1. AVOID OVERDOING IT
Overinflated tires are as much to blame for pinch flats as underinflated ones. Know your psi (pounds per square inch). An overtightened bolt can cause small parts to break under pressure and bigger ones to form stress risers. Get a torque wrench. Overlubing gunks up your drivetrain and attracts dirt and dust. Wipe off excess with a clean, dry rag. (Find more maintenance advice and tips on being a better cyclist here).
2. WORK ON YOUR BIKE IN THIS ORDER
Wash, rinse, dry, lube, adjust, wax. "You can't properly adjust a bicycle that is dirty and not lubricated," says Karl Frisch, chief mechanic for Team Tibco/To The Top.
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3. STOP PAYING SOMEONE TO TURN A TINY WRENCH
Recognize a wheel that's out of true, then fix it yourself. Learn how at Bicycling.com/wheeltrue.
4. WATCH FOR SIGNS OF WEAR
Whether it's a cracked saddle or smoothed brake pads, replace worn-out gear before it breaks or fails mid-ride. (Looking for reviews on bikes and cycling gear?)
5. MAKE THIS EASY UPGRADE
Treat your bar to new tape for a better grip and a showroom look. Tip: If your hands roll to the outside in the drops, wrap in that direction (that's clockwise on the right, counterclockwise on the left). Always wrap the flat section toward the saddle.
6. AVOID CHECKING BOLTS BEFORE EVERY RIDE
Every time you do, you tighten them slightly. By year's end you could end up turning a bolt one full rotation. Torque them right the first time--here's how.
7. GET DOWN TO THE NITTY-GRITTY
Like gravel on a skinned knee, grit will infect your bike. Here's where it hides: in brake pads, between tubes and tires, in cleats and pedals.
Safety First: How to Secure Your Bike Saddle
8. REALLY SILENCE YOUR DRIVETRAIN
Each time you lube your chain (no more than once a week, or immediately after a rainy ride), drip a little into the hubs of your derailleur pulley wheels. Wipe everything dry. Ssshhh. Hear that? (For more detailed instructions on silencing your drivetrain, click here).
9. RIP OFF THE BAND-AID
That duct tape you used last year--to secure the sole of your shoe to the upper, as a makeshift rim strip during a century-ride spoke fiasco, or to fasten your loose bottle cage to your frame--needs to go. Say good-bye to your ghetto ride.
More Easy Home Repairs: 25 Quick Bike Fixes That Go a Long Way
10. LEARN A NEW TRICK
Here's one: Always cap off the ends of a freshly cut cable. For a nickel per cap, you eliminate the risk of shredding a fingertip.
11. GET YOUR SHOP IN ORDER
Organize your tools so you can grab your 5mm blindfolded; keep surfaces free of clutter so you don't roll on a screwdriver and impale yourself; and get a decent workstand so you're using your hands to make repairs, not to hold the bike upright.
12. NEVER PUT AWAY A DIRTY BIKE
You wouldn't put away soiled laundry, would you? Follow these 3 easy steps to Washing Your Bike.
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