Keeping a car at university is really expensive and usually unnecessary, so for some people your bike is your lifeline for getting you to and from lectures, the supermarket and anywhere else you might need to go. Here’s a handy list of the checks to make each day, week, month and year to keep your bike in good working order and keep you on the road!
The most important daily check to make on your bike is looking for punctures as they’re the most common problem for bike owners and even a slightly under-inflated tyre will slow you down. Before taking your bike out make sure you give your tyres the once over, even if you’re running late for your lectures. You might be late now but you’ll be much later if you get a flat tyre on the way! Also make sure to check your brakes, lights, handlebars, saddle and seat are in good order and tightly secured. If anything needs tightening up use a torque wrench to secure it, you can find one at SGS Engineering. If you have quick wheel releases check that they’re in the closed position – you don’t want your wheel to pop out when you get on your bike.
If you don’t fancy repairing a puncture on your journey, carry a spare inner tube, some tyre levers and a pump so you can change the tube and then fix the puncture when you get home, or take it to a bike shop when you get a chance. If you want to repair it yourself it’s pretty easy. Puncture repair kits will come with instructions and there’s also a useful guide here.
If you’re looking after your bike each day your weekly maintenance will be a breeze. Just a few simple checks will keep your bike in good repair. See if your light batteries need replacing, especially if you often ride at night. You should also check if your tyres need more air – a bit of deflation might slip past your daily checks but it will be slowing you down in the long run. Use a pump to make sure they’re fully inflated. It’s also really important to check that your brakes are squeezing the rim of the wheel rather than your tyres, as that would damage them. Finally give your wheels a really good wipe down – keeping your bike clean will keep it in good working order and keep you riding it for longer.
Most importantly give your chain a really good clean and lubricate it with chain oil. It might be tempting to use whatever vegetable oil you have in your cupboard but proper chain oil really is the best way to go – vegetable oil will attract dirt, which is really bad for the chain. Be careful not to get any oil on wheel rims or brake pads. If you do, just clean it off with some lubricant spray and a rag. Finally, check the tread on your tyres – any bulges or bald spots means that you need new ones.
It’s worth taking your bike to an experienced mechanic once a year for a thorough service. All good bike shops will have a mechanic who can answer any questions you might have. Most universities also have a bike doctor service on campus or at their student union. These are usually low cost and can help you deal with any problems to keep you riding smoothly.