The Essentials of Bike Maintenance - Pt. 1
- 10 Questions to Ask Your Mechanic -
by Liam Todd
One of the most important pieces to having a good time on your bike is keeping your bike happy and healthy. Many issues can be avoided with the proper routine maintenance. In the coming weeks, we will discuss the questions you shouldn't be afraid to ask your mechanic, as well as maintenance habits to keep your bike rolling smoothly.
- What is the first step in bike maintenance?
Wash it! A clean bike is a happy bike. You should be washing your bike about every 100 miles. This means weekly if you are riding regularly or monthly if you are only riding from time to time. Use degreaser on your chain and drivetrain and a gentle soap on everything else. WD-40 Bike Wash does an amazing job of cleaning your bike and is gentle enough to spray on your entire bike (except for the brakes). Scrub/wipe with clean brushes and rags when necessary. Rinse with low water pressure. Only use high pressure to get degreaser off of your chain and remember to aim so that you are not inadvertently blasting a part of your bike behind the chain (wheels and tires are ok but be sure to avoid the frame and all drivetrain components). Allow your bike to dry completely and re-lube the chain before riding again.
- What should I be doing to my bike before every ride?
The first step is the ABC Safety Check. All riders should perform a quick safety check before EVERY ride to help prevent inconveniences and injuries down the road.
A stands for air. Proper tire pressure is essential to performance, safety, and durability. Many flats are a result of incorrect tire pressure. A good starting point for your tire pressure is printed on the sidewall. Come by the shop for more individualized advice on the pressure you should be running. Most floor pumps have pressure gauges included to ensure you are pumping to your intended pressure. We recently started stocking Silca floor and hand pumps. Silca have been a leader in bicycle pump production for decades and we are thrilled to be able to offer them to you.
B stands for brakes. Brakes are the most important safety component on your bike and easily deserve a quick check before your ride. Pull your brakes to make sure that they engage. Lift one end of your bike, spin the wheel, and make sure your brake promptly stops it. Quickly inspect your brake pads to ensure they are free of debris and not past their wear limits, printed directly on the pads.
C stands for chain. Your chain is one of the hardest working components of your bike. Ensuring it remains clean and lubed is essential to the performance and durability of your drivetrain. You should clean and lube your chain about every week or 100 miles. We recommend using Prolink or T-9 chain lube. Swing by the shop and we would be happy to recommend the best lube for your riding style and current weather conditions. Remember to wipe off excess lube because it attracts extra grime and debris!
In addition to ABC, it’s always a good idea to quickly check that your wheels sit in the axles properly, any quick releases or axle bolts are properly tightened, and your wheels are true with tight spokes. Opening and closing quick releases, spinning the wheels and squeezing your spokes with your fingers will immediately reveal any drastic issues that could ruin the enjoyment or safety of a ride.
- What tools should I take on every ride?
A multi tool with a chain breaker will get you out of countless mid-ride mishaps. We have long trusted Lezyne for our multi tool needs. Silca also produces a very attractive Swiss-inspired multi tool. You should also always be prepared for a flat with a spare tube or patch kit and CO2 or a hand pump from Silca or Lezyne. These three simple supplies will get you out of most road/trail-side mechanicals. Also remember to bring enough water, nutritionals, and layers to keep your body healthy and prepared for the unexpected. Don’t be the guy or gal that goes on a ride unprepared!
Golden question: What should I do if I am uncomfortable or unsure of how to perform a task on my bike?
If you are unsure or uncomfortable with any bike maintenance, make sure to bring your bike to a professional mechanic for the job. It is much easier to address the original problem than to try to solve 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.
Stay tuned for Parts II & III in the coming weeks!
*Inspired by an article in Bicycling.