Learning to ride a bike is no big deal. If you fall off, just brush yourself off and climb back on. Learning how to keep your bike from falling apart can be just as easy.
Bicycle maintenance is vital to the performance and preservation of your ride. Without proper maintenance, your bike will quickly go from a lean, mean, two-wheeled machine, to a squeaky, rusty, pant leg munching mess. Keeping your bicycle in top condition requires regular protective and preventive maintenance, some of which can be done by you. Other jobs may require the skills of a professional cycle repairer.
When riding a bicycle, most of the load and pressure falls directly on the tires. Check your air pressure to be sure the tires are inflated as per the manufacturer's specifications. Tires should be inspected on a regular basis for any signs of ripping, or wear and tear. Wheels need regular tuning and adjustment, and should be checked for dents and twists caused by collisions or falls. Spinning is the best way to check a wheel. If the wheel shakes from side to side as it spins, it will need to be tightened. Spokes also need to be tightened and fixed firmly to the rims as part of regular bicycle maintenance. The spokes transmit pressure, so if they're damaged they must be replaced immediately.
Similar to the steering wheel of a car, the handlebar is a key component in maneuvering the bicycle. A handlebar needs to be adjusted to produce the best results. Adjust the height so that you can comfortably hold the handlebar when seated. The handlebar should be properly aligned with the front wheel, to accommodate both quick swerves and smooth changes in either direction. A properly adjusted front fork is equally important. The front fork stabilizes the handlebar and should be securely fastened to the handlebar post. Also, be sure that your bicycle maintenance regime includes checking that the pedals are tightly secured.
The single most important part of the bicycle for rider safety is the brake assembly. Check the brakes by squeezing them and rolling the bike ahead. If the brakes work properly, the wheels will not roll and the brake pads will stay squarely on the rims without touching the tires. If the brake levers touch the handlebars when pressed, it means the brake cables are loose. Tighten them and check for wear. If the brake cables are frayed, have them replaced.
Proper bicycle maintenance includes regular lubrication of the chain, to produce smooth and swift movement. Use a de-greaser to remove accumulated dirt on the grease. Remember to put fresh grease on to replace the dirty grease that has been removed. Keeping your chain clean and well lubricated will keep it from getting stuck or jumping the gear teeth.
Keeping your bicycle in prime riding condition doesn't take a lot of tools or a great deal of technical knowledge. Bicycle maintenance is a simple task that takes only a little time and effort. Keep your bike fit and it will last many years keeping you fit.