Folks, proper routine bike maintenance is important. Here are nine tips and a video to help you with performing safety checks and keeping your bicycle in good condition.
1. Keep it clean. Want to prolong the life of your bike? Clean it! All you need is a bike repair stand, some soapy water, rags and a soft brush. Oil and grit can be tough to remove from your chain and gear sprockets, but a decent degreaser will help break down this gunky build up. No time post-ride? Use a baby wipe for a quick clean up job.
2. Inflate tires properly. Poorly inflated tires are prone to issues like flats or punctures. Get a good floor pump with a pressure gauge to do the inflation job. Do you know what all those numbers on your tire are for? Check your tires before every ride.
STOP! Let's talk about brakes. Their job is important, so you need to be sure they are up for the task of stopping the momentum of your bike (and YOU) in any situation.
3. Squeaky brakes? Noisy brakes are often dirty brakes, or at least dirty wheel rims. Clean and dry both properly and most of the time, problem solved. If that doesn’t work, they might need adjusting. See Vilano Bikes' knowledgebase for help.
4. Check your brake pads. Worn brake pads mean they should be tossed. If you can hardly see the grooves any more, they're worn. Fitting new brake pads is a cheap and easy fix. All you need is a set of Allen wrenches and a little patience.
5. Tighten and adjust (caliper) brakes. If your brakes seem "sluggish", meaning if you squeeze the brake lever and it moves more than halfway towards the handlebars – they should be tightened. Just twist the barrel adjuster by the brake lever for a quick fix. If that does not work, grab the Allen wrenches and open the brake nut to free the brake cable, pull it taut and close the nut again.
6. Lube it up! Grab some bike lubricant and use sparingly on any parts of your bike where metal touches metal. Be sure to clean it well before lubing, or lubing will be a waste of time.
7. Check your wheels to see if they are “true”. Turn your bike upside down and spin your wheels. Do they wobble from side to side? If so, they need “truing”. This is a quick fix, but not one for an amateur, as you need special equipment. Your local bike shop will do this for a small fee.
8. Adjust your saddle for the best fit. If you find you are sore after a ride, try experimenting with your saddle. You can raise or tilt it to suit your riding style. If your saddle is too low, it may cause your knees to become sore. Keep in mind your legs should be nearly straight on the downwards revolution as you pedal.
9. Go see a pro. Once a year may be fine, especially if you keep up with routine maintenance yourself. However it is a good idea to periodically have a professional bike mechanic look at your bike.
Take care of your bike, and it'll take care of you.
Check out this routine bike maintenance video from Vilano Bikes: