Bike Maintenance Tips
Want to save money at the shop and keep your bike humming like the finely tuned machine it is? You’ve come to the right place. Read on for a few essential bike maintenance tips you absolutely need to know, as well as the tools you need to nail them down.
1. Clean and Lube Your Chain
Lubing your chain is like an oil change on your car — it is the least expensive and most important maintenance you can do. It takes 5 minutes. Strive to do it every 1-2 rides.
You’ll need a rag or two and some chain cleaner/lubricant (Rock N Roll is an example of a lube that also cleans your chain).
Flip your bike upside down. Shake the bottle well, spray it onto the chain as you rotate the pedals, and make sure you hit every link. Flip the bike back over and hop on it, riding around and shifting through every gear. Then take the rag and make a fist around your chain, wiping it vigorously back and forth. Repeat until it’s clean and shiny.
Bonus tip: Pay attention to the sprocket wheels on your rear derailleur. Remove the black goo that accumulates on them.
2. Clean Your Chainrings
Use a brush and degreaser to clean your front chainring and cassette, using a rag to get any extra gunk off.
3. Keep Your Tires Inflated
Inflate your tires to the recommended PSI rating (you can find this on the sidewall). This protects your rims from pinch flats, maximizes your traction, and makes your tires last longer.
4. Tighten — but Don’t Overtighten — Nuts and Bolts
Your bike is held together by nuts, bolts, and screws. These occasionally work their way loose due to vibrations and use, with results ranging from annoying to dangerous.
You likely only need a foldable Allen wrench set to deal with 90% of your bike.
Go over your bike from time to time, fitting in an Allen wrench and giving each bolt a bit of torque. You’ll know if it’s loose. Remember to tighten each bolt firmly, but don’t overtighten, as this can cause the threads to strip or bind.
Pro tip: Grab some wrenches that apply a certain amount of torque, and match this to the specified limit on each bolt.
5. Fix Your Own Flat Tires
Fixing flat tires requires a pair of nylon tire levers, a pump, and a replacement tube (assuming you’re not tubeless).
Start by removing the wheel from the bike and letting all the air out. Roll the tire so that the bead is exposed and pry in a tire lever underneath it, locking the lever to the spoke. Insert the other lever about 6” to one side of it and slide away from it. You will unseat the bead from the rim, allowing you to remove the tire and pull out the tube.
Check for leaks on the tube and patch it if desired. Also, feel carefully along the inside of the tire for sharp objects.
Inflate the new tube slightly so that it has some shape but is still soft. Insert this into the tire and work both beads back into the rim, taking care not to pinch the tube. Inflate back to the recommended PSI.
6. Know These Rules of Thumb
- If it has threads, grease it.
- If your bike is making a new sound, remember: it shouldn’t.
- Add a few drops of lubricant to cables, your seatpost, and pulley wheels.
- The lettering on your front hub should read left to right when you’re in the saddle.
- Wipe dust away from suspension seals after each ride.
Be sure to contact us with any more of your bike maintenance concerns! Shop our 5-year maintenance plans, schedule an in-store tune-up with our Wheelsmith Certified bike technicians, or schedule an AT HOME tune-up with our mobile service crew!