If you've recently upgraded from an inexpensive bike purchased from a mass market retailer to a more professional bicycle, you're likely concerned about keeping your new bicycle in the best possible condition for years to come. Like Swiss watches, high quality bicycles have a number of relatively delicate moving parts that require certain care to function optimally. What should you do (and avoid doing) to keep your bike in great shape? Read on for more information on regular bicycle maintenance as well as minor repairs you may need to make before they turn into larger problems.
What should you do to maintain your bicycle?
When purchasing a high quality bicycle, you'll probably also upgrade some of your accessories -- your helmet, shoes, and possibly some new biking gloves. One relatively inexpensive addition to these upgrades that will more than earn its keep is a bicycle maintenance stand. This stand secures your bicycle a comfortable distance above the ground to allow you to easily access the chain and gears you'll need to regularly clean, and it can double as a storage rack if you keep your bike in the garage or basement.
The frequency with which you'll need to perform basic maintenance tasks depends largely on when and how you use your bike. It's always a good idea to give the frame a quick wipe-down after taking your bike outside, but if you only ride it up and down the sidewalk you're unlikely to need much else more than once or twice a year. On the other hand, if you regularly take your bike off-road or ride it through city streets heavy with winter salt (or summer rain), it's a good idea to thoroughly wash and re-lube your bicycle once or more per month. Be sure to use chain oil specifically designed for bikes (rather than commercial or household spray lubricants, which can often contain drying alcohol) to ensure that you're not inadvertently harming your chain.
What repairs might your bike need?
With regular cleaning and careful riding, a good quality bicycle should last for decades with relatively minimal maintenance. However, there are a few issues you may face that should be addressed quickly, before they can develop into larger problems.
If your bike is stored outside or is regularly exposed to street salt, it may begin to show tiny rust spots in the paint around the fenders and the areas where your pedals splash water. It's important to have these spots coated with a special rust-resistant sealant before they spread -- once rust has entered the frame, your bike may be more expensive to repair than to replace entirely.
You'll also want to have your wheels checked out by a place like Kore Bikes if you notice any oddities -- wobbly steering, bumpiness, or low pressure. Riding on damaged tires could potentially harm your rims, while riding on good tires with faulty alignment can prematurely age your tires (necessitating their early replacement). Each of these issues can be quickly and cheaply repaired before permanent damage occurs.