Join me on my ride of all things cycle related whilst supporting #rideforcharlie

I have always felt that I am pretty good at looking after my bike, particularly with winter cyclocross racing. You simply cannot just race your bike in mud and leave it. My challenge is to share 50 things about bike maintenance or bike repair.  These will range from helpful maintenance tips to things I have learnt which will help me to repair my bike or make it better. Some of these I have learnt more recently and  some I already knew but I would like to share with you. I hope some of you can learn something from this extensive list! 😉

  1. If it’s threaded – grease it!
  2. You can’t properly adjust a bicycle that is dirty and not lubricated.
  3.  If your bike makes a noise, it’s trying to tell you something. Don’t ignore it.
  4.  If your saddle creaks, drip a few drops of oil on the rail where it connects to your saddle and into the clamp where it grips the rails.
  5. Don’t be a hero. Whether it’s due to lack of knowledge or experience, or not having the proper tools for the job, you are not capable of every repair. Sometimes you have to take your problem to a professional.
  6. The difference between an axle and a spindle:­ An axle remains stationary while something rotates around it (think wheel); a spindle revolves inside a stationary body (think bottom bracket).
  7. Pluck your spokes often so you get to know what feels and sounds right. When one feels off or its tone is different from the rest, you know you have a loose spoke.
  8. Most newer bikes have a sealed-cartridge bottom bracket, which means you could get three to five years out of it (even if you ride a ton) and never have to touch it. In fact, if yours loosens or wears out, it’s easiest to just buy a new one. The swap takes about 15 minutes but is best left to your mechanic—not because it’s difficult but because it’s cheaper to pay someone than to buy the tools you’ll need but rarely use.
  9. Never use brake housing with shift cable or shift housing with brake cable.
  10. No matter how long it takes, invest in quality bike tools until you have a complete set of the basics.
  11. When doing a full tune up, work from front to back or top to bottom so you’ll know where you were should you get interrupted.
  12. When you ­disassemble something complicated,­ use your smartphone or digital camera to document the process. If you end up with an extra part after reassembly is complete, you can look back at your pics to figure out when and where things went wrong.
  13. Use rubbing alcohol to remove black grime from your rims.
  14.  Worn cleats can release unexpectedly or stick in the pedal. Change them when the wear indicator tells you to.
  15. When your chainring teeth start to look like shark fins, it’s time to replace your chainring.
  16. A thin rim on a tire’s sidewall can fail under pressure and cause you to crash. Inspect your rims by looking for a concave section or by running your fingers along the braking surface to feel for one.
  17. Protect your frame from rubs with neatly applied electrical tape or anti-slip bathtub tape.
  18. Get to know how to use a torque wrench. It’s the only way to properly tighten bolts.
  19. Periodically check for bearing play in your headset, hubs, and cranks. To check your headset, squeeze the front brake and rock your bike back and forth. For wheel and crank bearings, pull the wheel or crank side to side. If you feel a wiggle, your component needs an adjustment. Don’t ignore it, or the problem will get bigger and more expensive.
  20. Do not use a solvent to lube your chain.
  21. The easiest way to get your rear wheel out is to shift into the highest gear so your chain is on the outer (smallest) cog. If it’s in the middle or all the way to the inside, you’ll have a harder time getting the cogs past the chain and derailleur.
  22. Cut cables using a bike-specific cable cutter. You’ll get a cleaner cut, with no frayed ends on cables or sharp burrs on housing.
  23. When installing new cable, use your old cable housing as a guide when cutting new housing.
  24. In relation to a rear cassette an 11 32 means it has 11 cogs ranging from a small one with 11 teeth to a large one with 32 teeth.
  25. In relation to a front chainring a narrow-wide means it has alternating narrow and wide teeth.  This makes the chain more secure on the chainring and less likely to fall off.
  26. Blasting your bike with a high-pressure hose forces in unwanted grit and dirt and blows out much-needed grease and lube. Use a bucket of water and a sponge instead.
  27. Chains and cogs wear together.
  28. When breaking a chain with a chain tool, do not push the pin all the way through (unless you’re using a special replacement pin). You won’t be able to get it back in.
  29. Not all chain lubricants are the same. Choose the one that best suits your riding conditions.
  30. Three signs your brake pads are worn: You hear a gritty scraping sound, the grooves in the pad have all but disappeared, or you feel stickiness when you brake.
  31. Don’t touch disc-brake pads with your fingers. The oil from your skin can decrease their braking power.
  32. After removing a disc-brake wheel from the frame or fork, do not squeeze the brake lever. doing so can cause the brake pads to clamp together tightly—­and separating them is no easy task.
  33. If your wheel doesn’t sit straight in your bike after a hub overhaul, make sure the springs on the quick-release are installed correctly. The tapered end should always face in.
  34. Forgot which kind of valves you have? Schrader valves are similar to the ones found on your car; presta valves are thinner, with a small nut that has to be opened prior to inflation.
  35. Install quick-release skewers so the levers are on the non-driveside.
  36. When removing your cassette to clean it – cable tie it all together loosely first so it all stays in the correct order.
  37. When replacing a cable through the bike frame attach a piece of cotton to the old cable before removing it. You will then have a piece of cotton through the frame that you can attach the new cable to. This will make installing it much easier.
  38. Keep the drivetrain clean and lubricated, it will save you loads of money.
  39. When you repair a puncture remember the tyre should go a particular way. Look for the direction arrow on the wall of the tyre. This won’t make too much difference on a slick tyre but could make a tremendous difference on a mountain bike or cross tyre.
  40. When repairing or changing an inner tube where the culprit is not obvious blow the inner tube up a little and place it in water. You should spot the air bubbles coming from the hole.
  41. Don’t neglect your jockey wheels. They deserve a little TLC every so often. They are not too difficult to take off, give a clean and a little lubrication.
  42. Similar to No 36 – when you take your headset apart make sure you cable tie all the pieces together.
  43. When you replace your chain make sure you line the new one up against the old one so you know exactly how long you need it.
  44. If you don’t have a tool for releasing a quick link on a chain try getting an old piece of gear cable and feeding it either side of the quick link then pulling each end towards each other. This is hopefully a cheap alternative.
  45. When changing a gear cable make sure the replacement cable is set up exactly the same as the old one including the outer cable. Make sure the outer cable is not too tight or bent too much as this will prevent smooth gear changing.
  46. when replacing handlebar tap remember to leave easy access to the area where you bleed the brakes.
  47. When fixing a puncture remember to double and triple check the tyre. Sometimes that stubborn thorn will seat itself deep in the tyre and can get missed making you think there is nothing to remove only to find when you put the wheel back together and ride off you puncture again. Turn the tyre inside out and have a good look. Sometimes it requires pliers to remove stubborn thorns!
  48. Installing new pedals? Make sure you thread your left pedal into the left crankarm and your right into the right (they should be marked). If you inadvertently interchange them, you will likely have to buy new crankarms. The good news is that your pedals will probably survive the mistake.
  49. Apply lube to the chain’s rollers, not its side plates. After lubing your chain, backpedal a few revolutions then wipe off the chain with a clean, dry rag. The lube is now in the rollers and between the plates. The rest will just attract crud.
  50. Remove as much air from your punctured tube as possible before changing a flat. It’ll be easier to remove the tyre.

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