Taking care of your bike is important, if it doesn't work you won't ride it. That is why this summer Cycling UK's Big Bike Revival is encouraging people to take their bikes out of their sheds and get them back in action. Follow our tips to see how to keep your bike in good working order.
1. Little and often is good
Give your bike a little TLC. A regular check-over and a squirt of oil helps to keep problems at bay.
2. Just ride your bike
Riding your bike gets all the moving parts working and can delay and reduce problems.
3. Learn the simple check – it’s as simple as A B C
A is for air – keep the tyres pumped up and check the wheels go round unimpeded. If they don’t, look for brakes or mudguards rubbing or a possible sideways wobble of the wheel.
B is for brakes – the most important part of a bike. To check the front brake, push the bike forward and then apply the lever (usually the right hand one). The bike should stop. For the back brake, do the same but push the bike backwards. If in doubt, get it checked
C is for chains, cables and cogs. Look for frayed cables, oil the chain, and do check the handlebars and saddle don’t move. Look for anything unusual with the bike.
The main moving parts are the chain and cogs and they only need a light dab of oil (again little and often). There are many products on the market. Light lubricant sprays work in the summer and thicker oils deter the weather, especially in the winter. Just don’t use cooking or engine oil or WD40!
5. Keep it clean
It’s good to remove dirt and grit but you don’t necessarily need specialist products. But remember to always oil the bike chain after washing, allowing for it to dry first. A lovely, sparkly chain will soon creak otherwise.
6. Learn to fix a puncture
The dreaded puncture might be fiddly but you CAN do it, following some standard steps. Practise at home first, maybe with a friend. Take your time. There’s no rush and it’s better to get things in place first time, rather than having to do it twice. You’ll be amazed that after a few gos, you will be able to do it without too much bother. Our friends at BikeRadar have comprehensive step-by-step puncture repair videos for both road and mountain bike tyres.
7. The moving parts of a bike do eventually wear out
A bike has numerous moving parts and they are subject to quite significant forces. So, be prepared to replace parts. It’s a good investment for your beloved bike and will keep it in action for longer.
8. Go on a bike maintenance course
If you want to try and fix your bike yourself, but aren’t sure how to, look up your nearest bike maintenance course. Do ask them what they cover. You want friendly instructors who don’t blind you with science. If they do, they’re doing it wrong. Learning bike maintenance will save you lots of money in the future.
9. When to use a bike mechanic
You will be amazed that you can do more to your bike than you imagine. It can be fiddly but take your time and much of it is within your grasp.
A good bike maintenance book and lots of good advice from the Cycling UK Forum will help. If you are just using Google, compare a couple of sites to avoid poor advice. Just keep the hammer and Stanley knife away from the bike!
If you get stuck with something, it’s good to keep trying but don’t force it and don’t beat yourself up about it. There are good mechanics that can help and they’ve had training.
If you are in a hurry, or if the problem really stumps you, go to your nearest independent bike shop or call a mobile bike mechanic to come to you.
The most important thing is to get your bike back on the road and to enjoy cycling.
10. Revive your bike
If your bike has been gathering dust in your garage or shed, get it out this summer and take it to our Big Bike Revival, where there will be experts on hand to help you fix your bike and learn about looking after it.
Just enjoy exploring the world on a bike, even if it’s just your local neighbourhood. And, remember you don’t have to be able to fix everything on a bike before you’re allowed to ride it. As long as it is road worthy, just get out there and do it!