Whether you use it to make your way to work, or just enjoy a leisurely ride, your bike needs regular maintenance to keep it on the road.
“If you invest in a nice bike, you want to also maintain it. You should think about it like your car,” Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks says. “You do regular oil changes and rotate the tires on your car. Think about that same kind of process for your bike so it’s ready to roll whenever you are.”
Before each ride, do a quick check of your bike’s key components.
“Check your air pressure, check your brakes, and check your chain – make sure it’s on to make sure everything is functional and in proper working order,” says Scott Helvie of BGI Fitness.
Even when everything checks out, anything can happen out on the road, so be prepared, especially for the inevitable flat tire.
“We highly recommend carrying what we call an essentials kit,” Helvie says. “It’s a seat bag. It’s got a tire lever in it. It’s got a patch kit in it. You can either carry a frame pump on your bike or some CO-2 cartridges for air pressure and then the appropriate tube that fits into your tire.”
Just like a car needs an oil change, your bike chain needs regular lubrication, generally every couple hundred miles. A drop of lube on each link helps.
“Before you apply new lube, it’s always best if you can degrease the chain a little bit or wipe it down to clean it off,” Helvie says. “It doesn’t do you a lot of good to lubricate a dirty chain.”
In addition to a new chain about every 2,000 miles, Angie suggests an annual tune-up, especially if your bike sat in a corner all winter. It’ll cost about $60, and will address any problems before they occur.