Habits to break: 5 habits that wear your bicycle parts quicker

A Broken and Rusty Bicycle In Close Up View

There are plenty of things we do on the bike without thinking or without realising that there are knock-on effects. With bike parts more expensive than ever to replace, there are a number of hints and tips you can use to extract as much as possible from your bike.

The Pitfall of Cross-Chaining

You might not be familiar with the term “cross-chaining,” but you’re likely guilty of it as we all do it without thinking sometimes. It’s the practice of cycling with the chain on the biggest chainring at the front and the largest cog at the back, or vice versa. This position places undue stress on your chain, making it susceptible to wear and potential slippage. Moreover, it’s an inefficient way to transfer your pedal power to the wheels.

The Correct Approach

Instead of cross-chaining, adapt your gear choices to your cycling conditions. When faced with an incline, switch to a smaller ring in the front if you’re already on the easiest gear at the back. If you’re seeking greater resistance, move to a bigger ring at the front. Maintaining a clean and adequately lubricated chain can also significantly extend its life.

Ignoring Rim Hygiene

Rim brakes offer effective stopping power but require meticulous care for optimal performance. Dirty rims and brake pads not only diminish braking efficiency but also contribute to premature wear on both components. With disc brakes, the rim is less of an issue because it’s not the contact area for braking. Instead, just check and keep aware of the condition of your rotor and brake pads.

The Correct Approach

Make a habit of wiping down the rims and brake pads with a clean cloth after each ride. For thorough maintenance, a weekly cleaning session for your bike, focusing on these areas, is advisable.

Tyre Pressure: Striking the Right Balance

Riding with too low a tyre pressure not only saps your energy but also expedites the wearing process of the rubber. Moreover, it makes you susceptible to punctures. However, excessive pressure can make for a jarring riding experience. Conversely, riding with too high a tyre pressure can create splits in your tyre over time as the rubber becomes stretched to its fullest.

The Correct Approach

Consult the tyre’s sidewall for recommended pressure ranges. Adjust the pressure based on your weight and riding conditions. Lighter riders generally need less pressure, while wet conditions call for a slight reduction in pressure for better traction. There’s a happy medium to be found, dependent on factors like your weight and the comfort level you want. A tool like the one from Silca can help you find the ideal pressure.

Mishandling the Drive Side

Your bike’s drive side, the one featuring the chainring, cassette, and derailleurs, is its more delicate side. Laying your bike down on this side can lead to bent hangers and derailleurs, which can ruin your shifting efficiency. Once a hanger is out of alignment you’ll find it more awkward to get into some gears, no matter how good you are at indexing your gears.

The Correct Approach

If you have to lay your bike down, ensure the drive side faces upwards to protect the moving parts. Better still, use a bike stand or lean it against a stable object whenever possible.

Neglecting Road Hazards

Potholes and gravel can be more than just uncomfortable to ride over; they can damage your bike over time. While it’s not always possible to avoid these hazards, taking them on unnecessarily is ill-advised. Potholes can put your wheels out of true and naturally cause punctures as well. Over time they can also rattle some other parts of your bike loose. Gravel can cause crashes but also paint chips that potentially can lead to weaknesses in your frame.

The Correct Approach

Be attentive to the road ahead and give yourself enough room to manoeuvre around potholes and gravel. Familiarise yourself with techniques to safely navigate these obstacles, and refer to guides that offer tips on tackling them effectively.

By being mindful of these practices, you not only extend the lifespan of your bike but also ensure a smoother, more efficient ride. After all, your bicycle is more than just a mode of transport, it’s an investment that deserves due care and attention.

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