Cycling is not only a good way to stay fit, but you get fresh air, help the environment by not using your car, and see more of your local area or nearby countryside.
Your bike will need regular maintenance to keep it safe for you to use. Bicycle maintenance is a lot easier than looking after a car – not to mention cheaper – you should be able to fit it all into a spare afternoon.
1. Keep it dry
If your bike doesn’t get a lot of use, you may want to consider keeping it inside. If this isn’t an option, inside a garage or shed is better than under a cover in the rain. Water triggers rust, rot and corrosion and can cause a bike to deteriorate rapidly. If you do cycle in the rain, make sure you dry your bike properly before storing it.
2. Keep it clean
Dirt, mud and dust all contribute to a bike’s depreciation so it’s important to wash your bike after use. A damp cloth is fine, or you can buy specialist bike cleaning fluid for stubborn grime. Don’t use soap or pressure washers as this speeds up corrosion and can force water into the gears.
3. Keep it lubricated
A bicycle chain needs to be oiled weekly (if used regularly) and the oil should be applied to the chain while turning the pedals backwards. You also need to lubricate the gears and brake levers, but not the brake pads or pedals as this will make them slippery and can be dangerous.
4. Keep it pumped
Like car tyres, your bike’s tyres need to be properly inflated. You’ll really notice the difference if your tyres are pumped up properly when you’re cycling as they’re more resistant to bumps and less susceptible to punctures. The correct tyre pressure should be on the side of the wheel, but see what feels comfortable for you.
5. Keep it safe
Check your brakes regularly as they can wear down. If you need to pull the levers very hard to brake, it may indicate that you need new pads and cables. Check any bolts on your bike and double check that the limit marks are not visible on the handlebar or saddle stems as this could mean you need a larger frame. Replace your helmet if you've had an accident, however minor.
6. Keep it smooth
Your gear changes should be smooth and reliable. Lubricate the chains regularly and book in a service to keep your bike running well. You should also check the front wheel by spinning it when you have the bike off the ground. The wheel should spin for a long time and it shouldn't make a noise, catch on any part of the bike or move from side to side.
7. Keep it kitted out
It's a good idea to check all your kit at the same time as your bike, such as your pump, lights or locks. Clothing and reflectors need to be cleaned of mud to ensure they remain visible. Remember that fluorescent clothing keeps you visible during daylight, whereas reflective clothing can be seen at night. Check your lights are working correctly and make sure you use them when cycling in the dark.
8. Keep it comfortable
Check your saddle is positioned correctly. Your weight should be evenly distributed across the saddle and the handlebars. If you find riding uncomfortable, you may need to raise or tilt your saddle. Sore knees could indicate that your saddle is too low. The usual rule says that you should have your legs stretched out with just the ball of your foot on the ground when you are sat on your saddle. Your leg should be slightly bent when your foot is on the pedal in its lowest position.
9. Keep it routine
Keep on top of maintenance, that way it might only take you a couple of hours a month to keep your bike moving. If you're not sure what to do, find a local bike maintenance course or visit your local bike shop and see if they can run you through the basics. It's worth getting a professional service once a year as there are some jobs that are better handled by professionals.
10. Keep it moving
Once you’re out on the road, keep a cautious eye out for any obstacles that could damage your bike. As well as glass and oil, try to avoid deep puddles, potholes and roots. If you can’t cycle round something in your way, raise yourself off the saddle and bend your legs and arms - this will help to protect the frame and wheels on impact.
Garden furniture, equipment or gardening tools are at a greater risk of loss or damage at certain times of the year.
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