Bicycle maintenance doesn’t have to be a chore. A few minutes spent properly caring for your bicycle can save you hours or even days off your bike in the future, not to mention potentially hundreds of dollars in costly repairs. There are plenty of courses on proper bike riding techniques and ways to train, but when it comes to proper maintenance, the well is nearly dry. This blog highlights six important bike maintenance bad habits that you should avoid to prolong the life and use of your bike.
Bike Maintenance Bad Habits
- Storing your bike outdoors, unlocked. Keeping your bike outdoors exposes it to the elements. Rain and snow or even just morning dew can lead to rust down the road. Bike that are kept outside have also been known to attract insects like spiders who are looking for a safe place to lay eggs. Trust me- hundreds of spider babies can really interfere with a ride! Also, a bike that is stored outside is at risk of being stolen. Even if you live in a rural area, a bike stored outdoors is practically asking to be taken. Over $350 million worth of bicycles are stolen each year and few are recovered. Keep your bike indoors in a dry and safe area.
- Putting your bike away dirty. We’ve all ridden through our share of dusty roads, muck, and puddles. Some would say that’s one of the best parts of riding. Even if you limit your riding to roads, you are prone to build up for dirt and oils on your bike. One of the worst bad maintenance habits is putting your bike away dirty. Over time, that dirt and grime will calcify and eat into your components. It can even cause premature breakdown of components, and costly repairs can be on your horizon. No one is suggesting that you need to do a full detailing of your bike after each ride, but a quick cleaning using a sprayer or some warm, sudsy water will remove the grime that can damage your bike. It also gives you the opportunity to perform a quick inspection of your bike elements to check for damage or wear.
- Performing your own maintenance. Some of us are handy and have the proper hardware to perform bike repairs. But for many of us, bicycle repairs warrant a trip to the bike shop. Don’t assume that you can do these difficult repairs yourself. Many bike repairs require specific tools created for these unique parts. Bike shops have these tools and can perform most repairs in a jiffy. You probably do not own these tools, and using incorrect tools in an effort to “just do it” can result in damage to your bike. For simple maintenance tasks, you may be fine consulting YouTube for some how-to videos, but for more complex repairs, take it to the shop and save yourself the headache.
- Failing to properly inflate your tires. Both over- and under-inflated tires can lead to premature wear. Low air pressure can result in a pinch flat, something you definitely want to avoid. Don’t assume that you need to ride at the maximum psi for your bike. Mechanics recommend you inflate your tires to about 70 to 90 percent of the maximum psi based on your weight and riding conditions for road bikes. Mountain bike tires are an art all their own, and experienced mountain bikers will often adjust their tires regularly based on the terrain they face for each ride. Check your air pressure before each ride or at least every few days to keep in that optimum level. Replacing tires is costly and you will get much more use out of them if you keep air pressure in the good range. Remember to keep fix a flat on hand for emergencies. Although proper maintenance helps, you never know when you might get a puncture.
- Riding a bike that is damaged or has worn components. If your bike shows signs of excess wear or damage, get it repaired. Think about your car: if your brakes were going bad, you wouldn’t continue driving the car – you would take it in to get repaired. Do the same for your bike. If your tires are in rough shape, your brakes are breaking down, or your cables have frayed, get them repaired before you ride again. It’s not worth taking chances and potentially crashing or getting stranded. When you ride a damaged or worn bike, you are at risk of hurting yourself or others.
- Laying your bike down drive side first. Never, ever do this! The drive side of your bike (the side with the chainring, derailleurs, and cassette) should point towards the sky if you must lay your bike down. Bicycle apparatus is somewhat delicate, and laying it down drive side first can cause damage to your bike. If at all possible, avoid laying your bike down completely, but if you must lay it down be sure it is drive side up!
- Not lubing your chain. This tip is especially important for those who ride often. Failing to keep your chain lubed means extra friction and wear. Monitor your chain for any areas that are lacking lube. Lube your chain as needed. A regular cleaning and lubing will prolong the life of your chain.
- Failing to maintain your brake pads. A good rule of thumb is that you will get about 500-600 miles out of resin pads, so plan ahead and keep them maintained. Failing to do so puts additional wear on your bike and can leave you with ineffective brakes.
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We all know that proper bicycle maintenance results in a better performing bike with less risk for break down. It can also help prevent crashes that occur when brakes and other bike components go out. These crashes can be avoided! Some bicycle crashes, however, cannot be avoided. Sometimes cyclists are struck by motorists who are unaware of their surroundings. In these cases, there was simply nothing the biker could do to avoid being hit. The end result can be injury, damages to your bike, and ongoing pain and suffering. If you or a loved on have been hurt in a bicycle-car collision, contact the experienced attorneys at Kass & Moses. Our team of bicycle injury attorneys can quickly help you determine if you have a case and how much you can expect to recover for your injuries. Contact us today for more information and learn how we can help you!