Keeping the wheels turning – All Terrain Cycles in Wetherby gives some guidance on how to keep your bike in top condition
Having invested in a new bike, you’ll want to make sure it stays in tip top condition, that’s why it’s essential to properly maintain and clean it regularly. Getting into the habit of maintaining your bike can also help you avoid costly and frustrating repairs in the future.
A toolkit of essentials will help with maintenance. A pump, puncture repair kit, allen keys, wrench, bike lube, gear brush, sponge, bike cleaner, degreaser and a bucket should cover everything you’ll need. And if you want to make cleaning your bike even quicker, a bike stand can supercharge your routine.
Maintenance should only take around half an hour and, if done every month, will prolong the life of your bike as well as helping it to run more smoothly:
- Clean your bike thoroughly – wipe the bike down with water and a sponge, and avoid using a pressure washer as this is too much force for the bearings. Spray the bike with a bike cleaning product, leave for a few minutes before scrubbing with a soft bristled brush and rinsing with water. Once all parts of the bike have been cleaned, ensure that you thoroughly dry your bike. Water will rust your bike and cause it to seize up, you should also do this after cycling in the rain.
- Check tyre pressures – make sure this also done prior to every ride, riding on under-inflated tyres will damage them, if you can push down with your thumb, they need pumping up.
- Lubricate your chain and gears, basically anything that moves will need lubricating.
- Replace any worn gear cables to prevent further damage.
- Test your brakes frequently as pad wear causes a gradual decline in braking performance; when the brake levers are pulled halfway down, the brakes should be fully engaged. Regular cleaning and replacing pads will help to reduce brake track wear.
- Check that your saddle is correctly aligned and at the right height.
- Make sure pedals and arms are secure.
- Lift the bike and twist the handlebars to check they turn smoothly and are not loose.
- Check bearings and service or replace if needed.
- Look out for any major dents or cracks in the frame and, if found, take to your local bike retailer.
- Check for any wear or cracks on tyres and replace if necessary.
Replacing tyres yourself can save you time and money, so if you own a bike it’s worth learning how.
Removing the wheel is the often the most difficult part. For the front wheel, just release the v-brake caliper or the cable (on cantilever) brakes; with disc brakes, the wheel will slide out when the axle is released. Do the same with the rear wheel, but, for bike with gears, the wheel will come out much more easily if the chain is at its slackest (on the smallest cogs both back and front), this means the chain will not stop the wheel dropping out.
Then use plastic tyre levers to remove the tyre – don’t be tempted to use anything metal, as it could damage your rims. Run your fingers around the inside of the tyre to check for sharp objects and remove any you find. You can find the hole in the tube either by feeling for escaping air or by pumping it up, holding it underwater and looking for bubbles. Then scuff around the hole with sandpaper or the scratcher from the puncture repair kit before spreading the glue thinly and evenly around the hole and placing a patch over it once it feels tacky. If the inner tube is badly damaged, you may need to replace it.
Now lightly pump up the tube. Place one edge of the tyre around the wheel rim and push the tube’s valve into the rim’s hole. Starting from the valve, push the rest of the tube into the tyre making sure that the valve stem is perpendicular to the rim and that the tube isn’t twisted. Once the tube is inside the tyre, begin to place the second edge of the tyre onto the rim using the tyre levers to coax it onto the rim. Then pump more air into the tube and check that is isn’t caught between the rim and the tyre. Slide the wheel back into place on the bike and tighten the bolts gradually, ensuring that the wheel remains aligned straight to the frame. Reconnect the brakes and then fully pump up the tyre before checking that the brakes are still set up correctly. There are also lots of helpful videos available online.
You can also treat your bike to an annual service by the professionals at most bike retailers, a service by a professional will pick up on anything you may have missed and ensure your bike is in race perfect condition!
If your bike needs a service or you need to purchase any essentials for your toolkit, All Terrain Cycles have everything you could need to help you maintain your bike.Author: Tony Booth