Everyone loves riding their bikes, but if you want to keep it rideable throughout the year, you’re going to have to take care of it. Taking your bicycle to a mechanic twice a year for them to upkeep it can be costly, and there’s honestly no reason to do that, as most repairs you might need to make can be done by you, not a professional.
In today’s article, we’ll be taking a look at the most important things you need to think about when caring for your bike, and we’ll be teaching you how to maintain your bike to keep it in perfect shape. Today, we’ll be talking about cleaning, lubrication, tire pressure, brakes, wheel bearings, and much more – so make sure to stick with us if you want to learn how to properly keep your bike in a good state.
Let’s get started!
How to Take Care of Your Bike
Cleaning Your Bicycle
It’s important to keep your bicycle clean, not just for aesthetic reasons, but for functionality as well. The easiest way to clean your bike is to wash it with water and a sponge. It’s best to make a mixture of water and dishwashing liquid for the very best results, and this is also inexpensive. You should use a brush to clean the cogs, and clean the chain with a brush and then apply a degreaser.
It’s also very important to take care of your tires, and the best way to do this is to take the wheels off and then remove the tires from the wheels. You should inspect them for wear and tear. No piece of equipment is immune to wear and tear, and you’ll eventually have to change your tires even if you haven’t damaged them in any obvious way. Make sure to wipe them with a cloth and remove debris such as small pebbles, mud, or anything else that might have gotten caught up in them.
A damp cloth with dishwashing liquid is good for wiping other parts of the tire.
Tire Pressure and Inflation.
You must keep your tires inflated to appropriate levels if you want to have an optimal riding experience. The lower the pressure in your tires, the less effective will you be. If you have optimal tire pressure, you won’t have to apply nearly as much force to move your bicycle.
Poorly inflated tires are also very prone to punctures, so if you want to make sure that you don’t have to change your tires every now and then, you should keep them well-inflated.
The best way to make sure your tire is properly inflated is to buy a standing track pump with a pressure gauge for the job. Hand pumps may come in handy, but they can’t inflate accurately and can’t measure the pressure in the tires. On each tire, you can find a number followed by the word PSI (unit of pressure). Follow that to know what’s pressure you should be aiming for.
Keeping Your Brakes Maintained
Brakes are absolutely essential with every vehicle, as they’re the only way for you to control your maneuvers. If your brakes aren’t working properly, you’ll often find yourself breaking with your foot which is ineffective, bad for your footwear, and it’s also dangerous as you could easily break your leg.
Brake pads wear off with time and you’re going to have to change them every few years, and if you can’t see the grooves anymore – that’s a clear sign that the pads have worn down and it’s time for a change. You don’t need to take your bicycle to the mechanic for this, but you will have to purchase the brakes. There are many guides online which can help you with replacing your braking pads, and you’ll see that it’s a really simple job.
It can also happen that the cables have loosened, and you should check them out as well as the braking pads. The braking clamp can also hang a little bit lose, and these are all things you’ll just need to tighten up if you find them loose.
Keeping Your Bike Properly Lubricated
It’s crucial to keep every vehicle lubricated, and that applies to your bicycle, as well. Lubricants protect the bicycle from corrosion, rust, and wear and tear. All of these things are completely normal for bicycles, so you shouldn’t be startled if you come upon them, but you can certainly slow the process of them down by lubricating your bicycle properly.
It’s important to lubricate all the metal parts, but don’t over-lubricate anything – too much lubricant attracts dirt particles since it’s sticky. You also don’t want to apply too little lubricant, as that’s going to wear off very quickly and you’ll only have to repeat the whole process again.
Always make sure to lubricate your chain, braking system, pedals, and derailleur assemblies.
There are many bike-specific lubricants at bike stores, and that’s what you want for the job.
Checking Your Wheels
You always want to make sure that your wheel isn’t wobbly. You usually won’t be able to notice that while you’re riding, unless your wheel is so wobbly that it’s inescapable. To check this, turn your bicycle upside down and spin the wheel. As it’s spinning, check if it’s straight or wobbly. If your wheel is wobbly, you won’t be able to fix it on your own.
The fix itself isn’t that complicated, but the equipment needed isn’t something you can buy at any hardware store, so it’s best to take it to a shop and let the professionals handle it.
It’s also important to upkeep your wheel bearings if you want to ride smoothly. To check this, you’ll need a bike stand. If you don’t have a bike stand, take your bike off the ground using makeshift stands. If the wheels are spinning smoothly then the bearings are okay. It can happen that the wheel is true, but the bearings need changing. In that case, it’s once again best to take it to a professional.
Upkeeping Your Chain
Your chain is the part of your bicycle that needs the most lubrication. Clean and lube it frequently to slow the rate of chain wear. You can use a simple rag with a degreaser on chains that haven’t built up too much grime, but you might have to buy a chain cleaning device for dirtier chains.
It’s important to get lubricant on every single link in the chain, otherwise, it won’t be able to do its job properly. Once the lube dries, make sure to wipe any excess lube off.
Make sure to scrub the surfaces of the front chain rings and the rear cassette with a brush and degreaser while turning the pedals. If you’ve built up a lot of dirt on those parts, make sure to wipe it away until it’s clean.
Fixing a Punctured Tire
This is an easy fix if you know what you’re doing.
There are two ways to do it – you can either patch up the existing tire, or you can replace the tire. The latter is usually the better out of the two options, as patching is rarely 100% effective and it’s bound to fall off sometime in the future. However, if you’re in a rush and can’t exactly get to the store to buy a new tire, you can patch the tire.
To patch the tire, you have to find the rupture first. Inflate the tire and put it in water (an actual pool or a large bucket). You’re going to see bubbles coming out from the punctured spot. That’s the spot you need to patch up. Take the tire out, dry it out and follow the instructions on the packaging of the patch. It’s usually quite simple, stick the patch on and heat it up with a hairdryer.
The other option is to replace the tire completely. For this, you’ll need to buy a tire of the same measurements. The measurements can be read on the tire itself so that you can take it to the shop with you. Replacing a punctured tire isn’t difficult, and there are many guides online that can walk you through it.
It’s important to maintain your bike on a regular basis and clean it, as well. If you come up against any major issues, it’s best to visit your bike shop as the professionals can handle everything.