*Please note the Hub in Stockton runs regular, free maintenance courses on weekday mornings and evenings that will give you the skills to care for and fix your own bike. We also run Bike MOTs on every Friday, bring your bike down on the morning (or Thursday evening) and we'll give it a check-over, tune & full report on its current condition. This way you an be confident that your bike will keep going for as long as you can.*
Keeping your bike in perfect working order will make it more enjoyable, and safer, to ride. The basic rules are:
- Keep it clean – wash down with soap, dry, then lubricate all the moving parts
- Check your bike (gears, brakes, tyres and lights) before setting off
- Keep tyres pumped up to help avoid punctures – the recommended pressure is usually written on the side of the tyre
- Get it serviced regularly by a good bike mechanic – and once you’ve found one, treasure them!
- Lubricate the chain with oil regularly
- Carry a spare inner tube and pump with you in case you get a flat – a pair of surgical gloves helps keep the dirt of the hands
The next part of this section will take you through the day to day maintenance techniques, covering the following points:
Bike check– how to complete a quick safety check of your bike
Puncture repair & Lubrication– fail safe way to mend punctures
Brakes– types of brakes, checking pad wear and alignment, checking cables
Gears– types of gears, front and rear derailer adjustment, cables
Tyres– choosing tyres, Fitting, Fixing punctures, tyre pressure
The basic ‘M’ check will need to be done on a regular basis. This involves conducting a safety check of all the main working parts of a bike and with practice, should take no more that between one and two minutes.
Wheel quick release /Wheel nuts
Check quick release skewer is firmly closed or that axle nuts are fully tightened.
Check visually that tyres are not split or cracked and that there is tread remaining on the tyre.
Check that tyre is firmly inflated to the recommended pressure on the
Grip rim and rock back and for to feel for loose bearings; spin wheel to check for tight bearings.
Rims and spokes
Check visually for any defects, and spin wheel to check that it runs true.
Check angle of levers and that these can be comfortably reached. Brakes should apply pressure at 1/3 to 1/2 of travel.
Check that blocks are correctly positioned and not worn beyond the wear indicators.
Check that cables are not frayed or heavily corroded.
The best way to check your front brake is to apply the brake and try to push your bike forward. The same principle applies to the rear brakes. Apply the brakes and try to move the bike backwards.
Check that the ‘minimum insertion’ marker is not visible above the seat tube; check that post is securely gripped in frame.
Try to rock saddle in different directions to check that it is fitted securely; check visually that saddle is straight and level.
Handlebars and headset
Hold front tyre between knees and turn gently to check that the handlebar stem is correctly aligned with the front wheel and tightened.
Check that handlebars are correctly aligned and secured by stem.
Stem height (quill only)
Check visually that stem ‘minimum insertion’ marker is not visible above steering tube.
Apply brakes and rock bike back and for to feel for loose headset bearings; check that handlebars move freely.
Gears and transmission
Check that chain is not heavily rusted and does not easily come off front chain wheel.
Ensure that the rear derailleur does not foul the spokes.
Lights, mudguards, racks etc.
Check that all additional items and brackets are firmly secured and do not foul moving parts.
|1. Remove wheel|
|2. Remove tyre using tyre levers|
|3. Find the puncture|
|4. Mark the puncture with chalk or crayon|
|5. Dry the tube and roughen the area with sandpaper|
|6. Add adhesive|
|7. Add patch and apply pressure|
|8. Leave to dry and then partially inflate the tube|
|9. Replace tyre using thumbs and fully inflate the tube|
|10. Check for pinches to inner tube and replace wheel|
To keep a bike and all its parts in good condition, you must 'lube' it regularly. For those who ride their bikes daily this means about once a week in winter and every 2 weeks in summer. For those who ride perhaps weekly or monthly, monthly will suffice. Certainly lube your bike after every washing.
When you lubricate your bike, be sure to use lubricants that are suited to the weather conditions you'll be riding in. Rainy areas require more durable bike oils, while drier areas require lighter oils that won't pick up as much dirt. Also keep in mind that wetter conditions typically require more frequent lubrications.
Brakes - Lube the brake pivots being careful to not get it on the pads or rims.
Chain- Your chain is your bike's most "at risk" lubricated part. It should be lubricated frequently (to slow the rate of chain wear), and will benefit from being removed from your bike from time to time to be thoroughly cleaned in a solvent and re-oiled. The more frequently you lube your chain however, the less necessary off-bike cleanings will be.
In general, you should lubricate your chain whenever it squeaks or appears "dry." Lubing after wet rides will help keep your chain from rusting. Keep in mind that the type of chain lube you use will affect how often you need to lubricate. The chain should be soaked with whatever type of lube you choose to use, follow the instructions given. Give it time to penetrate and dry if necessary.
Types of Brake system
|Cantilever Calliper Centre-pull brakes V-type Disc brakes|
Whichever type of brake you use a simple 30 second check is all that is needed.
First, check the amount of pad material that is in contact with the rim/disc, if it is worn - replace it!
Second, make sure that the brake blocks are in contact with the rim only, not rubbing on the tyre.
Third, have a look at the cables, if the cables are worn, frayed or rusty they will need replacement.
Overall brakes are an essential safety item, if you are in doubt consult a professional bike mechanic .
Adjusting cable tension for correct shifting
Shift into high gear and push the shifter all the way to the end of its travel. Loosen the cable inner wire anchor bolt. That's the bolt with a hole through which the derailleur control wire is clamped. Pull the slack out of the wire, and retighten the anchor bolt.
If your bike has index shifting, you'll find an adjusting barrel either at the derailleur or the shifter. The adjusting barrel is a hollow screw at which the cable outer housing stops, but which the inner wire continues through. Fine adjust the cable tension by turning the adjusting barrel until the clicks on the shifter correspond with proper shifting at the derailleur.
If your bicycle does not engage high gear, or is slow to engage high gear, even though properly adjusted, the cable is probably the culprit. Replace the sticky or rusted cable, and the problem will usually go away.
If you have done everything right, but the bicycle does not shift reliably, the most common reason is that the chain and freewheel are too worn to work properly. If you replace one, you must replace both. A new chain on an old freewheel or visa versa usually skips, and the new part wears out very quickly.
Another possibility is a bent derailleur. The guide pulleys, those little wheels that take up the chain slack, must pivot on the same plane as the freewheel sprockets. Derailleurs become bent when the bike falls over on the right-hand side. Whenever you set a bicycle down, or put it in a car, set it on its left side to protect the derailleur.
For racing or road bikes, you want a light, slick tyre that can withstand high air pressure. You also want minimum rolling resistance or friction with the road. The narrowest tyre is 20 c. The "c" stands for millimetres. Expect to pay approximately £15
Commuter or High-Mileage Tyres.
These tyres are for people who put a lot of mileage on their bikes, like commuters or long-distance recreational riders. They are heavier, but last longer; manufacturers say 1000-2000 miles, but the actual mileage varies depending on how you ride, your weight, and if the tyre is on the front or back. (Back tyres wear out faster because of weight and drive force.) Expect to pay anywhere between £15 and £30.
Hybrid bicycles (sometimes called comfort bikes) land somewhere between a road bike and a mountain bike and hybrid tyres are also somewhere in between. They often have a dual tread, a smoother pattern in the middle to reduce rolling resistance and a rougher pattern on either side of this to add stability on dirt or loose surfaces. Width of hybrid tyres ranges from 25-40 c. You can put them on your road bike depending on how much clearance you have around your brakes and forks. Expect to pay around £20.
Mountain bike tyres.
Mountain bike tyres have thick, knobbly treads that are designed to grip in mud and off road obstructions such as rocks and tree routes. The tyres are usually a lot wider and hold a greater volume, this is to cushion the ride and allow them to grip in difficult conditions. Because mountain bike tyres have thick knobbly treads the rolling resistance is considerably higher and therefore are not suitable for great mileage on the roads. If you are using your mountain bike to commute for example it is well worth considering a tyre change. Expect to pay anywhere between £15 and £40.
Whichever type of tyre you decide upon ensure that the pressure stays within the maximum and minimum stamped on the side of the tyre wall. If you are constantly getting punctures try increasing the tyre pressure, this will allow the tyre to repel sharp objects. You should never exceed the maximum stated pressure.
Your tyre is an essential part of your bike if it is worn or cracked you should replace the tyre before use, your local bike shop will be able to help if you have problems.