One of the beauties of cycling is the convenience. You can just hop on and start pedaling, most of the time. However, we must remember, much like a car, a bicycle needs maintenance. If you take good care of your bicycle it should be reliable for you.
Below are five areas of your bicycle to check before each ride. Doing so will save you time, money, and a lot of hassle later. There are certainly times when a skilled mechanic is needed; however, most of the daily upkeep can be learned through Youtube.
Be sure to learn about these five essentials below.
Be sure to check the air pressure in your tires before every ride. Tires deflate naturally due to use and different weather conditions. The recommended pressure or PSI can be found on the side of your tire (the rubber part). Maintaining the recommended amount of pressure in your tire will ensure your are riding as efficiently as possible. When you ride on a tire that is too deflated, you will exert far more effort than needed. You might as well be riding on a marshmallow. Most bike shops have free air or invest in a floor pump like this.
Chances are this won’t need daily maintenance, but it’s worth the check. Run your finger over the chain to make sure it is well lubricated. If it feels dry you should apply some chain grease like this. Lubricating your chain will extend the life of the cogs and drive train on your bicycle. It will also allow for more efficiency by minimizing friction.
Despite the importance of needing to stop, too many people ride around with malfunctioning brakes. Brakes can be delicate and can become maladjusted just from leaning your bike against something. Always make sure your brakes are well centered and are not rubbing against your wheel. The brake pads should not be making contact with any other component unless you are stopping. Also, squeeze your brake levers before each ride to make sure they feel smooth. If they are hard to squeeze, you may need to lube the cable or loosen it. If you have to pull the lever back really far, your brakes need tightening. Brakes can be really tricky and frustrating to adjust. Below is a helpful video that explains brake adjustment, but if you don’t feel comfortable then this is the perfect job for a mechanic at your LBS (local bike shop).
First, make sure your seat is positioned appropriately for your height. A seat that is too high or low can lead to discomfort and even injury. Check out the video below for more on adjustment. However, It is strongly encouraged to speak to your LBS to ensure you find just the right positioning for your body type and riding style. Also, your seat bares a lot of weight and absorbs the vibrations from the road. As a consequence your seat can become loose. You should mark your seat height with a piece of tape and always ensure it remains in this position. If it become loose simply tighten it down with a wrench or allen key. Your seat will naturally move over time, which is why it’s important to check regularly.
Chances are your pedals will be ok, especially if you don’t mess around with them.However, it does not hurt to double check their security before your ride. Just make sure they are tightly screwed into the crank arm. Ensure that they are not loose or coming off the bicycle. If they are, tighten them back down. Again, you may never need to tighten the pedals, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Losing a pedal mid ride would most likely result in serious injury. Let’s prevent that.