Keeping your bike maintained is cheaper than you think. For the most part you can easily do it yourself in the comfort of your own garage. Basic care of your bike doesn’t require any special tools, just the ones you already have. I will list some of the basic things you can do your self to keep your bike on the road and the trail.
1. Chain-Lube it! At least once a week or depending on your riding conditions.
2. Cables-If your braking or shifting becomes harder to do, think about replacing your cables. Make sure you lube your cable before inserting it into the housing.
3. Brakes-VERY IMOPORTANT! Check your pads at least once a month. Bad brakes can lead to accidents. Replacing them only takes a pair of pliers or a hex wrench and a twist of the writst. You can easily align your V brakes by adjusting the little screws next to the bolts that hold them onto the bosses.
4. Bearings-Every few months, it might be a good idea to repack your bearings. Front bearings can be easily packed, but rear ones may require you to remove your cassette or freewheel. If you don’t have the tool, your LBS can remove it for you for less than $5.You can even repack the bearings on your head set with out any special tools.
5. Tires and Tubes-Good tires are essential to your bike’s performance. Keep them properly inflated. If you’re not sure what the pressure should be, then look at the side wall, it should give you a range of pressure that is recommended. Keep a pump and patch kit with you at all times. You never know when you will get a flat.
For the most part, the things I listed above can be done by anyone with out spending too much money. A small tub of water proof grease from your local auto parts store should be sufficient for your needs, and they cost less than $5. Cables run anywhere from $1.99-$5.99. Then cable housing is about $1-2 per foot. You should be able to replace your brake and derailleur cables and housing for less than $20.
If you feel pretty confident about your mechanical ability, and think you can take on replacing your bottom bracket, truing your wheels and adjusting your derailleur, then I would recommend picking up a DVD from Video Bike Repair. The DVD only cost about $20, then if you need some tools, you can easily purchase a beginner tool kit from Nashbar, its called the Nashbar Big Tool Kit 2.
The DVD is an excellent tool to add to your garage. Check out our review on it. It teaches you to do everything you need to do to properly repair and care for your bike.
Hopefully the list above has helped you get an idea that maintaining your bike isn’t as difficult as you may think. However, if you feel you can take on the challenge of being your own bike mechanic and saving hundreds of dollars a year from bike repair costs, then consider purchasing the DVD and tool kit.
I’ve done all my repairs on my bikes ever since I was a kid. I still work on my own bikes because I like keeping my money where it belongs, in my wallet. Besides repairing my bike is, in the words of Moe, ‘therapeutic.’