Although taking your bike to the shop for small repairs isn’t always necessary, if you aren’t sure what you’re doing, a simple fix could turn into a bigger problem. Luckily, our bike mechanics are always happy to help with any problem big or small and offer advice to get the job done right next time. Here are three of the most common at-home bike repair mistakes:
1. Too Much Air in Your Tires
Yes, overinflating is a thing. While your tires have a maximum pound per square inch (psi) indicated on the sidewall of your tire, it doesn’t mean you should always take it to heart. Most tires will specify around 120 psi but inflating your tires to the maximum pressure could cause your ride to be a little bouncier than is comfortable. Of course, this depends on a number of factors like the type of tubes and tires or terrain you’ll be riding on. Lowering your tire pressure by 10-30 psi could improve your comfort level and reduce the chances of getting a flat tire. If you aren’t sure what the optimal psi is for you, ask your bike mechanic—and always make sure you’re using the right type of tubes and tires.
2. Overtightening Bolts
While you’re probably just trying to make sure all the bolts are secure on your bike, overtightening can be a real issue—especially if you’ve taken the plunge into the wonderful world of carbon frames or components. Your first instinct, when faced with loose bolts, is likely to reach for your Allen keys or wrench, but your best bet is to invest a little $ into a torque wrench. Making sure you tighten your bolts to the manufacturer’s specifications could cost you less than the damage caused from overtightening.
Pay attention to your pedals too, bolts aren’t the only thing you have to worry about overtightening. Installing pedals too tightly or without grease could cause a lot of grief when you try to remove them later on.
3. Using the Wrong Lube
This one is pretty common for those of us new to at-home bike repairs. Despite what our dads might have told us, WD-40 shouldn’t be your go-to lube for everything, especially bicycle chains. (Unless you’re using their relatively new cycling-specific products mostly only found in bike shops.)
Using non-bike-specific lube for your chain will cause it to collect dirt and gunk it up in no time. Make sure you’re using appropriate wet or dry lube and keep it clean by wiping it down with a clean rag after every ride. It might seem tedious, but your bike—and your mechanic—will thank you. Not to mention your chain and drivetrain will remain in working order much longer.
Check out this video on how to keep your chain in top shape: