Maintenance Checklist to Keep Your Bike in Top Shape
Hopping on a bike has numerous advantages and while it’s a great way to help you get around and get in shape, you’ll also need to give your ride some essential maintenance and care. You don’t have to be an expert mechanic to keep your bike in good working order but you do have to know a few fundamentals so that you can use your bike for a long, long time.
Like cars, bikes need tune-ups too, especially if you’re a regular rider who loves to cycle through wet and muddy roads, or if you love to ride fast, hard and as often as possible. Maintenance is important to your bike’s good performance.
Basic tools for bike maintenance
First, you’ll need to keep a few things in your garage to use for cleaning and putting lubricant on your bike. These are items you can easily purchase from home improvement stores, hardware stores, or specialty bike shops.
- Bike stand.Set your bike on the stand so you can properly turn the pedals or fiddle with the wheels at a comfortable height.
- Brushes, including toothbrushes. It’s good to have different brush sizes to use for those hard-to-reach areas that accumulate grime.
- Cleaning rags.You’ll be handling grease, oil, and wax often when you’re working on your bike so you have to stock up on this.
- You can use a general dishwashing soap to clean your bike.
- Pick a brand that’s specifically for bikes and contains environment-friendly solvents. You’ll need this for cleaning the bike chain.
- Lubricant for the chain.You’ll need this to prolong the efficiency of your bike’s drivetrain. Similarly, pick a dry or wet lube that’s specific for bicycles. Wet lubricants are useful for biking during in rainy weather, as they won’t rinse off immediately.
- Portable bike pump for the tyres.You’ll need this handy device for the bike’s optimum performance.
- You have to tighten some nuts and bolts on you bike every now and then.
Cleaning and inspecting the bike
Bikes can be easily cleaned using a damp rag before and after every use. You can hose the bike with water as well, but you have to be careful not to damage other components since water can cause corrosion or impact the bike’s bearing sensitivity.
Some of the bike’s components will have to be brushed and scrubbed as needed – such as the handlebar stem, saddle, and tyres. On the other hand, the chain will need lubrication every time you use it.
Of all the parts of your bike, it’s the chain that needs the most TLC. Frequent cleaning and lubricating the chain will prevent it from wearing.
- If there’s not much dirt and grime on the chain, use a degreaser and rag for cleaning.
- If there’s built-up dirt, use brushes for a more thorough cleaning.
- If you have more than two bikes to maintain, invest in a chain cleaner, which you can find at bike shops.
Let the degreaser dry off completely before lubricating the chain. Let the lubricant stay on for a few minutes before wiping off the excess. Never lube if your bike is still dirty and avoid using WD40 since that is meant for doors.
When to replace the chain?
Lubricating the chain will help rid of the squealing and see it lasts longer but eventually it will have to be replaced due to wear and tear. Chain wear can be costly if it’s left for too long.
Expert bike mechanics say that it’s hard to tell the longevity of the bike’s chain based on usage alone. You can purchase a chain checker tool to accurately check its condition but you can also do a manual check. There are plenty of videos on YouTube with instructions but you can also speak with our friendly staff here at Stead Cycles.
Brakes have to be inspected before you use the bike. Do they brake properly when you squeeze the levers? Are the cables intact or are these rusting and fraying? Is the clamp on the brake handle too loose or too tight? Make adjustments as you see fit.
When to replace the brake pads?
A good indicator that your brake pads have started to wear out is if you sense a bit of grittiness in your bike’s performance, followed by a screeching sound when you brake. If you also sense more pressure when you stop your bike, it might be a good time to visit a repair shop as soon as possible. Not replacing your brakes could affect your tyre’s condition too.
Before every ride, make sure that the tyres are properly inflated to the recommended pressure (90-100psi). If you’ve pumped too much, you could risk puncturing them. If you pumped too little, you could have a difficult time with the ride.
Look for any cuts or embedded flints, glass shards, or stones in the tread and have these pulled out and patched up at a repair shop, if you can’t do it yourself.
When to replace the tyres?
How old are your bike’s tyres? Are there obvious signs of wear and tear, such as thinning rubber or bubbles and bulges? How often do your bike’s tyre go flat?
A bad tyre can comprise your ride and safety so it’s imperative that these be replaced right away. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to spot any obvious signs but you can sense the lack of quality and efficiency of the tyres when you’re biking slower than you should be or rolling without proper balance.
Regular check-up schedule: a must!
Here are more things to remember when it comes to bike maintenance, so you can always be assured of a safe ride:
Before riding out:
- Aside from checking the chain, brakes, and tyres, give the wheels a spin to see if there’s any wobbling. If they’re misaligned, get them re-trued as soon as possible.
- Ensure you have a tire kit with the necessary tools with you in case you encounter a flat tyre or brake problems, or at least know the location of the nearest bike shop wherever you’re going.
- Do an inspection of every bike part and the frame for wear and tear, cracks, rust, corrosion, dents, and breaks, and replace or repair as needed.
- Clean the cassette cogs of the chain and re-lube.
- Lube the brakes and cables to avoid binding.
- Check for lose screws and bolts, and tighten these with a wrench.
Every six months or every 4,023 kilometres (2,500 miles):
- Clean the drivetrain thoroughly, which includes the chain, chainrings, front and rear derailleurs, and cassette.
- Check the bearing systems, which includes the pedals, hubs, brackets, and headset.
- Restock your spare kit.
- Have the wheels check end re-trued.
If you’re looking for a reliable bike supplier or for questions about bike maintenance and care, contact us at Stead Cycles.