Proper bicycle maintenance is essential to ensure the longevity of your bike as well as the safety of the rider. Some well placed lubricant and a general wipe down of your frame and components will save money on prematurely worn and/or rusty parts. The more you ride, the more love you need to show your bike. Especially if you ride/commute in wet or snowy weather. The winter months of commuting are some of the harshest on your bike. Salt soaked wet roads can destroy bikes and their parts.
Llama’s Maintenance Tips
Before every ride:
Check air pressure in tires or shocks. – I got a pinch flat because I was too lazy to check my air pressure. Now I check it before every ride.
Check drive train, make sure chain is slick and clean. – If the chain is sticky and gritty, it does not like to shift very well. A drop of lube per link and a wipe down with a rag to remove excess lube and dirt will help keep you chain moving smoothly through out your ride.
Check wheels. – Are the quick releases on correctly? Are the hubs loose? – I would rather not learn about forgetting to check if my wheels are on tight the hard way. Anytime your front wheel comes off, you will get hurt. And if you ride on a loose hub, the hub will most likely be toasted when you are done. Please don’t blame the wheel manufacture for building crappy wheels when it is more a seat-handlebar interface problem.
Other checks. – Stem bolts tight? Any strange noises? (I will bounce my bike lightly and listen for loosed items that will buzz or vibrate) Flat repair kit all together? (CO2, tube, levers, $20 for a cab?)
Post ride maintenance:
Tend to mechanical issues that came up during the ride – If I notice a derailleur or brake that is out of adjustment during the ride, I will try and take care of it when I finish so the bike is ready to go for the next ride.
Wipe off bike – When it’s wet or salty, this is very very important. Speaking of salty, sweating all over your bike can cause rust as well as nasty residue. Wipe it off as well. There are loads of different cleaners out there. I use a couple depending on the condition.
Lube! – After the cleaning and the wiping, more lube is required. Lube the chain, brake pivots, shifters, derailleurs, cables, pivot points, etc. Pretty much every part that is metal on metal and moves, needs lube. More information on lubrication here.
Now the bike is happy and ready for the next ride.
Here are some of the products I use and what I use them for.
Pedro’s Green Fizz – Cleaner of dirt and grime. Good cleaner with very little polishing effect.
Motorex Bike Clean – I use this on my better bikes. This stuff cleans well and also leaves the bike shiny.
Clean Streak – Not Simple Green. Clean Streak is a strong alcohol based cleaner/degreaser. It evaporates off of parts after a wipe down. Simple Green can actually damage parts if not used correctly and most manufactures do not want Simple Green in contact of their parts.
Pro-Gold ProLink – Excellent metal adhesion technology. Stays on the chain with a nice, thin film and works very well.
Tri-Flow Drip – I use this on dirtier parts or for lubrication of brake pivots, derailleurs, and what not. Tri-Flow has a penetrating agent, as well as Teflon.
White Lightning Wet Ride – Sticks to chain and metal parts very well through the nastiest of conditions. I only use this stuff in the winter. As well as protecting the chain well, it also gets dirty fast. I wipe off excess grime after almost every ride, but my chain and parts do not rust all winter.
Pedro’s Bike Lust – Silicone based shininess for your ride. Pretty much Armor All for your bike. Be careful not to get this stuff on your brakes or braking surfaces. If you do, use Clean Streak to clean it off.
Park Tool Poly Lube – The industry standard. The familiar green grease used for most bike applications. Like metal seat posts, bolt threads, and pedals.
Phil Wood Grease – Boom! Very water resistant. I use this for bottom brackets and hubs. Also if you have a loose ball bearing headset, there too.
Buzz’s Slick Honey – A thinner grease than the Park or Phil Wood. I use this for cables and housings as well as shocks.
FSA Carbon Grease – You got carbon? You need carbon grease. Use on carbons seat posts, stems, handle bars. Not on carbon steer tubes where they are in contact with the headset.
Here are some tips:
Clean your chain often. The more you clean it, the easier it is. I will use Tri-Flow to clean my chain and ProLink for the final lube. I over apply the Tri-Flow and use a rag to remove it. Once clean and as much of the Tri-Flow has been removed, I apply ProLink. One drop per link. If you have your lazy pants on, you can spin the drive train while you drip it on the chain, but make sure it doesn’t end up on your brakes or braking surface.
Grease your seat post. This gets overlooked often and if you have a steel frame or steel seat post, it only takes a couple months of wet weather to get that sucker seized in your frame. At least once a month, grease your seat post.
Bearings need love too. Bikes that get use in wet weather need more love. And the love they require includes having bearing points greased. Hubs get some of the most use of all the parts on your bike. My rule is that if you ride the bike all year round, get the hubs, headset and bottom bracket cleaned and re greased twice a year. Once before winter and once after. If you live somewhere without such an event. Do it in the Spring and the Fall.
Don’t forget your locks and other accessories. Locks need lube too. The shackle and lock mechanism needs to be taken care of as well. Check with your lock manufacture to see what they recommend.
Here are some resources for you.
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