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Your Step-by-Step Guide to a Clean Bike

Our guide to a clean bike will have your ride look good as new

Everybody knows that when you go for a ride, your bike is bound to get dirty. Whether it’s grease from your indoor trainer or mud and dirt from your ride on the trails, we know how hard it can be to keep your set of wheels clean with all the craziness of training season. Prolong the life of your bike by giving it the TLC it needs with our 7-step guide to a clean bike. Pro tip: download the PDF below to print out our guide to a clean bike!

Follow these steps

  1. Put a little degreaser on the chain. Not too much, a little goes a long way. Let it sit on the chain for about a minute or two.
  2. Give the chain a light scrubbing and rinse it off with the hose/sprayer.
  3. Prepare the Simple Green solution. We recommend a 3:1 ratio of water to Simple Green.
  4. Take your big brush along with the solution and wash all the major components of the bike (i.e. frame, fork, wheels, cranks, and derailleurs). Save your smaller brushes for tighter areas. To avoid missing any spots, start at the back and make your way to the front of the bike.
  5. Spray your bike down with water completely. Wash your tires while you’re at it. It will give you a chance to inspect for any damages your tires may have.
  6. Let it dry. Either air-dry outside or hand-dry it with a towel.
  7. Once completely dry, you can then lube the chain so it’s ready to go on your next ride.

Go the extra mile and wash the bar tape, saddle, and tires. These parts tend to get forgotten and they can get pretty gross if they stay dirty.

Consistency is key. Using our guide to a clean bike will ultimately improve the way your bike handles, as well as extending the life of your bike. Remember: happy bike = happy life.

By: James Balentine, owner of City Limit Cycles, an Austin, Texas-based mobile bicycle repair company that comes to you. Balentine began working with bikes in 1990 when he was 12. He began racing mountain bikes in 1991 and BMX in 1992, winning 12 national championships before turning pro in 1999. He has worked with USA Triathlon as a mechanic for Team USA since 2004. Since 2013, Balentine has worked with the US Paratriathlon team and is their sole mechanic.

Bike Tune-Up Advice

Extend the life of your bike with this bike tune-up advice

When does my bicycle need a tune-up? This is a common question. The answer is not cut and dried. Every bicycle is in a state of getting out of tune due to riding, transporting, and/or storing it. All these things wear on your bike in a way that will make the ride less than perfect. This bike tune-up advice below will keep you and your bike happy!

There are a handful of cyclists with mechanical skills that allow them to work on their bikes before and after every ride. For most cyclists, that is not the case. On average, tune-ups are only scheduled once a year. Other cyclists will wait until the bike needs work beyond the standard tune-up. This can lead to more costly repairs involving component replacement.

To be blunt, anyone who truly cares about having a smooth running bicycle should learn some basic bicycle maintenance. This can include derailleur adjustments, eliminating squeaks, and wheel truing.

Bike tune-up frequency

In general, if someone is okay at derailleur adjustments and wheel truing, they can get one professional tune-up per year. This could include a new chain, tires, and handlebar tape. If you service your bike frequently, you will increase the life expectancy of your components. You will be happier and more comfortable with one bike for a longer amount of time.

There are several factors that may cause your bike to need extra attention each year. The first is numerous race wheel swap outs. The second is transporting the bike on a regular basis. The third is racing your bike. Please know that it is okay to swap wheels, travel, and race. But you should also know that there are some issues associated with each.

If you want a very smooth ride without working on the bike yourself, you should schedule tune-ups more frequently. This could be as many as three times per year if you are a high-mileage cyclist.

If you take care of your bike, it will take care of you. If you don’t take care of your bike, call James Balentine with City Limit Cycles!

Two Reasons for Skipping Chains

Learn what causes skipping chains and what you can do about it

There are two main causes for skipping chains. The most common cause is the misalignment of the rear cogs and the chain itself. The second most common cause of skipping chains is wearing on the chain, cassette, and/or the chainrings. Read below to see what causes each and how you can prevent chain skipping and extend the life of your bike.

There are several things that can cause the misalignment of the rear cogs and the chain.

  • Improper cable tension. When the tension is incorrect the chain does not sit inline with the corresponding cassette cog and it is trying to jump to the next cog.
  • Dirty cable. The dirt prevents the cable from moving like it needs to.
  • Slightly bent hanger for the rear derailleur. Can affect the alignment.

Learn what you can do about skipping chains on your bike.Skipping chains will wear on the chain, cassette, and/or the chainrings. The chain is the most likely to wear out first since it is made entirely of small, moving parts. Those parts tend to wear out faster when they are dirty or ridden dry. Chains on most modern drivetrains usually last anywhere from 1500 to 2000 miles. This can change depending on your riding style and how well you maintain your bike. If you keep your drivetrain clean and you tend to spin at a slightly higher cadence then you will get more mileage out of your chain. Follow these six steps to clean your drivetrain.

When the chain wears, it no longer sits evenly on the cassette cogs and chainrings. As this goes on the chain will eventually start to jump since the chain wears much faster than the cassette and chainrings. If you let your chain go too long it will start to wear down the teeth of the cassette first and then the chainrings. If the chain is replaced before it is too worn the cassette and chainrings will outlast the chain many times over. You’d much rather want to replace your chain than the cassette and chainrings.

Use this bike tool to measure chain wear at home. You can also call James Balentine at City Limit Cycles. He can measure it for you and make any necessary adjustments and/or fixes.

City Limit Cycles – Official Bike Mechanic

Meet your Jack’s Generic Tri Official Bike Mechanic – James Balentine owner of City Limit Cycles!

Although you need to get your bike tuned up before race day and know how to change your own flat tire, James will be available race morning for any unexpected last-minute issues.

For more than two decades, James worked as a bike mechanic at bike shops, including a decade as Head Mechanic for Jack & Adam’s Bicycles in Austin.  For the past 14 years, James has traveled the world volunteering as the mechanic at Triathlon World Championships for Team USA.  He has also helped Olympians for Team USA Paratriathlon in Brazil and continues to volunteer for Team USA Paratriathletes.

James likes bikes. He likes to see and hear them running perfectly because he likes to see you riding them with a smile. His service experience is built around a lifetime passion for all things cycling. He’s been a pro racer, a pro mechanic and pro level bike geek.

Through it all James brings a high level of professionalism and attention to detail. He has cared for all kinds of riders from recreational to pro and literally every kind of bike on the planet, quiz him. Click To Tweet
City Limit Cycles is James’ mobile bicycle repair company.  Now a world-class bike mechanic comes to your door so you can focus on what you love most – more saddle time.  We’re lucky to have someone of his caliber at Jack’s Generic Tri.