Road Bike Basic Maintenance

Mike Berg

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By Aaron Martin, Bee Line Bikes

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Oliver Stubbs repairs a broken bike at Lee’s Cyclery. (Julia Bailey | Collegian)

Basic maintenance consists of maintaining correct tire pressure, maintaining a properly lubricated chain, and knowing the indicators of potential maintenance needs.   

Tires

  1. Identify the tire’s recommended pressure range as shown on the tire.
  2. Invest in a floor pump with a gauge.
  3. Pump up your tires to the recommended range at least weekly.
  4. After pumping up your tires, check tires for wear and damage from road debris.  Also spin the wheels to check that your rims are true.

Chain

  1. Never lubricate a dirty chain.
  2. If your chain is heavily soiled, you can use a degreaser.  Use only bicycle brand degreasers but still be careful not to drip degreaser into the freehub body.
  3. Less soiled chains can be cleaned with a dry shop rag. Use the rag to also clean the rear derailleur pulleys.
  4. Lube the chain only in the center between the links and let it sit for at least 30 seconds to allow lubricant to penetrate the bushings.  
  5. Wipe off as much excess chain lube with a clean shop rag as possible. The lubricant only needs to reside inside the bushings, the rest of the chain can be wiped dry.
  6. Clean and reapply lube after every 2-4 hours of riding.

Potential Maintenance Indicators

  1. If the front brake lever is easier to squeeze than the rear, you need new brake cables.  
  2. If brake levers engage too close to the grip, then brakes require adjusting or pads need to be replaced.
  3. If your chain clicks while you pedal, the rear derailleur cable needs tension adjustment.   
  4. If the chain pops out of gear under hard pedaling, you need a new chain and/or a new cassette.  
  5. If it is easy to shift to the larger rear cog but hesitates shifting into the smaller rear cog, you need new shift cables.  

For the best performance, get a full tune up every 6 to 9 months.  You should have at least a rear light for daytime use.

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