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Looking After Your Bike

By: Mike Kiely BA (hons) - Updated: 19 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Frame Chain Brakes Brake Pad Lights Tyre

Whether you spend most of your time on the road or up and over mud tracks your bike is going to pick up dirt, ranging from muddy water stains on the frame to grit finding its way onto the chain and fragments from the surface embedded in the tyre tread or walls.

The importance, therefore, of regularly cleaning your bike, as well as undertaking period checks of both the gears and braking systems, cannot be overstated. In short, fail to ensure your bike is roadworthy and you’ll only ensure that one day it will fail. The consequences may be nothing more than inconvenience. However they could be a lot worse.

Regular maintenance is both more effective and less time consuming. For example, using a specialist cleaner, or even plain old detergent, to wipe down a frame twice a week will be a much easier task than trying to remove layers of dirt that have been allowed to accumulate over the space of a month. If you have had a busy day on the mud tracks, it is advisable to give your bike a wipe down as soon as you return home. You may be worn out but it is a chore that will benefit both yourself and your bike.

Ready to Roll

After cleaning, check all the bolts securing the bikes component parts, for example pedals, chainring and headset. Don’t loosen them, rather try to tighten. If you can’t tighten them any further, then you are ready to roll.

Every time you take your bike out, carry out a simple pre-ride check of the brakes. This involves putting the front brake on and giving the bike a forward shove. You should encounter good resistance. Repeat this drill for the rear wheel, too. Periodic inspection of the brake pads is also essential because they are inevitably going to become worn with use, thereby reducing their ability to perform to the maximum. If the pads look worn, simply replace them.

Next, the chain. Dirt is going to impede movement and, therefore, performance, so soak a cloth in detergent or cleaner and run the chain through it by turning the pedal to initiate the movement. A compressed air canister can also prove useful in dislodging any stubborn deposits.

Cushioning and Traction

Tyre should also be inspected for both road damage and worn tread. Check also that the pressure of the tyre is right for the surface you are travelling over. For example, too much air off-road will reduce the amount of cushioning and traction.

Finally, click those lights on and off, and replace the batteries or recharge on a regular basis so that you are confident in your power supply. Even if you are setting off in daylight hours, don’t forget to check – your route may mean you are returning after dusk, or possibly you may have lost time because you lost your way. In either instance, you don’t want to suddenly discover you have no means of lighting your way or alerting others to your presence.

Regular checks will ensure that you are neither compromising your bike’s ability to perform, or your safety when riding it. It’s commonsense, really.

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