Tips and Tricks
First of all, it is clear that maintenance schedule varies a lot. It depends on how often you ride, what type of terrain and weather condition your bike is ridden on. Bike riding off-road, in unfavourable weather or simply commuting daily definitely need more care than those of you riding only once a week, or even once a month. No matter what, self-maintenance for your bike is essential and easy enough for every rider to do themselves. The near minimum basic tools which you probably have most of already include old T-shirts (to serve as disposable rags), toothbrushes, a can of bike lubricant and a screwdriver. You should also wear rubber gloves to protect your hands and knuckles from being scratched or to avoid taking dirt from one part to others during the process. Now, here are several basic bike maintenance tips that any cyclists can do themselves.
1. Clean your bike
Keeping your bike clean is the fundamental act you can do to prolong your bike’s lifespan. Especially, if you go off-road with all the dirt and grit clinging to the bike, the first thing you ought to do the moment you get back home is to wipe off your bike. Likewise, if you go on rainy days when muck and mud splash onto it. More notably, before your ride you may want to lube the chains and cables. However, remember to wipe off all the grit. Otherwise, it will just be worse with the gunge spreading all over the place, which makes your bike a mess.
One component that many people tend to miss out when cleaning their bikes is the seatpost. It’s quite important to take care of your seatpost so it won’t stuck. In case you let others borrow your bike or want to sell it, the height of the seat can be adjusted easily. Before removing the seatpost, mark your seat’s height with the tape wrapped around the post. By doing that, you can put it back without having to measure again and again each time. Next, wipe off the post and jam a rag as far as possible down inside the seat tube then pull out. After cleaning the seatpost, you should smear some grease inside to prevent rust forming, slide the post back into the frame to the height you’ve marked. Finally, tighten the clamp and enjoy your ride!
2. Lube your bottom bracket’s cable, derailleur and drivetrain
Now, your bike is cleansed, so you can lubricate the necessary parts. If you’re riding a bike with gears, adding lubricant to your bottom bracket’s cable and derailleur improves your shifting drastically so that you could maintain the casual flow of a precise gear adjustment. Notably, the noticeable sign telling you to lubricate your drivetrain and chain is the loud squeaking and rattling sound of metal rubbing against metal and grime. Again, remember to clean the derailleurs, wheels and chainrings with a rag, toothbrush or even a flat-headed screwdriver to take off all the gooey dirt. When all is nice and clean, turn the cranks slowly backwards and apply a drop of bike oil on the inside of every link on your chain.
Whenever your chain is lubricated, it should be left for soaking for a few minutes. Then, the excess lubricant needs wiping off as much as possible. However, before your chain starts squeaking, there’s no need to add more lube. Yet, you can still enjoy the smooth ride by cleaning the chain time by time. It is recommended to keep a cloth next to your shoe shelf so that when you get home, you could grab it easily and clean the bike.
3. Keep the tyres inflated
One of the most crucial things you need to pay attention to your bike is tyre pressure. You’ll find a huge difference when riding on low-pressure tyres since you need to work a lot harder to maintain the same speed as you cycle on the properly high-pressure tyres. Not only do flat tyres drag your speed but also your spirit. The tyres get flat easily when hitting a curb hard or travelling on rough roads. In order to take care of the tyres yourself, an essential must-have tool is a quality floor pump with an accurate gauge. Therefore, you can check the tyres on a regular basis without having to spend money at the bike shop.
Remarkably, you can consult the sidewall of your tyres for the suitable pressure. Moreover, with experience, you can learn to identify by feel when you’ve reached the correct pressure. One small tip is that the rear tyre needs more pressure than the front because it takes more of the rider’s weight.
In case you’re putting your bike in a long pause about 6 months or more, it is recommended to keep the tyres inflated. Or, take them off completely so as to prevent cracks on the sides of the tyres.
4. Adjust brakes correctly
Paying attention to the brakes means keeping yourself safe on road. When you cycle fast, you ought to make sure that you can stop effectively. If you pull the brake lever so hard that it nearly touches the handlebar, yet the wheels still slide on the road, it’s time to adjust brake pads. Tightening the screw moves the pads closer to the rim or disc, which secures you an efficient brake system. Most importantly, clean the dirt and oil from your pads and braking surface regularly, since filthy pads and braking surface wear off considerably fast.
It is common knowledge that brakes help halt the rolling bike, which means that they mustn’t be slippery in any way. This also means that lube and brakes don’t go together. If your rim brakes squeal, it’s likely because of how brake pads are set up. If in need, replace new, quieter brake pads when the old ones have worn off. Regarding disc users, some brakes just squeal. However, most of the time they are contaminated, so clean the rotors or replace with new brake pads.
5. Keep the nuts and bolts tightened properly
The last basic thing you can do for your bike without going to the mechanics is keeping the nuts and bolts tightened properly. If any nuts and bolts are loose, tighten them with the screwdriver. Nevertheless, don’t overtighten, especially the screws of the headset since you would like to control the bike easily and steer the handlebar smoothly. Also, checking nuts and bolts time to time prevents losing them. For instance, you don’t want to listen to the rattling and banging sound of the mudguards or pannier racks when the screws holding them to the bike get lost.
In short, if you can master these skills, your rides will definitely become more enjoyable and much safer. The self-maintenance such as cleaning the bike and pumping the tyres is simple enough for anyone to do at home. Take care of your bike and it will take care of you!
At Reid, we believe that when life is experienced on two wheels, we become healthier, more mindful, more focused people. So, our job is to help them realise; to inspire, motivate and empower people to get out of the car, onto their bike and into the open world beyond.