Maintenance Tricks Every Cyclist Should Know

These 12 simple bike maintenance tips will go a long way toward keeping you and your bike on the road and out of the shop.


1 - Eelke Dekker

1. Avoid Overdoing It

Over-inflated tyres are as much to blame for flats as under-inflated ones. Know your psi. An over-tightened bolt can cause small parts to break under pressure and bigger ones to form stress points. Get a torque wrench. Over-lubing gunks up your drivetrain and attracts dirt and dust. Wipe off excess with a clean, dry rag.

2. Work on Your Bike in This Order

Wash, rinse, dry, lube, adjust, wax. “You can’t properly adjust a bicycle that is dirty and not lubricated,” says Karl Frisch, chief mechanic for Team Tibco/To The Top.

3. Stop Paying Someone to Turn a Tiny Wrench

Recognise a wheel that’s out of true, then fix it yourself. Learn how here.

4. Watch for Signs of Wear

Whether it’s a cracked saddle or smoothed brake pads, replace worn-out gear before it breaks or fails mid-ride.

5. Make This Easy Upgrade

Treat your bar to new tape for a better grip and a showroom look. Tip: If your hands roll to the outside in the drops, wrap in that direction (that’s clockwise on the right, counterclockwise on the left). Always wrap the flat section toward the saddle.

6. Avoid Checking Bolts Before Every Ride

Every time you do, you tighten them slightly. By year’s end you could end up turning a bolt one full rotation. Torque them right the first time.

7. Get Down to the Nitty-Gritty

Like gravel on a skinned knee, grit will infect your bike. Here’s where it hides: in brake pads, between tubes and tyres, in cleats and pedals.

8. Really Silence Your Drivetrain

Each time you lube your chain (no more than once a week, or immediately after a rainy ride), drip a little into the hubs of your derailleur pulley wheels. Wipe everything dry. Ssshhh. Hear that?

9. Rip Off the Band-Aid

That duct tape you used last year—to secure the sole of your shoe to the upper, as a makeshift rim strip during a century-ride spoke fiasco, or to fasten your loose bottle cage to your frame—needs to go. Say good-bye to your ghetto ride.

10. Learn a New Trick

Here’s one: Always cap off the ends of a freshly cut cable. For a a couple of cents per cap, you eliminate the risk of shredding a fingertip.

11. Get Your Shop in Order

Organise your tools so you can grab your 5mm blindfolded; keep surfaces free of clutter so you don’t roll on a screwdriver and impale yourself; and get a decent workstand so you’re using your hands to make repairs, not to hold the bike upright.

12. Never Put Away a Dirty Bike

You wouldn’t put away soiled laundry, would you?

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