Look after your bike and reap the rewards
The Lead Out
One of the keys to keeping your trusty machine or machines in tip-top condition is regular preventive and corrective maintenance. Now if you are time poor, like me, maintenance is usually something done at the my local bike shop, by a mechanic with the right tools and skills, whilst I’m holiday. Basic stuff like lubing the chain and fixing punctures is about as far as I go. However, I know there are many riders out there that love fitting upgraded gig. If you are in that category, don’t bother reading on from this point.
There are simple checks that you can do that will help maintain your bike and ensure that your bike is good working order. The three minute check is probably something you are already doing sub-consciously.
The good thing about doing preventive maintenance and checking is that it might just save you money and time. I’ve recently started riding my old Giant Sedona mountain bike to work. I bought it in 1997 and its still going strong thanks to regular maintenance.
The 3- minute check
These are a good idea for a pre-race or ride check. I try to do these the evening before going on a early morning ride. I’ve forgotten how times I’ve had to pump up the tires or switch over dead lights at the last minute and thought ‘Gee, I wish I had done this last night.’
- Tyres should feel very firm to touch. The correct pressure is written on the sidewall of each tyre.
- Check the seat is at the correct height and the seat post is tightly inserted at least 5cm into the frame.
- Lift the handlebars, spin the front wheel, apply the brakes and check that the:
- Wheel is properly secured in the forks
- Quick release levers are secure
- Wheel rotates freely without rubbing on the brakes
- Gears and brakes operate smoothly and directly.
- Lift the seat, turn the pedals, spin the rear wheel, operate the gears and brakes, and apply the above four stage test again.
- If you are riding in light reduced conditions or bad weather, check your lights are charged and that your mud guards are secured tightly.
- Check that you have your pump and spare inner tube/puncture kit in good order.
- If you are riding a bike with suspension, check the ‘flex’ in front forks or rear frame for leaks or unexpected travel.
Weekly to Monthly maintenance
I’ve been doing this intermittently:
- Cleaning and lubricating the chain. If you are using an aerosol, make sure you don’t use it an area like carpet (nasty stains) or floor boards/vinyl (slippery surface). My wife is still grumpy with me from the last time I did this.
- Checking wheel spokes and eyelets for rust or damage
- Checking tyre pressures, particularly before take out a machine you haven’t ridden for a while.
- Checking tyres for wear, splits or perishing in the rubber.
- Check ingwheel bearings, chain, gear cluster, front cogs and head stem handlebars.
- If you own a bike with suspension this is good one to check regularly.
These are typically what I get my local mechanic to look at:
- The wheel bearings, chain, gear cluster (back chain wheels), chain rings (front cogs) and head stem (handlebars).
- Determine whether the chain needs replacing. Keep in mind that the chain and gear cluster tend y wear out evenly, so this may need replacing as well.