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Zen And The Art Of Bicycle Maintenance - Done Right

Whether your bicycle is a three-speed relic or an expensive mountain bike, keeping it clean makes for longer life, better performance, and an attractive ride.

Bicycle Maintenance Done Right
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When you wash your bike, always remember to inspect the tires for wear and tear.

Bent rims can create small pinches that grow over time if tires aren't properly inflated, so be sure to inflate your tires to rec­ommended levels. 

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1. Cleaning your bike
1. Cleaning your bike
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Start cleaning by knocking off any visible dirt with a stiff-bristled brush.

Then use a garden hose on low pressure to rinse your bike.

You want the water to trickle out rather than spray with force, because water under pressure can force grime into the chain and other moving parts.

For the same reason, never use a power washer or put your bike through a car wash. 

2. Degrease the drive train
2. Degrease the drive train
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The hardest bike parts to keep clean are the chain and other parts of the drive train-the pedals, derailleur, rear hub, and such-so tackle them first.

Protect your hands with work gloves.

Then apply a degreaser to a soft cloth and clean the chain a few links at a time, moving the pedals for­ward as you work.

Once you've cleaned the entire chain, carefully remove it from the chain ring (also called the chain wheel)-the metal wheel with pointed teeth that keeps the chain in place.

Using a small screwdriver, carefully remove any caked-on gunk caught between the teeth.

Then slip a cloth between them, rub­bing it back and forth as if you were flossing your teeth.

3. Now wash the entire bike
3. Now wash the entire bike
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Use a big sponge and 1/4 cup (60 ml) of dishwashing liquid mixed in a bucket of warm water.

Don't for­get the seat and its underpinnings, handlebars, and handgrips, and be sure not to miss the brake levers and under the fork that connects the handlebars to the frame.

Wash the wheel rims and tires.

Gently soap the drive train to remove any residue from the degreaser.

Rinse the bike completely with a garden hose, then ride it in the work stand to slough off excess water. 

Towel off the bike and ride it a few blocks to shake off more water.

Then towel it off again completely. 

4. Lubricate the chain
4. Lubricate the chain
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Lubricate with an aerosol lubricant, sold at many bike shops.

Turn the crank backward as you spray.

Lubricant attracts dirt, so use it sparingly and wipe off the excess with a soft cloth.

5. Wax your bike
5. Wax your bike

You can wax a clean bike for much the same reason that you polish a new pair of shoes.

The wax protects the bike and deflects dirt, keeping your ride looking fine.

This applies whether you ride through puddles in your neighborhood or wheel down a moun­tain at breakneck speed.

Bike waxes, available in paste and liquid form, are sold at any bicycle shop.

Follow the instructions and apply wax with a soft cloth, being careful to hit the bike's various tubes, joints, and other hard-to-reach spots.

Or try this easier approach: Spray your bike with a common furniture polish that contains wax.

6. Store your bike properly
6. Store your bike properly
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Store your bike in a dry place to discourage rust.

Never lay a bike on its right side; you could damage the freewheel, chain rings, and derailleurs or throw them out of alignment.

Use a rack to trans­port your bike by car rather than laying it in the back cargo area.

After every ride, brush mud and debris off tires and wipe dirt and moisture off the frame, seat, handlebars, cranks, and pedals with a cloth.

If the chain is wet, dry it and lubricate lightly. 



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