Learning how to maintain a bike is a skill like any other. If you’re going to take cycle training seriously, you should think about learning how to do your bike maintenance yourself. There are lots of different ways of learning these skills – trial and error, reading manuals, watching online tutorials or being taught by someone who knows what they’re doing.
Here are five important tips for bike maintenance we think everyone should be able to do.
- The drivetrain
- How to clean your drivetrain and sprockets
- Keep tyres inflated
- Maintain your nuts and bolts
- Adjust your brakes
- Be able to fix a tube that is flat
Make sure you keep the drivetrain lubricated and clean if you want to save yourself lots of money.
If you don’t keep your chain and sprockets clean and oiled then you will begin to hear unpleasant sounds of metal on metal, which will certainly shorten the life of your chain and sprockets. These are not cheap to replace so you can potentially save yourself lots of money by keeping these parts clean and lubricated.
For this, you will need bike oil, disposable rags, a degreaser and some tools like a flat-head screwdriver or an old toothbrush for removing gunk. You should aim to remove all possible dirt from the wheels, chains and sprockets then, when they’re all clean, move the cranks in a backwards direction and apply bike oil to each chain link. If you do this frequently, it will take you less time.
An important thing you need to think about bike maintenance is keeping up your bike’s tyre pressure. With the pressure that is too low, you will have to work more to maintain your speed. Also, you are much more likely to get a flat tyre when your tyre pressure is low, especially if you hit a curb too hard.
You should try to get a quality floor pump that has a pressure gauge to help you with this. The tyre pressure is usually written on the side of the tyre and the rear tyre will need a higher pressure since it bears more of the weight of the rider than the front tyre. You should check your tyre pressure once every two weeks at least.
If you know that you’re not going to be riding for a while – a few months to a year or too even – it’s important to try to keep your tyres inflated during the break. If you can’t do this, remove the tyres completely so that you help to prevent cracks appearing on the sides of your tyres.
You should check all of the nuts, bolts and screws in your bike regularly to see if they have loosened over time. It is so annoying to lose mudguard screws for example as you will end up listening to banging and rattling for the rest of your journey. Some newer bikes have their torque maximum written on them. You can also buy tools that only apply a certain torque amount. When buying a new bike, see if the bike shop will give you some spare bolts and nuts. They’re dirt cheap so you might even get them for free.
You should make sure your brakes are correctly adjusted and you need to check your brake pads for wear and tear too. They should be changed when they are worn.
Brakes should never be underestimated, especially if you like driving fast. If almost nothing is happening when you pull your brake lever until it comes close to the handlebars then you need to make adjustments so that the brake pads are very closer to the disc or the rim.
You can adjust this in the brake arm end or the brake level by tightening the adjusting barrel. When you tighten it, the screw will move the brake pads closer to the disc (or the rim).
You also need to make sure the braking surface and the pads are free from oil and dirt. If pads are dirty, they will wear out quickly and so will the braking surfacing.
There are loads of good videos on YouTube showing you how to fix a flat tube.
If getting a flat tube becomes a problem frequently, you should check your tyre as well as the inside rim for anything sharp, including protruding strokes.
You should make sure you know how to remove a tyre from your rim and you should also learn how to put it back. This isn’t easy at first and you will need to preserve.
If you’re in a rush, why not just ask a local bike repair shop to do it for you!