Chains and Derailleurs
To tell if a chain has become worn and stretched enough to require replacement, measure it with a foot-long ruler. Put the first mark on the center of any rivet, then look at the 12-inch mark. On a new chain it will also be on the center of a rivet. On a worn one, it will fall an eighth of an inch or more short of a rivet.
A simple fix for a skipping drivetrain: Turn the barrel adjuster on the rear derailleur cable 1/2 to a full turn.
When you hear the disconcerting scrunch of “chain sucking” and it feels as if a stick has been jammed through your chainrings, stop pedaling immediately. Either get off and turn the crank backward to free the chain, or learn
to do it while on the fly. Otherwise, you risk damage to the chain, chainring, and chainstay.
Extreme chain angles, such as combining the largest rear cog with the large chainring (or smallest cog with the small chainring), may never run quietly or smoothly, which is one reason they shouldn’t be used. Another reason not to use these gear combinations: It could cause additional wear on your drivetrain.
If possible, lube your chain 24 hours before riding. This will allow the lube’s liquid carrier to evaporate and keep your drivetrain cleaner.
Hose your bike after riding in the rain to remove most of the grit. Then dry it with a towel, and spray lubrication into derailleur and brake pivot points and where cables enter or exit their housings.
The most important rule of mountain bike maintenance is frequent cleaning. Dirt acts as a grinding compound when it gets between moving parts. In muddy or sandy conditions, hose down the bike after every ride.
Wheels and Tires
Carry a patch kit and a spare tube, so you’re not hopelessly stranded if you have two flats on a ride. Also, always carry a spare tube in the rain. Flats occur more frequently, and it’s difficult to apply patches when it’s wet.
You’ll know that a quick-release is tight enough in the frame if pushing the lever leaves an imprint on your palm.
Beware of using a gas station’s air pump. It quickly delivers a large volume of air, which can blow a bike tire off the rim.
The patches in most tire repair kits have foil on one side and plastic on the other. The surface under the foil goes
against the tube (after glue has been applied) and then the plastic is peeled off.
When a clincher tire is properly installed, its bead (the thin line molded into the rubber just above the rim) should not bob when the wheel spins. However, if the line between the tire’s sidewall and black tread wobbles, don’t worry—most tires have some irregularity and it won’t affect performance.
At least once a month, inspect each tire’s tread for embedded glass or other debris. Potential puncture producers can often be removed before they work through the tire casing to the tube.
When fixing a flat, carefully feel around the inside of the tire. Whatever caused the puncture may still be lodged
through the tread, ready to strike again.
if a spoke breaks, stop right away and remove it or twist it around its neighbors. A flapping rear-wheel spoke can snag the derailleur and cause lots more damage.
Presta valves may stick closed preventing your pump from working. The solution is simple. Before inflating a tire,
unscrew the valve and fully depress it twice, releasing a small amount of air. This frees the valve and allows easy
Refine your tire pressure to meet special riding needs. For instance, cornering force and shock absorption are improved by slightly decreasing pressure—about10-15psi. Lower tire pressure is also good for touring or when riding in the rain. A slightly higher pressure—about 10-20 psi—decreases rolling resistance. This is best for a race or time trial where comfort is less important than speed.
Put your tire patch kit and other tools in an old sock before storing them in your saddlebag. This keeps everything organized and prevents rattling. Then, when you need to make a repair, slip the sock over your hand to avoid getting greasy while making repairs.
If your bike is plagued by mysterious clicking sounds that you can’t solve, put a drop of oil on each spoke crossing. Sometimes the noise comes from two spokes rubbing together.
Always take a new bike back for the free 30-day checkup that most shops offer. (Mark the date on your calendar.) The mechanics can spot and correct slight problems that you may not even notice. After this, your bike shouldn’t need service for six months to a year, other than chain and cable lubrication.
Silence annoying clicks and creaks in clipless pedals by applying a few drops of oil to the cleat where it contacts the pedal and to the pedal-gripping hardware.
Handlebars and Headsets
Wrap handlebar tape from the end of the bar to the middle to prevent it from unraveling while riding. Secure the ends near the stem with colored electrical tape.
To check for a loose headset, stand beside the bike, squeeze the front brake lever, and rock the bike forward and back. You’ll hear a clunking sound if the headset is loose. Tighten it. Then, check to see if it is too tight by slightly elevating the front wheel and letting the handlebar turn from one extreme to the other. If it sticks in either direction, the headset is tight and should be adjusted or repacked, with new lube.
Severe cold won’t affect a bike, but if you love it at all, avoid subjecting it to extreme changes in temperature or humidity. For example, if you move your bike from a cold garage to a heated house, the temperature change will cause condensation inside the tubes. This will eventually lead to rust on steel frames. (www.bicycling.com)