A Fresh Start with Betty Foy

Last week, Betty Foy got a major freshening up for the spring: a complete tune-up and cleaning, plus a new chain, brake pads, cables and a two-footed kickstand. She’s such a lovely bike and rides like a dream, still like new.

I documented her cleanliness, since she won’t look like this again until her next tune-up.


I guess the original chain would have lasted longer, if I had been better with preventative maintenance. I’ll try to be more conscientious from now on, but I’ve always been lazy with upkeep, whether for cars in the past or bikes now.

What is your routine for maintaining your bike(s)?

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69 thoughts on “A Fresh Start with Betty Foy

  1. Bill says:

    Nice to have a clean bike! Any particular reason for a new chain? I don’t think I have ever replaced one before? Currently, I have been just wiping my bikes off with a damp rag, do you use any particular bike cleaning products?

    OK, my Trek 7.9 mostly stays on the trainer in my office and my lovely Brompton is next to my bookshelf. I am a little eccentric about my bikes and won’t leave them in the garage.

    My Trek has no kickstand all Carbon Fiber. I have the ‘Click Stand” portable fastened to the second water bottle holder but on the indoor trainer it does not need a stand. The Brompton, well, as many will say is the Rolex of folding bikes no kickstand ever needed. Anyone reading this out to check out the Brompton, nice and compact to take on the train or by plane. It is much too dangerous to lock a bike here.

    Maybe others can comment on how they clean their bikes. You have very beautiful bicycles!

    Bill
    Atlanta, GA

  2. Louise says:

    Good as new! Betty is such a beautiful colour.
    I always forget to comment but just wish to say how much I enjoy reading this blog. It’s such a wonderful concept, and it’s really uplifting reading the ups and downs of your cycling lives. I’m a university student who rides a bike pretty much everywhere and it’s lovely to look up to you two and your inspiring, independent stories :)

  3. Erik Sandblom says:

    Chain maintenance can be as controversial as helmets!

    Amyway I like my mud flap because I think it keeps the chain clean (not to mention me and the rest of the bike). Plastic food containers (juice etc) can be cut to shape. Bolt it to the fender nice and low. A project for a slow day!

  4. Carolyn I. says:

    I clean my chain when it gets dirty. I usually wipe it here and there. I use Pedro’s Oranj Peelz to clean the chain when it needs a good clean. I don’t use it every day, only when it gets really dirty.

    As for the chain, if it’s worn, I think that it’s good to replace it. Especially if you felt like it needed to be changed, you are on it a lot so you know how much it has been used. I am already on my second chain with my Rocky Mountain, almost 5000 kms (3106 miles) on the bike. It was changed just before I did the 389 km bike tour last Summer.

    My front brake pads, and a cable were changed this year during it’s Spring Tune-up at the shop.

  5. Did you do the work yourself? If not, who did?

    • Dottie says:

      No, I took it to a local bike shop, JC LInd.

      • Bill says:

        Good deal to support your LBS. I bet there are many who drive to work that have the same commute that you do? I wonder how much they spend on car maintenance? Bikes are definitely cheaper! Even riding the train everyday adds up, enough trains rides and you could have a garage full of bikes and be in much better health.

  6. I have no routine and let the rain wash my bike. Typically, chains get replaced every couple of years anyway, so I wouldn’t feel guilty about lack of preventive maintenance. Ride and enjoy!

  7. Steve A says:

    On my cyclocross bike with the 10-speed cassette and double chainwheel, it seems that the chain lasts about the same length of time as the brake pads. Around 4000 miles. My old 5-speed freewheels with friction shifters last quite a bit longer. A triple chainwheel is a little harder on the chain.

  8. Luke Wilson says:

    I also wipe my bike down with a damp cloth, as far as chains, I wait until it looks a little dry then oil it. I would like to try waxing my chain eventually though.

  9. Jonathan R says:

    Two-footed kickstand is more than twice as good as a one-footed kickstand.

  10. Amy says:

    I just put a two leg kickstand on my Pashley this week too! It’s great. Definitely a worthwhile investment.

    Maybe I need to replace the chain on my mixte. I don’t think it’s ever been replaced, and I believe that it’s the original chain. That would make it around 30 some years old. :/ The whole bike is going to be overhauled this spring anyway. I should probably add that to the To Do list!

  11. Sue says:

    I usually get a tune up for my mountain bike and road bikes at the end of the season (even though I still take them out on occassion during the winter) so they are ready to go. I use White Lightening Clean Ride self-cleaning wax lube for the chains (it’s effortless). This will be my third summer season with the same chain on my mtb, which takes a beating and it’s still hasn’t needed to be replaced.

  12. Joseph E says:

    Chains are cheap. The only reason to maintain them is because a worn chain will also wear the chainrings and cassette, if you leave it on long enough. Replacing those can get expensive, and sometimes if you try to use a new chain with old chainrings and cassette, it will slip.

    Fortunately, a chaincase almost eliminates chain wear by keeping out the rain and mud and dust, so I have been happily ignoring the chain on my Breezer for 1500 miles. But I probably should clean the chain on my wife’s Globe Live sometime in the next couple of months….

  13. Apple A Day says:

    Great post, your bike is a beauty. I got my bike tuned up at my local shop and they told me I should replace my chain at the end of this season. The chain is about 3 years old. I wonder if there are any ways you can visually check to know something is wearing out before it breaks when you are out on a ride and you end up in a bad situation?

  14. dukiebiddle says:

    You might as well keep a chain clean, but you shouldn’t keep chains for too long. After between 2 or 3 thousand miles the stretch will start causing wear to the cassette and derailleur pulleys, and after 3 thousand miles to the chain wheels as well. Keeping a chain clean makes it run smoother, but it does not significantly make the chain last longer. It’s more cost effective, and much better for your bike, to throw your chains away regularly. With the amount of riding your Betty Foy sees, the chain should probably be replaced at least once a year. On my everyday bike I usually get 8 months or so out of my chains. Just ask your mechanic to measure it for wear at least once a year.

    • Dottie says:

      Cool, that makes me feel better!

      • dukiebiddle says:

        Yeah, I totally thought chains were supposed to last like 5 years or so. When my mechanic told me I needed to replace a chain, 9 months after I had just done it, and cleaning it every 2 weeks, I was hopping mad, and did internet research to find out how long they should last. Turns out that was about right. :)

        • Carolyn I. says:

          Yeh, that makes me feel good too. I am doing the correct thing. Besides, they are cheap enough to replace.

          • Bill says:

            Thanks for all chain info, I’ll take the advice of my LBS. I like to keep mine clean but I would rather spend the money and keep the bike in fine working order.

            Also, nice to support your local bike shop!

        • Mr colostomy says:

          This is why I prefer hub gears most of the time. Thicker chain plus bigger sprocket teeth and ideal chainline means a new chain is a rare purchase.

          • Matthew says:

            My 40 year-old three speed still has the original chain…Looks brand new, ha ha. The hub even oils it slightly as it gets ridden.
            I’ll probably change out my single speed road bike’s chain three times over before I touch the Raleigh’s.

    • E A says:

      yea… On my commuter, I’m lucky to get a year out of my chain and cassette. Not that my commute is terribly far, but I just am hard on my chain.. I also don’t shift as much as I should and frequently start out in a higher gear than necessary — putting additional wear on my chain. Glad I’m not the only one replacing my chain with such frequency. (but i’ve been bad about cleaning… esp after riding in grime – usually just happy to be home). :-)

  15. Jupiterpete says:

    Agree with the chain comments. I underestimated that and paid the price with chain+ cassette+chainring replacement that was pretty spendy. Luckily that was after 5000+ miles.

    After seeing the pics I do want to ask-
    A) what rack set up you are using
    B) what bars

    I ask as I am contemplating a bit of a transformation of my waterford to a more comfy bike. I assume all were from Rivendell?

    • Julia says:

      My husband and I call ourselves “JuPeter” so I thought you might be him commenting! But he has a Rivendell Atlantis that he built himself.

      Chains are all about the mileage, not elapsed time. We have 8 bikes and P. checks the stretch in the chains on the more-used bikes and replaces them when they get worn. Also, cogs do need replacing when they get worn. Look at the shape of new cogs and compare them to cogs that have seen 10,000 kms. There’s quite a difference. That said, I only replaced the cogs on my road bike when the gears started slipping – not staying where I put them.

      It all boils down to weekly maintenance – doing a once-over check to see what has changed since the last time. Like you do with your own physical human health.

  16. Dave says:

    Heh, my maintenance routine doesn’t exist until I get a flat, then it involves fixing the flat and wiping the bike down a little while I have the wheel off. I lube the chain about twice per year, just if I hear it start squeaking.

  17. Dave says:

    I’m assuming the chain comments primarily refer to bikes with derailleurs?

    • dukiebiddle says:

      Yes. The side-to-side forces of derailleur systems are what makes them so wear-outey. And exposed IGH chain will last significantly longer, and a fully enclosed chain much longer still. If you have an exposed IGH system, I’d still ask a mechanic to measure the chain every couple of years; but even if you don’t, replacing a single cog is far cheaper than replacing an entire cassette. New cogs, like new chains, are cheap.

      • cycler says:

        It’s funny, I had this exact conversation with my boss on a very very long drive we took to a job site yesterday. He was asking if I replaced my chain, ( I forget why) and I said, um, I put a new chain (on the old sprocket) a year ago when I built up the bike, but I didn’t think I’d need to replace it for years yet. He was cautioning me about the damage I could do to my “rear group” but I was thinking, how hard can it be to just replace a single cog? He comes from a road/ cyclocross background, so I think he was very confused about my IGH.

      • Dave says:

        Yeah, I have a fully enclosed internally geared hub, and after about three years (assuming that the chain was replaced before I bought the bike, which is almost 60 years old), I’m not having any problem getting the chain tensioned properly after fixing a flat or whatever.

  18. Tinker says:

    Very pretty, just a gorgeous bike altogether.

    I’d guess an Internally Geared Hub would keep the chain a bit longer than a dérailleur setup, but the method of measurement is the same regardless.

    And an IGH is usually a good choice for a winter bike as well, so the chain may get extra wear from that sort of use (SALT AND SAND, you know.)

    • Matthew Sterling says:

      I’m not sure about other internally geared hubs but Shimano’s hubs don’t have a lot in the way of seals so salt and grit from winter riding can get in the hub. Something to consider if your going to do a lot of winter riding on an IGH. Fixing a rear flat is a little more work with these too and this is already a chore in the winter.

  19. Maureen says:

    Betty is just so beautiful,such an amazing blue, it’s nice to be all set for spring! And I really want a two let kickstand…sigh!

  20. Bill says:

    This maybe a stupid question, but how does the bike shop get the bike so clean?

    It looks like the cleaned all the chain rings too! I have heard that hosing off the bike is not good, or getting water into the bearings. Then there is the debate about what products to use.

    I just love a clean bike, and those extra hard places drive me nuts.

    Bill

    • Dottie says:

      I don’t know. They said they took the back area apart to clean the chainrings.

      • The sprockets on the rear wheel can be easily cleaned by folding a cotton cloth in half and pulling it between the cogwheels. The front chainrings are a little more difficult imo.

        Lovely pictures as always Dottie!

        • Coreen says:

          You do the same thing to the front chainrings while the chain is off. Or remove them completely and give ‘em a solvent bath in the parts washer.

    • David says:

      I was amazed from cleaning too, at tune-up/overhaul from the bike shop. They cleaned every single spot on my bike. And I was like how??

  21. Sue says:

    Yes, it’s true a chain should be replaced on a regular basis after careful inspection and determination by your LBS. But, it’s also true that new chains need to go through a break in period for optimal function and performance, so a little wear is not necessarily a bad thing.

  22. Thom says:

    Betty looks great! There’s something refreshing about riding a clean bike, eh?
    I get a little o/c about cleaning the bikes sometimes. The cool thing is that they come apart quite easily, 10 bolts to remove a set of triple chain rings, one lock-ring to remove a cassette, etc. Chains with Master Links (I really like SRAM) make it really easy to just remove the chain for cleaning.

  23. Jen says:

    In the winter I do weekly bike maintenance: clean out rocks and glass from the tire to avoid flats, oil the chain (the rain causes it to get squeaky faster), and wipe down my rims to help the brake pads last longer.

    In the summer I hardly do anything though, just make sure the tires don’t need more air every few weeks.

  24. Lauren says:

    I have an off-topic question for Dottie.
    I know you take a lot of pictures with film, and I was just wondering if that means constant trips to the photo store for processing, especially since you use them for you blog. I’ve been contemplating getting back into using my old 35mm rangefinder but know that the processing costs will add up after a while (though it can be quite fun and worth it – who knows, maybe one day I’ll make my own little darkroom and process it myself). I know that’s a random question, but just wondering. :)

  25. Simply Bike says:

    Betty looks great! And I bet that new kickstand makes parking her sooo much easier :)

    I’m not great about maintanance either but I do oil the internal gear hub on my vintage Raleigh on a regular basis (a must with old Raleighs). But that’s about the extent of it.

    Did you ever get the front wheel fixed so that it’s ‘locked’ for a lack of a better way to describe it? You know how you said you wanted to get it done so that it’s rigid, versus how it would bend to the side when parked…I think you know what I’m trying to explain although I lack the vocabulary for it. Was that part of the new Better upgrades?

    S.

  26. David says:

    I ride all weather, and all winter in Wisconsin. Anyway, my chain is always dirty. I’m extremely surprised it all lasted this long. Two years. I just replaced chain, cassette, deraileur.

  27. Julie says:

    When I go to the bicycle shop- I usually have an issue or want a new accessory.

    I say “I don’t fix bicycles, I ride bicycles, and that’s why I’m here.”

    I’m excited by the thought of a professional cleaning.
    Currently, I’m looking the other way at the gray crud that’s built-up all over my bicycle from this nasty winter.

    • Dottie says:

      I’m with you there! I ride bikes, I don’t fix them. :) I resent the pressure in the bike community (both online and real life) to fix your own bike. I feel like that mindset dissuades some people from bike commuting, because they feel like they have to know all about bike maintenance, changing tires,etc. before even giving bike commuting a try.

      • OMG me too! Personally I think fixing bikes is fun and empowering, but it’s absolutely not necessary to be able to fix them just to commute. Flat tire? Lock your bike and call a taxi! No problem!

        I suspect the people who pressure you to learn machanics like to imagine they are on a year-long tour a million miles from civilisation :-p

  28. Annie says:

    I’m in love with the Betty Foy. It’s my dream bike. I love the girlishness about it: the color, the fenders, the handlebars, just every beautiful part. I can’t justify buying one though as I have three very functional bikes. I get to enjoy yours.

    As for maintenance, I generally keep the rims and chain clean. Everything else gets an overhaul when needed. i’d just rather ride and let the mechanics do the hard part when it’s needed.

    Thanks for a nice clean and inspiring blog. Love yah!

  29. cycler says:

    Hey Dottie,
    How would you compare your Plechner kickstand with the U shaped one that you have on Oma?

    I have to admit I’m not 100% sold on my Plechner, It is always getting out of adjustment and I have to keep fussing with it. This is partly because I don’t have a kickstand plate on the bottom of my bike, but it gets turned 5 degrees, and whacks my wheel, or is just hard to tilt up. Currently I have to hit the far leg (drive side- I mount from non- drive side) to get it to go up properly.
    You probably aren’t having those problems, but I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on them.

    Carice

    • Dottie says:

      Hi Carice,

      I have not had the new Plescher kickstand long enough to give a solid opinion. I love Oma’s kickstand, but did not want to use it on Betty for aesthetic reasons (big, black kickstand would ruin her look). So far the Plescher is an adequate substitute, although not quite as sturdy. I have a kickstand plate, so it’s securely attached. Mr. Dottie has had one on his bike for nearly two years and he has problems with it getting stuck from the crud of winter and rain, so that he has to give it a swift kick to get it to move. I haven’t found any other double-footed silver kickstand, though, so I went with the same one.

  30. Nice bike. Is the chain slipping by any chance? Bit hard to say but the cluster does not look a bit like shark fins which suggests it needs replacing; more so if you have just put a new chain on.

    I am pretty focused on my maintenance so service my bikes every 500 km during winter/spring and every 1,000 km during summer/autumn.

    Regards
    Andrew

  31. daindart says:

    The apples are so nice :)

  32. Emma Howard says:

    Have you test ridden a PUBLIC-M8? I was wondering how it compared to the Betty Foy.

    Thank you,

    Emma Howard

  33. Linda says:

    Love the blog and really love the Betty Foy. Can you please tell me where you got the mudguards / fenders they are just beautiful.
    Thank you.
    Linda Spowage

  34. Linda says:

    Love the blog and really love the Betty Foy. Can you please tell me where you got the mudguards / fenders they are just beautiful.
    Thank you.
    Linda Spowage

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  36. marie says:

    My I ask if you have the women’s or men’s brooks b. 17 saddle?

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