Let’s Get to Know The Bike Lady

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By Lisa Hazel — Elva Nava, The Bike Lady, spent some time with us to fill us in on the updates to her shop.

Elva started working alongside Johnny Barlow, The Bike Guy in 2005. After spending time becoming familiar with how to troubleshoot bike repairs and becoming accustomed to bike repair lingo, Elva began considering the idea of becoming her “own woman” by establishing herself as “The Bike Lady” and the name stuck!

Elva Nava is the owner and operator of The Bike Lady, a bike repair shop in Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo by Dave Iltis

Elva has made her shop unique by stepping into multiple roles within her business. As a mechanic, Elva has made it a priority to match her mechanics vocabulary with her customers'. “It is a great way to make customers with all types of biking experience comfortable,” she says. Once the repair is complete, she provides tips to enhance her customer's riding preferences. To maintain power she advises to “avoid crossing the chain,” meaning to avoid simultaneous use of the big chain ring in front and big cog in the back to limit derailleur tension; or, for smoother shifting, try an inexpensive shifter overhaul fix.

Elva Nava removes a tire in the process of changing a tube. Photo by Lisa Hazel

Elva is an advocate for empowering women by enabling a “fix it yourself” approach to bike repair. She often hears women saying “being able to fix [one's] own bike allows [them] to ride more consistently.” To give to the women in need of this knowledge, Elva has taught the Women's Bike Maintenance Clinic at the Bicycle Collective. Empowering women by teaching them to fix a bike is rewarding and helpful; it does not matter where [one] is in life, she says.

Elva demonstrates her attention to detail and love of bike mechanics. Photo by Lisa Hazel

As a novice bike mechanic, I found conversing with Elva to be informative and enlightening. While spending some time with The Bike Lady, I asked if she could demonstrate how to replace a tube. While she explained this, the precision in her work is clear. It's obvious Elva enjoys the expertise of bike mechanics. As I watched her go through each step, Elva would explain the reason to perform certain steps with care while emphasizing others as routine. When we got to removing the tube, she emphasized, “loosen one side [of the tire] from the rim and take the tube out completely.” The importance of checking for thorns can not be exaggerated. If the repair is complete and thorns are still lurking, a flat is sure to present itself. After putting in the new tube, Elva conscientiously mentions to make sure the stem is straight. This is to ensure ease of pumping up your tires at home. Elva recommends, “put the wheel between the chain and rear derailleur back on the smallest cog,” she continues, “the derailleur will guide the wheel back into the frame. Once the wheel is in place, tighten it down and fit the brake noodle back into the brake caliber.” Not only was the experience beneficial to my learning, Elva knew how to take each discussion to the next mechanical level. If I asked a general question Elva matched my interest. If I requested more information or a general overview of the role of a part, she went through the part's role and figured out if that part is fulfilling it.

Elva is interested in getting your bike in working order no matter what your budget. She noted that service is often more cost effective than all new parts. Be prepared for an honest evaluation of your bike's condition; and if you are interested in thorough or general tips, Elva is the bike mechanic for you. Whether you are an experienced, moderate, or new biker and want dedication to your machine, try The Bike Lady. She will do everything she can to further inspire your interest in biking.

Shop information:

The Bike Lady
1555 So. 900 E.
Salt Lake City, UT 84105
(801) 638-0956
bikeladyslc.com

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