You get the oil changed in your car every 3,000 miles. Every once in awhile you run the car through a car wash. Yes, you know the basic maintenance to take care of your car properly, but what about your bike? Can you give your bike a tune-up? Do you know the parts to check before you head out for a ride?
Proper bicycle maintenance is key to the longevity of your ride and your safety. Luckily, Summit City Bicycles & Fitness and Fort Wayne Outfitters & Bike Depot stepped up to share some tips on how to best care for your bike.
Fort Wayne Outfitter & Bike Depot maintenance technician Kathy Boling said the first step to proper bike maintenance is checking the inflation of the tires. On the side of the tire is the measurement for proper inflation. Most bikes require 40 psi to 100 psi.
While you are inflating your tire, be sure to check for any noticeable wear on the tread or cracks in the sidewalls.
Chad Tieman, assistant service manager at Summit City Bicycles & Fitness, suggests riders air up the tires every day.
“Make sure that every time you ride you air your tires. It makes you ride more comfortable and it decreases the amount of times you have a flat tube. I fill my bike up every single day I ride and I haven't had a flat in two years,” Tieman said.
Tieman said to check the pads to make sure there is enough pad material and that there isn't any debris embedded into the pad. Also check to make sure the cable-spring system is pulling evenly. To do this, hold down the brake, then release, making sure the brakes snap back.
Crank, chain and cassette
With the chain and cassette, also known as the sprocket, make sure to check that the chain is lubricated and clean. If your chain is dry, it will most likely squeak. You can also back spin the crank to make sure there are no skips in the chain.
While simple bike maintenance such as tightening bolts and lubricating the chain can be done in between rides, other types of adjustments are best done by a professional.
“Take your bike to a professional whenever the bike is not performing optimally. If you've done the basics and aired up the tires, lubed your chain and something is still off, just bring it in,” Tieman said.
After a visual check, a bike maintenance technician normally spins the tires and runs through all the gears, checking the chain and cassette. Fort Wayne Outfitters & Bike Depot offers a six-point tune-up, going through the breaks, gears, crankset, wheels, bolts and tires.
“We put a wrench on every nut and bolt on the bike,” Boling said.
But there is no better way to tell if your bike is ready for the next ride than to get on for a spin.
“Lastly, just hop on your bike and ride down the street to make sure everything works,” Boling said.
If your bike is performing well, but needs a little shine, try wetting the entire bike with soapy water to loosen any dirt, mud or grime. That way, you won't scratch the paint, which is what would happen if you just started rubbing the frame. Use two different sponges: one for the painted frame and one for the parts to prevent spreading grease. Then rise by slowly pouring water over the entire bike. Then be sure to dry the bike with a soft towel.
Everyone has a personal and different maintenance schedule for their bike – take Fort Wayne cyclist Steve Martinsky, for example.
“Every time I go out I check the tire pressure, the brakes and the chain. Those are the three things I go over every single time. Then in springtime I take it in for maintenance and then in the fall before I put it away for the wintertime,” he said.
During the winter, Summit City Bicycles & Fitness holds classes to teach everything from changing a tire to cleaning the chain. But if you are looking for additional help, both Summit City Bicycle & Fitness and Fort Wayne Outfitters & Bike Depot ask you to simply stop out and chat with a technician.