Many people learn to ride a bicycle from a very young age. As we get older there are many reason why we choose to ride one. Some reasons why people buy a bike could be:
An easier, eco-friendly way to get to work
To keep fit
Adventure riding with the family/in groups
Whatever the reasons are for purchasing a bike, the aim is to get for long term pleasure and performance out of them. It is important for bike owners to learn about basic bike maintenance and keeping bikes in good condition.
Sports bikes are generally made to order and they require the athlete to be measured and a bike is then designed and built for them. Nowadays it is becoming popular to customise a bike. There are many OEM markets on the internet that sell bike parts which allows you to modify any part of a bicycle.
Your bike is classed as a road vehicle. Whether or not to you choose to custom build your bike, care and maintenance is required so road accidents and injuries can be prevented. Your bike will go through a lot of stresses and is exposured to many elements every time you ride. It is just as important to think about cleaning your bike off when you have finished your ride.
It is worth considering to have your bike checked by a qualified technician on a yearly basis or you could consider learning how to do basic bike maintenance yourself. If you are unsure about modifying bikes or if you don’t have the right tools, seek advice from a bike technician before you begin and always read the manufacturers manual.
How To Maintain Your Bicycle
Get into the habit of checking over your bike the day before you go out riding. This will help ensure the bike is in a safe and roadworthy condition and it takes a few minutes to do. It’ll save you time and won’t ruin your planned day out. Regular servicing and maintenance will help keep the bike in good working order and it’ll be a much more pleasant and comfortable ride.
The easiest way of remembering the full maintenance rule is to first stand back to see your entire bike. This is so you can see the letter “M” along the bikes frame work. You can make out the letter by starting at the front wheel, go up to the handlebars, then down to the pedals, back up to the saddle and then on to the rear wheel.
Every part on the “M” letter needs to be checked. We have outlined below the checks to make. Ideally, it is worth creating some sort of check list for yourself to refer to. You make the same checks for many types of road vehicle including motorbikes and scooters.
The Front Wheel
Here is the maintenance checklist for the front wheel which can be applied to the rear wheel. It may be helpful to ask someone for assistance.
Lift the front of your bike up and spin the wheel. Make sure the wheel turns straight (not wobbly) Make sure the wheel nut is securely fastened with your hands, you can feel how tight they are.
(These checks can also be done for the rear wheel)
Look for any damage to the metal wheel rim and are the spokes straight?
Look and feel the tyre tread for any wear, tear and bulges. It’s important to check the side walls of the tyre too. Pump them up to the right pressure if needed.
Check the tyre pressure, it should be inflated to the tyre manufacturers recommended pressure? (Tyre information is printed on the tyre wall)
Hold the brake on and try and rock the bike forward. If you can move the bike, you will need to check the brake system.
Inspect the brake pads, brake pads wear down over time, especially due to heavy braking. If they are worn, they will need replacing.
Are the handlebars are inline at 90 degrees to the front wheel? If they are not lined up straight, hold the wheel and push/pull the handlebars until they are in the right position.
Is the handlebar and shaft fully secure and has no moving parts? just make sure that the handlebar stem isn’t raised above the height limit marker.
As you have already checked the braking pads, now you need to check the headset for any parts that may need tightening.
Check your front lights, make sure they are clean and damage free .
Frame, Gears & Pedals
The frame supports a lot of weight so it should be solid, no warps and free from cracks or rust.
If you mount any bags, bottle holders mobile device supports, make sure they are securely fastened.
Inspect the gear set, make sure the gear have sharp teeth and not become rounded and clink up with the chain easily with no skips.
Turn the pedals to see if they move well and the chain is not too tight or too loose, just flexible when touched and make sure it’s clean. The main factors that affect chain wear are it’s cleanliness and lubrication. You can use chain lube (not WD-40) to prevent grease and and grit build up.
Set your seat at the correct height. To do this, sit on your bike and straddle your legs with one foot on the pedal. Your leg should have full extension on the pedal and the furthest elongation?. There shouldn’t be a need to over-stretch your legs that it strains the hip joint. Your knees should also bend up well. You should find the action of riding a bike comfortable.
The saddle post should be below the height limit mark. and be secure, no wobbles or rattles or moving parts.
Lean forwards and grab the handlebars, as you reach for the bars, it should also be comfortable. Over-stretching to reach the brake levers can cause back problems. Be mindfiul of your body posture.
The Rear Wheels
The checks that you did for the front wheel can be repeated for the rear wheel. Taking the rear wheel off is a little bit more tricky than the front as you will have to mess with the framework and chain.
After replacing any components of the rear wheel, just double check the rear wheel. Make sure it is straight and inline with the front wheel and check the chain is sitting on the gear set nicely. Lift the rear end and spin the wheel, make sure it doesn’t wobble and listen for any unusual noises. Test the rear brake to make sure it functions well.
After using your sense on the “M” rule check up, have a short test ride and run through your gears and testing the braking system. Be aware that if you do make any changes, you want to avoid cross threading any security components such as nuts, bolts and screws.
Customising Your Bicycle
As you have read, faults can be found and fixed in an instant. You can question whether each part should or should not move. Use your senses – hearing, touch, sight to check parts that need tightened, adjusted, lubricated, pumped and light up. It’s best to be safe than sorry.
Bike customisations are cool! Nowadays you can adjust any part of the bike. Customisations are first done by capturing your body measurements, current bike measurements and riding style.
A growing trend in bike conversion mimic the style of motorbike cruisers such as low riders, choppers and beach cruiser bikes with ape handlebars. Bike customisations include:
handle bar grips
tyres size, thickness and tubing
fender size (if any)
There are some bicycle fabrication centres in the UK where you can go and learn bike geometry and bike building,. If you don’t have the time or confidence to make your own bike, there are many custom bicycle manufacturers who can build one for you.
Custom Build The Frame
If you decide to custom build a bike, start with the framework first. Most bike builders work using geometry – motorbike builders use this math too. This helps with the look and stability of the bike. Frames can vary in length and this can determine the positioning of the wheel hubs, crank, seating position and placement of the handlebars.
When changing the the length of the frame, it is worth considering the bikes appearance. Should one part of tubing be altered in any way, other parts of the frame work will also have to be factored in. For example, if the top tube is stretched, you will have to consider the size of the down tube, seat tube, top and chain stay and the front forks.
Bike frame fittings such as the suspension, shocks and bicycle stickers are also part of bicycle customisations.
Customising The Bike Saddle
There are many other kinds of bike saddles on the market. Bike saddles can alter in material and width, this helps to make your ride a little bit more supportive. There are gel packed, memory foam, cushion all built either hollow or flat. Saddles can be made to lessen bum fatigue, so they have an ergonomic design to them too. Short power saddles are made to keep you in one position and longer ones allow you to have a wide range of hip movement, radius will give you more support in the upright position.
Customising The Handle Bars
There are many types of handle bars, they designed for specific use of the bike but if you use your bike just as a means to get around, it is possible to change the look of your bicycles handle bars.
Handle bar customisations can be fabricated to many different shapes or be adapted to peoples ability. Handle bars can be shaped into:
- Drag bars
- Z bars
- Ape bars
- Touring bars
- Drop handlebars ..and so on
The brake levers may change position if the handle is designed in a specific way such as the touring handle bar.
Pedal And Wheel Customisations
The crank and gearing set must be considered if the bikes frame has been altered in any way. As mentioned above; changing the frame will mean changing the handling and seating. Thus if the crank and pedals position change, the appearance of the bike will change along with body positioning. Positioning the crank towars the handle bars will give make a cruiser look whereby the rider body posture would be the same as if they are riding a car. Placing the crank towards the seat and the rider will become more “upright”. Changing the location of the pedals, seating and body potition will mean an increase or decrease of pedal power.
The type of tyre can determine agility and velocity of the bike, knobbly tyres are better for offroad mountain riding whilst racer type of tyres are designed, not only for street racing but also to funnel the water away from the bike.
It is possible to change the material of the wheel, design and number of wheel spokes. The number of spokes will determine the stress on the tyre and rim. Whilst the usual number of wheel spokes is 16, the more spokes on the bike will mean better stress bearing capacity. The downside is that this will increase the weight of the wheel and cost of material. Onec your bike has been custom built, it’s owrth considering the amount of spokes to fit to perform well.