Here we are in the middle of Summer. Many miles behind us and many more ahead. In the middle of all this riding, it's easy to overlook the preventive maintenance that our bikes require. So I've put together these tips, tricks, and advice to help with keeping your bike ship shape for the rest of the Summer and all the rides, races, and adventures you will take it on. This will not be a guide on "how to adjust your derailleur" or "how to perfectly align your disc brakes." Those can be future stories. These will be my six tips, tricks, and advice that you might not know about or even think about. I think of them as under-the-radar tips and tricks but they could be the things that takes your bike maintenance to the next level.
On all of your adventures so far, it's likely that your tires have picked up all types of road debris. This can be rocks, glass, or any small items that get lodged in your tires. The solution is simple, get yourself a pick from your local hardware store. They are inexpensive and you need one to pick out anything lodged in the tire. I have seen small pieces of glass lodged in my tires many times and if you don't pick it out, it will eventually work its way through and cause I flat. I am OCD and do this after every ride.
Lets talk about torque wrenches.
I have a few different torque wrenches. Some are preset to 5-6nm (the standard torque setting for most bolts on your bike). These are inexpensive and can save your expensive handlebars or seatpost from damage. A great mid-Summer tip is to run through all of your handlebar bolts, seatpost bolts, or any other bolts with a torque setting and check to see if they've worked their way loose. Tighten them up and make sure they are torqued correctly. You can also see if any bolts are rounded out and get those replaced at your local bike shop. This will save you the headache of a stripped bolt later down the road.
Tubeless tires. They are great until they aren't.
I don't run anything but tubeless on all my bikes. They do indeed work great until they don't. There are a few things you can do to make sure your tubeless tires have a lower chance of failing you. The tubeless sealant will dry up over time. Before you set off on your Summer bike adventures, get yourself some fresh sealant, unseat the bead from one side of your tire (you can do this with the wheels still on the bike), and top off your tires with some fresh sealant. This will ensure that if you do have any punctures, you have some fresh sealant that should seal up while on a ride.
Re-seating those tubeless tires at home.
If you do indeed run tubeless tires, you know that seating them with a regular track pump can be difficult based on your tire and wheel combination (some seem to be fine with a track pump others are utterly impossible to seat). An air compressor will do the job but they are expensive and you cannot take them on the road. Check out your local bike shop and see if they have a "chambered pump". Essentially these work by filling a chamber with a bunch of air and releasing it into your tire all at once, seating your tire easily.
We all hate those random creaks on bikes. I know that I cannot focus with that "creak, creak, creak" every pedal stroke. One of the biggest causes of this in my experiences is through-axles or quick-releases. You, yes you, can easily combat this. All you need is a small amount of grease. Pea-sized is fine. You don't want to overdo it as you'll just be wasting grease.
Take out your through-axle or quick-release and wipe it down.
Apply that small pea-size amount of grease to the entire axle, especially the threads.
Re-install your wheel and axle or quick-release and tighten it back up. You'll be creak-free! Make sure to wipe down any extra grease!
Pivot points on derailleurs.
Derailleurs take a lot of abuse and do a great job at it. They also have a lot of pivot points. Pivot points need maintenance just like any other bike part. Step one is to find all of your pivot points.
The next step is to apply some (very, very light) lube to the pivot points.
Finally, after this soaks in for a few minutes, wipe down any extra lube that may have dripped. You don't want lube on brake pads, rotors, etc.
I hope you have enjoyed these under-the-radar tips and tricks to help you keep rolling! I hope everyone has a safe and healthy Summer on their bikes!