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So now that you have that shiny new (or new to you) race bike there are some things, just like with a
car, that will require some regular maintenance. The majority of it is pretty easy and should be done
most of the time either right before or after time at the track. I'll also give you a short list of essential
tools that every rider should carry.
First thing that every rider should check EVERY time before you ride is tire pressure. With modern
tires and tubes you can get a pinch flat just from low tire pressure. Unlike tires on my general purpose
bikes which recommend 30-40psi, most race tires are designed to run 60-80 or even up to 100psi. At
those pressures the old test of pinching the tire really doesn't give you a accurate test. So you should
invest in a good bicycle pump with a gauge. You can find them just about anywhere for under $20. I
DO NOT RECOMMEND filling tires at the local gas station with an air compressor. It is far too easy to
over inflate and blow out a tube.
Next, while you're already going over the tires do a visual check of the tire condition. There should not
be any bald spots, missing tread blocks or anything protruding from the tire. Race tubes and tires are
very thin compared to all-purpose bikes and are much more prone to a puncture from foreign objects.
They also a made with a softer rubber which means that they wear out quicker as well. Especially if
you ride them on the street.
After you have checked the tires you should then take a look at your chain. It should not be too tight
or too loose. Most manufacturers recommend that there should be between 1/2 to 1" of movement up
and down. To check this grab the chain between your thumb and index finger and push up and down
and see how far it moves. If it's too tight you may bind the chain and lock up your pedals. It it's too
loose it could come off the sprocket which usually results in an accident. The chain tension can be
changed by moving the back wheel in or out in the dropouts.
Also you need to look at the condition of the chain. There should not be any dirt, rust or excess
grease on the chain. A dirty chain can cause a link or sections of links to bind which could break while
riding. A chain with rust on it should be replaced immediately. While you might remove what you can
see there is probably also rust between the links that you don't. Better safe than sorry.
To clean a bike chain you will use a mild degreaser, like Simple Green, that leaves no residue. Several
companies also make specialized products for cleaning chains as well. Most automotive engine
degreasers are too harsh and can damage the chain. It is easiest and most efficient to remove the
chain from the bike and immerse it in cleaner and then use a small brush to clean the links. Once it
has been cleaned you let it dry completely and reinstall on the bike. Once it is installed use a good
chain lube available at your local bike shop. DO NOT USE WD-40. EVER!
Basic Bike Maintenance and Care
Now we move on to the brakes. First check that when you apply the brakes it will actually stop the
bike. Seems obvious, I know, but you see it happen now and again that the brakes don't work for
some reason or another. Check the brake pads for excess or abnormal wear. Both sides should wear
pretty evenly. Also make sure that when the brakes contact the rim they are flat against the rim. Also
make sure that they do not rub against the tire. The cable should move easily without binding and the
lever should spring back when released.
Now you just want to make sure that there are no rattles, clanks or grating noises. If you hear or feel
something that doesn't seem right, check it out. What may seem like a small ticking sound could be a
freewheel that is failing. A popping sound could be a loose spoke or bad bearing. Ginding can be a
bottom bracket that needs attention or brakes that are not returning to the open position. Basic rule is
that race bikes don't make odd noises. If ignored it can cost you a lot of money in repairs later or even
worse cause a wreck and you're injured.
So make sure to do some basic maintenance and you will probably avoid most major issues or at
least replace a failing part before it does more damage. BMX race bikes are just like every other race
machine, they require some regular work to keep them at their peak performance level. And most
importantly, if you don't know how to fix it please leave it to your local bike shop mechanic.
LOCAL BIKE SHOPS (OKC AREA)
These links are provided for convenience or
reference only and are not intended as an
endorsement by SPR or their agents.
ESSENTIAL TOOLS FOR BMX
Bicycle Pump w/gauge
4,5,6mm Hex Wrench
Spare tubes for tires
Chain lube / General Purpose Lube