Maintenance 101 ↑

Pre-ride  30 – second check of:

-          Brakes gripping properly. Your brake pads should grip the rims, not the tyre, when you apply the brakes.  The latter can lead to an unexpected somersault over the handlebars.

-          Gears shifting correctly. Run your chain through the range of gears at the front and rear. This can avoid a situation where you are stuck in traffic in the wrong gear, or, even worse, stand on the pedals and have the chain slip,

-          Wheels tight in their dropouts. Lift the front and back of the bike, in turn, and thump the tyre, hard, in a downward direction. This will ensure your quick releases / nuts are doing their job, and you don’t end up trying to learn a unicycle on the fly, as it were 🙂

-          Tyre pressure. Your tyres are the single biggest aid to ride comfort and ride speed. Having your tyres sufficiently inflated is also the best thing you can do to avoid snakebite punctures. These flats are caused by under-inflated tyres hitting the edge of a pothole, and the tube getting pinched between the rim and edge of the pothole or rock. This often causes two  small punctures in the tyre, rather like a snakebite  http://sheldonbrown.com/flats.html

-          Handlebar and seat post firmly secured.


 

Maintenance 102 ↑

Chain maintenance

Your chain is probably the most vulnerable component on your bike. Remember, it’s exposed to road grit, rain, and the pressures imposed by your unique riding style. The chain does stretch over time. A  worn-out chain is the root cause for wear on your crank and cassette, so replacing your chain in time is proof of the old adage that a stitch in time saves nine. For more information on how chains wear out, check http://www.sheldonbrown.com/chains.html

Honestly, the best possible way to care for your chain is to take it off the bike, then degrease, hang dry, and lube it. http://sheldonbrown.com/chainclean.html

Since that’s a huge amount of work for the normal person, here’s what we suggest:

-          Check your chain every couple of rides. The degree of attention a chain needs will vary depend on the conditions. For example, an MTB ridden on trails will need more cleaning than a road bike ridden on tarmac.

-          What to watch out for: squeaks and rattles (a dry chain), a gritty feel when you touch the chain  (over-lubricated and attracting dirt), slow gear changes ( could mean that the chain has stretched)

-          To clean and lube your chain, (even the whole bike) do this http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/article/workshop-how-to-clean-and-lube-your-bike-18259/

-          Remember, the cleaner you keep your chain, cranks, and cassette, the smoother your ride and the longer these critical (and expensive!) components will last


 

How not to clean  your bike ↑

–         Use running water and a gentle detergent. Do not pressure-wash the bike because water under pressure can get into your components, wash out lubricant, and cause rust.

 


Inflating your tyres ↑

Correct inflation is important for a variety of reasons:

-          It prevents pinch flats http://sheldonbrown.com/flats.html

-          Properly inflated tyres help you glide on your ride. Most tyres tend to be under-inflated, which increases rolling resistance, making you slower than you would be.

-          It keeps rubble and gravel out of the tyre tread. These could otherwise work their way into the tyre casing  and eventually cause a puncture.

Check the type of valve on your bicycle . There are basically three types:

Presta : http://sheldonbrown.com/gloss_p.html#presta

Schraeder : http://sheldonbrown.com/gloss_sa-o.html#schraeder

Woods / Dunlop: http://sheldonbrown.com/gloss_w.html#woods

Many pumps available today are usable across all types of valves.

Inflate your tyres to a pressure appropriate to their size. The maximum and minimum inflation will be inscribed on the sidewall, but use this only for indicative purposes. For a better idea of the pressures appropriate to your tyres,  http://sheldonbrown.com/tires.html#pressure. For a more detailed tyre / rider weight / inflation matrix, click here http://www.bikequarterly.com/images/TireDrop.pdf

Top tip: Check your tyre pressure after every ride on a road bike, and every 4-5 days on an MTB.


Brakes (here, we are talking only about rim brakes, which are the most common) ↑

The only thing more important than cycling fast and fluently is stopping painlessly:) .  Your brakes are crucial, if you don’t want to perform Fred Flintstone style braking maneuvers http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vqp2AqsNRBM

Things to check for:

-          Your brake pads should NOT be completely bald. This will cause irreparable damage to your wheel rims.

-          If your brakes are squealing, or not doing a good job of stopping, the brake pads and rims might just need to be cleaned. Here’s how: http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/article/workshop-step-by-step-guide-to-quiet-rim-braking-22677/

-          If your brakes are clean, and the problem lies in adjusting the brake pads, here’s  how to adjust V – Brakes, which are the most commonly found type of brake on your MTB or hybrid: http://www.videojug.com/film/how-to-adjust-bike-brakes

-          If your brake pads are showing the metal backing, it’s high time you got a new set. Here’s how to replace our old shoes: http://www.videojug.com/film/how-to-replace-brake-blocks

 

Top tip: Remember to clean your wheel rims regularly. This will boost your braking performance.


Removing and re-installing your wheels ↑

Removing your front wheel is simple, and most people get it after having done it a few times. The rear wheel looks more intimidating initially, but it really isn’t. Watch this to see how it’s done:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afANo-IGBt4&feature=fvwrel

 

Getting your bike to shift more smoothly

The most common cause of poor shifting is accumulated dirt in your derailleur cable housings. Remember, the wheels throw up dirt, a lot of which gets into cable housings and impairs movement. So, if your bike used to shift gears smoothly, but is now sluggish, watch this for an easy, step-by-step, toolless guide to lubing your cables, thus smoothening out your gear shifts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2q1iecATY1o