Cycling Maintenance Essentials


Do these 12 simple things, and your bicycle will run much smoother

Avoid Overdoing It

Overinflated tires are as much to blame for flats as underinflated ones. Know your psi. An overtightened bolt can cause small parts to break under pressure and bigger ones to form stress risers. Get a torque wrench. Overlubing gunks up your drivetrain and attracts dirt and dust. Wipe off excess with a clean, dry rag.


Work on Your Bike in This Order

Wash, rinse, dry, lube, adjust, wax. “You can’t properly adjust a bicycle that is dirty and not lubricated,” says Karl Frisch, chief mechanic for Team Tibco/To The Top.

Stop Paying Someone to Turn a Tiny Wrench

Recognize a wheel that’s out of true, then fix it yourself. Learn how at wikiHOW.

Watch for Signs of Wear

Whether it’s a cracked saddle or smoothed brake pads, replace worn-out gear before it breaks or fails mid-ride.

Make This Easy Upgrade

Treat your bar to new tape for a better grip and a showroom look. Tip: If your hands roll to the outside in the drops, wrap in that direction (that’s clockwise on the right, counterclockwise on the left). Always wrap the flat section toward the saddle.

Avoid Checking Bolts Before Every Ride

Every time you do, you tighten them slightly. By year’s end you could end up turning a bolt one full rotation. Torque them right the first time.

Get Down to the Nitty-Gritty

Like gravel on a skinned knee, grit will infect your bike. Here’s where it hides: in brake pads, between tubes and tires, in cleats and pedals.

Really Silence Your Drivetrain

Each time you lube your chain (no more than once a week, or immediately after a rainy ride), drip a little into the hubs of your derailleur pulley wheels. Wipe everything dry.

Rip Off the Band-Aid

That duct tape you used last year—to secure the sole of your shoe to the upper, as a makeshift rim strip during a century-ride spoke fiasco, or to fasten your loose bottle cage to your frame—needs to go. Say good-bye to your ghetto ride.

Learn a New Trick

Here’s one: Always cap off the ends of a freshly cut cable. For a nickel per cap, you eliminate the risk of shredding a fingertip.

Get Your Shop in Order

Organize your tools so you can grab your 5mm blindfolded; keep surfaces free of clutter so you don’t roll on a screwdriver and impale yourself; and get a decent workstand so you’re using your hands to make repairs, not to hold the bike upright.

Never Put Away a Dirty Bike

You wouldn’t put away soiled laundry, would you?
Treat your bike with respect. Take care of it and it’ll take care of you!

3 thoughts on “Cycling Maintenance Essentials

  1. You’ve given some good advice. Thanks.
    Question, if you were just starting to ride again, would you buy a bike repair stand? What tools the most useful? (I am thinking of investing in a tool set).

    • Getting a repair stand is a great asset to any place when setting up your own “shop” and the most used tools would be an Allen wrench set & socket wrench. Bell makes a great set that comes in a small velcro pouch and includes tubes patches and a tire horn.

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