for a safe and efficient vehicle
A basic knowledge about how to repair and take care of your bike is very useful for the purpose of your safety and to help you in working out any trouble that might occur during your trips.
The maintenance of your bike, the cleaning of its mechanical parts, checking and cleaning its frame, brakes and derailleur gear are useful not only to make your bicycle clean but more importantly safe and functioning.
A person really fond of cycling should be able to repair almost any piece of his/her bike: he/she should know how to change the brakes cable, the derailleur gear cable, to adjust gears, to change the chain etc.
In any regard, a bicycle is a delicate machine and some repairs may make the situation worse than before if we aren’t skilled. Therefore we advise you to acquire the minimal skills so as to work the most common troubles out and to understand by preventive maintenance when it’s time to take your bike to the mechanic’s.
A good preventive maintenance starts from the cleaning of your bike, that helps not only to make your bicycle cleaner but also to assure more efficiency of the pedal rotations and the derailleur gear in particular.
Naphtha and brush: cleaning a bike starts from removing dust and dirt from the mechanical parts; a brush and a can of naphtha are enough for a very good cleaning of the mechanical parts of your bike.
Firstly pass the brush soaked in naphtha through the chain so as to remove dirt and sludge . Turn the pedals so that naphtha can pass all over the chain and inside the links, then clean the other parts like brakes and pedals, but have a special care of the derailleur gears.
Sponge and soap: after using naphtha, you have to remove dirt and grease. If you’ve got it, you should use a garden hose to wash your bike quickly, otherwise use sponge and soap immediately! Don’t be afraid of making use of water and soap ( car shampoo will fit, too), because there’s no chance of damaging the frame or the mechanical parts of your bike.
Now it’s time to lubricate your bike and go! Once your bike’s dry, the last but not least step is the lubrication of the chain: at this time you’re really ready to go and ride your bike, shiny, in-perfect-working-condition!
Once your bicycle is clean it’s worthwhile to perform an inspection so as to detect incipient failures. It will allow you to prevent disagreeable troubles and will make your trips safer.
While stopping the front wheel of your bike between your legs, see that the handlebar is perfectly symmetrical with respect to both the frame and the wheel and make sure that there’s no rotational movement. If the stopped handlebar moves, the bolts linking to the frame must be screwed tighter.
See that they are well tightened so to have good braking, because brakes are of primary importance for your safety. Operate the levers of the brakes and try to push your bike: it should stop immediately, before the levers touch the handlebars.
Lift the rear wheel up, turn the pedals and try to shift the various gears which should work without tension or strange noises. In case of failure, try to lubricate the mechanical parts of the derailleurs; otherwise, take your bike to the mechanic’s.
In racing bikes tyres are generally very thin, so the risk of a puncture is high. Anyhow a special care of tyres will help you to have a remarkable reduction of this risk.
Turn both the front and the rear wheel of the bike and see that there aren’t any bulges, scratches or small cuts. In this case change the tyre to prevent a very likely puncture. Any way take a spare tube and all tools necessary for repairing a puncture with you.
Wheels: how to change the inner tubes
It’s a very simple operation: first remove the tyre by the special keys, then take the inner tube out and mount the new one starting from the valve.
You should inspect the tyre before mounting the new inner tube so as to carry possible nails, pins or any cause of punctures away. Before closing the tyre, inflate the inner tube slightly in order to avoid “pinches” while closing.
At the beginning it will seem to be very soft, so you can simply use only your hands, but it will be more and more difficult going on without the specific keys. In this last step be very careful to avoid pinches when you use the key, otherwise you’re going to have a flat tyre again even without riding your bicycle at all.