Regular Maintenance and Repair Schedule
by Tony Marchand

Performing regular maintenance on a bicycle will improve its performance and longevity and reduce the risk of break downs, especially if you're far from home. 
  • The exact schedule for a particular bicycle will depend on how it is used: its weekly mileage, weather conditions, and surface conditions (road or off-road use).
  • The schedule given here is a starting point for an average bike and rider but the schedule will need to be adjusted based on your own experience
  • Click on underlined blue links or indicated photos for videos and other info from tony10speed. 
Every Ride:
  • Check that the tires are inflated (a quick pinch to ensure they are hard generally suffices).
  • Check both wheels will rotate without sticking.
  • Squeeze both brakes to make sure they engage properly (this is especially important if you're using a mountain bike and may have disconnected the brake cables).
  • Check for obvious loose parts; if you have a saddle bag, panniers, bike rack or child carrier and make sure they're properly attached.
  • Check you have: working lights (especially in bad weather or dusk), your car keys, a bicycle lock (and a key) if you will need them.
  • After the ride, if the moving parts have got muddy or picked up road salt, give the bike a quick clean down. It's much easier doing it now than after it has dried!
  • Also check our video on Pre-ride bike check.

  • Check the brakes to ensure they are correctly adjusted, and that the pads are not worn.
  • Check front derailleur and rear derailleur adjustment (see part 1 and part 2). Shift through all the gears and make adjustments as needed.
  • Check the chain for chain wear. Replace as needed. (Shimano recommends changing 9 speed chains every 2500 miles and thinner 10 and 11 speed every 1500 miles). Depending on chain wear and the miles you've ridden, cassette replacement will sometimes be necessary (also see below under "Yearly").
  • Check screws or bolts holding attachments such as mudguards, racks, bottles etc. are tight. Be careful not to over tighten. I've seen seat bolt break in the middle of a ride as a result of over tightening. You can use the proper hex wrench on aluminum and steel bikes, but to be more precise and especially if you have a carbon fiber bike, use a TORQUE WRENCH and check our TORQUE WRENCH VIDEO).
  • Check brake and gear cables for fraying or rusting, and lubricate.
  • Check tires for signs of wear, bulges or splitting (replace immediately). Replace tires based on experience before you have problems or if there are significant cuts in the tire or tears to the side walls. I know my Gaterskins will last at least 3000 miles and I change them at that time before wear is significant or the tire bead has stretched.
  • Check handlebars are aligned properly with front wheel.
  • Check reflectors (if required) are still attached.
Once or Twice a Year1:
At least once or twice a years (depending on the amount of miles you put in):
  • Complete cleaning, and lubricate all moving parts.
  • Replace derailleur cables every 3000-6000 miles (or at least once a year) or if you have trouble shifting and can not make the necessary adjustments (see above).
  • Check bottom bracket and wheel hubs for excessive play and replace if worn. While standing over the bike or to one side, grab the cranks and try moving them side to side and forward and back word. If they move - you have a problem. Take the bike to your local repair shop if you don't have the experience or tools to tighten the bracket.
  • Check derailleur jockey wheels for wear, replace them if worn. *TIP* If the "teeth" of the jockey wheels or front or rear sprockets look sharp and pointy, Replace (if rear cassette is worn, you will need to replace chain at the same time).
  • Lubricate metal-to-metal contact points. This includes pivot points on the front and back derailleurs including the jockey wheels. Be careful with the brakes such that no oil leaks down on the brake pad, wheel, or rim.
  • Check saddle for splitting, and handlebar grips or tape for perishing or fraying. Also check saddle height (when crank arm is in-line with seat tube and ball of foot is in line with pedal axle, knee should be slightly bent. Then place heel on pedal, leg should then be completely straight. Hips should not wobble when riding bike, Lower seat if this occurs).
  • Check Headset: tighten as necessary.
  • Grease seat post. Carbon fiber bikes require a special grease! It may not technically be a moving part, but one does not want it to become permanently stuck.
  • Remove the back wheel and check the cogs on your cassette. Cassette wear indicators are available as is a 9 speed cassette wear indicator (you can build a 10 speed wear indicator - it worth it because it saves needless replacement by you or your local bike store). Some shops will have you replace the rear cassette when ever you replace the chain, but this may be overkill. It really depends on severity of the chain wear and the amount of miles you've ridden. My 9 speed cassette last about 5000 miles before my cassette wear indicator lets me know it's time to change cassettes. 10 speed cassettes are thinner and may wear faster.
  • Grease and/or replace brake cables.
  • Replace cable housing if the cable does not easily move through the housing or one notices rust. It's probably a good idea to replace all housing every couple of years and more often on mountain bicycles.
1The "Twice Yearly" and "Yearly" check can also be performed by your bicycle shop if you're not comfortable in performing these tasks. Be sure to ask them to include those item listed above as well as the items in the "Quarterly" Check if you have not performed them.

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My name is Tony Marchand, M.D. Here is my home page: tony10speed,com. I live in Clinton NJ where I am now retired. A graduate of Duke University School of Medicine and former Captain, United States Armed Services. I also have a strong background in bicycle maintenance, repair and safety and am active with the Morris Area Freewheelers, NJ. My friends: Jon Eiseman, Jim Hunt, John Hinton