Bike Care 101

Regardless of whether you’ve been cycling for a number of years or you’ve just bought your first bike, it’s important to have a basic understanding of bike care and maintenance. With this knowledge at your disposal you can ensure that your bike remains in a decent condition and offers you optimum performance when out on the road. Poor maintenance will only lead to a poor quality bike, regardless of how much you spent on it when it was brand new, clean and shiny.

So with this in mind, here’s a look at four easy-to-remember maintenance tips that you can use to save you time and money and make sure your bike lasts longer.

4 Important Bike Maintenance Tips

1. Clean and Grease Your Seat Post

There’s nothing worse than trying to adjust the height of your seat only to discover that it’s jammed or stuck in place from the build-up of dirt. Cleaning your seat post once or twice every six months will avoid this situation occurring.

When cleaning your post, use a thin strip of tape around the existing height of the pole where the post meets the tube so that you can easily align it back in its original position.

Remove the post by releasing the clamp and use a cloth to wipe away any grit, dirt and old grease. Remember to clean the inside of the tube in order to remove any excess gunk too.

Once both the tube and the post are clean you can place a small amount of grease inside the tube before putting the post back in place up to the marked tape line and tightening the clamp.

If the frame or seatpost are made from carbon fibre it is important not to use conventional grease as it can damage the frame or post. There are a number of specialist carbon friendly greases on the market.

2. Clean Your Chain

Regularly cleaning your chain and removing any dirt will ensure that your bike can perform better and the chain will last longer as a result.

A clean chain is important for getting full functionality from your bike, regardless of whether you are cycling for leisure purposes or partaking in a sportive or race. A chain wear indicator tool may also be a worthwhile purchase as it enables you to monitor your chains level of wear and then replace it before it prematurely wears the sprockets or chainrings.

Checking chain wear isn’t hard if you’ve got the right tool. They are very inexpensive.

To clean the chain, dip a brush in chain cleaner and use this to thoroughly scrub the components. After a good clean, rinse the chain with water from a squeezed sponge or cloth and then apply lubrication to the links whilst slowly turning the pedals backwards.

It’s best to place the bike on a work stand during this phase as it will make the process easier. There are also a number of chain scrubber/cleaning tools that will may the job easier and less messy.

And don’t forget, after you’ve left the lubricant to soak in for a little, to clean off the excess by holding a rag around your chain and running it backwards a few times.

Applying lube to all of the essential components will make it easier and smoother to change gear on your next ride. Find out more about cleaning a bike chain.

3. Check Your Tyre Pressures

Tyres that are worn out or damaged can be dangerous or make your bike handle poorly and also lead to unnecessary punctures. It is important that you check your tyres regularly for damage and wear and replace if needed.

Checking your tyre pressure is easy to do with a decent floor pump that displays the PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) level. These are the best pumps to use, so if you don’t own one, make sure you purchase one soon – they’ll definitely come in handy.

First of all, check the PSI by pushing on the side of your tyres and then connect the pump to the tyre valve. If levels are low, use the pump to ensure that there is enough air in both of your tyres. In contrast, if levels are too high, you can release air by pushing the pin into the valve.

Once you’ve checked both wheels, you’ll notice the difference straight away. Your ride will be much smoother without the discomfort of feeling every bump on the road beneath you.

You’ll usually find the recommended tyre pressure printed on the side of each tyre.

4. Check Brake Pads

Good quality brakes are paramount for your own safety. If your brake pads are worn then they must be replaced.

Check the pads by looking to see if the grooves on the rubber sections are still present. If they’ve faded away, then it’s time to replace them for new ones. Pads can be purchased from a bike supplies store and changed with an Allen key and a little bit of patience.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to attempt this yourself then take your bike into a specialist shop or bike store., though it isn’t hard.

It might seem difficult when you try it the first time, but once you’ve done it once you’ll wonder why you thought it might be difficult.

It’s also important to check that the pads are making full contact with the wheel rims when the brake levers are fully engaged. If they are out of line, you can easily adjust them so that they aren’t hitting the tyres and instead making clean contact with the rims.

Undo the little adjusting screw a little, slide them up or down until they are contacting the rim correctly, then tighten up firmly.

It is important to also check that all bolts remain tight and torqued and that there is no play in the major bearings such as the headset, bottom bracket or hubs. If you are unsure of any maintenance issues then it is always best to refer to a specialist cycle shop with a workshop for advice. These are a little more complicated than the tips mentioned above, but with a little practice not hard.

You can find out how to do any of these things by looking for videos on Youtube. Just about any bike maintenance issue can be learned on Youtube.

Remember to use these four simple tips next time you leave or come back from a ride and you’ll get maximum performance from your two wheeled machine.