It is that time again to properly maintain your road bike or mountain bike. But how do you do that? Of course you don't want to arrive at your friends' house with a creaking chain or worn tires. In this article we discuss how you can keep your bike in top condition.
Step by step you will read everything you need to know about maintaining and cleaning your road or mountain bike. Not only will this give you a pleasant ride, but it will also extend the life of all your bike parts. In 7 steps we will introduce you to all aspects of cleaning and maintaining your bike.
The best way to service your road or mountain bike is the day or evening before your ride. Nothing is as annoying as finding out just before you set off that something is broken on your bike and you can't start that great ride.
Clean your bicycle
To maintain a bicycle properly it starts with cleaning the bicycle. Maintaining a clean bike saves a lot of dirty hands and ensures that your dirty parts don't get in the way of maintenance.
Begin by spraying your chain. This will give the degreaser some time to soak in. Then spray your bike so that the coarse dirt is rinsed off. Don't do this with a pressure washer but with the garden hose, otherwise you run the risk of removing all the grease from the bearings, which causes creaking of the pedals or drivetrain.
Is your bike very dirty? Then it is best to treat your bike with special bike cleaner. Spray the entire bike with bike cleaner and let the product soak in for a few minutes. Fill a bucket with water and make a soap so you can use a sponge or brush to remove the dirt from your bike. There are special bike brushes around, but a normal, sturdy brush will do.
Cleaning the bicycle chain
While cleaning, we always give a little extra attention to our bike chain. After all, this is one of the most important parts of your bike! The chain is best degreased and cleaned with a product specially developed for this purpose. A degreaser cleans your dirty bike chain. Spray the chain with the cleaner and let it soak in. After approximately 5 minutes the effect is optimal and you can easily remove all the dirt from your chain with a cloth or brush. Remember to rinse it off with water. This will prevent problems with lubricating your chain.
Lubricate your bicycle chain
No doubt you have heard it before: the annoying sound of a squeaking and creaking bicycle chain. Although this is very irritating, it is fortunately easy to solve. This can already be over by lubricating the bicycle chain. Now that you have cleaned the chain, it is best to lubricate it immediately! This will also prevent your unprotected chain from rusting.
Lubricating the chain properly is vital. Lubricating the bicycle chain does not have to be a difficult job, as long as you do it accurately. In addition to making the squeaking noise go away, this also ensures a longer life for your chain, cassette and sprockets.
To lubricate your chain, use only a dropper bottle. This allows you to carefully apply oil or wax to your chain. Do this between your rear derailleur wheel and your front sprocket at the top/inside of the chain. Be sure to start at the closing link of the chain and then turn it around until you have had every link. As a final step, use a cloth to remove any excess oil or wax from your chain and you are ready to go!
Check tires and wheels
During a maintenance check, you check all the essential parts of your bicycle. This certainly includes the wheels and tires. Check whether your wheels are still straight. You can do this by spinning the wheel and see if you can see a turn. If your wheel swings, then you have a stroke and that must of course be removed. By tightening the spokes you can get the stroke out. This can be a tricky job. If you are not very enthusiastic about bike maintenance, the bike mechanic will often get it out for you in 15-30 minutes.
Are the tires still good? Good, because riding with a flat tire is never fun! To prevent punctures it is important that you regularly check your tires. Check the tire for stones and make sure the cuts in the sidewalls are not too deep. Also check that the profile of the tire is not worn. If you see a different color through the tire then the tire definitely needs to be replaced.
Checking brakes and cables
The brakes on your bicycle are a very important part to check. Brakes that are not working properly can lead to dangerous situations. Whether you use rim brakes or disc brakes, the brake pads need to be checked. To check the pads on a rim brake, take the wheel off so you can see the pads properly. Check the pads on the following points:
- Is there enough rubber left on the pads?
- Are they evenly shaped?
- Do you not see any aluminum flakes?
If your answer is ''no'' to any of these three questions then they need to be replaced. Are your brake pads no longer good or in doubt? Then replace them. If they are still good, then clean them immediately.
With disc brakes, you also check the brake pads for wear. Remove the wheel and check whether the pads that grip the disc are still straight and have enough profile. Do you have the pads replaced? Then make sure they are properly broken in. Many bike shops have an SBR breaking-in machine for this in the workshop, but you can also do this yourself.
In most systems gears and cables work with a cable. These are also sensitive to wear. You may notice that shifting gears or braking is a bit harder than you are used to. Then the coating probably needs to be replaced.
If you see rust somewhere on the outside of your cables, it is better to replace them. This way you avoid dangerous situations such as cables breaking during a bike ride!
Check the transmission of your bicycle
The drivetrain of your bicycle consists of the chain and sprockets. It is important to keep an eye on the wear of your chain. This affects how much your cassette and sprockets wear. By replacing your chain on time your cassette will last a lot longer. What also ensures much less wear is the proper lubrication of your chain.
You can measure the wear of a chain with a chain checker. These are available almost everywhere. If the chain checker fits all the way through your chain or is very close to the 1.0 then your chain definitely needs replacing.
Don't forget to degrease and lubricate your new chain as well. A new chain always looks lubricated but this is a transport oil that the manufacturer applies for protection. This is not suitable as lubrication for your chain.
The next part of your driveline is the sprockets. Check that the teeth at the top are still nice and flat. They should look symmetrical.
While you're looking at your sprockets: also check whether your derailleur wheels need replacing. Wear and tear can often be seen here. If the teeth have become pointed, they definitely need to be replaced.
Checking wheel bearings
In a road bike there are several bearings to keep everything running nice and smooth. The most important bearings are your steering head bearings, bottom bracket bearings and your wheel bearings. Creaks and other unpleasant noises are often caused by dirty or worn bearings.
All bearings in a bicycle should be coated with bearing grease.
To check if your bearings are still good, you should check for play when you apply force to them. At your headset bearings, squeeze your front brake and move your handlebars forwards and backwards. Find some play here. Check whether you can tighten them and if not, whether they need to be replaced. For your wheel bearings, you can also squeeze your brakes and push them sideways up and down. Do you feel a click? Then your wheel is not in properly or your bearings are worn out.
You can check the bottom bracket bearing by holding your crank arm firmly and pulling it back and forth a bit. Do you feel a click or play? Then it's time to replace your bottom bracket bearings. Replacing a bottom bracket does take some experience! We advise you to let a specialist do this.
Protecting your bike!
If you really want it to sparkle, spray it with special wax. This will apply a protective layer to your frame. This will make it look better and make the next cleaning easier. The wax ensures that less dirt attaches to your frame and parts. Be careful not to get the polish wax on your disc brakes!