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Bicycle Basics

How to Care for Your Bicycle

To keep your bicycle rolling smoothly and safely on the road or trail, you should learn how to care for your bicycle.  Proper bicycle care and maintenance will allow for many hours of enjoyable riding and touring.  Knowing a few bicycle basics will enable you to keep your bike in good riding condition.  Taking some preventative steps can help to ensure continued peak performance from your bicycle.  Bicycles should be thoroughly inspected and serviced by a professional once or twice a year.  There are some simple things you can do to maintain your bike between inspections.  Depending on how much you ride, you should do a quick, easy inspection of your own on a daily or weekly basis.  Three important things to check daily or weekly are the chain, brakes, and tires.

Upkeep and Maintenance for Bicycles
Routinely checking the tires, brakes, and chain is an important, yet easy to do, part of the upkeep and maintenance for bicycles.  Also, there are a few basic tools and supplies that you should keep on hand and carry with you while riding.  Keeping the bike clean and proper storage are additional important factors in good bicycle care and maintenance.  Devoting a little time and effort to maintaining your bicycle will extend the bike’s lifespan and ensure safe travel.

Inflating the tires to the correct tire pressure will allow you to get the maximum amount of miles out of a set of tires.  Bicycle tires have the recommended pressure printed on the side.  Some riders prefer to adjust the pressure slightly for a more comfortable ride.  However, make sure that the tires are not too under or over inflated to avoid excess wear.  Be sure to use a gauge that is made for bicycle tires.  The tire pressure should be checked before each ride.  Bike tires lose air.  The skinny bike tires need air almost every day.  The fat tires, usually, need air every week.  Be careful not to damage the valves, when checking the pressure and when adding air.  It is a good idea to use the largest tube that will fit the tire.  This will reduce air loss and help resist flats.             

The bike brakes should be inspected frequently.  Check the brake pads for wear, embedded metal particles, and proper adjustment, or positioning.  Also, keep the rims clean.  Road bikes have center mounted brakes.  Touring, cyclocross, hybrid, and mountain bikes have cantilever mount brakes.  To avoid squealing, make sure the brake pads are toed in, not flat on the rim.  If the bike brakes make a scraping sound, the pads need have to the metal particles sanded out or they need to be replaced.  For optimal bicycle safety, the brake pads should be replaced when they’re worn to ¼ inch. 

Taking care of the chain is an important part of proper bicycle care and maintenance.  Keep the chain clean and lubricated.  Stand the bike upside down or lift the back tire off the ground to lubricate the chain.  Apply chain lubricant on the inside of the chain while pedaling backwards.  Do not over lubricate the chain.  Wipe off any excess lubricant with a clean cloth.  Inspect the chain for bent links.  If there are more than a few bent links, replace the chain to avoid gear damage.

It is a good idea to carry a few basic bicycle maintenance tools with you.  A tire gauge, flat tire repair kit, air pump, allen wrenches, chain tool and a screwdriver should be part of your traveling bicycle tool kit.  Performing basic bicycle maintenance regularly will help ensure bicycle safety and an enjoyable ride every time.  Proper storage and regular cleaning will eliminate unnecessary nicks and scratches and prevent rust.

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