6 common bike maintenance mistakes beginners make

It’s not surprising to see beginners damaging their bicycles from their DIY bike maintenance routines. Most think that with a Phillips head screwdriver, a WD-40 canister, and one set of Allen keys, they can mend any bike problems. They usually end up destroying the bicycles – making some humorous mistakes.

So, if you’re a beginner, pay attention to this article and learn how you can avoid these common bike maintenance errors:


#1 Over-tightening the derailleur screws


This is one of the common bike maintenance mistakes beginners make. The screws in your derailleurs aren’t loose, so don’t tighten them. Those screws are left loose to a certain limit so that the derailleur can move.  If you’ve bought a new bike or a bicycle mechanic has repaired your bike, you don’t need to wind up those screws again.

If you’re having shifting problems, it’s likely that there may be some issues with cable tension or your derailleur hanger is bent.


#2 Lubing brakes to silence the noise

If your bikes are screeching, using oil or grease won’t remediate it. If your bike has rim brakes, then it’s highly likely there’s a problem with the set-up of the brake pads. Reset the brake pads to avoid the squeal. If you see the pad are old or dry, replace them with new brake pads.

If you’re using disc brakes, replacing them with new ones is the best option. If the squealing isn’t that loud, cleaning the rotors should provide some respite.


#3 Using the wrong lubricant


WD-40 is really great for some things such as loosening a jammed bolt or removing glue residue from stickers, but you should not it for lubing your bike chain. You can, however, use a WD-40 made for lubing bike chains, which you can buy from ‘WD-40’ branded stores/online.

When it comes to lubricating chains, any lube that remains outside the rollers and links will amass dirt and grit. As time goes by, this will wear out the chain. So, after lubing your chain, give some time for the fluid to settle in, and then wipe off the excess.

Applying lube on top of dirty lube will surely shorten the lifespan of your bike chain. So, wipe your chain with a clean rag before lubing and after every ride.


#4 Over-tightening the headset

When it comes to bike maintenance, it’s commonly assumed that the top preload bolt should be extremely tight. This eventually leads to a stiff headset bearing or a stripped star nut. Keep in mind, the top bolt only needs to tight enough to offset the headset bearing play. If you notice resistance in steering your bike, it’s likely that the top bolt is too tight.


#5 Not closing quick releases correctly


It’s common to see quick release skewers being used incorrectly. Quick releases come with an open and a closed position. Before riding, adjust the quick release in the closed position.

After tightening the nut opposing it, the quick release lever should be locked into position. Before riding the bike, make sure the lever is tight enough that can’t open with your fingertips.


#6 Poorly inflated tires

It’s not uncommon to see cyclists riding with poorly or overly inflated tires. Simply add pump up your tires before going out if you realize the tires need air. It will make a lot of difference in your riding quality.

Another common mistake is using Presta valves. Presta valves are quite delicate, so it’s important you don’t twist them overly. If you want to release air, ensure the nut is unwounded at the top of the threaded shaft and depress the valve slightly. Connect and remove the pump in a straight line. The tightening of the nut should be finger tight, anything more and you’ll compromise the seal.

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