Riding bikes is fun and easy, but sometimes maintaining your bicycle can seem much more intimidating. Between all the gears, bearings, cables, bolts and other components, there’s a lot of complicated machinery that goes into every bicycle. However, there are a few simple “ABCs” of basic bike maintenance that you can follow to be sure that your bike is safe every time you roll out.
A = Air
No matter what bike you have, old or new, high end or budget-build, the only two things that actually touch the ground are your tires, so being sure they are properly inflated and good condition is important. Unfortunately, there is not one magic tire pressure that we can tell you to put in your tires. The tire pressure you should run will be based on a variety of factors including rider weight, tire size, and even the surface and conditions you are riding in. Don’t be afraid to experiment and see what works best for you. Perhaps, pick up a hand pump from one of our shops, so you can try adding and taking air out of your tires while you are out on a ride.
B = Brakes
We all love to ride our bikes, and a lot of us like to ride our bikes fast. No matter if you are riding in your local race, or just riding around the neighborhood, you need your bike to have properly functioning brakes to be safe out on the road.
Give both your brakes a squeeze and try to push your bike back and forth to be sure everything is functioning properly. Check your brake pads to be sure they don’t look excessively worn. You can also check the braking surface (either on your wheel or rotor if your bike has disc brakes). If you see any harsh scratches or wear, it may be time to bring your bike in for a brake service.
C = Chain
It’s important to be sure to that your chain is cleaned and lubricated, or else you can prematurely wear out the chain and other components of your drivetrain like your cassette and chainrings.
Before you ride, check your chain. If its excessively dirty, give it a good cleaning with a rag and degreaser. If it’s excessively dirty you may need a brush to clean off the heavy particulate. After you clean and dry your chain, be sure so apply some chain lube to each of the rollers in the chain (you can pick up a bottle at any one of our locations). This lube acts just like oil in your car’s engine, and keeps the friction down as the chain runs through the gears of your bike.
s = Safety
Lastly, before you hit the road, you want to be sure your bike doesn’t have any loose bolts. If the bolts on your stem or seat post are loose, it can lead to serious issues out on the road. A simple test to do is the “Drop/Rattle” test. Lift your bike up a few inches off the ground, and then drop it on the wheels so it bounces once or twice (obviously catch it before it before it falls all the way over). This will literally shake anything that is loose on the bike, so if you hear any excessive rattling, you can track down what bolt it is and snug it down. Be sure not to over-tighten any bolts, especially if you have a bike made of carbon fiber. You can pick up a basic torque-wrench from us to keep on hand that will stop before you over tighten any bolt.
Ready for more? Join Tony at our next Bicycle Maintenance Clinic and really show your bike the love it deserves.