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Bike Maintenance: Five Common Mistakes

If you’re new to bike riding, or have only just started to maintain your bike yourself, bike maintenance can feel a bit of a minefield. There are five commonly-made mistakes that are all too easy to make, but luckily, with this guide, you won’t make them again!

Too Much Lube!

When it comes to lubricating your bike chain, it’s definitely not a case of ‘more is more’! It’s all-too easy to get over-enthusiastic with the lube, but you actually want to apply the bare minimum – and make sure the chain is clean before you do so!

As a guide, we suggest you apply a thin layer of lube to one full rotation of the chain, and then stop – don’t keep going over the chain again and again. Make sure you apply the lube to the top of the chain, where the rollers are, not on the sides. If you spill some lube onto the sides, simply wipe it with a rag. If you apply too much lube to your bike chain, you end up with a big sticky mess all over your drivetrain.

If you want to see it being done, check out our video all about chain maintenance.

Doing Bolts Up Too Tight

When you’re performing bike maintenance, it’s tempting to do up all the bolts extra-tight, just to be sure they’re safe. However, doing things up too tight risks cracking your components, which is a disaster. This is particularly likely if you own a carbon frame or components, as it is quite a brittle material.

When working on your bike, we always recommend using a torque wrench – a precision tool designed to help you apply the correct amount of force when tightening a bolt – and applying just below the Nm reading printed on your components. This Nm figure is the maximum torque required for the component, so do not exceed it! If you want to see where these readings are printed and how to use a torque wrench, check out this video.

You can find out more about why torque is so important at our blog, here.

If you have to make an adjustment by the side of the road and don’t have a torque wrench to hand, apply just the amount of force so that your multitool leaves a slight imprint in your palm after you’ve done the work. The imprint should fade quickly or it suggests you may have tightened too much. Make sure you loosen the bolt and tighten it again with a torque wrench when you’re home to ensure you’ve got it right.

Not greasing pedals

When you install your bike’s pedals, make sure you grease the threads before winding them into the crank! Otherwise, you’re going to have to be feeling very, very strong when you go to remove them.

The weight and force applied through the pedals, and the way in which the crank and pedal area attracts dirt and dust, means that the pedal can effectively become ‘fused’ into the crank if grease wasn’t applied beforehand.

Any generic grease will work, just wipe a small amount around both pedal threads, then install away.

Forgetting about your Quick Release Skewers

The quick release skewers that hold your wheels into the frame of a rim brake bike are easily forgotten about during bike maintenance work. However, if these are not sufficiently tightened, you could be putting yourself in danger!

Under-tightening your skewers mean that the wheel isn’t secure in the frame. It’s most likely that this will result in your wheel not spinning true through the brakes, meaning you’re going to get intermittent brake rub as you ride. In the worst case, if the skewer is extremely loose, there’s a risk that a wheel could fall out of the frame, as the skewer could undo itself altogether.

Check out this video to help you gauge how to get the pressure on your quick releases just right.

Putting too much air in your tyres

Riding a bike with over-inflated tyres is no fun. If you’ve got too much air in the tyre, it will make for an extremely uncomfortable ride as you bounce over the smallest lump and bump in the road or trail. And too much pressure will mean your traction is compromised, making cornering or riding in the wet perilous. Wherever possible, we recommend using a pump with a gauge, such as our very own pump with gauge!

The numbers printed on your tyres are not recommended pressures, but maximums, so don’t feel inclined to pump right up to that number. The tyre pressure that is appropriate for you depends on a range of factors including your weight, tyre and rim width, the terrain, and the conditions. Everyone has a preference, but this is a useful start point:

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