Rolls Rite Bicycles828-276-6080
Bike & E-Bike Sales & Service
Serving Waynesville, Clyde and Western North Carolina since 2003
If you take care of your bicycle it will take care of you, if you don’t, it won’t. Besides making you work harder, it will become annoying to operate, leave you stranded at the worst moment, cause you pain, cost a lot to fix and be no fun. A well tuned bicycle is a thing of beauty and riding it is a feeling like no other. Giving it your personal attention not only keeps it in good shape, it brings you closer to your bike, makes you more aware of how it works and more ready and willing to keep it running smoothly. A bicycle that doesn’t work right, besides being no fun, can really hurt you. Pay attention to what it feels and sounds like when all is well and do something about it when it isn't. If you're into it you can fix or prevent many problems yourself. If not, that's ok, we'll do it for you.
Here are a few things you can do to keep it working as it should.
Keep it Clean
The most common cause of the majority of the service and repair issues that we deal with starts with dirt.
Just about all the of the parts of a bicycle are exposed to the elements and are bound to get dirty. Dirt and mud are excellent abrasives and do a good job of grinding down your bike's parts and keeping them from working properly.
When dirt turns to dust and mud turns to powder it seeps into bearings and the like causing them to become rough, sluggish and worn out.
When dirt and grease or oil come together they turn into a stiff goo that gets harder as it ages, causing erratic shifting, poor braking, unsteady steering, rapid wear and makes it harder to pedal.
When it's dirty or muddy wash it off with soap and water after your ride. If it's muddy, at least hose it off before the mud dries, turns into powder and seeps into the bearings and such. All it takes are a few brushes, old sponges or rags, a hose and soap, we use Simple Green but anything similar will do.
Wash the whole bike from top to bottom, use little brushes, sponges or whatever to clean anything you can see. Hosing it off won't hurt a bit but don't use high pressure. A bit of car wax and some elbow grease not only looks good, it makes it harder for dirt to stick and helps to preserve the finish. More on bike washing here
Clean the Chain, chainrings & cogs Scrub the chain with a brush and soap or degreaser and water. Simple Green or the like works well for me. Do the same with the front and rear sprockets (chainrings & cassette). Get all of the crud and dried up chain lube off-even if you have to scrape it off with a blade or a small stick. The easiest and most thorough way to clean your chain is to take it off and soak it overnight in a liquid grease cutter, our favorite is Simple Green but I'm sure many others would work fine. Removing the chain is easy if you have a master link, if you don't we can install one for less than 10 bucks. Put about an inch of soap in a plastic bottle, drop in the chain and let it soak overnight, giving it a few shakes along the way. Take it out, rinse in hot water and reinstall. Don't forget to lube it.
Another way is to use a chain scrubbing tool. You fill it with chain cleaning fluid, fasten it around the chain and turn the pedals. Several little rotating brushes clean the chain as it passes through the fluid reservoir. It does a pretty good job and, if your careful, doesn't make a mess. A good example is the Park Chain Scrubber.
When it’s dry lube the chain with bicycle chain lube (not motor oil or WD-40). Drip the lube onto the chain as you turn the pedals and wipe off the excess with a rag. Don't overdo it-the lube just needs to soak into the chain and coat the pins and rollers, too much on the outside and the gears just leads to problems. The chain pins and rollers eventually wear out causing the chain to not mesh with the gears and skip, especially under load. The teeth on the gears wear too, the teeth get pointy and the U between them gets bigger causing the chain to skip. Usually, but not always, several chains will wear out before the gears need replacing. Putting a new chain on worn gears just makes the gears wear faster. More on chains here.
Clean the front and rear derailleurs. Use a rag and a little brush or a twig or whatever it takes to get the dirt and grunge out. Each derailleur has two little pulleys that turn with the chain, if they're caked with crud, scrape it off with a pocket knife, screwdriver or similar then scrup them with a brush. When it’s dry drip a little chain lube into the pivot points where two pieces rub against each other.
Clean the wheel rims and brakes. The bike stops because the brake pads rub against the wheel rim, hard. The more dirt between the two, the less it stops and the quicker the expensive rims are destroyed.
For a good article, with pictures, on bike washing click here
Clean the Cables There are usually four of them, front and rear brakes and front and rear derailleurs. Dirt and grime works it way up into the cable housing and causes the cable itself to bind in the housing, causing erratic gear changes and brakes that won’t let go of the rim. The cable abrades in the housing and breaks, usually when you least expect it. On most bikes you can create enough slack in the wire to enable you to pull the housing out of the frame stops. The housing can then be moved along the wire enough to clean and lube the normally hidden part of the wire. Brake and gear cables wear out and need to be replaced periodically, once a year for some, longer for others. The improvement in shifting and braking with clean, new cables is very noticeable. They don’t cost much and are fairly easy to change. If the cables pass under the bike, there’s probably a small plastic cable guide screwed to the underside of the bike where the pedal crankshaft passes through the frame (bottom bracket), make sure it's intact and clean.
Check the Tires Do this before every ride. Perfectly good tires loose air as they sit. Soft tires make you pedal harder, have less control of the bike, wear out quicker and are more likely to go flat. The recommended air pressure is stamped on the side of the tire and gives a minimum and a maximum. Inflating to the mid point is a good choice for most rides. Inflate to the maximum if all out speed and minimum rolling resistance is what you’re after, but expect a harsh ride. Use the minimum if you want better traction on soft surfaces and won't be riding on pavement. You need a tire gauge that registers up to 100 pounds and a good pump. Check the tire for cuts, bumps and signs of damage.
Check the Brakes Stopping is important. Brakes should grip firmly and smoothly when applied. Clean the brake pads and wheel rims. Make sure that the wheels are centered in the frame and that the skewers or axle nuts are tight. If the wheel isn't centered, something's wrong and and you should find out what it is before it fails. The pads should be in good condition, free of embedded debris, and the rim clean. They should be equidistant from and parallel to the rim and should contact the center of the rim flat and even. Click here to see Park Tool's article on how to properly adjust and maintain your brakes.
Adjust the Shifters Shifters and derailleurs tend to be a bit sensitive and may require minor adjustments from time to time. You’ll know it when you change gears with the shifter but the chain doesn’t quite go onto the next sprocket. Usually this can be cured by putting more, or less, slack in the wire. On most bikes this is accomplished by turning a small barrel adjuster, either at the lever end, the derailleur end or both. The amount of slack in the wire determines whether or not the chain will line up with gear you want it to land on. Each derailleur has a pair of screws, called limit screws, that prevent the derailleur from throwing the chain off of the gears, if that happens, besides crashing, the derailleurs and rear wheel can easily be destroyed. More at Park Tool
Check the Wheel Bearings With the wheel off the ground, give it a slight spin to see if it spins freely. It should coast to a smooth gradual stop. Make sure the brake pad or anything else isn’t rubbing on the wheel. Turn it lightly and see if it feels smooth or does it feel coarse and gritty? If so, the wheel bearing is either too tight, loose, dirty, dry or all of the abve. In either case it needs service. Make sure the wheel is tight in the frame, grab it at top and bottom and try to rock it from side to side. If you feel any play, the bearing is too loose and needs service.
Check the Headset Bearings (steering) Squeeze the front brake lever and gently rock the bike forward and backward. See if you can feel any looseness or play where the fork neck passes through the frame. If so, it needs adjustment. With the wheel off the ground, gently turn the handlebars and see if they turn smoothly, without binding. If it feels rough, tight or wants to stay in one place, something’s wrong and needs service.
Check the Crank & Pedal Bearings With the crankarm and pedal straight up or down, try to rock it towards and away from the frame, to see if anything feels loose. Make sure the pedal is tightly threaded into the crankarm and the crankarm tight to the spindle. If it still feels loose, it’s probably the bearing and needs service. Shift the chain onto the smallest front sprocket and lift it off until it rests on the bottom bracket housing (frame) and the crankset can spin free. Turn it slowly and see if it spins smoothly without binding or grinding. If it doesn’t, it needs service.Try to rock the pedal on it’s shaft and see if it has play or feels loose. Give it a spin to see if it binds or feels gritty. Either condition needs service.
All of these things have a huge effect on how your bike rides and are not difficult to maintain. What’s important is knowing what it feels, looks and sounds like when everything is just right and getting it fixed when it isn’t.
For an excellent, easy to follow source of how to do it information, with pictures, try parktool.com
Here's a website that has videos on just about every bike repair you need to know. http://bicycletutor.com/