11 Essential Bike Maintenance Tips Every Rider Should Know
Just like your body, your bicycle needs the same level of Tender Loving Care if it is able to do what it is designed to do; delivering safely, pleasantly, comfortably, and efficiently. Staying on top of basic maintenance will considerably extend your components’ lifespan, which will save you money. It will also elevate your riding experience, the smooth and efficient whir of the chain and the gears and whoosh of the rubber on tarmac instead of the clumsy clunking of the poorly-set gears and the squeezing of a dry chain. You will also save valuable time that may be better spent spinning around the country lanes instead of standing beside the road without a phone signal and a broken chain.
1 Keep Your Bike Clean
A bicycle that is cleaned regularly will be much easier to maintain. It will suffice with hot soapy water and a sponge, with a degreaser, applied on the chain. After the rinse, dry the bike off, then add a light lubricant to the gears and chain before wiping with a cloth. An in-depth wash like this is essential after a ride in wet weather, especially in winter when corrosive salts of the road coat the moving parts of your bicycle. This will extend the lifespan of your components when they are in their most vulnerable and means that you are ready to go on your next ride. It saves money, and it saves time. Make it part of your ritual.
Before heading out on a bike ride, check that the tires are not worn excessively, and in particular, look for flints or cuts, stones, glass in the tread, removing anything that could cause a puncture. It is surprising what your tires will pick up, especially when the roads are wet. It’s an easy, fast procedure that I perform religiously before every ride. Also, make sure that they are pumped up to good pressure (90 to 100 psi is the standard). Too hard, and you risk pinch punctures, reduced traction, and a not comfortable ride. Too soft, and you will feel like you are riding through the sand!
Make sure that your brake blocks are not worn and can stop you efficiently. Look closely to see how worn they are. There will be a point when the block is so worn that you are in danger of braking with metal on carbon or metal. You will know that this is the case if you feel a grittiness to your braking often along with a screeching sound. In addition to not you stopping properly, you’ll ruin your wheels as well.
4 ‘Knocks’ and ‘Creaks’
It’s important to check if there are signs of play (lateral movement) in the cranks and headset regularly. These parts of the bicycle come under a great deal of pressure and torque and can work loose over time. However, if the parts are not addressed, they can wear out irreparably or fail catastrophically, so keep them tight.
To check for play in the headset, pull on the right brake to lock the front wheel, then rock the bike back and forth. If all goes well, the bike will feel ‘as one’ without a knocking sound. If loose, you will see the headset move independently of the head tube and knocking… the bike will feel very unstable. To check your cranks, try pulling the crank from the frame laterally; there must be no play at all. Most of the ‘knocking’ sounds that are emitted from your bicycle originate here.
5 Squeaky Saddle
Another part that comes in for a great deal of hammer is the saddle. Let’s face it; you start to grumble a little if your primary function in life were to be sitting all the time, wouldn’t you!? Very often, the saddles squeak, quite rhythmically, at every pedal stroke. To correct this, remove the saddle from the clamp, clean the rails and apply a few drops of light oil before wiping off. Then replace it.
Most gears are pre-indexed these days, but always make sure they shift correctly on all gear ratios as you can be caught out on a steep climb if you cannot get your lowest sprockets. However, keep the jockey wheels moving freely by cleaning and applying lubricant from time to time. This part of the bicycle is often neglected and can quickly become the victim of a solid buildup of oily compacted dirt as well as an annoying squeak.
7 Check Your Cables!
You’re not going to change gear, and worse, you’re not going to stop if the cables on your bike fail. The cables never snap suddenly, and they wear over time: wear that often doesn’t see beneath the outer housing. Checking the cables is not something that must be done every ride as a well-maintained set should last long. Every few months, especially during winter when corrosion is always a threat, must be ideal. Simply remove the cables from the housing and check if there are fraying or corrosion cables. If all is well, apply some lubricant or grease on the cables with a cloth before putting them back in the cable housing. Also, check the housing for kinks and splits as these can accelerate the inner cable wear if the cable does not have a smooth passage.
Make sure that both are true by spinning them while on the bike. They should not catch on the brakes or ‘wobble’ laterally. In addition, gently squeeze the spokes using your hand, holding them against each other to verify that none is loose. All spokes must have the same tension. If one is loose it needs tightening and will be the reason why your wheel is out of true. NOTE: Truing a wheel is an ability. Unless you’re sure, take your wheel to be trued in a bicycle shop.
9 Stem/ Saddle/ Bars
From time to time, it is worth giving your bike a rapid inspection to make sure that your stem, handlebar, saddle, and seat pin are tight because these are the areas that receive a high-stress level. It is worth investing in a torque wrench Allen-key to get the tightness spot on, especially if you have handlebars or carbon set post.
10 Squeaking Chain
Who the hell likes a squeaking chain?! In addition to being extremely annoying, you will not be making your chain or cassette any good as the noise is the friction sound between the cassette and the chain; Friction that is gradually wearing out both components. Pay attention to your chain and win more friends by putting some light lubricant and wiping out the excess, which will make a soothing ‘whir’ rather than an annoying ‘squeak.’ NOTE: If you’re not sure about adjusting anything on your bicycle, especially larger jobs such as removing the bottom bracket, etc., do not try yourself. Take it to a bicycle shop for repair and peace of mind.
11 Get Your Bike Serviced
Each season, it is important to maintain your bike by taking it to a service center. Our experienced mechanic in Houston Bike Repair Company has the skills to keep you on the road and enjoy your ride for life. If you need basic maintenance and some minor adjustments, or you need a complete inspection and teardown, we will respond to your concerns and assess your bike’s needs to make sure your bike is safe to use.
The more you make sure that your bike is in working order on a routine basis, the less you have to spend for seasonal maintenance. Do you need more help? The Houston Bike Repair Company service team in Houston, TX, will be pleased to give you expert advice to keep your bike in its best form.