U.S. Cycling Tech Tips – Basic Road Bike Maintenance

When Dave isn’t showing off his mountain biking skills for national ad campaigns, he’s often the resident certified U.S. Cycling Technician for his Utah mountain bike racing team. One of Sol’s favorite guides, Dave shares his bike tips with us in this 3 part series.

Part 1. Basic Road Bike Maintenance

Perform a quick mental check list and check each part before you ride:

  1. Tire pressure- too low?
  2. Chain- too dry, rusty, too wet, stiff links?
  3. Cables & housing- gritty,rusted, hard to shift, split or cracked?
  4. Shifting properly- front and rear derailleurs set accordingly?
  5. Brakes- pads are aligned to the rim for maximum stopping power and have enough pad wear left.
  6. Check all bolts and skewers.

The most commonly overlooked section of a bike are the tires & tire pressure. It’s crucial to examine the tires for wear, cuts, slices, bulges or defects of the rubber. Proper tire pressure is just as important. Pinch flats, aka ‘snake bites,’ are the result of low air pressure – that’s when the rim actually pinches the tube, causing it to flatten.

Inspect the chain and listen for a loud or dry sound. You can do this while peddling forward or back in a bike stand or with a quick ride on your street. Add lube to help shifting and keep all moving parts running smoothly. If the oil is too wet, use an old rag while peddling backwards in the stand and use the rag to soak up excess lube/oil/grit. Stiff links occur when the chain has been neglected and forms rust, which will prevent links from flexing. At that point it may be best to replace the chain altogether.

To check the shifting, go through all the gears to be certain the shifter (indexing) clicks with the proper gear.

Test the brake levers to see if they grab equally for maximum stopping power. Make sure there is enough wear on the pads. Sometimes removing the wheels will give you a better look at the pads to see where they make contact with the rim.

Other items you can check are the computer battery, (check the magnet on the spoke to make sure it’s reading the sensor on the fork), bar tape wear, and bar end plugs. I always check the headset and stem, and my water bottle cages sometimes come loose too.

Got any questions for Dave? Fire away in the comment section below. See you in a few days for Part 2: Gear Up for the Ride

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *