The Ultimate Guide to Road Bike Maintenance
Learning how to clean bike gears and bike chains can be tricky business, which is why many people leave it to the professionals. But if you want to save money and get to know your bike better, it’s time to learn the ins and outs of road bike maintenance for yourself. Check out our guide below to learn the basics of bicycle maintenance and cleaning.
Inspecting Your Bike
You’ll avoid the majority of bike troubles out on the road if you always do a proper bike inspection before heading out. The ABCs of bike inspection will help you thoroughly check your bike for any problems.
- A for Air: Avoid a flat tire by making sure your tires have enough air in them. To do so, check the side of your tire to find out the recommended tire pressure. Then use a bike pump with a pressure gauge to bring your tires up to the right pressure (or to release pressure, if the number is too high). This is also a good time to make sure your quick-release levers and thru axles are tightened, and that you have a patch kit and pump ready to take along for your ride.
- B for Brakes: Working brakes are crucial to road bike safety. Make sure your brakes are in working order by squeezing both the front and back brake levers and watching for smooth and proper braking of your bike.
- C for Chain: Lastly, check out your chain and gears. Rotate the chain and look for any buildup or links that aren’t turning over with ease. A well-lubricated, smooth chain is key to a safe ride, and will elongate the life of your drivetrain.
How to Clean a Bike Chain and Gears
Wondering how to clean a bike chain? Before you start, take a step back and inspect the chain from the side. Rotate the pedal to move the chain, watching out for dirt, rust, squeaky links, or links that don’t easily bend. If you find any of these spots, use a small brush with firm bristles (such as a toothbrush) to remove buildup. Then wipe the chain with lubricant and wipe off the excess.
Deep Cleaning Your Chain
Every few months, take time to remove the chain completely, brush it, and let it soak in chain solvent. Once you remove and dry your chain, reapply lubricant and attach the chain back on your bike.
Bike gears require oil and grease to function, so if you’re wondering how to clean bike gears, don’t make the mistake of trying to power wash away the gunk. Instead, simply check the gears to make sure they’re working correctly and apply lube every few months.
Winter Bicycle Maintenance
Winter weather can be tough on your bike, so it’s important to show it some extra love when the weather turns. Keep your bike protected from rain, snow, and cold by following these tips:
- Store your bike indoors: Whenever possible, keep your bike inside. A bike that is left outside will be susceptible to rain, humidity, and dirt, which will wear it out more quickly and cause you to spend more time and money repairing it.
- Clean your bike more frequently if you often ride in the rain or snow: If you’re commuting on your bike, rain or shine, it will naturally require more maintenance.
- Invest in mud guards: Reduce the amount of salty gunk that gets on your bike by adding mudguards to the front and back tires in the winter.
- Hang your bike upside down: After a wet ride, hanging your bike upside down will allow any moisture to drip off. This will help you avoid a rusty frame.
- Ride with wider tires: A wider tire or studded tires will help you have more traction on icy roads in the winter.
Road Bike Maintenance Tips
With knowledge on how to clean and inspect your bike in all seasons, you’ll enjoy your bike for years to come. Here are a few more tips for keeping your road bike in top condition:
- Crashed your bike? Check in with a pro: If you’ve crashed your bike or bought a used bike, it’s best to have a professional repair person check it out to make sure everything is in working order.
- Don’t put WD40 on your bike chain: This is a common mistake that will strip the chain of its oil and cause the metal to grind. Apply chain lube instead.
- Clean and lube before adjusting: You won’t be able to properly adjust the bike if you aren’t able to freely turn the wheels and chain.
- Inspect your bike before every ride: This will help you avoid most of the problems that could occur while you’re on the road.
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