Bicycle Tire Maintenance
Riding bicycles has become increasingly popular alternative for urban travelers. Aside from its light environmental footprint, a bicycle is a huge cost-saving alternative to owning a car. Additionally, it is a great way to incorporate exercise into your daily routine, as cycling can be quite the workout. Despite its many advantages, bicycle ownership has some less-than-fun aspects, one of which is maintenance. An often-overlooked item is the wheel of the bicycle – ensuring that your wheels are regularly maintained can help you minimize repairs and extend the useful life of your bicycle. Here are some tips you should keep in mind when maintaining your tires.
Maintain the Correct Air Pressure
Too often bicycle users go for weeks without pumping more air into their tires. While it seems obvious at first, not routinely putting air in your tires can cause severe damage. First off, when the air is low it can feel as though the wheel is constantly sticking to the ground, which is an annoyance in itself. Moreover, riding on tires that have low air pressure can damage the rims and cause you to have to purchase new wheels a lot sooner than would otherwise be necessary. If you are a regular cyclist it is important to get in the habit of pumping air into your tire each time you ride, or at least on a weekly basis. One way to quickly check if your tire is inflated properly is to pinch the sides of the wheel; it should feel firm to the touch. If you want to be on the safe side you can also purchase a pump with a gauge that can tell you the exact level of air in the tire. Be sure to stay within the recommended range for your bicycle tire to allow for optimal performance. If you are a heavier rider you should stay on the higher range of the air pressure to be on the safe side, as your body weight is also a factor in the strain on the tire. If you do not have one already, it may prove worthwhile to invest in a track pump for home usage. Otherwise, there are some gas stations that have air pumps that you may be able to use instead.
Clean Your Tires Regularly
One task that bicycle users can perform to prolong tire usage is to simply keep them clean! Admit it, you put your bike through hell, so why not spend the time to give it a much-needed refresh every now and again. First, get a rag and some warm water and remove all the dirt particles that have stuck to the wheel over time. Be careful not to use devices such as hoses, they can exert too much pressure, which may actually damage the bearings. If mud has been severely caked up in the wheels you can also use a wire brush to help remove the caked dirt. Once this has been done go ahead and clean the rim of the wheel; this will help you quickly spot any rusted spots that may need to be lubricated. Routinely cleaning your tires will help keep them in tip-top shape and help you quickly spot a puncture or the need for more air.
Use Tires Suitable for the Terrain
As bicycle users, one thing you must be careful to avoid is using your bike on terrain for which it’s not intended. Therefore, if you have a road bike your tires are not suitable for use on rough terrain. Road bikes are built to be more lightweight and aerodynamic to enable easy usage on flat surfaces. Riding a road bike too frequently on rough surfaces can cause your wheels and rims to wear down, increasing your risk of a puncture. Another useful tip to extend the life of your bicycle tires is to get into the habit of physically inspecting them. One thing to check for is whether or not the wheels rotate smoothly without sticking. Also, when it rotates, is it wobbling or does it rotate straight? If you notice anything unusual it may be time to get your bicycle professionally serviced. This can be done as little as once a year, but every now and again it’s worth the extra penny to get all the quirks out. Paying attention to the wear and tear on your bike tires is a must for every bike user. Following the guidelines above will go a long way in helping you minimize unnecessary damage to your wheels.