You must know that bike maintenance is a crucial task for every cyclist. Whether it’s done by a professional mechanic or yourself, it’s a must for getting the best performance from your bike. Well, we are not saying that professional bike maintenance is not necessary. You should give your bike for servicing twice a year.
But, you need to check the bike before every ride and maintain it every week for getting safer and enhanced riding experience. If you want to do it from a shop, it will cost a lot. That’s why DIY is essential for bike maintenance. It will reduce the maintenance cost. Moreover, you will get the ready-to-go bike before every ride.
But, most beginners don’t know how to maintain their bikes. So, I am bringing a step-by-step bike maintenance guide that can help a new rider to know about it.
Tools & accessories for bike maintenance
You can’t think of bike maintenance without some accessories and kits. Moreover, some tools ease the maintenance process. So, let’s know which tools and accessories are essential for bike maintenance.
- Spares: Inner tube, valve, patching tube are essential spares for bike maintenance.
- Cleaning Agents: Water and soap is required to clean the chain.
- Cleaning rags & brushes: A clean rag and various sizes of brushes ease the cleaning process.
- Degreaser: Degreasers like alcohol or turpentine are needed to degrease the chain lube.
- Chain lube: Suitable lube for a healthy bike.
- Glue: Optional. If you don’t have a patching kit box.
- Tape: Needed for multipurpose use.
- Wrenches: Get at least a pair of wrenches of correct sizes for tightening/loosening the bolts.
- Multitool: Buy a multitool that can help in multipurpose.
- Tire lever: Eases flat fixing.
- Chain Link: Needed for swapping the chain.
- Patching kit box: Must have for fixing a flat tube.
- Pump: Must have for getting inflated tires. Get a floor pump for home and a mini pump for carrying while riding.
- Wheel stand: Nice to have if you want to do some advanced level of repairing.
Step 1: Inspecting the bike
Before every ride, it’s good to inspect the bike. Especially if you are a long-distance rider or racer, it will help you identify and solve safety issues. You can do it thoroughly with a multitool.
So, what to check on a bike?
A clean and well-lubricated chain is essential for smooth shifting. Moreover, it increases the lifetime of the drivetrain (cassettes and crankset)
Check out if the chain and the drivetrain are dust-free and lubricated. If not, clean and lubricate it.
A nut bolt system connects your bike parts together. When a bolt gets loose, think of it as a threat to safe rides.
So, you must inspect the bolts and identify the loose ones. It’s a must to do before every ride if you don’t want any unpleasant falls.
Right air pressure can help you to avoid punctures. Maintaining standard air pressure is crucial for getting inflated tires on every ride.
Press the sidewall of the tires with your thumb and other fingers. If you can’t suppress the tire, then it’s perfect air pressure.
Before going out with your bike, ensure the brakes work properly. Firstly ensure the braking pads have enough tire clearance.
Then rotate the wheels with your hand and squeeze the brakes. Check if the brakes can stop the wheels immediately; otherwise, tune it.
Step 2: Cleaning and lubricating the chain
The chain is one of the essential parts of your bike. Sometimes we don’t care for it. But, with a rusty chain, you can’t ride long. So it’s essential to take care of the bike chain.
Cleaning and lubricating it regularly will offer outstanding performance on the road/track. Moreover, you will get smooth shifting and can ensure a long life for the chain.
But how to do it? Follow those three steps below.
The chain and drivetrain become the dirtiest parts after every ride. Use a brush, cloth, or chain cleaner to clean the chain.
Clean the dirt from the whole drivetrain. Use a screwdriver to take out the mud or dust from every corner where hands can’t reach.
However, if the chain has become so dirty that you can’t clean it with a brush, then take it off from the drivetrain. You can do it with a chain link. After taking off the chain, run it backward on a cleaning rag.
You may also be interested in chain cleaning hacks
You should clean the lube and relubricate the chain after every 2 or 3 rides. Because chain lube attracts dirt very well and the chain gets dirty after several days. So, what you have to do is to decrease it.
If you are using dry lube, you can do it with simple water and soap. For wet lube, you will need alcohol or turpentine to degrease it.
I hope you have got a clean chain and drivetrain! Now, lubricate them with a suitable lube but don’t over lubricate
However, choose the chain lube according to your type of ride. When you usually ride on a dusty or muddy road, the chain gets dirty frequently, and you have to clean it after 1 or 2 ride(s).
Dry lube is the solution for that. It’s easy to clean or degrease and attracts less dirt.
When you think of road rides, wet lube is preferable. It’s suitable for the rainy season as it doesn’t wash away with water.
Step 3: Adjusting the brakes
When performance combines with safety, it offers the best riding experience ever. So, effective stopping power is vital alongside speed.
That’s why you need the brakes that work perfectly. For that, tune them and ensure the highest safety. But how to do it?
Firstly check the braking pads and brake levers. If you have to squeeze the levers very hard (that they reach the handlebar) for braking, they need to be tightened.
If the braking pads touch the rim, then they need adjustment too. However, let’s see how to tune different types of brakes.
Loosen the brake’s bolts and align the brakes correctly. Ensure enough tire clearance and equal distance of two braking pads from the wheel.
Pull them up or down to set them close enough to the rim. Don’t put it too close or too far. Just make sure the pads grab the rim hard enough with an easy squeeze on brake levers.
You should also maintain proper cable tension to do so. Loosen or tighten the barrel adjuster if a little adjustment is needed.
It’s mostly easy to adjust the v brakes. What you have to do is only to adjust the cable tension. Loosen the bolts with a driver.
Use your one hand to grab the brake arms gently and pull the cable with another hand. Do so until you get optimum pressure and the right position.
Now, tighten the bolts again to reattach the cable. Of Course, don’t forget to relocate the pads to ensure correct positioning.
Adjusting the disc brake is a little tricky. Firstly, you will need to check the wheel. Loosen the quick release and check if it is aligned straight or not.
If it is straight, but the disc is still rubbing with the caliper, then the brake itself has a problem. Now, retighten the quick release and loosen the caliper bolts.
Move the caliper to set it in an optimum position. Tighten the bolts again, squeezing the corresponding brake. If the disc is still rubbing and making sounds do it repeatedly.
If everything fails, adjust the caliper by eye.
Read also fix disc brakes too much oily problem
Step 4: Fixing the flat
As I said, it’s an unavoidable step of bike maintenance. For the solution, get a home floor pump with a pressure gauge.
Pumping the tires every week keeps your bike’s wheel inflated. Moreover, it decreases the risk of punctures.
But, after all that, the tube can still get punctured. So, learn how to fix a flat. Let’s go step by step.
- Taking off the wheel
Take a multitool that can help. Release the brakes and loosen the hub bolts to take off the wheel.
Firstly, loosen the brake bolts and pull out the cable. If your bike has a quick-release axle, then it will be easy to take off the wheel.
Otherwise, use a wrench to loosen the hub bolts. Be careful while releasing the rear wheel. Because, if you do hurry, you can damage the cassette or shifter
- Removing the inner tube
Use a tire lever or screwdrivers to remove the tire. It’s OK if you have a wheel stand. Otherwise, do it on the ground.
Firstly, remove the air remaining in the tube. For that, open the valve (Presta) or press down the pin (Schrader).
Then set the wheel on a wheel stand or lay it on the ground. Now, start pulling the tire with tire levers. Start it from the exact opposite of the valve.
Otherwise, you may damage it. After opening the tire, press down the valve and take out the tire tube from the rim.
- Identifying the leak
It’s essential to identify the cause of puncture. Check out the tire and inner tube. If any foreign object(s) has embedded on it, remove those objects.
Sometimes the valve is itself the culprit. If it happens so, swap them up.
If you want to patch the inner tube, you have to locate the leaking position. For that, pump it up and close the valve.
Now, take a big bowl or bucket full of water and dip the tube on it. You can identify the location of punctures by seeing the water bubbles.
Take it out and mark the leaking position(s) with tape(s).
- Patching or replacing the tube
If the tube gets punctured in the middle of a ride, what to do? Well, you can save your time by replacing instead of patching it.
Moreover, it’s easy to swap with a new one and fix the old one later at home. But, to do so, you have to carry spare tires while riding.
However, if the tube gets severely damaged, you should replace it.
If you have chosen to patch it, get a patching kit box ready. Most of the kit box contains everything you need for patching.
Clean the location of the flat with sandpaper and wait until dry. Then, apply glue and attach the patch tube.
- Reinstalling and pumping the tire
Take the replaced or patched tube and pump it partially. Don’t overpump but ensure it holds the air. Now, put the tire around the rim.
Insert the valve in the valve hole on the rim, then place the rest of the tube inside the tire. After that, seal the wheel with a tire lever. Slowly pump up the tire until you get the standard air pressure.
Everything is ready. Now it’s time to reinstall the wheel. How to do so? I will answer it in step 5.
Step 5: Tightening the bolts
Securing the bolts is one of the most crucial steps in bike maintenance. Because all the bike components are held on a nut bolt system.
So, loose bolts are a hazard sign against safe rides. When you open the bolts for brake adjustment or fine-tuning, you need to retighten them.
Besides, reinstalling the wheel is required after fixing flats.
However, you have to tighten the bolt carefully after a flat fix or brake adjustment. Ensure the perfect positioning of the components (wheel/brakes).
Maintain the proper cable tension and caliper position, then tighten the bolts.
After all that, you can still hear some unexpected sounds from the bike. So, you should also keep the bolts tight before every ride.
Take a pair of wrenches and a multitool. Identify the loose ones and tighten them but don’t overtighten.