Ohio City Bike Co-op helps shoppers find high-quality bikes

CLEVELAND — Jim Sheehan of the Ohio City Bicycle Co-op spends a lot of time refurbishing used bikes and said not all bikes are made equal.

What do you want to know

  • Consumers should ensure that the bicycle they purchase is made with high quality parts
  • The braking system is a dead giveaway if a bike made with poor quality parts
  • Regular maintenance can help keep a bike in good working order

Sheehan can usually tell right away if the bike is from a department store. He said these models can be more difficult for a mechanic to repair or even adjust. A common problem is the brakes.

“It’s going to be a pain to get out,” Sheehan said as he began work on the department store brand bike.

No matter how much he tinkers with the bike, he can’t keep the brakes from rubbing against the rotors.

“There’s no way to fix this,” Sheehan said as he tried to set the brakes. “There’s nothing to work on. You can’t do anything to adjust that, so you have to live with it.

He pointed to another big box store bike, which he says has substandard parts in the brake system, so it may take more time and effort to stop.

“I’m going to squeeze the brake as hard as I can, and the wheel will still spin,” Sheehan said as she tested the brakes.

He said that in some cases these bikes will have unnecessary parts.

He explained what cabins are and what they do for a bike.

“That’s what the shock is supposed to do is keep the wheel on the ground when going over bumps,” Sheehan said. “To ride in the street, it is useless. One more weight and one more thing wrong.

Sheehan said if these go bad, the cost of fixing them wouldn’t be worth it. He said riders better get a new bike.

Consumers should pay attention to signs when considering what type of bike to buy, he said.

The co-op sells commercial-grade used bikes, which are much easier to repair, he said.

“Really, these bikes should run like new,” Sheehan said.

The co-op has a list of safety tips for checking on a bike:

Safety Control – Steering, Stopping and Safety


  1. Check that the stem and handlebars are tight: Hold the front wheel between your knees and try to turn the handlebars (sideways, and up and down).
  2. Check the front tire: it should be inflated so that it is firm (the maximum pressure is printed on the sidewall) and free of vibrations, cuts, cracks, bulges and bald spots.
  3. Check the front wheel: it should sit firmly and evenly in the fork, it should be round and straight, and the spokes should be evenly tight.


  1. Squeeze the brake levers as hard as possible: they should not touch the handlebars. If so, you may need to turn the barrel adjuster on the end of the cable housing and secure it with the locking ring. Pedal brakes must be secure.
  2. The brake pads should touch the rims flat and evenly all around, not above, where they might contact the tire. They should be thick enough.
  3. With each brake activated in turn, push the bike forward and backward; the brake should not oscillate too much. Brake pads should not spin when turned by hand.


  1. Grab the seat front and back; it should not twist or bow.
  2. All other parts must be securely fastened; pedals, cranks, rear wheel, kickstand, rack, mudguards, water bottles and all accessories and luggage.
  3. Check the fit of the helmet: it should cover the forehead, with the seams just below the ears and very little slack under the chin. Riders should not be able to push it down on your nose or up on their forehead. Fasten the shoelaces and the right trouser leg.

Finally, take a careful test ride to:

1. Shift through all gears (to check derailleur limits) and test brakes.

2. Pedal hard in your most used gears (to check chain wear)

3. Try riding without hands, if possible (to check fork alignment)

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