How to tune up your bicycle

Biking is fun, eco-friendly’and can help you shed pounds. Learn to do your own bicycle tune-up and save money, too

How to tune up your bicycle

Source: Best Health Magazine, May 2009

Beyond being a great and enviro-clean mode of transport, biking also improves balance, eases stress and helps prevent cardiovascular disease, according to Scott Brouse, a fitness professional in Oakville, Ont. Plus, if you want to burn off some calories, here’s a fact: A 145-lb woman can lose 10 lb in two months by cycling at 30 kilometres per hour for one hour a day, four days a week.

Spring tune-up

Do it yourself and you’ll not only learn about how your bike works, you’ll save $50 to $100. Selene Yeager, the author of Every Woman’s Guide to Cycling, gave us a list of what you’ll need: Allen keys (L-shape wrenches), bike lubricant, degreaser, dish soap, a wire brush, a tire pump, a patch kit, rubbing alcohol, fine steel wool, a towel and a rag.

Here’s what to do:

1. Spray degreaser on the chain and scrub with wire brush. Gently hose down your bike, then clean with hot water and dish soap. Rinse chain and bike; dry with a towel.

2. Turn your bike upside down and coat the chain with lubricant while slowly turning the pedals backwards. Wipe excess oil with a rag. (Lube your chain after riding in the rain and after every third ride.)

3. Pump up tires. If cracked or worn, get new ones. If an outer tire looks fine but is leaking, pop part of the tire off the rim, remove inner tube and locate the hole. Patch or replace tube.

4. Inspect brake pads. Clean with a rag dipped in rubbing alcohol. If the grooves look worn, get new pads installed.

5. Your cables work the brakes. If the casing is frayed or rusty, have the cables replaced.

6. Tighten loose bolts (on handlebars, seat post, frame and chainring).

7. Remove rust with steel wool.

This article was originally titled "Do Your Own Bike Tune-up and Save $$," in the May 2009 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience’and never miss an issue!’and make sure to check out what’s new in the latest issue of Best Health.