A well-maintained bike can make whizzing down the road seem almost effortless. It just takes a few minutes of care at frequent intervals.
1. Maintain proper tire pressure
- Always inflate bicycle tires to the recommended air pressure.
- Some tires can handle an inflation range.
- When inflating these types of tires, consider the rider’s weight, as well as any loads that may be carried.
- Higher pressure gives better performance on pavement and other hard surfaces, while lower pressure works better for off-road rides.
- Gas station air hoses may inflate a bicycle tire too rapidly and often give inaccurate tire-pressure readings, which can result in a blowout.
- Whenever possible, use a manual hand- or foot-operated pump with an accurate gauge.
2. Check your brakes
- It’s a good idea to regularly inspect your brakes before you go for a ride.
- Squeeze each brake lever toward the handlebar to make sure the brake moves freely and stops the bike. If the brake lever reaches the handlebar, it needs to be tightened.
- Now, check out the brake pads: they should be about one to two millimetres (1/16 to 1/8 inch) away from the rim when the brakes are not applied — if you can stick a matchbook cover between the rim and brake, your brakes are properly adjusted.
3. Preserve your bike chain
- Lay off the oil. Yep, you heard that right. Machine oil does a fine job lubricating bike chains, but it also attracts dirt and debris that could wind up damaging them. Instead, use a dry chain lubricant.
- It will keep your chain running smoothly without sucking up the dirt. You can buy dry lubricants at most bike shops.
4. Powder a new inner tube
- Getting a flat tire on your bike is never enjoyable, but it’s a lot worse when you aren’t equipped to fix it.
- Always pack a spare inner tube when you go for a long ride — and don’t forget some talcum powder, too.
- A light dusting of talc around the inside of the tire will make it easier to fit the inner tube and get you back on the road that much faster.