Feature

Pimp my ride

G Magazine

Greenies across the globe are getting around on two wheels. To ensure a safe and smooth ride, your bike will need some regular TLC. Here's our easy guide to DIY maintenance.

Bicycle-maintenance

Credit: iStockphoto

Bike Step one

Release all the wheel fastenings, including the brake callipers and gears. Once all the mechanics are disengaged, remove the wheel from the frame and place the frame on the ground.

Credit: Caitlin Howlett

Bike Step 2

Wedge tyre levers, spaced about 10 cm apart, on the wheel rim close to the valve hole. Remove the tyre from the wheel rim by prising it off with the tyre levers – the edges of the tyre should then be outside of the rim.

Credit: Caitlin Howlett

Bike step 3

Remove the inner tube, finishing at the valve (to ensure you don’t bend it).

Credit: Caitlin Howlett

Bike step 4

Find the puncture and mark it. Use sandpaper to roughen the area around the hole. Apply a thin layer of glue and let it dry. Firmly apply the patch from your puncture repair kit and peel away the backing.

Credit: Caitlin Howlett

Bike step 5

Check the tyre and the wheel rim for any damage, and remove the object that caused the puncture if it’s still there.

Credit: Caitlin Howlett

Bike step 6

Pump up the inner tube until it is only just round. Place tube back inside the rim, starting at the valve hole. Being careful not to pinch the tube or knock the valve, roll one edge of the tyre back onto the rim.

Credit: Caitlin Howlett

Bike step 7

Working your way around the wheel, pry the rest of the tyre onto the rim with your thumbs. It won’t be easy, so you might want to use your tyre levers.

Credit: Caitlin Howlett

Bike step eight

Pump up the tyre until firm. If you are repairing the puncture at home, use the gauge on the pump to achieve the correct PSI.

Credit: Caitlin Howlett

Bike step nine

Put the wheel back onto the bike and reattach brakes and gears (see here for detailed instructions). Ensure the gears are realigned by spinning the rear wheel in the air and rotating the pedals with your hands.

Credit: Caitlin Howlett

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There's no doubt that jumping on your bicycle for those shorter trips, or to work and back, is the greener way to go. And just as topping up the oil and checking the tyres is part and parcel of owning a car, looking after your bike is critical.

It's not just a matter of safety, but a good investment too, says Jenny Fay, manager of Sydney's Clarence St Cyclery women's store. "Most bike problems occur because of poor maintenance and lack of inspection, so not only will you be safer on a well-serviced bike, you won't have expensive repairs later down the track."

Fay recommends you inspect your bike before every ride. “One of the main problems is not enough air in the tyres. Without air, you run the risk of puncturing the inner tube and doing damage to the rim of your wheel.” The correct amount of air to put in will be written in PSIs (pound-force per square inch) on the sidewall of the tyre.

To keep your bike in pristine condition and avoid getting stranded by a tyre puncture, you’ll want to have the right tools on hand. Buy a bike pump that clips to your frame and put together a repair kit that includes allen keys, puncture repair kit, tyre levers and a spare inner tube, and take it with you when you ride. It might sound like a lot, but all of these tools will fit into a tiny pack under the saddle of your bike. Ensure too, that a professional checks over your bike at least once a year.

Standard ABC check

Run this check before each ride...

Bike maintenance is as easy as ABC. That’s A for air (are your tyres full of it?), B for brakes and gears (are they working?), and C for cables (are there frays?) and chain (is there dirt & grime?). Every few rides you should also tighten the handlebars and seat post with allen keys, and tighten the pedals with a spanner.

AIR: Tyres should always be very firm. Never use a service station air pump, as the mechanics are too strong – only ever use a bike pump.
BRAKES & GEARS: Lift each wheel off the ground and spin to check the brakes and gears work smoothly. When fully depressed, the brake levers should not touch the handlebars.
CABLES & CHAIN: Any frayed cables should be replaced. The chain should be free of dirt and well lubricated.

Cleaning your bike and applying lubricant

1.) Use different rags for each job below. If riding regularly do the following once a week. Wash the frame of your bike with warm, soapy water and a soft rag. Rinse and, when dry, use a wax to keep it clean for longer. Use an eco-friendly degreaser and lubricant for the chain. Green Oil and Clean Chain are two products that are 100 per cent biodegradable.
2.) Clean the chain with degreaser, using an old toothbrush. Wash off with warm water and dry with a clean rag.
3.) Apply lubricant to the chain as you slowly turn the pedals backwards until the entire chain is coated.
4.) Continue to slowly turn the pedals backwards to spread the lubricant. Then, still turning the pedals, hold the chain loosely with the rag to wipe off the excess.

Keep your bike looking good!

■ Store your bike indoors (a hanging bike stand is best).
■ Don't hang the bike lock from your bike where it might swing and dent the frame. Carry your bike lock in your backpack, or get a lock bracket or a basket.
■ Touch-up paint chips to prevent corrosion. Nail polish in the same colour will do!
■ After riding in the rain, dry the brakes and gears. Reapply lube to the chain.
■ Keep it clean. Dirt and grime can actually ruin the mechanics and chip the paint. Be careful to wipe detergent and water off your chain and re-lube when you’ve finished cleaning.

Fixing a puncture

Click through the images on the right to see how to fix a puncture. For detailed instructions on how to put the wheel back onto your bike and reattach the brakes and gears, click here.