Recycled Cycles is a staple in Seattle’s bike community, and we are excited to have them on board as sponsors for tomorrow’s race (be sure to come out for a chance to win some HEFTY gift certificates).

We dropped by the shop this morning to chat with Billy Lewis, one of Recycled’s super knowledgeable mechanics – “and he’s cute too,” offers up a co-worker. We descended into the shop’s secret bike-mechanic lair, where we talked about shop life, bike fit, and the stuff you should be doing to take care of your bike (and probably aren’t doing nearly enough).

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a bike mechanic?

A: It’s pretty sweet fixing people’s fun. Your making someone’s weekend or trip happen. It can make or break someone’s ride.

Q: Women sometimes struggle to find a bike that fits. What are some of the signs that a bike doesn’t fit?

A: First and foremost is comfort. If you have to struggle to reach the brakes or have trouble standing over the bike, it is too big for you. Conversely when you are riding and your knees are hitting the handle bars, it’s too small. You’re not going to get all the power you can in a stroke.

When a bike fits you should have a slight arch in the back, and your knees and elbows should remain slightly bent.

Q: What are some tips for ladies to find a bike that does fit?

A: Women specific design (WSD) bikes are recommended, especially for women under 5’5″. Narrower bars and shorter cranks [and compact brake levers for small hands – ed.] will make a huge difference for women. So if you can get a bike that already has these, it’s great, because upgrading a bike that doesn’t will get expensive really quick.

Q: What are the top three tools someone should have in their bag?

A: Number one is a multi-tool with sizes 4, 5, 6, and 8 on it. You can adjust most everything you need to with this. Next, even though its not sexy, is a pump, and then tire levers. If you want to really be prepared, a Philips head screwdriver to adjust you derailers is also good.

Q: What is the best preventative maintenance people can do but don’t?

A: Cleaning your bike. HOLY cleaning your bike!!!! And lube your chain. I sometimes say when your chain goes “wheey wheeey” when you pedal, it’s your bike crying.

If your wheels are dirty, grit gets imbedded into the brake pad, basically making it sandpaper along your rims, ruining your rims and making your brakes less effective. If your chain’s dirty, it is like a file on the teeth of the chain ring. [rims and chain rings are not cheap to replace so listen to Billy! – ed.]

Maybe put one of these up.

Q: What do you think keeps people from working on their own bikes?

A: Fear of complication, but to help break free of that fear take time to clean your bike. You will start to learn the parts, what’s going on with you bike, and how it works. Don’t be intimidated. Many people who are now bike mechanics started by making mistakes on their own bikes.

Q: What are the benefits of a tune up?

A: Every bike will have its own benefits, but it can make a bike thats limping along ride like it’s brand new. It’s good to make sure the bike is as safe as possible. If you get a complete tune up, you get to have a long-time mechanic strip everything, give it a deep clean, re-grease, and reinstall it.

Q: What is the craziest bike repair you have done?

A: Well, the most intense repairs are frame swaps where we have to take all the parts off and then reinstall them on the new frame. The craziest bikes are the Burning Man bikes.

Q: What bikes do you ride?

A: I have mountain bikes and a commuter, but mountain bikes are my favorite.