Road Bike Suggested Maintenance Schedule

By Mike Munk, UBI Certified Mechanic

 Everyone understands the importance of regular preventative maintenance on an automobile, but many folks ignore this concept when it comes to their bicycle.  A bicycle is a big investment and it's important to keep it in sound working order not only for top performance, but also for the safety of the rider and those riding around him/her.  You might say you should get into the habit of caring for your bike like your life depended on it...it does!  Besides, nothing's worse than paying an entry fee, driving all night to get to a race and then having something that doesn't work properly or something that breaks.  Worse yet, having a catastrophic failure of a component (like your brakes, chain, or handle bars) while jockeying for position in a peloton isn't cool...get the picture? 

 * Each Ride:  (Note-These procedures are necessary to ensure your personal safety. Failure to perform these checks could result in serious injury.)  I borrowed an acronym from the League of American Bicyclists and added a slight variation to help you with your daily safety check...don't overlook it, it's important! 

ABC Wheel Quick!

A = Air:  Ensure proper tire inflation and check for tire wear.

B = Brakes and Bars:  Check proper brake function (proper cable tension and pad alignment).  Check           handlebars for cracks which indicate an impending failure.

C = Chain and Cables:  (Check for tight links and fraying cables)

Wheel = Check for trueness and spoke tension/damage

Quick = Quick Releases (Ensure QRs are fully seated...do not close against the fork, seatstay, or chainstay which may prevent full seating of QR)

       
* Monthly:  (Note-These procedures will maximize your performance and minimize future costly repairs.)

--Clean, Lubricate, and inspect drivetrain (cassette, chain [replace every 2000 to 2500 miles...10 speed sooner], chainrings, and derailleurs)

--Check wheel bearing adjustment (while wheel is on bike, try to move wheel from side to side…if you feel play, adjustment is necessary)

--Check headset and bottom bracket adjustment (Pick up front of bike and steer the handlebars from side to side…movement should be smooth and easy…adjust if tight or “indexed.”  Then with the front wheel on the ground, move bike forward and backward while you squeeze the front brake lever…if you feel play in the headset, it needs adjustment.  For bottom bracket, try to move crankarms from side to side…if you feel play or “creaking” noises when you ride, bottom bracket adjustment cup or fixed cup may be loose…also check crankarm bolts for proper tightness.)  Another source of loud creaking when you stand is sometimes the front skewer…lube and check tightness.

--Check for loose nuts and bolts (headset, seatpost, waterbottle cages, handlebar, crankarm, chainring, stem bolts, pedals, any mounting screws)

--Clean frame and working components and check for wear and breakage

--Lubricate brake, shifter, and pedal pivot points

--Inspect tires for wear and replace if necessary (don’t forget to check rim tape to insure all spoke holes are completely covered and tape is not deteriorating)

--Inspect shoe cleats for wear (tighten or replace if necessary)

 * Quarterly:

--Thorough check of brake function (inspect pad wear, pad alignment, cable tension)

--Clean and wax frame, inspect for damage/hairline cracks on frame, hubs, and rims

--check tool kit (insure you have the needed tools to make minor repairs on the road...insure spare tube and patch kit are in good working order and not dry rotted or that the glue has dried up)

--Thoroughly clean drivetrain

 * Semi-Annually:

--Take out Seatpost and Quill Stem…clean and lube (Do not lube carbon fiber seatpost or seat tube)

--Inspect handlebar tape and replace if necessary

 * Annually:

--All the above and overhaul Bottom Bracket, Wheel Bearings, Headset, and pedals.  Check derailleur hanger alignment.  Replace worn or corroded cables and cable housing.  (Overhaul means to completely disassemble, clean, lube and adjust for proper function.  If this is beyond your expertise, you should have it done professionally.  Everything on your bike that has threads should be lubed with grease at least annually.)

--Don’t forget to lube your frame and floor pump!  You may need them.

One of the first steps to being a winner is attitude. A well maintained bike bolsters confidence and enhances a positive attitude!