Wednesday, February 18, 2009

got this from a great blog on biking

this is a very good blog with lots of information

Basic Bike Care

Pump It Up
Probably, the number one reason bikes fall apart is because people ignore the tires. Here’s what happens: Bicycle tires have very little air in them. And bicycle tubes, which are made of butyl rubber, are porous enough to allow air to seep out. The result is tires softening over a period of about a week for road bikes and about a month for mountain bikes (though it depends some on tire size).

When the tires get soft, bad things happen. Some folks decide to stop riding the bike because they think they have flat tires and they put off getting the flat fixed because it means loading the bike in the car and dragging it down to the bike shop.

Others (and this is more common) don’t realize that the tires have softened and ride the bike anyway. Unfortunately, if you ride with soft tires, there’s a risk of rim and tube or tire damage should you hit a pothole or rock. The impact compresses the tire, allowing the object to smack into the rim, possibly bending the rim and puncturing the tube. Besides this, it’s much harder to pedal a bike with soft tires, and the tires wear quicker when used underinflated.

These reasons ought to be enough to convince you that it’s best to regularly inflate the tires. Road bikes should be checked before every ride and mountain bikes at least weekly. Use a good pump that has a built-in gauge and follow the manufacturer’s recommended pressure, which is written on the tire sidewalls.

Lube It or Lose It
A bicycle is made up of a bunch of moving metal parts, many of which are meshing with each other. In order to keep these parts from grinding each other to dust as you pedal merrily along, they should be lubricated.

Spinning parts containing bearings, such as the wheels, pedals, bottom bracket (what the crankset is mounted to), and headset (the mechanism that connects the fork to the frame and allows steering), come from the manufacturer packed with grease. About once a year, these components should be dismantled, checked and regreased. But, because special tools are needed and the work is required only occasionally, you may prefer to leave this job to a bike shop mechanic.

What you can do quite easily is lubricate the chain and pivot points on the brakes and derailleurs. Use a light lubricant such as Triflow and don’t apply too much, because that will only attract dirt and grit that can actually accelerate parts wear.

You can tell when a chain needs lube, because the links will appear bright and shiny, and when pedaling you’ll hear squeaking. But only apply enough lube to put a light coat on the chain. Any more than that and grime and gunk will build up. One good technique is to apply the lube (pedal backwards while the bike is leaning against a wall and put some paper down to catch drips), let it sit a bit and then wipe off the excess.

When I say lube pivots, I mean the places on the derailleurs and brakes where things move. For example, on a sidepull brake (as found on most road bikes), the brake pivots on bolts and you can apply a couple drops of lube at these points. Don’t get any lube on the pads!

For derailleurs apply the lube where the body of the derailleur moves. Here too, be sure to wipe off the excess.

Clipless pedals often develop creaking noises. Sometimes this comes from the shoes rubbing on the pedals and dabbing a bit of grease on the cleats will quiet the noise. If the racket is coming from the pedals, apply a few drops on the jaws and spring. Just be sure not to walk into your house in your cycling shoes or you’ll leave greasy prints on your carpets.

Keep It Clean
Mountain bikers, especially those who ride in the mud, should keep a cleaning kit in the corner of the garage ready for use at ride’s end. All that’s needed is a bucket with some sponges and dishwashing detergent and a nearby hose.

When you return from a ride, prop the bike up and spray off the majority of the mud and muck with the hose. It’s crucial to not blast the water sideways at the bike. Doing so may force the water into the pedals, hubs and bottom bracket, which may compromise the grease and bearings inside these components. Instead, spray water only from above and don’t ever direct it toward greased parts.

Once you’ve knocked off most of the dirt, fill the bucket with warm water and enough detergent to raise some suds and go to work on the bike with the sponge. If there are lots of nooks and crannies on your rig, consider getting various brushes, which will speed up the cleaning process. When you’ve scrubbed the bike fully, rinse off the soap by dribbling water from above. With a little practice, you ought to be able to turn a filthy mud monster into a sparkling wonder in about 15 minutes. And it’ll save the finish and help keep the parts running nicely because you’ve gotten rid of all the dirt and grime. Don’t forget though to relube things after the bath because if you leave the parts wet with water, they’ll rust.

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