Spring is here and hopefully this Easter we will enjoy some nice weather for cycling. If you are about to dust off the summer bike and head out this Easter Bank holiday weekend, we thoroughly advise that you treat it to a little TLC. Our basic bike maintenance guide has you covered.
If your summer bike has been stored away all winter it will need a little attention to get it ship shape for your first ride out. Below is a simple basic bike maintenance guide to the key areas that we recommend you should pay particular attention to. The list may look daunting but is really very easy to accomplish for even the most reluctant of mechanics.
The effort is well worth it though, a well maintained bike is so much smoother and faster to ride!
- Track / Floor Pump – Every cyclist needs a floor pump! Mini pumps / CO2 pumps are ideal when out on the road but a floor pump is an essential piece of kit. (Especially if you don’t want arms like popeye from inflating your tyres).
- Allen (hex) Keys – Multi tools will normally be sufficient for most simple tasks but a full set of workshop Allen keys are fairly cheap and well worth the investment.
- Torque Wrench – We advise that everyone should own one for checking that bolts are tightened to the manufacturers recommended torque settings.
- Chain Wear Checker – These are used to measure chain wear. Worn chains wear out parts prematurely and can also snap in dramatic fashion.
- Pedal Spanner – Dependent upon your pedal type, most pedals will take an allen key as well as a pedal spanner but the spanner offers better leverage.
- Assembly Grease – We use this in the workshop when assembling our bikes, enough said!
- Carbon Fibre Grip – If you have 2 carbon parts that fit together then you cannot use the aforementioned Assembly Grease. A prime example would be a carbon frame and carbon seatpost. Fibre grip is an alternative to grease and also helps provide friction to stop carbon slippage.
To stay safe there are specific checks that need to be carried out before heading out on the bike. These are key to the bike running smoothly and will also improve the ride quality.
- Brake pads – Some rim brake pads will have wear indicators printed on them, check that the block still has life left in it. If the grooves are no longer visible then the block needs replacing. Also run your finger along the inside of the pads to ensure that there is no flint or stone lodged which can score your wheel rim. If in doubt replace them, they cost very little and it takes a few minutes to swap them out. Likewise, if using disc brakes check that the pads are still viable to use.
- Gears / Gear Hanger – The rear derailleur cage should be aligned with the sprocket on the cassette (see image above). The gear hanger that attaches to the frame should also be straight, otherwise this will affect the gear shifts. A bent derailleur hanger can also snap and cause catastrophic damage to your chain and spokes.
- Bolts – All bolts should be checked to make sure that they are tightened to the correct torque. We strongly advise that if you do not already own one you purchase a torque wrench. They start at about £25 for a proper adjustable one. Or you can buy a preset 5Nm Mini Torque wrench for simple adjustments for approx £13-£20. Special attention needs to be paid to the handlebar and stem bolts which should normally be tightened to 5-6Nm. This figure is normally printed on the bars and / or stem.
- Tyre pressure – This is largely determined by rider weight and how you like the bike to ride. Heavier riders run tyres at a higher pressure than lighter riders and this offers a faster ride but you feel more road vibration. A lower pressure (PSI) in tyres is more comfortable but slower!
- The pressure range you should inflate the inner tube to will be stamped on the sidewall of the tyre (see image below). NEVER RIDE THE BIKE WITH THE TYRES BELOW THE MINIMUM STATED PSI. This is both unsafe and can cause the carcass to crack. Remember to check the tyre pressure before each ride if you do not ride the bike daily. An easy way to check the pressure is to attach a floor pump and push down on the handle, the needle of the dial will travel round to the current pressure in the tyre.
Grease and Lubrication
Buy Muc Of Bio Grease here
If the bike has been stored in a garage or shed over the winter it is often subjected to cold and damp and this can have a detrimental effect on the performance. Certain parts need to be greased and lubricated before you take the bike out for a spin.
- Headset – A simple but crucial task is greasing the headset. There are many ‘how to’ videos on YouTube to help you accomplish this. Remove the headset, liberally coat the bearings with Grease and re-assemble. This will prevent corrosion of the bearings and weatherproofs the headset.
- Pedals – Depending upon the type of pedals, you will need a 6/8mm Allen key or 15mm pedal spanner. If the pedal axles are too dry the bike will click and creak and this is one of THE most popular reasons for creaks. Remove the pedals, coat the axles in Grease and re-fit.
- Drivetrain – In particular the chain, cassette and pulley wheels (jockey wheels) of the rear derailleur. For the bike to run smoothly these items need to be cleaned and lubricated. Jockey wheels in particular tend to get overlooked and a build up of road grime reduces their effectiveness. Use a chain bath filled with degreaser to clean the chain and then apply lube. Or use a 2 in 1 cleaner like Rock ‘n’ Roll lube that cleans and lubricates the chain.
- Seatpost – Another all too common issue is a seatpost that has seized into the frame. During routine maintenance always remove the seatpost, even if it is only to remove it and place it back in the tube. If it is an alloy post/alloy frame, apply grease, with alloy post/carbon frame or carbon/carbon combinations apply carbon fibre grip.
We hope you found the tips above helpful, of course all of these do not need to be performed on a weekly basis. We do however recommend that you do carry out this full list more regularly if you use the bike on a day to day basis. If you only use the bike infrequently then quarterly or half yearly should suffice. And if you don’t get out too often then the key maintenance is to keep the chain well lubed and keep the tyre pressures within the set Psi range.
The Ribble Workshop Bundle is a fantastic basic workshop maintenance kit and offers outstanding value for money. View it here.
Fancy a challenging ride this Easter? Try one of these iconic climbs.
Want to learn more about the Ribble bike range? Click here