Beginners Guide to
How long you can enjoy your bike, not only lies within the quality of the product, but also in the way you treat it. Here are a few easy maintenance tips you can do to start taking care of your bike.
Keeping Your Bike at Its Best
We all love the thrill of riding, but there is nothing worse than being stopped in your tracks due to poor bike maintenance. Keeping your bike in tip-top shape enhances your bike’s performance as well as extending its life. Putting the effort into the maintenance of your bike now could save you a small fortune in the long run. Here are our top tips for keeping your bike in peak condition, approved by Lily Beaven, Director of Nottingham based bike collective, Women in Tandem.
Tools and Supplies
Before you can crack on with keeping your bike in tip-top condition, make sure you’ve got all the tools to keep your bike in shape. A multitool will be your righthand man as it will have a tool for more or less everything on your bike, plus it can easily be put in a pocket or in a saddlebag.
Invest in a floor pump with a pressure gauge as this will make your life a lot easier if your bike has a flat tyre. One, these make it much easier to pump up your tires, and the pressure gauge lets you know how much air is in your tyres to help avoid over or under filling.
Spare inner tubes, tyre leavers and a compact pump are a must if you’re heading out, especially on your own. Carry at least one spare inner tube as well as a puncture repair kit, so if you do encounter a puncture, you won’t find yourself stranded. We’ll cover how to fix a flat tyre further down.
Know and Check Your ABC’s – Air, Brakes, and Chain
Before you head out, you should always check your ABC’s – air, brakes, and chain.
Always check to see if you have enough air in your tires before heading out – there is nothing worse than getting out of the door and realising one of your tires is a bit soft.
Make sure your breaks are clean and free of dirt. Keep your brakes free from any oils or lubricants which could interfere with your stopping time. If you’re using rim brakes make sure they haven’t been knocked and there is space between the pad and your wheel – no one needs that extra resistance when riding!
Like the rest of your bike, your chain should also be free from any dirt and grime that can build up over time. Your chain and derailleur are the hardest working components on your bike so it’s important to give them some extra love and attention, making sure they are clean and well-oiled.
Keep Your Bike Clean
One of the easiest ways to keep your bike in tip-top shape - keep it clean! Certain areas of your bike (chain, derailleur, gears) attract dirt like a magnet. We suggest cleaning your bike after almost every ride, especially after a particularly muddy or wet day. You don’t need an abundance of products; dish soap, sponge and a brush will easily do the job. Make sure to dry your bike after giving it a clean to avoid any components rusting.
Learn How To Fix a Flat Tyre
Knowing how to fix a flat tyre is one of the top things you should know when starting out in cycling. We’ve all gone out with no spare inner tubes or idea on how to fix a flat tire and we’ve had to call a friend to come and pick us up.
So, we’ll save you the embarrassment of calling your mate – here’s out to fix a flat tyre:
Remove your punctured wheel, grab your tire leavers and scoop around the perimeter of your tyre, only removing one side.
Find and remove the source of the flat (this could be a nail, thorn, a piece of glass etc.)
Install the tube, adding a small amount of air.
Install the tyre and add the rest of the air. After a few more pumps, check that the tyre is seated on the rim and the inner tube is not exposed.
Install the wheel and you are good to go!
Check put the video below to see how it's done.
Take a Bike Maintenance Class
The best way to learn is to have a go yourself. Here you can get hands on experience with the guidance of an expert to walk you through some basic skills.
Taking part in a class can give you a confidence boost in your mechanical abilities, enabling you to feel safer and more confident when out on your bike. Here’s an idea of what you can expect during a class with Nottingham based Women in Tandem:
Bike Safety Checks
Setting up your bike for maximum comfort and efficiency
Additional Extras (depending on speed and size of the group)
Oiling and cleaning the chain
Roadside basic brake and gear adjustments
Effective use of gears
If you do decide to take a maintenance course, don’t forget to bring your bike along and to wear clothes that you don’t mind getting mucky.
Women in Tandem are a Community Interest Company based in Nottingham on a mission to help women get into cycling. Women in Tandem lead community focussed maintenance sessions exclusively for women, boosting their mechanical skills, helping them to feel more confident. To find out more, follow Women in Tandem on social media, or visit https://womenintandem.org.uk/.