Taking care of your ride: a basic guide to routine maintenance

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Given the wide range of this topic, we are going to focus on the basic bike maintenance, meaning the routine check of your ride. Depending on how this task is carried out, it can be a pain or a pleasure; so let’s get to it and make bike care fun!

Inspection first

Before you start riding or working on your bike, you should start by inspecting it thoroughly, this can prevent unnecessary damage, loss of loose components or even prevent harm to yourself; this shouldn’t take more than a few minutes and will give you an idea on what you’re dealing with.

Remember the ABC

the very first things to check are easy to remember.

  • A for air : the pressure in your tires should be checked regularly since it can prevent flats and will make your ride more secure, the recommended pressure is usually printed on the sidewall of the tire; in case you haven’t been riding for a long time and you find your tire totally flat, this might mean that you had a puncture on your last ride, so make sure to change the tube, or in case you don’t have an extra one use a tube patch.
  • B for brakes : try your brakes, they should work smoothly and feel strong, depending on your brakes you might have to tighten them or use some brake fluid in the case of hydraulic ones.
  • C for chain : make sure yo keep clean and lubricated the chain, the cassette, the derailleur and the front chain rings, this will ensure smoother shifting and a longer life of the components.

A good wash

When you need to get mud and dirt from the trail or the road off your bike, you don’t need much , some rags, dish soap and a bucket of water will do the job, scrub and rise it until it’s mostly clean, you can use a hose, but be careful of the water pressure since it can damage bearings.

Get yourself a few brushes of different sizes and brush away all the dirt from the small spaces around your bike, take special care of your Drivetrain by using a solvent like wd-40 or a degreaser and only then apply any lubricant; just make sure you dispose solvents or other chemicals properly, in accordance with the local authorities.

Now you can take care of details to make your bike more beautiful, like brushing the nooks and crannies on the handlebar since that’s what you look at when you ride.

Smooth and clean

Cleaning and lubricating your bike is a fundamental part of maintenance, the moving parts are exposed to friction and this means they require careful lubrication in order to keep rust away ensure proper performance and prevent failure or even damage to the parts.

It’s important tough to not use too much lubricant and to wipe away any excess, otherwise it can lead to more dust and dirt sticking to the components, which can cause scratching by the abrasive particles, so mind the quantity. Moreover, it’s important to apply it only to the parts where it’s required, lubricants can in fact cause damage to disk brakes.

Note that a bicycle-specific lubricant/oil should be used.

Tight it up

Finally you can proceed to tighten all the bolts and screws that might have come loose, this happens constantly, due mostly to vibrations; these loose bits can cause quite some noise, but most importantly they’re crucial to a properly working bike and thus will make your ride safer.

With time you’ll identify those bits that come loose more often, in my experience these are all the bolts securing mounted gear, such as water bottle or phone holders, mudguards, lights and even the bike bell.

Keep in my mind that not all the bolts and screws require the same force, over-tightening can generate excessive pressure on some components and therefore lead to damage or failure. You can consult the bike’s manual for precise torque specifics, or look up general measures on the internet.

Ready to ride

In this article we have gone through the most basic check up for your bike, not all is necessary every time, given time and experience you will understand quickly what is right or wrong, so eventually maintenance will become more efficient and fun.

Generally you should check at least the ABC we’ve talked about previously before every ride, tough this depends on how often and how hard you ride.

In conclusion everything mentioned here can be done with more focus on each part and more advanced maintenance will br discussed in following articles on the topic. Until then you’re bike should already be riding better, so get out there and enjoy it!

Please leave in the comments any tip or anything you think should be added.

Wishing you a smooth ride,


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