Tech Tips

Spring Clean: things to remember when caring for your bike

Spring bike cleaning is important
Giving your bike a good spring cleaning is a good habit to get into

It should come as a surprise to no one that humans spend more time (and money!) trying to fix immediate problems than putting in a consistent, smaller amounts of time and effort preventing problems in the first place. When was the last time you skipped that beer for a soda water with lime? Or swapped that piece of cake for a salad? Exactly... And yet, we will spend a whole lot of time on expensive products and services for muscle tone and fat loss.

Your attitude toward your bike is the same. By putting in a little bit of consistent effort, you will be poised to save time and money in the long run. If you want 2016 to be the year your bike shop mechanic doesn't hide when he sees you coming, let's talk about spring cleaning our bike habits - not just our bikes!

1. Lean and store your bike correctly

Bikes falling over
Bike racks can cause a lot of damage to your prize bike

Whether it's against a fence at the local café, your mate's bike at the pub, or dismantled in your car for a road trip, it's crucial to break bad habits when it comes to how we lean and store our bikes. You would be surprised on how much damage is cause from improper storage and transportation of bikes.

The Dos and Don'ts are pretty simple here.

DO: gently lean your bike using the seat or the rear tire. Not only will it grip better to whatever you are leaning it against, you will prevent unsightly scratches and things moving that you don't want moved. Use padding on delicate parts like derailleurs and disc brakes when transporting or shipping your bike.

DON'T: lean your bike using the frame, skewer, or lying on the ground with the drivetrain facing down. This is a recipe for accidentally bumping one of the finer moving parts of the bike (such as the rear derailleur / hanger), which will cause you problems down the line. Bike racks can sometimes be the enemy as they may make contact with delicate parts as well. Bikes also have a tendency to fall over in racks, whether it be from the wind or the little kid who just ghost rid his run-bike into the rack next to yours.

2. Use the appropriate lube

lube your chain

Yes, I'm aware that even bringing up chain maintenance is cause for a reddit-worthy comment section, but a crucial part of maintaining your bicycle is understanding your lubes. Do you know the difference between Wet and Dry Lube? At the risk of being strung up by a lynch mob for trivialities, the essential difference is that wet lube (suitable for wet conditions) is stickier and more robust whereas dry lube (suitable for dry conditions) is thinner and lighter.

Neither are better or worse on their own. Which lube you use should be impacted by the climate you ride in and the conditions you encounter. Your selection will also dictate how often you should use it.



Wet lube is designed specifically to be quite sticky so that it's less likely to get washed off by rain and wetter conditions but also means it will pick up crap from the road and trails. Conversely, dry lube will keep your chain clean and free of debris (less sticky), but because it's lighter it won't hold up as well in wet conditions or if you splash through a puddle or two.

Remember not to apply different lubes on top of one another, and always clean the chain first.



3. Clean your rims (especially if your bike has rim brakes)

dirty bike rim
Dirt, grit, and brake residue dust wear your rims out prematurely if not cleaned
image: Jordana Blackman | BikeRoar

Wherever you sit in the rim vs. hub brake debate, keeping your rims clean is crucial to bike health. For bikes with rim brakes, they will not work well if the rim is dirty (from grit, dirt, or residue), of uniform width, and the wheel must be true (see point 1 about leaning your bike gently). If there is a build-up of grit, your brakes can drag or rub causing friction when you most definitely don't want it.

Constantly applying your rim brakes when your wheels are really dirty will lead to premature wearing of the rim itself. Slowly, over time the friction and pressure of the brake pads will thin the walls of the rim, which could result in rim failure. When you get in the habit of cleaning your rims you will consistently be checking them for wear and thus be able to easily estimate when they will need to replaced.

Your rim CAN be damaged due to brake wear, so make sure you keep those babies clean and shiny.




worn out pulley wheel
If your pulleys look like ninja stars it's time for new ones

4. Check your derailleur pulley wheels

A small but vital part of your drivetrain, pulley wheels are part of the rear derailleur system... and prime suspects of weird noises and dodgy shifting.

When giving your bike a once over, make sure you check the pulley wheel for evidence of wear and tear - teeth should be sprocket like and uniform - as well as grime and gunk which will prevent them from doing their very delicate jobs. Quite often they will be cracked or crucial teeth will be missing, causing all sorts of issues with your shifting.

Check out the Comparison
4 pulley wheel replacement packs


5. Check your tire pressure every ride

flat bike tire
Running the right pressure can make a big difference in your ride
image: Jordana Blackman | BikeRoar

Whether you ride a road or mountain bike, it requires a very specific pressure parameter in order to function at its optimum. I don't know whether anyone else has felt like this, but when I first started riding, pumping my tires up was the most laborious job I could think of. I would groan at the thought of it. Even if this doesn't sound familiar but you are guilty of leaving things a little bit too long, make the effort to run the right tire pressure every time. Get less punctures and have a better ride experience.

Don't hesitate to buy a good floor pump to keep at home. Ones made fully of aluminum with as many metal components as possible are usually the best. Good pumps have functions like built-in pressure gauges, multi-pressure and multi-valve pumping abilities, and high volume capabilities. A good pump will work like a breeze and should last you a lifetime.




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Img 2717Author: Jordana Blackman
Jordana is an avid road cyclist, mountain biker and cyclocross fanatic living in Brisbane, Australia. She is very involved in the women's cycling scene, supporting beginners of all ages to take up life on 2 wheels!

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