5 Top Bike Maintenance Mistakes that can Ruin your Bike


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Even some of the most basic bike maintenance can have harmful effects on the life of your bike. With a little know-how, you can avoid making some of the most common bike maintenance mistakes and maintain your bike properly. We’ve outlined some of the most common bike maintenance mistakes made and how to avoid them.


1. Not Cleaning your Bike Frequently Enough

Every time you go out and ride, your bike is constantly collecting dirt. If you ride long enough, eventually the dirt on your bike can start excessively wearing down your bike’s cog set and chain. This can lead to worn & uneven teeth on the cog set, which can make shifting into gears jerky. Having this happen is certainly irritating when trying to shift to a lower gear climbing a hill.

Not only does a dirty bike damage your chain and cog set, but it also can seize up your bearings and lock up your shifters. When you ride your bike, some of the dirt you pick up can get into your bearings and shifters, which can interfere with the component. It’s always better and cheaper to clean your bike than have to replace some of these costly components.

We recommend cleaning your bike after every substantial bike ride. This can range from a quick wipe down with a rag if you’re short on time to scrubbing all of your moving components with soapy water. If you’ve got the time to fully clean your bike use mild dish soap with water as a cleaner to scrub the excess grease and dirt from the moving components on your bike. Never use a high-pressure washer to clean your bike as the water can get into your bearings and cause them to rust.

Clean your bike frequently or it will cost you. Wipe it down with a rag if you’re short on time or use soapy water to scrub the moving components on your bike.


2. Too Much or Too Little Chain Lube

It’s important to have a proper amount of chain lube on your bike. You want to avoid you bike chain chirping like a bird due to a lack of chain lube, but you also don’t want so much lube on your chain that it slings all over your bike. To find this balance, start with a freshly cleaned bike and add one drop of oil per chain link. Be sure to focus the drop right onto the pin that holds the links together. Once all the links are oiled, lightly grip the chain with a clean rag and spin the pedals. Be sure to shift in all the different gears to spread the bike lube. Continue this process until you can touch your chain without getting lube on your hands.

By having the right amount of chain oil, you will prolong the life of your chain and reduce the amount of dirt it collects, which can damage other components on your bike.


3. Fixing Flats

Nearly every cyclist is familiar with how to fix a flat bike tire. Often times though, some cyclists are not thorough enough with the process, which can lead to another flat a few more miles down the road. When changing out a flat inner tube, be sure to remove the tire completely and run your hand along the inside of the tread. Do this clockwise and counterclockwise to ensure that there are no sharp objects that could compromise the new inner tube you are about to put into the tire.


Be thorough with this process and you will surely save yourself some time and money. Nobody wants to have to fix a flat tire again 2 miles down the road.


4. Tire Pressure

The right amount of tire pressure can mean the difference between a smooth ride or an uncomfortable one where you feel every bump on the road. Most cyclists often pump their tire pressure to the maximum psi on the tire wall, but often times this will not give you the best ride experience. Instead, adjust your tire pressure towards the type of terrain you will be riding as well as your weight as a rider. For example, if you are riding somewhere with a lot of loose gravel, you will want to have a lower tire pressure so that your tire will have more traction. In addition, also adjust your pressure based off your weight. If you are a lighter rider, have a lower tire pressure and vice versa for heavier riders. This will ensure that you won’t get bounced around when you go out for a ride.


5. Irregular Maintenance

Last but not least, is just a general lack of maintenance. Some people think that a bike is just a toy, but if you don’t take maintenance seriously it could make your bike a safety hazard. Before going for a ride, be sure to conduct a pre-ride test (just like an aircraft taking off) on your brakes, tires, and gear system to make sure everything is working correctly. Inspecting your bike regularly will ensure that you’ll likely see worn bike components before they become a serious problem and leave you stranded somewhere.


You can rest assured, however, that if any potential problems arise whilst riding on one of our guided or self-guided tours you have access to full technical support from our local representative to get you back on your ride.


For more information about bike maintenance, visit REI Bike Maintenance Basics

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