Bicycles are one of mankinds greatest inventions, a source of convenient travel powered on your own body's energy, and they dont create air pollution. But like with anything else in life it will eventually break down if it isn't maintained properly. Here are a few measures you can take to keep your bicycle running smoothly and safely. At least once a year you should run your bicycle through a tune up here are some tips to get you started.
Give your bike a really good wipe down and check all bolts to make sure they are tightened securely. Also flip your bike upside down and record the serial number from your bike and if you can write down the colour make and model this information is useful for insurance purposes or for reporting your bike if it gets stolen.
The first thing to check on the bicycle is the tires, with Canadian winters as cold as they are the air will usually condense in the tire tube and seem deflated (commonly fixed with pumping the tire up again, but if you have old inner tubes they may need to be replaced. another common problem especially when bikes are left outside for the winter is cracking of the rubber on the sidewall of the bike tire, if this happens you will want to replace the tire. Tire replacement is pretty easy all you need to know is the size of the tire (ie. 26 x 1.75.) go to the bike shop and grab a new one, and get a new tube while you are at it. To replace the tire deflate the old one entirely lossen the axle nuts usually 1/2" or 15mm wrench size. Remove the wheel from the frame( all depending on the width of your tire you may need to unclip the brake cable on your brakes to get the tire off. now with tire levers start by prying one side of the tire and working your way around the tire with the second and third pry levers. Once one side is off the rim the tire should be able to slip off with inimal ease. Check the new tire for anything inside the tire, under pressure a tube can pucture a hole if there is a rock etc. trapped between the tube and the tire. insert the new tube in the tire and install on the rim in reverse order starting with inserting the tire inflation stem first. after tire is changed place back on the bicycle and tighten down axle nuts. now you need to inflate the tire to its proper pressure or PSI this will be written on the sidewall of the tire. Too low of a PSI will make your ris suceptable to dents and flat spots.
Before tuning the breaks you will want to check the rims to see if they are warped at all. If the rims are fine proceed with testing the breaks. If the rims are warped you can either true them with a spoke wrench (found at your local bike shop for a few dollars) or your bike shop will usually offer a flat fee service for truing rims) the process of truing rims is an art you need to spin the rim find the wobble and loosen the spokes on the wobble side will tightineing the spoke on the adjasent side.
In Order for your brakes and shifter to work properly the cables must be working smoothly a good trick is to put some common 3-in-1 house hold oil in the top of the cable and let gravity work the oil all the way down the cable. If any cable housing is cracked it should be replaced, this will cause unnessesary friction on the inner cable and allow water inside to rust out the cable. this means the cable will be harder to pull and will be suseptable to snapping. when working with cables always put a new crimp end on the cable. This willl prevent fraying and add ease to future maintenance.
Take the brake pads off the bike and use a piece of sand paper to take that shiny rubber layer off the side that presses against the rim, and maybe to even out the wear on the break pad if needed. You can also take a hacksaw and cut channels in the brake pads so that there is room for the worn rubber to go as you are using your brakes.
Now its time to adjust the brakes loosen the bolt on the cable and clamp the brake pads close to the rim. Then tighten the bolt and test the leverage on the brake lever you may need to re adjust and experiment a little to get the brakes exactly how you want them. you may need to loosen the brake pads clamp the brakes together, adjust the pads and the retighten the brake pads. This will ensure good contact with the rim and to make sure the brake pad is not hitting the tire as your braking.
there may be a small screw on the side of the brakes this is a tension screw to match the tension of the other side of the brakes for even braking. Adjusting this ensures both brake pads touch the rim at the same time for optimal braking.
After time a chain will seize up if its not kept oiled, but many cyclist complain about getting grease on there pants every time they ride their bicycle so they run there bike with a dry chain, If you choose to go this route I suggest replacing your chain every 2-3 years, the other option is to buy a clamp that is meant to tie back your pant leg from getting caught or greasy. to remove a chain off a bicycle the are a few ways, most chains have a master link which is a link with a c-clip holding it together or a keyhole knotch like the one in the picture.
This can easily be pryed off and removed. the other style chain need a tool called a chain braker , this will clamp the chain and using a bore screw drive out the pin on any link. The same method is used to put the chain back together. To tighten the chain simply loosen the rear axle nuts and pull back on the tire while you retighten the axle nuts.
Take your bike out for a test ride to make sure everything is functioning properly, that your seat is adjusted your brake lever sit at a comfortable angle and you'll be ready the next time you want to ride.