This article is aimed at people who may have bought a cheap or second hand bike and want to ensure it is always available to use (reliability) and easy and pleasant to ride (rideability).
If you are yet to buy a bike and have no experience then I would make the following suggestions
- Do not buy a new bike from a supermarket unless you are a capable bike mechanic – they are bottom of the range and you will spend lots of time on maintenance. For the same money you can buy a good quality second hand bike.
- With second hand bikes ensure it is in basically good condition particularly chain and sprockets – replacing these will cost upwards of $150.00.
- Ride a few bikes in different styles before you make your final choice. Remember how you plan to use the bike.
- Get a good quality lock – an unlocked bike can disappear instantly – my daughter lent her bike against a pole whilst using an ATM – she turned around from the ATM just as it was being wheeled away by an opportunistic thief.
Now a few tips on the 2R’s. Nothing is as discouraging as feeling that your hard work on the pedals is being wasted – the bike will just not move! These tips are aimed at getting all your pedal effort translated into forward motion.
- Pump your tyres up to the maximum pressure recommended on the tyre sidewall. Correctly inflated tyres are also less likely to puncture.
- If your bike is fitted with wide knobbly low pressure tyres, consider replacing them with a smaller cross section smooth tyre capable of being inflated to at least 60psi.
- Oil your chain – use proper chain lubricant, preferably not wax based. I’ve been told that chainsaw oil is both cheap and effective. Do NOT use WD40 or similar products – these are excellent penetrating oils but useless for chain lubrication.
- Turn your bike over and check the wheels. Spin each wheel to check they run true and not wobble. If your rim is buckled it could be a broken spoke or simply need the spokes retensioning. Either way you will need to get them straightened.
- Also check the wheel bearings by seeing how easily the wheel spins. Make sure the brakes are not rubbing. If the wheel will not spin freely or if you can wobble the rim sideway, then your wheel bearings need attention. You can often get bye by putting the bike on its side and dripping chain oil into the wheel bearing, but this is only a short term fix.
- Check the pedals spin freely. If they don’t, try the dripping oil trick. If that doesn’t work, buy some new pedals.
- Finally with the bike upright, check your brakes. Is there any material left on the pads? Are the pads are rubbing on the wheel rims? Adjust as necessary. If your bike has cheap pressed metal brakes you could be wasting your time.