DIY guide for your bicycle health check

If you’ve just bought a new bike, or you’re looking to get the most life out of the steed you already own, you need to be regularly servicing your bike. Much the same as servicing your car, routinely putting a bit of effort into your deserving machine will keep it looking and running like brand new for much longer.

Drivetrain cleaning

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If you can only muster the mental fortitude to do one thing to your bike, it should be cleaning your drivetrain. If you haven’t given your chain a thorough clean in a while, the sheer amount of atramentous gunk that stains your rag will astound you. The physics of cleaning your drivetrain is pretty simple, the more rubbish there is on your chain, the more friction there is in the system. More friction results in a less efficient system and faster wearing of your components.

To clean your chain, simply grab an old rag, hold it around your chain between the cassette and chainrings, and spin the pedals backwards. Once you’ve transferred all the muck of the ride to your now black rag, add a few drops of lube to your chain whilst back-pedalling the cranks. Finally, clean off the excess lube from your chain by back-pedalling into your rag one last time. For an easier way and a deeper clean, get yourself a chain cleaning tool – Park Tool makes a great one!

Tighten your bolts

If you haven’t checked your bolts for a while, they could be starting to come loose. Having your forks rattle every time you brake is a great way to make your ride less enjoyable, and stripping your crank arms is going to make you want to give up cycling altogether. Every few weeks you should grab your 4mm Allen key, or preferably a torque wrench, and give your bike a once-over. It’s also a good idea to remove your bolts and cover them with Loctite – it keeps your bolts tighter for longer.

Check your brakes! 

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You may not need new brakes, your current brakes might just need some attention.

As one of the most important parts of your bike, your brakes deserve special attention. This is especially important for rim brakes, as they are far more susceptible to collecting and embedding everything from rocks to shards of metal. This contamination of the braking surface compromises your braking quality and damages your brake track. Grab a screwdriver and pry out any visible objects. Whilst you’re doing this, check the brake alignment – it’s as simple as making sure your brakes are centred over the wheel and are impacting the brake surface at the same time. Finally, check your cable tension: simply undo the compression bolt, and with one hand, pinch the brakes together so that they are as close to the wheel as possible without actually dragging on the surface, and with the other hand, tighten the compression bolt. The difference that this simple service will have on your braking performance is immense.

It’s always easier to do a quick service every week rather than letting your bike deteriorate over months, so stay on top of your maintenance! If you don’t feel confident doing it yourself, book it in for a regular service at your local bike shop before small problems become more expensive ones – your bike and your wallet will thank you!

About Tim_Davis@Pushys

I'm a Science Graduate and Medical student at the University of Queensland, specialising in anatomy and physiology. More importantly, I'm all for any type of riding; road, mountain, dirt jumping, I love it all! Let me know if there is anything you want to know about nutrition and health, and I'll do my best to help you out!

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