Ribble’s basic bike Maintenance tips

If you are about to dust off the best bike and head out this weekend, we thoroughly advise that you first treat it to a little TLC. To get your bike shipshape for your adventures our basic bike maintenance guide has you covered.

If your summer bike has been stored away all winter it will no doubt require a little attention before embarking on your first ride out. Below is a simple basic bike maintenance guide to the key areas that we recommend you should pay particular attention to. The list may look daunting but is actually fairly easy to accomplish for even the most reluctant of mechanics.

The effort is well worth it though, a well-maintained bike is so much smoother and faster to ride!

Recommended tools

A multi-tool like that pictured above is essential for every ride (This item is sadly no longer available).
  • Track / Floor Pump – Every cyclist needs a floor pump! Mini pumps / CO2 pumps are ideal when out and about but a floor pump is an essential piece of kit. (Especially if you don’t want arms like popeye from inflating your tyres with a mini pump).
  • Allen (hex) Keys – Multi-tools are sufficient for roadside repairs but a full set of workshop Allen keys are fairly cheap and well worth the investment. They provide the extra leverage that is sometimes required to loosen reticent bolts.
  • Torque Wrench – Everyone should own one to ensure that all bolts are tightened to the manufacturers recommended torque settings.
  • Chain Wear Checker – These are used to measure chain wear. A worn chain will cause premature wear of associated components. They can also be prone to snapping if not replaced when worn out.
  • Pedal Spanner – Depending upon the type of pedal, a pedal spanner provides the extra leverage you need to remove pedals and makes fitting them easier. However, please note that some models can only be fitted with an Allen key.
  • Assembly Grease – We use this in the workshop when assembling our bikes, enough said!
  • Carbon Fibre Grip – If you have 2 carbon components that are clamped together then you cannot use the aforementioned assembly grease. A prime example would be a carbon frame with a carbon seat post. Fibre grip improves the friction between carbon components to prevent creaking and prevent carbon slippage.
A chain checker is used to measure how much the chain has stretched. A worn chain causes premature wear of the rest of the drivetrain and can snap when under load.

Safety Checks

Checking the gears are correctly aligned is essential to keeping them running smoothly and efficiently.

There are specific checks that should be carried out before heading out on a ride. These ensure that the bike will run smoothly as well as improving the quality of the ride.

  • Brake pads – Some rim brake pads will have wear indicators printed on them, check that the block still has life left in it. If the grooves are no longer visible then the block needs replacing. Run your finger carefully along the inside of the pads to ensure that there is no flint or stone lodged which can score your wheel rim. If in doubt replace them, they cost very little and it takes a few minutes to swap them out. Likewise, if using disc brakes check that the pads are still viable to use. When it gets close to 1mm replace the pads.
  • Gears / Gear Hanger – The rear derailleur cage should be perfectly aligned with the sprocket on the cassette (see image above). The gear hanger that attaches the derailleur to the frame should also be straight. Otherwise, this will affect the gear shifts. A bent derailleur hanger that goes undiagnosed can also snap and cause catastrophic damage to your chain and spokes. You should notice this as a rubbing noise as the chain rubs on the sprockets.
  • Bolts – All bolts should be checked to make sure that they are tightened to the correct torque. If you do not already own one, you should purchase a torque wrench. They start at about £25 for a proper adjustable one. Special attention needs to be paid to the handlebar and stem bolts which should normally be tightened to 5-6Nm. This figure can be found printed on the handlebars and/or stem.
  • Tyre pressure – This is largely determined by rider weight and how you like the bike to ride. Heavier riders run tyres at a higher pressure than lighter riders and this offers a faster ride but you feel more road vibrations. A lower pressure (PSI) in tyres is more comfortable but creates slower!
  • The pressure range you should inflate the inner tube to will be stamped on the sidewall of the tyre (see image below). NEVER RIDE THE BIKE WITH THE TYRES BELOW THE MINIMUM STATED PSI. This is both unsafe and can cause the carcass to crack.
  • Remember to check the tyre pressure before each ride if you do not ride the bike daily. An easy way to check the pressure is to attach a floor pump and push down on the handle, the needle of the dial will travel round to the current pressure in the tyre.
  • Top Tip – When storing the bike for any period of time, try to ensure that it is hung up on a rack of some description rather than left on the floor. If it is left on the floor check the tyre pressure regularly to ensure it is not below the minimum recommended PSI. Doing so will prevent the sidewalls of the tyre from cracking.
All tyres have the minimum and maximum tyre pressures marked on the sidewall

Grease and Lubrication

A good quality grease weatherproofs bearings and prevents the dreaded creak!

If the bike has been stored in a garage or shed over the winter, it is often subjected to cold and damp. This can have a detrimental effect on performance. Certain parts need to be greased and lubricated before you take the bike out for a spin.

A clean and well-lubed chain works more efficiently and reduces wear on the chainrings, cassette and rear derailleur.
  • Headset – A simple but crucial task is greasing the headset. There are many ‘how to’ videos on YouTube to help you accomplish this. Remove the headset, liberally coat the bearings with Grease and re-assemble. This will prevent corrosion of the bearings and weatherproofs the headset.
  • Pedals – Depending upon the type of pedals, you will need a 6/8mm Allen key or 15mm pedal spanner. If the pedal axles are too dry the bike is prone to emit clicks and creaks. This is one of THE most popular reasons for creaks. Remove the pedals, coat the axles in grease and re-fit.
  • Drivetrain – In particular, the chain, cassette and pulley wheels (jockey wheels) of the rear derailleur. For the bike to run smoothly these items should be cleaned and lubricated. Jockey wheels, in particular, tend to get overlooked and a build-up of road grime reduces their effectiveness. Use a chain bath filled with degreaser to clean the chain and then apply lube. Or use a 2 in 1 cleaner like Rock ‘n’ Roll lube that cleans and lubricates the chain.
  • Seatpost – Another all too common issue is a seat post that has seized into the frame. During routine maintenance always remove the seat post, even if it is only to remove it and place it back in the tube. If it is an alloy post/alloy frame, apply grease, with alloy post/carbon frame or carbon/carbon combinations apply carbon fibre grip.
Well greased pedal axles dramatically reduce the risk of a creak, re-apply grease from time to time.

We hope you found the tips above helpful, of course, all of these do not need to be performed on a weekly basis. However, we do recommend that you perform such checks more frequently if you use the bike on a day to day basis. If you only use the bike infrequently then quarterly or half-yearly maintenance checks should suffice. If you don’t get out too often, focus on the basics of keeping the chain well lubed and ensure the tyre pressures are within the recommended PSI range.

Fancy a challenging ride this Easter? Try one of these iconic climbs.

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