Whether you ride your bike to work, or just enjoy a leisurely ride, your bike needs regular maintenance to keep it on the road.
Millions of Americans are riding their bikes to work each day, with many cities seeing triple-digit growth in bike commuters. For those who need their bikes each day, a flat tire or broken chain can be a real problem, but Angie's List founder Angie Hicks says regular maintenance will keep you on the road.
“If you invest in a nice bike, you want to also maintain it," Hicks said. "You should think about it like your car. You do regular oil changes and rotate the tires on your car. Think about that same kind of process for your bike so it’s ready to roll whenever you are.”
Before each ride, do a quick check of your bike’s key components by remembering your A-B-C's.
“Check your air pressure, check your brakes, and check your chain – make sure it’s on to make sure everything is functional and in proper working order,” Scott Helvie, a bicycle retailer, said.
Even when everything checks out, anything can happen out on the road, so be prepared... especially for the inevitable flat tire.
“We highly recommend carrying what we call an essentials kit. It’s a seat bag. It’s got a tire lever in it. It’s got a patch kit in it. You can either carry a frame pump on your bike or some CO-2 cartridges for air pressure and then the appropriate tube that fits into your tire,” added Helvie.
Just like a car requires regular oil changes, your bike chain needs regular lubrication. Every couple hundred miles, add a drop of lube on each link.
“Before you apply new lube, it’s always best if you can degrease the chain a little bit or wipe it down to clean it off. It doesn’t do you a lot of good to lubricate a dirty chain.”
Experts suggest changing your chain about every two-thousand miles because a worn chain can cause other important parts to wear out quickly. Angie's List recommends an annual standard tune-up for casual riders, especially if your bike has been sitting in a corner all winter.