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Bicycle Maintenance and Oiling - Learn the Basics

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Just like a car or motorcycle, regular bicycle maintenance and oiling are very important to ensure that your bike remains in pristine condition each time you take it out for a spin. Road bike maintenance includes keeping it clean, well-lubricated, and fixing any loose or rattling parts of a bicycle.

If your bicycle is making strange noises or emitting creaks and squeaks that it isn’t supposed to, then it is time to give it a look-over. A good part of bicycle maintenance and oiling can be done at home as it doesn’t require any major fixes or an expert opinion. However, cycle parts like spokes, bearings, and derailleur must be serviced by your mechanic only, apart from the recommended bi-annual servicing.

Let’s look at some expert advice on home bike maintenance methods.

Bicycle Maintenance and Oiling: Basic Checks

First things first, every time you head out for a ride, you must check the following things to ensure that they are in good working condition.

Air

Checking the air in both your tires is very important to avoid flats. Remember that air can escape normally, and you should always check the pressure before riding out. If you cycle with a low-pressure tire, it can harm the rim.

pumping air in cycle
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Make sure you have adjusted the pressure in the tires according to the terrain you plan to ride on. Press the sides of the tire to check its firmness and pressure. And for long distance rides, always carry a patch kit and pump.

Breaks

The brakes are an essential part of the bike that must be maintained properly. With continuous use, the brakes may start to wear away. Inspect your brakes, paying close attention to the pads that touch the rim of the wheel. For checking the brakes effectiveness, spin the front and back tires one after the other and then apply the brake. The tire should stop spinning without any creaking sound or wobble.

Chain

Whenever you are going out for a ride, stand on one side of the bike and hold one wheel up. As you rotate a pedal, you can inspect every link of the chain for dirt or rust which are harmful to your bike. Move the bike chain forward and back and ensure that it isn’t dry, wobbly, or creaking at any spot.

After this is done, move on to the next part – lubricating and cleaning your bike.

Bicycle Maintenance and Oiling: Lubrication and Cleaning

Bike lubricants play an important role in keeping all the parts moving smoothly. Without timely and proper lubrication, your bike may eventually stop moving altogether. Here are some methods and tips for proper bicycle maintenance and oiling these important cycle parts.

Chain

A chain that isn’t lubricated will make a creaking noise, get stuck during a ride and can even snap in two.

If you ride every once in awhile, you can use a simple degreaser. This can be found in any bike repair shop or garage. Start off by cleaning the chain using a rag soaked in degreaser. Clean the chain by moving it backward and working through each link. Don’t forget to clean the chain ring and rear cassette too.

In case there is too much build-up of grime, use a special chain cleaner or a sturdy brush. Then dry the chain off with a clean rag. Repeat if the chain is still very dirty.

cleaning chain
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To lubricate the chain, apply the lube to each chain link and pedal backward a few times so that it can work its way in. Wipe off the extra lube with the rag to avoid clogging. You can also go through each gear of the bike and lubricate the chain with each gear.

In case the chain starts squeaking or looks dry, repeat the above process to avoid further damage even if you have recently lubricated it.

Livingit Tip: Do not use motor oil as an alternative as it contains acids that could damage and wear out your chain faster.

Brake Arms and Levers

Lubricating the brake arms helps them move more smoothly, ensuring better braking. However, it does not mean that you should also lubricate the brake pads or wheel rims, because doing that will reduce the stopping power as the brakes will not function effectively. Drop a small quantity of lube onto the brake arms and work it in with your hands.

Clean the levers in a similar way, add only a few drops and use your fingers. Move the brake lever to let the oil drops in.

brake arms and lever
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Never forget to wipe off the excess with a clean and dry rag.

Pedals (Clip-less)

Clip-less pedals need to be lubricated so that they can be easily engaged and disengaged from the bike frame. If the pedals have visible springs, then keep putting a drop of the lubricant in regularly, every few rides. This will prevent the spring from rusting or getting stuck.

The pedal threads should be lubricated too so that the pedals can easily be fitted into and removed from the bike. Here’s how to do it.

clipless pedals
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Cables

If the cables are not lubricated regularly, they won’t move smoothly through the housing, which will affect the gear shifting function.

Cables are also prone to rust in damp conditions if not lubricated well. Start by shifting the rear derailleur to the lowest gear (biggest cog). Then click on the gear shifter to shift the derailleur to a higher gear (smaller cog). This will put some slack into the cables, and you may even be able to slip them out of the housing for a thorough application of the lube.

Wipe the cables to clean them of any dust, and also remove any excess lube with a clean rag. Follow the same procedure for brake cables as well.

cables
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Derailleur Pulley

This is important for the pulleys to rotate easily. Start with using a degreaser to clean any grime off the pulleys. Then add a small quantity of lube to the bearings at the center. Rotate the pedals backward a couple of times and then wipe off any excess lubricant.

Bike lubrication products can be found at any cycle repair garage or accessories shop. If you aren’t sure of where to find them, just ask your mechanic or call up the shop from where you bought your bike.

bearing pullys for maintainance
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Livingit Tip: Never use bike grease on the Derailleur pulley as it can clump up the bearings and become difficult to move.

Bike Maintenance and Oiling: What to Watch Out For

The following things need to be watched out for when lubricating your bike chain.

Lengthened Chain

Bicycle chains become longer after consistent and long-term use. The area where rollers and link pins connect wears out eventually, creating a slack in the chain. The loose chain sometimes causes the gear to skip and move on to next one. If you see your cycle chain starting to sag or have trouble with gear shifting, then head on to your mechanic. It is always better to get the chain replaced than facing any further damage.

chain lift
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Tight Links

Links that do not bend smoothly when passing through the rear derailleur become tight. This can be due to multiple reasons, one being the buildup of dirt or grime in the links. This can be fixed by degreasing, cleaning, and lubricating the links. The other reason is improperly installed link pins. This can be fixed by adjusting the pins into their place by moving them around. Tight links can damage a chain faster than anything.

master link loose closeup
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In conclusion, bicycle maintenance and oiling are not very difficult to do at home. Regular lubrication, cleaning, and general upkeep will keep your bike running well for longer. In case of any serious issues, you must take the bicycle to your mechanic, but knowing how to do the basic and cursory maintenance is something every bike owner must know.

Also check: Simple tips to troubleshoot your cycle!

Let us know whether this article for bicycle maintenance and oiling helped you out! Give us feedback in the comments section.

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