MADISON (WKOW) -- Maybe it's for the gas savings, maybe it's for the health benefits... but millions of Americans are riding their bikes to work each day, with many cities seeing triple-digit growth in bike commuters.
Whether you use it to make your way to work, or you just enjoy a leisurely ride, your bike needs regular maintenance to keep it on the road. “If you invest in a nice bike, you want to also maintain it,” said Angie's List founder Angie Hicks. “You should think about it like your car. You do regular oil changes and rotate the tires on your car. Think about that same kind of process for your bike so it's ready to roll whenever you are."
Before each ride, do a quick check of your bike's key components. That can be as simple as ABC.
"Check your air pressure, check your brakes, and check your chain - make sure it's on to make sure everything is functional and in proper working order,” said bike retailer Scott Helvie.
Even when everything checks out, anything can happen out on the road, so be prepared - especially for the inevitable flat tire. “We highly recommend carrying what we call an essentials kit,” Helvie suggested. “It's a seat bag. It's got a tire lever in it. It's got a patch kit in it. You can either carry a frame pump on your bike or some co-2 cartridges for air pressure and then the appropriate tube that fits into your tire."
And just like a car requires regular oil changes, your bike chain needs regular lubrication - generally every couple hundred miles. Just a drop of lube on each link can really help. “Before you apply new lube, it's always best if you can degrease the chain a little bit or wipe it down to clean it off,” said Helvie. “It doesn't do you a lot of good to lubricate a dirty chain."
Experts suggest changing your chain about every 2,000 miles because a worn chain can cause other important parts to wear out quickly, too. Angie recommends an annual standard tune-up for casual riders, especially if your bike has been sitting in a corner all winter. It should cost you about $60 and tip you off to any problems.