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Archive for Monday, April 15, 2013

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Fix-It Chick: Tips for tuning up your bike

April 15, 2013

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When it comes to bicycles, home maintenance is not a substitute for professional service, but an annual home tune-up can make your riding experience safer and more enjoyable while adding years of life to your bicycle.

Step 1: With a biodegradable cleaner such as Simple Green and as little water as possible, clean the entire bike. Use soft rags on painted surfaces and a stiff bristle brush on the tires, pedals, chain sprockets and seat. Dry the bike completely with soft rags or a chamois.

Step 2: Spray the bike chain and sprocket with WD-40 or a solvent-based degreaser to remove rust and buildup. Wipe away overspray immediately. Use a toothbrush or the edge of a towel to clean inside crevices and between sprockets.

Step 3: Use a high-quality Teflon lubricant or a lightweight oil designed specifically for bikes to lubricate the chain and all other moving parts. Include pivot points along the brake cables, as well as shift levers, derailleur, wheel axle and pedals.

Step 4: Inspect the brake pads and replace them if they are showing signs of wear and tear. Adjust the pad alignment so they are equidistant from the rim and clamp down evenly when engaged.

Step 5: Use a tire pressure gauge to check the air pressure in each tire. The appropriate air pressure level is usually printed on the sidewall of the tires. Inflate the tires fully and replace a tire if it shows obvious wear marks, bulges or cracks.

Step 6: Hold the rear of the bike slightly above the ground and spin the tire to make sure it is true. If the tire wobbles or appears to spin unevenly, use a spoke wrench to tighten any loose spokes. Repeat the process for the front tire. If the wheels still seem uneven, take the bike to a reputable bike shop and have the wheels professionally trued.

Step 7: Place the bike on a stand or have a friend lift the back of the bike and slowly shift through the gears. Make sure the chain moves freely from sprocket to sprocket without rubbing on the derailleur. If necessary, adjust the chain tension or derailleur alignment to smooth out shifting problems.

Step 8: Check the wheels, handlebars and seat to ensure they are securely fastened. Make certain all quick-release levers are functioning properly and locked into position.

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