Bike Maintenance 101

Bike Maintenance 101

 We all love riding bikes, but how much time do we spend maintaining them?

If you're anything like us, possibly not as much time as you should. We tune in here with our friend and mentor, Ben Gathercole, to roll us through the basics.

Ben's a trusted source of authority for us here at CycleLifeHQ on all things cycling-related. He’s a high-end performance coach, with over 30 years of professional experience, including roles as High Performance Director for Triathlon Australia, former Team Director for the ACT Brumbies (Super 18 Rugby Team), coach to Olympic and World Championship athletes, and accredited author. Ben is also currently performance manager to Cameron Hill Motorsport Racing.

He’s also one of the most humble and modest people we’ve ever met; and we’re honoured to share here his guide on how to keep your bike/s running smoothly. It’s amazing the returns you’ll get from spending just a little TLC each week. 

So, over to Ben, in his own words on basic bike maintenance:

“This one is a can of worms so to speak. How do you clean your pride & joy, keep it looking like new, running sweetly and ensure it’s not going to let you down.

A little time spent on cleaning and maintenance will save a world of pain (particularly back-pocket pain!) and time.

Frame: I have a couple of old rags in a container with my 3 base products. After a couple of rides, or every ride if I have time, I wipe my frame down with a clean rag. I then spray on Meguirar’s Quick Detailer (from Auto parts shops) and give the frame a bit of a buff with it – it turns up a treat each time and only takes a couple of minutes.

If it’s been wet I hose my bike down with plain water and wipe down with a rag, then give it a buff with the Quick Detailer. I then will spray it with a Silicone spray into the cable housings, brake calipers and derailleurs – only use a little, you don’t need to flood it.

I never ever use harsh cleaners or scourers on my frame. The gel clear coat on most carbon frames can get hazy if you do that. Plain water or a very mild detergent and a bit of a buff with a polisher is all it needs. I have used Mr Sheen in the past which seems to work well also.

Chain: Chains are messy buggers but it pays to keep them clean. I’ve moved away from wet lubes like Tri Flow etc and now use a dry lube. I use Rock&Roll Hard Core Road Bike Lube - it’s red and it’s magic. Once a week I follow the instructions on the bottle and my chain looks like the first day out of the shop – no splatters on the frame, no black grunge and no dirty fingers if you have to touch the chain. Trust me; it’s the way to go.

Cassette: Every couple of weeks I drop the back wheel out of the frame and use an old rag to clean between each individual cog on the rear cassette. It’s a little messy but takes only around 10 min and is well worth the effort. I never use de-greaser or any of those “echo green” products. A little elbow grease does the trick every time.

That’s about it really. A couple of minutes every other ride and your bike will look as new as the day you bought it and be a reliable partner.

In my bike cleaning tub:

  • Bunch of old towels/rags (some dirty for the chain & some clean for the polish)
  • Meguiar’s Quick Detailer or Mr Sheen
  • Silicone Spray lube
  • Rock & Roll Road Bike Lube

And for thse participating in events or races: Peel the race number stickers off asap. Don’t let them bake on for weeks/months – get them wet with a wet sponge usually does the trick".


Thanks Ben!

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