In bike repair and maintenance you have two options:
✓ You can focus on the maintenance so that your bike will need fewer repairs.
✓ You can ignore maintenance and end up having to do more repair work.
We prefer the former. If you do, too, here are the maintenance activities you should be performing on a monthly and annual basis.
Put your monthly maintenance on the calendar for the months you ride and it will soon become a habit and normal part of your life.
Here are the steps you’ll take during your monthly maintenance:
✓ Check for structural damage. Visually inspect your frame for signs of stress and structural damage, paying particular attention to areas where the frame is welded and hard-to-see sections such as the underside of frame tubes.
✓ Inspect the wheels and tires. Are they spinning straight? Are the tires worn, cut, or torn and are the spokes tight?
✓ Clean your bike. Dirt is your number-one enemy so if you don’t have the time to clean your bike after every ride, make sure you do it monthly, especially if you’ve been riding on a regular basis.
✓ Lubricate your bike. You take your car for an oil change every 3,000 miles — make sure your bike gets a lube job every month that you ride to extend the life of its movable parts.
Check for tightness. Even if they’re tightened properly, fasteners such as nuts and bolts have a way of working themselves loose over time.
You don’t want something to fall off while you ride, which could be dan
gerous or cause you to lose a part, so check to make sure everything is
tight as a part of your monthly maintenance.
Check the brakes. When a squirrel runs out in front of you is not the
time to discover that your brake pads are worn out. Check the brake
pads for wear, confirm that the cable clamp has the cable securely in place, and give your brake levers a firm squeeze to confirm that the brakes evenly and firmly grab the rim.
Examine the chain, cogs, and chainrings. Don’t let your chain wear out because it’ll shorten the life of your chainrings and cogs. Measure the chain to confirm that 12 links measure 12 inches and, if not, replace the chain or soon you’ll be replacing the much more expensive cogs and chainrings.
Protect your saddle. If you have a leather saddle, you’ll need to pay attention here. Leather saddles are great, but they require a little extra
work, including a regular leather treatment to clean the leather and
replenish the leather’s natural oils.
Focus on your suspension. If you have suspension on your bike, inspect all suspension pivot and linkage bolts for correct tightness. If you have suspension forks, check your owner’s manual for instructions on how to care for them.
For more information on monthly maintenance, including instructions on how to do all these things, turn to Chapter 17.
Do you yearn to ride your bike in the middle of those cold winter months? Do the next best thing and become reacquainted with your bike by giving it an annual overhaul:
✓ Deep-clean the chain. Soak the chain in a environmentally safe degreaser to get a deep clean in between the links, rollers, and pins.
✓ True the wheels. All those bumps over the course of the year are going to affect the tension of your spokes and, as a result, your wheel alignment. Take the time to bring it back into true.
✓ Replace cables and the housing. Inspects your cables and the housing in which they run. If you notice any kinks, rusting, fraying, or a buildup of dirt and grime, it’s probably time to install new ones.
✓ Overhaul the hubs. Overhauling the hubs annually is especially important if you have traditional hubs with loose bearings. If you have sealed bearings, you probably can go a few years.
✓ Overhaul the headset. Yearly maintenance is a good time to inspect, clean, adjust, and overhaul the headset.
✓ Overhaul the pedals. Pedals are another component that utilizes bearings. As with the hubs, if you want them to continue spinning smoothly, give them an overhaul.
✓ Overhaul the bottom bracket. The bottom bracket is the center of your drivetrain. All the revolutions of the bottom bracket add up over the course of a year, so do your bike a favor and overhaul or replace the bottom bracket.
✓ Clean the rear derailleur. The focus here is on removing the derailleur so that you can clean the dirt where it builds up most, on the two jockey wheels.
✓ Replace the brake pads. Keep an extra set at home. They’re cheap and easy to install, and when you install a fresh pair, they give you peace of mind.
✓ Replace the handlebar grips or tape. Need to add a little pizzazz to your bike after a long year of riding? Inject some color and life as well as some comfort for your hands by replacing the handlebar tape or grips.
✓ Wax the frame. If you take apart your bike for the annual overhaul, take advantage of easy access to a clean frame and give your bike a good waxing.
✓ Check your accessories. Don’t make the mistake of discovering that you’re missing an important accessory — like a patch kit, tool, or extra batteries for your light — when you have an emergency. Take a quick look at your accessories and confirm that everything is there.
For more information on annual maintenance, turn to Chapter 17.