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Skills: Ride Ready

The three C's of bicycle maintenance.

By Stephanie Long and Caleb Harris

For some enthusiasts, there’s no better way to experience a state park than from the saddle of a bicycle, whether it’s a smooth cruise on paved park roads or a bumpy thrill ride through a woodland trail. The cool wind in your face, the silent speed, the ability to take in more miles (and sights) than on foot … all these and many more reasons lead us to long for a bike ride as the weather warms.

Mechanical breakdowns can spoil the fun, but we’ve got a few tips to help you pedal through paradise without worry. Local bike shops often give classes on bike repair and maintenance.

CLEAN:

  • After every ride, clean components until everything’s free of dirt and debris.
  • Wipe down the wheel rims to assist in braking.
  • Hold the chain with a rag and pedal backwards, wiping off as much grime as possible, then reapply fresh lube to the chain.
  • Run strips of rag or cord between the gears to remove grime.

CHECK:

  • Keep bolts and cables tight and tires inflated.
  • Check that all bolts are tight using an appropriately sized Allen wrench.
  • Inspect all cables; they should never be loose. Tighten cables by twisting the barrel bolt at the end of the cable.
  • Check air pressure and inflate tires to the recommended PSI (indicated on the tire itself) with a tire pump.

CENTER:

  • The brake pads and gear derailleur should be centered. Wheels should spin freely; the derailleur shouldn’t make noise or cause the chain to come off.
  • To adjust the brakes, start by loosening the bolt on the brake caliper with an Allen wrench. Adjust the brakes until the pads are evenly spaced on both sides of the wheel rim. Adjust the pads, using an Allen wrench, changing the angle or position if needed.
  • The derailleur can be adjusted by tightening the cable or adjusting set screws so that it changes smoothly and stops at the right places.

SUGGESTED TOOLS:

  • Allen wrenches
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Rags/towels
  • Chain lube
  • Tire pump


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