Maintaining your Road Bike. Some simple rules to follow.
As every one knows a bike that is kept clean and tidy will work much better than one that is dirty. However before your proceed to carry out any maintenance on your road bike you should ensure that it is clean, but this does not mean just giving it a quick wipe over with a cloth, rather you should spend time cleaning it correctly and there are a few essential items that you will need to carry out the work property. You may find yourself having to spend a little cash on getting some equipment that is specifically for your bike, but most of it will be found around the house (a good place to look is under the sink).
Certainly the first pieces of equipment that you will need are as follows:-
A work stand for your bike (or if not then a wall or a tree will do just as nicely for placing your bike against).
Secondly you will need an old rear hub or axle or a stick.
Then you need to get some degreaser (or if you want you can use diesel fuel instead, but be careful when using diesel to wear gloves or some form of protection as it can cause damage to your hands).
Plenty of hot water, washing up liquid, 2 buckets (one which contains soapy water and the other with just water), a paint brush (for getting into all those awkward places, and old water bottle and bottle brush, a soft scrubbing brush, two sponges and several cloths.
You will also need oil (for the chain, the cogs and around the wheels and their axles).
If you want to give your bike an extra bit of shine then dont forget the spray polish (but keep it away from the chain area).
However, one of the most important things you should remember when cleaning your bike is to be aware of anything that may need repairing or fixing and which can be carried out later (this is the way a mechanic will do it who works for a professional team, and dont forget he can have up to 10 bikes to look after) so it is certainly a lot easier for you as you only have the one to worry about.
So where do you begin?
The best place to start when cleaning your bike is the wheels, remember the old water bottle in the list above, well cut the top off of that and pour in some degreaser. You could if you want use a spray degreaser, but the problem with this type is a lot get wasted. Using the paint brush work the degreaser into the bikes sprockets (make sure that you do not put too much on to the bearings), then leave for a little while (allowing the degreaser a chance to work its magic) and then with some hot water with washing up liquid scrub the sprockets clean and then after that scrub the rims of the tyres (making sure that you remove any old brake block residue that you see, you can use some degreaser on this if it helps, but ensure that you do not get it near the tyres).
The next task is to clean the tyres themselves using a soft scrubbing brush, whilst you are doing this you can check them to see if there are any cuts in the tread that may result in a puncture later on. Also it is a good idea to inspect the tyre rims for any damage or if they are just wearing thin. Then with a soap sponge clean the spokes of the wheels and rinse them off using clean water and allow them dry, but do not place them in direct sunlight.
As you have removed the wheels you will need to stand your bike either on a work stand or some other hand item to place it on or hang it from. But the old hub, axle or stick that you have ready through the rear end of the bike frame so that the chain has something to rest on and then with the old water bottle containing the degreaser and the paintbrush clean the chain and the front and rear derailleurs, the chain rings, cranks, brakes and other pieces of metal. However, try not to get the degreaser on the saddle, handlebar tapes or certainly do not allow it near the headset or the bottom bracket bearings. Also the degreaser can be used for cleaning the down tube (many people find that any spills from their feeding bottle will make this are very sticky and dirty and the degreaser should have no problems removing it).
With the bottlebrush or a sponge, plus the bucket of soapy water clean under both the saddle, bottom bracket, brakes and forks if you need to use the scrubbing brush to remove any stubborn dirt and then with a soapy sponge clean off all the degreaser and dirt that has been loosened. Rinse out the soapy sponge or use a clean one to clean every inch of your bike, always start with the saddle and handlebars and work your way down the bike and make sure that the whole bike is clean and sparkling. Now you need to rinse the bike off with clean water upon completion of washing it. It is advisable that you look out for any problems with the bike such as worn brake blocks, gritty bearings, tight or frayed cables, cracks or damage to the actual frame of the bike, and if all is okay then put the wheels back on.
When cleaning your bike your should always be looking for any problems that may need repairing prior to you using it again. Such as:-
Worn or damaged brake blocks.
Damage to the tyre rim walls or if they are becoming worn. Also keep an eye on the tyres to see if they are damaged or cut or worn. Are any of the wheel spokes loose, and are the bearings moving freely and smoothly.
Any damage to the chain, chain rings and sprockets or if the chain is becoming worn.
Have the handlebars become damaged or bent is the handle bar stem still in good condition. Also you may find that the handle bar tape has become worn or torn and may require replacing.
Is the saddle damaged or twisted.
Are the pedals or cranks damaged and is the frame tube damaged.
Once you have cleaned your bike all you need do to it is dry it with a clean cloth and if you want to give it a bit of a shine then use some spray polish on it, however ensure that you do not get any of this on the surface of the brakes (they wont work the first time you go out). Then you need to oil the chain and any other moving parts such as the brake pivot, bolts, front and rear derailleurs, pedal springs and the pivots on the brake levers (make sure that you wipe off any oil that has been spilt). Also ensure that you brakes and gears are working correctly and then pump up the tyres and your bike is ready to be used once more. However, dont forget to put everything away that you have used ready for next time.
Allison Thompson, now living in Spain and a work from home mum who has set up a number of site relating to outdoor pursuits and one such one being Bikes. A site providing up to date information on all types of bikes and how to maintain them and parts for them. If you would like to learn more please visit www.bikes.ideabase.info.