Change the Pace – How to care for your bike

This is a super late part three to the Change the Pace series on road cycling. Read part one, cycling attire, and part two, bike gear.

I had to ask my husband, Kelly, for some info for this post, as he’s my bike mechanic and loves all things cycling.

I asked him for three key things you should know how to do to maintain your bike:

  1. Know how to pump your tires.
  2. Learn to change your tube/tire.
  3. Properly wipe and lubricate your chain.

He wasn’t impressed with having to narrow it down to three simplistic how-tos. If Kelly had it his way, this post would be pages long.

Pump it up

Embarrassing fact- I only learned how to pump my tires properly this season. I’ve ridden a road bike for four years and I just learned. Luckily I had someone to do it for me, including the morning of races. I vowed that I would learn some stuff this year.

Check and fill your tires before every ride. I generally pump my tires to 110 PSI, but different people like different pressure.  You also have to take road conditions and weather into consideration. (i.e. The rougher the road, the lower the PSI.)

He recommends buying a floor/tower pump. They’re easy to use, quick to fill tires, and accurate with a nice PSI gauge. When you buy your pump, ask for a demo on how it works.

Change your tube

If you cycle on the road, you’re going to get a flat tire. Practice changing a tube at home so you’ll know what to do when it happens to you on the road.

I got a flat at the beginning of the year it took me over an hour, searching how to change a tire on my phone, and a kind passerby.

I’ve practiced a few times at home since then, but it still makes me super nervous. Now I take written instructions with me so I don’t panic.

Here’s a great video showing how to change a flat.

Chain maintenance

Properly wiping and lubricating your chain will keep your bike running smoothly and quietly and will increase the longevity of your drivetrain.

Kelly recommends wiping your chain, lightly lubricating, and re-wiping after every single ride.

You wipe the chain with a rag or paper towels to get the grit off. It’s amazing how dirty it is after one ride.

After it is pretty clean, gently lube it. The worst thing you can do is overlube, as it acts like a magnet for dust and debris. Black chains and cassettes are actually caused from over-lubrication.

Be sure to wipe it the same way again to remove excess lube. This is kind of a trial and error thing for me, as I’m never sure what is too wet. I generally swipe a finger on it and if it comes away dirty I wipe it some more.

(Here’s a link on how to actually clean your chain instead of just maintaining it: http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help/chain-cleaning-cm-5)

When I wipe my chain, I also like to inspect my tires to make sure the rubber doesn’t have any big gouges. If so, it’s a lot easier to get a flat tire so you should patch it or change the rubber.

Road bikes aren’t cheap so you should take the time to care for it. If you’re serious about wanting to cycle, buy a how to book for bike maintenance and repairs. Kelly recommends the Bicycle Repair Manual by Chris Sidwells. Or check your local bike shop. Some have classes you can take to learn basic care for your bike.

“A clean bike is a happy bike.” – Kelly Kokolski

This post is in no way an exhaustive list of how to care for your bike. Bike maintenance is a huge area with so much to understand. It’s just a first step to getting comfortable taking your bike out.

Can you change your tire? Do you have any maintenance tips?

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12 responses to “Change the Pace – How to care for your bike

  1. I know this post took some time, it can be time consuming just getting ready to ride. That’s why my hus does this, but at least now I feel educated about what’s going on:)

  2. Thanks for sharing this post, the video about changing a bike tire was very helpful, I’ve been wanting to learn how to do that for a long time now!

  3. i am the worst at this! luckily i always have a patch kit and my husband, he’s my bike mechanic too!

  4. I love this! I’m going to try a tri, so this is very useful!

    I just learned a year ago about lubing bike chains…it was super funny because I ride a motorcycle, and it just never occurred to me that I should lube the bike just like I lube the motorcycle!

  5. Great post! I was lucky enough to have Mike show me how to do all of this stuff but if I didn’t have him I’d be lost! I know how to change my tire but I’m still so afraid to get a flat during a race!

  6. Pingback: Snippets from my week | Change of Pace

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