Friday, September 12, 2014

Basic Bike Maintenance 101

Jarrett Morgan | | | |

Basic Bike Maintenance 101

Today our post will be a continuation in our mountain biking series.  This post was inspired by a reader question, “how do I get my mountain bike ready to ride after not using it in a while?” However, this quick guide will be beneficial to both road and mountain bikes.  In addition, the trail I ride is extremely dusty so a good cleaning is in order.

Getting your bike ready

All the steps covered here will be easy enough to perform yourself.  However, if you find any issues out of your ability range or don’t have the time, there is always the option of taking it to your local bike shop.  Your local bike shop will charge you around $60 for a basic cleaning/tuning job.  If there is a repair issue, it could get more expensive.

Our required tools for the job: towels, mild detergent, and a toothbrush (if you have fancy bike cleaning brushes, use those too).  If you have one, using a bike stand will make all the task easier.  If you don't have a bike stand, either prop your bike on a chair or flip in upside down so it rest on the seat and handle bars.

The supplies I use to clean my bike
The supplies I use to clean my bike

Step 1: Clean the Bike

A clean bike will stand up to time better than a dirty bike.  Dirt increase friction on your moving parts, which results in wear and tear.  In addition, dust can allow rust spots to form on metal components, which weakens the structure.  Therefore, it is important to occasionally clean your bike.

Begin by wipe down the frame, pedals, and seat first.  Then move on to the drive chain (chain, chain rings, derailleurs, and cassette).  Third, wipe down your brake system.  For disc brakes clean the disc and for v-brakes clean the rubber brakes and wipe down your rims.  Remember when cleaning your brakes, it is essential not to get oil or grease on the pads or disc.  Oil on your brakes will result in reduced friction and decrease your ability to stop.  Finally, use a clean dry towel to remove any moisture from your bike.   


I use a bike stand to make maintenance a little easier
I use a bike stand to make maintenance a little easier

Step 2:  Check the Wheels

First check out the tire by visually inspecting to make sure your tires are inflated, there are no rips/tears, and nothing has punctured the rubber (like a big cactus needle).  Next, inflate your tires if needed.  Once inflated, if your tires don't hold air, you will need to replace the tire tube.  Finally, give your tire a spin and look for any wobbling or squeaking.  If your tire has serious wobble it is no longer true and needs to be aligned (by a professional).  If your tire squeaks look to see if the brake pad is rubbing the wheel or the wheel rubs the frame.

Use a pump with a gauge to check your tire pressure
Use a pump with a gauge to check your tire pressure 

Step 3: Check the Brakes

Initially, visually inspect your brake pads, which is either the rubber pads that contact the rim or the metal pads that contact the disc brake.  If the pads are significantly worn, go ahead and replace it or have a professional do it.  Next, squeeze your brake handles one at a time.  Your brakes should make full and equal contact on both sides of the rim/disc.  If not, your brakes need to be adjusted.  Finally, spin your wheels and use your brakes to stop the spin.  If your tires are unaffected or slow to stop, your brakes need adjustment.

Step 4: Check the Drive Chain

First, lift your rear wheel off the ground, if on a bike stand or upside down you are good to go.  Next, begin pedaling and ensure your pedals are effectively spinning the rear wheel.  Third, slowly shift through all your gears.  While shifting, listen and watch to esnure the chain is moving between gears in an easy and smooth fashion.  If your bike is slow to shift, doesn’t shift, or the chain slips off a ring; your derailleurs/shifting cables need adjustment.  Finally, visually inspect your chainring and cassette teeth wear.  Worn teeth will begin to look pointed or look like “shark fins”.  If you find worn teeth, you will need to (or have a professional) replace the cassette or chainring.

Step 5: Lubrication

First, apply a small amount of chain lube to your chain as you pedal counterclockwise.  The key lubing your chain is to lube the joints and not the outside of the chain.  Then apply lube to the moving parts of the brake levers and any exposed metal cable.  Next, apply lube to the moving parts of the derailleur.  Finally, wipe away excess lube with a dry, clean rag. Wiping away excess lube is essential because it will attract dust and grime, which will increase how often you need to clean your bike. 

make sure it goes on the joints not the outside of the chain
Lube the chain: make sure it goes on the joints not the outside of the chain

Step 6: Test Ride


Now if everything is working correctly take your bike out for a test ride.  Make sure the brakes are still working just fine.  In addition, switch through your gears, ensuring you have smooth shifts and no chain slips.  Furthermore, make sure the ride is comfortable and smooth.  If it isn’t, check your tires to see if they are inflated.  If your tires are still inflated, it could be your shocks need lube.  Finally, listen for any rattling or weird noises.  Noises are a sign of lose parts or other issues that need to be addressed. 

If you have any tips of tricks for cleaning and getting your bike ready to ride, please let us know.  Also, if you like the blog please like us on Facebook.

Jarrett Morgan

6 comments:

  1. Is it necessary to check or clean any parts of a new bike?

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    1. Good thinking about new bikes Linda. You hopefully don't have to worry to much about the bike being dirty, yet. However, I would follow all the same steps listed above. It is possible that you or whoever assembled your bike made a mistake. By using all the above steps, it will help you ensure your bike is riding condition. One-step I would really focus on though, is wiping away excess grease and oil. New bikes tend to come really greased up and that grease will attract grime.

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  2. When my bike was new, I was told I needed to bring it in for free adjustments because the cables would stretch at first. Now it's been in my garage unused for awhile, so I think maybe I'll let a professional tune it up for me.

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  3. Thank you so much for this blog post!

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  4. Excellent blog post. I love this blog! It's fantastic!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the support. It means a lot to us!

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