10 Tips for Bike Maintenance

Keeping your bike well-maintained not only gives you reliable and smoother rides, but also enhances the life of your bike for years to come.

Here are the top 10 tips that will help you maintain your bike:

  1. Bike Wash
  2. Lubrication
  3. Alignment
  4. Derailleur maintenance
  5. Handlebar
  6. Proper Tires Tread
  7. Proper Tire Pressure
  8. Pedals maintenance
  9. Saddle alignment
  10. Brakes maintenance

Let’s explore each of these for better understanding.

1. Bike Wash

As with everything else, the use of a bike in various weather condition can get it dirty with dust, mud, or water splashes, a good wash always does the magic to keep it clean and last long. One should always give a good wash after a heavy ride on the trails or long road biking. Always try to avoid heavy cleaners, rather use soapy water and sponge to rub the frame and tires followed by a good rinse. Make sure not to pressure wash as the water can get into the crank system and cause rust over time. A gentle sprinkle is enough to clean off the soap, giving it a nice clean look.

It is recommended after the wash to have a moisture absorbing cloth to dry out the bike so water marks are not left on the frame. Sometimes the tires take a bit extra work to get the dirt out but trust me it’s all worth the time. I usually use a tire spray after cleaning them, that gives the tires that shinny new look.

While the bike wash is very simple, the tricky part is to have it placed correctly. A good quality bike wash stand is highly recommended to have, as it keeps the crank free and you can paddle and rotate the tires as you wash to give you access to the entire chain and hidden parts. If you don’t have a stand, you can lean the bike against the wall but requires a bit extra effort to turn the sides as you clean.

Items needed for wash are: soap, water, sponge, bike stand, drying cloth.

2. Lubrication

Lubrication is an important part of bike maintenance, that keeps the rust away. The main part is the chain to keep it lubricated. You can use special bike chain lubricators or if you don’t have one, a little spray of WD-40 does the job as well. Keep in mind, not to overspray as it can attract excess dirt and sometimes ruin your clothes inadvertently. You can also lightly spray the paddles for smooth flow.

3. Alignment

Alignment of your handlebar and wheels is very important and can make or break your ride experience. Always make sure the handlebar and wheels are aligned. You’ll need to have a generic wrench for the handlebar and wheel wrench for the wheels that helps you get alignment by rotation of the spokes.

4. Derailleur

You’ll find derailleur is one of the most critical components of a bike that helps you shift your gears smoothly. Due to its attachment at the back wheel and lower location in the bike, it attracts a lot of dirt as you ride, and most often, you’ll find it turn into a thick paste of gunk that needs to be cleaned off to maintain this part. I’d recommend the use of WD40 to loosen up the dirt, a small brush to clean up and some paper towel to clean off excess oil from it. Make sure you give it a good rotation as you clean this part while the bike is on the bike-stand.

5. Handlebar

Handlebar usually doesn’t need much of a car as long as you don’t bump or crash your bike, it is one of the sturdy parts of the bike. However, the area under the grips can be maintained by cleaning it off. Sometimes it’s very hard to take the grips off, but a quick trick to that is to have a thin Ellen-key placed into it and pour a small quantity of rubbing alcohol to slide inside. Give it gentle rotation and increase rotation slowly. This will loosen up the grip and can be taken out. You can wash the grips with soapy water to clean them off and wipe off the handlebar area that comes in contact with the grips. To slide the grips back on the handlebar, use the same technique by applying the rubbing alcohol inside the grip and slide them back giving it a gentle rotation.

6. Tires Tread

If your tires start to give you a flat look, it’s time to change them as the tread that keeps the tires from getting poked is worn out, and that leaves you prone to get a puncture at any time and trust me that is no fun to happen in the middle of your ride.

7. Tire Pressure

Always maintain a good tire pressure between 80 to 130 psi for road bikes, 25 to 35 psi for mountain bikes and 40 to 70 for hybrid bikes.

Low pressure in tires can really tire you off by making extra effort to balance the excess friction caused by deflated tires, while excess pressure in tires can give you a very hard and bumpy ride experience that’s not very enjoyable. Keep a good tire pressure, and that will reward you with an optimum ride experience. I’d also highly recommend keeping a handy pump in your bike toolbox, in case you experience loss of tire pressure during your ride, a hand pump can really get you going.

8. Pedals

Pedals are one of the low maintenance parts of the bike, however should be kept clean from debris to give you good foot-to-paddle contact and avoid any slipping experience.

9. Saddle Alignment

One of the most critical parts of the bike, that can impact your ride directly in a good and bad manner. Saddle screws are notorious for coming loose during your rights if they are not tightly secured.

Always make sure your saddle is correctly aligned and most importantly nicely secured with screws tightened up, they do need to be a bit extra snugged, think of your shoelaces if you know what I mean.

10. Brakes

Brakes maintenance takes the cup. Keeping your brakes well maintained is the most important part of bike maintenance. Always make sure you keep the aligned i.e. they shouldn’t be touching the tire frame when not applied, but as they are applied should hold a good grip on the frame to make it come to a complete stop immediately. Adjust them can be tricky at times, but take your time to loosen the screw while adjusting it, and when adjusted, slowly tighten up the screw so they don’t move during the process to be losing their position and you should be good to go. Also make sure the brake shoe is not worn out, if it is, then it’s time to replace them. Invest in good quality brake shoes.

These tips surely will prolong your bike’s life and offer a ton of fun as you ride it.