Bike Bob’s Factoid-Free* Potpourri  - Home



Copyright 1987, by Bob Soetebier

Right off the top I'll recommend a very easy to read and use

bicycle maintenance book:  Anybody's Bike Book, by Tom Cuthbertson.

Any good bicycle shop should carry it, in addition to your local


     For general purposes, we'll be talking about adjustments made to

10-speeds.  We'll assume your bicycle is either new, or has had its

annual "overhaul" (greasing/adjusting bearings, wheels trued, etc.) at

your local bicycle shop.

     Most bicycle shops provide a limited-guarantee, free adjustment

period (anywhere from 30 days to 6 months).  Since bicycle parts have

a "wear-in" period (within the first few 100 miles), you should

definitely take advantage of this:  have them readjust your brakes,

derailleurs, chain, wheel hubs, spokes, pedals, headset, and bottom


     You should check the tightness of all nuts and bolts at least

once a month, and weekly if you ride daily.  (Be careful not to

overtighten them as many of the fasteners are made of aluminum and you

can strip threads easily.)  Check the bolts on handlebar stem and

rotation, seat post and mountings, front and rear derailleur mounts,

all cable anchors, brake mounts and brake pad nuts, too.  (Be sure to

check brake pad/wheel rim clearance, which should be about 1/8-inch.)

Don't neglect all lever mounts, water bottle holders, racks, fenders,

pedals, crank arm and chainring (front gear cogs) bolts, toe clips,

mirror mounts, etc.

     In performing all of the above, be sure to use the proper tools.

Just "making do" with ill-fitting tools can result in minor, but

painful, injuries; damaged parts, chipped paint and rounded-off

fasteners.  A good bicycle shop will have and can recommend all the

tools you'll need.

     Regularly inspect cable housings and both cable anchors for

fraying.  If there is ANY sign of wear, replace and lubricate them

with grease.  Weekly, or better yet, daily, check tires for general

wear, and remove imbedded glass or rocks.  Tires with large or deep

cuts, bulges, worn tread, or sidewall cracking should be replaced.

(If you're replacing tires, get ones made with Kevlar, which is a

component of bullet-proof vests!)

     Check your tire pressure daily.  (Correct pressure is stated on

the side of each tire.)  Proper pressure affords lower tread wear,

less tire/wheel damage from unavoidable holes, fewer flats, and lower

rolling resistance, making for easier pedaling.  To keep everything

running smoothly, you should lube your bicycle at least once a month

or every 200 miles, and after rain or dusty, sandy, or gritty terrain.

Use a spray lube like WD-40, or a lightweight oil.  (Keep your wheel

rims and brake pad surfaces clean and oil-free by protecting them with

cloth, newspaper, and/or paper towels.)

     Lube the pivot points of your brakes and derailleurs (and the

rear derailleur's "jockey wheels," too), and the chain.  Lube the

freewheel, being VERY careful not to spray any oil into the nearby

rear wheel axle hub, as this could "wash-out" the grease, causing

damage.  Be sure to wipe off all excess oil when through.  As a final

touch, give the bicycle a general cleaning and inspect for paint chips

and rust; touch-up where needed.  Also, use candlewax on exposed

cables.  With practice, this will all become easy and routine.

     A final note:  Sealed-bearing components, such as pedals, hubs,

bottom brackets, and headsets, require very little maintenance or

adjustments, if any, and result in better wear because of their

resistance to dirt and water.