By Beth Spain
A tight budget might keep students from visiting a bike shop for a $45 tune-up. However, repairs are often more expensive than maintenance.
Alan Worley, owner of Bicycle City in Jackson, has worked on bikes for 31 years and shares some maintenance tips to keep bikes in shape.
Maintaining proper air pressure in the tires is important. Pressure varies with tires but the maximum pounds per square inch can be found on the outside of the tire. Generally, road bikes will need about 100 psi, mountain bikes will take about 50 psi and cruisers will average 45–50 psi. Worley cautions students from using air pumps at gas stations because they release too much volume and pressure builds too quickly, sometimes resulting in physical injury. Instead, use a manual bike pump.
As the cold weather keeps students off their bikes, tires may become flat. In this case, Worley said the tires and tubes do not need to be replaced, they just need air. If a bike is ridden with a flat tire, the asphalt could make holes in the tube or grind the wheel.
Chains also need to be maintained. Worley said chains should be replaced every 2,000 miles and lubricated monthly. To do this, apply wax-based lubricant to wet the chain while turning the pedals backward, spreading the liquid between the sprockets. After a few minutes, turn the chain through a cloth to remove excess oil, which collects dirt and clogs the chain. A 4-ounce bottle of wax-based lubricant, which will last several months, can be purchased at a bike shop for about $9.
To maintain the life of the gears and chain, Worley said users should change gears only while pedaling, and refrain from riding the gears simultaneously on the two largest and smallest sprockets. This causes stress on the chain, wearing out the teeth and causing the chain to slip.
Worley said shifter cables should be changed yearly to keep from being pulled out or frayed. He recommends periodically using a wrench to tighten all parts of the bike.
Brake pads should last about two years. Worley said the rubber will become hard and will not stop the wheels.
Following these steps, and protecting the bike from bad weather, prevents big repairs and keeps it riding smoothly.