Regular riding is great for your body, but can be hard on your bike and gear! While our steeds are built to take a beating, treating them right along the way will help you get more consistent performance and a smoother ride while on the road or trail. Below is a simple guide to help you stay on top of the simplest maintenance tasks which can have a big impact on your bike’s wear and tear.
Every Day Before You Ride
Give those tires a squeeze! If they feel soft, you better check your pressure and see if you’ve picked up any thorns and punctures on your last ride. If you’re riding tubeless, pulling out the thorn/nail/whatever and spinning your wheel should allow the puncture to seal back up. Don’t forget to top off your sealant every 4-6 months depending on your climate.
Optimal Bike Tire Pressures:
Road Bike: 100-120 psi
Mountain: 30-50 psi
Hybrid: 50-70 psi
How are them brakes working? Before you even start to roll, give the brakes a squeeze and make sure they’re working well and aren’t squealing. If your brakes are suffering from squeaks and squawks you can clean them with a degreaser and/or rubbing alcohol. If they continue to make noise and your braking is soft, it may be time for new pads.
Give your bike a bit of a bounce… if you have shocks, that is. As you’re rolling out, check to make sure your shocks are responsive and smooth. If not, check your pressure and settings to make sure you have them just where you want them BEFORE you get to the trailhead.
Check that chain! A quick visual inspection can give you an educated guess as to if things are going to run smoothly. You can measure for “stretch” with a Park Tool Chain Wear Indicator so you’ll know when it’s time to replace it (preferably not on trail during an epic long distance ride). Also check your cassette and chain rings for wear. Tip: keep a spare chain and spare chain link in your bike bag with you along with a good multi-tool with a chain break, just in case. The Hero Mountain Bike Repair kit is pretty cool and comes with step-by step instructions to help you get back up and running.
Check your shifters. Nothing drives me more crazy than a poorly responding shifter… you click and 3-4 pedal strokes later it finally shifts. I’m also not a fan of the random gear shifts of a grumpy bike. If you’re experiencing jittery shifting check your cables and adjust them (frequently at the handlebars). Also look the cable and housing over for corrosion and inspect your derailleur hanger for any bends/warps. If you see corrosion or warps it may be time to bring your bike in for a tune up.
After Every Ride
Give that bike of yours a good cleaning! Even if it was a dry day you’re still likely picking up dirt, sand and oils from the roads and trails. If you have a soft brush or air compressor you can go over the bike lightly to knock off debris. On a muddy/raining trip a good wash down is optimal… get your hose out and rinse her down, if she’s really bad a bucket of warm water with some Simple Green will help cut the grime.
Clean and lube the Drive Chain. After you ride, clean and lube your chain. This helps reduce the frequency of chain issues and the need to replace your cassette.
Set your gears in the smallest chain ring(s) before you put her away. This helps reduce the stress when you’re not riding it and will extend the life of your derailleur.
Follow these tips and you’ll enjoy many squeak and creak-free rides. 😀
Suzanne is a Moxie Cycling Ambassador and blog contributor. Check out her bio here!