In many ways, a bicycle can be compared to any other popular vehicle like a car or motorcycle. Just like these vehicles, bicycles have a number of parts that work together to keep them running smoothly and safely during training and races. These parts do wear down and become damaged over time, and naturally this can impact the safety and general performance of your bike.
To remedy this, it is recommended that you perform regular bicycle maintenance to keep your bike in tip-top shape. If you want to start but have no idea how, read on as we break down the basics of good bicycle maintenance and care.
Inspect Before Every Ride
Just before every race or training session you embark on, we recommend giving your bike a general inspection to ensure that it is roadworthy and in good working order. Take these steps to complete an inspection:
- Open and close the quick-release levers on your bike’s wheels to make sure that they are tight. Move each wheel to the side to check for looseness as well.
- Spin the wheels to ensure that they are spinning correctly and that their rims do not touch your brake pads.
- Use a pressure gauge to check the pressure of your tyres. Adjust as needed. Also check tyres for any cracks, tears or visible damage.
- Ensure that your brakes grip the rims and have sufficient rubber on them.
- Make sure that your pedals spin freely but do not pull away from the cranks.
- Set your saddle to the correct height for you. You should just be able to place the balls of your feet on the ground when you sit on it.
- Check your visibility. Wear brightly coloured safety gear and reflective items if needed.
- Pack emergency gear like a jacket, snack bars, water, a first aid kit, rehydration solution, identification and polarised sunglasses.
Adjust Tyre Pressure
To adjust your tyre pressure, you will need to use a pressure gauge like the ones we offer at our online store. The pressure should be adjusted to the weight the tyres will be bearing (your weight and the weight of anything you bring along as well), and will also vary according to the tyres used on your bicycle.
Under-inflated tyres will significantly increase your rolling resistance, which will increase the amount of energy you’ll need to expend to pedal your bike. Conversely, if your tyres are over-inflated they will slip and slide, making it difficult for you to steer and brake. If they are properly inflated, however, they will absorb impact more effectively and protect your wheels from damage as well.
Replace Tyre Sealant
Tyre sealant is important for all cyclists, but particularly for those who are riding in areas that could potentially contain thorns. We recommend replacing your tyre sealant once a month if cycling in areas with thorns, or every 3 months for urban cyclists who stick mainly to tar roads.
Clean Drive Train and Lubricate Chain
A dirty or contaminated drive train can quickly wear down other components on your bike, leading to difficult gear shifting and a generally unpleasant ride. Use a cycle-specific chain cleaner and degreaser for best results, along with cleaning brushes, a chain lubricant and some fresh water. Regular cleaning will help to ensure that all of your bike’s components will run smoother for longer.
Keep Shocks at Correct Pressure
Shocks are extremely important for absorbing impact during cycling, so it makes sense that yours should be in solid condition and kept at the right pressure. Before shocks were fitted onto bikes, the tyres and the rider absorbed the bulk of the impact – but nowadays, your shocks are there to protect you and make for a smoother ride.
If you are servicing a new bike for the first time, we recommend doing so after 50-100 hours of cycling (roughly 300km). Thereafter, major services are recommended after every 2,000km you ride to keep your bicycle running well and to keep yourself safe on the track!