BEFORE YOU GO
2004 Buyer's Guide: Bike Care
» Inflate tires to the recommended range, 35 60 psi for mountain bikes, 100115 psi for road bikes. Make certain your spare tube, tire levers, and pump are all HEALTHY AND ON BOARD.
» Squeeze both brake levers. The brake pads should hit rims (not tires) squarely, and the levers shouldn't bottom out against the bars.
» A loose wheel is a potential disaster. Be sure the quick-release lever is SECURED.
» GIVE A QUICK TUG TO OTHER PARTS, like water-bottle cages, handlebars, seat, and cranks, to make sure nothing's about to fall off.
» Check your front shock by leaning on it, hard. If it chatters, put a few drops of lube under the boots (the accordion-like rubber sleeves). Still rough? Hotfoot it to the shop. Ditto for the rear shock. If your shocks are air-sprung, make sure to pump up to the recommended pressure.
» CLEAN AND LUBE your chain. Use a toothbrush to scrub the drivetrain with degreaser. SPIN THE PEDALS BACKWARDS and dribble lubricant on the roller parts of the links as they pass; wait a few minutes and remove the excess. Lube every few rides; clean half as often.
» Does the front end rattle? Your headset is loose. LOOSEN THE TWO BOLTS on the side of the stem and tighten (half a turn) the single bolt on top of the stem. Retighten the side bolts. Repeat until the clunk is gone, but make sure the bars still turn freely.
» Gears slipping? TURN THE ADJUSTING BARREL where the cable enters the rear derailleur; start with one counterclockwise turn.
» Brakes dragging on one side? On mountain bikes, use a screwdriver or hex wrench to TURN THE SCREWS outside the brake arm, near the pivot point. Roadies can twist the whole brake caliper by hand until it's centered.