6 Tips for Easy DIY Bicycle Maintenance
At Phelps LaClair, we think it’s a great time of year to be outdoors in Phoenix. The weather is not too hot, spring flowers are in full bloom, birds are singing, and there is beauty everywhere! One of the best ways to enjoy exploring new vistas is by bicycle. A bicycle is perfect for either aerobic exercise or a leisurely jaunt along easy-to-navigate paths. But before you just hop on and go, you need to check your bike to make sure everything is in working order. Here are 6 tips for easy DIY bicycle maintenance.
Check your tires
Make sure your tires are in good shape. The last thing you want on a bike outing is to have a flat tire. Check the sidewalls of the tires to make sure there are no cracks. In our Phoenix climate the sun can be brutal on rubber tires, and the sidewall is usually where cracks will appear first. If you have any doubt, get on down to your local bike shop (LBS) and buy new tires. The folks there will help you find the right tire for the riding you plan on doing.
Learn to change a tire
In spite of all due diligence, you may get a flat tire while riding. Preparation is key. The good folks at your LBS can show you how to change a tire. Or, you can find many videos on YouTube that will demonstrate how to do it. It’s not difficult and it only takes a few common tools. While we’re on the subject, make sure you carry these tools with you, along with a spare inner tube and a pump or a can of compressed air.
Check your brakes
The braking system on bicycles is both simple and complex (an apparent oxymoron). You need to check the hand levers and cables and the brake supports and pads. Everything should move freely, with no binding. Cables need to be lubricated every year, and pads can wear down to the point of not being able to stop the bike safely. Check the wear on the pads to make sure they are wearing evenly; if they are not, the brakes will need adjustment.
Lubricate the drive train
A well lubricated drive train makes for a smoother, faster, quieter ride. Use a good quality bike chain lubricant to clean and lubricate the chain, the derailleurs and the gear cassette (on multi-geared bicycles). Household oil and silicon-based lubricants can attract and hold dirt, causing premature wear on these parts, so use a lubricant made specifically for bicycles.
Tighten nuts and bolts
If your bike rattles or shakes, something is loose. If a loose bolt drops out, your ride will become much less fun in a hurry! Check the handlebars. The stem and headset are usually OK, but check anyway. If they suddenly drop on you, the pain in your chest caused by meeting the bike quickly and sharply may not go away for weeks. Check the pedals. If a pedal falls off, the ride may be over. Even if you can find the bolt, it will be a challenge to repair it on the road. Check the wheels to make sure the axles are tightened properly. Check the seat and seat post; you don’t want to suddenly find your knees in your armpits. If any of these things are loose, tighten them snugly without over-tightening. Bolt heads have been known to snap off.
Wear a helmet! Check your lights and mirrors! Ride safely in the same direction as traffic. If you learn to do your own maintenance, every ride will be more satisfying. You won’t worry about things falling off, slipping down, or breaking—because you will know how to fix them. Plus, by planning ahead, you will avoid many of the unwelcome surprises of Murphy’s law, and you will be able to enjoy the scenery and beauty of spring in Phoenix with peace of mind.
At Phelps LaClair, we are estate planners who can bring you peace of mind about your future well-being through Living Trusts and Wills. We can help you avoid many of life’s surprises that surround your estate, whether large or modest. Give us a call to help you secure your future. In the meantime, we hope these 6 tips for DIY bicycle maintenance will enable you to go out and explore the beauty of the Phoenix Valley during pleasant weather and sunny days.