Keeping your bike mechanic happy may not be top of mind, but as a cyclist, most of us rely on these hardworking people to keep us pedaling safely, reliably and, ideally, with a little extra speed. The least you can do is help them by doing a little routine upkeep of your two-wheeler — much like you floss and brush your teeth between dentist visits.
A CLEAN BIKE AND PROPER LUBE
Scott Kelly has worked on some of the fanciest bikes in the world at his shop, Dundas Speed Shop. He has also prepared some of the fastest bikes at the biggest events in cycling. His advice is simple: “Wash your bike and degrease the chain. Then reapply real bike lube. Not chainsaw oil or motor oil!” It may be tempting to use whatever grease is in the garage when you don’t have bike lube, but you will end up with a big mess (and a grumpy mechanic). The motor oil holds onto dirt from the road and trail making for lots of friction in the chain, a big mess and an exceptionally high risk you will end up with the infamous chainring tattoo when your leg touches the chain.
READ MORE > 1-Minute Bike Maintenance You Can Do Yourself
Jeremy Simmons of The Trek Store Barrie elaborates on the concept of keeping your bike clean. “A tune up on a clean bike is going to be much more effective than tuning something that is covered with mud or years worth of grime. The bike doesn’t need to be spotless, but the cleaner the better!”
AIR IN THE TIRES
Adding one last key practice to our list Jeremy says, “check your tire pressure before every ride, even a quick squeeze to ensure the two tires are inflated and at similar pressures to each other is enough for most riders.”
Many issues with flat tires, rim damage, shortened rides and even crashes can be avoided by making tire pressure checks a part of your regular ride routine. If possible, use a digital tire-pressure gauge to ensure your tires are pumped to the exact pressure you need on race day, which is variable depending on the conditions and course.
Given that both mechanics listed a clean bike as the best, it is worth putting some energy into getting a good wash kit assembled. Luckily, a basic wash kit is not expensive and you likely have many of the below items at home.
Common Wash-Kit Contents:
- Sponges and/or brushes of various sizes/textures
- Dish soap (biodegradable and non-corrosive)
- Degreaser product and a chain brush or cleaning device
- Chain-lube specific to bicycles (no motor oil or grease)
Soft, clean towels or rags to dry the bike
THE BOTTOM LINE
Keeping your bike clean and dry, the tires inflated and the chain lubricated with bicycle lube makes your rides better and helps your mechanic do a great job setting your bike up for the next adventure.