How to cut your bike shop visits in half

Want to know the single most important thing you can do to cut your visits to the bike shop in half?

Clean and oil your chain once every two to three weeks.

It’s that simple and it will probably take you 5 minutes.

Will most people do anything about this?

Probably not.

In fact, I can give you a bunch of these tactics that can really help. But, unless there’s a way of tying them all together and making them extremely easy to take action on, they will mostly be little more than words on an email.

Why do we know we should do these things, yet we never get round to them?

We know the advantages of maintaining our bikes ourselves:

  • It means more money in your pocket to spend on other things you enjoy (I’m saving up for an iPad!)
  • It means a quiet bike, that doesn’t squeal as you pedal down the road, causing everyone at the bus stop to turn round to face you
  • It means you don’t have to be without your bike when something goes wrong

Yet, we continue to procrastinate on it.

How many of us can proudly say we are completely on top of our bike maintenance?

Here are some of the typical excuses people make, when you ask why they don’t maintain their bike themselves:

You need a bunch of expensive tools

In fact, you can complete around 70% of your bike repairs with a handful of tools totalling no more than £20. That’s what I spent yesterday buying a round of drinks for my friends at the pub! (I’m making a note now – they owe me a round!)

But I’ll mess things up

I’ve been maintaining my own bike for a long time and the biggest mistake I ever made? I put my front tyre on the wrong way round. This meant that in the rain, the water from the road was splashing on me, instead of on to the road. Hardly earth shattering right?

And I’m probably the opposite of the mechanical type. IKEA furniture scares me!

The truth is, with a clear set of instructions, presented by someone that knows how to explain things in such a way that even a complete novice can follow, anyone can maintain their bikes themselves. Let’s not forget, bicycles  are designed to be repairable.

But I don’t have any space in my apartment

This is a juicy one and I’ll reveal how to get around it.

All of the above are valid concerns. I know, because I’ve had many of the same thoughts, but as is so often in life, most our fears prove unfounded.

On Thursday, I’ll be revealing a new project I’ve been put a lot of thought and work in to.

It’s an online course, designed to be followed in just a single weekend. By the end of it, you’ll be able to maintain your bike yourself.

It will provide an easy to follow system, that overcomes the things that stop most people from succeeding.

There’s going to be some bonuses there for early joiners, so you’ll want to keep an eye on London Cyclist or join the newsletter below. I’ll be revealing more details over the next few days.

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9 Responses to How to cut your bike shop visits in half

  1. Dan 13/11/2012 at 2:58 pm #

    Great blog post as always. Bicycle maintenance is so important and it’s nice to feel inspired!

  2. ifs 13/11/2012 at 4:20 pm #

    Didn’t wash my bike for aggeessss because I live in a 2nd floor flat with no access to garden/yard.
    Bike was squeaking all over the show.
    Solution:
    Took the wheels off, put the whole thing in the bath (with cog and front forks on bunched up old tshirts) and gave the whole thing a good scrub.
    Got the water really hot from the shower to blast off all the dirt. Cassette was sparkling afterwards!
    Padded it dry with the tshirts and voilà! sparkly new bike. oiled it and it now works great.

    Bonus point – Bath was a bit grubby after so gave that a wash thereby scoring extra points with the mrs!

    • Karl Roche 13/11/2012 at 5:50 pm #

      People clean their cars in the street all the time, get a little bike stand like this http://bit.ly/UmCWFe for less that £15 will make all the difference.

  3. Sir Velo 13/11/2012 at 5:28 pm #

    What most peeps don’t seem to get is that a well oiled chain not only is serenely quiet but helps you go a lot faster for minimal effort. The other is to fine tune the gears so that they sit squarely on the sprocket, thereby making gear changes pistol whip slick and the chain run all buttery smooth.

  4. Karl Roche 13/11/2012 at 5:45 pm #

    Clean my bike every week. Doesn’t take much work and the more often you do it the less work it is to get the crap out of the chain. Had to get a new bottom bracket recently, the old one had done 9k miles and the guy in the shop said the bike was in great condition.

    People go one about having the best parts just looking after – cleaning – your bike can make so much difference.

    BTW, best investment I ever made (apart from my bike) is to get a bike workstand. Makes cleaning and general maintenance so much easier and you’re more likely to do it. For so long I managed badly by trying to lean the bike next to a wall.

  5. Pete 13/11/2012 at 6:20 pm #

    Another great investment is a floor/track pump. Like keeping your chain oiled, making sure the tyres are at the right pressure makes a world of difference to the wear and tear. Also is a good prevention for flats.

  6. Gizmo 14/11/2012 at 11:13 am #

    Because if I take my chain off indoors and get oil on the carpet my better half will murder me. :)

  7. PaulR 14/11/2012 at 11:56 am #

    I live in a 4th floor flat in the middle of King’s Cross. No outside space and definitely not the sort of area where I would want to clean the bike outside. It’s a big flat though with a proper bathroom, so once a week the bike gets a full wash and degrease in the bath. As Ifs says above, properly hot water from the shower does a great job (just don’t have it on full as you don’t want to drive the water into all the delicate bearings.

    A decent chain cleaner makes the whole process so much quicker as well, especially if you don’t have a power link type chain that is easy to remove and soak properly in degreaser. A minute running the chain through the chain cleaner every week will massively extend the lifetime of the whole drive chain.

  8. BE 15/11/2012 at 9:57 am #

    For cleaning my chain I am a disciple of “The Method”.

    http://www.cyclorama.net/viewArticle.php?id=349&subjectId=9

    No mess at home as I do it in the office car park ;-)

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