With high-tech carbon frames and aerodynamic wheels, today’s modern bicycle is anything but cheap. It makes sense you’d want to protect your investment and keep your bike from wearing down prematurely.
Fortunately, there are some easy things you can do to help prolong your bike’s longevity. From using the right lube for the conditions to knowing when to replace the chain, these nine tips will keep your bike functioning properly and looking as good as new for years to come.
CLEAN YOUR BIKE AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK
One of the easiest things you can do to keep your bike working like new for as long as possible is to keep it sparkling clean. This helps your drivetrain function as it should, keeps the parts from wearing prematurely, and preserves the paint. Instead of leaving water, dirt and road grime on your bike for weeks, spend a few minutes after each ride cleaning it properly. For those always short on time, make an effort to at least wipe down your drivetrain post-ride and give your bike a thorough cleaning at least once per week.
USE THE RIGHT BIKE LUBE
Lubing your chain, headset, wheel hubs, pedal axles and cables after you clean your bike is essential. But just as important is using the correct lube for the weather conditions. To make your parts last, use a dry chain lube when the weather is hot and dry, and opt for a wet lube during seasons when rain and snow are likely. After applying lube, also make sure you wipe off any excess, as using too much lube can attract more dirt and grime to your parts.
READ THE DIRECTIONS FOR ALL NEW PARTS
Whether it’s that new carbon handlebar or a comfortable saddle, it’s important to read all the directions to understand how the item should be cared for and how much the bolts need to be tightened. This is particularly important for expensive carbon parts, as over-tightening bolts can cause these parts to crack and possibly become dangerous when you’re out riding. To avoid this, use a torque wrench and always tighten bolts according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
BE CAREFUL WITH BIKE RACKS AND STANDS
Bike racks and stands make it easier to store and work on your bike. But be careful when you purchase these items, as some of them have clamps that hold the bike by the top or down tubes. While this might not seem like a big deal, carbon bike frames can be weak in certain areas, and clamping them down in this way can cause small compression cracks. Instead, find racks and stands that hold the bike by the fork and rear triangle. If this isn’t an option, the seatpost is a better location for a clamp, but we still recommend putting a barrier in between to allow for some cushion between the clamp and post.
REPLACE THE CHAIN FREQUENTLY
A worn chain causes other parts like the chain rings, derailleurs and cassettes to wear quicker than they should. To keep this from happening, you should replace your bike chain more frequently than the other parts of the drivetrain. Typically, a quality chain lasts only for about 2,000–3,000 miles and should be replaced around this time. If you aren’t sure, use a chain checker tool to measure how much your chain has worn to determine when it needs to be replaced.
HAVE A BACK-UP BIKE, IF POSSIBLE
Two things that can cause your bike more damage and make it wear down quicker are riding over rough roads and in bad weather. Since some of this can’t be avoided, consider investing in a second bike you won’t mind riding in less-than-ideal conditions. Use this bike to commute and ride for exercise during the harsher winter months, and save that nicer bike for more ideal conditions.
DON’T LEAVE YOUR BIKE OUTDOORS
Storing your bike outdoors for more than a day or two can cause the rubber to rot, plastic parts to crack, and rust to form on the frame, wheels, chain and other metal parts. For this reason, storing your bike in a garage or other covered space is recommended for longevity. If you live in a small space such as an apartment, consider a hanging wall mount to keep your bike out of the way and minimize the space it takes up.
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HAVE A PRE-RIDE CHECKLIST
One of the worst things that can happen to your bike is a crash. Ensuring your bike is in good working order before each ride makes a crash less likely. For this reason, develop a pre-ride checklist you can use to quickly look over your bike and complete any necessary adjustments before you get on the road.
TAKE IT IN TO SERVICE
Unless you are a professional mechanic, there are some jobs you likely won’t be able to do. Instead of trying a DIY job when you don’t have the knowledge or tools to do it properly, take your bike into your local bike shop for maintenance when needed. Even if you are able to do most jobs, it’s still a good idea to have your bike professionally serviced at least once per year for deep cleaning and a proper tune up.
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