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Top 7 Bike Servicing Tips

Preventative maintenance tips to keep your bike on the road or trail

Bikes are built tough these days, but they do require a little bit of attention and some basic maintenance between services to keep them operating at peak performance. When you think about it, it's little to ask considering how much enjoyment they give you back out on the roads and trails. Worn or damaged bike parts can reduce your bike's lifespan and may compromise your safety. The more you ride, the more frequently you should check and maintain your bike. We've put together our top 7 bike maintenance tips, which you can perform yourself from home with a few basic tools.

Tip #1 - Keep it clean and lubed

One of the easiest ways to keep your bike running smoothly and clocking up trouble free km's - is to keep it clean and lubed. Grime, dirt and dust can be a constant nuisance to your bike's core components, causing premature and even irreparable damage to parts. Once grit and dirt gets in there, it acts like sandpaper wearing parts out faster than normal. How often you need to do this depends on how often you ride and where you are riding. If you ride regularly, clean and lube your chain at least once a month. If you are hitting the trails regularly and getting down and dirty, you'll need to do it more than that.

Top tip - listen for little creaks and squeaks in your chain, hearing anything like this usually means it's ready for a clean and lube.

Here's how to clean and lube your bike

For more info on how to clean and lube your drivetrain, here's a video from one of our Torpedo7 live workshops showing you how it's done.

Tip #2 - Check everything's tight

Giving your bike a quick pre or post ride once over helps locate any replacements, adjustments or tightening that is needed. Run over all the linkages and parts of your bike making sure nothing is loose or damaged. You'll usually only need a set of allen keys and a torque wrench for this. Loose or improperly tightened parts can cause serious damage to your bike, reduce it's performance and possibly cause safety concerns. When tightening bolts on your bike, be sure to consult the manufacturers guidelines for the proper torque specs - overtightening can also lead to damage.

An easy and quick way to check if anything is loose is just to pick the bike up about 100mm off the ground, then put it back down fast. If there's something loose, you'll hear or feel it clunking or reverberating. As you go over the bike with an allen key, just check to see if there's anything loose. If you do find a loose bolt, it will need threadlocker to stop it coming out again once you have tightened it.

Here is a checklist to run through

When checking your bike over, a good tip is to record any new or unknown noises and then communicate these with your local bike mechanic. Early identification and remedy of these may help avoid any long term or costly damage to your bike.

Tip #3 - Review brake performance

Good brake performance and reliability really helps your confidence when riding. They are one of the most important components on your bike - so both the brake pads and braking surface need to be kept clean from contaminants. Dirty brake pads wear out much faster, affecting performance (less stopping power, longer response time and reduced bike control). If you're hearing squeaky brakes, or something isn't quite feeling right, it's time to check your brakes. Here's some basic maintenance tips for the 2 most common types of brakes - rim brakes and disc brakes. You'll only need a set of allen keys for this.

Note - full 'brake adjustments and brake bleeds' are not covered in this bike maintenance guide.

To visually check your disc brakes

To visually check and adjust your rim brakes

Other watchouts: - always make sure you avoid getting anything but water on your brakes. If you've released the front wheel out on your bike for travel, make sure that you have a disc brake spacer and that it goes back in place when you put your wheel back in - to stop the pistons coming out.

In addition to these basic bike maintenance tips and checks, it's important to get your bike inspected and serviced regularly by an experienced bike mechanic every 6 months or so (depending on how often you're riding) to make sure you're not missing anything.

Tip #4 - Check those tyres

Tyres are what makes constant contact to the road or trail, so they need to be regularly checked for any possible damage or wear issues. To check your tyres over look for any splits, cuts, foreign objects, fraying, holes or damage to side walls. Inspect your tread to make sure it's not too worn. Some tyres have built-in wear marks - when the tread is worn down to those marks, it's time to replace the tyre.

Regularly check your tyre pressure. Having the right pressure enables better grip and handling. Too low a pressure and you're going to risk flats, you'll also experience greater resistance and quicker wear on your tyres. Too high, and you're potentially in for a bumpy, harder ride with less traction under the wheel. The higher the volume of the tyre, the lower the pressure you'll need to run. Also, run a slightly lower pressure in cooler, wetter conditions vs dry, warm conditions over summer. Check the suggested pressure on the side of your tyres, but put a slightly higher pressure in the back tyre as this takes more of your weight.

Practice changing out an inner tube using only your on-ride tool kit, it pays to have done it at home before trying on the trails or road for the first time. If you're running tubeless, check and top up the sealant regularly (approx every 3 months) as the sealant does dry up over time and become less effective at preventing leaks.

Tip #5 - Check your drivetrain

Bike chains do actually wear out. The more frequently you change your chain, the longer life you'll get out of your cassette and chainrings. The most accurate way to check your chain is with a chain checker. You can also manually check your chain by lifting the chain from a section of the chainring and checking how many teeth it exposes. Three or four suggests excessive wear and time for a replacement. Remember, the easiest way to extend the lifespan of your drivetrain is to keep it clean and lubricated, see Tip #1.

Tip #6 - Check and adjust your derailleurs

Your bike's derailleurs are the mechanism that moves your chain, allowing you to shift gears. When your derailleurs are adjusted correctly, you can shift smoothly and avoid chain rub. When they're misaligned, you'll find shifting more difficult, especially uphill. This can happen for all kinds of reasons. A relatively minor crash, or regular wear and tear can bump the derailleurs out of alignment. Adjusting the cable tension to pull upward on the front and rear derailleurs can make all the difference.

Adjusting after a bigger crash: - if the bike falls on the right side (drive side), shift the gears to the higher gear (smallest cog) and make sure the pulley wheels are aligned with the smallest cog. If it is out of alignment and you don't know how to bend it back, ride home making sure you don't use the lower gears. The derailleur can get caught by the spoke and break the derailleur, hanger, spokes and even possibly the frame. If the gears are not working properly and you don't know what to do, don't try and change any adjustments as you could easily make it worse! It's time to book your bike in for a service at your local Torpedo7.

Tip #7 - Have the right tools

Knowing and carrying the right tools for bike maintenance at home or on the go, can really help you out. Your on-ride repair kit will vary depending on where and how far you're riding but here are a few essentials that will help you out on the trail or road for quick repairs:

These 7 simple bike maintenance tips will help you keep your bike running smoothly between it's regular services. With a little home maintenance, some cleaning and a lube, your bike will not only be more enjoyable to ride, it will be safer too. If you have any doubts about your competence and skills to keep your bike maintained, take advantage of your free bike safety check which you receive as a Torpedo7 Club Member. Remember your local Torpedo7 bike mechanic is always there to help you out. See you out there!


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