Keeping on top of your bicycle servicing and maintenance might seem like an annoying and arduous task at the time but by following a few simple steps regularly, especially after wet rides, can not only help keep your bike rolling smoothly but also prolong the life of your components. By spending just 5-10-minutes on your bike you’ll avoid the need to be doing anything last minute before your next ride or coming a cropper when out on the bike.
Here are seven quick and easy tips on how you can keep your bike rolling smoothly.
1. Stay on top of your chain
One of the most common annoyances when riding is a noisy chain which can turn a great ride into a hugely frustrating one. It’s quite often the source of noise on your bike when you’d otherwise blame the bottom bracket or look downwards hopelessly wondering where the racket is coming from. This can be the result of rust forming, due to not being cleaned after wet rides, an overly dry chain which is crying out for lubricant, or possibly something more serious like a split chain link.
After any wet ride you should dry your chain to remove as much excess water and moisture as possible. Simply use an old rag (don’t throw away all the old tee shirts and towels when they’re done as this is a great second life for them!) and hold it around the chain before turning the pedals so that the chain moves through, drying gradually. You can also use a water displacer such as WD40 to speed up the process, but don’t use this as your lubricant as it will not work well.
After drying the chain, relubricate with a lube that suits the conditions your riding in - wet or dry. Don’t over do it though and make sure you wipe off any excess lube after application. Make sure to also lubricate your chain every few weeks even if it’s been dry. Simply remove any excess dirt or oil when cleaning the bike or by running the chain through an old rag once again, then reapplying the most appropriate chain lube.
Finally, check your chain for wear occasionally, especially for splits in links. You’ll often know before it snaps if you’ve got a split in your chain as it will start to jump on the cogs when pedalling. Any damage means you should replace the broken links with a quick link or relace the chain entirely. The average lifespan of a chain should be around 2,000 miles.
2. Keep an eye on your brakes
Squeaky brakes are another regular frustration for many. Again, this could be due to a number of factors but will often be due to worn brake pads - goes for both for rim brakes and disc brakes; oil or cleaning fluid on the brake pads, discs or rims; or potentially something coming loose.
If you ride with Caliper brakes, those that clasp against the rim of the wheel, check occasionally for excessive wear or for sharp objects embedded in the pads which will damage your wheel rims when braking. If you run carbon rims and brake pads then this last point is particularly key as carbon fibre doesn’t take well to being scratched by foreign objects stuck in the brake pads.
3. Check your tyres
This one can be a quick and easy task to run through after you’ve been out on the bike. Lift each wheel off the ground slightly and slowly spin to inspect if there’s any large cuts in the tyre or small pieces of glass or flint embedded within the rubber which could lead to a puncture.
If you spot a cut that’s more of a paper cut or pin prick then you should be fine. If the cut is slightly bigger, stretching 1mm or more in length and opening up slightly then you’ll need to keep an eye on it or seal it with a dab of super glue to help close the opening. This is a short term fix rather than a solution though and eventually your tyre will need replacing.
If you see any shards of glass, thorns, flint or similar embedded in the rubber then you can simply prise these out with a sharp object, being careful not to cause any other damage of course! If left in these could be pushed further through, causing a puncture. If they leave a hole when removed, you can again glue the hole slightly as a short term fix before then replacing the tyre if the damage persists.
If you spot any severe wearing of the tyre too then it should be replaced immediately, especially if the wire bead is open and frayed. This could be the first sign of the side wall collapsing - something which will lead to a noisy blow out and an abrupt stop.
You may have made it to the end of your last ride without puncturing, but that’s not to say the hole in your tyre will make it to the end of the next!
4. Clean your bike!
OK, this may sound like an obvious one but cleaning your bike regularly really will help to keep everything in good working order and make sure that the bike is always ready to go when you next head out for a ride.
There’s a wide range of great cleaning products on the market to help make this job easier - invest in a simple cleaning kit and work through your bike after a couple of dry rides or after each wet and muddy ride. The longer you leave your bike between cleans, the longer it will take to get back into good order.
Doing this will also help you spot any major issues that may develop over time. Over and above that, a bike always looks much better when clean and shiny!
5. Recharge your batteries
This goes for anyone running electronic gears on their bike, something becoming more and more common on modern bicycles now, or for anyone riding an electric bike.
Your e-bike battery should ideally be recharged after each ride to avoid getting caught out the next time you use it. Ranges vary a lot depending on battery size and also the bike you’re riding, as well as the terrain too, so follow the notifications provided on current battery level to stay on top of it.
If you’re running electric gearing on your bike, such as Shimano Di2, Campagnolo EPS or SRAM AXS then you should follow the recommended charging instructions provided with your bike or from the manufacturer. Again, battery life will vary depending on conditions and use but a rough guide would be to recharge every 1,250 miles.
6. Pre-Ride Checks
There’s a few simple pre-ride checks that you can work through ahead of setting off to make sure you stay clear of any unwanted issues or mishaps out on the bike. These include ensuring your tyres are adequately pumped up for the conditions. Tyre pressures will vary depending on what size tyres you run, whether it’s wet or dry, the surfaces you’re riding on and also general preference with comfort. A starting point can be found on the tyre’s sidewall with min and max pressures listed, but it’s worth reading more about what’s best for the rides you do and the set up you’re riding on.
Check that your wheels are secured by checking that the quick releases or thru axles are done up properly. If they’re loose, tighten them. If they’re tight, you’re good to go.
Check that your brakes are not overly worn and need tightening. Brake pads have wear indicators on the side to dictate at what point they need replacing. A simple check though is to squeeze the brake level and if it’s close to hitting the handlebar underneath it then the brake itself needs tightening up a bit to allow for reliable braking and the ability to stop quickly.
Finally, have you got the spares and tools you need in case something happens out on the ride such as a puncture? If not, grab them before you head out.
7. Get your bike serviced regularly
Getting your bike fully serviced periodically will help stay on top of any bigger issues developing or to get everything back on track if you’re gradually seeing a few different issues developing. This type of service would include stripping down of the brake and gear cables, regreasing of key areas such as the bottom bracket and headset where relevant, as well as ensuring that your brakes are tight and in good shape and your gears are properly indexed to ensure smooth shifting across the cassette and chainrings.
If you’re comfortable doing this yourself then great, however, if not, or if you just don’t have the time or tools at home to do so, book your bike in with Bike Hero and we’ll do everything for you.
If you’re riding your bike regularly we’d recommend a service every six months. While if you’ve got a key event such as a big ride, a race or sportive for example, then we’d suggest getting your bike booked in ahead of this to make sure your steed is all set to go and working perfectly.
Check out our services and repairs page here.