Bike maintenance for longer rides

Bike maintenance for longer rides

We are proud to be sponsoring Cure Leukaemia’s ‘London 2 Paris: Inspiring the Revolution' cycle event.

An epic 500km bike ride that sees participants cycle from one capital to the other, the ride is both a physical and mental feat. Of course, due to the distance cyclists are covering it is imperative that the bikes used are properly maintained.   

Inspired by this, in this blog post, we take at a look at bike maintenance for those longer rides.  

With any longer ride, making sure your bike can go the distance is key.

Whether you’ve committed yourself to a charity ride or you have just decided it’s time to start clocking up the miles, bike maintenance is definitely something that should be at the forefront of your mind.

Obviously you should ensure your bike is properly maintained before you set off,but it’s also important that you have the appropriate tools with you whilst on the ride as you never know when something like a flat tyre or loose handlebars will catch you off-guard. Before setting off on any ride, think about the following:

Preparation

Clean your bike – it sounds simple but cleaning your bike should be one of the first jobs in ensuring it is properly maintained. Rinse the bike to get rid of any loose dirt and use a cleaning agent to remove the more stubborn dirt.

From here pay attention to the drivetrain and wheels. Using a chain brush (or an old toothbrush), apply degreaser to your gear cassette, chain rings and chain. Once you’ve done this, rinse everything off with water. At this point be sure to run through your gears to prevent rust from forming.

Lube your components – be sure to apply lubricant to all of the moving parts on your bike. The main area you should be applying lubricant to is the chain. This shouldn't be the only area however, be sure to also apply lubricant to the chain, your clipless pedals and cables.

Check your tyres – if you haven’t used your bike in a while then the chances are your tyres won’t be pumped up to the correct pressure. Tyres lose pressure over time, so bear this in mind. For a road bike, your tyres should be inflated to around 100-120psi.

Before you pump them up though, be sure to inspect them for any damage or debris that could make your ride unsafe by causing a puncture. Using a gloved hand, spin your wheels and inspect the entire tyre for any debris, damage or cuts that could be problematic when out on the road.

Check your brakes – it goes without saying how important your brakes are on any ride, so it more than makes sense to regularly check them to ensure you stay safe. With your wheels off of the ground, spin them one at a time and pull the brakes, when you do this the wheels should lock immediately. If they don’t, you could have a problem with either your brake levers, your brake cables or the brakes themselves. If you’re not well-versed in bike maintenance, it is probably for the best that you don’t try and correct the problem yourself, and instead take it to your local bike shop for them to take a look at.

Tighten everything up – during general riding, bolts on your bike can become loose. For this reason, it makes sense to check that all key bolts are tight. Whilst doing this, you should check that none of the bolts are damaged and need replacing.

It should be noted that on most road bikes, bolts will have a torque setting, so bear in mind that it is possible to overtighten them and cause damage to your bike frame and its components. If you’re looking to tighten bolts on your bike yourself, it is definitely worth investing in a torque wrench as this will allow you to apply the correct tension when adjusting components.

Servicing

If you’re unsure about maintaining your bike or any of the above has left you confused, it is definitely worth paying a professional to properly service your bike ahead of a long ride and continuous use – even if only using your bike for short distances.  

Servicing bikes isn’t just an opportunity for the bike shops to make additional sales, it will give you the peace of mind that your bike is properly equipped to keep you safe.

A good bike shop will do everything we have mentioned above and more. Depending on the level of service you pay for, they will:

– Ensure your gears and brakes are properly adjusted

– Check your chain and ensure it is properly lubricated

– Inspect your wheels and tyres for wear

– True your wheels and replace any broken or damaged spokes

– Check your hubs and rims for damage and wear

– Remove, clean and regrease your bike’s components

– Clean your frame, check for alignment and damage, and clean and check its threads

– Conduct a full safety check on your bike

What you should be carrying on your ride

Of course bike maintenance shouldn’t just be reserved for prior to the ride, even a properly serviced and maintained bike can experience problems mid-ride. As you just don’t know what the road is going to throw your way, you need to be properly prepared when on longer rides. To help you fix the common problems that you could encounter, consider carrying the following in your kit:

Spare tubes – the most likely problem you will run into is a punctured tyre, so spare inner tubes are a must have on every ride.

A puncture repair kit – while you will be carrying inner tubes with you, what if you have a nightmare and encounter more than one puncture during your ride? A puncture repair kit will protect you against such eventualities. You may also find that repairing an inner tube is a better option than replacing it on a ride.

Tyre levers – making removing a tyre from a rim so much simpler, tyre levers are small, easy to carry and will be a lifesaver should you get a puncture.

A pump – if you do need to replace an inner tube, then in order to inflate it, you will of course need a bike pump too.

A multi-tool – there are all kinds of dedicated bike multi-tools on the market and each of them do something slightly different. What all of them do however is eliminate the need for you to be carrying various different tools with you. Look for a multi-tool that features Allen keys, screwdrivers, a chain tool and spoke wrenches.

Compact scissors – ideal to have in your tool kit but not necessarily an essential, compact scissors will come in handy should your handlebar grip tape come loose.