Essential bike repair and maintenance tips

Essential bike repair and maintenance tips

Everyone knows that cycling is a great way to stay fit. It's also fantastic for enjoying the outdoors because being on two wheels opens so many more sightseeing and camping options that four wheels just can't access.

But whether road cycling is your thing or you live for trail and mountain biking escapes, taking care of your bike with some simple routine maintenance will make sure your cycling camping trip or outdoor adventure holiday is as hassle-free as possible.

Here are some basic - but essential - bike repair and maintenance tips that you can do in the comfort of your own home without having to be a Tour-de-France-level expert in bicycle repair.


Clean the bike

It might sound like a no-brainer but it's so important to keep your bike clean, especially in the winter months or when you've been riding in wet conditions. Regular cleaning helps protect the critical components of your bike and makes it easier to maintain over time.

To wash your bike, just apply some degreaser to your chain then wash with warm soapy water using a soft rag or sponge. After rinsing off, apply a light film of lubricant to the chain and the gear cassette for effective bike chain cleaning, and wipe off any excess oil to prevent grease and dirt build-up.

Remember to always dry your bike off with a chamois or dry rags to prevent rusting that could lead to parts seizing up.

Know your A-B-Cs

In cycling lingo, the ABCs of your bike are air, brakes and chain. Before every ride, it's important you do a quick safety check.

Check the air pressure of your tyres to avoid pinch flats and also to make sure your ride is comfortable without having to pedal excessively hard. You should also check the wear on your tyres and replace them as soon as they start to show signs of breaking down.

The brakes are the most important safety feature on your bike. Turn the bike upside down and give both wheels a spin. They shouldn't make contact with the brake pads. If your brakes are rubbing, the first thing to check is that your quick release axle is evenly secured in the dropouts. If the rubbing persists and you are running rim brakes, try loosening off the bolt that holds the brakes to the fork ever so slightly, then centre the calipers and tighten the bolt back down. If you have disc brakes and don't feel confident adjusting them yourself, visit your bike shop and let an expert adjust them for you.

If everything's spinning fine, give the brake lever a squeeze to ensure the pads are making proper contact. You should be able to see if the pads are too worn.

A clean and well-lubricated chain slows down the rate of chain wear. It also ensures your bike shifts gears easily and the drivetrain (consisting of front chainrings, rear cassette, rear derailleur and chain) last longer. Using an old toothbrush is a great way to clean excess grease off your chain and the rear cassette.

Pumping up your tyres

As well as checking the air pressure, ensuring your tyres are in good condition is vital for safety and performance. Look for cuts, nicks, stones or glass in the tread and clean away any debris to minimise the chance of a flat.

Always follow the manufacturer's instructions when it comes to tyre pressures; too firm and you're asking for punctures but too soft and you'll feel like you're riding uphill all day long.


Keep it tight

Your bike is a unique piece of engineering - all the parts work together to give you the smoothest, most enjoyable ride possible.

Take the time to regularly check that the various nuts and bolts on your bike are tight. But, not too tight. Overtightening can damage essential parts of the bike. Loose parts add to the wear and tear and hamper its overall performance.

Fixing a flat tube

Like death and taxes, flat tyres are a certainty, no matter what kind of cycling you prefer. So, knowing how to fix a flat or a punctured tyre on-the-go is important.

There are plenty of online resources that can take you step-by-step through fixing a puncture and getting the rubber back on the road again as soon as possible. Likewise, any reputable bicycle retailer has a huge range of puncture kits and tools - ones that don't take up a lot of space or weigh you down - that you can pack during a ride.

Investing in a multi-tool to remove your wheel (if you don't have a quick release), some tyre levers, a spare tube and a pump - as well as a little know-how - will keep you from being stranded in the event of a flat tyre.


In conclusion

No matter where you're riding, cycling should always be fun. Looking after your equipment ensures you get the best possible safety and performance results from your bike.

While you should always refer to your owner's manual for expert advice on how to properly maintain your bike or how to service a bike, these simple tips and tricks are easy enough for you to do at home before heading off on your cycling adventure.

Taking the time to keep your bike clean and check the basics like your air pressure and lubricants, will ensure your day in the saddle is a memorable and safe one.




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