With lockdown and safety measures in place worldwide, millions of people suddenly found themselves with nothing but time on their hands. Gyms, malls, and other places where people used to congregate have closed their doors, many of them for good, and people have turned to other activities to fill their days. It’s not surprising that bicycling has exploded in popularity. You get to leave your home, you can do it alone, and you don’t have to go near people.
But this sudden influx of enthusiasts also comes with risks. Biking can be dangerous if you’re not careful, and you need to be cautious every time you’re out on the road. It pays to educate yourself before hopping on a bike. And safety isn’t just the issue. Riding a bike is one thing. Keeping it in good condition is another.
If you’re serious about biking as a pastime and lifestyle, you owe it to yourself to learn basic maintenance. Bikes aren’t as complicated as automobiles, but they still need the occasional repair or tuneup. And since there’s a wealth of information on the internet, you have no excuse not to. Here are a few things that will help you keep your bicycle in good condition.
1. Bring a tire repair kit
Bicycle tires are more prone to punctures and deflations compared to automobile tires. Knowing how to fix or replace a bicycle tire is an essential skill every rider should know, especially if you use one daily. Otherwise, you’d be essentially stuck if the tire goes out. Assemble a quick tire repair kit and bring it with you at all times.
A basic kit consists of a hand pump, a spare tube, and a few levers. Make sure to practice at home before riding out, but a quick manual wouldn’t hurt as well. For flat tires, start by removing the bicycle wheel and pry the tube off using the lever. Make sure the tube has been completely deflated before removing it.
Next, check the tube for any signs of damage. Some can be seen right away, such as a nail through the rubber, while others might be less obvious. Once you’ve confirmed the tube is damaged, replace it with your spare one. If the tube shows no obvious signs of damage, keep it for further inspections when you return home.
2. Replace the chain
One component you need to keep a close eye on is the chain. The bicycle chain becomes looser as time goes on, so it pays to keep a few spares handy. You’ll know that the chain needs replacement if you feel that the bicycle is more difficult to maneuver. It’s always better to replace the chain early on before the drive train is affected.
All you need is a replacement chain and a breaker to fix your problem. Chains can be tricky to fix without tools, as you’ll need to detach them from the bike. Use the breaker to remove the pin that holds the chain in place.
There are many kinds of chains available, so make sure you get the right one. Just bring your bicycle to any specialty shop, and they will tell you what you need. Feel free to ask questions about how the chain works and how to spot the right one. Finally, make sure you get the right length. It also helps to use a fitting service such as Fitcycle to cover all your bases.
3. Always clean your bicycle
Many riders park their bicycles right away after a long day of biking. But parking it without cleaning it can lead to maintenance issues down the line. A quick hose down every other day can save you hours of agony and hundreds of dollars in repairs.
Water isn’t enough to keep your bike clean, but it’s better than nothing. It helps to bring a brush with you at all times so you can remove dirt and mud while you’re out riding. Expensive bikes require more maintenance, so make sure to buy the right cleaning equipment. For instance, you’ll need lubricant, a chain scrubber, some solvent to remove grease, and lots of rags.
If you find yourself needing to clean your bike in a pinch, some water and soap should help. Make sure to clean your bike after riding on muddy roads. You may need to clean more often during winter, as the salt in the roads could speed up corrosion.
The bottom line
There’s nothing more annoying than your bicycle breaking down halfway through your ride. Keep these three tips in mind to prevent any accidents and breakdowns. Most importantly, wear your helmet and warning device and know all the traffic rules in your area.