Top 7 Tips for Bicycle Maintenance
Bicycle maintenance is not difficult, and the more you get into the habit of looking after your bike, the easier it will be. Here are seven bicycle maintenance tips and tricks to get you going down the right path and keep your bike in great health. These tips will also save you money and hassle in the long run.
1. Check your tires and pressure weekly.
Getting into the habit of checking your tires weekly will greatly lessen the chance of you standing at the side of the road or trail fixing a puncture. Once you get in the habit of it, you’ll find that you almost magically seem to have fewer punctures. We talk about this in more depth in our home mechanics guide.
2. Lube your chain.
You want to do this regularly. The simplest way to do this is to put your bike in a work stand and turn the pedals, as you turn the pedals squeeze the lube bottle at the back of your bike just above the chain. The movement of the chain will then pull the lube in and nicely lubricate your chain. Don’t go crazy with the lube or you’ll have an oily mess to clean up on your floor later.
If there is a creak from your bike, don’t ignore it. Use this as a chance to go through your bike and make sure everything is tight. As you ride, some bolts will work themselves loose. If you don’t periodically check them, then you’ll lose the bolts or possibly end up with a serious failure. Please remember that overtightening is as bad as under-tightening if you are unsure it might be worth your time to buy a torque wrench.
4. Grease dries out.
You may have used a lot of grease when you put your bike together, but it doesn’t last forever. Many people seem to think that they just need to grease their seat post once, then a couple of years later are surprised when it is seized. Every six months or so make sure you re-grease everything and if the weather has been terrible then do it earlier.
5. True your wheels.
Bike riding is hard on wheels, and your spokes can lose tension and need to be trued. With a bit of ingenuity and a spoke key, you can easily fix this issue. Take a couple of zip ties and tie them around the fork or frame and leave the tails long enough that they just don’t touch the wheel. Slowly spin the wheel if it touches the zip tie on one side, tighten the spokes exactly opposite it. You can’t use this method to dish your wheels, but it will work well for simple trues.
6. Check your cables.
Cables don’t just suddenly snap. They will be worn and then give warning that they are going to snap, you’ll have sloppy gear changes or braking. If an end cap comes off a cable, replace it as soon as possible, this way your cable won’t unwind. When you lube your chain, make sure you drop some lube down your cables, and that will help to keep them in great condition.
7. Care for your derailleurs.
Many people forget to look after their derailleurs even as they look after their chain and cables. Take your chain lube again and occasionally lube the springs in your derailleurs, then a little bit on the cable at the anchor point, and finally a little spot on the set screws will stop them seizing into the derailleur.
With these great tips, you should be able to keep an eye on your bike’s condition and reduce the number of small repairs the mechanics at your local bike shop will try to charge you on.