LINKS TO SOME OF MY OTHER STUFF
Saturday, April 12, 2008
REGULAR BICYCLE MAINTENANCE, WHEN IT'S NOT AN OPTION ANYMORE
Bicycle maintenance is always important, but at some point it becomes necessary to organize yourself a regular, if not yearly, routine. Case in point, I recently had an interesting discussion with one of my readers, I will call him Robert (That's his bike in the picture by the way), who met this nice French woman, moved to France, ditched his car and started using his bike to get around everywhere. Now Robert, not his real name, is faced with the fact that his bike needs some well deserved maintenance and attention.
If you decide that your bicycle will become a more regular means of transportation in your life, there are some things you have to be willing to do. Now that your bike is not in the same category as lawn furniture priority wise, it is time to look after it with more regularity. When a bike is just used for recreation once and awhile, people take them to the shop or replace them when they break down. What you have to realize is that a well taken care of bicycle can last you a lifetime.
Chain lubrication should be attended to at least once every season and twice that if it sleeps outdoors (step AWAY from the WD40, use real bike chain lubricant). Schedule rear brake cable replacement at least once a year. If the cable is still good, rotate it to the front brake and get rid of that cable. Check your brake pads if they need to be replaced, rotate them fornt to back once a year. Rotate your tires front to back once a year to make them last longer. If you do any kind of serious mileage, replace your chain once a year. Take a look at your derailleur cables and schedule replacing if they are rusted or frayed, rotate them as well if you can. Put a dab of lubricant on every piece of exposed metal at least once a year and spot paint any paint chips on the frame. These task can be done by anyone with very basic tools. The only special tool needed in what I mentioned in this paragraph is a chain tool, you should definitely have one of those and carry it with you when you ride. Trust me it will pay for itself the first time you bust your chain in the middle of fraking nowhere! Clean your bike once a week, dirt is it's enemy. I use lemon Pledge furniture polish, it's a degreaser, it leaves a protective coat of wax so dirt doesn't stick on my frame, it makes the finish look very shiny and it smells nice too(make sure you don't spray any on your drivetrain, it will absolutely remove any lube you have on there).
Now you can always go for the big jobs like re-greasing all the bearings on your bike once a year. This will require some specialized tools and the knowledge dispensed elsewhere in this blog. If your are not confident enough to do the work yourself, don't despair, just farm out the work to your local bike shop. Since you are educated about the needs of your ride, you can be more specific about the work you want done to it and it will save you time and money.
Lastly, make simple verifications on a regular basis. A loose nut and bolt here and there is quickly fixed and will prevent bigger problems down the road. Also check your tire pressure once a week, you are the propulsion system and even 1 psi too low will affect how hard you have to crank those pedals.
When you own a car, you are a slave to it working long hours to pay the monthly bills that it generates, but with a bike it is the reverse. It is so low maintenance and low cost that it serves you. However, keeping it in good running order will make it happy and you as well in return.
Til next time, ride safe and Godspeed.