Whatever type of bike you own – road, gravel, mountain bike, track bike – it will need some regular care and maintenance to keep it running smoothly.
Mountain bikes, cyclocross and gravel bikes ridden off-road or in the rain will need more frequent maintenance than those ridden on city streets once or twice a month.
Key bike maintenance considerations include tyre pressure, bike storage, checking the bike frame for signs of wear, replacing the brake pads, and keeping the chain clean and well lubricated. Follow these simple tips to keep your bicycle in good working order.
Proper bike care and maintenance requires more than a glance over once a year.
After Every Bike Ride
- Check tyre pressure (PSI is on the side of the tyre)
- Spin wheels to check for wobbles
- Make sure nuts and bolts on the seat and wheels are tight and not rusted
- Ensure brake pads are in good condition and touch the rims when brakes are applied
- Apply lube to the chain if it looks dry
- Check for debris in the tyres, which can lead to a flat
- Check the wheels for loose spokes, and replace them as necessary
- Clean the frame with a damp cloth, inspecting for scratches or signs of rust as you do
- Clean the chain with a degreaser, and then re-lubricate it
- Lubricate the brake cabling and gears
- Check for worn brake pads
- Evaluate pedals and cleat, and tighten screws and bolts as needed
- Check brake systems for signs of wear, breakage, and rust
- Replace brake pads
- Check handlebar tape or grips for wear and replace if necessary
- Add fresh grease to the bearings
- Lubricate the suspension components as directed in the manual
- Check accessories like baskets and racks for loose bolts and rust
Tools and Equipment for Bike Care and Maintenance
When taking care of your bike, there are several tools you might need in order to do the job correctly. Some of those tools include an Allen key wrench, degreaser, chain lube, bike pump, and wrench.
In addition, there are certain tools and parts you should keep with you even when you’re riding your bike. These include a spare tube, a spare chain, a bike pump, tyre levers, and a patch kit. The parts will help keep you up and running should your tyre go flat or your chain break.
Storing Your Bicycle
Storage is an important part of bike care and maintenance. Avoid storing the bike outside, which can shorten its lifespan and damage the components. It may also be a tempting item for thieves if it’s left out in the open. Instead, store it inside your home, garden shed, or garage. For the safety of the bike, use a bike cover when storing the bike in a garage or garden shed; if there is an accidental roof leak, you won’t have to worry about rust. Full bike covers are an excellent choice for long-term bike coverage. They protect your bike from accidental water damage but also prevent dust build-up and bug infiltration. Cracking seats from sun, weather, and water damage are preventable with waterproof seat covers. These usually feature elastic or drawstring bands and are ideal for keeping your seat protected when storing it for a short period of time outside.
Wall mounts also work well; make sure they let the bike sit vertically. These are the best options if you have limited space and come in a variety of options, like hook and tray, hinges, and hooks. They come in vertical or horizontal varieties as well. Make sure the rack you choose is suitable for the bike weight and wheel size. The weight of the bike is especially important when using a wall mount in a house or apartment. You don’t want the bike, mount, and wall coming down unexpectedly. Also keep in mind that if you’re attaching a bike mount to a wall in a rented apartment, condo or house, you need to first check with the landlord to get permission.
Other storage options include kickstands, freestanding racks, floor stands, and ceiling mounts. If your bike rack or mount is in a location that others have access to, choose the type or mount or rack carefully. Some feature locks that keep your bike safe from theft when they are left in vulnerable situations. If the mount or rack does not come with a lock, choose one for yourself. Keep in mind that the thicker the lock is, the less likely it will be cut by a thief’s bolt cutter.
Taking time for proper bike care and maintenance will help your bike look better and work longer. Just a few minutes after each bike ride and an afternoon every few months will keep your bicycle in tip-top shape so it’s always ready to ride when you are.