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HEALTH & WELLBEING

Keeping your Bike Road-worthy

By RGrant 30 Mar 2021

So you have decided to give cycling a try, given all its benefits, and you’ve got yourself a bike. What’s next in your journey towards fitting cycling into your routine? Making sure you are in it for the long haul, or better, making sure you can keep cycling! Other than growing your confidence further with time, for which there’ll be more information in a future post, your bike itself is the most important thing that needs to be checked regularly to make sure it is safe to use and road-ready. There are different types of maintenance you need to keep in mind: the next few points cover the most important ones. 

Pre-ride checks

You should check your bike is good to go every time you are about to take it out on the roads: the M-check technique is a quick and straightforward set of checks to carry out before a ride. It’s called M-check based on the movement you will be doing along the bike frame to look at different components: 11 steps, from the rear wheel to the front wheel, including spokes, tyres, saddle, chain, pedals, stem, headset, brakes and frame. Sustrans has a short YouTube video where all the steps are described.

Cleaning your bike

Keeping your bike clean makes for a better ride and, even more importantly, ensures a longer bike lifespan, which is essential if you want to make the most of the initial bike cost. It’s good practice to clean your bike periodically and not only when it’s covered in dirt! You can find a good set of instruction on what you need and how to go about it here.

Servicing

Unless you have the knowhow to do more thorough checks and then repair the bike yourself, it is a good idea to service your bike. This means taking the bike to a bike shop and booking it to get serviced. There are multiple options, from basic checks, starting at around £35, to complete frame strip down and rebuild, from £115.

National shops have pricelists available online, while sometimes it’s best to speak directly to an employee if you prefer to use smaller/independent shops. Usually, the prices in the pricelists don’t include component accessories, so if it turns out your bike needs new parts, you will have to pay for them separately. I would recommend servicing your bike at least once a year, though if you cycle daily, such as if you commute by bike, it’s probably better to service it more often, perhaps in autumn, to make sure all is in order for cycling in wintry conditions, and then in spring, after the elements might have taken a toll on the bike, so that you are ready for the longer days and more bike touring.

On-the-road bike repairs

If you are going for a longer ride, particularly touring out of town, it’s always a good idea to have the essential items required to carry out repairs in the unfortunate scenario where you might need to. Sustrans covers tips on required items and best practice to follow in this article. Note though that if you are within town, help is often not too far off, and it might be better and faster to get off your bike and walk to the closest bike shop for a quick check.

Dr Bike, Fix it Yourself

To support staff and students commuting to campus, the university is looking to have Dr Bike and Fix-It-Yourself sessions on campus. Dr Bike is a free service where staff and students will be able to get their bike checked and minor repairs carried out, while Fix It Yourself is similar to Dr Bike but the bike owner is engaging with the repairs, so to learn how to maintain their bike in the future. The sessions will be announced after funding is awarded and when Covid restrictions allow for them to go ahead.

Volunteering and training opportunity

If you are keen to learn more about bike maintenance and repairs, there is an opportunity to join RGU GoGreen’s BikePad as a volunteer and help the bike hire scheme increase their fleet of hireable bikes. More information can be found here.

I hope this is a useful post for you and that it will allow you to take your experience with cycling to the next step. Make sure to check out the content linked throughout the post, as that will go into much more detail on each point described!

By Nicolo Silvani, Campus Cycling Officer

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