In order to get maximum use and enjoyment from riding your bike it is important to take proper care of it. With proper maintenance a bike will last longer and be a safer, more comfortable method of transport. Bike maintenance can be daunting if you don't know anything about it but this guide will take you through the most common and useful things you can do yourself. With just a bit of maintenance work each month you can ensure that your bike stays in top riding condition. All the tools and equipment you need are readily available to buy on eBay.
The single easiest and most useful thing that can be done to maintain a bike in good working order is to purchase a can of spray lubricant and apply regularly to keep the chain and gears well lubricated. This will prevent the chain from rusting; the chain will last much longer and provide you with a smoother, more efficient ride.
As with any bike maintenance the easiest way to access the bike is to rest it upside down. The first step is to take a dry cloth and an old toothbrush and clean away any dirt, which has accumulated in the chain and on the cogs of the bike. Once cleaned, rotate the pedals so the chain starts moving then spray the lubricant generously until every link in the chain has been coated. Allow a few minutes for the lubricant to be absorbed into the links of the chain then wipe away any excess using a dry cloth.
While doing this it is also advisable to check the chain tension. A specific tool for this that can be bought on eBay is the inexpensive chain checker, however if you don't have the tool, a general rule to follow is, if 12 links of the chain measure significantly more than 12 inches then the chain needs replacing.
Punctured Inner Tube
This is one of the most common problems that a cyclist might encounter, especially in cities where there could be a lot of debris on the road. The puncture can be repaired, or the inner tube can be changed entirely. The best option will depend on where the puncture takes place and how severe it is. Getting a flat tyre can be frustrating but almost every cyclist is capable of changing or repairing an inner tube themselves with a minimum of technical know how.
All the tools needed for changing or repairing an inner tube are available to buy directly from eBay. These are a bike pump, sometyre levers, a bike spanner (if the bike doesn't have quick release wheels) and a puncture repair kit or a spare inner tube. These items are all inexpensive and worth carrying around for any cyclist. The kind of inner tube needed will be printed on the outside rubber of the tyre wall.
If out and about make sure to move the bike well away from the road.
Remove the inner tube and inspect the damage.
* If the wheel is quick release then release the fasteners, loosen the brakes and remove the wheel from the frame.
* If the wheel is not quick release then use a bike spanner to loosen the axle nuts before removing the wheel.
* Mountain bike users will also need to unhook the brake cable from its cradle before the wheel can be removed.
* Once the wheel is removed use the valve to let any remaining air out of the inner tube.
* Use the tyre levers to lever the tyre over the rim of the wheel. You will need two levers.
* Start opposite the valve, wedge the thinner flattened end of one lever between the tyre and the rim then pull down to lift up the edge of the tyre. Next insert another lever around 10 - 15cm along the wheel and repeat the procedure.
* The tyre should be loose and the remainder able to pop over the rim by hand.
* Remove the inner tube then look for the puncture (re-inflating the inner tube will help at this point)
* Listen for where the air is escaping and find the puncture.
* If locating the puncture is difficult, try submerging the inner tube under water and look for the bubbles that indicate escaping air.
* If it is a small puncture and the first time this inner tube has been patched it can be repaired rather than replaced.
* If the inner tube has a large puncture or has already been repaired then it is probably best to fit a new tube. Skip the next step.
* First rub the area around the puncture with some emery paper to ensure the patch will stick
* Apply the glue generously to both the patch and the tube.
* Wait for 10 seconds then press both the patch and the tube together and hold firmly for up to a minute.
* The inner tube should now be ready to go back into the tyre.
* Check carefully around the inside of the tyre wall to see if whatever caused the puncture is still present. If so it should be removed.
* Check that the rim tape is fitted correctly and is not buckled or worn.
* Inflate the inner tube ever so slightly. This will help it hold its shape making it easier to fit.
* Tuck the inner tube inside the tyre making sure that it isn't folded or creased, then refit the tyre with the new inner tube inside taking care to avoid puncturing the new tube.
* Push the valve through the opening in the wheel.
* Start to push the tyre onto the rim, getting all of one side fully in the rim before starting on the other side.
* Fit as much of the tyre as possible by hand before using your tyre levers again.
* Carefully insert the flattened end under the tyre then lever against the wheel rim to pop the tyre into the groove of the rim.
* Attach the wheel back onto the bike and fully inflate the inner tube.
* Don't forget to re-engage the brakes before setting off.
Changing the Brake Pads (for non disk brakes)
Maintenance of brakes is very important for safety. When the grooves cut into the brake pads have almost worn away, it is time to change the brake pads. Having full brake pads will give the brakes better grip and ensure the bike can stop quickly and easily. Different models of bike use different types of brakes. First find out what kind of brake pads the bike requires then purchase the appropriate kind from eBay.
Removing old brake pads will either require a bike spanner or a set of Allen keys depending on the bike model.
* Loosen the screw set which hold the brake pads in place, remove any screws or pins then pull the pads out using pliers.
* Fully retract the brake cable adjustment barrel by turning it counter clockwise.
* Check the new brake pads to see if they come with any specific installation instructions.
* If not then reverse the method with which the old pads were removed.
* Sliding the new pad into place using pliers to give the precision need to ensure correct placement.
* Replace any screws or pins which were removed to release the pad.
* If it's a tight fit, bike lubricant can be used to ease it in.
* Ensure that the new brake pad is centred in its bracket and that the pad is correctly aligned with the wheel so that it press only against the rim and not against the tyre itself. Usually a 90' angle with the brake bracket.
* Tighten the screw set to fix the brake pad in position. Once the brake pads are secure they should be immovable by hand. If they are able to be moved manually, tighten the screw set.
* Finally tighten the brake cable adjustment barrel until the brakes are as close as possible to the rim of the wheel without rubbing.
Tuning the Gears
This is the most advanced maintenance procedure in the guide. It is very do-able for the amateur user but requires care and attention. The dérailleur barrel adjuster and the two dérailleur screws will be needed to tune the gears. The barrel adjuster is located where the cable joins the insulation as it feeds into the dérailleur. This barrel controls the tension in the gear cable. Tightening or loosening the barrel can adjust how the dérailleur aligns with the cassette and so adjust how it shifts through gears. The dérailleur screws will be found on the back of the dérailleur itself and control the maximum and minimum positions for the dérailleur.
If the bike is experiencing difficulty in shifting up gears then adjust the barrel clockwise, if there is trouble in shifting down gears then the barrel will need to be adjusted counter clockwise.
Using the barrel, adjust the tension until the gears change easily and smoothly right through from the lowest to the highest gears.
If the chain is slipping or catching on the dérailleur then the screws will need to be adjusted. The target with these is to get them as tight as possible while still being able to smoothly change through all the gears.
To care for a bike properly, it is recommended to check it once a month to ensure it stays in top riding condition. Common things to check for are the brakes, gears, chain, tyres and wheels. There are various ways to check on the durability and quality level of each section of the bike. If the bike needs to be maintained or repaired, eBay is a great place to look for tools such as a bikepump,tyre levers, abike spanner, puncture repair kit, allen keys and more. Spare bike parts can also be found on eBay as well.