Bike Maintenance

Keep your bike rollin’.

Check your tire pressure weekly.

Then, every other week:

  • Clean/lubricate chain. (Do this more frequently if riding in dirty/dusty/wet conditions.)
  • Check/adjust brake pads and cable stretch.

MONTHLY:

  • Check/tighten all bolts and screws.
  • Check chain wear. Replace when stretched .75″-1″.
  • Check cockpit alignment.
    • The saddle and stem should be pointing in the same direction.
    • Road brake levers should generally be pointing straight out and level with the tops of the bars. Mountain bike brake levers should be spaced evenly apart from each other and facing roughly 45 degrees downward.
    • The bars should be level. A good way to set up any bar is to have the logos facing directly forward. If there are no logos, use your best judgment.
  • Check bike for cracks, dents, and other damage every other month, or monthly if you ride carbon fiber/aluminum (these materials are prone to failure when their structure is compromised).
  • True wheels as needed.
  • Check tires for wear. Carefully remove any sharp debris.

Twice a year:

  • Regrease seat-post.
  • Regrease quill stem, if applicable.

Yearly:

  • Overhaul bearing units. The bearings in serviceable bearing units can last an extremely long time, given that you keep the grease fresh. Cartridge units are non-serviceable and must be replaced when worn.

Finally + Generally:

  • Keep the bike inside to prevent unnecessary wear/risk of theft.
  • Clean the bike as you see fit. Just remember that they say a clean bike is a happy bike.
  • Diagnose and address any abnormal noises before they develop into something worse.
  • Replace cassette/freewheel when worn, or when the chain starts to jump (you’ll know when…).
  • If riding in wet conditions often, consider installing fenders. Fenders prevent dirty water from being splashed up onto your bike, particularly into the headset, seat post, and bottom-bracket area (not to mention your clothes).
  • After any crash/drop, check your bike for damage, such as cracks, dents, or bends.
    • Critical damage is more likely in carbon fiber/aluminum frames/components.
    • Once aluminum bends, you usually can’t bend it back and expect it to last.
    • Large dents in frames/forks usually mean replacement time.

Adjusting Your Cables

barrel adjuster sram red rear derailleur 10 speed

An example of a barrel adjuster, on a rear derailleur. Click for larger view.

Most bikes we sell have brand new shift and brake cables. New cables will stretch as they are broken in and will require tightening. Luckily, component manufacturers put “barrel adjusters” on their parts for easy cable adjustments.

  • For brakes, we recommend tightening the cable until there is a slight amount of play on the brake lever before the pads touch the rim.
  • For derailleurs, you can usually shift to the smallest cog/chainring and loosen the barrel adjuster just until the cable feels taught.
  • If you can effortlessly pick up the bare derailleur cable, then the cable is too loose.
  • Shift through all of the gears while spinning the cranks at roughly 90rpm. Use small adjustments to the cable tension. The chain should ride evenly on the cogs in each gear. Shifts should be smooth and effortless. (*Certain rear derailleurs, such as Shimano’s Rapid-Rise, will need to be tensioned while in the largest cog, as the shifting direction is reversed.)

Protecting Your Bike from Theft

U-lock > cable lock.

The more, the better. Smaller ones are better as they leave less room for thieves’ tools.

Avoid leaving your bike out overnight.

Use extra precautions when in a high-theft area.


Any other questions or concerns? Feel free to send us an email.