Editor’s note: This is part three of a five-part series from Coast Reporter and Transportation Choices (TraC ) concerning commuter cycling on the Sunshine Coast during the annual Bike to Work Week of May 26 to June 1.
Many recreational bike riders make the mistake of treating their bikes the same way they treat other kinds of sports equipment. You use it. You put it away. You come back a few weeks (or even months) later and expect it to perform exactly like it did the last time.
Unfortunately, unlike a baseball glove or a pair of ski boots, bicycles have many moving parts, so they do require some attention to keep them working well.
The good news is, even cycling rookies can perform some very basic maintenance that will help them enjoy a good amount of hassle-free riding (and prevent breakdowns far from home).
Keep your bike clean
When exposed to mud, grime and debris, bicycle parts begin to deteriorate. So, your first line of defence against breakdowns is proper bike hygiene. Bike cleaning means more than just hosing it down occasionally. In fact, water (especially when coming from a high-pressure hose) can cause damage to sensitive bearing systems throughout your bike.
So when washing with water, do so carefully. Most dirty bike components can be cleaned by wiping them carefully with a damp or dry rag. Other components require occasional brushing, buffing and re-lubrication.
Lubricate the moving parts
Once your bike is clean, take a few minutes to lubricate the moving metal parts. You can spot many of these places just by watching your bike in action and seeing where metal parts move against and around each other. Or there are many diagrams and videos available online that can show you exactly which spots to lubricate. Remember to use a lightweight oil especially designed for bikes. Light lubrication is the key, and wipe off excess at the end.
Get your bike tuned regularly
Don’t overlook regular maintenance by bike pros. If you’re a regular rider, bring your bike in for twice-yearly checkups to ensure that complex, hard-to-evaluate components such as spokes, bearing surfaces, derailleurs and cable systems are inspected and serviced regularly. These bike parts should always be serviced and adjusted by experienced mechanics.
Does your bike need a professional tune-up? In support of Bike to Work Week, both our local bike shops (Spin Cycles in Gibsons and Off the Edge in Sechelt) are offering tune-up specials to participants. Bring in your bike (and registration form or confirmation email) between now and May 25 and save 25 per cent off the regular cost of a tune-up.
For free registration in Bike to Work Week 2014, go to www.biketowork.ca/sunshine-coast and click on ‘register’.
© Coast Reporter