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Essential Bicycle Maintenance Repair is avilable on HumanKinetics.com (Courtesy)

You’re not a pro rider, but you can give your bike a professional check before each ride and prevent major problems from occurring.

Author and longtime professional mechanic Daimeon Shanks says small issues can develop into dangerous and expensive failures if left
unattended.

“In
about the time it takes to down a post-ride espresso at your local coffee shop,
you can give your bike the same attention that the pros’ bikes receive after each
race,” said Shanks, a former pro-team mechanic and co-owner of The Service Course

In his book Essential Bicycle Maintenance
Repair
, Shanks explains five pre-ride checks
that every cyclist should perform:

Check the wheels. Make sure the
quick-release skewers are tightened correctly. Spin the wheels to check
that they are true and don’t rub on the brake pads or anywhere on the
frame or fork. “If there is a wobble in the rim, go ahead and true it
before the ride,” Shanks said. He also advises checking that the wheels
turn freely and there are no grinding noises coming from the hub. “If the
wheel stops turning after only a few revolutions or if there is a grinding
sound from the wheel, then you’ll need to adjust the hubs.”

Inspect the tires. Check for
adequate air pressure in the tires. “Most tires will have the proper
tire-pressure range printed on the sidewall,” Shanks said. “For the
majority of road tires, a pressure of 110 to 120 pounds per square inch is
best, depending on your size and riding style.” Check for any cuts or
nicks in the sidewall or tread of the tires where the inner tube can bulge
through and cause a flat. Also check for adequate tread on both tires. “A
tire needs to be replaced when the tire’s cross section is no longer
round; it will take on a square shape. Replace the tire
if it is severely worn or has cuts.”

Test the brakes. Spin the
wheels and apply the front and rear brakes independently of each other.
Check that the brakes engage before the brake lever reaches the handlebars
and that there is enough stopping power to be safe. “It is also important
to ensure the brake pads are not worn,” Shanks said. “Inspect where the
brake pads hit the rim; they should contact the rim evenly on both sides
and not rub the tire in any way because this will cause a flat.”

Lube the chain. “There are
many styles of lube available, and each works differently in different
conditions,” Shanks said. “If you’re unsure what to use or if you like to
keep only one type around for all conditions, then use a light oil, such
as Tri-Flow.” Apply a small amount to the inside of the chain as you pedal
backward so the entire chain gets an even coat. “It’s important to note
that you should always apply lube to the inside of the chain so that, as
you pedal, centrifugal force will push the lube into the chain parts. If you apply the lube to the top of the chain, the
centrifugal force will simply fling the lube off the chain before it does
any good.”

Check the shifting. Check that
the rear derailleur shifts evenly and smoothly between all the gears on
the cassette. “Also check that the chain doesn’t fall off the front
chain rings when performing front derailleur shifts and that it shifts
smoothly between the small and large chain rings,” Shanks said.

“A quick run-through of your bike’s most
important working parts is all that’s necessary,” Shanks said. “With proper
maintenance, your bike should last as long as you care to take care of it.”

Essential Bicycle Maintenance
Repair
addresses cycling’s most common
repairs, as well as Information on how to choose parts and tires. The book is available now at HumanKinetics.com.

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