Bicycle Maintenance for the Clueless

If you don’t know what you’re doing when it comes to taking care of your bike, don’t worry. I was once like you and I am here to tell you that you do have the ability to change. You can learn how to keep your ride in really good shape even if you are non-mechanically inclined. Really! The easiest way is to spend some time in bike shops. You’ll get the best information out of people who build and sell bikes every single day. Plus, it is always better to have a human to talk to. But it can be hard to do that all the time, so there are a few things you need to know just for yourself.

Before every ride, keep the ABCs in mind: “A” stands for air. Make sure your tires are inflated properly. If you don’t know what the correct pressure is, it should be written on the sidewall of each tire. Check for cracking or holes, then tighten the valve caps. Also be sure that your patch kit and pump are with you and in working condition. “B” means brakes. Test the front and back breaks to make sure that they are working properly. You really don’t want to find that there is a problem when you actually need them to work.  “C” is the chain. Check it and all the gears. Make sure it is lubricated and clean.

Depending on how often you ride, you’re going to want to check the nuts and bolts to make sure they’re tight enough. Most things, you’re trying to tighten as much as you can, but that can be bad for bikes. Look in your owner’s manual to see your torque specs. Being too tight can be just as bad as being too loose. Buy a torque wrench or bring it to a bike shop to be sure you’re doing it right.

If you’ve been riding in inclement weather or on a muddy or dusty trail, you obviously want to clean your bike. There are special cleaners made specifically for bikes, or you can use dishwashing liquid diluted by water to clean off the frame. Small brushes, like an old toothbrush, are great at getting in all the tiny places dirt and crud can accumulate. If your chain is really gross, they do make chain cleaning devices. Otherwise some degreaser and a rag should be able to handle it.

Even if you didn’t get the bike really dirty, regularly wiping it down with a damp cloth is a good idea. Lubricants attract dirt, which can make the gears and chain a real mess. Make sure you keep your bike’s moving parts lubricated but wipe off any excess before you hop on. If you’re going to rinse it with water, be very careful. Don’t use a high-pressure hose and be sure to dry everything well to avoid rust and corrosion.

By following these basic tips and taking good care of your ride, it should last you a long time. I hope this post helped and you feel more confident in handling some routine maintenance tasks!