TIRES + FLATS
Why your tire could be going flat
Evidence: Hole is on the outside (pavement side) of the tube.
Cause: Something sharp on the road pierced your tire and inner tube.
Remedy: Replace or patch the tube - usually the hole in the tire is not big enough to warrant replacing. If the hole is big enough, replace the tire. Having a pinhole in the tire is OK, pressure will close the hole, and the tube will not push through. If you can't replace the tire, you can put a square inch of gapher tape on the inside of the tire as a temporary solution.
Evidence: Hole is on the inner (rim) side of the tube.
Cause: The tip of a spoke poked through your tube, or there was a gap where your rim tape wasn't covering a spoke hole.
Remedy: Replace the tube and make sure to cover up the gap or sharp point. Cloth is the best material for rim tape.
Evidence: Snake bite! A double puncture, two small parallel slits mimicking snake teeth.
Cause: Air pressure was not high enough, or tube not properly installed, the tire pinched the tube against itself or the rim.
Remedy: Check that the pinch flat did not rip the tire as well. Replace the tube and make sure to inflate to recommended PSI located on the side wall of the tire.
Evidence: Your tire exploded violently but there is no damage to the tire.
Cause: Tire was not seated properly on the rim, inner tube came out between rim and tire.
Remedy: Double check that there are no rips or holes in the tire. Replace the tube, inflate slowly and make sure the tire is seated properly all the way around (not bulging, the tire line is even all the way around the rim).
Evidence: Air leaks out the valve or valve stem.
Cause: A damaged valve.
Remedy: Replace the tube, make sure the valve is straight.
Evidence: Can't find any leak.
Cause: A tiny, tiny little hole somewhere.
Remedy: Double check the rim / tape and tire. Replace the tube.
To keep you running smooth
Keep the drivetrain clean and lubricated
You will need disposable rags, bike oil, some degreaser product and maybe a used toothbrush and a flat headed screwdriver to pry off the larger gunks from the rear derailleurs jockey wheels and chainrings. Get all the dirt you possibly can get off the chains, sprockets and chainwheels. After everything is nice and clean, turn the cranks slowly backwards and simultaneously apply a drop of bike oil on the inside of every link on your chain.
The more often you clean and lube, the less time it takes every time you do it. Why not clean the frame and wheels while you’re at it?
Keep your tires inflated!
The most important thing, or at least in the top three, that have an effect on the quality of your bike ride is tire pressure. If the pressure is too low you have to work a lot more to keep the same speed than with proper high pressure. And you will get flats more easily, especially when hitting a curb hard. One of the most essential must-have tools you should own is a quality floor pump with pressure gauge. Check the suggested pressure from the side of your tires. The rear tire should have more pressure as it is taking more of the riders weight than the front. Make sure you check your tire pressure at least once every two weeks.
Keep the nuts and bolts tight, but don’t overtighten them
Keep all the screws, bolts and nuts in your bike where they belong by checking regularly if they are loose. It is annoying if you loose the screw holding your mudguards in place and having to listen that rattling and banging sound all the way home. Note that with some of the newer bikes the parts have the maximum torque limit written on them and you can buy tools that apply only a specified amount of torque. When you are buying a new bike, ask your bike shop to give you a bag of spare nuts and bolts. You should get them for free, because they are dirt cheap.
Make sure your brakes are adjusted correctly
You can do this by tightening the adjusting barrel (if your brakes have one) in the brake lever or the brake arm end. Tightening the screw moves the pads closer to the rim (or disc). You may also need to unscrew the bolt holding the wire, tighten the wire and then screw the bolt back on. Before tightening the bolt again, twist the adjuster holding the wire and the wire housing to the loosest setting. This way you have more room to adjust the brakes.
It is also important to keep both the pads and the braking surface clean from dirt and oil. Dirty pads wear out themselves and the braking surface substantially faster.