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Cheapest Cycle Hacks Revealed - With Tools From £2

12 May 2022, 1:00 pm
  • Preventative bike maintenance reduces the need for costly professional services
  • Understanding how your bike works and performing home fixes saves time and money
  • Latest Deals reveals the cheapest cycle hacks to keep your bike in top condition
  • Tricks include picking up O-rings for £2 and adjusting the shifts using wrenches

Bikes will largely encounter problems for one of two reasons - you’ve done something to it, or it’s not being maintained properly. A bike which is properly looked after can last for decades, so it’s worth knowing how to spot and resolve problems before the issue becomes so large, only a bike mechanic can fix it - or you have to replace the bike completely. It will be helpful for you to get to grips with the structure of a bike frame and understand its parts - there are plenty of helpful books and YouTube videos out there to get you up to speed. From there, you can begin regularly inspecting it.

Tom Church, Co-Founder of LatestDeals.co.uk, said: ‘To get your frame professionally serviced, you’d go somewhere like Halfords every 12 months or so and pay £80 or more for their Gold Service - where the bike mechanic would strip back your bike to the frame and inspect it before cleaning it, rebuilding it and re-greasing it. However, by getting the right preventative habits in place, you can avoid paying out for this service and easily do it yourself with a little practice. Here are some tips for preventative maintenance that won’t cost you the earth.’

Reduce Rust - Buy O-Rings For £2

Maintaining your bike frame is of paramount importance. After all, without a frame, you don’t have a rideable bike! Frames can last anywhere between 6 and 40 years, with carbon and titanium frames being the most durable with the right care. However, these are expensive, so you may have a steel frame - which is susceptible to rust. If you’re a regular rider, you’ll likely know that rust is a bike’s number one enemy. Therefore, one important measure you can take is to prevent your frame from rusting over time. This is particularly vital for steel frames. Spray a product such as WD-40 into the frame whenever you can, but you can also take it up a notch and use a rust-inhibitor such as Muc-Off Bike Protector, which is under a tenner and prevents corrosion build-up. Also, did you know that painting your frame each year can prevent rust? It will be tough to get touch-up paint directly from the manufacturer, but you can use a similar color from an auto dealer or auto parts shop.

To reduce paint chips, consider investing in a chainstay protector. These are relatively cheap, as they’re available online for under a tenner - in some cases, you can get them for less than a fiver. This will prevent your chainstay from being impacted by the chain, which can result in chips. Furthermore, you can get O-rings to protect the cables from marking your frame - and these only cost a couple of pounds. If you find yourself riding your trusty old steel frame through rough weather, knocking up road salt over time and causing rust spots, you can also use steel wool to carefully remove them. However, be aware that this method will likely leave micro-scratches on your frame.

Preventative Tyre Care - Avoid Cracks With £10 Gauge

Replacing bike tyres is expensive, so the best way to prevent this scenario is by monitoring your existing setup. It’s important to regularly give your bike a once-over, especially if you use it often. When you check out the tyres, ensure the air pressure matches that which is recommended on the sidewall. You’ll need an air pressure gauge for this job, but it’s easy to get one for around a tenner.

Another preventative measure is mitigating the effects of UV degradation. In other words, tyres are made of rubber, and this material can break down after prolonged exposure to UV rays from the sun. The manufacturer will already have put in some work to slow down the process of the rubber degrading - a UV stabiliser called Carbon Black is typically applied to tyres during manufacture, which helps to capture UV radiation and turn it into harmless heat. However, you can help to postpone the degradation further by storing your bike out of the sun when it’s not in use.

Wheel Truing - £5 Spoke Wrench and £10 Truing Stand Do The Job

You may have encountered a situation where your bike began making that all too distinctive noise that indicates the rim on one or both of your wheels is bent. In some cases, it can be quicker to go down to a bike mechanic - for example, Halfords will charge £10 per wheel true. However, you can also learn how to realign your wheel yourself, which is particularly useful for situations where you don’t want to wait for a fix or travel to a bike shop.

There are a few specialist tools you’ll need, which will pay for themselves over time. The first is a truing stand - even when you’ve become an expert, it’s useful to keep it in the stand to guarantee accuracy. You can generally buy a stand for as little as a tenner. If your rim is bent due to a broken spoke, you’ll want to get a spoke wrench for under a fiver and sort that out first. Next, move the wheel around to see which section is closest to the brake pad and which is furthest. Move it to the closest area and tighten the opposite spoke. The rim will be pulled back into alignment. Repeat this process until the wheel sections are equally distant.

Adjust Your Shifts - Use Hex Wrenches For A Couple Of Pounds

Nobody wants to be out on the trails and struggling to shift, so instead of having a hard time on your bike or traipsing down to the bike shop, you can save some money by understanding how a shift adjustment works. If you’re on a mountain bike, the main elements to be aware of are the limit screws and the cable tension. When you’re ready to begin, you will need a couple of hex wrenches and potentially a screwdriver depending on your bike manufacturer. You can easily pick up these supplies for a couple of pounds - you may even have them lying around the house already.

The first step is to shift into the smallest gear - drop the cable tension so it’s low, too. You will then need to adjust the high limit screw until the chain has lined up with the smallest gear as it would move through the derailleur. Next, move the shift a click and turn the cranks to see if the chain moves. If it stays put, turn the barrel adjuster until the silver sleeve becomes visible. Then you’ll see it shift up, so repeat this step until the shift is smooth. After that, click up with caution until you’re in the largest gear. Just make sure your low limit screw is aligned, or you risk knocking the chain into the spokes. Alternatively, move the low limit screw until the chain is aligned with the largest gear. Final checks include shifting through the cassette to see how the chain movement has improved. Add cable tension if the shifts aren’t smooth, and lower it if moving into harder gears presents issues. If the largest and smallest gears are the ones giving you grief at this stage, experiment with adjusting the limit screws slightly until the issue is resolved.

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