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Whether you are a commuter, racer or weekend warrior, it’s important to maintain your bicycle. In between professional tune-ups, there are quick and easy things you can do to keep your bike running smooth. Keeping up with these home maintenance tips could help prevent costly repairs down the road.
Here are the top 5 bike maintenance tips you should do at home:
1. Pump up those tyres! The specific PSI range can be found on the sidewalls of your tyre. Keeping it above the minimum pressure can prevent flats, keep your wheels true and make your bike riding experience much smoother.
2. Lube your chain. Your chain should feel sticky; never dry. To extend the life of your chain, lube it at least once a month, sometimes more in wet seasons. To lube the chain, clean the chain with a rag and apply a drop of lube to each link. Let sit for about 15 minutes, the wipe off the excess grease. Chains have a life of about 1600 kilometres (1,000 miles). It’s good to keep track of the miles you put on your bike and replace the chain accordingly. Most bike shops are able to check your chain wear and tell you if it’s time for a new chain.
3. Check your brake pads. Nearly all brake pads have wear lines on them to indicate when the pads need to be replaced. Brakes shouldn’t make grinding or squeaking noises, if they are, you may need new brake pads.
4. Lube cables and housing. The cables for your brakes and shifters run through rubber tubing called housing. You want the least amount of friction between the cables and housing as possible. Dripping a few drops of lubricant (called tri flow) into the brake and shifter housing helps to ensure your cables can run smoothly inside the housing, which in turn helps maintain a quick response during shifting and braking.
5. Check your wheels for true. When you are off the bike, spin the wheel and watch it move. If it looks straight, the wheel should be good. If the wheel is wobbling back and forth or up and down, it needs to be trued.
Annie May is a Minnesota native currently living in Seattle, Wa. Annie started commuting by bicycle when she was 18 and hasn’t slowed down yet. She got a job at a bike shop at 21 and has been working too hard for no money ever since. These days she can be found at the Seattle Children’s hospital manning the staff bicycle service center.