The nail and shoe maintenance plan

Your bike is a little like the horse shoe that lost the battle. For want of a nail, the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe, the horse was lost. And so it goes – all for want of one nail. Spending half an hour on maintenance every so often keeps your wheels turning reliably.

Check your tyres. You’re less likely to get punctures if they’re pumped up. See the tyre wall for the correct pressure and a visit to the service station will make it easy to get it right.

Keep your chain lubricated. It’s not supposed to squeak each time you turn the pedals! Dirt is the enemy of moving parts. Clean grease and grit off your chain and gear cluster first. A rag soaked in kerosene does an excellent job. Degreasers also work well, but you need to wash them off – not fun in winter.

Use a bike chain lubricant, rather than light oil or engine oil. Oils will attract more dirt than a specialised lubricant. Shake the bottle well, especially in cold weather and shake it a couple of times during use as well. Lastly, wipe off any excess with a clean rag.

If you can still hear squeaking after lubricating your chain, it’s probably your jockey wheels (the two little cogs that guide your chain at the back). These are often sealed, so you need to take them apart and pack them with grease. A bike shop can help you there.

Run your fingers down each spoke on your wheels. This gives you early warning if one is loose. A bike shop can tighten it up and make sure your wheel is true (not wobbly).

One day you’ll ride over that three-cornered jack that leaves you flat in seconds. Ask a friend or your local bike shop to show you how to take out your wheels, if you’re not sure. It’s an essential skill when it comes to fixing a puncture away from home.

Always carry a spare tube, or at the least, a puncture repair kit and pump with you. Park well off the road for your repairs so you don’t surprise a driver who doesn’t see you until too late.

Give your bike a bit of regular attention and it will get you home safe every time. Look forward to seeing you on the road soon, God willing. Eddie Barkla

First published in the Bendigo Weekly Friday 9 June 2006

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