« Bike maintenance, what can you do yourself?

Published on 02-01-2024

Whether you ride an electric bike, a regular bike, a mountain bike or a road bike, bike maintenance is always important.
This way, you can prevent bicycle breakdowns, but you can also enjoy your bike much longer.
If you neglect your bike, it will soon run less smoothly. A well-maintained bicycle is also much more pleasant to ride than one that rattles, creaks or squeaks.

You can bring your bike in for maintenance, of course, but there are many things you can do yourself.

- Clean your bike regularly, especially when your bike is wet and sandy. This is because dirt causes the parts of your bike to wear out faster.
Preferably use a soapy water with a sponge and toothbrush with a bike cleaner and for the chain a chain cleaner/degreaser, preferably no high-pressure cleaner or garden hose. This is because the hard jet can damage some parts.
- Degrease and lubricate the chain. As one of the most important parts of your bike, your chain also needs maintenance. If you clean the chain, you must then also re-grease it. For this, it is best to use a chain spray or oil. This oil has the right thickness for the chain. PTFE, WD40 and silicone spray are not/less suitable for this purpose.

The best way to combat chain wear is to lubricate it regularly. Notice that your chain is worn out, or rattles in your chain case?
Sometimes the chain can be thigthend, but if is to rusty or worn then there's nothing to do but replace it.

- Check your wheels and tires. Of course, also essential to your bike are the tires and wheels. During maintenance, check that your wheels are still straight.
Does your wheel swivel? Then you have a stroke and it needs to be taken out. How do you do this? The spokes need to be re-tightened.
Be careful with this, it is not as easy as it seems. This often requires a professional.

Nothing more annoying than a flat tire. The chance of a flat tire decreases with a good anti-puncture tire, a profile that is in order, tires that are not dried out and there is no damage to the tire.
* Check the tire for stones and check for cuts/cracks on the sidewalls.
* Check that the tread on the tire is not worn out yet.
* Do you see a different color through the tire? Then the tire definitely needs replacement.
Also check the tire pressure. Tire pressure varies by bike and by tire. Minimum and maximum tire pressure is on the tire.
When inflating, take the average. The wider the tire, the lower the pressure. Mountain bike tires for forests 2-2.5 bar, wide tires (3-4 bar), "normal" tires (37-622) 4-4.5 bar, racing tires approx. 7 bar.

- Of course, being able to brake properly is just as important as being able to ride a bike. Do you notice your brakes working less smoothly, or do you have to squeeze the levers in a lot? Your brakes are best checked by a bike shop, it may be that the brake pads are worn out, grease is needed, or even new oil on the line.
- Maybe not the first thing you think of, but bolts and nuts get loose because of cycling. Once in a while it's best to tighten them. But don't overtighten them either, as this can cause too much pressure.
To prevent rusting, coat them with Vaseline.
For your pedals, stand, stem and seat post it is better to use assembly grease, copper grease (pedals) or white grease. This prevents them from getting stuck after a while.
- Check your bicycle lights. Lighting is important for yourself and others, it is about seeing and being seen. Check your lighting both front and rear. Many lights run on batteries; these should be replaced occasionally.

A few more general tips:
- Don't ignore strange noises! You know the drill, you hear something rattling and you ignore it for the sake of expensive costs.
But your bike makes this noise for a reason. Something is probably broken or needs lubrication or repair.

* Find out where the noise is coming from and consider what could be wrong.
* Squeaky brakes are often dirty brakes. Cleaning and drying (not greasing) in many solves the problem. But beware!
If you have v-brakes, take a good look at the pads. Do they still have tread, otherwise it is metal on metal and your rim will scrape through. Then only replacing the brake pads will help.
* If your bike chain squeaks, it probably needs to be re-lubricated. Use the right oil. Especially in winter, it is very
importance that there is enough oil on the chain, otherwise it will be rusty and stiff (especially after a period of frost).

What are the causes of wear?
You can't stop wear. Moving bike parts wear out the fastest, think of tires, brake pads and the chain. This is due to friction and the force exerted on them. Your body weight, muscle power, luggage and the bike itself also affect wear. With electric bikes, the parts often have more to endure due to higher speed, so your brakes have to work harder as well.

Know your limits!
You can maintain your bike perfectly yourself, but whether you want to or not, you are not a bike mechanic. Know your limits and avoid unnecessary expensive or even irreparable damage to your bike.

It is advisable to have your bike thoroughly checked by a professional from time to time. A bicycle mechanic may discover things you don't know about yourself. Or maybe there are bike parts that need replacing that you can't replace yourself.