Whatever kind of bike you ride, be it mud beast, road speedster or a simple mode of transportation, it will benefit from a good maintenance routine. A few basic tasks that you perform frequently can lengthen the life of your bike and protect your machine from costly mistakes. Our in-depth guide will help you tune your routine to prevent common issues and keep those wheels spinning.
Tools for the job
A good set of kit is essential for your maintenance efforts, so don’t skimp and get the cheapest tools available. You'll often find they won’t do the job without damaging your bike. Replace worn tools and take care of the ones you own to avoid impairing their functionality. There are many common tools you'll require to get a good routine in place, so let's explore those first.
Tools supplied with components
Many components will be supplied with the correct tools to fit them, so if you get a shop to fit the parts for you, make sure that you ask for the tool.
Cassette lockring tools
An older style Shimano HG Freewheel extractor will work with both Shimano and Campag cassette lockrings, but it's best to ensure that you have the correct style of tool for your bike's cassette to prevent damage.
Fitting and removing pedals
All pedals have left or right-hand threads. They're generally marked – the right-hand pedal with an R or D and the left-hand pedal with an L or S.
Pedal threads are designed to stay tight when you pedal. To undo your pedals turn the spindle in the opposite direction to your pedalling action. The opposite applies when you're tightening – turn the spindle in the same direction as you would pedal. Don’t forget to use anti-seize grease on the pedal threads to prevent them becoming stuck and to re-apply the grease regularly.
A slightly dry chain will often prevent your gears from working properly – keep your chain lubricated with a good quality chain lube at all times. Use a piece of newspaper behind and underneath the chain when lubricating it.
To maximise cassette and chain life, buy three new chains when fitting a new cassette. After 500 miles replace the first chain with the second. After a further 500 miles replace the second with the third and continue to rotate the chains every 500 miles.
If you've got an aluminium cassette instead, reduce the distance between rotations to 250 miles.
Adjusting front derailleur position
When adjusting the position of a front derailleur, a plastic-faced hammer or rubber mallet is very useful to tap the gear into the optimum position.
Removing cotterless cranks from a standard square taper axle can be tricky, even with a good extractor. If the crank is very tight, tighten the extractor and, using a plastic hammer or rubber mallet, tap firmly around the boss of the crank to shock the taper free.
If the type bead sinks into the rim well at one point on the wheel, there will be another point on the wheel where the bead can be easily forced over the rim edge by the air pressure in the tyre. The solution is to use either thick or several layers of rim tape – this will prevent the tyre bead from sinking into the rim well and blowing the tyres off.
Common parts to loosen and fall off on bikes are bottle cage bolts and chainring bolts. Remove them and put a drip of thread lock on each bolt before reassembling – they will still undo when necessary but won’t vibrate loose.