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-   -   Proper commuter bike maintenance (http://www.bikeforums.net/commuting/99814-proper-commuter-bike-maintenance.html)

pj7 04-15-05 09:45 AM

I'm trying to figure out just how much maintenance is needed on my commuter bike. Dependant upon whom I speak to or what I read I gets lots of conflicting information so I thought I'd pose this to those of you interested enough to comment. My main concerns are cleaning of the drivetrain and lubrication but I'm sure there are other things that have not yet come to mind.
In the morning I inspect tire pressure and check that my brakes are working properly, before I leave work I do the same, but when I get home I put the bike in the shed and forget about it until the next morning.
I tried finding information online about lubrication but nothing is really specific to commuters. I ask at my LBS but the problem there is that the guys are Mountain Bikers and, according to them, baby their bikes too much. Two differant people there have two differant ideas of how much lubrication and cleaning is required. One guy cleans his after every rid, thoroughly, and relubes. the other guy does his only on the weekends and intermittently if needed.... but these guys are riding in the mud, water, and gibs.

What do the rest of you do to maintain your drivetrain properly? I was thinking about just cleaning her up once a week, on the weekends, but I have seen all these "apply daily" oils, lubes, and water deterrants and feel lost here when trying to get into some kind of rythm about taking care of my commuter.

[edit]
Another question is "how?". If you clean the gears what do you use? A brush or compressed air or, or what? How much oil do you apply and wot-not? Thanks

theden 04-15-05 10:04 AM

I don't do much.

I check the tire pressures at the beginning of the week and top them off. I clean and lube the chain maybe once a month (probably less), whenever I start to hear it straining or squeaking. I have replaced the chain once around 4,500 miles (6,000 miles on bike currently), and have replaced two rear spokes. Oh yeah, and a new set of tires about 1,000 miles ago. Other than that it has been perfect. I haven't even had to touch the shifters or the brakes!

I think a lot of the necessary maintanence depends on how far you ride, if your bike is kept outside, and how often it rains. Also if you have fenders, you probably won't have to clean the chain quite as often...

kf5nd 04-15-05 10:07 AM

What I do, and it's a very short list:

Before each commute:
Spin the wheels, watch & feel the tires, try to find things poking into the tires
Check for wheel hub, crank, headset play
Inflate to the desired pressure
Charge battery for lights
Refill water bottle

As needed:
If chain has been sounding crunchy, I apply chain lube
Brake and derailleur adjustments
True wheels as needed

Every few months:
Clean chain. Before I do that, I use a Park chain measuring tool it see if it's worn out.
Check wheel bearings for play or rough, gritty action: service if needed
Tighten cranks

Wash bike immediately if ridden in the rain

That's about it... boring and simple, huh?

marcusbandito 04-15-05 10:15 AM

I spend about 5 minutes on the bike going over everything when I get home. I always have something to fiddle with or adjust from the days ride. That way I know she's good for the morning. I put a light coating of lube on the chain every night and wipe the excess off in the morning before I ride. I clean the chain on Sunday nights. About every 2 weeks I throw the wheels in a truing stand and give then a tweak. The roads here suck!
I commute 35 round trip a day plus any social riding. Maybe its overkill, but there it is.

Sawtooth 04-15-05 10:23 AM

Although I admit that I love to work on my bikes, I highly recommend a wax based lubricant for the commuter machine, not because it is better lube (although it is great), but because it is cleaner and tends not to ruin your pants like oil does. I highly recommend white lightning. I only apply it every month or so after the initial cleaning and lube.

In terms of other maintanance, fuss a bit with shifting only because I am anal about it and cannot stand imperfection in shifting. Brakes, once installed properly, are almost a no brainer unless you take the wheel off or are wearing down the pads.

Overall, I find that a well put-together bike needs very little maintanence to get the job done safely, but some maintanance makes riding much more enjoyable.

Oh and it probably goes without saying that those who leave their bikes in the rain have poorly-performing machines in no time at all. That is not to say that you cannot ride in the rain, but rust is sneaky stuff and tends to jam cables quickly.

MichaelW 04-15-05 10:46 AM

Lube the chain about once a week, more if it rains.
Pump the tyres up every few weeks.
The friction d/t gearings needs very little maintenace, a drop of oil once/month.
Rinse the bike if it starts to get too dirty, every few weeks.
2-monthly, swap the chain for one that has been sitting in solvent.
6-monthly, repack wheel bearings
Annual service and clean/wax

Map tester 04-15-05 10:49 AM

As far a chain cleaning and lubing, for me it depends on the the recent weather. I have found that wet streets tend to put a lot more grit and grime on the bike and chain. I bought an industrial chain lube at Home Depot, and use it to chean and lube my chain. The time frame could be anywhere from one week to a month, but I try to check the condition of the chain at least once a week.

bigskymacadam 04-15-05 10:52 AM

wiping down the frame, spending a couple minutes wiping the chain, another few minutes wiping the chainring and cogs after every ride ... this has become very relaxing after a long days work ... almost therapeutic in a sense.

in short, i clean daily for calming zen effects rather than bike maintenance :)

Sloth 04-15-05 11:04 AM

Daily
- Check tire inflation
- Check for headset/bottom bracket/hub play
- Check that quick releases are on right
- Check brake pads
- Check panniers for solid fit
(This takes about 30 seconds)

Weekly
- Remove, clean and lube chain (I usually just pop this off on Friday, soak until Sunday morning, let drip dry, then lube.)
- Scrub cassette, maybe remove and do so
- Check that wheels are true, fix if needed
- Clean miscellaneous dirt
- Run derailleurs to limits and adjust if needed

As needed
- Rebuild wheel hubs
- Replace chain/cassette/tires/brake pads
- Replace bar tape, etc.

gmacrider 04-15-05 11:05 AM

I bike 30K round trip 5 days a week all weather conditions.

My Sunday Afternoon Routine:
- throw the bike on the bike stand.
- wash with an environmentally friendly de-greaser (OK OK maybe I use Pinesol).
- while washing inspect brakes, spokes, gears, chain, cables, derailleurs, etc.
- tweak as needed.
- lube everything that moves.
- top up the tires.

That's it. If I don't find any problems it takes me less than 30 minutes. No daily routines other than to investigate anything that feels or sounds different. Even with regular weekly maintenance I still have to replace pretty much the entire drive train after each winter or summer season (I have a winter bike and a summer bike).

The best maintenance tip I have is to invest a couple of hundred bucks in a bike stand, if you can afford it.

Daily Commute 04-16-05 06:11 AM

I won't go over the same stuff everyone else has, but I have a few things to add/underline/

A agree with the bike stand advice. It makes maintenance a lot easier. Plus, it doubles as a bike stand.
I'm middle of the road when it comes to chains. I wipe it down and add srip lube several times a week, but I only rarely take it off and clean it. About every six months (2000-2500 miles) I replace it. I got a bunch of them when they were on sale for $12 each, and I don't want to spend too much time cleaning a part that can be replaced for only $12.

I'm also middle of the road when it comes to cleaning the bike itself. I wipe it down every time it gets wet, and a couple times a week. But I only rarely take out any soap and water.

I wipe down the cassette with a rag between the gears as needed.

Keep an eye on the jockey wheels. They're easy to take off, clean and grease, and you should do them every month or two if you ride in dirty or rainy conditions.

I also agree with the person who said to repack the bearings every six months. I waited 16-18 months to do mine and I regreat it. The grease was filfthy, and I was close to messing up my hubs. It does take some time, a few tools (cone wrenches) and a good repair manual (I like the Zinn books).

ft_critical 03-23-06 11:48 PM

I am not sure this is the correct post, because I am talking preventative maintenance. I have Deore shifters and derailleurs. I was constantly having to tweak the index on the rear derailleur and run oil down the lines.

A neighbour had given me an SIS Shimano cable kit when cleaning house, and finally, jacked off with the whole deal I decided to replace the cabling to the derailleur. These are the ones where there is sealed oil/grease in the cable covers. Well, it is the best maintenance reducing, ride improving step I have taken. I have no idea what they cost but it must be peanuts, so I recommend it to all commuters.

I get a smooth shift: water, dirt and time don’t stiffen up the shift.

lelak 03-23-06 11:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sawtooth
That is not to say that you cannot ride in the rain, but rust is sneaky stuff and tends to jam cables quickly.

So which parts of a bike is it critical to dry off after a rainy ride?

Ziemas 03-24-06 12:25 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pj7
I'm trying to figure out just how much maintenance is needed on my commuter bike. Dependant upon whom I speak to or what I read I gets lots of conflicting information so I thought I'd pose this to those of you interested enough to comment. My main concerns are cleaning of the drivetrain and lubrication but I'm sure there are other things that have not yet come to mind.
In the morning I inspect tire pressure and check that my brakes are working properly, before I leave work I do the same, but when I get home I put the bike in the shed and forget about it until the next morning.
I tried finding information online about lubrication but nothing is really specific to commuters. I ask at my LBS but the problem there is that the guys are Mountain Bikers and, according to them, baby their bikes too much. Two differant people there have two differant ideas of how much lubrication and cleaning is required. One guy cleans his after every rid, thoroughly, and relubes. the other guy does his only on the weekends and intermittently if needed.... but these guys are riding in the mud, water, and gibs.

What do the rest of you do to maintain your drivetrain properly? I was thinking about just cleaning her up once a week, on the weekends, but I have seen all these "apply daily" oils, lubes, and water deterrants and feel lost here when trying to get into some kind of rythm about taking care of my commuter.

[edit]
Another question is "how?". If you clean the gears what do you use? A brush or compressed air or, or what? How much oil do you apply and wot-not? Thanks


In what kind of conditions do you ride? Dry and hot, wet and warm, cold and snowy? Weather conditions are the biggest factor in exactly how often you need to clean your drivetrain, re-pack your hubs, and what kind of lube to use, etc.

j3ns 03-24-06 07:18 AM

I cleaned my drivetrain last autumn.
I wipe and lube the chain maybe once a month. I use thin machine oil (little thinner than motor oil for cars) for the drivetrain. I found the bike-specific lubes didn't last very long, I had to lube every week if it was raining.

I cannot recommend such little maintenance, since I donīt know if I'm wearing out drivetrain parts faster than others, but I haven't noticed any change from when I degreased and cleaned my bike weekly. Its been working sofar.

max-a-mill 03-24-06 07:43 AM

you don't have to do as much as most people here suggest. but you certainly can.

i make sure the tires are pumped and oil the chain if it sounds noisy.

once you get used to riding your bike daily you'll notice if something is out of whack. then you go home and fix it.

i do replace chains rather frequently and am getting in the habit of repacking my hubs on a regular basis. you really just gotta keep an eye on your bike. it will tell you if stuff is wrong.

CBBaron 03-24-06 08:07 AM

I run an old touring bike converted to fixed gear. This allows me to get away with minimal maintence. I air the tires once a week and lube the chain every 1-3 weeks with a good lube. I adjust the brakes when theres too much lever movement and replace the pads when they are worn. I will replace the chain every 2000-3000 miles. Because I don't clean the drive train I'm concerned that the chain wears faster. So I compensate by replacing it, a $10 cost. I replace the tires when they look worn or they start getting flats. Cleaning involves spraying off the salt occasionally during the winter when its warm and if I get motivated I will wash the bike down with a degreaser.
If I treated a derailer bike like this, especially in the winter salt, the drive train wouldn't last 2 years but a fixed gear drive train is so simple there really is nothing to go wrong.
Craig

rule 03-24-06 09:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sloth
Daily
- Check tire inflation
- Check for headset/bottom bracket/hub play
- Check that quick releases are on right
- Check brake pads
- Check panniers for solid fit
(This takes about 30 seconds)

Weekly
- Remove, clean and lube chain (I usually just pop this off on Friday, soak until Sunday morning, let drip dry, then lube.)
- Scrub cassette, maybe remove and do so
- Check that wheels are true, fix if needed
- Clean miscellaneous dirt
- Run derailleurs to limits and adjust if needed

As needed
- Rebuild wheel hubs
- Replace chain/cassette/tires/brake pads
- Replace bar tape, etc.


Yep this is what works best for me too. The only other thing that I do each week is to check and tighten the brackets and fittings on my lights. If I don't, they start to vibrate and make too much racket the following week. I also do a quick battery/brightness check.

DataJunkie 03-24-06 09:39 AM

I'm remodeling a bathroom and very busy at work. Thus, much of my maintenance involves the last item.

Daily:
-check brakes
-check wheels
-charge light

Weekly:
-work on whatever is annoying me if I have time. Lube, etc

Monthly:
-take the bike to my LBS if I have an item that bothers me but I do not have time to fix.

In fact, my bike is going in later today for an annoying popping noise from my BB or cranks. I like my LBS. However, I only use them for maintenance. I have never purchased a bike or accessories at this store.

Jarery 03-24-06 09:50 AM

Daily
- make sure it has 2 tires, a chain, and a saddle

Weekly
- clean/lube chain (in other threads you can find ways to do this with as little as 5 min work a week)
- pump up tires

Monthly
-pump new grease into headset

Anything else is just done as needed, or every 4-5 months taking it into lbs for a tune

cyccommute 03-24-06 10:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by max-a-mill
you don't have to do as much as most people here suggest. but you certainly can.

i make sure the tires are pumped and oil the chain if it sounds noisy.

once you get used to riding your bike daily you'll notice if something is out of whack. then you go home and fix it.

i do replace chains rather frequently and am getting in the habit of repacking my hubs on a regular basis. you really just gotta keep an eye on your bike. it will tell you if stuff is wrong.

Yep! To be honest, I can't remember the last time I packed bearings on any of my bikes :o I can't remember the last time I washed any of my bikes :o I have a mountain bike with a Manitou fork from 1998 that I ride all the time - hard - and I've never taken it apart to rebuild it :eek: :o (I don't even think I've ever taken the hubs apart on that one even :o :o )

But I do pay attention to the bike. If it groans or squeaks or chatters, I check to see that it isn't me making the noise first :) and then I track down the problem. I lube the chain when it sqeaks (I use a dry lube which doesn't attract dirt) and fill the tires when they are low. Otherwise, I ride :D

derath 03-24-06 10:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by gmacrider
The best maintenance tip I have is to invest a couple of hundred bucks in a bike stand, if you can afford it.

While I agree, there isn't any reason for someone to need to spend a couple hundred bucks on a stand for home maintenance.

About 14 years ago I bought this nice cheap bike stand from Minoura, called the bike fellow. It was about $50 and folds into a small carrying case for easy transport. (helps when I take it down to my folks to work on their bikes) 14 years later it is still in use. I had a couple places where the rubber wore off, but some electrical tape solved that.

So yes, bike stand is immensly helpful, but you don't need a pro stand to work on it.

-D

Brian Ratliff 03-24-06 11:38 AM

Daily: pump up tire; usually right before riding... like shaving in the morning.

Other: I lube the chain when I hear it squeeking (I use ProLink), and when I have it up on the stand to lube, I take the opportunity to brush the caked dirt off.

As for the bike stand, I made my own with plywood, metal threaded pipe, and a clamp. About $30 all told at Home Depot. Search under "homemade bike stand" to see how to do this (I followed other's instructions). Not recommended if you have very lightweight road or mountain bikes made of carbon fiber or aluminum... but all three of my bikes are steel. You get a much more rugged and heavy (a good thing) bike stand this way, for very cheap.

Eggplant Jeff 03-24-06 12:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pj7
Dependant upon whom I speak to or what I read I gets lots of conflicting information so I thought I'd pose this to those of you interested enough to comment.

Sorry, I just couldn't stop laughing at the thought that you expected this to somehow reduce the amount of conflicting information you had :rolleyes: ;).

Regarding the stand recommendation, the difference between "cheap" and "professional" is worth looking at. Sometimes you can find very good quality tools at inexpensive prices, but sometimes the professional ones are worth the price if you use them much. For example, I bought a floor jack to work on my car with for $50. Later I bought one for $200. The $200 one is larger, faster, easier to use, and more reliable than the $50 one. It makes a big difference on even ONE job. It can make the difference between me even doing the job now or putting it off. As far as stands go, most of the difference appears to me (based on looking at them in catalogs) how sturdy the stand is. If you're working on a 20-lb bike it might not matter. My commuter bike is 50 lbs, and I hate to unload it (lights, fenders, etc) just to work on it. If I had a stand that could hold it loaded that would be a big plus and I'd probably clean the chain and stuff more often. As it is I just have a flimsy wooden thing I built myself when I was in a hurry and needed something to hold it up one day.

kill.cactus 08-30-06 08:02 PM

Speaking of lubes for the bike chains - I've read that WD 40 damages bike parts. Is this true?

Thanks :)


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