Psyched to take advantage of the crisp fall air with a bike ride? Before hitting the streets, make sure every bit of that faithful steed is prepped and ready to go. A regular tune-up keeps bicycles safe, steady, and trouble-free. Without having to spend time and money at the repair shop, imagine the places you'll go! Here's a checklist of the top five bike maintenance skills that every cyclist - from training wheel-maven to Tour de France beast - should know.
Rock n' Roll - Your Action Plan
First off, every cyclist should own a basic toolkit to deal with possible mid-ride breakdowns. Make sure to include a bike tire pump with a built-in pressure gauge, Torque and regular wrenches, tire levers, spare inner tubes, a tire patch kit, a chain tool and a few extra links, and lubricant. (Sounds pretty serious? Look for miniature versions to lighten the load!)
If and when something goes wrong (as they inevitably do), be sure to always start with a scrub-down. Trying to tighten bolts on a muddy or wet frame is a recipe for frustration; so make sure everything's clean and shiny before getting the wrenches out. Not sure where to start? For inexperienced cyclists, fixing a bike at home (or out on the road) can seem outright impossible. Here is Greatist's guide to the top five most common bike repairs.
Illustration by Shannon Orcutt
1. Fix a Flat
Droopy wheels? Check the tire pressure before looking for holes. To make sure the tires are inflated correctly, find the intended air pressure range for each tire, which is usually printed on the smooth side of the tire (not the treads). Use a bike pump with a built-in tire pressure gauge to find the sweet spot. And unless exploding tires sounds like a fun time, avoid gas station air pumps, which are very powerful and can easily blow out smaller bicycle wheels.
If the tires start sagging right away, it's time to deal with a puncture. It's a good idea to always travel with a spare inner tube, just in case. Here are six steps to get bike wheels bouncing again.