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    created at: 03/07/2013

    Those of you in the financial or business sector have got this covered, but for those who don't wear one to work everyday, it doesn't make sense to have a closet full of suits if you only wear one five or six times a year. So, here are some quick tips for the rest of us - the recent college grad, the artist, the programmers - on buying one suit and dressing it up and down to wear it multiple ways.    

    Fit first. The most important aspect to any suit is the way it fits your body. Rather than spending bunches of money and time finding the one that fits perfectly, find one that gets you most of the way there, and spend another $100 or so on a tailor to customize it to your features. Or, look at some made-to-fit options like those from Indochino

    Versatility comes from color. If you're only going to buy one suit, buy it in medium or charcoal gray. It works all year round, and will never go out of style. Dark blue might work if it particular suits your coloring, but gray can be dress with both black and brown accessories - like your shoes and belt - making it work with more shirt and tie combos. [Suit: Nanotech Gray Microdot - Indochino (at top)]

    Now that you're set in gray, here are five ways to wear it for any sort of occasion. 

    created at: 03/07/2013

    The Interview. This is the classic business office look. While lapels, cuts, and tie width might change, the standard uniform does not. Wear a classic shirt - white or light blue - or some barely there jewel tones, and pair it with a striped tie. Nothing ambitious...let your work and personality speak for you. Unless, of course, you have some insider info on the office culture; then you can explore one of the options below. [Suit: Tailored Charcoal Italian Wool Two Button - Banana Republic

     

    created at: 03/07/2013

    The Date Night. Wanna make any random Friday night dinner out feel more special? Wear a suit. Your gray suit, of course, with a checked shirt and a solid tie. And throw in a pocket square or a tie bar. Even if your dinner reservation doesn't demand it, do it anyway. You bought the suit, so use it. [Suit: Ludlow with Double Vent - J. Crew]

     

    The Wedding (and the Funeral). These formal occasions are the time to look sharp, but not stand out. If you're attending a wedding with a date, then just appear clean - well-fitting gray suit, black tie, white shirt: the Don Draper-look. Same works for a funeral, especially if you're a pallbearer or participating in some way. (Of course, if you own a black suit, it's more appropriate here.) If you're attending a wedding with the potential for getting a date, it's okay to flash it up just a bit (as above), but don't try to outshine the couple. Not cool. [Photo: AMC]

     

    created at: 03/07/2013

    The Special Event. For specific occasions - that extra special date night like an anniversary, or when attending a show or gallery event - go for classic, yet exciting. Leave the patterns behind, but opt for some bolder colors, like a deeper blue shirt, or even a lavender or pink if you can pull it off. Keep your tie in a thin, New England-like stripe, or go for the tone on tone look as in the image above. It's fun, yet not flashy. And if you can pull off a bow tie (I cannot), now's the time to bust it out. [Suit: Ludlow Double Vent in Italian Cotton Pique - J. Crew]

     

     created at: 03/07/2013

    The Traveler. Often, when traveling for work or vacation, you'll need a suit upon your arrival. And while first-classers in business blue are a common sight at the airport, there's no way I'ma get up at 3:00 in the morning and put on a suit to fly across the country. And while most men's style blogs will tell you not to wear a suit jacket with jeans (that should be reserved for a sportcoat or blazer), but while it might not be ideal, you can get away with a suit jacket and jeans on certain occasions, and an airplane is definitely one of them. Just make sure your jeans or pants and shoes are as as close to dressy as and have a similar fit to your jacket - dark, slim jeans, leather shoes, dark socks, etc. 

    And, for goodness sake, tuck in your shirt. [Jacket: Tailored charcoal herringbone two-button blazer]

     


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    At ManMade, we're big fans of cast iron cookware, particularly the must-own skillet, which you can use from everything from cooking your breakfast bacon and eggs to cornbread to setting on your grill or an open fire for a safe, efficient way to cook outdoors. A 10" or 12" skillet is one of our ten items every man should own, and in my opinion,  one of the best $20-30 anyone can spend.Especially when it not only serves as a tool for making your meal, but the only vessel you need for an easy one-pot(ish) meal. The Kitchn rounded up ten cool ideas that would be equally at home on the stovetop or over the campfire. Some require a bit of boiling of pasta, etc, but all the searing, sautéing  and baking happen right there in the skillet, out of which you also serve the meal directly. 

    created at: 03/07/2013

    Megan says, 

    Having a few quick dinner recipes in your back pocket is always a good thing. But even better are the recipes that don't use multiple bowls and pans, allowing you to cut down on prep time and dishes. This is why I love a good skillet recipe.... There's something really satisfying about cooking and serving dinner in a skillet — and often, depending on the dish, food actually tastes better when cooked in cast iron....This list features something for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

    Dinner in a Skillet: 10 Recipes to Make in Your Cast Iron Pan [The Kitchn]

    [Photos by Savvy Mom (top) and SpoonForkBacon (bottom)]   

     

     

     


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    When I came across this awesome vintage-inspired trestle desk this week, it struck all my favorite things: warm wood tones, a modern industrial vibe, and nothing extraneous, just a nice big surface and some shelves. It was "inspired by an antique French architect's table," and it's just all kinds of industrial cool. 

    Except there's one problem...   It's only available for kids!


    Which is okay if you have a kid and can drop $650 on a desk for them. But I don't, and I can't, so I say: make your own.

    The design is simple: two basic A-frame saw horse trestles and a solid wood glued up top. It's the scale and the two-toned wood finishes that make this guy special.

    The sawhorses themselves would be relatively easy to build for any one with a saw and a drill. There are bunches of free how-tos on the internet, but I suggest starting with this one from The Family Handyman, which includes a cool shelf design:

    Just scale it to working desk height (usually 29 1/2") and avoid adding the folding mechanism for stability. Then, stain to a nice rich brown.

    The top is just a glued up block of reclaimed elm made from antique doors...which I don't have lying around, and suspect you might not either. You can definitely look for an old solid-core door to use as a desktop, but gluing up lumber is easy and lots of fun. 

    created at: 03/08/2013

    You just need some straight dimensional lumber, wood glue, and a few strong clamps to secure the joints. Here's a great free PDF from Woodsmith magazine that shows you how to make three styles of table top, including one with breadboard ends as seen in the inspiration desk, without the need for any complex joinery or special tools. 

    Now, to just find a vintage drafting stool...

    Kid's Sawhorse Trestle Desk - $649 at Restoration Hardware 

     

     


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    created at: 03/11/2013

    I use extension cords on nearly all of my projects: powering tools in my outlet-starved basement workshops, plugging in task lights for fine handwork like cutting stencils or sewing, or snaking it through my kitchen to use outside for extra messy projects. And the rest of the time, my extension cords sit in a hopelessly bundled and tangled lump in a corner of my shop.   Not surprisingly, contractors - who use extension cords everyday to set up portable job sites - have come up with a better-than-wrapping-it-around-your-elbow trick to keep them tangle free and ready to go. Wires are not rope...don't treat them the same.

    I'ma memorize this trick this afternoon, and put it into practice immediately. I hope it'll also work for stiff and twist-prone air hoses. 


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    I'm a big advocate of brewing your own tasty cup of coffee at home. It saves you lots of money and possibly over the coffee shop, tastes much better than the stuff from the gas station or bodega, and allows you to have a hands-on experience of a true pleasure.    (There's lots of economic, ecological, and justice reasons as well; I shant get political here, but if you wanna email me, I'll be happy to chat more.)

    So, I've been really enjoying this week-long study from Tonx and Lifehacker on Brewing the Perfect Cup. It begins by make the case for better coffee, then expands into selecting beans, multiple at-home brewing methods that produce excellent results, and provide resources to get you into full-on coffee nerdery.

    If you want, of course. Otherwise, you can just learn the basics of producing a really great cup of coffee - affordably and sustainably - any time you want, at home. That's DIY to me.

    Brew the Perfect Cup: The Complete Guide [Lifehacker]

     

     


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    National Geographic has launched a new Tumblr blog - Found - which shares some seriously incredible vintage photos from the magazine's vast archives.   

    The Verge reports,

    Not surprisingly, the photos published on Found cover a wide breadth of cultures and eras. Some, like the below image of Budapest's Gellert Bath House, give quotidien, slice-of-life snapshots from bygone times, while others stand out on purely aesthetic or compositional grounds. On the more bizarre end of the spectrum is a 1903 photograph of Alexander Graham Bell kissing his wife Mabel within a "tetrahedral kite" (above).

    There are lots of cool "photo of the day" sites out there, but this is one I'm definitely subscribing to. 

    Wonderful.

    NatGeoFound on Tumblr [via The Verge]

     

     


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    I love hot sauce as much as anyone...except my wife, who eats it on bread. We keep plenty around, particularly since I work from home and it helps transform my mishmash of fridge leftovers and pantry staples into a flavorful, work-at-your-desk breakfast and lunch (see also: smoked salt).

    But, most are a variation on a theme: chiles, vinegar, spices. Some add a bit of garlic, or smokiness, or additional sweetness but most of thetime, it's the selection and combo of chiles that really determine the flavor. 

    So, I'm fascinated by this recipe from Josh Bousel, which adds complexity from, of all things, vegetables. It's inclusion of roasted tomato, carrot, onion, and garlic border on the line of a Mexican-style table salsa, but with the texture and splash-ability of Southern style hot sauce.

    Josh says, "The roasted flavor is robust, and as the sweetness fades and this aspect becomes more prevalent, the habanero hits hard with a fruity heat that leaves a little burn on the tongue. As a similar flavor progression to a barbecue sauce, it makes sense that it went so well with smoked meats, but it's bound to do so much more."

    Get the recipe at Serious Eats: Roasted Carrot and Tomato Habeñero Hot Sauce

     


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    Artist and designer Josh Rhodes came up with this quick and easy project: a warm and rustic piece of furniture, made in a single afternoon for less than $30 in easy-to-find materials. Done, done, and done!   

    The design is based on pine 1x12s, and requires just six cuts and a few screws. If you have a way to cut wood, you can easily whip up this project in an hour. Josh's tip to use Kreg screws (designed for pocket joints) to avoid having to drill pilot holes is genius. Cut, glue, screw, sand, sit. Repeat as necessary. 

    See the full how-to on A Beautiful Mess: Josh's Homemade Bench 

     

    [Photos: Arrow and Apple]

     


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    Each Wednesday, I post some of my favorite can't-miss links, images, and otherwise mindblowing goodies from across the web.


    Swiss photographer Fabian Oefner creates this stunning images bypouring paint onto a rod that is spun with an Dremel rotary tool. "The motion of the paint happens in a blink of an eye, the images you see are taken only millisecond after the drill was turned on. To capture the moment, where the paint forms that distinctive shape, I connected a sensor to the drill, which sends an impulse to the flashes. These specialized units are capable of creating flashes as short as a 1/40000 of a second, freezing the motion of the paint."

    See more about the process and watch a video at Colossal. 

     Cowboy Hat Styles chart by Callisters. I'ma get a Pinch Front. 

    Make whiskey sugar rocks for an instant Irish Coffee. 

    How to Be Happy in BusinessThree years old now, true forever.

     

     


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    A cocktail is a mixed drink that contains at least one base spirit and a modifier (liqueurs, bitters, fortified wines) mixed with something to give the cocktail a little flavor, such as another spirit, fruit juice, etc.

    created at: 03/18/2013

    A highball, on the other hand, is much more basic. It's a single spirit and a non-alcoholic mixer, and rather than being built in a shaker or a mixing glass, they're typically assembled in the very vessel in which you'll drink it. The name comes from the first highball ever created - the scotch and soda in the 1890s. A bartender in New York City placed a serving of whiskey (a ball) in a tall glass (high), and covered in with ice and club soda. Done.

    Last month, I shared the magic ratio for making great highballs every time: 4 oz of mixer, 1.5 oz of spirits. That post included a promise for a list of ten essential drinks that every guy should commit to memory, to add to those "ingredients in the name" drinks like gin and tonic, whiskey and ginger, etc.  

    created at: 03/13/2013

    To make it easier to keep on hand, I decided to whip up a free downloadable sheet. You can keep one on your fridge, in your liquor cabinet, on your bookshelf, in your glove compartment for a quick reference if you wanna impress someone on a date night... Whatever you like.

    There are two ways to snag your copy:

    If you have any favorite recipes to share (I have a friend who swears by Jack Daniels and Orange Crush soda), let us know in the comments below.

      


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    David Schwen, a Minneapolis-based designer and art director, has been experimenting with a new theme on his Instagram feed, featuring commonly paired ingredients as Pantone swatches.    

    The artist says, "As a designer, you’re constantly picking color chips and pairing them up with one another. A while back I had an idea of making Pantone chips out of real household objects—sponges, cardboard, and the like. But while I was finishing up a poster design, I had taped two Pantone chips together to see how they looked next to one another. Instantly I thought of how people pair food together, and that was that. Pantone pairings."

    created at: 03/14/2013

    I love this guy. I'm now following on Instagram. You should too. 

    Creating Food #PantonePairings with @dschwen [Instagram Blog]

     

     


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    created at: 03/14/2013

    A few years ago, I read a piece by designer Frank Chimero called "What Advice Would You Give a Graphic Design Student?" where he suggests, "Keep two books on your nightstand at all times: one fiction, one non-fiction." I've always been a big book guy, but I always keep Frank's advice in mind...though sometimes, one or the other is a magazine. (One of the good ones.)   And, like most, I'm also a fan of turning off the overhead light to settle into bed with a nightstand lamp...and, if you've looked at the picture above, you get where I'm going with this...

    created at: 03/14/2013 Gina from The Shabby Creek Cottage (who I've met in person, and is wicked cool!) shares her process for turning a stack of vintage books and some hardware store supplies into a proper bedside lamp, for only ten bucks and in less than an hour of work. 

    Coupled with an antique bulb, this project can go lots of ways. The ultimate design depends on your selection of books - so pick ones that match your style (I'd try to find some old outdoor manuals and pulp sci-fi annuals), and go for it. Find Gina's how-to at: 

    Make It: Book Lamp[The Shabby Creek Cottage]

     

     


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    created at: 03/15/2013

    There was a time when the professional man had but one look, and when he was dressed for work, things were clear. Along with the suit and topcoat, there was the standard briefcase - the hard, angular, leather box, with bright, shiny metallic accents.

    Now, with the traditional office dissolving and the 9-5 work week being constantly reimagined, it's time for a new briefcase: one that will still look professional, just not like Gordon Gekko. So, whether you still have a cubicle or corner, work from home, or anything in between, here are our picks for some seriously stylish and masculine, yet affordable, briefcases, laptop bags, and other ways to keep your work organized and mobile.

    The Beckel Canvas Briefcase - $52.00 The most casual of the bunch, but also the least expensive. It would work best in informal work spaces, or for lugging your laptop, tablet, and a bit of paperwork to the coffee shop or co-working environment. Thick, unwaxed canvas with leather reinforcement and cotton handle. Optional shoulder strap available, and made in the U.S. in Portland, Oregon. [Beckel Canvas

    created at: 03/15/2013

    Knomo Kilkenny Messenger Bag - $139 This British offering features a great mix of leather and fabric, making it classy, but still affordable. It's both padded and water resistant, making it a good option for filling with your investment tech and gadgets. The structured, rigid design allows to keep things organized, and your documents crease-free. [Amazon.com]

     

    Banana Republic Messenger Bag - $125 (Often 30% off) Best for the freelancer or telecommuter who mostly wear jeans to work, but still needs to dress up a bit for the occasional meeting. Comes in black, blue, and green, and easily swings across your shoulder for a train commute or bike ride. [Banana Republic]

    Filson Original Briefcase- $225 A dressier and yet more rustic version of the above, Filson's is pricier, but features water repellent 22oz oil-treated canvas, making this a great travel case, and the right option for tougher weather conditions, like Filson's hometown of Seattle. The most expensive on this list, but you'll use it for decades. [Filson.com]

     

    Amerileather Traditional Double Slip-in Executive Briefcase - $94.99 Though likely made overseas, this bag is made from all top grain leather, and is, according to the comments, very roomy. It's got pockets and organizers all over, and receives very positive reviews. It's a lot of bag for under $100. [Pictured at top: Overstock.com

    created at: 03/15/2013

    Duluth Safari Portfolio - $125 Available in sixteen colors of canvas for those who like to make a statement, this smaller option is best for those who use a smaller laptop or tablet for the majority of their work. All Duluth products are made in the U.S. and guaranteed for life, so it's wise investment for all kinds of uses. [DuluthPack.com

    Neo Handmade Leather Briefcase- $125 This all cowhide bag is a bit on the small size (it only fits a 12" laptop, but makes up for it with vintage-inspired styling and topnotch materials. The inside features just enough pockets to keep things organized, but enough room to maintain adjustibility. [Neo Leather Bags]

     


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    created at: 03/18/2013

    For some, a question like "if you could only drink one beer for the rest of your life, what would it be?" is easy to answer. In any given week, they normally only drink one kind of beer - a crisp and easy pilsner from one of the major U.S. breweries, or a local lager found in grocery stores.

    For the rest of us - who see new restaurants and travel destinations as a chance to discover new beers and wouldn't think of ordering the same thing twice in a sitting - the question is increasingly complicated.    Because, it's not, "what's your favorite beer?" sort of thing. It's not even, "what do you like to drink with pizza?" Because - it's really about what would you drink with everything. It's a challenge to pick an extremely versatile but still flavorful and hopefully challenging brew that will keep you engaged for the rest of your years.

    Recently, Drinking in America asked this question on their Facebook page. Check out their results, but please share your thoughts in the comments below, and tell us why it's your pick.

    I'll be thinking of mine this week! Back with more soon.


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    Maker and crafter Timothy Wikander designed this awesome passive amplifying smartphone dock, and gladly shares the full how-to so you can make your own at home.   

    Timothy says, "Amplifier Dock is a passive amplifier and docking solution for iPhone and iPod touch that utilizes the shape and material of an ordinary ceramic bowl. Designed for disassembly, the ceramic bowl may be reused, steel hardware may be recycled, and hardwood/ wool felt may be left to biodegrade. This is my first project as a 2013 Artist in Residence at Instructables.com."

    created at: 03/18/2013

    His instructions suggest a rather equipped woodshop to complete, but that's really not necessary. You can buy milled and square 3/8" wood stock (like maple) at woodworking shops and perhaps even you local home center. You could then just cut the wood with a handsaw, drill, and be good to go.

    I regularly use a similar trick to play podcasts while I'm in the shower, but this is, you know, an actual well-designed project that you can place anywhere in your house or office. 

    Get the full how-to at Instructables: Amplifier Dock

     

     


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    A bedroom is often the most overlooked room in the house. You spend the big money on the rooms your guests will see - quality, lasting furniture for the living room, a dining table for hosting - or on practical pieces, like small appliances in the kitchen, or setting up your media gear for music all over your home.   But, argues this month's issue of GQ magazine, reconsider the bedroom, and make the most important space in your home into the inviting refuge (you never knew) you've always wanted."

    Author Jon Wilde says,

    We know what you're thinking: Why go crazy if you're just going in there to turn out the lights? Here's why, and it has nothing to do with impressing women (okay, maybe a little): If you make your bedroom into more than just a room with a bed, it becomes a sanctuary—the place where you go to find a moment's peace, whether that's from a shitty day at work or the house party down the hall. In other words: Give your bedroom a little love and you'll get it all back.

    Makes sense to me. So, whether it's a personal retreat or one you share with a partner, invest in your sleep space. Get the full list of tips and some awesome (but admittedly unaffordable) furniture and decor recommendations at GQ.com: 

    Wake Up Your Bedroom


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    Each Wednesday, I post some of my favorite can't-miss links, images, and otherwise mindblowing goodies from across the web. 

    created at: 03/20/2013This (↑) is a frozen wave in Antartica.    created at: 03/20/2013

    Well, not really. It's a phenomenon called "blue ice" that's "created when ice was compressed and the trapped air bubbles were squeezed out. During the summer the surface ice melts and new ice layers compress on top.  The ice appears blue because when when light passes through thick ice, blue light is transmitted back out but red light is absorbed." Still amazing. Learn more at the Daily Mail. 

     

    Please don't smoke, but do look at this cool collection of his grandfather's pipes Hector shared on Instagram.

     


    "A painstakingly detailed breakdown of the instrumentation of Beatles songs, with the parts played by John, Paul, George, and Ringo all broken out in color-coordinated lines." Volume 1, from Please Please Me through Help

     

    Original business card for Australian naturalist and photographer Frank Hurley, circa 1911.

     

    Typeface created from a single desconstructed camera.

     


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    Spring is being a bit of a jerk this year, taking its sweet time to show up. In like lion, out like a slightly less cold but equally wet and windy lion. I've got a serious case of cabin fever this year - probably not worse than any other March, though it certainly seems so - and I'm spending my time planning all the stuff I'm going to do outside when the snow melts.    And, this portable outdoor kitchen isn't helping my fresh air jones much. I first spied the Outdoorsman Camp Kitchen on The Fancy for a whopping $950, but a little more research show you can snag it for a more bearable $500 from its original source - My Camp Kitchen by Bristlecone. 

    And a little more research (read: looking at the pictures) leads me to think: this is totally makeable at home with a single sheet of plywood and some accessories. It's basically just a plywood box with exposed hardware, reinforced with some shelves and dividers and a back to keep everything square. 

    created at: 03/20/2013

    The legs are the tricky part, as they're designed to stay sturdy on uneven terrain. You could make them from hardwood with holes to accomodate support knobs, but Colorado scouter suggests using adjustable aluminum tent poles, as he did on his "Family Patrol Box" seen here: 

    These are called a variety of names: camp kitchens, chuck boxes, patrol boxes, so doing some searching to find the inspiration that's right for you.

    Outdoorsman Camp Kitchen [MyCampKitchen.com] - $495 


    Once you've got your camp kitchen all set up, grab a stump and get to cooking. We recommend this campfire beef brisket: 


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    It's hard to go wrong with a sandwich. Quality ingredients stacked up properly and mixed with other good stuff can lead to something greater than the sum of its parts.   But, when making them at home, sandwiches can often just be a sub for a hot meal, or a way to clean out the fridge. Some might argue, "why go through all that effort for a sandwich?"

    By the looks of this guy, those people are clearly missing the point. A little extra work? Maybe, but "This recipe is really worth the effort. It's like a vegetarian hoagie, satisfying and hearty with a little spice to kick it up a notch!! The parsnip chips are to die for, as is the roasted garlic." No meat required.

    A very different take on what most of us would make at home. Time to get the grill back out.

    Get the full recipe from Pure Green Magazine: Mushroom Manwich 

     

    For more on creating your own recipes, check out ManMade's Five Commandments of Making Great Sandwiches:

     


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    A bicycle is an amazing machine. Easy to ride, but full of all sorts of moving parts that work together smoothly when everything is aligned, just so. As an active cyclist, I advocate for making friends with your local shop - they'll likely give you basic adjustments for free. But there's plenty of tune-ups you can do at home to keep things running smoothly, and save the trip.

    created at: 03/21/2013 So, as riding season seems to finally be poking its head in and cyclists of all types are getting prepped to ride regularly, here are five easy tune-ups you can do to get your bike ready for spring.    

    1. Check your tires and wheels. Tires are the thing that keeps you connected to the ground, so treat them well. Inspect your tires for any dryness or rot, and make sure there's plenty of tread still left. Look at them head-on, and note the amount of tread left...the curvature and shape of the tire. Depending on your tires and terrain, you should be able to get anywhere from 1000 to 2,500 miles from a set. If things look a little bare, ride down to your shop and have a mechanic assess whether or when you need new tires.

    created at: 03/21/2013

    If you're good to go, fill 'em up! Ideally, you should do this anytime before a ride, so you don't get as many flats. Just look on the side of your tire, and note the recommended PSI or number of bars to inflate. For road and street riding (as in, not mountain biking), fill 'em all the way up. I like to ride at just under 100. Investing in a good floor pump will save you tons of time, keeping the mini-pump for en route refills.

    Lastly, inspect your wheelset and make sure everything is spinning nice and true. Check that all your spokes are intact. If your wheels are warped or you need a spoke replaced, have them fixed immediately. It'll save you many headaches later. Fixing spokes can be fun, but for a casual rider, it might be worth paying your shop $15 for the job. 

    2. Square Up Your Frame, Handlebars, and Saddle. Straddle your bike, standing on the ground, and confirm that your handlebars are at 90° to your wheel. Turn the handlebars and check to see that full turns to the right and the left follow perfectly. Make any adjustments by loosening your stem (the part that connects your frame to your handlebars), aligning it, and then tightening it back on angle. Don't skip this step - it's super important for safe riding, and you'll be surprised by how much things can move from ride to ride. 

    created at: 03/21/2013

    Lastly, check your saddle (seat) by sitting on it. You don't want any shock absorption here: correct any front-to-back, side-to-side, or up-and-down movement by tightening the allen bolts. Trust me - this will help prevent any soreness in your tailbone or lower back.

    created at: 03/21/2013

    3. Inspect Your Brakes. With your bike at rest, pull on the brake levers. You don't want them to go all the way back (or down) to engage the wheel. While this can be a matter of preference, you want to stay in the middle zone, between 40 and 60% of their possible span, for safe breaking. So, tighten up the cables on the breaks to about 50%, then fine tune this on a ride.

    Next, check your brake pads and make sure there's still plenty of pad left. Confirm that your brake pads are stopping the wheel (the metal part), not the tire. If it needs adjusted, use a metric allen wrench to move the brake pad up or down.

    created at: 03/21/2013

    Lastly, using just your fingers, confirm that the brake pads are compressing evenly on both sides of the wheel. This is also something to check before each ride, so that your not running either side of the wheel against the brake, making for unnecessary effort for you and wear on your bike.

    4. Clean All Moving Parts [Especially Your Cassette] and Lube Your Chain. In order for your bike to run smoothly, you want as little resistance as possible. Use and old toothbrush or a special gear brush to remove any build up dirt, grime, leaves, and excess lube in your gear cassette. (Fixed gear bikes will only have one, obviously). Use a rag or chain cleaner to remove any crud or rust from your chain by running your pedals backwards.

    created at: 03/21/2013

    If your chain has more than 2,000 miles on it, you'll want to replace it. It's akin getting your oil changed in your car, so don't skimp. If you're good to go, run the chain backwards, and drip a small, steady stream of lube (I like this teflon-based option) for one rotation only. As you ride more, you'll want to re-lube your chain every 100 miles. Don't use WD-40 for this, please. (Sorry, dad).

    5. Learn How to Change a Tire on the Road. Flats are the worst, and while you can prevent them by filling up before each ride, sometimes, you'll lose a tube in the middle of the ride... when you're nowhere near your local shop or toolbox. For safety, I recommend that anyone who rides a bike should have both the knowledge and the equipment to replace a tire tube in the middle of nowhere...cause eventually, it's gonna happen. 

    You'll need: two tire levers, a mini pump  and/or Co2 cartridge, and a spare tube (or two). That's it, and they'll fit into any saddle bag. Most bike shops will offer free hands-on courses for this, but here's a quick video that shows you how:

    Seriously...I mean it. Don't get stranded, don't have to call for someone for help, and don't pay somebody $20 to fix it. It's totally doable, safe, and you'll feel like a master. The hardest part is seating and unseating the tire. And, like riding the bike itself, once you've done it once, you'll never forget how. 

     


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