There is no better feeling than cycling through nature on a pleasant day; and no worse feeling than having that cut short by a bike malfunction. You can’t always predict these things, but you can help prevent them by maintaining your bike properly. The following five tips will help you do just that, so you can focus on the ride instead of repair:
1. Lube the chain and other areas
Check the chain before every ride and apply lube frequently, because dust and dirt can clog it up and cause things to run less-than-smoothly. The best option is toapply a wax based lube, because this is not as messy to distribute and will not cause clumps of dirt to form as easily.
Other areas that require lube include spots like the pivots, seat-post, and bottom bracket. The squeaking noises otherwise emitted are mostly just an annoyance, but it is worth lubricating these spots to ensure that small misalignments do not escalate or cause larger problems.
2. Check tyres and tyre pressure
This needs doing before every ride, as it is an absolute necessity if you want to avoid breakdowns. You must check and add the correct amount of inflation, which depends entirely on the terrain and the type of ride you will be doing. When it comes to the process of checking tyres and tyre pressure, a full guide can be found here; and remember that getting it wrong can make for a very unpleasant and/or exhausting ride, or even punctures and flats.
Whilst you are checking tyre pressure, be sure to run your hands and eyes over the rubber of the tyre and make sure there are no cracks, rot or bald patches. Worn out tyres can cause significant handling problems, and they can even come away from the rim or tear if you are really unlucky.
3. Adjust brakes
Check the brakes for performance, excessive wear, and fraying or cracking cables. Any problems in this department can cause significant issues, which can be irritating at best, and dangerous at worst. Replacement bike parts can be easily sourced, so adjustments should be made urgently.
4. Check cassette teeth and chain ring
You need to look for worn or bent teeth on the cassette and chain ring. These components grind into each other over time, which causes problems with overall cohesiveness if left defective. A warped cassette and chain ring can bend and destroy mechanisms elsewhere so get them fixed.
5. Adjust derailleur and gears
These cables may need adjusting fairly frequently, especially with newer bikes, as they stretch over time. Most adjustments can be made using the barrel adjusters, whereby you tighten and test them slowly but bear in mind the limit screws must be set correctly. See your manual for a full guide.
This is a very concise list focusing on only five key areas – lube, tyres, brakes, chain, gears – but it should provide you with a starting check-listto help you prepare before every cycle. Remember, just a few minutes of maintenance will help you avoid cycling mishaps, and will allow you to solely focus on just enjoying the ride.
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