After spending your hard-earned paycheck, or couple of paychecks, on a bike the last thing you want is for it to break down on you. Prevent your bike from blundering by taking proper care of it before and after you ride. While most maintenance for your bike is easy, it’s important not to skip over any of the small details.
Become a Sponge
The first and most important rule to maintaining your bike is to know how to maintain your bike. If you would rather have a bike shop fix your bike anytime there is a problem that’s up to you. If you want to learn how to maintain the mechanics of your bike watch your local bike shop mechanic repair your bike. Ask them questions if you have any. Learning how to properly tighten and loosen the different components of your bike like a headset, or repair your brakes can save you money and give you a feeling of accomplishment.
The Bike Wash
The first thing you want to do when giving your bike a bath is to remove the wheels and attachments like bike bags, so you can access the frame more directly and to prevent rust. It’s a good idea to wipe down your bike after each run, but if you are riding in stormy conditions you might want to consider the full bath. It’s as simple as rinse, soap, rinse, dry. To prevent scratching up your frame, give it a light hose down before you attempt to wipe off the grime. You will probably want to wipe down the frame of your bike and the spokes of your wheels. The chain should be washed when you wash the rest of your bike. There are products that clean off your bike chain, but the old-fashioned way works too. Remember to reapply chain lube after you dry your bike. Chain lube is important to remember so you don’t accidently brake your chain on your next ride.
picture courtesy of roadcyclinguk.com
It’s good to keep your chain lubed up, but it’s a little debatable about how often you should lube up your chain. I wouldn’t go a week without lubing up the chain to make sure that it stays coated, but some people will lube their chain right after their rides. Do the style that works best for you, just try to remember to lube the chain up at least once a week, and wipe off the excess. Too much chain lube can be just as bad as no chain lube.
Think of the cassette and the chain as two best friends who are inseparable. That means when it’s time for a new cassette, it’s also time for a new chain. This is because they wear fairly evenly together, so when one is ready to be replaced the other is probably on its last leg too. Replace them at the same time to reduce the chance of one breaking.
Before every ride you want to check your tire pressure. Tire pressure affects the way you ride, so having too little tire pressure will hurt your timing. Tire pressure will also vary with temperature, so if it’s been a particularly hot few days don’t skip the check before you ride. Your tires can also change pressure from temperature when they ride, so avoid any unnecessary excessive braking.
Brakes are essential on every ride, which is why they should be properly maintained. Check your brakes to make sure they are decent before you strap on your helmet. If you are riding in rainy weather or wet roads, brakes take a whole new turn. In wet weather, your brakes wear down extremely quickly, so after any rainy ride make sure you dry your brake pads as soon as possible. If your area is prone to rainy weather make sure you keep brake pads on hand, so you can change them instead of cancelling your riding plans.
On the Road Maintenance
Sometimes we do everything we can to prevent having to do maintenance on the road, but then we are faced with a flat. Alright, no biggie just make sure you have the proper tools on hand. Part of good bike maintenance is preparedness. The kit you should always have attached to your bike may need a little attention too. Check to make sure that your patch glue hasn’t dried and that you have the proper tools for taking off your wheels in case of a flat. Checking your bike bag essentials can help prevent a second crisis of not having the proper necessities to make repairs. Have a spare derailleur on hand too, because if that goes out then your ride is over.
Maintaining your bike can mean longevity of its life. A proper maintained bike will perform well and reduce the risk of breakdowns during your much-desired rides. Going the extra mile for your bike will help the bike go the extra mile for you.