good pair of bolt cutters resulted in thousands of dollars of theft here.

2. Flatten your bike in a people space.


Whether in a garage or hallway, your bike is among people now and will need to learn how to share space. A folding THINstem does that.

A THINstem looks like this, and fits between your handlebars and the top of your fork (called the steerer tube).

A folding stem makes it easy to turn your handlebars 90 degrees and fit your bike behind furniture and even behind a door in the hallway.

Pop-off pedals take this convenience to the next level, making it possible for shin-scratching and wall-damaging pedals to get out of the way in literally seconds.

Pop-Off Flat Pedals

Pop-off pedals fit on any bike and are available in flat, mountain, or SPD.

When you take your pedals off, here’s the perfect place to put them.

That’s all with your existing bike. If you look at a new bike, your options increase even more.

3. Get a bike that is designed for convenience.


A full-size bike like a CHANGE 702 that folds in half takes small-space convenience to the next level.

If you bike can fit in a Smart Car, then it can fit in an Uber or a taxi.

With a full-size folding bike, you don’t even need a large empty wall to lean your bike against (or hang it on). Any room becomes a place where a bike can fit.

Bike in the Living Room

Two bikes in the living room? No problem!

And when your bike is right next to your door, you use it more.

Walk out the door, or ride out the door. Your choice.

And there you have it–three ways to make your bike last longer, and better overall investment in the things you care about.

Isn’t it time you house-trained your bike?

Bob Forgrave's Signature

Bob Forgrave is president of Flatbike, an
ecommerce company offering full-size folding bikes
and kits to make any bike take up half the space.


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