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KS Cover no. 78 2006 November

NOV 2006 :: 078

Bike maintenance for the knowledge impaired

Strange noises, rust and uncomfortable seats are part of life but are they necessarily part of your bike? Follow KS into the nuts and bolts of maintaining your bike …

Every time you ride — Tires, Brakes

• Before starting off, check your tires are full and have no debris lodged in the treads. Tires shouldn’t be rock hard but should give a little when a rider sits on them. Use an air pump or ask your local bike shop for air-usually free of charge. Full tires will protect your rims and make your ride smoother.
• Secondly, squeeze the brakes to make sure they grab well and save yourself from plowing through an obachan patrol.

Once a week — Chain, Moving parts

• Ideally, clean and lube your chain once a week to help ensure long, faithful service. It's not necessary to take the chain off every time to clean it. Use a toothbrush and cleaning solution, or handy dish soap, to scrub the entire chain; then rinse and wipe with a clean rag. Next, put a drop of oil on each pin of the chain and turn it with the pedals—beware of flying oil! Let your chain suck up the oily goodness for 15-20 minutes and wipe off any excess with a clean rag. 3-in-1 oil, WD-40 or motor oil, if necessary, work well. Don’t overlube the chain!
• Oil exposed moving parts like the brake levers, derailleur and gear levers. Be careful not to get oil or grease on brake blocks, tires or rims.

Once a month — Chain, Nuts & Bolts, Steering, Pedals, Wheels, Seat, Frame

• Chains should be replaced about every 1,000 miles as wear and tear stretches them. Look for bent cogs that need replacement. If your bike has gears, check gear cables are moving freely and that gears change properly.
• Tighten all nuts and bolts holding components together or onto the bike. Some screws, called 'adjustment screws', normally found on derailleurs and brake components, don't need screwing with, although the name is tempting.
• Ensure the seat post bolt is tight and seat height is still correct, that is, your legs are just less than fully extended at the bottom of the pedaling stroke.
• Fill up the tires and ensure the valves are upright and not leaking. Tighten or replace any loose or broken spokes. Ensure the wheels are without damage and true (spin without wobbles). If the wheel is untrue, either learn how or ask a bike mechanic to true the wheel for you.
• Pedals should rotate freely and the axles should be tight.
• Check brake blocks for wear and make sure they connect with the rim, not the tire. Replace any worn or frayed brake cables and lube them.
• Check the handlebars and stem for looseness.
• Wash the whole bike with a garden hose and lots of suds— especially after any ride through dirt or water. Take it for a quick spin to whip off water then apply, you guessed it, lube to the chain. During the rainy season, you may consider buying shares in the lubrication company.
• Use sandpaper to remove rust then touch up with paint.

Twice a year (or at least once) — Tune-up

• Once or twice a year treat your bicycle to a life-elongating tune-up at the bike shop. Tune-ups consist of many things you check every month but they also service parts like derailleurs and bearings.

Text: Amanda Hare
Translation Assistance: Keiko Konishi
Illustration: Jack Lefcourt

:: Online Articles


International Bicycle Fund & Ibike
Sustainable transport


Arashiyama on wheels
Exploring Arashiyama by bicycle


A spin through ancient Japan
Cycling through history in Okayama Prefecture


One helluva of an FNQ ride
Cycling in Northern Queensland, Australia


Bike maintenance
Do-it-yourself guide to bicycle maintenance


Beat the wind
Getting into cycle racing

:: Kansai Listings


Up to date cinema listings guide so you always know what's on, where and when!

:: ART

Best exhibitions & listings


Best events & listings


Best gigs & listings


All the hot picks

:: Also in this month's mag


Asian Dining Rara, Shinsaibashi


Best festivals & listings


New releases & recommendations


OEFF + Best films & cinema listings


The bicycle law


Tatsu Sakamoto, world cyclist
55,000 kms, 51 month, 6 continents, and 1 man


Purchasing property
Advice from IFG-Asia


Autumn Hiking in Kyoto
Guide to Atago-san, Daimonji-yama, & Daigoji-yama


A pretzel in paradise
Yoga in Koh Samui, Thailand

Useful words and phrases
• Can you fix/replace my: tires/chain/seat/pedals?
taiya/chein/shiito/pedaru wo shiuuri shite/koukan shite moraemasuka? • Can you attach the basket?
basuketto wo toritsukete moraemasuka?
• Can you tune up my bike?
baiku wo chousei/tune up shite moraemasuka?
• Can you oil/grease my chain?
chein ni oil wo sashite moraemasuka?
• Can you paint my bike?
baiku ni iro wo nutte moraemasuka?
Useful resources