If you are new to cycling, welcome, for you’ve chosen a pastime that is both rewarding and healthy. A bicycle, whether it’s a road bike, mountain or hybrid bike, is a relatively simple machine to look after, so to help you on your way, we’ve put together some basic tips that should help you keep yours well-maintained and serviceable.
Before we get into the proper regular maintenance routine, let’s start with a few things you should do before every ride – you’d be surprised at what even the most experienced riders overlook!
Check Before You Ride
Remember, your bicycle is a vehicle that you are going to ride on the roads, among other vehicles, so you need it to be safe and fit for the purpose. Here’s our checklist of things to do before each ride:
- Check your tyres – look for cuts or wear, and check the pressure on your tyres before you ride. This is an easy one to overlook, so make it first on your list.
- Check the quick releases – even the experts have been known to ride away with a loose wheel, so have a quick check front and back to make sure you’re safe to go, as the upshot can be dangerous.
- Check brakes – this is another important check; your brakes are the main safety feature of your bike, so you need to be sure they are operating to their full capability. Pull both levers, one after the other, to make sure they are working, and lift each end and gently spin the wheel with the brakes off – the rim should not touch the brake pads.
- Check lights – if you are riding in the dark, make sure your lights are working.
You may think that you don’t need to do all of the above before every ride, but let’s face it, it will take you just a few extra minutes, and it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Now, let’s talk about regular routine maintenance on a longer-term basis.
Every 2 Weeks
If you ride regularly, you will need to perform some simple maintenance routines on a regular basis. Just as you would check the oil, water and tyre pressures in your car regularly, so you should for the basic systems on your bike. It is recommended that you do the following every 2 weeks, or every 200 miles if that comes sooner:
- Clean and check the chain; if your chain is sounding noisy, it may be dirty or dry. You If you ride in wet conditions it will lose its oil quickly. Check and lube your chain every 2 weeks.
- Inspect your brake pads; regular long-distance rides and the morning commute can lead to your brake pads wearing more quickly than you might envisage. As your brakes are your main safety feature, you need to keep them in good shape, so check and replace them if you see that any of the natural grooves are worn away, just like a car tyre that is losing its tread. They are not expensive, and it is wise to have a spare set handy.
- Take the wheels off and check the frame; clean away any dirt, check for damage to both frame and wheels, and if all is well, put them back.
To be absolutely honest, that is pretty much it when it comes to basic bike maintenance, although you may want to keep an eye on your gear hubs and check that all your cables are taught and not fraying.
That’s the beauty of a bicycle; it’s easy to maintain cheap to run and keeps you fit – so what are you waiting for, join the cycling masses now and enjoy the best way to get around.