Summer is almost here – Summer cyclocross is almost here, for me too. And if you’re anything like me, a little bit of bike maintenance is probably needed to make sure it’s all running smoothly and is going to keep you safe out on the roads.
I was unfortunate enough to have to cut my ride short the other week when I hit a pot hole and my tyre was unrepairable (I did have everything possibly needed in my saddle bag though). Turned out, my tyres weren’t pumped up enough and there was no sealant in them too! Rookie mistake, eh?!
5 Steps Bike Maintenance & Prep
Well, I wanna make sure I don’t make the same mistake again, and you don’t have to either. Whether you’re also getting ready to get back riding with your club or you’re gonna start cycling to work, I’ve got some bike maintenance tips from the team at fettle, London’s fastest growing bike repair, to make sure your first ride back is trouble free.
Step One: Brake Check
Arguably the most important thing to check are your brakes; if you find yourself out riding and you can’t stop, then well, you’re going to be in serious trouble.
All it takes is a quick spin of the front and rear wheel, making sure brake levers are operating and actually stop you in good time.
If you’re finding your brakes feel rather “squidgy” it’s often a case of misalignment, and a quick re-adjustment. If you’re finding yourself needing to grab a handful of brake to stop however, then it might be time to replace your brake pads.
Step Two: Tyre Check
Almost all tyres have a recommended pressure written on them, as a general guide try to ensure they are pumped up within this pressure – you’ll be faster, comfier and less likely to pick up a puncture.
It’s also worth inspecting them for wear/weathering; check for cuts, cracks, and flat-spots (imagine your tyre is going bald ) to avoid an unwanted puncture when you’re out on the road!
Step Three: Check Your Chain
Taking care of your drivetrain will not only give you a smoother ride, but will make your whole drivetrain last longer, saving what can be a costly replacement.
If you’re wondering how to maintain a bike chain, simply applying lube to your chain regularly and making sure there’s no rust to be seen is one of the best habits a cyclist can get into!
To check chain wear you can either buy a fancy chain wear gauge or rather simply try pulling your chain away from the chainring – if it comes away and you can see the teeth – then sorry, but it’s time for a new chain.
Step Four: Check Your Gears
The bane of many a cyclists life is a soundtrack of squeaky, clicky gears. If this is the case, then it can sometimes be solved by simply indexing your gears which can be done either by yourself if you’re feeling confident, or by a good mechanic.
Believe us, your riding partners will be thankful of this. You also want to check your derailleurs change safely, so when you’re at the traffic lights things don’t jam up.
Fun fact; some SRAM derailleurs lock out to make getting your wheel in and out a tad easier – something that
never ceases to surprise some of our customers…
Step Five: Final Bike Maintenance & Safety Checks
If you’ve ever watched a pro bike race you may have seen a few superstitions before the start; check your QR (quick Release) skewers are done up and wheels are on securely – the last thing you want when riding along is the wheels to fall-off, quite literally.
I’ve actually had someones wheel come off on a Breeze ride I was leading in Epping Forest – and she’d just gotten the bike back from her local bike shop. Luckily we’d come to a stop so she wasn’t in any imminent danger.
Another super-important check is that your steering is nice and secure. Make sure to check the bolts on the handlebars are tight. Then, rock the bike back and forth while applying the front brake, if you can feel any movement it might be that your headset is loose.
All that’s then left to do is to…
Ride away happy.
I’m feeling a lot more confident for my first ‘cross race on my Liv Brava again now it’s had a once over at fettle. If you’re in need of some bike maintenance help, they’ve got bike repair workshops all over London – I paid a special visit to their Finsbury park workshop to chat to mechanic Kit (pictured above).
I did get sent away with some homework too though – cleaning my chain has been added to my to do list.
How do you keep on top of bike maintenance? Do it yourself?! Or book a regular bike service?