The more you know about the way your bicycle works, the more confident you’ll be. And the more confident you are, the more you’ll ride. Proper bike maintenance can prevent you from having bicycle repair bills later, as well.
That said, we all have to start somewhere. If you’ve never worked on a bicycle before, here are three simple things you can do to keep your machine happy.
Wipe off your bike
All you need is a rag, maybe some bike wash. But don’t get carried away. For example, full-force spray from a garden hose can wash out bearing grease. Not a good thing. While you’re cleaning your bike, check for potential problems, including loose bearings and rusty or frayed cables.
Here’s a pro tip: If you do need bicycle repair, maintenance, new parts or accessories, winter is a great time to bring it into the shop. You’re a lot closer to the front of the line.
Air your tires before you ride
Bike tires can lose up to a pound of pressure a day. If it’s been a while since your last ride, air them up before you head out to avoid pinch flats. I check the tires on my road bike before every ride. And I check them two ways: first, for the proper air pressure, and second, for any cracks, cuts or tread wear. The best time to replace a tire is before normal wear and tear makes it unsafe.
When it comes time to replace your tires, tell us about your riding. We can suggest tires with the right width, casing and tread pattern to support the kind of riding you’re doing today.
Oil the chain
Bicycle chains are lubed at the factory. New bikes are ready to go as soon as they’re assembled. But then the chains meet the real world, filled with dirt, grit, rain and snow. So it makes sense to clean and oil the chain. You’re fighting friction and the wear it can cause.
There are different schools of maintenance when it comes to taking care of the chain, but for now, we’ll keep it simple:
1) Wipe the chain off with a rag.
2) Apply the chain lube of your choice, one drop to each link. (It doesn’t take much.)
3) Wipe the chain off with a clean rag.
4) Go for a ride. If the surface of the chain looks oily, go ahead and wipe off the excess lube. You only need it on the inside, unseen parts of the chain.
Drip lubrication and follow up with a rag is important. If you spray the chain indiscriminately, you’ll put lube where you don’t need it: on braking surfaces. This is a huge problem with disc brakes: you can clean the rotors with rubbing alcohol, but once oil hits the brake shoes, they have to be replaced.
Take care of your bike on a day to day basis. Then, come to Bushwhacker for bicycle repairs from our expert staff when you need them.