With sunnier days approaching for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it can be tempting to whip the bike out of storage and take off for a long awaited cruise. We want to help you get out there as soon as possible, while making sure your bike is working safely and efficiently.
Here are 5 essential spring bike maintenance tips you should always put into practice before a ride. As any veteran cyclist will tell you, these procedures shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes total, and you’ll be right on your way to enjoying the beautiful weather.
Bike Maintenance Tip 1: Check Your Tires
Re-inflate your tires and check their condition at least once a week, not only for the benefit of your own safety, but also to enhance your overall performance. When inspecting tire pressure, we highly recommend utilizing a digital gauge. They’ve become more affordable, and provide an accurate measurement of your tire’s pressure levels. Floor pumps generally have gauges installed, but their accuracy can be inconsistent since they measure the air pressure inside the pump rather than the actual tires .
With so many factors to consider such as body weight, road conditions, type of wheel, and even just personal preference for comfort, the amount of air pressure to put in can be a bit tricky to determine. Too little makes you vulnerable to pinch flats (or “snakebites” - when the tire casing pinches the rim and causes a puncture), and increases rolling resistance, while too much leads to a harsh ride and a lack of grip on the road or trail . Based on our experience, we suggest around 90-100 PSI for standard road tires, but feel free to experiment up or down to find what works best for your riding conditions and weight.
Bike Maintenance Tips 2: Check Brakes
First, take a quick glance at your brake pads and ensure they are only hitting the rims when squeezed. If they’re hitting the tires as well, readjust them to avoid damaging your sidewalls and also to get a more consistent stop. Next, take a rag and clean the braking surface. Whether you’re a frequent city rider, commuter, or cyclist who averages 40-60 miles a day, debris on the brake pads and rim will impair braking performance if neglected .
Bike Maintenance Tip 3 : Lubricate Seatpost
Regularly removing your seat post and cleaning it will prevent the unfortunate and costly outcome of it ever getting seized in the frame . If your seatpost is made of aluminum (like the Redshift Dual-Position Seatpost or suspension seatpost), titanium or steel, apply some grease before reinstalling it. However, if your seatpost is carbon fiber, you’ll want to use a special “carbon assembly paste,” which will help prevent the carbon seatpost from slipping in the clamp . Once cleaned and lubed, follow your manufacturer’s recommended torque settings to clamp the seatpost back into the frame at the correct height.
Bike Maintenance Tip 4: Chain & Gears Lubrication/Replacement
Hop on your bike and slowly begin pedaling for a quick inspection to see if your chain is turning cleanly through your sprockets and isn’t rubbing against the derailleurs. Keep pedaling, and shift through your range of gears so you can feel whether there were any rough transitions. Most of the time, you should be good to go, and cleaning the drivetrain (chain, cassette, and chainwheels) is usually only necessary after your ride . However, if your drivetrain is making excessive noise or grinding, you may need to clean and lubricate your chain. Use a rag to wipe down the chain and gears, and then apply a thin layer of your preferred chain lubricant and wipe away any excess.
How Often Should I Lubricate My Bike Chain?
For road bikes operating on dry paved surfaces, you should get in the habit of lubricating and your chain about every 100 to 150 miles to reduce wear on the chain and gears and cleaning it about once every 3 lubrication cycles. For mountain and gravel bikers, it is recommend that you clean and lube your chain at least once a week depending on your riding habits.
Bike Maintenance Tip 5: Safety Upgrades
An often overlooked part of regular bike maintenance is the safety advantages of ensuring your bike is in proper working order. There are two main threats to safety on bikes, intrinsic issues with the bike that could cause a safety issues (this is where maintenance is most effective) and extrinsic ones, for example, cars and other bike traffic. The intrinsic safety issues are ones that if unattended could cause harm to the rider just by lack of maintenance. Well maintained brakes, for example, are essential to ensuring good stopping distance and the ability to avoid obstacles. Ensuring proper tire pressure mitigates the possibility of a blowout and subsequent crash. Making sure your gearing and chain is in proper working order helps ensure that a catastrophic drivetrain failure wont result in a catastrophic crash.
Extrinsic safety factors like car traffic can also be effected by your bike maintenance schedule. For example, bike lighting helps to illuminate your bike in low light conditions so that cars and other traffic can see you.
But if your lights are not maintained they can fail to work entirely. Before you set off on your first ride of the season, make sure to check your bike illumination or install some if you dont have it.
Our passion at Redshift Sports is helping cyclists optimize their riding experience, no matter what bike and road they’re on. If you found this information useful, check out redshiftsports.com to explore our other ways of helping you get the best ride.