How do I take care of my bike?
Cleaning Your Bike
Your bike is a collection of moving parts. When these parts get dirty with mud, grime and debris, wear and tear is inevitable. This speeds up the deterioration of your bike’s components. As a kid my mom and dad always told me, the first line of defense against physical breakdowns is proper hygiene. Who knew they were so right…
How to Clean
There’s more to cleaning your bicycle than just hosing it down from time to time and sticking it in your garage or basement to dry. Water (especially when coming from a high-pressure hose) can rinse out grease and cause damage to sensitive bearing systems around your bike. So if you do wash with water, do so carefully. Most dirty bike parts can be cleaned by wiping them carefully with Simple Green or a dry rag from time to time. Your shifter and brake components and all moving parts systems will require occasional brushing, buffing and relubrication to keep them working
How Often to Clean
Base your bike cleaning schedule on how (and how often) you ride. In other words, if you spend a lot of time riding in wet, muddy conditions, or if you ride hard, fast and often, clean your bike more frequently. Very few cyclists clean their bikes after every ride, but a regular schedule of frequent, simple cleaning (once a month, once a week or more depending upon the flavor of riding you are into) is important.
Basic Cleaning Supplies
The supplies you need to clean your bike depend upon the components you are cleaning and their condition. Here’s a short list of basic items that address most cleaning tasks.
Clean rags: You’ll want a good supply of these on hand, both for grease, oil and wax-related tasks and for general cleaning and drying.
Soap: For frame washing. Use something mild, like diluted dishwashing soap or preformulated bike wash cleaner.
Water: Despite its potential dangers, water is still a useful cleaning tool. Make sure the water you use is clean.
Brushes: Use a couple of different sizes and shapes to get into hard-to-reach places to remove the grime that rinsing alone can’t get. Old toothbrushes work great for nooks and crannies.
Solvents: You’ll need some type of general solvent for cleaning up gummy parts like your bike chain. If possible, avoid traditional solvents such as kerosene and turpentine. Choose a solvent designed to be easy on the environment (and you!) instead. No matter what solvent you use, make sure you learn how to dispose of it properly.
Tire Pressure – How Much and How Often?
Proper tire pressure lets your bike roll quickly, ride smoothly and prevents flats. Narrow tires need more air pressure than wide ones: Road tires typically require 80 to 130 psi, hybrid tires 50 to 70 psi and mountain tires 40 to 65 psi. To find your ideal pressure, start in the middle of these ranges, then factor in your body weight. The more you weigh, the higher your pressure needs to be. For example, if a 165-pound rider uses 100 psi on his road bike, a 200-pound rider should run closer to 120 psi, and a 130-pound rider could get away with 80 psi. Never go above or below the manufacturer’s recommended pressure range. YOUR TIRE PRESSURE IS ________ psi.
The pent-up air molecules in your tubes want desperately to join their friends in the atmosphere. Tubes can lose or gain quite a bit of pressure depending on temperature change, and the only service not covered under a new bike warranty is flat tires and bent wheels. This means that you need to check your tire pressure every time you ride. To avoid pinch flats and bent rims when you ride over bumps, maintain proper air pressure, unweight your wheels by sharply pushing your bike downward before the bumps and then pull upward as you roll over them. For each 10-degree-Fahrenheit drop in the temperature, your tire pressure drops by about 2 percent. So if the temperature dips from 90 degrees to 60, your road tires would drop from, say, 100 psi to 94 psi. Those six pounds are noticeable and worth adjusting for; remember, the lower the pressure, the higher the rolling resistance and the harder you have to work! Get in the habit of checking your pressure before every ride.
Lubricating Your Bike
Keeping your bike parts properly lubricated is crucial for good performance. More lube is not always a good thing. Lubrication protects moving parts from excessive wear caused by friction, keeps them from “freezing up”, and keeps rust and corrosion from attacking exposed metal components. Be careful though, over-lubricating can lead to equally poor shift performance and component damage as excess lubricant will attract dirt and other abrasive particles. As a general rule, excess lube should always be carefully wiped away before the bicycle is ridden.
Bicycle greases: These should be used primarily for lubricating bearing systems (such as those found in hubs and headsets) and large-thread bolts. They tend to be thicker than oils. For example, use grease on the threads of pedal spindles before installation into crankarms.
Bicycle oils: These should be used to lubricate thin-thread bolts, chains and more actively moving parts in brake and derailleur systems. Bike oils tend to be thinner than bike greases.
WD-40: should never come near your bike unless it is one of their bicycle-specific lubricants or cleaners. Classic WD40 does not lubricate but only displaces water, which may briefly quiet and loosen parts but is no good in the long term.
When you lubricate your bike, be sure to use lubes that are suited to your weather and riding conditions. 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 wet conditions typically require more frequent lubrication. Check with your local bike shop/mechanic for recommendations on specific lubes that match your riding conditions.
What Needs to Be Lubricated?
Chain: Oil your chain. The chain is your bike’s most “at risk” lubricated part. It should be lubed and then wiped dry frequently to slow the rate of chain wear. In general, clean first and then 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 (wet, dry or a wax lube) affects how often you need to lubricate. Avoid over-lubricating.
Brake and shift levers: These levers are crucial for braking and shifting. Apply a drop or two of oil to the lever pivots and the barrel adjusters from time to time to keep them functioning properly.
Brake and shifter cables: These cables connect your brake and the derailleur assemblies to the levers you use to control them. Check them frequently (especially in wet conditions), clean and re-lubricate occasionally so that they can effectively translate your shift commands to the component groups.
Brake and derailleur assemblies: These assemblies are made up of a number of small moving parts. Be sure to keep an eye on their arms, wheels and pulleys so they don’t bind up or become rigid. Apply lubricant to the pivot points of the assemblies.
When do I need to go back to Paradise Creek Bicycles?
The other important aspect of maintaining your bicycle is a regular bike shop visit. If you’re a regular rider, bring your bike in for twice-yearly checkups to ensure that complex, hard-to-evaluate components such as spokes, bearing surfaces, derailleurs and cable systems are inspected and serviced regularly. Remember: There are certain parts of a bicycle that should always be serviced and adjusted by experienced mechanics.
Come and see us:
5 – 10 rides is your initial break-in on a new bike, after which bring it in for a check over. It’s free and usually done on the spot or same day.
1 year service warranty: If it squeaks, creaks, clicks, whistles, ticks, knocks, howls, buzzes, hums, clunks, or just sounds weird, bring it in immediately! We will typically fix it on the spot and we would rather do an adjustment instead of a repair. If we need your bike longer and you need wheels, we have free loaner bikes until your bike is ready to roll. We also offer pickup and delivery by bicycle for $10 each way.
1 Free $50 tune on a new bike purchase any time in the first year. (We suggest you do it at 1 year and take advantage of the service warranty in the meantime).