Top 9 Road Bike Maintenance Tips

bike-cleaning

Road Bicycle are bicycles built for traveling at speed on paved roads. Some sources use the term road bike to pertain to Racing Bicycles. Racing bicycles however, should meet the standards set by Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).

Whether you are riding an entry level, midrange, or a high end one and regardless if you’re using it for daily commute, physical training or racing, your road bike is an investment that you have to take care of and keep properly maintained at all times. A well maintained bicycle saves you from sudden expenses due to the cost of repair, need for spare parts and expensive components. Needless to say, maintaining it prolongs the life of your components and the bike itself. Keeping your bicycle in shape can also decrease the threat of an accident caused by mechanical failure therefore; it can save your life.  Also, a properly maintained bicycle will help you have a hassle-free and more enjoyable ride on the road.

Bicycle_Frame_Diagram-en.svg

Bicycle frame-set (frame and fork) schematic

To know how to properly maintain your bicycle here’s a quick review on its primary parts
Frame
-This is the main body of the bike and is made to be lightweight. According to the UCI regulations the frame must be constructed using a “main triangle” with three straight tubular shapes: the top tube, down tube and seat tube. Manufacturers are allowed to use any material they want for the frame. It can either be made from steel, aluminum, titanium or carbon fiber.
Wheelsets
-Most road bikes are using 700c wheels. It is a narrow tire, high pressure, and smooth to decrease rolling resistance. Rims can either be made of steel, aluminum or carbon.
Drivetrain
-The drivetrain includes the crank, pedal, chain, chain rings, freewheel or fixed gear sprocket and derailleurs.
Steering Components
-This is consisted of the Handle bar, Steering stem, Head parts and front fork.

1. Know how to work on your bike. You don’t need to have a PhD or even a degree in mechanical engineering to learn how to take care of your precious bicycle, especially in this day of Information Age. You can easily find numerous articles on the internet, like this one, that will definitely be able to help you out. Information can also be obtained from watching videos and tutorials on YouTube. Aside from the obvious benefit of saving some money, learning to work on your own bike will also give you a better understanding on how it works. You may even find it a fun experience.

2. Keep your bike clean. Aside from the fact that this makes your bike look nice and shiny, having a clean bicycle prevents its components from wearing out faster.  You should develop a habit of keeping it clean. How often you clean your bike would depend on the type of riding you do and the terrain your bike’s overcome when you took it for a ride. I always do a quick cleaning of my bike every time I ride in a wet condition, or after every three to five rides in good weather conditions. Rule of the thumb? If you think it’s dirty, then clean it.

3. Check your tire pressure. An incorrect tire pressure will cause your tire to wear out fast and can also lead to punctured tires, which can really ruin a fun ride. You should check your tire pressure every time before you take off. Required tire pressure varies depending on your tire so you might want to check its sidewalls to see the manufacturer’s recommended psi (pounds per square inch). Road tires typically require 80 to 130 psi. You may also consider getting a tubeless.

bike chain lube

4. Lube and grease. Lube comes in two types and what you need may vary depending on your location and weather. Wet lubes are used in wet condition and has stickier composition that can tend to attract dirt. Dry lubes, on the other hand, is much suitable for dry conditions. It is also lighter so it tends to be washed away by water quickly.  A properly lubed chain, cables and derailleurs will work better and last longer.
You should lube your components regularly after degreasing. Grease can be used as anti-seize for your bolts and seat post except for carbon made parts (there’s a specific anti seize compound for carbons). Grease can also prevent moisture in getting in your bearings and it prevents rust. Just remember to remove any excess lubes and grease as it will attract dirt and grimes and also be careful in applying it to your bike as you don’t want any of it on your brake pads.

5. Make sure parts are tight enough or properly placed. You don’t want pieces to fall off from your bike during a ride. Check the tightness of the bolts, nuts, axle and spokes. Prevent under tightening or over tightening the bike parts as it may damage it. Also, make sure that your rims, handlebar and drivetrain are properly aligned.

6. Replace worn out parts. This includes your brake pads, chains, cassette, chain rings, bearings, cables etc. Knowing when to replace parts of your bicycle is essential as it can actually save you from replacing more parts that will be end up more costly. A worn out brake pad will then damage your rim or rotor depending if you’re using a rim brake or a disc brake, same goes with chain as a worn out chain will quickly wear out your cassette and chainrings.

7. Check your derailleurs, shifters and gears. You don’t want to encounter problems when shifting gears during a ride or having your chain falling off your bicycle. Check your rear and front derailleurs. Try changing your gears, give your pedal a spin and see if it changes smoothly. You might want to have it adjusted depending on the result of your test.

8. Check for creaks, squeaks or any unwanted sounds on your bike. These are sometimes very hard to find and no bike is immune to these sounds as even the most advanced and expensive road bikes can have these. Instead of being miffed, consider these sounds as your best friend since they are actually giving you a hint that there’s something wrong in your bike that needs to be urgently addressed and cannot be ignored.

Normally, these sounds are caused by two moving objects. You need to do a simple process of elimination to know where the sound is coming from. Ride your bike and feel it. You need to check the bike’s headset, saddle, seat post, cranksets, hubs, derailleur, cassette and other accessories you have (you can do it on different order). Apply some good pressure or try to move these parts and see if the creaking noise will be heard once a certain part is moved.
Once you find what’s causing your bike creak, the simplest solution would be applying lube or grease or tightening the part that is making that sound. You may also need to disassemble your bike and clean it to eliminate the sound coming out of it. If the problem persists, you can consider having it checked by a professional or having the part replaced.

tools9. Have the right tools. Get a good set of allen keys, torque wrench, pressure gauge, floor pump, spoke wrench, chain checker, maybe a work stand and other tools that you may need. Using toolsincorrect or low quality tools may lead to more problems instead of solving your issue. You may end up having a rounded bolt or an overtightened bolt. You can start building up your tool kit slowly depending on your needs.

There you go, our top maintenance tips. Hope it helps you. Have a safe and enjoyable ride!