Once you get your bike home, you can keep it in like-new condition by following a regular maintenance program. Along with regular tune-ups, follow these tips to keep your ride running smoothly. Your owner’s manual may also provide maintenance tips specific to your model.
Tires: Keep your tires inflated to the recommended psi found on the side of the bike tire. Use a pressure gauge to test the air pressure regularly, or perform a simple curb test to check the pressure by pressing the tires up against the edge of a curb. If the tire presses flat up against the curb, it’s time to add air. Riding on underinflated tires increases the risk of flats and makes the bike more difficult to ride.
Chain: Oil your chain to keep it from getting rusty and prevent it from braking or slipping. Rusty chains should be replaced.
Brakes: Your brakes are one of the most important parts of your cruiser, for obvious reasons. Test them before each ride by applying pressure to the brakes while pushing the bike forward. If the wheels move on dry pavement, your brakes may need a tune up.
Wheel alignment: Over time, your wheels may become loose. Test your wheels by spinning them and looking for any wobble. If your wheels wobble, they may need to be trued.
Loose parts: Check your cruiser periodically for loose parts, including handlebars and seat post. Tighten loose parts as necessary for a safer ride.
Cleaning Your Bike
Depending on where and how you ride, your bike will inevitably pick up dirt and debris with use. Dirt and debris can cause your bike to deteriorate faster. Keeping all the moving parts free of dirt and debris can help you keep your cruiser in good condition and prolong its life.
- How to Clean Your Bike
It’s important to remember that water, especially high-pressure water from a hose, can damage delicate components of your cruiser and lead to rust if the parts are not properly dried after washing. For day-to-day cleanings, a dry or damp rag is often all you need to get dirt and debris out of moving parts. Less frequent cleanings may include wet-washing the frame, brushing, buffing and relubrication.
- When to Clean Your Bike
How frequently you clean your bike depends on how often you ride it and where you ride it. Sunday afternoon cruises into town on dry pavement will require less frequent cleaning than daily rides off the beaten path. In most cases, you don’t need to clean your cruiser after each ride, but you should decide on a regular cleaning schedule – once or twice monthly – and stick to it to avoid grime build up affecting your bike’s operation.
- Recommended Cleaning Supplies
Keep these supplies on hand for your regular cleanings:
- Clean rags
- Soap – You can buy bike washing solution or use a mild soap, such as diluted dishwashing liquid.
- Brushes – Keep a variety of sizes on hand for getting dirt out of hard-to-reach places. Old toothbrushes do the trick for small spaces.
- Solvent – Choose a mild, environmentally friendly solvent for cleaning oily parts, such as your bike chain. Avoid turpentine and kerosene and dispose of used solvent appropriately.
Tightening Loose Parts
Your bike is composed of many parts held together with nuts and bolts. Over time, these nuts and bolts can wear down or become loose, posing a safety hazard for you and leading to undue wear and tear on your bike. Inspect your cruiser regularly, looking for any loose or wobbly parts, and listen for sounds, such as rattles or squeaks, that may indicate loose parts.
Perform a quick inspection before each ride, using a multi-tool to tighten any loose parts before they can cause a problem. Remember that over-tightening nuts and bolts can be problematic as well. If you are unsure of how tight your bike’s parts should be, ask a tech to show you how to properly tighten loose parts.
- When to Get a Tune Up
Just like you take yourself to the doctor each year to ensure your good health, your cruiser needs regular visits to an expert technician to keep it in good condition. How often you bring your bike in for a check up will depend on how often you ride and in what conditions. We recommend regular riders bring their cruisers in for expert maintenance twice a year.
- The Importance of Expert Technicians
As you get to know your bike and learn more about bike maintenance and repair, you’ll be able to spot and solve some everyday problems, such as loose nuts and bolts. However, there is no substitute for tune-ups and regular bike maintenance performed by an expert technician. Keeping a few standard bike tools on hand is a good idea for fixing everyday problems.
- Keeping Your Bike Lubricated
Proper lubrication is key to your cruiser’s performance. Lubrication prevents wear and tear caused by the friction between moving parts, keeps parts from “freezing,” and keeps rust and corrosion at bay. However, be careful not to over-lubricate, which can be just as harmful to your ride. Always wipe away excess lubricant before riding your bike.
- Types of Lubricants
The two main types of lubricants are greases and oils. Greases are mainly used for lubricating large-thread bolts and bearing systems, and oils are generally used to lubricate fine-thread bolts, chains and moving parts in brake and derailleur systems. Keep in mind your climate and riding conditions when choosing a lubricant; if you often ride in rainy weather, you’ll need a thicker, more durable oil than if you ride in dry dusty areas, which call for a thinner oil that won’t attract as much dirt. In addition, riding in wet conditions will require more frequent lubrication.
- Parts That Need Lubricating
Chain: Lubricate your chain frequently to prevent wear, and especially after rides in the rain to prevent rust. Spot-lube your chain whenever it appears dry and completely remove the chain to clean and re-oil it every once in a while, depending on how often and where you ride.
Brake and derailleur levers: Use a drop or two on the lever pivots and barrel adjusters every so often to maintain proper braking and shifting functioning.
Brake and derailleur cables: Check your cables frequently and lubricate when necessary. If you often ride in wet conditions, you will have to lubricate these parts more frequently.
Brake and derailleur assemblies: These contain various moving parts including arms, wheels and pulleys. Check them often and lubricate the pivot points when they appear dry.