The improvements you can make to your bike will, of course, depend on the quality of the bike in the first place, however regardless of the cost, regular maintenance of your bike is essential for reliability and your safety. The following comments are intended for new and technically disinterested riders.
- Pump your tyres up to at least 50 psi, but check that they will actually take the pressure (maximum pressure will be shown on the tyre sidewall). If your tyres cannot take 50 psi, I would suggest you buy some new tyres that will. Check your tyre pressure regularly as soft tyres are more prone to punctures.
- Check that your brakes are not dragging on the wheel rims and slowing you down; adjust as necessary. This can be quite fiddly if not impossible on cheap bikes. You may need professional help to do this, or on really cheap bikes consider upgrading the brakes altogether. Good brakes are essential for safe riding.
- Check your wheel rims to ensure they run true.
- Lubricate your chain regularly. If , when you press hard on the pedals, the chain jumps over some of the rear sprockets, it is time for a new chain, and you will have to replace the sprockets (which only come in complete sets called cassettes or on older bikes, clusters) as a new chain will not work with old cassettes/clusters.
- If you intend to ride at night, fit lights to your bike.
With really cheap bikes (supermarket specials) there is a limit to what is worth upgrading as generally regardless of what you upgrade, the bike will never match the feel of more expensive bikes, so don’t over-invest. Try out a more expensive bike to give yourself some basis for comparison.