Like all mechanical contraptions, your bicycle is vulnerable to wear and tear caused by regular use and exposure to the elements. Routine preventive maintenance will keep your bicycle in peak condition and safe for riding throughout the year. Although some bicycle repair and maintenance is best performed by a qualified bike mechanic, you should be able to do routine maintenance using a few basic tools. Here are some of the things you can do to keep your bike in perfect shape.
Check the pressure of your tires to make sure they are inflated to proper specifications. Consult the manual or the tire's sidewall for information on the range of acceptable pressures for your tire. Note any splits or fatigue marks in the sidewall or tread. Inspect the rim for dents, twists or kinks. Spin each wheel to make sure it is true and centered in the stays. If the wheel wobbles from side to side when spun, then it needs truing. Check if some spokes need to be replaced or tightened. If your bike is equipped with quick-release mechanisms, make sure they are securely fastened.
The handlebars, saddle and pedals must be securely attached. Check the height of the handlebar stem. Make sure that the handlebar stem and seatpost are fastened such that their minimum insertion marks are not exposed. Handlebars should be tight and in line with the front wheel. Check if handlebars and front fork are properly stabilized. You should be able to rotate the handlebar post freely in the front fork. Tighten the bolts that attach the pedal crank-arms to the front bearing. Pedals should be tight, with no binding. Check for looseness in front and headset bearings.
Squeeze both brake levers and try to roll the bike to check if the brakes are operating properly. If the bike moves while the brave levers are squeezed or if the brake levers touch the handlebar, then your brakes are too loose and need some adjusting. Make sure brake cables are taut. Check the brake cable for breaks or frayed ends; replace any worn or frayed brake cable. When brakes are applied, the brake pads (shoes) should contact squarely with the rim and should not touch the tire or the spokes.
Keep your bike's chain clean and properly lubricated. Use a rag soaked in de-greaser to remove dirt and grease buildup. Lubricate the chain after cleaning. Bike maintenance experts recommend using a web lube in wet environments and a dry lube in dry environments. Make sure that the chain moves smoothly without sticking or jumping.
Tools for basic bicycle maintenance
Proper inspection and maintenance of your bike requires a few basic tools.
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