Getting your bike ready for cycling season? Whether you’re a commuter or have a vast collection of racing bikes, lots of effort and money can be saved if you stay on top of caring for your ride. Here’s 3 main things your bike mechanic wishes you would do:
So what if you’re not a virtuoso when it comes to repairing bicycles? You can still perform some routine maintenance that will not only save you money but also prolong the life of your bike—not to mention allow you to enjoy riding it more than you probably are now.
To that end, we visited a premier bike shop in New York City and persuaded mechanic Mark Purdy to reveal some of the secrets of his trade. Here’s what he’d like to see customers doing for their bikes.
I. Clean and grease your seatpost.
Use tape around the seatpost so that you always keep your saddle at the same height. (Photo by Robertson/Velodramatic)
Few things are more frustrating, time-consuming, or easily preventable than a stuck seatpost. Here’s how to prevent that:
1. Mark your seat’s height with a piece of tape by wrapping the tape around the post right where it meets the frame.
2. Remove the post and wipe it off with a clean rag.
3. Jam that rag down into the seat tube as far as you can and pull it out.
4. Smear some grease inside the seat tube and slide the post back into the frame up to the tape line.
5. Tighten the clamp. (Related article: Using a Torque Wrench)
6. Ride away content with the knowledge that you’ve staved off your mechanic’s wrath for a bit. Do this at least twice a season. Or else.
And yes, you can use regular grease with carbon. The moron who says otherwise is just trying to sound smarter than you. He’s not. But go ahead and use carbon paste if the seatpost slips.
II. Lube your bottom bracket’s cable guide.
The minimalist cable guides brazed on a stainless-steel frame. (Photo by Mitch Mandel)
Want to improve your shifting dramatically in 10 seconds? Want to save $20 and stop wasting my time? That little trough that your derailleur cables glide onto needs some attention. Otherwise it gets gummy from your sports drink and crusty from road grime, both of which contribute to the evil friction that disrupts the casual flow of a precise cable adjustment.
And drip a couple of drops of oil on it every time you lube your chain. Or pay me 20 bucks to spend 10 seconds to do the same thing.
III. Wipe off that disgustingly gooey chain!
Hey, I get dirty enough as it is without dealing with neglect disguised as proper care. When mechanics talk about lubing a chain, what we mean is adding lubrication in between the side plates and under the center roller. Lube any place else serves no positive purpose. Unless you consider a grotesquely embarrassing mess a positive.
Be sure to apply chain lube in the right place.
Anytime you lube your chain you should let it soak in for a few minutes and wipe off as much of the excess as possible. Then wipe the chain off again after your ride. And again after the next ride. There’s no need to add more lube until your chain starts squeaking.
I tell my clients to keep a rag on the shelf next to their shoes. When you get home and take your shoes off, grab the rag and wipe off the chain. Your right calf will thank you for it, too.
Mark Purdy is a longtime bicycle mechanic and the owner of iFixByx.