One thing I love about biking is that my check engine light never comes on. I can bike for miles and miles and my alternator never fails, my battery never dies, my AC never works, and I never run out of blinker fluid. Biking is awesome because there aren't very many things that can go wrong, and if they do they’re typically an easy fix. But, if you want to add a few years to your bikes life there are some easy steps you can take to limit the wear and tear you put on your bike
- Keep your tires inflated: It's pretty common practice to only get the pump out when your tires get low, but if you want to keep your bike in great shape you should pump them up a little more often than that. In fact if you want to get the most out of your inner tubes you should be adding air to your tires about once a week. Not a lot of air, but just enough to keep the tire full. The more the inner tube expands and contracts, the quicker your tire will pop. Keeping the tires full limits the wear and tear on your inner tubes and gives them a longer life.
- Check your bolts and screws: A big part of bike maintenance is catching problems while they’re small before they have a chance to become too serious. Try to check the bolts and screws on your bike at least once a week to make sure nothing is coming loose. If screws are too loose they can get worn down and parts can shift and fall off. It's much safer to find a loose screw before your ride than to have your pedal fall off when you’re in the middle of an intersection.
- Keep it clean and dry: This might be the most important tip you can receive. Weekly checkups are great but they won’t be enough if your bike is sitting outside covered in dirt and getting rained on. The water and debris will rust your chain and your gears and erode the bolts and screws in your bike. Find a place to store your bike where it will be safe from the elements, and if your bike is dirty after your ride make sure to do the best you can to clean it up.
- Bring it in for a safety check: Chances are if you’re reading this blog your local bike shop mechanic knows more about your bike than you do, and that's ok! They’re supposed to. And even if you are an expert, it's always a good idea to get a second pair of eyes to help you out. In order to keep your bike safe and in great condition you should take your bike to the shop at least once a season (preferably at the beginning of the season) and have the mechanic run a full safety inspection and chain lube. They’re cheap and they’re important. Even if your bike turns out to be totally fine it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Routine maintenance is an easy and important way to keep yourself safe and to help your bike last as long as possible. Whether you use it to get to work, to exercise, or to relax after a long day, your bike makes you happy. Take the time to make sure your bike is happy too.