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How to: Bike Maintenance

If you love cycling then you’ll know that your bike is more to you than an A to B tool. Whether you’re a competitive triathlete or a dedicated trailblazer, you’ll understand that your bike is your partner in crime every meter of the course or your companion on long nature rides.

Cycling provides physical and mental benefits for riders so it’s important to give something back to the bike that keeps you going. That’s why bike maintenance is essential when it comes to prolonging the efficiency of your cycle.

So whether you’re a novice or a pro, a triathlete or a commuter, understanding how to maintain your bike ensures you’re getting the most out of your cycle.

What is bike maintenance?

Bike maintenance is the process of performing regular checks to your cycle and making adjustments where necessary, to give your bike the best chance at a long and active life.

Bike maintenance doesn’t need to be a gruelling chore. By incorporating a well-organised bike maintenance schedule and using appropriate maintenance products, your bike will continue to perform at a high level for far longer than those bikes that go neglected and unmaintained.

The maintenance of a bike also doesn’t have to occur all in one session. Some checks are only required every few months whilst others should be done fairly consistently to avoid a metaphorical (or physical) tumble over the handlebars.

 

Why regular bike maintenance is important

Regular bike maintenance is important for all bikes, no matter how much the rider demands from them. Obviously, the amount of usage a bike gets will have a direct impact on how often it needs to be checked over but regular bike maintenance can keep you safe, make sure your bike keeps running and also ensure you’re not having to dig into your pockets for unnecessary replacement charges.

No matter the course or the discipline, a well-maintained bike can be the difference between a win and a loss or a narrow miss and an accident. Bikes with damaged or lax brake pads or weathered wheel treads can inhibit stopping and turning ability, placing riders in worse case situations in the most unfortunate scenarios. Don’t wait for something to go wrong – prevent it before it can happen.

Bike maintenance is also vital for triathlon bikes and their riders. Finely tuned components make sure you’re always at an advantage rather than a handicap. You didn’t make that initial investment of your high-quality triathlon bike only to let it get all out of shape and let you down.

You can feel the difference between a bike that is well looked after versus one that has suffered neglect. Save yourself money and time whilst staying at the top of your game. You look after your body to compete in the other two stages of triathlon so why not care for the cycle that’s going to carry you through the other?  

Bike maintenance schedule

Now we’ve talked a lot about why bike maintenance is important, you may be wondering how to maintain your bike. A planned out schedule and checklist will make sure that nothing goes forgotten.

So if you want to keep your bike running smoothly, we’ve laid out a few timely guidelines for helping you do so:

Daily/Weekly maintenance

  • Tyre pressure – Technically, this is one that you should be doing every time you ride. Check your pressure and don’t cycle on a really squishy wheel. Always check your tire wall for the correct PSI and inflate accordingly with a pump. Some pumps like the Topeak Joe Blow Booster are a combined pump and stand, meaning you can stow and pump before you go all in one place.
  • Check the tread – Debris can become lodged within the tread of the tire which can lead to uncomfortable rides and flat tyres.
  • Quick release check – Ensure that your quick releases are tight. During transportation or races, these can become loose so it’s always important to tighten them up before you ride again.
  • Brake check - Before every ride, it’s important to do a quick squeeze test to make sure brakes are grabbing and that the pads touch the rims, not the tres.
  • Brief clean – Make sure that after a ride you just give your bike a once over. This will help clear anything stuck to the frame or lodged in the wheels. It maintains the appearance of your cycle but also prevents any corrosive substances latching onto the body.
  • Lube your chain – The chain of your bike is so important. After every ride, the chain should be wiped down and re-lubed. Making sure to maintain your bike chain will be the difference between a lot of performance factors and expensive repercussions. Using high quality bike lubes will keep your bike running smoother than ever. 

Monthly maintenance (or every 500 miles)

  • Mid-level body inspection  Wipe down bicycle frame with a cloth whilst inspecting the frame and parts for signs of wear, such as cracks or dents.
  • Loose spokes – You must check the wheels for loose spokes. If loose spokes are discovered, the wheels may have to be re-trued. Even a singular loose spoke can indicate more issues with the wheel truing and should not be ridden until fixed.
  • Drivetrain deep clean – Get stuck into the chain and cassette monthly. Soak a rag with degreaser and run along your chain backward to make sure dirt is removed. Ensure lube is applied. Take your time to ensure this key component is cleaned thoroughly. A suitable brush set can remove muck in no time.
  • Bolt tightness Using an appropriate tool, assess the tightness of the moving and connecting parts such crankarms, pedals, chainring bolts, seat bolt, stem bolts, handlebar bolts and all accessory mounting fixtures.
  • Check the spin – Spin the wheels of the bike to check to see if it wobbles. If so, it indicates that you may need to have your wheels trued or it has fallen out of line.

Six monthly maintenance (or every 2,500 miles)

  • Tired tyres – Tyres should be checked for wear such as dry rot or overly worn treads. If the cracks or wear are significant – replace. Wheels should be refreshed anyway at this point before the damage becomes too much.
  • Thorough brake check – Although you should check your brakes regularly before every ride, a thorough brake check is required every few months. Take a more focused look at your brake pads to see if they need repair or replacements.
  • Replace grips – Sweat is a corrosive chemical and during rides, sweat from the palms can lead to discolouration and damage to handlebar grips. These should be replaced when the material is clearly damaged to ensure a strong grip is maintained.
  • Chain check – Use a chain checking tool to analyse how much your chain has stretched during use. It should be replaced once it reaches the .5 mark. Replacing your chain before it’s too damaged will prolong the life of your cassette and your bike.

Yearly maintenance (or every 6,000 miles)

  • Cassette check – The annual mark is probably the best time to swap out your cassette. If you’re beginning to see something similar to what Jaws’ dentist sees then it’s definitely time for a change.
  • Cable assessment – If you haven’t already seen fraying in the cables of your cycle then it’s time to swap them now. Don’t let your brake and shift quality suffer so make sure to get new, fresh replacements every year.

Essential bike maintenance products

By using appropriate maintenance tools and products, bike maintenance can be a breeze.

Having the correct chain tool, such as our Tacx Tools to Go which works with almost any chain and fits together in one compact tool, is also incredibly important.  

After all, tools are essential to bike maintenance but that doesn’t mean you need to have a pack full of them. By using compact tools such as the Crankbrother M19 Multi-tool, you can have almost everything you need in one little gadget.

Bike care will be pivotal to your performance and at TRI UK we stock everything from bike cleaners, to lubricants to bio-grease to keep your bike looking and feeling fresh.

TRI UK understands that your bike is a key part of your life and that’s why we want to ensure it stays there for as long as possible. We wouldn’t provide such high standard cycles from ranges such as Cervelo, Cannondale and beyond if we didn't give you a way to maintain them.

Years of hard work have given us the knowledge and ability to present our passion for triathlon and other cycling disciplines and with an easy and attentive customer service ethos, we’re always ready to help.

So if you need high calibre bike accessories, check out our products or contact us today to find out more or use our services on 01935 414142 or email sales@triuk.com