(ANGIE'S LIST) - For people who rides bikes each day to get to work, school or just for exercise, a flat tire or broken chain can be a real problem.
Whether you peddle your way to work or just enjoy a leisurely ride, your bike needs regular maintenance to keep it on the road. You may get a little rusty after not riding for a while and your bike certainly can too. Regular tune-ups will keep you cruising safely. How often your bike requires maintenance depends on whether you're a hobbyist or an avid cyclist.
Angie's List recommends a quick check of your bike's components before each ride. Bicycle retailer Scott Helvie says the check can be as simple as A, B, C.
"Check your air pressure, check your brakes, and check your chain – make sure it's on to make sure everything is functional and in proper working order," Helvie said.
Angie's List founder Angie Hicks says you should take care of your bike just like you would your car.
"You do regular oil changes and rotate the tires on your car," Hicks said. "Think about that same kind of process for your bike so it's ready to roll whenever you are."
Josh Prater, the service manager of a highly rated bicycle shop in Indianapolis recommends a tune-up around every 2,000 miles. He offers this checklist of parts that deserve a once-over:
- Frame - Look for dents, scratches, rust or anything unusual on your bike.
- Wheels - The wheels on the bike need to go round and round, so make sure the rims are straight. Inspect for loose or broken spokes. Tighten the hubs and bearings.
- Seat - The bicycle seat attaches to the seat post, which attaches to the frame. Make sure your derriere support isn't going to fall off while in motion.
- Brakes - Adjust the brakes so they're hitting the rim properly. Make sure the lever pull isn't too loose or too tight, and there are no frayed cables or rusted parts. Additionally, check the pads for wear.
- Crank arms and pedals - Any place where the body meets the bike is a critical safety factor. Be sure these are tight on the bicycle.
- Tires - Check bike tires for wear and make sure tires fit properly.
- Handlebar and stem bolt - Steer away from any potential harm by checking these components are secure.
- Chain - The bike chain stretches over time, which causes shifting problems, and is even prone to breakage. Prater estimates the average chain life to be 2,000 to 2,500 miles.