The basics of bike maintenance include pre-ride inspection, cleaning, and lubrication of key components.
We encourage riders to regularly maintain their bicycles to ensure a safe and enjoyable ride. Annual tune-ups ensure that complex components—such as spokes, bearing surfaces, derailleurs, and cables—are inspected and serviced.
The ABCs of Inspecting your Bike
It makes sense to routinely check your bike prior to each ride. This helps identify problems early and ensures that components are in good working order. Here’s what you should check:
A is for Air: Properly inflated tires prevent flats. Check the sidewall of your tire for the recommended tire pressure. While you’re checking the air, take the opportunity to ensure your quick-release levers and through axles (if you have them) are properly tightened as well.
B is for Brakes and Bolts: Squeeze your front and rear brake levers to make sure that the brakes engage properly and smoothly. Bicycles are held together by dozens of nuts and bolts. Check to be sure these components are tight. Loose or improperly tightened bike parts can lead to wear and tear. When tightening bike bolts, consult your owner’s manual for proper torque specs. Over-tightening can lead to component damage or failure.
C is for Chain: Look at your chain and all the gears. Keeping your chain lubricated and clean will ensure your bike shifts well and lengthens the life of your drivetrain, which includes the front chain rings, rear cassette, rear derailleur, and chain.
Cleaning and Lubricating Your Bike
To increase your bike’s longevity, cleaning monthly, weekly, or sometimes more frequently is beneficial depending on your type of riding. If you spend a lot of time riding in wet, muddy conditions, clean your bike more frequently.
Keeping your bike clean and lubricated is crucial for good performance. Lubrication protects moving parts from excessive wear caused by friction, and helps prevent rust and corrosion. However, over-lubricating can lead to component damage. Wipe away excess lube before riding.
Supplies You’ll Need
Clean rags: Keep plenty of these on hand for grease, oil, and wax-related tasks and for general cleaning and drying. Cut-up old t-shirts do the trick.
Brushes: Have several sizes and shapes to remove grime from hard-to-reach places. Old toothbrushes are perfect.
Water: Rinsing your bike is important but high water pressure can cause damage to many components.
Soap / general cleaner: Use diluted dishwashing soap or specific bike wash for the frame.
Degreaser: Use bike-specific degreaser to clean your bike chain. SimpleGreen does the trick.
Chain lubricant: Properly lubricating your chain extends the life of your drivetrain. Always apply bicycle-specific lube to a clean chain. There are two types of lube:
- Wet lube is best to use when you ride in wet conditions.
- Dry lube is better for dry environments. Dirt and grit stick less to dry lube, but it rinses off easily, so you’ll need to apply it more frequently.
Bike stand: This is a luxury but it does allow you to work comfortably and efficiently on your bike. If you don’t have a bike stand, you can always flip your bike upside down on the ground to do basic maintenance. For more help with maintenance, take a trip to one of our member bike shops.