MIKE’S BIKE ADVICE – Weekly Bike Maintenance Advice Column Featuring the Advice of Mike Partington, Bicycle Mechanic Extraordinaire at Cycle Portland in Old Town PDX


Its wet out there! Riding in the rain is just part of the Portland biking experience. Proper bike care during the rainy season makes it all the more fun to get out there and mash in a rain shower. Mike will tell you, “A squeaky chain won’t do you any favors.” The most important part of wet riding maintenance is properly cleaning and oiling your chain. Mud and road debris that find their way onto your chain often cause shifting issues, noise and other performance issues. A dirty chain causes pre-mature wear on your entire drive train; neglecting a dirty chain can end up costing you money when you have to replace your chainrings, pulleys and cassette.

This is a chain that hasn’t been maintained, rusty from rain and Mike is going to take us through the process of cleaning and re-lubing.


chain dirty


Just as it is important not to leave your bike out in the rain for too long it is important to dry off water once inside as water left on the chain rusts. During the PNW winter, Mike recommends cleaning and oiling your chain at least once a week.




Cleaning your chain is quick and simple with the right tools. First, clean the chain, you can degrease with a citrus-based cleaner such as Finish Line Citrus Chain Degreaser, and scrub with a rag. It’s really important to get all of the degreaser off before applying the oil.




Mikes favorite chain oil in the shop is Tri-Flow. It is really important to use a rag to remove all excess oil after applying. Excess oil when it dries can become chunky and attract debris to your chain.




And viola! The shiny clean chain




We always have a basic selection of degreasers, cleaning tools and oils for chain/ bike maintenance at Cycle Portland. We are happy to provide what you need for regular DIY bike maintenance.

If you would rather have a professional maintain your bike, Mike is always happy to check out your ride and is in the shop Monday through Friday. Cycle Portland offers free estimates and same day service for most maintenance and repairs. Cleaning and oiling the chain is included in our $30 Safety Tune where Mike will also inspect/ adjust your gears, brakes and wheels/rims for proper functioning and performance.

Have a safe, well-oiled ride in the rain and hope we see you and your bike soon at Cycle Portland! And check out the column next week when we talk about the best brake pads and braking systems for riding in wet weather!

Crank Brothers m17 is a great multi-tool option for cyclists

Blog post made by our tour-guide, Sierra

As both a commuter and recreational cyclist in Portland, I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a good multi-tool with you on just about every ride. Even if it is rarely used, there will always be the occasional moment in the field that it is needed. There are a variety of multi-tools out there, all with relatively similar features, so it can be hard to sort through the bunch. With multi-tools, it’s ultimately hard to find the balance between insufficient and excessive. You can never know for sure exactly what you’ll need in a crunch. At this point, I’ve had enough crises to know what is most useful in the field and what will end up collecting dust. In my opinion, the multi-tool with the absolute best design and most pragmatic collection of tools would be the Crank Brothers m17, one that is personally recommended by many of us here at Cycle PDX.

Figure 5: the Crank Brothers m10, m17, and m19
Figure 1: the Crank Brothers m10, m17, and m19

Crank Brothers has three mid-level multi-tools: the m10, m17, and m19. The m10 has ten tools, the m17 has seventeen, and so forth. While all three are, in my opinion, very useful, the m17 is the one that really hits the sweet spot. Goldilocks would be pleased. Each tool expands on the other, so the best way to explain why the m17 is preferable would be to compare it to the other tools in its family.

Figure 2: the m10, m17, and  m19 make a happy group
Figure 2: the m10, m17, and m19 make a happy group

The m10 is the most basic of the group, with seven allen keys, two screwdrivers, and one torx. Essentially, everything on a bicycle can be tightened or adjusted with an allen key, which is why the m10 comes with seven different sizes. Allen keys help with adjusting seat height/angle, modifying rim-brakes, adjusting cable tension, installing or correcting front and rear racks, installing water bottle cages, and a variety of other things. Allen keys are the most useful part of a multi-tool, which is why the m10 is, at heart, just that: allen keys. The m10 is also capable of making emergency derailleur adjustments and modifying disc-brakes, which is why the screwdrivers and torx are included. All of these features are useful and calculated and, even for a basic model, the m10 can take care of a multitude of tasks. What really sets the m17 apart, though, is that it includes four spoke wrenches, a chain tool, and two open wrenches, making it well worth the extra $6.00.

When I was first contemplating whether to buy the m10 or the m17, I thought, “I’m never going to use a spoke wrench in the field”. I ultimately bought the m17, originally, for the added chain tool. However, there was a time that the spoke wrenches saved the day, and now I believe that they are worth their weight in gold on this multitool.

Figure 3: the added spoke and chain tool of the m17
Figure 3: the added spoke and chain tool of the m17

This past summer, I took part in a century ride with about 200 other women out to the Columbia Gorge. On the last leg of our ride (figure 10 miles away from Portland), two of the riders crashed into each other. Their wheels were so out of tru that their bikes were rendered unrideable. Of the assemblage of riders, I was the only one that had a spoke tool. If it hadn’t been for this handy little feature of the m17, neither of the women would have been able to continue the ride. The moral of the story is the spoke wrenches and the chain tool are not the least bit excessive, I think that having these tools in addition to the allen keys is a necessity if you do a considerable amount of riding.

Interestingly, the m19 jumps in price quite a bit ($34.00 compared to the $28.00 of the m17), but it only includes two additional tools: an extra phillips head and an extra torx. I believe the jump in price can actually be attributed to the sleek hard-case that comes with the m19, something that I believe is unnecessary. Multi-tools, on their own, are very tough. You could probably throw the m19 at a wall and not damage it. In fact, you would probably damage your wall. For this reason, I think the hard-case is excessive and mostly meant to be aesthetically pleasing. But, if protecting your tools in a really beautifully made case is your jam, the m19 might be a nice upgrade. I personally keep my tools in a tool roll, so my multi-tool already has its own little pouch and the hard-case would be useless to me for that reason.

Figure 4: m19 with its additional hard-case
Figure 4: m19 with its additional hard-case

If you have certain types of disc-brakes or road calipers, the extra #1 phillips head and t-10 torx of the m19 might be worth the upgrade. However, for most bicycles with most brake types(rim and disc alike), the m17 will certainly get the job done. It’s handy, it’s compact, and it’s easy to use; thus, I recommend it to all riders tenfold.

The most common problem riders face in the field is actually flat tires. So, on top of having a very useful multi-tool like the m17, I recommend carrying tire levers(Pedro’s are the best, in my opinion), an extra tube, and a small hand-pump. Patch kits are also very useful. If you have bolt-on wheels, you should also carry the appropriately sized wrench with you if your multi-tool doesn’t already have it. Flat tires are very easy to fix if you have the equipment with you, so I would suggest carrying these items with you in addition to the handy Crank Brothers m17.

Figure 5: Crank Brothers m17
Figure 5: Crank Brothers m17

All items mentioned are available for purchase in our shop, so drop on by and see if the m17 is right for you!

Blog post made by our tour-guide, Sierra.

Red Ledge Rain Gear is the Best Value for Your Waterproofing Needs

This post brought to you by courtesy of our awesome tour guide, Sierra!

Here in the Willamette Valley, having a good set of rain gear is essential regardless of the way you might commute. That being said, good, water-proof gear is even more of a necessity if you get around by bike for most of your transit. There have been a number of times that I have left the house with no rain gear, thinking that the grey clouds wouldn’t be malignant that day, only to arrive at my destination completely soaked.

Usually the “Portland rain” that people talk about is actually just a very light, all-day mist that might render itself slightly inconvenient if you let it. This season, however, we’ve typically seen one day with constant, pouring rain with a string of very dry, sunny days in between. On the one day where it would be pouring, I would often arrive at Cycle PDX with my pants completely soaked through… and it would take them hours to dry. I decided that it was time to pick up a pair of rain pants to alleviate the feeling of wet, cold legs. So, I put the Thunderlight Pants by Red Ledge to the test.

Figure 1: Red Ledge Thunderlight Pants, size small
Figure 1: Red Ledge Thunderlight Pants, size small

The pants that I chose were the most affordable of the Red Ledge bunch, which is what really attracted me to them. I wasn’t looking for anything lavish, I saw “water-proof” and “$40.00” and I was sold. Despite their very low price, these pants function wonderfully, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the features of the Thunderlight Pants.

First of all, these pants are extremely lightweight and pack down tremendously. If I want them to, they’ll pack down small enough to fit into the back pocket of my jersey, my jacket, or my jeans. All Red Ledge products come with a small draw-cord bag to store pants or jackets, making it even easier to pack them down. So far, these are so lightweight that I keep them in my commuter pack and haven’t been caught in the rain without them.

Figure 2: Mike the Mechanic suffers from wet, cold legs. Don't be like Mike, equip yourself with rain pants!
Figure 2: Mike the Mechanic suffers from wet, cold legs. Don’t be like Mike, equip yourself with rain pants!

Another detail of the Thunderlights that I appreciate is the fabric that Red Ledge chose is very breathable, something I wasn’t expecting to find in a $40 pair of pants. Unlike most affordable rain gear I’ve tried, I have never arrived at my destinations feeling too hot or sweaty with these pants. I have only arrived with my jeans feeling perfectly dry and comfortable. These pants are unisex and I took to wearing the size small.

If there is one thing that I really don’t like while riding a bike, it is storing items in the front pockets of my pants. I’ve always found the placement of pockets on both rain jackets and pants inconvenient for biking, but this is not at all the case with the Thunderlights. These have one zippered back-pocket and it is in the perfect spot for riding. The lightweight feeling of these pants can be partially attributed to their lack of front and cargo pockets, so I appreciate that Red Ledge skipped the extras and allowed the pants to be a truly featherweight shell.

Figure 3: Sierra wears the Thunderlight Pants, size small, and our soft women's Cycle PDX Tee
Figure 3: Sierra wears the Thunderlight Pants, size small, and our soft women’s Cycle PDX tee-shirt

The Thunderlights have a tapered leg with adjustable snaps at the ankle, also making them great for cyclists. If it weren’t for the provided snaps, the leg of these pants would easily get caught in my chainring and be completed destroyed, so this is a great detail for cyclists. My one complaint is that the snaps are extremely difficult to unfasten, and for this reason I wish that Red Ledge had gone with velcro instead.

Figure 4: Thunderlight ankle snaps help prevent the pants getting ruined by your chainring
Figure 4: Thunderlight ankle snaps help prevent the pants getting ruined by the chainring

My one real complaint is that, because I am 5’2” and these pants are meant to accommodate a variety of heights, I’ve had to wear them well above my natural waistline(see Figure 3). If you are of an average height, this wouldn’t be an issue for you. But, if you’re petite like me, it is something to consider. One other aspect of these pants that I find troublesome is the waistband gets twisted very easily, so I am constantly having to straighten out the elastic(sometimes in vain). That being said, the Thunderlights are still an absolutely wonderful value, and I recommend them to anyone that is perturbed by soaking wet jeans.

These Red Ledge Thunderlight Pants are available in our shop, along with a variety of rain jackets by the same company. I haven’t had the opportunity to try the jackets out yet, but if they are anything like the pants, I believe the two would make a wonderful pair.

Figure 5: Red Ledge bright rain jackets keep you dry and visible
Figure 5: Red Ledge bright rain jackets keep you dry and visible

Blog post by our tour-guide, Sierra.

June 28th: Reveal The Path Movie

Pedal Nation Events
Reveal The Path Movie
A Pedal Nation Event
Reveal The Path

Presented by Salsa
A Film By Mike Dion

Thursday, June 28th
Portland, OR

Doors open at 6:30 pm
Two Screenings: 7:00 pm & 9:00 pm

The Clinton Street Theater

Get Tickets Now! Click Here

Reveal The Path Trailer

About the Movie:

Reveal the Path is a genre-defying adventure film that contemplates what it means to live an inspired life using the bicycle as a mechanism to explore, dream and discover.

Regions explored include Scotland’s lush valleys, Europe’s snow capped mountains, Morocco’s high desert landscapes, Nepal’s rural countryside and Alaska’s rugged coastal beaches. Ride along and get lost in the wonders of the world… Meet the locals living modest yet seemingly fulfilling lives, leading us to question what it means to live an inspired life – however humble or extravagant. Filmed across four continents and featuring Tour Divide race legends, Matthew Lee & Kurt Refsnider, this immersive film is sure to ignite the dream in you.

Join in as the creators of Ride the Divide take you on an adventure that will leave you with an eager desire to chart your own course to far away lands or simply to discover with eyes wide open what’s right around the bend.

Special Guests:

Filmakers will be in attendance and live music from soundtrack artist Dominique Fraissard

Get Tickets Now! Click Here

Pedal Nation Events

Jersey review of Solo, race-bread cyclewear

Dempseys Classique Jersey


Thanks to team SO1O (http://www.solocycleclothing.com) for sending along one of their Retro- tech Classique jerseys. I got the Dempsey model with the nice rich deep green colors and noticed right away the high quality zipper construction. The zipper is often the first thing  to break on jerseys so it’s something that I notice. I’m a pretty tall guy and lots of cycle wear comes up short on my torso. This is especially annoying when warming up on the cyclocross track and trying to raise your core temperature. Having your kidneys exposed is a fast-track to heat loss. The SO1O jersey I got has a nice long torso and a grip strip at the hem that keeps the garment from riding up. It has a lower profile than the old elastic band style and is holding up nicely. The best part is the colors match our local football club, and I can represent on my ride to the game! Thanks SO1O.


‘On Bicycles’ – New must-have cycling book


 I heard about this new Cycling book and thought I would pass it along.