Bike Maintenance

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To get the best out of your bike and generally extend its life, it is important to make sure you keep it in tip-top condition.

Here are a few tips for some basic maintenance tasks that everyone, no matter how technically / mechanically inept they believe they are should be able to do.

TOP TIP

Wash your bike with a weak soap and water solution as soon as possible after a wet ride. Don't forget to put some lube on your chain and all pivot points before putting the bike away.

  • Brakes: Brakes operate best when clean and free from oil! They will also last a lot longer if kept free of dirt and grime so make sure you keep both the brake blocks / pads and the braking surface clean. Ensure they are aligned correctly and make contact with the centre of the braking surface (rim). In the case of conventional brakes i.e. not disc, they should never rub the tyre or be lower than the rim.
  • Cables: Keep cables running freely and smoothly. Ensuring smooth braking and gear shifting will improve your ride. You can either remove cables and lubricate them or just shoot a little lube into the ends of the cables.
  • Tyres: Keep them inflated at the correct pressure. Too soft and the side walls will split and crack, too hard and you are not only making the ride uncomfortable but will loose some grip. The correct pressure will help to reduce the likelihood of a puncture. Replace your tyres when they become overly worn: a common cause of frequent punctures is riding your bike with tyres that are worn out!
  • Fasteners: Tighten loose nuts, bolts and screws. Giving your bike a quick scrub provides the ideal opportunity to establish if bits are about to fall off. Another reason why the wash your bike advice is rated our top tip!

Finally try to stick to the maintenance intervals suggested in the attachment below.

In more detail...

Oiling your bike

When oiling pivot points it's a good idea to operate them e.g. if oiling the gear mechanism pivots, shift up and down through the gears a few times as you shoot oil into the pivot point. This will help the oil penetrate further into the joint.

There is no advantage to over-lubricating - especially on the chain, it will just end up being thrown all over your rear wheel! A little often is best.

To oil the levers, (brake or gear) operate them through their full range of movement while squirting a little oil into the spring / ratchet mechanism.

Tyre Pressure

Not sure what pressure is the correct one? Have a look on the side wall of the tyre, it will state the recommended pressures (usually given as a range e.g. 60 - 80psi). Inflate your tyres to a pressure within this range that suits your combined load and body weight i.e if you wieigh only 7 stone and will only have a small bag with you, you will not need to pump the tyres up to their maximum pressure. On the other hand, if you weigh 14 stone and will be carrying another 3 - 4 stone of luggage...

Tyre Wear

When is a tyre worn out? If the puncture protection belt or the carcass threads (the fibre "weave" ) can be seen through the tread, it's worn out and must be replaced. As the puncture resistance also depends on the thickness of the tread layer it may be useful to replace the tyre earlier. Frequent punctures are a good clue that it's time to buy some new rubber!

The sidewalls of tyres often fail before the tread is worn out. In most cases, this premature failure is due to prolonged use of the tyre with insufficient inflation pressure. Checking and adjusting the pressure at least once a month with a pressure gauge is most important.

Loose nuts and bolts

It's much more pleasant to tighten a loose screw / bolt at home in the dry then have something fall off on the side of the road in the pouring rain! If you discover a loose screw / bolt during one of your inspections (weekly or when washing the bike), you can prevent it working loose again by putting a drop of "thread lock" (or nail polish - colour of your choice!!) on the thread of the bolt or screw.

If using thread lock, put a drop on prior to doing the bolt up, in the case of nail polish you can dab this across the edge of the nut and any exposed thread. Avoid using superglue or similar as it makes it REALLY difficult to get the screw undone again when you need to!

Need More Information?

What - When?

Would you like to know when / how often each bit of your bike should be serviced or inspected? Have a look at our suggested service schedule at the bottom of the "Maintenance" page.

How?

If you want to know how to tackle a particular job, the best link we can suggest is the Sheldon Brown site. There is an amazing amount of reliable information on it.

For those that prefer to watch a demo of how to do a task, try bicycletutor.com

If you prefer something you can look at without having to fire up the computer, then give "The Haynes Bicycle Book: A Repair Manual for Maintaining and Repairing Your Bike" a try. Its clearly written and well illustrated and will cover most tasks you are likely to consider doing yourself.

It may also be worth trying a search for the manufacturers on line guidelines / data. To do this you will need to know the make and exact model of the component you want information on.

Please note: when getting information about repair or maintenance from the web, don't take everything at face value: even the best sites can sometimes give incomplete or incorrect information i.e. it is always worth checking the information across a number of sources.

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Last updated: 7 February 2012

Attachments

Bike Maintenance Intervals.pdf
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Bicycle-maintenance-made-ridiculously-easy.pdf
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