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BikeBANQUET November 7 with Recycle-A-Bicycle and special guest Randy Cohen

Thank you to everyone who came out to the BikeBANQUET to benefit Recycle-A-Bicycle November 7!

Guests enjoying the banquet part of the BikeBANQUET. In the foreground, (L-R) Hilda Cohen, Randy Cohen, Janet Liff and Josh Bisker

Randy Cohen

Karen Overton (L), Executive Director of Recycle-A-Bicycle, in conversation with  Melissa Garcia

Arriving at the BikeBANQUET

Sarah Haga in conversation

Sarah Haga in conversation

Nomad Cycle owner Damon Strub

Nomad Cycle owner and host Damon Strub

Randy Cohen and janet Liff in conversation , Hilda Cohen and Josh Bisker in foreground

During dinner, Randy Cohen Janet Liff, Hilda Cohen and Josh Bisker in conversation

Randy Cohen listening during dinner

Randy Cohen listening

BikeBANQUET Nov 7 2015

Dan Solow, of Southern Queens Greenway, and Marc Van der Aart, of Rolling Orange, in conversation during dinner

Angela Stach, Transportation Alternatives Queens Committee in conversation during dinner

Angela Stach, Transportation Alternatives Queens Committee, in conversation with other guests during dinner

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Randy Cohen spoke about biking in the city

Lesley McTague and Daniel Solow visioning their Bicycle Utopia

Instead of cognac, a visioning activity and BikeART Party followed dinner and Randy Cohen’s talk. Lesley McTague and Dan Solow collaborate to make their Bicycle Utopia

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Lesley McTague going for a spin in Bicycle Utopia

Stella Bronwasser of Rolling Orange creating her Bicycle Utopia

Stella Bronwasser of Rolling Orange making her Bicycle Utopia

Esmé Brauer (L) and Hilda Cohen taking their Bicycle Utopia visioning rather seriously

Esmé Brauer and Hilda Cohen's bike portrait

Esmé and Hilda in their Bicycle Utopia

Nathan and Lion Brauer getting their bike portrait taken

Nathan and Lion Brauer getting ready for their BikeART portraitLion + NathanFL

Nathan and Lion in Bicycle Utopia

Luzmina Sindi Hernandez gets her bike portrait with completely unnecessary encouragement from appreciative onlookers

Luzmina Sindi Hernandez gets completely unnecessary encouragement from other guests as she gets her BikeART portrait taken

Luzmina Sindi Hernandez's bike portrait

A passerby asks “Why does life have to be so terrible?” when no bikes are ALLOWED in Luzmina’s Bicycle Utopia

Will Knoesel from Recycle-A-Bicycle making a very special Bicycle Utopia...

Recycle-A-Bicycle’s Will Knoesel works on making a very special Bicycle Utopia…

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Will’s Bicycle Utopia

Raffle prizes donated by Nutcase Helmets, Vanmoof, Thule, Levi's, Bloomsbury Publishing and ABUS

Raffle prizes donated by Nutcase Helmets, Vanmoof, Thule, Levi’s, Bloomsbury, Johanna Kindvall and ABUS

Avril Greenberg raffle winner of Culinary Cyclist at BikeBANQUET to benefit Recycle-A-Bicycle, with special guest Randy Cohen at Nomad Cycle, November 7, 2015

Avril Greenberg, raffle winner of a copy of the Culinary Cyclist, by Anna Brones and illustrated by Johanna Kindvall

Nathan Brauer, raffle winner of an ABUS lock and Hilda Cohen, winner of Infographic Guide to Cycling at BikeBANQUET with Lion and Esmé Brauer

Nathan Brauer, Hilda Cohen, Lion and Esmé Brauer, winners of an ABUS Bordo lock and a copy of the Infographic Guide to Cycling

Angela Stach's bike portrait

Angela Stach in Bicycle Utopia

Reed Rubey and a Vanmoof bike are all that survive in his Bicycle Utopia

Reed Rubey goes for a spin on a Vanmoof bike in Bicycle Utopia

BikeBANQUET would not be possible without the generous support of Bicycle Utopia’s sponsors.ami nyc sp mailchimp sponsors logos-01






I was riding through the park on one of the first summer evenings when I first noticed it: a looseness in my pedals.

It was a mild looseness—I couldn’t see it, I could only feel it. With every half rotation of the pedals, when it came time for one foot or the other to press down and urge the bike forward—that’s when I felt it. Instead of my foot meeting the resistance of the pedal, there was nothing. And then, a millisecond later, there was the resistance of the pedal.

It happened on every rotation for each foot. As with many bike troubles, the annoyance lay not only in the trouble itself, but in the fact that I anticipated it every time my foot pushed down. As the red sun set on me, I sang songs along to the rhythm of my hiccuping pedals.

The next day I woke up to ride my bike again, hoping that the issue had resolved itself overnight. But as soon as I pushed off again there it was. Bikes are not people, I reminded myself, they do not heal themselves.

I stopped at a bike shop run by one lone mechanic overworked to exasperation. “It’s biking season and we are up to here”—he made a line with his hand in the air over his head—“in work.” But I convinced him to take a look and give me a diagnosis. He gave my pedals a little tug and confirmed what I already knew: yep, they were definitely loose. He pulled out a tool, tightened them up, and off I was, singing his praises.

But it turned out to be just a temporary fix. A few days later the strange looseness returned, haunting my every pedal stroke. So back to the mechanic I went, but a different bike shop this time. Even though the shop was swarming with customers, a young guy took the time to put my bike into a stand, pop open the bottom bracket and check out the bearings.


His suspicions were confirmed, he said, the bearings–the things that allowed my pedals to turn–were dry. Parched, in fact. Normally the bearings are packed with grease to equalize pressure and make things run smoothly. But mine had no grease.

“It’s good you stopped here,” he said, “your bearings look okay.” They were shiny and still perfectly round. If I had gone much longer without grease, they would have started to wear. The parts in a loose bearing system wear together; if one part of the bottom bracket (the bearings, the cup, or the cone) is damaged, it won’t be long before other pieces start to wear as well. Bearings with dents or holes need to be replaced immediately.

Bearings are what allow the bike to move. There is a bearing system in each of the wheel hubs, the bottom bracket, and in the headset, which allows the handlebars to turn.

Most older bikes, and some new bikes, have a “loose bearing” system: you can open up the shell—made up of a cup on one side and a cone on the other—and theoretically dump the small shiny balls onto the floor, if they aren’t packed in there with grease.


Some new bikes have a cartridge—a bearing system that is sealed shut. If it stops working, the entire cartridge usually needs to be replaced. This isn’t necessarily the case with loose bearings, where you may just need to replace a set of bum bearings.

If your pedals feel gritty or wobbly, or if you can hear them grinding, it’s a sign you should check on your bottom bracket. Elsewhere on the bike, if your wheel is tightened to the frame, but it still feels loose, your hub bearings may need some attention.


But dry bearings can be a silent killer–you may not notice if your bearings need grease. The best way to prevent your bearing system from getting thirsty is to take your bike to a mechanic for a yearly tune-up. Although a bearing check is not included in the basic tune-up, and the bottom bracket may go several years without needing to be re-greased, when the mechanic takes a look over the bike, he or she will know whether or not it is worth cleaning out your bearing system.

I rode away from the shop that day, my pedals spinning without a glitch, and a greater appreciation for the dark depths of my bicycle that allow its two wheels to keep on turning every day.