One important aspect of bike maintenance is taking care of the bike chain. After all, a poorly maintained bike chain could lead to problems while you are on your bike, such as difficulties in shifting. Not taking care of it will also cause a serious dent on your finances, since changing your bike chain frequently can cost you quite a considerable amount of money.
Cleaning your Bike Chain
Dirt can speed up the rate of chain wear as well as the wear and tear on derailleur assemblies and drivetrain cogs. At the same time, the flexibility of individual chain links will be affected. Thus, you have to make sure you clean the bike chain of any dirt, dust, or mud. Here’s how:
- Inspect for Dirt: One way to do this is to lift the rear wheel off the ground and rotate the closest pedal slowly backward, inspecting the individual chain links for dirt and grime buildup as well as rust.
- Brush: If the chain is still installed on the bike, use a firm brush to brush out the links. Old toothbrushes will do the job just as well. Make this a regular cleaning routine of your bike chain.
- Off-Bike Cleaning: This means you have to remove the chain from the bike so you can clean it more thoroughly. Once separated, brush the chain links well. There are sure to be dirt and grime that have built up and cannot be removed by simple brushing. The trick is to let the chain soak in a chain solvent until the buildup has been removed. This can be done every few months or so.
- Watch out for Tight Links: You can spot this by pedaling the chain slowly backwards, seeing if the chain links bend and pass through smoothly through the tight turns of the rear derailleur.
- Check for Chain Stretch: A chain stretch occurs when the chains become longer as they wear. Technically, they do not stretch. However, the wear between the rollers and the link pins causes the gear to skip, giving the impression that it has lengthened, or stretched.
Lubricating your Bike Chain
Lubrication is also an important part of bike chain maintenance.
- Pick the Lubricant: In choosing which lubricant to use, make sure you pick one that can minimize the accumulation of dirt and has the ability to make the chains more durable. It is important that you use a lubricant specifically designed for bike drivetrains. This goes for your choice of cleaners as well.
- Clean First: Before applying lube on the chain, scrape off any mud, dirt, or grime from any bike part that comes into contact with the chain, especially the cogs on the rear derailleur. Similarly, make sure that the chain is also clean and free from any dirt.
- Lube just Right: The general idea is to apply one drop of chain lube to each chain link, and a little drop to each gap where two links overlap. Be careful not to over-lubricate, since this could cause just as much problems as when you don’t put enough lube.
- Remove any Excess Lube: It is important that, after lubricating, you wipe off any excess lubricant left on the chain. Otherwise, the remaining lube will just attract new dirt.
Make Your Chain Happy
The two main purposes of maintaining your bike chain is to make the chain – and the bike as a whole – perform better, and to make it last longer, so you won’t have to constantly buy a replacement. Of course, this basically applies to all parts of your bicycle, so make sure you are a responsible bike owner by properly taking care of it.
If you are thinking of taking up a new hobby, or a new sport, you should definitely consider bicycling. But what if you don’t have much experience with it, or your lack of knowledge about bicycling is making you apprehensive about taking it up? It is also very easy to be intimidated about getting into the saddle, so to speak. After all, it is not something you can learn overnight.
But wait! Do not immediately abandon the idea! There are many reasons why you should get into bicycling, and we’re going to try naming several of them.
- For Fitness: You’ve probably been to a fitness gym; in fact, you may even be a member of one. Then you probably already know that stationary bikes and other similar equipment are used for workouts, simulating actual bicycling. Why simulate when you can ride on an actual bike that is NOT at all stationary, and you can even check out various scenery, instead of just the four walls of the gym?
- Being Eco-Friendly: Many countries are encouraging the use of bicycles as a mode of transport since it does not emit carbon monoxide that could harm the environment. Take this as the opportunity to go “green”.
- Enjoying the Outdoors: Go riding at nearby hills or at the park. You may do it primarily to get some exercise, but it will also let you go out, enjoy the fresh air and get the chance to appreciate nature and the great outdoors while you’re at it.
- To Save Money: Car maintenance costs a lot of money, not to mention the cost of fuel, repairs and insurance. You will cut back on these expenses if you use your bicycle as a means of transportation.
How You Can Get Into It
In order to get into cycling, it would be best to ease into it instead of jumping directly into the bicycle and roaring off. Here are a few tips that may help you.
- Banish all those Myths about Bicycling that are making you Hesitate: This can be done by doing research about the subject. Realize that you don’t have to buy the expensive gear used by professional cyclists in order for you to do well. There are cheaper bikes and gear that will be perfect for your purposes, especially if you are just starting out, and you have every intention to start slow.
- Pay Attention to your Bike and your Gear: Bike maintenance is very important, even if you are just starting out. In your pre-ride inspection, try to test if you are comfortable, and this means considering factors such as the size of the bike, the seat height, as well as the condition of the wheels, brakes, rims, tires and other bicycle parts. Even the fit of the helmet should be tested.
- Pick your Spot and Route: Beginners and inexperienced cyclists should first pick a traffic-free to start off in. Maybe there is a nearby empty parking lot where you could take practice spins. Another good option is the local park, especially those that have areas specifically for bicycles. Use this area to practice the basics of bicycling until such time that you feel confident to take your bicycle in an area with more traffic.
- Know the Rules: If you’re living in an urban area, there are bound to be laws and rules about bicycling that you should know about. Take the time to learn about them in order to avoid any mishaps or unfortunate brushes with the law.
- Maintain Presence of Mind: Always be alert when riding on your bicycle so you can avoid hitting a pedestrian or colliding with another cyclist.
- Practice, Practice, Practice: Make bicycling a habit. Instead of taking your car to the convenience store, ride on your bicycle. Maybe there are even cycling groups for beginners that you can join during their bike rides. The more you go out riding, the more you will get into it.
Prepare For A Great Ride
It’s not all that hard to get into bicycling. You just need to be informed, have the necessary gear, and be passionate and motivated about it. There are many benefits that you can get from bicycling – even more than the ones mentioned above – and you will have fun discovering each and every one of them.