A Few Things to Keep You Rolling Longer
Maintaining your bike by yourself is one of the easiest ways to save money and it does not have to be complicated. Though there are endless hours of YouTube videos on any maintenance question you can imagine, you would be surprised how far you can get by just doing a few basic things. Here are four places to start working on your bike that will keep it running healthier for longer, and keep a few extra bucks in your pocket.
Keep It Clean
Dirt, salt and other grit can wear out parts. After wet rides, wipe down your bike with a wet cloth, diluted dish soap or a bike cleaner. You can hose off your bike, but be careful not to spray water into the hubs, headset or bottom bracket. Then dry your bike to prevent rust.
During the winter, clean your chain, chain-rings, cassette and derailleur once a week if you ride every day. Road salt can cause your drivetrain to rust if it’s not washed off. Wipe the parts clean with a rag and/or toothbrush soaked in bike cleaner, then rinse with water. For a deeper clean, use a specialized brush or a chain-cleaning tool, or remove the chain and soak it in a container of solvent. Cleaning your bike helps you see any problems that you might otherwise miss, such as loose bolts, a crack in the frame or rust.
Keep It Lubricated
After cleaning your bike, apply lubricant to the chain and any joints on your front and rear derailleurs. Turn the pedals while shifting through the gears to lubricate all of the moving parts of your drivetrain. Let the lubricant sit for a few minutes, then wipe away any excess lubricant that could attract dirt and grit.
It’s also good to remove and grease bolts, adjustment barrels, seat posts and other non-moving parts every few months to prevent them from seizing in place.
Maintain Your Stopping Power
Brake pads wear down over time and need to be replaced. If the brake pad wears away too much, you may end up destroying the rim, which can be expensive. Ensure that the surface of the brake pad and the rim are parallel and close to each other, but not touching (otherwise you should adjust the brake pads).
Inspect the brake cable, especially where it meets the brake caliper. If this section of cable is frayed, it should be replaced as it could fail while you are braking.
Check your tire pressure at least once a week before you ride. Tires lose air over time and need to be re-inflated. Keeping your tires pumped up helps prevent pinch flats. Check the recommended tire pressure printed on the side of the tire before inflating. Also inspect the condition of your tires. Tires wear out and may wear through completely, causing a flat. Making sure your tires are in good shape helps prevents flats or crashes from tires suddenly losing pressure.