by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com
Like any other mechanical device, routine maintenance and cleaning will keep your bike in optimal condition and make it safe to ride when you need it. But where do you start? What do you use? Well, here are a few tips to put you on the right track!
Tip 1: For a Bike’s Optimal Condition Stay Away from the Hose
Every moving part on your bicycle needs lubrication to stay in optimal condition. A hose forces water in and lubricant out, leaving your bicycle susceptible to corrosion and excess wear. Instead, fill a bucket with warm, soapy water (Dawn dish detergent works well) and use a large sponge or washcloth to clean all the parts of your bicycle. Rinse all the soap and gunk off with fresh water, and let the bicycle air dry.
Tip 2: Focusing on the Drivetrain
If you have a particularly dirty drivetrain (the gears, chain, and the little pulley wheels on your
derailleur) and want to get it sparkling you will need the following:
• A stiff bristled brush
• Rubber gloves
• Protective eyewear
- First: Start by applying a liberal amount of degreaser to the chain, gears, and derailleur pullies (pay close attention not to direct degreaser toward the center of either gear set, this could drive degreaser into bearings that need to remain lubricated).
- Second: Once well saturated, begin freeing up dirt and debris by scrubbing back and forth with the stiff bristled brush.
- Third: After you have broken up all the contaminants, rinse the drivetrain with a warm soap/water solution.
Tip 3: Reapply Lubricant
Most areas of a bicycle are protected from the elements with rubber seals. Those seals do a good job of keeping lubricants where they are supposed to be. It also means that the only areas of a bicycle that can be lubricated without disassembly are the chain and cables.
Lubricating the Chain
- First: To lube the chain, prop your bicycle up so you can freely backpedal. While backpedaling, coat the chain evenly with lubricant.
- Second: Fold a rag around the chain between the lowest pully and the chainrings. Next, backpedal with your right hand, while holding the rag in place with your left. You want to try and remove all the excess lubricant you can. The chain will feel almost dry to the touch, and thats OK. Even though the outside of the chain seems underlubricated, there is still ample amounts of lubricant between the chains links and rollers.
Lubricating the Cables
If shifting of braking feels rough at the lever, you may need to lube the cables. Here’s how to do that:
- First: Apply lubricant in small doses where the cable enters the housing (see below).
- Second: Cycle the gears, or squeeze the brakes until capillary action draws the lube into the cable housing.
Making sure your bicycle is clean and properly lubricated is essential to make sure your bike is in optimal condition.