Bike maintenance and security

It is important to make sure your bike is set up correctly to fit you and kept well-maintained to maximise your enjoyment of cycling.

Bike fit

If you suffer from any discomfort from riding your bike, it usually means something on the bike needs adjusting and it could put you off cycling altogether.

The main areas to check are:

  • Saddle height
  • Saddle position and angle
  • Handlebar height
  • Handlebar ‘reach’
  • Brake levers are easy to reach
  • Saddle shape – men and women require different saddles

If in doubt about how to make adjustments to your bike, visit your local bike shop.

The main thing to remember is the correct bike fit for you is the one in which you feel most comfortable.

These two articles offer great advice on how to adjust your bike fit to obtain the best riding position:

​Maintenance

Like any machine, a bicycle will work better and last longer if you care for it properly. Get in the habit of checking your bike regularly; simple checks and minor maintenance can help you stay safe whilst riding and help to avoid costly repairs. Having a perfectly running bike will help you enjoy cycling more: there is nothing worse than having skipping gears, annoying knocking noises or a slow puncture.

Regular checks

These easy tips are a great way to get started in ensuring that your bike is in good working order and is safe:

The ‘M’ Check is an easy way to remember the key points to check before every ride – before long it will become second nature.  This British Cycling video shows you how.

Sustrans have compiled a list of regular preventative checks and how often to check each one.  Keeping on top of these will ensure your bike stays in great condition all year round.
Sustrans

 

Where to go for help

If you do find a problem with your bike that you don’t know how to fix yourself, your local bike shop will be able to help.

Also look out on our Events page or on Twitter and Facebook for Dr Bike events offering free bike safety checks, advice and minor repairs.

Learn bike maintenance

Do it yourself

Alternatively, you can teach yourself a few basic, but key, skills. Check out these how to guides below.

​Punctures are an unfortunate fact of cycling. Knowing how to fix a puncture or change an inner tube is number one on our list of bike maintenance know-how which can be found on the Bike radar site.

You may want to consider investing in a set of puncture resistant tyres or fill your inner tube with a puncture sealant to reduce the chance of a puncture in the first place.  It is an investment well worth making!

Your drive train (chain, cogs and gears) is susceptible to picking up dirt and water.  Keeping it clean and well-lubricated is essential to prevent premature wear. For the guide on this please visit the Bike radar site.

​It is obviously very important to have properly adjusted and effective brakes to keep you safe whilst cycling.  British Cycling offer great advice here on how to keep them in good working order.

This video gives a very clear description of the common v-brake and how to fit new brake blocks and make adjustments

​Well-adjusted gears should change smoothly up and down, and shouldn’t skip whilst pedalling. It can be a bit of an art-form to tune your gears properly, but this video on the Bike radar site can help you diagnose gear problems and offers links to further repair guides.

​Cleaning

One of the most important aspects of maintaining a bike is keeping it clean. Dirt and grit soon build up on a bike’s moving parts. Add to that, water penetrating into the chain and gears, and components can soon wear at an alarming rate leading to potentially costly repairs.

Some key points to remember:

  • Clean and lubricate your chain and drive train components at least monthly – more frequently in winter
  • Make sure wheel rims are kept clean and grease free to ensure efficient braking
  • Don’t stand your bike upside down to clean it as water will run into headset bearings and gear shifters, causing them to wear rapidly
  • Beware of using pressure-washers as water can enter and damage wheel bearings
  • After riding in wet weather, dry your bike off as much as possible and spray your chain and drive-train components with a water displacement spray (e.g. GT85)

The Bike Radar website has produced an excellent video showing you how to quickly and effectively clean your bike.

​Security 

Whilst you don’t need a lot of equipment to be able to cycle, you should invest in a good quality lock. Bike theft is unfortunately all too common, so ensure you lock your bike securely when you leave it.

Some key points to remember:

  • Leave your bike in a visible location
  • Lock it to a secure cycle-stand
  • Lock the bike by its frame (not just the wheels)
  • Consider locking the wheels AS WELL, especially if they have quick release bolts
  • Give the bike a pull to double check it is actually locked to the stand before you leave it
  • Remove any lights or accessories that could be easily stolen
  • Consider registering your bike with a company such as Immobilise or Bike Register to increase the chances of your bike being recovered if it does get stolen.

Look out for regular Police bike marking events on our Events page or on Twitter and Facebook.

Sustrans gives more comprehensive security advice on their website:

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