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Basic Bicycle Maintenance

Basic Bicycle Maintenance is necessary to prolong the lifespan of your bicycle. With just a little bit of care, these simple machines will give you months and years of riding pleasure.

We recommend that you carry out the following basic maintenance tasks regularly
  • Clean your bicycle after every ride with a clean & dry rag. 
    • Microfiber cloth is the best for this purpose.  However baby wipes are also a safe & inexpensive item to quickly clean your bicycle without giving it a full wash down.
    • If not the whole bicycle, at least the chain must be wiped...specially if you use oil to lubricate it as it attracts gunk & sand during ride which gets stuck to the chain and causes a black, messy stain wherever it touches. Hold the chain using a rag and run the pedals in reverse to wipe the chain.  Again, baby wipes can be used here for a deeper clean than just a dry rag.
  • De-grease & lubricate the chain after every 300 km in wet riding conditions and 500 km in dry riding conditions.  
    • You can use two old tooth brushes taped together, dipped in the de-greaser of your choice to clean the chain. However we recommend to invest in a chain cleaner tool. It is an inexpensive device that makes it easy to wash/de-grease the chain.
    • Kerosene oil is an easily available de-greaser in Pakistan to wash the chain but it is not environmentally safe.  Environment conscious people can find safer alternatives from Bikestan and Bike Concepts who carry Finish Line and Muc-Off products. 
    • After de-greasing, leave the chain in open air for half an hour or so to allow de-greaser to fully evaporate. Then lubricate the chain using dry or wet lube as suitable. Dry lube is best for dry climate areas whereas wet lube/oil is better for rainy / wet climate.
    • You can use any light oil such as sewing machine oil to lubricate the chain. However we recommend to use commercially available dry or wet lube as oil causes the chain to get dirty quickly.
  • If the bike has been ridden in wet conditions, then it is better to wash it down immediately after the ride before the mud dries out and sticks hard. Take following precautions:
    • Never use pressure washer to wash bicycle as it will cause water to penetrate the bearings causing them to rust thus reducing their lifespan. 
    • Start by cleaning the chain as it makes the most mess. Wash off any mud / debris on the chain and then de-grease it as described above.
    • Do not use laundry detergent to wash the bicycle as it contains quite harsh chemicals and might affect the paint finish of the bicycle. Car Shampoo is best but in case you don't have it, liquid dish-washing soap is a readily available & safe alternative. Do not use abrasive dish-washing powder/paste & pad though.  Soft sponge or microfiber cloth is recommended. 
    • Thoroughly dry the whole bicycle after washing off using dry, soft rag or microfiber cloth. Pay special attention to screw heads where water may stay and cause rust.
  • Check tires for any cracks while cleaning the bicycle. 
    • Cracks indicate tire has aged and should be changed before encountering any issue during the ride. 
    • Sometimes tires develop a bubble/bulge which also indicates that structural integrity is failing and the tire needs replacement.
  • Check Wheels for any wobble / side-to-side motion during rotation. If you observe a wobble, then the wheel is out of true and you should take it to the service shop to get it fixed. Continuing to ride an out of true wheel can cause serious problems including broken spokes and even a crash.
  • Check brake pads for wear after removing the wheels. 
    • If the brake pads do not have any grooves left, it is time to replace them. 
    • If the brake pads have visibly good grooves but have a polished/smooth surface, rough them up using an iron/nail file or coarse emery paper. This will remove any embedded debris in the pads and increase braking power.
These are the bare minimum maintenance tasks every cyclists should perform to ensure his bicycle is in good riding condition.  For those interested in learning more advance tasks (like how to index/adjust gears or how to service pedals & wheel hubs etc.), there are tons of video tutorials on YouTube that can help you learn basics as well as advance maintenance tasks & tricks of the trade. 

Have any question or query about bicycle maintenance? Ask in the comments.

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