Thursday, July 17, 2014

Taking the Lane: The ABC's of bike maintenance!

So you have a bicycle. You have been commuting and hopefully joy riding all over your town. You have mastered the balancing act of keeping up your appearance for work and toting groceries home at the end of the day. But what about that bike! There are tons of moving parts on that bicycle, but I am going to run through the three most important pieces of information concerning bicycle maintenance. This advice could be the difference between a safe, comfortable commute or a dangerous, dissatisfying commute. 

First piece of advice is to check the air pressure in your tires. This should be done weekly at a minimum! The sidewall of your tire will be the location to check for the recommended pressure rating. You will want to stay within this range, most likely right in the middle. 
Now that you have figured out how much air to get into the tires we need to figure out the valve on your inner tube. There are two types of valves associated with bicycle inner tubes. First is a schrader valve, just like your car tire valve. It can be used with most types of pumps, including those not designed for use with bicycles. The second type of valve is a presta valve. This is a bicycle specific valve. It will work with mainly bicycle pumps. It can also be adapted to work like a schrader valve. 

The presta will need to be opened to allow air in, and closed for daily riding. Now why do we want to add air to our tires weekly. Number one reason is for an improved ride quality! You won't be dragging around a flat tire, causing more wear and tear to you and the rubber. Number two reason, which is just as important is to prevent flats. You will be much more susceptible to pinch flats while riding a tire with low pressures. 
If you hit a rock or pot hole the tire will pinch the tube against the rim, resulting in a flat. Nobody wants that!

Next piece of advice is to make sure the brakes on your bicycle work. This possibly should be the number one tip. Reason for that is because surely you can get most bikes going, but stopping is more important to you and those around you! 


There are a couple things you can check over by yourself concerning brake pads. First thing is to make sure the cable connection between the brake levers and pads is actually there and strong. If there is no cable the brakes cannot work. 

Next thing you could check is the wear indicator line on the brake pads. If the line does not exist or the pads seem to be almost non-existent it is time for new pads! 


Lastly the most important thing you can do concerning brake pads is to take it to your local bike shop and have them check over the brakes as a whole. Personally I work full time at a bike shop and I never adjust my brakes without having one of the mechanics check them over before I leave. If your local bike shop does not offer free safety checks I would recommend finding a new bike shop to visit!

Last tip is to check out your chain and gears. These are the other piece of equipment propelling your bicycle. No matter how many gears you have the most important thing you can do for this area on your bike is LUBE THE CHAIN! This will prevent rust and keep everything running as smooth as possible. 
mmm lube that chain!

The chain is doing a lot of work and the lube will ensure smooth shifting and pedaling. There are many different types of lube. It is important to stick with the same lube and to wipe off the excess of whichever kind you choose. A towel or old t-shirt will be necessary for lubing chains and keeping things clean. 

Chains love lube. Keeping them lubed will allow for your bicycle mechanic to keep the gears running well and will prevent unnecessary replacement of parts before it is their time to go! 

This is just a simple start to bicycle maintenance. These checks should be done weekly, if not more often, especially in adverse weather seasons. Air, brakes, and chain checks will keep your bike rolling as smooth as can be, making for a much happier you!

p.s: If you would like anything to be explored in more depth please let  me know! I love taking the time to explain the little bit of bicycle mechanics knowledge that I have acquired from my bicycle shop!

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Andrea! Another one about replacement schedules for things like chains and cables would be great, too!