Grease Rag Ride & Wrench

We encourage and empower FTW (Femme/Trans/Women, Non-binary, Two-spirit) cyclists in a collaborative and fun learning environment through rides, discussions, shop nights and educational seminars in a safer space.


Grease Rag Open Shops are the hub of our activities and happen multiple times a month in Minneapolis and St. Paul (Minnesota). Find an open shop on the map (below) or explore the events calendar for all of our open shops and activities.

Find a Grease Rag open shop night near you

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Connect to Grease Rag - Join this lively community in our Facebook group, organize and discuss Grease Rag on our Google Group, or follow us @greaseragmpls

Still have questions about what we do and who we are?  Read our FAQ!

26 Mar


Saddles: A Quick Guide to Getting It Right


on March 26, 2010   comments 1

April and May are the months to start thinking about Spring biking! It's never too early to dream about the snow melting and the roads clearing and the bike trails calling out "Ride Me!". In preparation, I will be writing a series of articles on bike parts and how to out-fit your bicycle so that it is comfortable and fun to ride by the time you are all ready to clean up your spring/summer bike and get out in the spring weather.

One of the most important components to your bicycle is your saddle. The saddle or seat, both terms are acceptable, is your first and major point of contact with your machine. Therefore, it is important to get it right or you will be in constant discomfort. You never know how much, even until you hop on a different saddle and realize that the one you have been bearing with is actually causing chafing, sore pressure points, and keeping you from really loving your ride.

A quick anecdote from the Dr., since the Dr. loves anecdotes. My first 2 bicycles came with pretty standard used bicycle components. The saddle on the first was a white, faux-leather cruiser seat complete with the sitz bone bruising spring loaded action so common among old saddles. I bore with that one and eventually came to ignore all together that my butt bones felt like someone had been jack-hammering them all day long. A year later, when I got the love of my life, a real old-school Fuji roadbike, it came with a vastly upgraded saddle from the 80's, smooth black acrylic cover over foam and plastic. It even had a groove to cushion the tail-bone. High tech as it was (sarcasm), after several weeks of intense commuting in the hot hot heat of summer sent me to the doctor with an odd condition similar, or so I imagined, to a non-bike related illness. The doctor snickered at my concerns and recommended diaper cream. Later that summer, on impulse, I was wandering in a shop and happened to come upon a women's saddle for $30 in the sale corner and after 2 seconds of debate, snatched up and slapped it on my bicycle, riding away with whoops of joy and plenty of air flowing through the cut-out, making me realize what had been missing from my ride for so long- comfort!

I still have that saddle and it resides on my favorite commuting bike, perfectly molded to my bum and continues to make me very happy. What's so special about this seat that sets it aside from those of the past?

A lucky find is easier to come upon when you know the basics of saddle comfort and function. There are 3 main factors to saddle options. They are width, cushion, shape, and perhaps we can add aesthetics (you would not want to put a cruiser saddle, for example, on a mountain bike or a racing bike for all of these reasons). Saddles are made of a variety of materials from synthetics to leather. The main construction of a saddle is it's frame, which will be either a plastic or carbon then covered by some layers of foam or in the case of hard saddles, very little to none. Leather saddles, such as a Brooks, will be a hard leather over a metal frame, where the cushioning comes from the leather's flexibility and molding.

It is important to think through what kind of riding you want to do on your saddle. For short distances a casual saddle should be fine. A cruiser saddle will be highly cushioned, flat, wide, and generally have springs to absorb impact. I would never recommend a cruiser saddle on anything but a cruiser. For people who need a more cushioned, wide saddle I would generally tell them to stick with the very casual riding or consider looking into a recumbent for extra back support.

Mountain bikes generally have flat, more padded saddles that are fairly narrow. The padding will make a huge difference when you are riding bumpy terrain and perhaps have contact with your saddle that you aren't prepared for. For riding in the city on a mountain bike, you may want to consider less padding as you are less likely to be standing and riding.

Road bikes, cyclo-cross bikes and track bikes are the most useful for commuting and riding long distances. The best saddles for these riding styles are generally narrow, fairly hard, and the most varied in terms of options. These saddles are most likely the type that are so varied that it is hard to even make a decision about what will be right for you. Why would you want a hard and narrow saddle? That sounds really uncomfortable. Contrary to the common deduction that more padding is better for comfort, saddles with less surface area and therefore opportunities for chafing and pressure points are better. You will also want to look for rounded edges vs. flatter saddles, length, cut-out vs. solid, and stiffness. Many people prefer Brooks or leather saddles over synthetic saddles because they wear in and mold to your butt. Synthetic saddles, however, require less surface care and are better to care for in bad weather. They are also easier to find in cut-out styles (which I would recommend any lady try, it will relieve the major problems of older, solid saddles).

Here are several picture of the saddles in my coterie, you will notice that they are all cut-outs for cradling the softer parts and rather narrow because of my hip positioning. They are both women specific saddles, which are generally wider at the back and a few centimeters shorter than men's saddles.


My road bike has a saddle with a little more     cushioning and a curve that keeps one kind of floating rather than sinking back into the saddle. I did start out with a Brooks Imperial, but I found it too wide in the back and had resulting hip pain from the saddle working as a fulcrum against my femur/hip bones when riding. To avoid this, make sure your saddle allows for hip clearance while you are riding. Shops should allow you to try a saddle before you buy it, so be prepared to take off your current saddle and put a new one on to ride it around the block (I will also cover different attachment types below).


My commuter saddle is very hard and is better for shorter distances unless I am wearing a chamois (padded shorts). I like this one very much, though, because the cut-out is larger and the seat has a dip in it that cradles the bum. The front is a little narrower and I have less of a problem with saddle-sores when I choose not to wear a chamois.


This is my partner's racing saddle. It is very minimalist and used only with a chamois, but has minimal points of contact which means less chafing and less pressure points. The main important factor of this saddle is it's over-all fit with the bicycle. Seat height and forward/backward positioning is very important and will ensure your knees do not ache as much (or at all!).

One thing further- Be prepared to take your saddle on and off so you can try different types. There are 2 main modern attachment types. You will need your Allen-Wrenches (octagonal-head screw driver). Install seats level first and try them before any angling. You need to make sure the bolt is lightly greased before the final installation so it will not rust into the attachment. Tighten seat bolts as much as you can, if it's loose your seat will wiggle and wobble and change it's position.


Double-bolt (allows for more precise angling)

20 Mar


Writing Women Back Into Bicycling via APBP


on March 20, 2010   comments 0

Free Webinar and Survey:
Writing Women Back Into Bicycling: Changing Transportation Culture to Encourage More Women to Cycle More Places More Often

Motion + RestVia: / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

APBP is collecting input through an online survey, open to women only, and is offering a free web seminar.  Women who do not bike, but would like to, are greatly encouraged to take this survey! Your contribution is valuable, and your voice is often not heard in these types of studies.  Grease Rag is not associated with APBP, but they appear sensitive to our cause- Getting more women riding!!

From the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals (APBP) website:

The Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals is the only professional membership organization for the discipline of pedestrian and bicycle transportation. Our members are dedicated to making bicycling and walking a viable transportation option in the United States, Canada, and around the world.

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17 Mar


March Meeting for Organizers


on March 17, 2010   comments 0

Big ideas need big spacesVia: / CC BY 2.0

We are happy to report that the Idea Meeting was a success.  We are now swimming in innovative ideas and suggestions.  Come to our next meeting and talk about next steps and taking action!

Sunday, March 21, at 6- 8 PM

Bedlam Theatre (upstairs)
1501 6th Street South
Minneapolis, MN 55454-1162

(612) 341-1038

We are looking for people with all skills and commitment levels, so please join us even if you are not sure how involved you’d like to become, even if you have not been to previous organizer events.  If you would like to volunteer or have ideas that you would like to share with us please email

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12 Mar


Emily's Rider Profile


on March 12, 2010   comments 0


Our newest profile comes from Emily- read about her riding style and check out a photo of her ride!

After you've gotten to know us a little, why not fill out your own rider profile? It's fun- We promise!




Riding Style:

Why do I ride:

My biggest challenge so far:

My future goal for cycling:

Best biking story:

What turns my crank about cycling:

Anything else you’d like to share:

06 Mar


Tool for organizers- Grease Rag Google Group


on March 6, 2010   comments 1

Day 83: Fifty Fingers - Hands Together

Via: / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Grease Rag now has a Google Group, and we would love for anyone that is interested to join.  Help us make decisions and take ownership of Grease Rag!

The Google Group page:

Once you join the group, you can email everyone in the group from your email box by typing in the address

It is really easy to create a discussion thread and to chime in and let us know what you think.  If you join the group you don't even need gmail to participate in discussions- the discussion threads can be sent straight to your email, and you can post to the group using the email address above.  (You will need a Google account to adjust your email alerts and to upload documents.)

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