Tips On How To Maintain A Road Bike: Schedule and Checklist
Road bikes are awesome. The lightweight and eco-friendly two-wheeler has changed the concept of our day to day commute. There’s hardly anyone who doesn’t love a pleasant ride on a road bike.
However, most of us will shy off perceiving it as time-consuming and painful work when it comes to maintenance. And then some people don’t know how to maintain a road bike, particularly if you are a newbie in the industry.
We will discuss the road bike maintenance procedure in a detailed manner to keep your favorite unit in immaculate condition and help it serve you for an extended period without any drop in its performance and reliability.
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Road bike maintenance includes a wide range of activities. So, we will start with the maintenance basics and slowly advance into the complex ones. After you finish reading this article, you will get to know the following-
- The maintenance schedule
- Maintenance checklist
- Pre-ride inspection and little adjustments
- Taking care of the wheels, drive-train, crank-set, and headset
- Tips on lubricating and cleaning
- Storage and required tools
So, shall we begin?
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Why Should I Maintain My Road Bike?
Let’s put the first thing into first place. Why should you maintain your road bike? Is it necessary?
If ever these questions popped out in your mind, here’s the answer-
Regular maintenance will keep your bike in good condition and save you money on costly repairs and replacements. After riding the bike for a while, it accumulates dust, debris, and what not! If you don’t clean it timely, it may slowly damage the different parts.
Also, gravels, rocks, or other rugged items may hit the wheels and other hardware, which bikers often ignore. If these parts are left untreated for an extended period, they may get damaged permanently, and you may need to replace them entirely.
Furthermore, regular wheel and drive-train maintenance will improve the bike’s performance. Finally, maintaining the road bike ensures that you are prepared for anything that may occur during a long weekend ride, which also improves your biking experience.
Last but not least, regular cleaning and lubrication also help maintain the bike’s look and performance.
So, you should maintain the road bike for-
- Consistent performance
- Enhancing its lifespan
- For longer rides during the weekend
- Smooth riding experience
- Riding safety and comfort
Road Bike Maintenance Schedule and Checklist
Let’s start with the basics. Regular and timely maintenance will boost the performance of every ride. Plus, timely repairs of essential parts ensure your riding safety. However, how much time do you need to spend to maintaining the road bike? Also, is there any schedule one need to follow?
Well, you need to prepare a weekly, monthly, half-yearly, and yearly schedule for effective and successful bike maintenance. The following maintenance checklist will help you in this cause.
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The following points for road bike maintenance are essential at least once a week. Expert bikers tell to complete these steps before every ride.
- Before going on any ride, inspect the tire and its pressure. If the tire pressure seems a bit low, pump it before heading to the road. On rainy days, reduce the PSI slightly to get a better grip on wet roads.
- Check the brakes, brake pads, and quick releases. Particularly, examine the quick releases after returning from a long ride and make any adjustments if need be.
- At least once a week, clean the bike moderately. You don’t need to clean thoroughly, but high-speed water from the garden hose will quickly remove any junk and unwanted debris. Also, lubricate the chains weekly.
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At the end of every month, investing a few hours helps the bike remain better and deliver smooth rides.
- You should clean the cassette and drive-train deeply at least once a month. You may use a degreaser and clean sag for it. After cleaning, don’t forget to lubricate the drive-train.
- As you perform a monthly check-up of the road bike, move the wheel and examine the spokes thoroughly. Also, check if the wheels feel loose or tight. Tighten or loosen them if need be.
- The crank-set bolt, headset bolt, and stems bolts of your road bikes may get loose while riding the bike regularly. Inspect them and tighten them if they feel loose. You may use an adjustable wrench for the tightening chores.
As part of the maintenance schedule, you should thoroughly inspect your road bike once every six months.
- Check the braking performance of the bike? Inspect the brake pads carefully. It show signs of wear and tear and would need a replacement after every six months.
- If you are a regular long distance rider, you may need to replace the tires every six months. The tire replacement schedule will depend on your riding intensity. Check for tiny cuts or holes that can deflate the tires. Also, it’s better to replace the old ones with a pair of new tires if you see it fraying and sagging.
- Also, check the chain using a chain checker. If the chain has stretched more than 0.5 ratings, it’s better to opt for a new one.
Yearly maintenance tips for road bikes
A few parts of might need to be replaced and repaired at least once a year. So, be prepared to spend some money during this schedule.
- Check the cassette closely and its teeth. You may need to change the cassette or its teeth, especially if the teeth look like more of a shark.
- Observe the brake pads and brake shoes. The rubber underneath it may be gone. So, you have to change it.
- The shift mechanism of the road bikes controls its performance largely. Even if it is doing well, during yearly checkup, changing the housing and brake will be a life-changing idea for the bike.
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Tips On How To Maintain A Road Bike
Now comes the most important part of the article. You should now understand what type of care a road bike requires at what time. But how do you meet these maintainance requirements? What are the latest bike maintenance tips?
Let’s dive deep into it.
Regular inspection is the key:
A bike may contain several loosen parts that go unnoticed without close inspection. Thus, a regular check-up before every ride will help you assess the potential problem and fix it soon. If you are a procrastinating person, a weekly check-up of the bike components will still work fine.
Tires and hardware maintenance:
Ideally, it would be best if you inspect the tires and wheels before every ride. But, luckily, the hardware doesn’t need such intensive care.
- Use a pressure gauge to measure the tire’s pressure accurately. The pressure should be 80-130PSI as a rule of thumb. If it is too low or high, adjust it accordingly. Use a quality pump if you need to increase the PSI level.
- When you plan for a long ride, check the nuts and bolts of the road bike carefully. If any bolts feel loose, use an adjustable wrench to tighten them.
- You should also check the bar tapes used in the handlebar of a road bike. If it gets dirty, saggy, or worn out, you won’t find a good grip on the handlebar, which may result in falls off and inconsistency. So, replace the bar tapes if need be. You can get them easily from any bike store, and it is relatively affordable too.
- Finally, check for any cuts or thrashes on the tires. If you see any holes, fix the damaged parts of the tire for a good riding experience.
- When the tire threads start fraying or sagging, you must replace them with a new one. Although road bike tires are immune to up to 4000 miles, changing them every 1500-2000 miles is a good practice.
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Take care of the braking system and brake pads:
Even if your road bikes’ tires, wheels, and hardware are in good condition, these are of no use when the braking system isn’t working properly. The brake pads may wear out for many reasons, and extensive riding is one of them.
Whatever may be the reason, you need to replace them timely. Also, when the groove eliminates, you need to replace the brake pads as soon as possible. They are easily replaceable with a set of Allen keys.
Also, the brake may get sluggish or loosen over the riding course. So, check them regularly and see if it needs any maintenance. You can identify if the brakes need any adjustment in a sure-shot way.
Squeeze the road bike’s brake lever normally. If the lever moves more than halfway towards the road bike handlebar, it is a sign that it needs repairing. Use the brake lever to twiddle the barrel adjuster quickly. If it fails, jump to the next step.
- Loosen the brake nut from the housing. Then, take the brake cable or wiring out of its housing. You may use an Allen key to loosen and remove the brake nuts.
- Tighten the brake lever and other parts associated with it. Make sure you don’t over-tighten the brake system, or it will cause serious inconsistency in riding.
- Finally, close the casing with the brake nuts. Also, before tightening the nuts, clean the braking parts if it looks dirty.
If you observe a screeching brake, clean the rims to eliminate the squeaky sound. It improves your riding experience substantially.
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Drive chain maintenance:
Your road bike’s drive chain will gradually stretch. Also, it gets dirty and may stop working as consistently as it is supposed to perform in optimal condition. Therefore, you need to clean the drive chain properly.
For those who don’t know what drive chain is, here’s a little insight-
A drive chain is the term used to describe the entire package, on which the chain, wheels and the pedal rotates on a road bike.
- At least once a week, clean the drive chain. You don’t need any deep cleaning until every 6 months. Use a rag to remove any dirt, grease, and debris from the drive chain system.
- Once you have cleaned it, lubricate its entire length properly. Most road bikers use spray lubricant these days for its ease of use. When you properly apply a good-quality lubricant to the drive chain, it helps the system function appropriately.
- Examine the pulleys also. If it produces any squeaky sound while the chain rotates, you need to fix it as well. Luckily, lubricating the chain pulley with the bike lubricator will do the job.
- Also, check up on the pedals and cleats. If the pedals or bearings appear to loosen or worn out, fix it ASAP to stop further damage to the drive chain.
Don’t forget to clean and lubricate:
Regularly cleaning and lubricating the bike’s essential components will help you keep it in good condition. When you ride the road bike through the dirt and muddy roads, it could get dirty. Those who ride hard and fast will notice that their bike gets dirty quickly.
Also, you must lubricate the drive chain and other parts to increase the riding consistency. We talked about cleaning the individual parts during your weekly bike maintenance schedule, but now it’s time for deep cleaning.
You will need:
- A clean rag and cloth
- A brush and a soft sponge
- Liquid soap or cleaner
- Lubricant for the chain
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The cleaning process includes-
- If you have a bike stand, positioning the bike in it will help you. It will ensure that the bike remains in its position without any movements. Also, as the bike elevates, you will reach the nook and crannies at ease.
- Remove the wheels from the bike drive train carefully. You may use a chain keeper to hold the tension of the drive-train while the wheel is removed. (If you don’t want to increase hassles, you can skip this step of wheel removal)
- After removing the wheel, apply a degreaser on the chain and its cranks. Then, rinse it off after 5 to 10 minutes with water.
- For the chain and drive-train, apply soap or detergent on a brush and clean the entire drive-train with it. Ensure that you use a soft-bristled brush and reach every space of the chain-ring to scrub off the debris.
- It would help if you emphasized reaching the rings, pulley, and teeth of the drive-train since these parts are the dirtiest. Make sure the brush scrubs off the dirt as much as possible.
- After that, you need to clean the road bike frame and handlebar. For this, use a rag or soft sponge to rinse off the debris and dirt from the entire frame. You can use liquid soap or detergent for the purpose. For caliper brakes, you need to use the abrasive side of the sponge for deep cleaning.
- Finally, use the sponge or brush to clean off the wheels, including tires and rims. Start from a point and reach every spoke and hub to deep clean it.
- Once you have cleaned the road bike, use a garden hose with a spray nozzle to apply gentle water flow and properly rinse the entire bike.
Once the bike dries, apply lubricant on the chain and drive-train to enhance the road bike consistency.
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Frequently Asked Questions On Road Bike Maintenance
A road bike requires multiple layers of maintenance. Before each ride, inspect the road bike tire and brakes. Regular maintenance includes taking care of the wheels, replacing brake pads and tires as needed, as well as cleaning and lubricating the necessary parts.
When you fix the minor issues timely and replace the tire and brake pads when needed, it will help the bike serve for an extended period.
Road bike maintenance is not incredibly expensive. A bike owner should budget $100 to $250 per year for proper bike maintenance. It covers all repair and upkeep expenses.
Ideally speaking, you should clean the bike chain after every ride. But, most people won’t do it. So, we recommend you clean the bike chain and drivetrain at least once every month.
You should tune up your road bike twice a year or once every six months. Also, whenever you plan for a longer ride, it’s better to tune-up every time before you hit the road.
If you ride your road bike frequently, servicing it once every six months will keep it in top shape. A bike must be serviced every three months for extreme riders.
We’ve reached the end of our discussion, how to maintain a road bike? Ideally, you should go through minor maintenance every month. But once in six months, you must deep clean the entire bike, including all its hardware.
The good thing is new bike maintenance tips along with your older road bikes remain the same. Spending a few hours, once a month will prolong its lifespan. Plus, you have to ensure that the brakes and wheels are in good working order before hitting the road. It ensures safety and ensures smooth riding performance.