By Geoffrey Harding
The purpose of this article is to shine a light on three quick and easy things that you should get in the habit of doing that will help keep your bike on the road and save you some money during your next bike tune-up.
Wipe Down Your Chain
Try to keep an old t-shirt close to where you store your bike at night. As soon as you get back grab the bottom of your chain with the shirt and pedal backwards several times. This isn’t as thorough as properly cleaning your chain but it is better than nothing. You don’t have to do it every day, but try to get in the habit of wiping your chain down a few times a week.
A clean chain will last longer and also increases the life of your other drive train components. All the grit and grime that your chain collects acts like sandpaper and your chain, chainrings, and cassette/freewheel will wear out faster than they should. Most bike shops will check your chain for free and will tell you how worn it is. If you have to replace it, and if you’ve kept it relatively clean, hopefully you just need a $10 chain instead of a complete new drive train.
The other added benefit is you won’t have to worry about giving yourself a grease tattoo on the inside of your leg.
Check Your Tires for Glass and Metal Shards
After you have wiped your chain off, slowly spin each wheel and look for little bits of glass or metal that may have imbedded themselves in your tires. You may have something in your tire right now just waiting to ruin your ride. Taking a minute or two to check your tires at the end of a ride could save you the hassle of changing a tube in the pouring rain.
Wipe Down the Braking Surface of Your Rims
While you are checking your tires grab that handy t-shirt and wipe down the braking surface of your rims while you spin each tire. The same grit and grime that collects on your chain will also decorate your wheels. If left unattended the metal of your rims will be eaten away bit by bit every time you use your brakes. A dirty braking surface can also cause your brakes to squeal, which is very unpleasant. If you run your finger along your rim, just below the spot where your brake pads make contact, and you feel a knife edge...start putting some money aside for new rims.
I hope these few quick easy maintenance items help you increase your time in the saddle. It shouldn’t keep you from properly cleaning your bike every now and then but when the time does come it will be that much easier!
Please leave your own tips in the comments below and I hope to see you on a ride soon!
About The Author
Geoffrey Harding is a husband, father, engineer, and year round cyclist from Chicago. He races for The Chainlink and loves traveling around the city with his family by bicycle. His preferred time to start a ride is 5am but that’s negotiable if it means riding with friends.