Whether you are a weekend rider, committed racer, trail seeker, commuter or anything in between, bike maintenance is important for everyone. Learning the basics of bike maintenance will future proof your steed just as much as learning to lock your bike securely or taking out insurance will. Of course, for a serious issue with your bike, your local bike shop should always be the first port of call, but there are a few home maintenance basics which will get a bit more life out of your bike.
Keep your bike rolling smoothly on the road and your money in your pocket by following these essential maintenance tips.
Keep your bike clean
Keeping your bike clean is a basic maintenance routine that will go a long way to extending its life. Nailing a wash routine will improve the performance and lifespan of your bike so you can get the very best out of it. Using soapy water, a sponge and degreaser when you are cleaning will not only keep the bike looking good aesthetically, but it will also make sure that all the important components are well lubed and working correctly. It can be a bit of a chore at first especially after a long ride, but the process does get quicker and can be quite cathartic.
Fix a flat inner tube
Probably the most obvious maintenance tip and the one we all tend to learn first is fixing a flat inner tube. There’s good reason for it too, learning how to patch an inner tube correctly is very important so that you don’t get stranded in the middle of nowhere in the rain and the cold desperately trying to get air into your tyres. To fix an inner tube you’ll need a patch kit, tyre levers and a pump. There are tonnes of great videos that take you through the process, like the one we’ve shared above, so it’s good to learn and practise before you have an issue. Get into the habit of taking pumps, levers etc. with you on your ride as you never know when you might hear that dreaded slow hiss.
Index your gears
After riding your bike for a while, you will begin to notice that the gears don’t shift as well as they did when the last left the shop. Don’t worry, this isn’t a huge mechanical fault and – provided the derailleur and cables aren’t damaged – is something that can be rectified quite easily. Simply turn your rear derailleur barrel adjuster anti-clockwise about a quarter/half a turn to index it and then do the same on the front adjuster. As with everything on a bike, small adjustments make big changes. If the problems persist and you can feel that your cables are old and sticky, they will need to be replaced.
Get your tyre pressures right
Regularly checking your tyres before and after a ride is a useful habit to get into. Tyres slowly leak air over time even if there isn’t a puncture, so if you haven’t ridden for a couple of days it’s important to always inflate your tyres to the correct pressure and check them for damage before you head off on your ride. How inflated your tyre is will affect the handling of your bike, the speed at which you travel and the comfort of your ride. The correct pressure is dependent on a lot of factors such as the conditions, road surface, tyre size and type of tyre but generally on a road bike you want to be staying between 80-100psi dependent on rider weight and then dropping by around 10psi when it is raining.
Check nuts and bolts
Your bike’s components are held together by nuts and bolts, so it is important to incorporate a check of these areas as part of your weekly once-over. You want the parts to be held together not too tightly but also not too loose. To correctly check these adjustments, use a torque wrench and a manufacturer’s manual to dial in the correct adjustment. Under-tightening will result in a noisy bike that has the risk of falling apart, while over-tightening could result in physical damage to the parts. A correctly adjusted bike is a quieter, safer bike.
Replace worn components
Stay on top of your bike’s maintenance by making sure you replace worn components. An issue with one component will quickly impact another component and before too long you find yourself in a spiral of wear and tear. For example, worn brake pads will damage the rims on your wheels, and a worn chain will wear your cassette and chain rings down much faster. Often the components that are damaged as a result of a worn brake pad or chain, will be more expensive to replace than the originally damaged component. Keep on top of this domino effect by replacing things like brake pads early.
Ride a bike you can afford to
You don’t need to be riding on one of the world’s most expensive bikes to get the most out of your ride. It is important to ride a bike that you enjoy using and that you can afford to replace the parts on. This way you can put limited funds into the parts of the bike that don’t need replacing, i.e. the frame, and use the excess as a sort of maintenance kitty. After all, what’s the point of a lush racing machine that you’re too frightened to ride in all but the most perfect conditions?
Get your bike serviced
There’s only so much that you can do at home and whilst it is important to learn the basics of home maintenance, it is equally important to get your bike checked over by a professional once in a while. Getting your bike in the shop for a service every season will dramatically increase the lifespan and performance of your ride. The bonus of this regular check-up is that you know everything will be dialled in and adjusted correctly by a trusted mechanic and – in the long term – you will spend less on seasonal maintenance.
Now that you know some of the most integral bike maintenance tips have you thought about bike insurance being part of the same discussion? At Pedalsure, we help to protect your bike against accidental damage and theft, now that’s what we call bike maintenance.