How to Maintain Your Classic Bike For Less
It is easy to buy a bike from a shop or online, hit the trail, and assume everything is how it should be, especially if you’re new to biking. However, you need more than just your bike and knowledge of how to ride it.
The following tips will help you improve your bike setup and keep it working smoothly, without spending over the top. Whether it’s a small kit for emergencies or a full toolset in your garage, if you’re stretching to afford a nicer bike than your budget should allow, unexpected or even routine maintenance can seriously blow your budget. Well, it needn’t.
Here’s how to maintain your classic bike for less:
#1. Always clean your bike
If there is one thing you can do to prolong the life of your bike, it’s keeping it clean. Tedious, but true. No fancy cleaning kit required, a bucket of soapy water, a sponge and an old toothbrush is all you need, though a proper degreaser will help break down the oil and grit in the chain and gear sprockets.
#2. Keep your tyres inflated properly
Poorly inflated tyres are prone to punctures. Forget flimsy hand pumps, you need to realize that you need a standing track pump with a pressure gauge to do the job. Nice bike shops will let you borrow theirs. Look on the side of your tyre for a
number followed by the letters PSI. That tells you how much air to put in.
#3. Check your brake pads
Worn brake pads equal rubbish brakes. You can tell they are worn if you can hardly see the grooves any more. Fitting new brake pads is a very cheap and easy solution. You can find out how to on a number of websites. You just need a set of Allen keys and some patience.
#4. Silence squeaky brakes
Screeching brakes are often dirty brakes, or at least dirty wheel rims. Clean and dry both properly and 50% of the time, you would’ve solved the problem. If that doesn’t work, they might need adjusting.
#5. Tighten saggy brakes
If your brakes have become sluggish and lacklustre i.e. if you squeeze the brake lever and it moves more than halfway towards the handlebars, you need to tighten them up.
The easiest way to do this is twiddle the barrel adjuster by the brake lever. If that doesn’t do the trick, you’ll need to get your Allen keys out and free the brake cable by opening the brake nut, pulling it taut and closing the nut again.
#6. Check if your wheel is “true”
Turn your bike upside down and spin your wheels. Do they wobble a little from side to side? If so, they need “truing”. This is a quick fix, but not one for an amateur, as you need special equipment. A bike shop will do this for a small fee.
#7. Get your saddle perfect
If you are prone to SBS (sore bum syndrome), experiment a little with your saddle, raising or tilting it slightly to suit your riding style. If you get sore knees while cycling, this is probably because your saddle is too low. When you pedal, your legs should be almost straight on the downwards revolution.
#8. Buy some latex gloves
Bike oil is a nightmare to get out from under your nails. If it’s too late for that, scrub your hands with washing up liquid and sugar, only adding water right at the end.
#9. Have an emergency kit
Having a patch kit and/or a spare tube will have you prepared for a flat anytime. Inner tubes are even easier to use on the side of the road than an emergency patch kit.
If you carry both a spare with you and have a permanent patch kit at home, when you get a flat, you can switch out the spare, take the tube home and patch it up.
You can use the patched up tube as your new spare. Throw in some plastic or metal tire levers to pry your outer tire from your inner tube, and you should be good to go.
#10. Mini pump
Having a full size pump with a pressure gauge at home is a good idea for maintaining precise tire pressure. For emergencies, you should have a mini hand pump on your bike at all times so that, no matter what, no matter where, you can always keep your tires inflated at a workable pressure.
There are scores of mini pumps available that can easily be stored in a pannier or mounted to the body of a bike, available online. Look for something around the $10 range; if you want to spend more, look for a full-size pump with a gauge.