The Essentials of Bike Maintenance - Pt. 3
- 10 Questions to Ask Your Mechanic -
by Liam Todd
In Part 1 of this 3-part series, we discussed how a clean bike is the precursor to all bicycle service and what we should all be doing to prepare for our rides. In Part 2, we went over some of the hardest working components of your bike: your tires and brakes. For the last installment of this 3-part series on bicycle maintenance, we offer some final advice on how to keep your bike running smoothly.
1. Where should I store my bike?
Do your best to store your bike in an indoors, dry, and secure environment. The elements or a thief looking for some quick cash can wreak havoc on your treasured bike. We understand that bikes are relatively large and awkward and many people struggle with available storage space, but being conscious of where you put your bike away between rides can keep it healthier for longer. In addition to location, it is best to keep your bike as vertical as possible using a rack or hook system. Over time, leaning your bike against the wall can strain your derailleur out of alignment. Feedback Sports make plenty of bike storage products, including the RAKK bike stand that we use all over the shop. If you truly have no option other than a damp garage or basement, put a piece of cardboard between tires and the ground to form a barrier against dry-rot.
2. What should I do if my bike is making unusual sounds?
Never ignore a rattle, squeak, or any other unusual noise your bike may make. An unusual sound means your bike is trying to tell you something. Ignoring the sound allows the problem to continue, or even become worse. A longstanding industry saying is that "a quiet bike is a fast bike." A properly built and running bike should make very little noise as you ride it. With experience, you will learn what sounds point to what issues; the important thing is to try to diagnose and address the problem. If you can't figure it out, Studio Velo's master mechanics are experts at solving all kinds of mysterious bike issues.
3. What is the proper technique for threaded components?
Use grease on everything threaded. This is a step many people can forget when they just want to throw a bike together and start cranking down bolts. Grease is your best friend and will make taking those bolts out a few years later a breeze instead of a grease-less impossibility. We trust and sell Phil Wood for our grease needs. Designed and manufactured in San Jose since 1971, they are one of the oldest American cycling component brands and revered around the globe. When in doubt, use some grease.
As great as grease is, remember not to overuse it. You only need enough for even coverage on the threads/surface. When you are done, wipe away any excess grease as it is a magnet for undesirable grit and grime.
When tightening anything, use a torque wrench to ensure that you are torquing bolts down to the manufacturer-recommended force. If the bolts aren't tight enough you risk the component slipping and causing a crash. If you over-tighten the bolts, you can break components, strip threads, or make something nearly impossible to remove. Torque wrenches eliminate anxiety over these issues because they help you ensure you bolts are correctly torqued.
- 4. Final tips
Remember to only use bicycle lube like T-9 or Prolink on your chain. Solvents, like WD-40, do the opposite of lubricating your chain. WD-40 does make a whole line of bike products, but the standard solvent shouldn't be anywhere near your bike.
Always keep your bike right-side-up when working on it. Turning it upside-down scuffs your saddle and hoods/grips, and makes it much easier to accidentally tweak a component. Find find a bike stand whenever possible.
Golden question: What should I do if I am uncomfortable or unsure of how to perform a task on my bike?
As always, if you are unsure or uncomfortable with any bike maintenance, bring your bike to a professional mechanic for the job. It is much easier to solve the original problem than to try to correct incorrect work. Studio Velo’s professional mechanics are experts at their craft and would love to help you get your bike back to optimal performance.
*Our service series was inspired by an article in Bicycling.