Catherine Thompson, head mechanic and instructor at Outspoken, shares her tips for keeping your bike running smoothly
Pump up your tyres
Tyres are not airtight and need to be inflated regularly to maintain pressure. They always have their recommended pressure written on the side, so it’s easy to check how hard to pump them. Properly inflated tyres mean you’ll go faster, get fewer punctures and your tyres will last longer. Do it every other week, or once a month as a minimum.
Give it a clean
Big areas of wear and tear on a bike are the chain and sprockets – as you ride you pick up dirt and dust, which wears down the links and the teeth of the chain and sprockets, making them thin and sharp. Put a bit of chain degreaser on a rag and run the chain through a few times, giving it a good rub to get off as much dirt as possible. Clean the little cogs that the chain passes through on the derailleur as well as the sprockets front and back. Follow instructions on the degreaser and wash with water afterwards, if directed, leaving the bike to dry.
After you’ve given the chain a clean, always re-apply lubricant. The key is little and often; you don’t need to cover the chain in oil, just use a drop per link. Let it sink in, then wipe off any excess with a rag. Use a proper liquid bike lubricant (not a spray like WD40).
Check your brake pads
Worn brake pads don’t just cause unsafe braking, they can also damage your wheels. Once all the rubber is worn the metal will show through and cut into the wheel rim. Check regularly whether your brakes are working and look to see there’s plenty of rubber on the pads. If you’re not sure, drop into your local shop – they’ll be happy to look for you.
Get it serviced
Servicing can sometimes seem like an expense but, just as with a car, it’s best to keep on top of the maintenance. A good bike shop will be able to fit the service to your needs. A little service at six months and a bigger one at 12 months each year will keep your bike running like new.
Outspoken offers a range of courses to help you get to grips with your bike, including beginners, advanced and groups.