The age-old saying, “Prevention is better than cure”, has held true for a lot of events in our lives. Cycles or Bikes, whatever you call them, are the most convenient means of transport in Sweden and have always been an integral part of Swedish culture. And it is because that we use our cycles so much and so frequently that we sometimes tend to ignore things like squeaks, rattles, clangs or the close call that we had because our brakes didn’t work as we thought they should, before it is too late. Having your cycle break down on you is scary for a couple of reasons including being physically hurt due to the nature of failure (been there, done that), not being able to arrive at an important event like a job interview or a delivery on time and the fact that you now have to haul your bike to the nearest service centre. This is where maintenance comes in. Below are 4 simple and quick activities that you can perform routinely to ensure that you and your babies (we love our cycles) always have a pleasant ride.
1. Keep your tires inflated to the recommended pressure
The most basic step of them all. The tires are the most important part of our bikes. They are the only components that actually make contact with the ground and their condition determines its handling (how your bike moves). If the pressure is too low, you will have to work a lot harder to get up to speed and then maintain it. If it is too high, the ride might seem uncomfortable and the possibility of getting flat tires or bent rims if you hit the kerb too hard becomes larger. Once in two weeks can be generally considered to be a good time frame to check up on your tire pressure. Some people also like to run their cycles with a higher tire pressure on the rear tire as compared to the one on the front for reasons that will be made clear soon.
2. Lubrication is key
Your chain is being abused every day. Metal to metal contact is not considered to be a good thing, as far as longevity is concerned, but is essential for the functioning of our bikes. Proper lubrication reduces the wear and tear on these moving parts while also making your bike more pleasant and smooth in its operation. Chain lubes in the form of grease and sprays are available in the market and can be easily applied on to the chain once it is cleaned. And ALWAYS remember to wipe off extra lube off the chain surface because you do not want it to splash all over you pants, skirts or shoes. It is not cheap to replace your chain and sprockets, so lubrication is a great activity to ensure that your drivetrain lasts longer
3. Adjust your brakes
We all like our bikes to be “set up” differently but are all united in the department of braking. We want our cycles to stop exactly where we want it to, in a controlled fashion. Brakes that are too tight or too loose might leave you with an unplanned trip to the local sjukhus (hospital). It is important to set up your brakes using the adjusters, either at the brake levers or the ones close to the rim/disc. The screws must be tightened or loosened depending on how confident the braking of your bike makes you feel. Another matter of importance is the braking surface. The friction between the brake shoe and the rim are what slows your bike down when the brakes are applied and thus the interacting surfaces must be kept free of grime, dirt or oil to avoid any nasty surprises.
4. Tighten your nuts and bolts
Certain nuts do tend to loosen up over time and in the event that it falls out, can have disastrous effects. Rattling noises are indicators that something might need to be tightened immediately. Excessive tightening also has adverse effects on the performance of a component and care must be taken to see that your nuts and bolts are tight, but are not overtightened. This activity must take place regularly.
These are of course very rudimentary steps and more light will be shed on to the finer elements of these activities in later series of this blog. We will be back again next week and hope that these activities will keep you safe on the road, save you from the hassles that a bike breakdown.