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Six essential bike maintenance tips to keep your bike on the road

18 April 2016

Six essential bike maintenance tips to keep your bike on the road

You’ve spent a lot of money on your bike. Probably more than you should. It’s reliable and, apart from the occasional puncture, it’s been good to you.

It can be even better, though, so check out this funky infographic for some tips for the rider who wants to enjoy that top-level performance from their bike that only TLC and regular maintenance will achieve.

Bike Maintenance Infographic

1) Keep it clean…

You can’t fix what you can’t see. Faults and poor adjustment are more visible when the bike is clean. Soap and water is good; a proper degreaser is…well…better.

2) …and oiled

It’s not just the chain we’re talking about, though a chain that hasn’t been lubricated makes the rider work that much harder and is in greater danger of snapping under a heavy load (like when you’re halfway through a steep uphill).

A derailleur will not perform well for long unless it’s properly lubricated. And while you’re doing that, just make sure that it hasn’t been bent inwards – that’s one of the most common problems bikes suffer from and it happens when the bike is dropped or falls, derailleurs side down, onto the ground.

3) How are the brakes?

If they’re squealing, they do not need oil. That will only make matters worse. Chances are, the rims and / or the brake pads are contaminated. Clean both with some rubbing alcohol on a cloth; if that doesn’t work, rough up the brake pad faces with coarse sandpaper. Then adjust the levers and cables to make sure you have maximum stopping power.

If you’re not sure how to do that, type adjust bicycle brake cables into YouTube and take your choice of videos that will show you the secret step-by-step.

4) Keep the tyre pressures correct

Knowing the right pressure for your tyres isn’t difficult because the manufacturers have put it on the side of the tyre. Check it every week and keep your tyre pressure always between the minimum and maximum figures, because under-inflated tyres make cycling harder and get more punctures, while over-inflation can cause a burst. Neither is great when you’re cycling to work, or half way up a mountain in Mallorca.

5) Suspension forks and/or Rohloff SpeedHubs

If you have either of these, don’t neglect them. The forks need to be kept clean and at the right pressure and the SpeedHubs must be lubricated occasionally. It may be best to pay an expert to do both of these things, but if you want to take it on yourself and have never done it before then – once again –YouTube is your friend.

6) The chain

Chains can become stretched and slack. To check yours, lift a rivet at the front of the chain ring. It shouldn’t budge. At all. If it does, take a close look. Is it so worn that you need to replace it? Or will tightening do the trick? If so, you may be able to do all that is needed by moving the rear wheel back a little in the dropouts; otherwise, there’s a tensioning screw on the derailleur that can be adjusted. The manual that came with your bike should make clear how to do this.

Keeping a watchful eye on these six essential bike maintenance tips will give you a happy and healthy cycling experience for years to come.

Happy riding!
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