Bicycle Maintenance Schedule

By Chris Daigle LCI#331

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            All vehicles require maintenance to perform reliably. If you don't want your bike to leave you stranded on the road, you should keep it in good condition. Most people want to keep their bike in good shape, but don't know where to begin. Here is a list of required maintenance items and frequency. This list is based on someone who is a club cyclist or commuter who generally rides in good weather. If you often ride in the rain, mud or put on more than 500 miles per week you should do maintenance more often to keep your bike in a condition that will let you be as efficient as possible. If you ride less than 50 miles per week you may not need to do maintenance as often.

Before every ride:

            Perform ABC Quick Check.

After every ride:

            Inspect tires for glass, shards of gravel and cuts on tread and side wall.

            Check wheels for true.

            Clean if necessary. Remember, love your bike and it will love you.

Once a Week:

            Lubricate chain (if you use dry lube). (or every 200 miles, if you ride more than that in a week).

Every other Week:

            Lubricate chain (if you use wet chain lube). (or every 400 miles, if you ride more than that in a month).

Once a Month:

            Complete bike cleaning including drive train (if necessary) Inspect chain and freewheel. This includes measuring the chain for wear, checking for tight links and replacing the chain if necessary.

            Inspect and lubricate brake levers, derailleurs and all cables.

            Inspect pedals and lubricate SPD style cleats.

            Inspect and check for looseness: Stem binder bolt, handlebar binder bolt, sea post binder bolt (or quick release), seat fixing bolt, crank bolts, chainring bolts, derailleur mounting bolts, bottle cage bolts, rack mounting bolts (use thread lock on these) brake and derailleur cable anchors brake and shifter lever mounting bolts and brake mounting bolts (make sure you don't alter brake centering).

            Inspect tires for wear and rotate or replace as necessary.

Every Three Months:

            Wax bike. A clean, shiny bike will always go faster and farther. Inspect frame and fork for paint cracks or bulges that may indicate frame or part damage (pay special attention to all frame joints).

            Visually inspect for bent components: Seat rails, seat post, stem, handlebars, chain rings, crank arms, brake calipers and brake levers.

Every Six months:

            Inspect and readjust bearings in headset, hubs, pedals and bottom bracket (if possible, since some sealed cartridge bearings cannot be adjusted, only replaced).

Every Year:

            Complete disassembly and overhaul and replacement of all bearings (if possible) including removing and checking for replacement of all brake and shift cables. This should be performed at 6000 miles if you ride more than that number of miles per year. For commuters who often ride in the rain or mountain bikers who get muddy an overhaul should be done more often than dry use, (or every time your mountain bike goes under water).

Before any important ride:

            Have a professional double check all adjustments, so a problem doesn't spoil that great ride in the making.