Calling all female riders – you should learn some basic bike maintenance skills
If you’re going to ride a bike regularly, you should learn some basic bike maintenance skills. It will save you both time and money. You don’t have to be a man to learn some basic (or even more advanced) bike maintenance. Women are just as capable, or perhaps even more than men at keeping their bikes in good working order. Keeping your bike running well will save you money because the parts on your bike will wear better and need replacing less frequently.
Here are a few tips for the basics:
Pump up your tyres regularly. I do mine at least once per week. You will find the recommended PSI for your tyres on the sidewall. Typically road tyres should be at around 80-100 PSI. You should also keep an eye on the wear and tear of your tyres and have a close look for any pieces of glass or similar that can gradually work their way through the rubber and cause a puncture.
Chain & running gear
Every few weeks you should clean your chain with a rag to remove the gunk that has accumulated from the road. Once it’s clean you should apply a suitable lubricant. Ask at your local bike shop for a recommendation for the most suitable lube for your bike and type of riding. After applying the lube you should wipe off any excess or otherwise, you’ll end up with a gunky mess which will attract dirt and grit from the road.
Every so often (this will depend on how often you ride) you should degrease the chain and other running gear elements like the rear cassette and jockey wheels on your rear derailleur. There are plenty of specialist products available to degrease your bike – don’t use WD40.
Brakes & braking surface
Brake pads, both caliper and disc brakes wear out and need to be replaced. You can also keep your brakes in good condition by cleaning the pads and braking surface occasionally. Don’t use anything with lubricant, just soap and water will do the job. Disc brakes are a little bit trickier but can be cleaned and maintained. Just be careful not to put your fingers on the rotors because the oil in your skin will contaminate them.
You should also wipe down the entire bike regularly. This is so it looks good, but it also helps with wear and tear. I clean my bike with baby wipes which are nice and gentle on you and the bike, but effectively remove grease and other muck. I also wear plastic gloves when I clean my bike which keeps my hands clean and encourages me to clean it thoroughly.
If you have electronic gears on your bike like Shimano Di2 or SRAM eTap you should check it regularly so you don’t get caught out with a flat battery. Shimano Di2 is easy to check by depressing one of your gear buttons. If your battery does go flat while you’re out riding your bike will be stuck in one gear so keep an eye on it and charge as required.
About every 12 months you should get your bike serviced at your local bike shop. It’s relatively inexpensive and is well worth it to keep your precious bike on the road.