Cycle commuters, mountain bikers and street racers all have one thing in common: they love their bikes. If you fall under one of these categories, you should know bike maintenance, unless you want to pay an arm and a leg for costly repairs. A well cared for bicycle saves you hundreds in replacement parts and repairs that cost you hours of time. Here are some maintenance tips, so you can keep your bike on the road and out of the garage, as well as keep cash in your pocket.
Store your bike inside if you can. While bike theft is a concern when you live in a city, the elements will wear your bike even when you're not on it. Damp conditions can rust your chain, and dry, dusty conditions can wear down o-rings and cause them to crack and break. Bicycles that are ridden in the rain need more care and maintenance than those used in more mild conditions.
Never, under any circumstances, use WD40 on your bicycle chain. WD40 is for door hinges and objects that move very little compared to a bike chain. WD40 will actually strip the oil off of your chain and create metal to metal contact, which will ruin the cassette, the crank and your chain.
This is the easiest element of bike maintenance, but it's also commonly misunderstood. When you oil your chain, make sure you hit the right spots of the chain, mainly where the links attach. Oil anywhere else on the chain is just a waste that attracts dust, grime and other particles from your ride. These particles create unnecessary wear on your chain, cassette and crank.
When you lube your chain, put a drop on each place where the links connect, letting the oil soak in for a few minutes before wiping the chain to thoroughly clean off any excess oil.
Did you know bicycle chains have tiny o-rings at the point where one meets the other? If these rubber o-rings get old, crack and break, the links of your chain can be in real trouble. In fact, metal on metal wear dramatically decreases the lifespan of a chain, so replace o-rings at the first signs of damage. A properly oiled chain will last longer, as will the o-rings.
Wash Your Bike
This doesn't mean hosing it down with water. In fact, high pressure water, like that from a hose, can actually cause more damage than normal wet conditions do. High water pressure causes damage to bearings systems on your bike in a number of places. Instead, most dirty bike parts can be wiped down with a wet rag, though other parts may need some brushing or buffing.
Your bike should be cleaned in accordance with how often you ride and the conditions you ride in. While most cyclists don't wash their bikes after every ride, a scheduled routine is a good idea. Basic bike cleaning supplies include a rag, soap, water, fine brushes and bike-specific cleaning solvents. When you pick a solvent, make sure it's easy on the environment as well as you. Read the instructions carefully and wear gloves if advised on the label.