Rescued from the detritus in the back of the garage, the prognosis is doubtfuL.Judging by the wheels and frame, it used to be a bicycle, but underneath the cobwebs and dust, the chain hangs loose, the flat tires wobble and rust flakes from every creaking joint, making any prospect of a full recovery seem grim. Thankfully, Sarasota has its own bicycle ICU at Sarasota Cycle, where owner David Holm continues the legacy his father built when he opened his first bike shop on State Street in 1969. While low-maintenance compared to combustion-powered options, even the trusty bicycle needs a little love and attention sometimes too, and Sarasota Cycle technicians have plenty to spare. 

Maintenance Tips

With an expansive workspace right on the floor of the shop and a whole bevy of specialized tools, manager and mechanic Dave “LD” Tousignant and a team of six technicians diagnose and repair 25–30 bikes a week—double that in season. While every bike should visit the shop now and again, here are a few tips for home upkeep.

Stay Pumped      “Tire pressure is critical,” says Holm, and poorly inflated tires remain a leading cause of avoidable flats, especially in the rainy seasons, when storm waters wash debris to the bike lanes and floppy-tires pick it all up.  

Stay SHARP     Almost all brakes come equipped with a wear indicator—a small line or notch—to measure the life of the brake pad and when it should be replaced. Like the brake pad on a car, the brake wears with time, eventually exposing the rim if left in place. “And when you start hitting your rim, then you need to start changing out your rim,” says Tousignant, “which gets expensive.”

Stay Strong      Forged from tempered steel—stainless steel is too soft—bike chains remain vulnerable to rust. To keep the chain in good condition, lube regularly and protect it from the elements. More than clunky or inflexible, a rusted chain means a weaker chain and therefore a safety hazard. Dab a bit on exposed bolts and other metal bits to fight rust all around the frame.

Stay Frosty

If possible, says Tousignant, store the bicycle inside and in the air conditioning. A simple thing, but protecting the bike from salt air, temperature extremes and inclement weather can go a long way, especially here. “That helps with the Florida factor,” says Tousignant.

Stay Tuned

Like a car, a bicycle should receive annual tune-ups to make sure all the bits and pieces work properly and nothing needs to be replaced. Preventative care goes a long way,
and riders shouldn’t be afraid to trust their gut and bring the bike in for a look-see from a mechanic. “Basically, if it doesn’t sound right,” says Tousignant, and every rider will know their bike, and the sounds it makes, best. “It could be something simple, but if you don’t check it out it could turn into something big.”

Tools of the Trade

With specialty repair comes specialty tools and the bike shop is no different. If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right, and the folks at Sarasota Cycle rely on an array of gadgets and implements designed to work on and around the demands of the bicycle

Chain Breaker

A small, handheld tool, the chain breaker more decouples the chain than breaks it. Lining up the chain with the tool, the technician pushes a metal pin through to in turn push the connecting pin out from between two chain links, effectively breaking the chain.

Spoke Cutter

One of the oldest specialty tools in the shop, the serial number on this Phil Wood Spoke Cutter reads 266. “We’ve had it forever,” says Tousignant, and that’s because it does what it does and does it well. Laying the head of the spoke in the groove, the technician measures to the desired length on an attached indicator and pulls the lever. Lifting the lever back up, the freshly cut spoke rises with it, waiting to be plucked.

Spoke Wrench

Looking more like a keychain or a toy, the spoke wrench’s small size is necessary to its function. As each spoke is threaded into a nipple along the inside of the wheel, the spoke wrench needs to be able to rotate left and right within the confines of the spokes. 

Pedal Wrench

Designed for installing and removing pedals, this specialty tool again comes down to shape. Built incredibly thin, the pedal wrench can sneak into the small spaces between the pedal and the crank arm for some quick adjustment.