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Old 10-08-13, 03:46 PM   #1
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Commuter regular maintenance

I commute about 100 miles / 160 km a week on average. I'm generally on side roads and dedicated bike routes in rainy Vancouver. Just wondering what I should be doing for regular at-home maintenance on my bike, and things that I should look out for. I've been told I should probably clean and lube my chain every week or two, and could probably clean the frame on roughly that same schedule.
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Old 10-08-13, 05:04 PM   #2
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The most important part on the bike is the chain. I clean mine about once a month or whenever it looks like it needs it. I keep the frame grungy looking to deter theft. I'll change the brake pads or pump up the tires when necessary. Everything else I attend to if it needs it. A quick look every once in a while is about all I do.
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Old 10-08-13, 05:38 PM   #3
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I have had similar questions since I started commuting 100+ miles per week, and still trying to get better answers.

Everyone talks about lubing your chain, though I hear everything from ever few rides to every few weeks - so would like more clarity on that. Same for cleaning the chain. I have been told to wipe it down when you lube but also to do a deeper cleaning less frequently - again I hear everything from every few weeks to couple months. Would love to hear some more educated opinions on this.

I check brakes, etc regularly, but have only had to adjust a couple times.

Since I have skinny slick tires I put air in them pretty much every day I ride to keep them inflated properly and avoid pinch flats - they seem to loose PSI pretty quickly.

How often do people bring their bike in to their LBS for a tuneup/inspection?
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Old 10-08-13, 05:43 PM   #4
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I take it to the LBS when it needs it, I often go 2000+ between trips. Daily I charge the headlight and check the tires, and I usually air them up twice a week. I lube the chain every couple of days. I mainly just ride. Oh yea, I rarely wash it but I wipe off some of it ever time I lube the chain.
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Originally Posted by mstraus View Post
I have had similar questions since I started commuting 100+ miles per week, and still trying to get better answers.

Everyone talks about lubing your chain, though I hear everything from ever few rides to every few weeks - so would like more clarity on that. Same for cleaning the chain. I have been told to wipe it down when you lube but also to do a deeper cleaning less frequently - again I hear everything from every few weeks to couple months. Would love to hear some more educated opinions on this.

I check brakes, etc regularly, but have only had to adjust a couple times.

Since I have skinny slick tires I put air in them pretty much every day I ride to keep them inflated properly and avoid pinch flats - they seem to loose PSI pretty quickly.

How often do people bring their bike in to their LBS for a tuneup/inspection?
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Old 10-08-13, 06:21 PM   #5
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once every two months I take my wheels to the lbs for a truing (free of charge, less I'd do it myself probably more often)
i have wheel sets with 20k+ that have never been trued. disc wheels, in particular, should only need truing unless you wack the rim or damage a spoke.
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Old 10-08-13, 06:24 PM   #6
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The most important part on the bike is the chain. I clean mine about once a month or whenever it looks like it needs it. I keep the frame grungy looking to deter theft. I'll change the brake pads or pump up the tires when necessary. Everything else I attend to if it needs it. A quick look every once in a while is about all I do.
the most important parts of my bike are the fork, front wheel, stem and the headset. the chain is a cheap disposable item that is easily repairable on the fly with a multi-tool and a missing link.
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Old 10-08-13, 07:04 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mstraus View Post
Everyone talks about lubing your chain, though I hear everything from ever few rides to every few weeks - so would like more clarity on that. Same for cleaning the chain. I have been told to wipe it down when you lube but also to do a deeper cleaning less frequently - again I hear everything from every few weeks to couple months. Would love to hear some more educated opinions on this.
The trouble is that a lot of the answer you're looking for is "It depends". It depends on the lube you use. It depends on your conditions. It depends on how many bikes you have in rotation. And it depends on how anal you are.

In general, I recommend a good, persistent chain lube like DuMonde Tech, Chain-L #5 , or NFS. The thinner clean-running lubes like the traditional Tri-Flow or ProLink just don't last, IME.

If I was using only one bike, it would work out that I'd wipe the chain down a couple of times a week, and lube it as required depending on rain and so on. Could be once a month, or once a week or more. It's just something you get a feel for after awhile.

I've also found my chains last much, much longer WITHOUT any "deep cleaning".

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How often do people bring their bike in to their LBS for a tuneup/inspection?
I don't. I do maintenance myself. It means that I don't put off little things until they become big things. And it means I don't have downtime. I can do a quick fix after supper instead of spending time on BFN.

I do the "big" maintenance every spring. New cables and housing, new brake pads, new chain.

As the year goes by, two of my bikes eat right shift cables at intervals of about 2K miles, so at the first sign of wonky shifting, they get new cable inner wires.

I used to keep track of chain wear, but now with three bikes in rotation, I pretty much get a year on every one.

Brake pads on the disc brake bike aren't worn out after a year, but I replace them anyway. On the rim brake bikes, I listen as I brake, especially after a wet ride. When I hear grit caught in the pads, I dig out the grit with a little pick I made, and freshen the pads with sandpaper. If it's time for new ones, I replace them.

I keep spare parts in stock, at home, on the shelf. I buy 10 meter rolls of cable housing (about $20), bulk cables (about $3 each), brake pads (about $5/set for KoolStop Salmons, about $15/set for the disc pads), chains ($22 for 10-speed, $11 for 8-speed).

I'm getting my tire stock down to two types, 28mm Conti 4-Seasons for the commuters, and 25mm Conti 4000S for the roadie. I can use the same tube in each. I buy tubes in 10-packs every few years, patching in between. They get three-strikes before being tossed.

When it's time for a new cassette, one comes off the shelf and I buy a replacement to put back on the shelf. I've had to replace middle rings, so I have spares of those too.

When I started out doing my own maintenance, basically, whenever I needed parts, I bought two, one for the job and one for the shelf. Then I replaced the one on the shelf when it was used. Now with multiple bikes, I buy in multiples. For example, ten meter rolls of cable housing would last a long time if I had only one bike.

Last edited by tsl; 10-08-13 at 07:10 PM.
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Old 10-08-13, 07:15 PM   #8
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^ +1 As usual tsl nails it.
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Old 10-08-13, 07:50 PM   #9
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And it depends on how anal you are.
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Old 10-08-13, 10:17 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by tsl View Post
The trouble is that a lot of the answer you're looking for is "It depends". It depends on the lube you use. It depends on your conditions. It depends on how many bikes you have in rotation. And it depends on how anal you are.

In general, I recommend a good, persistent chain lube like DuMonde Tech, Chain-L #5 , or NFS. The thinner clean-running lubes like the traditional Tri-Flow or ProLink just don't last, IME.

If I was using only one bike, it would work out that I'd wipe the chain down a couple of times a week, and lube it as required depending on rain and so on. Could be once a month, or once a week or more. It's just something you get a feel for after awhile.

I've also found my chains last much, much longer WITHOUT any "deep cleaning".



I don't. I do maintenance myself. It means that I don't put off little things until they become big things. And it means I don't have downtime. I can do a quick fix after supper instead of spending time on BFN.

I do the "big" maintenance every spring. New cables and housing, new brake pads, new chain.

As the year goes by, two of my bikes eat right shift cables at intervals of about 2K miles, so at the first sign of wonky shifting, they get new cable inner wires.

I used to keep track of chain wear, but now with three bikes in rotation, I pretty much get a year on every one.

Brake pads on the disc brake bike aren't worn out after a year, but I replace them anyway. On the rim brake bikes, I listen as I brake, especially after a wet ride. When I hear grit caught in the pads, I dig out the grit with a little pick I made, and freshen the pads with sandpaper. If it's time for new ones, I replace them.

I keep spare parts in stock, at home, on the shelf. I buy 10 meter rolls of cable housing (about $20), bulk cables (about $3 each), brake pads (about $5/set for KoolStop Salmons, about $15/set for the disc pads), chains ($22 for 10-speed, $11 for 8-speed).

I'm getting my tire stock down to two types, 28mm Conti 4-Seasons for the commuters, and 25mm Conti 4000S for the roadie. I can use the same tube in each. I buy tubes in 10-packs every few years, patching in between. They get three-strikes before being tossed.

When it's time for a new cassette, one comes off the shelf and I buy a replacement to put back on the shelf. I've had to replace middle rings, so I have spares of those too.

When I started out doing my own maintenance, basically, whenever I needed parts, I bought two, one for the job and one for the shelf. Then I replaced the one on the shelf when it was used. Now with multiple bikes, I buy in multiples. For example, ten meter rolls of cable housing would last a long time if I had only one bike.
good advice!

some comments: when i did the simple green coke bottle thing i got 1.8-2K at best on 10 speed chains. now that i just wipe them down and relube i get about 1.5-1.7k. it's simply not worth my time to deep clean chains. i've also learned the hard way that replacing cassettes is important for clean rd shifts. i now typically replace the cassette after two chains. i've also found that i can often get more life out my cables by detaching, cleaning, lubing guides, and re-tightening.
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Old 10-08-13, 11:28 PM   #11
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Lube chain and air up your tires. I usually air up my tires daily. If you ride every day I would not wait a week to check them. I loose 20 psi in a few days on my high pressure tires
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Old 10-09-13, 07:42 AM   #12
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I change the oïl and filter every 5000 kms or 6 months. Wait.... wrong forum, sorry.
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Old 10-09-13, 05:20 PM   #13
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Clean it when it's dirty, lube the chain if it's feeling rough (put on lube, run chain through a rag), and replace brake pads when the nubby bits have worn down.

1600 miles so far, replaced the brake pads once. I'm starting to think that I need a new chain. It's been skipping a bit more lately, especially when shifting under power.
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Old 10-09-13, 06:33 PM   #14
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Here is Sheldon Brown's take on chain maintenance. http://sheldonbrown.com/chains.html
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Old 10-10-13, 12:53 PM   #15
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I agree with pretty much all of the above, or at least have no reason to question or contradict. I have multiple bikes I commute on (all vintage, BTW), one of which I reserve for grungy weather. That way I can reserve my maintenance for weekends, when I have time to take my time and enjoy the activity rather than feeling any pressure. And of course I perform routine maintenance on a proactive basis. If I'm in the middle of a job and need a part or decide to make an upgrade, I can leave the job unfinished while I source the parts, since I always have multiple bikes available.
At least that's my usual modus operandi. Here during my 6 month stint in Switzerland, I only have one bike, but neither am I very dependent on it, since the distance into town is only around 1 km. At any rate, so far I have not been deprived of riding my bike due to mechanical issues.
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