Dr. Ajay and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance

In the fourth of the 5-part series on Mountain Cycling, Milind Date shares Pune-based cyclist, Dr. Ajay Nandgaonkar’s recommendations on the art of bicycle maintenance!

(First-person account as transcribed by Milind Date)

  1. Learn how to remove the wheels and put them back properly. With “Quick Release” systems, it is easy. Don’t be shy of removing and putting it back many times.
  2. Know how the brakes of your bicycle work as you will have to adjust them once you have removed the wheel for fixing a flat. You will need a small Phillips screwdriver to adjust the brakes so learn this.
  3. Fixing a Puncture — know how to do it yourself. Usually when there is a puncture, open up the wheel to remove the tube. Check the tyre for any pins or pointed objects, remove if any are found, and put in a new tube. You don’t want to waste riding time so you must carry a pump with you on the ride (you get nice small ones that can be fixed on the bike as well).
  4. Wash your bike thoroughly after every two or three rides. This is a good chance to inspect it as well for things that have gone wrong. This helps you learn about the bike as well. 
  5. Lubricate the chain regularly, using a waterproof lube. This goes a long way in a smooth ride. Lubricate the brake and gear cables regularly as this helps in effective braking as well as smooth gear transitions. 
  6. Make sure your tyres are inflated to the right pressure for a good ride. 
  7. Learn how to adjust the rear derailleur. This is an art and there are range of variants of derailleurs so know which one you have on your bike. There is no end to this really and it depends upon the interest. There are a range of things that can be learned and are deeply fascinating. Make sure that your derailleurs especially the rear one is protected when you park your bike. 
  8. Most bike damage is done during transport. Make sure you have a good bike stand for car if you are planning to come back in a car. Or make sure you have packed the bike well in a truck. You don’t want a broken bike at the beginning of the ride. Or ever for that matter!
Photo: Dr. Ajay Nandgaonkar
Photo: Dr. Ajay Nandgaonkar
Photo: Dr. Ajay Nandgaonkar

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