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Five Maintenance Tips From EVT’s Brett Flemming

EVT’s Brett Flemming fixes thousands of bikes every year and has deep discussions with bike maintenance guru John Barnett of Barnett Bicycle Institute about all things repair. Here are five quick tips from the master you can use:

1. Carry a Spare Derailleur Hangar - Insist your shop carries replacement hangars for the bike you bought and carry one with you, especially on your mountain bike. You will bend or break one eventually and this will save your ride. Also make sure your limit screws are correctly adjusted to keep the derailleur cage out of your spokes.

2. Change Your Cables and Housing Often - Most people are pretty good about changing their cables, but often neglect to change the housing which deteriorates very quickly and causes sub-par performance. Do yourself a favor and change it more often than you think you should.

3. Watch the Water - The amount of water you use to clean your bike will escalate your maintenance exponentially. Unlike, say, a motorcycle, bicycles are light and delicately sealed. Go easy with the hose and give your bike a sponge bath rather than a power washing. Try not to get water in the feehub bearings. The more water that comes in contact with your bike, the more you should expect to do to maintain it.

4. Lube Your Cables – A cable should be treated like a precious violin string–no kinks, and only gentle curves. Delicately lube cables with Shimano’s SP41 cable grease–it will make your bike shift smoother and keep it that way for a long time. Just the lightest of coatings–so as not to retard the action–will reduce the effort needed to change gears and just feel beautiful.

5. Lube Your Plastic - There’s no such thing as self-lubricating plastic. Bottom bracket cable guides tend to get gummed up with the dried sugar from energy drinks because it’s at the lowest point of the bike. Clean it off with warm water, lift the cable up and put it down a bead of SP41 to keep shifting smooth. On a SRAM rear derailleur there’s a sharp bend in cable routing which causes friction. A little grease there will keep it shifting smoothly and extend cable life.

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About the author: Don Palermini

Chicago-born editorial director Don Palermini became a cycling-based life-form in the sixth grade after completing a family road bike tour of his home state. Three years later he bought his first mountain bike to help mitigate the city's pothole-strewn streets, and began exploring the region's unpaved roads and trails. Those rides sparked a much larger journey which includes all manner of bike racing, commuting, on- and off-road bike advocacy, and a 20-plus-year marketing career in the cycling industry. Now residing in the San Francisco Bay Area and pedaling for Mtbr, his four favorite words in the English language are "breakfast served all day," together in that order.

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