Stepping It Up: Our Bike Fleet Gets A Small Improvement That Makes A Big Difference


Bikes are magical—until they don’t work. So every year, Bike New York’s fleet of around 500 bicycles is roused from its winter hibernation for a tune-up, right before classes begin. Even if it’s routine, this is a daunting task: broken parts need replacing, wheels need truing, bearings and brakes need adjusting, seatposts and pedals need greasing, and tires need inflating.

However, after several years of use, more drastic measures need to be taken—which is why this year’s tuneup isn’t so much routine maintenance as it is an overhaul. We’re also replacing all cables and housing, re-greasing and replacing bearings, and completely changing out parts so worn we have trouble properly adjusting them season after season. And in what is perhaps the most dramatic change, our mechanic team is replacing each pedal with one designed around a quick-release mechanism: instead of needing a wrench and a trained/experienced feel for threading pedals into cranks, all it takes to remove the pedal and install it is one hand and a couple of seconds. This may sound insignificant, but for our bike education department, this is nothing short of revolutionary.


Our Learn to Ride programming involves removing the pedals so the students can grasp the more complex art of balancing the bike first, then add in the relatively simple pedal motion. Removing and installing pedals up to now has been a time-consuming, volunteer-intensive aspect of the program, and the repeated action wears out the crank threads which can, in turn, lead to cranks becoming damaged and, in some cases, pedals falling off!

With the quick release pedals, I’m able to install them in a matter of seconds,” says David Hong, one of our instructors. “Otherwise it takes at least a minute. Students are even able to put pedals on themselves!”

In addition, because pedal removal is made easier, we can remove them all at the end of the day and stack the bikes in our Education Center without fear of damaging chains, derailleurs, or spokes. 

Congratulations and thanks to our team of mechanics for making it that much easier for students to make bicycling a part of their lives!