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Ask the Expert: Hal Ruzal

Repair guru at Bicycle Habitat

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What’s your most common repair?
Flats.

But they’re so easy to fix yourself.
Yes, but most New Yorkers are too lazy.

What are the most high-maintenance bikes?
Anything Dutch. All those one-speeds that you see in Holland are disasters, and they cost $500. To fix one thing, you have to take apart ten different things.

What about titanium bikes? Do people actually need them?
They work well, at least. The parts last longer.

What would you recommend as a low-maintenance city bike?
A mountain bike, with smooth tires that are Kevlar belted. It helps with lowering resistance and with flats.

What part of the city is the roughest?
The Williamsburg Bridge is real bad. They redid it wrong. They put eighteen metal bumps in there. So unless you get off the seat when you hit the bumps, you’ll destroy your rims, and that’s expensive.

What’s in the basic repair kit that everyone should own?
A pump, a patch kit, a spare tube, and tire levers for removing the tire. I like REMA Tip Top patches—the glue works really well and the patches tend to hold. It’s a permanent bond.

What should people do to maintain their bikes?
Bring your bike in during winter and have it assessed. But no one’ll do that. No one thinks about bikes in the winter.

You mean one of those $100 tune-ups?
Never walk in and ask for a tune-up. You’ll get your bike wiped down real good but nothing fixed. Tune-ups are for cars.


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