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Cycle Workshop Manual

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While the following manual doesn't cover everything but it does bring you the basicsand other tasks that are easy to do without forking big bucks on equipment

Preventing minor problems from becoming major costly ones should be the goal of every cyclist. With a little knowledge and care, many costly repairs can be prevented from happening.

Therefore this guide provides you with a workshop manual designed to help and guide cyclists through most of the basics of cycle maintenance and repair.
Washing your bike
Basic equipment

Essential lubrication
Torque levels
Pre-ride routine
]Brake checks
Brake care
Brake adjustment
Bottom bracket
Chain care
Chainset care
Front derailleur
Rear derailleur
Types of gears
Hubs and bearings
Wheels and tyres

Advanced checks

General checks
Gears and chain
Wheels and tyres
After a crash


Washing your bike

In this section of the Ausbb Bike Maintenance Guide we show you how to construct a simple preventative maintenance (PM) routine that will not only save you money but also make your cycling even more enjoyable. Let's start with the basics.

Keep your bike clean

All bikes are a collection of moving parts and when these come into contact with mud and grime performance of most components is adversely affected and wear and tear is inevitable.

Few cyclists wash their bikes after every ride. But a regular schedule of frequent, simple cleaning (once a month, once a week or more depending upon the kinds of riding you're into) is important.

There's more to cleaning your bike than just hosing it down from time to time and leaving it to dry. Water (especially from a high-pressure hose) can cause damage to bearing systems throughout your bike. So if you do wash, do so carefully.

Washing Your Bike

Every bike should be washed at least every 2-3 months. Your bike should also be washed after really dirty rides. Washing your bike is easy and does not take that much time.

What you need

A car wash brush is ideal plus a bottlebrush and toothbrush for those fiddly places.
Bike wash or wash and wax shampoo


Using the car wash brush or a sponge, wash down the entire bike.

Give the bike a second wash. This will allow you to find the spots where the dirt is especially tough and didn't come off in the first wash. Use the bottlebrush to remove dirt from the tight places the sponge or car brush couldn't fit. If you come across areas where there is perhaps a build up of oil or grease, use the toothbrush and some degreaser.

Rinse off your bike and allow to dry. Then lubricate most moving parts and where cables enter cable outers etc. See later for a proper lube routine.

Notes of caution

Avoid washing your bike in the sun because the heat will dry the frame before you're ready to rinse it.

If you must pressure wash your bike, watch those bearings, the pressure can force the water where you don't want it to go.


Basic equipment

The basic 'tool and lubrication kit'

Metric 'spanners' - 8,9,10,11mm sizes of both the box-end and open-end types
A Socket set is very useful though not essential.
Screwdrivers - flat head and Phillips
Allen keys-the standard type are good but the long workshop type are much more useful
Pliers - these will be used for pulling cables.
Large adjustable wrench-This is for use on headsets and bottom brackets

Cleaning products:

Bike wash and wax
Chain cleaner/degreaser
Hand cleaner

Oils and greases:
Light spray lube for cables
Teflon spray for all round use and summer riding
Adhesive oil for winter use
Anti-seize compound
Selection of greases including waterproof and copper

Toothbrush - this is the easiest thing to use to degrease components

Tools that should never come close to your bike

Worn wrenches: they damage the nuts and bolts you use them on.
Self-locking pliers: they damage the nut or bolt you are trying to remove and the surfaces and paintwork in the area you are working
Hammers, however there is one exception. When altering the height of the handlebars, cushion the blow with a cloth or piece of wood.

Basic techniques

Use a box-end spanner or a socket wrench whenever possible. An open-ended spanner is very likely to slip so avoid using one whenever possible. If you must use an open-ended spanner, steady your hand against other components to avoid stripping the head of bolt.

For most jobs you won't need a socket set, but if a bolt is hard to reach, it is an ideal tool so having a set is often well worthwhile.

Allen-head bolts tend to fill with dirt, so clean them before trying to make adjustments. Also, make sure that the Allen key goes all the way into the bolt before you try turning it.

If an Allen-head bolt is 'buried' in a component, try reaching it with the long leg of the Allen-key. For these jobs long workshop type Allen keys are a real benefit

You will find a Phillips screw on a derailleur and pedals. Make sure that your screwdriver fits all the way into the screw; otherwise it may get stripped.

When stripping components (for example a derailleur) lay the small parts out in order as you take them off and in the direction they were installed.

Anti-seize compound should always be used when bringing two different metals into contact with each other, for example when you put an alloy seat post into a steel frame.


Essential lubrication

Keeping your bike parts properly lubricated is crucial for good performance. Lubrication protects moving parts from excessive wear caused by friction and keeps rust and corrosion from attacking exposed metal components.

Be careful, though -- over-lubricating can lead to poor performance and component damage (excess lubricant can attract dirt and other abrasive particles). As a general rule, excess lube should always be carefully wiped away before the bicycle is ridden.

When lubricating a number of parts at once, remember the order in which you apply the lubricants. Wiping off excess lube in the same order will give the lubricants time to soak in.

Frequency of lubrication

To keep a bike and all its parts in good condition, you must 'lube' it regularly. For those who ride their bikes daily this means about once a week in winter and every 2 weeks in summer. For those who ride perhaps weekly or monthly, monthly will suffice. Certainly lube your bike after every washing.

When you lubricate your bike, be sure to use lubricants that are suited to the weather conditions you'll be riding in. Rainy areas require more durable bike oils, while drier areas require lighter oils that won't pick up as much dirt. Also keep in mind that wetter conditions typically require more frequent lubrications.

What to do

Spray lube the brake pivots being careful to not get it on the pads or rims.

Spray lube the centre of the jockey wheels to keep them running smoothly.

Lube each of the main pivots on the rear derailleur, the top pivot and the chain cage pivot. Then wipe them lightly.

Lube the front derailleur. Lube around the chain cage and the gear shifters. Lube any point where the inner gear cable turns a corner.

Your chain is your bike's most "at risk" lubricated part. It should be lubricated frequently (to slow the rate of chain wear), and will benefit from being removed from your bike from time to time to be thoroughly cleaned in a solvent and re-oiled. The more frequently you lube your chain however, the less necessary off-bike cleanings will be.

In general, you should lubricate your chain whenever it squeaks or appears "dry." Lubing after wet rides will help keep your chain from rusting. Keep in mind that the type of chain lube you use will affect how often you need to lubricate. The chain should be soaked with whatever type of lube you choose to use, follow the instructions given. Give it time to penetrate and dry if necessary.

Lube the brake levers on the pivots. Pull the brake lever so you can lube the brake cable. If you leave the nipple dry, the cable may fray, so lube it also.

Lube all of the cables. Cables connect your brake and the derailleur assemblies to the levers you use to control them. They should be checked frequently (especially in wet conditions) and re-lubricated from time to time..

Hint for lubing gear cables.

Place your gears in the lowest gear (at the back, the largest chain ring), and then use your gear lever to effectively 'change up' to the highest gear (at the back, the smallest ring). This has the affect of providing a considerable amount of 'slack' for the cable to be easily lubricated.


Torque levels

Any fixing bolt or nut that can be tightened on a bike should ideally be done to torque specifications. The table below is for general reference only. Always refer first to the manufacturers specifications..... and remember the reason for using a torque wrench - 'tights just right, too tights stripped'



Pre-ride routine

Want to make sure your bike is in tip-top condition for your daily or weekly rides? Then the best defense against loose components is a thorough pre-ride check. Regular pre-ride checks will help you catch potential problems before they develop into safety hazards. Use this quick and easy bike check to make sure it is in a safe condition. It's worthwhile performing this during, or after washing your bike.

Check your brakes.

Your brakes are properly adjusted if they are fully on by the time the brake lever is pulled halfway to the handlebars. If you are able to pull the brake lever closer than that, your brake system may need some attention.

Check the brake pads. There should be plenty of rubber left on the pad when they are about 1mm away from the rim. All brake pads have a line or notches that indicate when the pad needs replacing. If your pads have worn down to the wear line or notches, replace them.

Check for fraying brake cables. This can occur near the cable adjuster or anywhere where they emerge from the outer cable. Make sure it takes only normal pressure to apply the brakes if not this could signify a frayed or stiff cable.

If you have V-brakes, you should note that the extra stopping power comes at a cost, the brakes wear faster than the old models. Also, check to make sure the brakes are even on both sides of the rim. If not, they may need a slight adjustment.

Check your handlebars and stem for cracks.

Make sure the handlebars are level and the stem lines up with the front wheel.

Check your tyres and rims

Check the tyres for cuts and wear. Excess wear can decrease grip and increase your chances of sliding out on turns. Keep your tyres inflated to the recommended pressure. Spin the wheels while watching the gap between the rim and the brake shoe. If the rim has a noticeable wobble or an up-and-down movement, the rim needs to be trued.

Check your Cranks

Holding one crank still with one hand, see if you can move the other one. If you can, the crank bolt needs tightening.

Grasping the ends of both cranks, try to move them sideways. If they move an equal amount to the left and right, it means the bottom bracket is loose.
Lift the chain off the chain-rings so that the cranks can be easily turned. Then rotate the cranks to see if the bottom bracket needs attention.

Make sure the cranks and chain rings are both straight by looking from above. Check that all the chain ring bolts are tight using an Allen key. Make sure the pedals revolve freely.

Check your Hubs

Grab the wheel at the top and see if it wobbles side to side. If there is noticeable play, the hubs need to be adjusted. Now spin the wheel. If you hear a grinding noise or if the wheel feels rough as it spins, the bearings may need to be repacked or the hub casing replaced.

Check your Gears

Check that the gear changes are quick and accurate. Turn the pedals as you shift through the gears. As you shift, the chain should transfer smoothly from gear to gear.
Check the cable on the rear derailleur near the cable anchor bolt and wiggle the rubber pulleys to see if they are worn.

Check the front derailleur cable for fraying; making sure the chain cage is parallel to the chain. There should be a 6mm gap between the chain cage and the chain ring

Check your Chain

Weak or bent chain links can take the fun right out of a ride. Rotate the cranks backward and watch the links as they pass over the rear derailleur pulley wheels. This is the area where the chain makes its tightest turns; the bad links will hitch a little as they pass. You can loosen the links that stick by flexing the chain laterally with your fingers. Run the chain through again. If it still hitches, you may have a bad link that requires repair.

Check your Frame and Headset

Look the frame over for cracks. Also, use the front brake to hold the bike still while you rock the bike back and forth. Any noticeable play means the headset needs to be adjusted. Check the seat post clamp bolts and the saddle clamp are tight. Don't over tighten so that you do not damage the threads.
This is just a quick, simple check.

N.B. The most important part of the bike that should be checked regularly is the brakes. NEVER RIDE A BIKE WITH DAMAGED BRAKES

If you do discover looseness or "play" in any bike component, you can either fix the problem yourself or take your bicycle to a bike shop for service. Choose the first option only if you're sure of both the cause and the exact steps necessary to fix it.


Brake checks

Brake levers

Your levers can easily get 'clogged up' with dirt. When applied, levers should always move smoothly and noiseless. Checking your brake levers is easy - simply squeeze them.

When your gears are fully engaged, there should be approximately one inch of space between the inside edge of the lever and your handlebars. At this point your brakes should hold solidly against your full weight.

Levers may also slip out of position on your handlebars. The levers should be mounted firmly but with a bit of give so that in the event of a severe knock, they will move a bit rather than snap which could happen if they were mounted too firmly.

Brake assemblies

These include the brake arms, brake shoes (which house the brake pads) and the pads themselves. They can be set-up incorrectly or jarred out of position as a result of an accident or crash. They should be checked to make sure all parts move freely and are positioned properly.

Visually inspect both the front and the rear brake units and make sure they're centered on each wheel with the brake pads equidistant from the rim surfaces.

Note: Wheels that are out of true can cause many brake assembly problems.

Pads wear down therefore requiring more effort to fully engage the brakes and give slower response times. Pads can also be jarred out of position. Check regularly to see if your pads are glazed, or significantly worn. Glazed pads can be cleaned. Pads that are worn down significantly should be replaced. Unevenly worn pads can either be sanded or filed flat or may even need replacing.

Note: Each pad should fully contact the rim when the brake is engaged. They should do this without touching the tyre or hanging over the lower edge of the rim. Pads should be "toed-in" slightly when viewed from above. This is so the leading edge of the pad makes contact with the rim surface slightly before the back edge does. This improves brake effectiveness and prevents that squealing sound.

Brake cables and housings

Cables fray, rust and weaken over time. They also wear, kink and fray as a result of normal use. Cable housings that protect your cables can break, corrode or clog up over time. Cables should always move freely through all cable housings and the guides that hold them in place. Check your brake cables and housings regularly for visible frays, rust, or signs of wear during all major brake overhauls and maintenance checks.


Brake care

You should clean your brake system any time performance drops or a pre-ride inspection uncovers dirt or grime in the system. Frequent cleaning is especially important for your brake pads.

Remove grime and residue from your brake pads using a cloth and alcohol, glass paper, or even a file. Brake pad surfaces should be soft enough that you can scratch them with your fingernail. Remove any foreign objects. To resurfacing worn or dirty pads cut any ridge off with a sharp knife. Flatten if by rubbing the ridge over sandpaper or use a file.

Wipe down and lightly lubricate your brake cables every few months. Lubricate by applying a teflon spray to the cable near the cable guides and housings. Be careful not to get lubricant on your pads or wheel rims.

The pivot points found throughout your brake system can be maintained by wiping them clean and by applying a very small amount of teflon oil to the pivot areas while moving them back and forth. Lube the point of friction where the arms of a cantilever are bolted on pivots fixed to the frame.

If the brakes feel heavy but the cables are OK, it indicates an overhaul is needed. Side pull brakes need more lube because they have more internal friction. Disassemble and clean them if it takes a lot of effort to squeeze the arms together.

Adjusting cables

You need to adjust the cables when the brake lever has a lot of travel. The cable adjuster is on the brake lever on cantilevers. Loosen the locknut and give the adjuster 2 turns counterclockwise. Continue this process until the brake lever feels almost solid. On road bikes the cable adjuster is on the brake arm. Loosen the locknut and unscrew the adjuster a few turns. If necessary loosen the anchor bolt, pull the cable through a bit and retighten.

Brake Levers

You need to do the following if the brakes feel heavy and the cables need lubricating Your position is uncomfortable and you have to stretch when applying the brakes or you are installing new handlebars

Road bikes - lube the brake lever pivot; it may be sticky with old oil. Pull the brake lever and spray lube onto the end of the cable. If you need to adjust the brake lever position, remove the cable and using an Allen key, remove the clamp bolt that is at the back of the hood. Loosen the clamp bolt and pull off the handlebar. This will enable you to remove the brake lever without undoing the handlebar tape.

Mountain bikes - the pivots should be lubed regularly on mountain bikes because they are exposed. Lube the cable by pulling the brake lever and the cable adjuster. To remove or adjust the position of the brake lever, loosen the clamp bolt that is usually tucked under the shifter lever, where the gear shifter is fitted to the brake lever. You must push it fully forward to get at the clamp bolt. There may be a small Phillips screw just behind the cable adjuster. Try to adjust this so that you can make a stop using your 3 middle fingers only.

Identifying and solving braking problems

Brake levers typically malfunction for one of three reasons:

Your brake pads are not close enough to the rims
The system is not tight or fully "engaged"
Your levers are damaged or dirty

Always check that your brake pads are close enough to your wheel rims. Before you reposition them, however, check that the pads are not worn down too far, if so, replace them.

If your pads are okay, turn the cable adjustment knob counterclockwise until the desired pad to rim distance is achieved (1/8th of an inch is standard). The cable adjustment knob is either located where your brake cable enters your lever. On road bikes they are on the brake caliper.

Most modern braking systems have some sort of quick-release mechanism that allows you to loosen the cable system without affecting your brakes effectiveness. This is the 'slack' in the system needed to open the brake arms wide enough to get your wheel out. Some quick-releases are located on brake assemblies; others on brake levers or elsewhere along the cable route. If you find too much 'slack' in your braking system, first check these quick-release mechanisms to make sure they are engaged properly.

If however your brake quick-releases are connected properly but brake levers still function poorly, the levers themselves may need cleaning or repair.

Incorrectly positioned brake assemblies or brake pads

Poorly positioned brake assemblies can cause ineffective braking and/or brake squealing.

- Brake pads and brake assemblies are usually held in place by simple systems of binder bolts, washers and mounting nuts. Re-adjustment in most cases involves little more than loosening the appropriate nut or bolt, maneuvering the assembly into the proper position, and tightening the binder bolt again to keep the component in place. Because of the large number of brake designs available, detailed descriptions of specific adjustments are not included. Take some time to familiarize yourself with your brake assemblies and how they're put together, so you can make basic adjustments if necessary.

Improperly gripping brakes

If your brakes still grip poorly after you've checked your levers and assemblies, your brake system may need professional adjustment. But before taking the bike to your nearest CoBR member, check for the following:

Dirty rims can cause poor braking performance. Check your rims and clean them if necessary.

Worn or "glazed" pads. Rim grime, general brake use and time can all cause your brake pads to become hard, slick and ineffective. Check the surfaces whenever braking performance drops or your brakes "squeal". Glazed or hardened pad surfaces should be cleaned or replaced.


Brake adjustment

Installing Brake Pads

You need to do this job when the brake pads are worn past the wear line. Unhook the straddle wire from the brake arm after loosening the cable adjustment at the lever. Then undo the back of the shoe anchor bolt. Prevent it from moving with an Allen key in the front of the bolt. Pull out the pad holder and check its condition. Check for ridges at the top or bottom and if they are present do not misalign the new pad in the same way. If you need new pads, slip the pad holder into the shoe anchor bolt and allow 1mm clearance at the top of the rim. Tighten the shoe anchor.

Disassemble and Adjust

You will need to do this job if the brakes feel stiff or jerky when you pull the brake lever or rust or mud gets into the pivots To reduce tension on the brake cable, screw in the cable adjuster. Unhook one end of the straddle wire (if there is one) and lift it out of the yoke. If it is a link-wire type of brake, use an Allen key to remove the anchor bolt and pull the cable out. Remove the pivot bolt. To keep the springs and wires from being thrown in all directions, hold them in place while removing them. After cleaning and greasing the pivots, replace the pivot bolt. Turn the adjuster until each pad is 2mm from the rim and lock by tightening the pivot bolt again. There might be a small screw in the side of the cantilever arm that controls pad position. To adjust turn the screw clockwise to move pad away from the rim and vice versa. Try to equally space the pads from the rim.

New Cables for Cantilevers

You need to do this when brakes grab or lock the wheel, the cable is frayed or broken or it takes a lot of effort to emergency stop

Link Wire Cantilevers: Pull out the old cable. Make sure that the new nipple fits, grease it and insert it into the hole. Slide the housing over the inner cable. Then slide both into the adjuster, Unhook the link wire from the brake arm. Then feed the new brake cable into the cable carrier and slide the flexible hose over the end of the cable. The flexible hose should be able to touch both the cable carrier and the brake arm. Hook the link wire back into the other brake arm and adjust the spring tension. The cable carrier should sit directly below the cable hanger with at least 20mm of free cable above it. Move the brake cable into the narrow slot in the cable carrier. Make sure the pads are close enough to the rim.

Straddle Wire Cantilevers: Put the brake cable into the anchor bolt on the cable carrier and tighten carefully. See if you can lift the straddle cable into the channel on the back of the cable carrier by squeezing the brake pads against the rims. If it's tight, slightly lengthen the main brake cable. Do the opposite if it is too loose. When the brakes are off, the pads should be 2mm from the rim. The straddle wire should form a right angle for best control. Loosen the brake arm and adjust the length of the straddle wire if it doesn't. Make sure that there is enough free cable above the cable carrier so the brake comes on fully.

Care and inspection of Side pull brakes

Installing Brake Pads

Screw in the cable adjuster, operating the quick release so there is some give in the cable. Undo the brake and squeeze the pad out between the brake and rim. Slip the pad into the slot and tighten lightly. Pull the brake lever a few times. While pulling the brake lever, notice where the pad hits the rim. Go for clearance at the top of the rim, but make sure there is no overlap at the bottom. Tighten the bolt securely and test it out.

Brake adjustments

You will need to do this job when you installed a new cable or the braking feels rough.

Pull off the cable end cap and undo the anchor bolt. Being careful, try to remove the inner cable without it fraying. The nipple should drop out of the cable anchor and into the brake lever. On some forks there is a self-locking nut or an Allen head sleeve bolt. Make sure you check how the brake is attached to the forks. Take off the brake from the forks and remove the adjuster nut that is holding everything in place on the pivot bolt. Disengage the spring and then take the brake arms off. Now clean and reassemble everything. Make sure you put anti-seize on all points where friction occurs.
If you notice that one of the pads touches the rim, centre the brake. This may take a couple of tries.

New Cables for Side pull brakes

You need to do this job if your brake cable is frayed and/or lubing a cable doesn't free it.

Remove the cable. You may have to cut it out, as frayed cables are hard to pull out through the anchor bolt. It is easier to pull the nipple end out of the brake lever if you slide the housing off first. You may have to peel back the rubber hood and pry out a plastic cover to get at the nipple. Undo the handlebar tape (if the cable runs underneath it) as it will make it easier to install the cable later. From the brake end of the housing try to push out the inner cable. The nipple should pop out and then you can pull out the cable with pliers. You might have to remove the nipple with pliers if it won't come out. If the old plastic housing is kinked, cut a new piece, using the old as a guide for its length.

Spray lube into the housing until it comes out the other end. Then thread the inner cable into the housing. If the cable comes out the top of the brake lever, the housing sits in a separate ferrule that fits into the lever. Next thread the inner cable into the housing and turn the cable anchor until it's in the right position, then put the nipple into place. Fix the cable into place on the side of the brake lever. Keep the inner cable under slight tension so that it doesn't slip out. Pass it through the cable adjuster, then the anchor bolt and pull it tight. Check that the adjuster is screwed in and fit the anchor bolt. Pull the cable tight with one hand while pulling the brake pads with the other. Then tighten the anchor bolt and check the adjustment. Tighten the anchor bolt slightly and then tension the brake


Bottom bracket


* Having removed both cranks from the bike start with the chain side first.
* Engage the external teeth of the extractor with the retaining ring.
* Once positioned in the retaining ring, place a large spanner or adjustable spanner on the extractor. You need to be very gentle with the spanner as the retaining ring is usually made of plastic, or a resin and if you are not careful, you could strip it. This one you need to rotate in a CLOCKWISE direction to remove.
* Now, you need to insert to extractor on the non-chain side. To remove you rotate this one in the regular, counter-clockwise direction.
* Now remove the cartridge out of the bottom bracket shell.


* Clean the inside of the bottom bracket shell with spray lube.
* Again start with the chain side by screwing the retaining ring in partially, to make sure the threads are clean. Coat with anti-seize, or copper grease, if appropriate.
* Screw the retaining ring in about 2/3 of the way with your fingers, making sure it goes in straight.
* Now switch to the non-chain side of the bike. Make sure the cartridge is clean and again apply anti-seize, or copper grease, if appropriate. Screw it in as far as you can with your fingers.
* Now use the wrench to tighten it into position. It should be flush with the bottom bracket shell. Remember to screw this side, the non-chain side, in clockwise.
* Now go back to the chain side. You need to tighten the retaining ring until it touches the end of the cartridge. This will lock it into place.


Chain care

The chain is the component that connects the all the major components of your drive train. It's purpose is to distribute your leg power throughout the other components to produce forward momentum.

Briefly inspect your bike chain before every ride to make sure it's clean or at least adequately lubricated. Every few weeks or months, depending on the frequency of your riding, closely examine your chain for wear and chain stretch. You can purchase a special tool for measuring chain stretch. Certainly consider these as possible culprits whenever shifting becomes inefficient.

Checking your chain

* Pre-ride chain checks

Rotate your pedals slowly backwards. Inspect individual chain links for build-up of dirt, rust and tight links. Tight links become very apparent as they pass through the curves of the chain's path.
* In-depth chain inspections

For an in-depth inspection first remove your chain from your bike, thoroughly clean it by leaving it to soak in degreaser or a suitable solvent. Then, check carefully for wear and stretch.

Prevention is better than cure - keeping the chain clean

Dirt causes various problems with your chain not least of which is shifting performance. It also:

* Increases the rate of chain wear
* The rate of wear and tear on derailleur and cassette cogs is increased
* The flexibility of individual chain links can be affected

Cleaning a chain is a relatively simple process that needn't take a lot of time or effort.

Regular, on-bike cleanings

The simplest method for cleaning your chain on the bike is to use a Chain Cleaner. This simple to use piece of equipment should be a "must purchase" for every cyclist - it makes chain cleaning a doddle.

If you do not have a chain cleaner, simply scrub the chain with a firm brush, toothbrushes or nail brushes work well, and a good quality degreaser.

Once cleaned and dried, re-lubricate with a chain specific lubricant. Teflon based lubricants that dry are best. If you use a lube that doesn't dry, remember to wipe off excess lubricant with a clean dry rag. Dirt loves a "wet" chain and especially one that is wet with oil.

Off-bike cleanings

Every few months or so, you can completely remove your chain, scrub it well, then soak it in solvent or degreaser, probably overnight. Make sure the chain is completely immersed in the cleaning fluid.

After removing the chain from the cleaning fluid, scrub off any remaining dirt with a firm, clean brush, and then dry the entire chain using a dry, clean cloth. After making sure that the solvent has completely evaporated, re-lubricate your chain and re-install.

A note on chain stretch

If a thorough cleaning doesn't remove your shifting problems, and there are no other causes of the problem, your chain may be stretched and therefore in need of replacement. Chain stretch is normal and it can be there even if the chain appears to be in good condition. A worn or stretched chain can cause excess wear and tear on chain rings and rear cassette.

Got a problem? Find the answer

There are many different situations that cause shifting problems and which make your chain slip or jump. When the chain is to blame, there are two common culprits:

Tight links

These are chain links that don't bend efficiently as they pass through the curves in the chain path. The easiest way to spot them is to pedal your chain slowly backwards and watch as individual links pass through the tight turns of your rear derailleur. A stiff link will be very obvious.

Most tight links are caused by corrosion or dirt. Therefore they can often be fixed with a good cleaning, some re-lubrication, and a little flexing back and forth of the chain with your hands.

Other tight links can be the result of improper pin installation or serious chain damage. Poorly installed link pins can be worked back into position either by shifting them back and forth inside of their chain plates using a chain tool or flexing the chain. A damaged chain however should always be replaced.

A worn chain

Like most other parts on your bike, chains wear over time. As a chain wears the spaces inside each link (into which the teeth of your chain wheels or cogs fit) get longer and therefore cease to fit the teeth snugly. The only way to fix a worn chain is to replace it.


Chainset care

The crank set is the collective name we give to the system of components made up of the cranks, which are the metal "arms" that connect your pedals to the rest of the drive train. The bottom bracket, which is the axle and bearing system, that allows the cranks to rotate freely within your frame. Finally, the chain set made up of a number of chain rings.

The purpose of the crank set is to transfer your pedaling power to the remainder of your bikes drive train system i.e. rear cassette, front and rear derailleur etc.

You should regularly check your cranks and chain rings, particularly if you ride off-road; to make sure they're in good physical condition. You should also check your bottom bracket to make sure there's no "play".

Got a problem? Get the answer

The main problems experienced with the Crank set are:

* Damaged cranks
* Worn or damaged chain rings
* Play in the bottom bracket bearings

All crank set problems can be serious and it is usually best to have the bike checked by a competent cycle mechanic. Our guidance therefore concentrates on procedures that are relatively simple to perform.

Simple checking procedure

Inspect your cranks and chain rings visually, looking for cracks, dents or other signs of damage. Also check your chain rings for general cleanliness. In the event of you finding damage, whilst a "bent" chain ring can sometimes by straightened with the use an adjustable hand wrench, a damaged crank should be replaced immediately.

To check the condition of your bottom bracket bearings, grab hold of either crank and rock it back and forth perpendicular to your frame.

Movement or "knocking" may suggest that the bearings need to be adjusted, are damaged and need to be replaced, or the crank bolts are loose.

Crank set Cleaning Procedures

* Clean completely whenever you wash your frame. Each time you clean also check carefully for hairline cracks.
* Regularly clean the grime and dirt build-up off your chain rings, using a stiff brush and solvent when necessary. To get into those hard-to-reach places, a screwdriver wrapped in a clean rag or one soaked in degreaser is ideal.
* When cleaning your bike keep the bearings in your bottom bracket as dry as possible. Watch out for those jet washers, they can force water where it shouldn't go.

Removing and replacing a modern chain set

* Most chain sets have dust covers to protect them. They come in two types. The plastic ones you can remove with a screwdriver. The more expensive bikes, however, have caps that screw into place.
* Once the dust cap is off, you will need an extraction tool. On one side of the tool is a socket wrench. You need this first. Make sure it fits snugly over the crank bolt. Now, use a spanner or adjustable wrench to loosen it.
* Once the bolt is loosened, you can unscrew it the rest of the way with your hands. Make sure you didn't leave a washer inside the crank.
* Now you need to make sure the threads on the crank and on the extraction tool are not damaged. If not, screw the extractor into the crank.
* The extractor should screw in easily within 5 or 6 turns. If it takes less than that, remove it and start again as you probably have it twisted.
* Once you have it straight, gently tighten the extractor with a spanner or adjustable wrench. Now screw the shaft of the extractor in by hand and then use a spanner or wrench and get it firmly into place.
* It takes a lot of force to loosen a crank, so, if for some reason it becomes easier suddenly, stop and check everything. The crank is either loose or, you are damaging something.

If you have a really good bike, the chain set is often removed by unscrewing a central Allen bolt alone.


When you are reassembling crank bolt, consider using Loctite adhesive to help retain the bolt
Removing and replacing chain rings

All chain rings are bolted onto the spider with chrome Allen bolts. Undo one of the bolts a half-turn, then, undo the next one similarly, and so on until all are loose enough to remove by hand. Many of these Allen bolts attach through a sleeve extending through the chain rings and the spider.

* You can detach the outer ring by gently puling on it. Now slide it up the pedal arm. Make sure there are no spacers and then lift it away.
* Many times you will need to remove the sleeve nuts before you can take off the other chain rings.
* Sometimes, the inner chain ring will be attached with a separate set of bolts. Undo these in the same manner as described above.

Before you can replace a chain ring you need to remove the chain set from the bottom bracket. See elsewhere.

Removing and replacing a cotter pin chain set


* First you need to undo the nut and washer on the cotter pin. Now, give the cotter pin a good thump with a hammer. If that doesn't push it out, try using a small metal bar and place that on the pin. Then hit it again.
* If the pin isn't damaged (but it probably will be), you can reuse it but we would always suggest using a new one.


* First try to fit the new pin into the crank arm. If it doesn't fit, gradually file the pin down, trying it every so often.
* The pin should stick out of both sides of the crank arm equally.
* Make sure the nut is under the crank when the crank points backwards.
* Use a hammer and lightly tap the pin into place, then put the nut and washer in place.



You should regularly inspect your cables for fraying. Fraying will usually occur below anchor bolts, at the end of a cable, or near the cable hanger. When working with cables the ideal tools you will need are Wire Cutters, Cable Cutters and a Fourth-hand Tool.

Cutting standard cable housing:

When replacing the outer cable housing, measure it against the old one so that you get the correct length. Then squeeze the cutter lightly so the jaws slide between the coils of the wire. Then carefully squeeze the cutters to cut the wire. Clean up the jagged end of the wire with the cutters before fitting it.

You should fit cable housings with a metal ferrule at each end. These ensure that the housings seat squarely in cable stops. Trying to fit a new inner cable into an outer housing with a damaged end will cause it to fray. If this happens, pull the inner cable out of the housing and try to re-cut the damaged end.

You can tension cables with a fourth-hand tool, this tool gives you greater control. When fitting a new cable once you've checked that your derailleur and/or brakes are working properly. Cut off any spare cable that may be left and put an end cap on the end of the cable.



The frame is the solid, angular skeleton of your bicycle. It provides your bike's overall structure and its strength. You should check your frame regularly for dents, bulges, wrinkles, cracks or any other structural damage caused by accidents. Also check the paintwork for corrosion, nicks and general damage. Make a quick check of your frame every time you wash it and after all serious crashes.

Structural frame damage is typically caused by accidents, fatigue or collisions. It usually appears as a "wrinkle", crease or crack in the frame tubes or the joints where they meet. Scan your frame carefully, paying special attention to joints, drop outs and the area around your bottom bracket. Paint damage can lead to rust and corrosion over time.

Each time you wash your bike, check your frame for any areas where the frame metal has been exposed by wear or damage.

Common Frame Problems and Solutions

Damaged frames should be taken into a cycle retailer for evaluation as soon as any damage is noticed. Dented, bent, or cracked frames can be serious safety hazards, even if they still "feel" solid.

Bike frames suffer nicks, cuts and gouges all the time as a result of normal use. These minor scrapes and dings will have little to no effect on immediate riding performance. However, if left, they can expose your bike to rust and corrosion problems over time. The best way to avoid any corrosive damage to your bike frame is to keep it as clean and dry as possible. To repair scratch damage, simply paint over any nicks, cuts and gouges with durable touch-up paint every six months or so. Touch-up paint is available from most CoBR members.

To keep your frame in good shape, wash or wipe it down frequently. If the dirt on your frame is dry, wipe it off with a clean rag or soft brush. If it's wet, use a sponge and soapy water being careful to keep the water away from your bike's bearing systems as much as possible (this includes the headset, bottom bracket, wheel axles and pedals). For an added layer of frame protection, seriously consider the use of a high quality Cycle Polish, visit our shopping area. Not only will this offer some protection to your paint finish but your bike will continue to look like the day you bought it.



"Freewheel" is the name of the group of sprockets on rear wheels of derailleur-equipped bikes. They are also referred to as the rear cassette or in our house "the ringy things at the back", a long story.

Overhauling freewheels is possible but not easy or recommended for beginners. Most cycle mechanics do not overhaul freewheels, it is usually much easier just to replace them. However, replacing a freewheel should only be done if you replace the chain at the same time. That's because the freewheel's sprockets and the chain wear together. As the chain stretches, the spacing between the sprocket teeth also increases. If you replace only one or the other, you may end up with a skipping effect in the highest gears (smallest sprockets).

If you have an occasional, non-rhythmic skip on a bike with an old chain and freewheel, it is time to replace them. If the skip happens at regular intervals, the problem is most likely a stiff chain link, dirt on the freewheel sprockets, or a damaged sprocket tooth.

If you want to service the freewheel, the first thing to do is to soak the entire unit in degreaser, let it dry, then soak a small amount of oil into it. Most freewheels have a left-hand threaded plate screwed onto the outer surface of their core. The plate has two holes. You can place a small punch against one of the holes, and tap on it with a hammer. The plate will unscrew, and the freewheel will then fall apart.

There are lots of (usually 78) 1/8" ball bearings inside which will fall out. After cleaning the freewheel, put grease in the grooves in which the bearing balls run, and stick the balls into the grease to hold them in position while reassembling the freewheel. Leave a gap for one or two balls in each groove.

Do not grease the ratcheted surface against which the two (sometimes three) pawls ('clickers') run, but instead coat it with a small amount of oil. In cold weather, grease could impede the movement of the pawls.

You will find a few very thin shims stacked on the core of the freewheel. These fragile shims are used to adjust the closeness of the bearings. Be careful in handling them, because if you damage one and have to leave it out, the freewheel will usually be too tight to work properly.

After reassembling the freewheel, set a punch against one of the two holes in the top plate, and bang repeatedly, but lightly against it to tighten it fully. This plate is rather brittle, so you'll want to apply the force as numerous small hits rather than clobbering it.

Most freewheels have removable sprockets, but for many brands, replacements are unavailable. Sprockets can be removed with a pair of tools made by attaching bicycle chain to bars. While holding one such sprocket tool on a large sprocket, unscrew the smallest sprocket and then the second smallest. Most freewheel sprockets have regular right-hand threading.

Derailleur-Equipped Bike Wheels

On derailleur-equipped bikes, you need to take the freewheel off the rear wheel to adjust the cones properly. You'll need a specific freewheel remover tool for your brand of freewheel. There are about six common types. Take your bike to your local CoBR retailer so they can see what you need and sell you the right one.

Insert the remover fully. If it is the type with prongs, screw the axle nut or quick release skewer back on loosely to keep the tool from slipping. Grab the remover in a vice or with a large wrench and unscrew it counter-clockwise. It will probably be quite tight. If you are using the pronged type remover, after the freewheel is loosened, remove the axle nut or quick release skewer, before you finish unscrewing the freewheel.

Adjust the wheel bearings just like you would do with a front wheel.

Putting the freewheel back on is much easier. Just screw it on.


Front derailleur

The front derailleur is the metal "cage" attached or clamped to your seat post that moves your chain from one chain ring to another. It moves from side to side, carrying the chain along with it as you click the appropriate shift lever.

You should check, clean and lube your front derailleur regularly to make sure it functions. You should check your front derailleur quickly before each ride.

The easiest way to check your front derailleur is with your rear wheel off the ground.

* Whilst in this position rotate the pedals and shift your front gear lever through its full range. If your front derailleur is properly adjusted, the chain will shift quickly and easily from one ring to the next and without overshooting or jumping off the chain set.

Got a problem? Get the answer

Front derailleur problems involve slow or inaccurate shifting. A front derailleur usually malfunctions because:

1. It's dirty and needs lubricating
2. The cable is damaged or incorrectly tensioned
3. The mechanism is not positioned properly on the seat tube
4. The limit screws are not adjusted correctly

See the navigation grid above for specific information regarding how to effectively overcome these difficulties.

If, despite the adjustments described, shifting difficulties persist, you may have a more serious shifting problem. An experienced cycle mechanic should be brought in to help.

Problems caused by dirt

Many front derailleur problems are caused by simple dirt, grit or insufficient lubrication. Even small amounts of dirt and grit can cause problems, so keep it clean and re-lubricate every month or so, depending on riding conditions.

Clean the derailleur by brushing all exposed parts with a stiff brush. Stubborn dirt is best removed by wiping with a clean rag soaked in degreaser. Be sure to clean the derailleur mechanism thoroughly but carefully, including the hard to reach areas of the main body and arm.

When re-lubing, focus on the moving pivots of the mechanism. It is best to use a spray lubricant designed specifically for bikes and, whilst lubing, shift the derailleur back and forth while spraying so you can work the lube into the tough to reach places. Wipe off excess lubricant, this will only attract dirt.

Problems caused by cable damage or incorrect tension

If a cable is very obviously damaged, it must be changed. Better to do it now, than have it "snap" whilst out on the trail. Luckily most problems with cables only require minor adjustment.

Most modern bikes have fine-tuning devices called barrel adjusters. These simple, round adjustment knobs, are usually built into derailleur systems and are typically located on your gear lever. These adjusters allow you to fine tune your derailleur by increasing or decreasing the tension of your cable.

Most bikes with "indexed" derailleur systems have barrel adjusters but not all. Plus, this method of adjustment is used more for fine adjustment of the rear derailleur than the front.

To fine-tune your front derailleur using your barrel adjuster, start with your chain on the largest front ring and largest rear cog.

* Shift your chain down to the next smallest chain ring and check to see how close the inside surface of the chain is to the inside wall of the derailleur cage.
* The two surfaces should be as close as possible (approx. 0.5mm) without touching.
* Turn the barrel adjuster counterclockwise to move the derailleur cage inward i.e. away from the chain surface. Turn it clockwise to move the cage outward.

Repositioning the front derailleur

To check the position of your front derailleur:

* Shift it so that the derailleur arm is positioned over the largest chain ring.
* The "cage", the curved section of the derailleur that the chain passes through, should be approximately 2mm above the teeth of the chain ring.
* The outer plate of the cage should be lined up parallel with the chain ring.

To reposition your front derailleur:

* Loosen the mounting bolt that holds it onto your frame.
* Re-position the derailleur by sliding it up and down and/or rotating it slightly from side to side. You may have to loosen the derailleur cable in order to move the body.
* When properly re-positioned be sure to retighten the mounting bolt carefully before riding.

Poorly adjusted limit screws cause many shifting problems. To be at it's most effective the cage must move from side to side within a very specific tolerances.

Limit screws

Limit screws control the inner and outer limits of your arm's sideways movement. These small screws are typically located next to one another on the main derailleur body.

Each screw controls one extreme of the derailleur movement. The "outer stop" screw determines the farthest distance the derailleur will travel away from the frame. The "inner stop" screw determines how close the derailleur will travel inwards toward the frame. Tuning these 2 limit screws correctly will ensure your derailleur performs without problems.

Which is which? Inner and outer limit screws are identified by many methods. Most are labeled with "L" for low gear, which refers to the smallest chain ring, or "H" for high gear, which refers to the largest.

Setting the inner stop.

The first step is to see how far the derailleur swings in toward your frame. To do this, you must shift the derailleur to the innermost chain ring and let the tension out of the cable by loosening the bolt that anchors the cable to the body. Loosening this cable will ensure that the arm is free to swing freely.

Then shift your chain to the smallest chain ring and the largest rear cog. Use your inner limit screw to position the inner wall of the cage so that there is 2mm of clearance at their closest point.

Once you've set your inner stop, with your chain still on the smallest chain ring, pull the cable taut and re-connect and tighten.

Setting the outer stop

Now shift your chain to the largest chain ring and the smallest rear cog. Use your outer limit screw to position the outside face of the cage 2mm away from the outer surface of your chain at their closest point.

It is this adjustment that stops your chain from overshooting the outermost chain ring and falling off your bike. Since some shifting systems do not automatically shift the derailleur as far as it can, pull outward slightly on the front derailleur cable as you set and test your outer limit adjustments. This added cable tension will ensure that the chain can't be thrown.


Rear derailleur

The rear derailleur is the incredible mechanism that shifts your chain from cog to cog on the rear wheel. Like the front derailleur, it moves from side to side in response to shift commands from a gear lever. The rear derailleur also absorbs the chain slack that happens when shifting from large cogs to smaller ones.

The rear derailleur should be cleaned, lubed and checked regularly to make sure it is in good working condition and properly adjusted.

To check the performance:

* Suspend your rear wheel off the ground.
* Rotate your pedals while taking your rear shift lever through its full range of gearing options.
* A properly functioning rear derailleur will shift the chain quickly and easily from cog to cog.
* The cage or "hanger" of your derailleur should easily extend back and forth to take up or give any slack when needed.

Got a problem? Get the answer.

The rear derailleur typically malfunctions because:

1. It is dirty, needs lubrication or is damaged
2. It needs to be adjusted

Problems caused by dirt and damage

Like the front derailleur many rear derailleur problems are caused by simple dirt, grit or insufficient lubrication. Even small amounts of dirt and grit can cause problems, so keep it clean and re-lubricate every month or so, depending on riding conditions.

Clean the derailleur by brushing all exposed parts with a stiff brush. Stubborn dirt is best removed by wiping with a clean rag soaked in degreaser. Be sure to clean the derailleur mechanism thoroughly but carefully, including the hard to reach areas.

When re-lubing, focus on the moving pivots of the mechanism. It is best to use a spray lubricant designed specifically for bikes and, whilst lubing, shift the derailleur back and forth while spraying so you can work the lube into the tough to reach places. Wipe off excess lubricant.

When performing this vital function of Bike maintenance check that the derailleur is not bent or damaged in anyway. If it is take it to a competent cycle mechanic.

Problems caused by poor adjustment - Limit screws

Begin any rear derailleur adjustment by checking your limit screws. These screws can be checked in much the same manner as the front derailleur except that you check how the derailleur guide pulleys (the toothed wheels in the derailleur hanger) line up with the inner and outer cogs.

Derailleur limit screws are typically located on the main body. The "L" screw will control the inner stop of the rear derailleur, above the largest cog. The "H" screw will control the outer stop, above the smallest cog.

Setting the outer limit

First adjust the "H" or outer limit screw; this is different from the front derailleur procedures. The outer adjustment should be made with the cable loose, so that the derailleur is free to swing all the way outward to its limit. To loosen the cable, simply loosen the binder bolt that holds it to the arm.

Once the bolt is loose and the cable is free, shift your chain outward onto the smallest rear cog and the largest chain ring at the front. Set your outer limit screw so that the pulleys of your rear derailleur are directly in line with the outermost cog. View this from the rear of the bike.

Once set, pull the cable taut and re-anchor it. If your derailleur has a barrel adjuster, turn the adjuster so that it's 1 or 2 full turns back from its most clockwise position before you reconnect the cable. This will give you room for any fine adjustment later.

Setting the inner limit.

Shift your chain onto the smallest chain ring and largest rear cog. Then use the inner limit screw to line up the pulleys with the largest rear cog, again as viewed from the rear of the bike.

The rear derailleur will not automatically travel as far inward as they can when you shift the chain onto its innermost cogs. To make sure therefore that the chain cannot be thrown off into your wheel, give your cable a strong pull when lining the derailleur pulleys up with the innermost rear cog. If you can pull the pulleys past the innermost cog, tighten the inner limit screw, clockwise and test again. If the pulley won't travel inward far enough, loosen the limit screw counter clockwise.

Problems caused by poor adjustment - Barrel adjustments

You may be able to fine-tune your adjustment using the barrel adjuster. If you have one of these simple, round adjustment knobs, it will be located either on the rear derailleur body or on your shift lever.

Use the barrel adjuster to fine-tune the derailleur, shift your chain onto the smallest cog and the largest chain ring. Shift your gear lever once whilst checking to see if your chain shifts easily and quickly up to the second cog. If it doesn't, or if the shift is noisy and inefficient, turn your barrel adjuster counterclockwise one-quarter turn to tighten the cable and pull the derailleur slightly inward. Repeat this procedure until the shift is accurate.



Your headset is a system made up essentially of two sets of ball bearings. These ball bearing sets are located just above and just below your frame's head tube. The headset allows your handlebars, stem and front fork to turn freely inside of the head tube.

To many cyclists it is the last thing that they think to check, yet it is probably one of the most important components on any bike. Look after the headeset and you won't even notice the attention you give it, you'll just enjoy smooth turning and effective stopping.
Dismantling of a headset is not for the faint hearted and is subsequently not covered here. Removing and replacing headsets requires specialist tools, tools that are very expensive, often well beyond the finances of the cyclist. Therefore, other than routine inspection and maintenance, you are best to take a problem headset to the specialist.

Common Headset Problems and Solutions

Poor headset adjustment

Solution - These can be complex procedures, and are often best left to the skilled cycle mechanic. If however you wish to make the adjustment yourself first make sure you have the correct sized headset spanners, yes you need two. Don't use adjustable wrenches as these can slip and cause damage.

There are basically two nuts to "adjust", one is actually a locking nut. First loosen the top nut. This may already be loose, clearly indicating there is a problem. Tighten, or loosen, the nut below the locking nut until you get the movement you wish from the headset. Then, whilst holding this nut in place with one spanner, tighten the top "locking nut" with a second spanner.

Bearing system damage

Solution - Bearing system problems are also often beyond the abilities of most "home mechanics". If you think the bearing system is damaged you should really take you bike to your nearest CoBR member.

Headset adjustment

You should check your headset to make sure it's secure and that it allows for smooth steering. You should perform the following headset checks before every ride.

Headset adjustment.

To check for good headset adjustment, apply the front brake fully and push backwards and forwards against the grip of the brake. There should be no looseness, play, or knocking in the headset. If there is, turn the handlebars 90 degrees and try again, this will ensure the looseness is in the headset and not your brakes.

Special note: If you have front shock absorbers, compress them slightly before performing the test.

Bearing systems

The bearing systems are designed to provide a full range of smooth, jerk-free rotation. To check, lift your front wheel off the ground and turn the handlebars slowly backwards and forwards. Well-tuned bearing sets will give you a smooth rotation. If damaged or poorly adjusted they will either bind during the rotation, or feel rough or jerky. As you perform these checks, ensure your brake and gear cables aren't interfering with rotation of the handlebar.

Also, listen for grinding sounds, rattles, or other noises from your headset. These can all be signs of bearing system problems.



Pedals are the free-spinning platforms at the ends of your crank arms. They provide something for your feet to push against to get your bike moving.

You should check your pedals to make sure they're securely attached to your crank arms and that the bearing systems that allow them to rotate freely are in good working order. Most pedals do not have to be cleaned as part of a normal schedule of preventative maintenance. Treat them with care however when washing your bicycle as they contain bearing systems that can be damaged by water and dirt.

To check the ball bearing systems in your pedals, grasp each pedal firmly and shake it from side to side while holding the corresponding crank arm still. If the pedal moves or knocks in response to this shifting, you may have a bearing problem. You should also check these bearing systems by holding onto each pedal lightly and keeping it level while rotating the corresponding crank arm through a full rotation. If you notice any roughness or binding as the pedal rotates around its axis, you may have bearing damage.

Special note for clipless pedals
If you have clipless pedals, clean the springs and cleat surfaces frequently with a clean rag. Lubricate them with a spray or drip lubricant as recommended by the manufacturer. This maintenance is especially important for off-road clipless pedals.



Your saddle is your third contact point with the bike, hands and feet being the others. Often it is the saddle that takes the largest percentage of your body weight and therefore choosing the correct saddle and the correct adjustment are paramount if you are to enjoy cycling.

(Please see other areas of the site for information regarding saddle selection))
Saddle Problems and Solutions

Loose or poorly adjusted saddle

Proper saddle position is often a matter of personal preference. Saddles can be adjusted for height, tilt and fore/aft position. The exact combination that works best for you will depend on your physical size and your riding style. For more information about checking saddle position and making adjustments, check elsewhere in the site.

Make sure your saddle is secure before every ride. Most saddles are held in place by a few simple nuts and bolts. All of them should be tight enough to resist vigorous shaking.

An over-extended seat post

This is a serious safety hazard. In general, at least two inches of your seat post should be inserted into your frame at all times. This rule however will vary considerably if you follow the growing fashion of "showing a lot of seatpost".

If you have to raise your seat post beyond its extension limit line to get comfortable on your saddle, it's probably time for a larger seat post, or a bigger bike.

Once you've found the "perfect" saddle position for you, mark your seat post and your saddle rails with tape or felt tip pen (indelible) so you can readjust them easily.

Preventing problems

Regularly remove your seat post from your frame and coat it with a thin layer of grease before re-installing it. This grease layer will help protect the post against rust and corrosion and more important, prevent the post seizing in your frame.
Checking your saddle

You should check your saddle to ensure it's secure and properly positioned.

Grasp it firmly and attempt to move it out of position while holding your bike steady. Some side-to-side movement will probably occur but if your seat post shifts up and down, or your saddle feels loose, make adjustments.

Also check your seat post visually to make sure you haven't exceeded the seat post extension limit line (the furthest point that the post can be safely extended upwards) has not been exceeded. This is clearly marked on the side of your seat post.

Regularly remove your seat post from your frame and coat it with a thin layer of grease before re-installing it. This grease layer will help protect the post against rust and corrosion and more important prevent the post seizing in your frame.

Saddle Cleaning Procedures

To keep your saddle in good condition, simply wipe it down from time to time and treat it with UV-protective conditioner. Most models can be cleaned with light soap and a little clean water. Others require special cleaners designed for their specific materials.
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