Basic bicycle maintenance tips

Bicycle tools

Bicycle maintenance is necessary to keep your ride in tip-top shape.  Regular inspection can prevent and protect your bike from squeaky wheels and other possible problems. Here are the bicycle parts you should check often:


As a first step, spin your wheels. If they are wobbly, squeak or are not round, you will want to have them replaced. Also, check to see if your spokes are loose. Use your fingers to squeeze between two spokes to check tension. They should be difficult to squeeze together. If they are loose, for safety reasons, they need to be replaced right away.

Check your tires for air pressure. They must be properly inflated to manufacturer requirements. If they do not have enough air in them, you will exert more energy pedaling harder than normal and also notice a difference in how your bike performs. Having the proper level of air pressure also protects your rims from damage and prolongs the life of your tires. Tires need to be inspected for wear and tear as well. This will help prevent flats while you are out on your ride. Tubes should be replaced with new tires and if a tube has been patched, it should only be used to get you home and then replaced before your next ride.

Brakes/Brake Pads

To check your brakes, apply them and make sure the brake levers are not touching the handlebars. If they reach the handlebars, this indicates they are too loose. This can be dangerous because it means you may not be able to stop as fast as you need too. You will need to tighten the brake cables. The brakes should also snap back after you let them go. Also, check the wheels when you brake. Move the bike forward and back. The wheels should not turn when you are squeezing the brakes. If they turn, your brake pads are worn out and need to be replaced. The brake pads also need to be properly aligned and touching the rims without rubbing on the tire. If the pads are not making full contact, you may need to clean them of grit that may be caught in them. Most brake pads have an indicator line that lets you know when they need to be replaced. If the line is gone or worn, you’ll need to replace them.


Handlebars should be adjusted for comfort and control. Tape and grips on the handlebar will need to be replaced if torn or thinned out as these help keep your bike under control.

Chain lubrication

The chain is the most common part of the bike to collect dirt and grime. When not properly cleaned or lubricated, it can slow you down and wear out quickly. Lubrication should be done regularly, especially if you are riding in areas prone to dirt. You’ll want to use the proper bike lubricant for the area you ride in such as by the beach or on dirt roads. Your local bike shop will have the lube that is best for the different elements in which you ride. Remember not to use too much lube as excessive lube can attract dirt.


Make sure your pedals are tightened. This ensures you’ll have a smoother and quieter ride.

Bottom Bracket

The bottom bracket holds the crank system to the bike frame. There should be no creaking noises or looseness when you turn the crank system. If there is, we recommend taking the bike to a local shop for further inspection.


The headset is a short tube that connects the fork and the handlebars. The tube allows your handlebars to steer. Make sure when the handlebars are straight your wheel is also straight. In order to check the headset, hold the front brakes while gently pushing the bike forward and back. If you hear any clicking, you will need to have it tightened.

These basic maintenance tips are meant to help you have a smoother and safer ride. For added safety, consider bicycle insurance from Markel. Bicycle liability coverage helps protect you if you are responsible for injuries or property damage to another person or their belongings while using your bicycle. Limits range from $25,000 to $100,000.

You can also add vehicle contact protection. With this added coverage, you can get the protection you need in case you are hit by a vehicle without the proper insurance protection to cover your losses.

In addition, we'll help cover your medical costs if you are injured while riding - up to your policy limit. You can choose limits that meet your personal needs, ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.

Plus, you can get roadside assistance. With this coverage, you can get nationwide 24-hour emergency service with up to 35 miles of transportation per breakdown – all for only $12 a year per bicycle.

Bicycle tools
This article is intended for general informational purposes only regarding non-insurance matters and is not designed to provide professional advice.
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