Just like a car, your bike needs to be regularly taken to the shop and put through the wash. The more the bike is shown the love and care it deserves, the better your performance will get when you hit the trail.
It’s worth mentioning that bikes are a crazy expensive investment nowadays. So, the better you care for them, the longer they’ll last.
Bicycles are complicated machines that have a lot of moving parts. It’s good practice to bring your bike to your local bike mechanic at least twice a year to get an inspection done if you are riding regularly. At home, you can get the basic bike cleaning and bike maintenance completed before riding.
We’ll start with the basic bike tips, but keep in mind, many issues will need to be looked at by a professional.
Pre-Ride Bike Inspection
Superficial scratches and minor dings can sometimes end up being more than you expect. It’s important to know where your bike is damaged and be able to diagnose the little issues before you head out on a ride. This can prevent any major injuries from happening that were easily avoidable.
Air, Brakes, Chains
Start by checking your ABCs: Air pressure, Brakes, and Chains.
For air pressure, you want your tires to be inflated to the standard, which you can find printed onto the tire itself. There are cheap air gauges that can quickly check before getting on the bike. Improper air pressure can lead to flats along the way.
Next up, check out your brakes. The last thing you want is to discover that your brakes aren’t working properly while speeding downhill. Take your bike for a quick test ride around at home, rather than waiting to get on the trail. If you’re having difficulties with your brakes, try pumping them, and it may get rid of whatever small air bubble there may be. If not, flip your bike upside down, and if that doesn’t do it, have your brakes bled.
To cap off our ABCs, move your attention to the chain. Here, you’re looking for proper lubrication and cleanliness. Proper lubrication means everything will shift the ways it’s meant to shift, and then the entire drivetrain will also last longer. If you haven’t cleaned your chain since the last playing around in the mud, get it spick and span before going back out.
Check the Fit
If it’s been a long time since you’ve been on your bike, check the fit. Your seat post may have sunk, or you may have grown. Remember, getting your bike in working order before riding will make the ride much more enjoyable. It’s worth the five minutes to check it all over before the ride.
General bike maintenance consists of two main things. That is, checking that everything is where it should be and making sure you aren’t letting dirt and grime build-up.
Nuts and Bolts
Trail riding, and even road riding, can make for a bumpy time. Nuts and bolts can slowly wiggle their way loose over time, and that’s a problem that needs to be addressed immediately.
Tighten everything down to the specs that you find in your bike’s manual or online. Make sure you check your skewers or thru-axles (the part that holds the wheel on). It can be easy to forget to fully tighten these after taking the wheel off to transport your bike.
Generally, bike riding is best when both wheels stay on.
A clean bike is the best way to improve your performance without riding more. Intricate parts tend to work better when they aren’t filled with dirt and mud from last week’s ride. Keeping the bike clean and lubricated is essential to getting everything you want out of your bike.
Bike cleaning and basic bike maintenance come down to a simple design, with very simple tools. A repair kit needs rags, brushes, soap, water, and lubricant. A bike stand and degreaser may make the process easier, but to start with, good old soap and water will do the trick.