Word on the street is that tyres are super important. The most important thing you need to remember with your tyres is to have them at the right pressure for you and your bike. If they’re not at the right pressure, riding your bike is at least ten times harder. If the tyres aren’t filled up enough, not only are you putting yourself at greater risk of a flat but you’ll find your trip will become slower and harder: negotiating corners, changing surfaces and starting up after a traffic light will become big chores.
The pressure your tyre should be depends on two things: how much you weigh and what type of bike you’re riding.
Tyre pressure is measured by PSI (pound force per square inch) and most tyre pumps that cost you any more than $30 will have some sort of PSI indicator on them.
The slimmer your tyres are (e.g. road bikes and hybrids), the more air you’ll need in them. A road tyre will need between 80-130 PSI, a hybrid 60-80 PSI and a mountain bike 30-50 PSI.
To be completely sure of the ideal PSI for your bike’s tyres, the tyres themselves will have the answer written on them.
The heavier you are, the more air you need in your tyres. Let’s use a road bike as an example. If you weigh in at 50kgs, you can have your tyres at around 80 PSI. If you’re 90kgs, pump your tyres to about 130 PSI.
It’s an odd thing, but the more you ride your bike, the healthier the tyre pressure will remain. If you leave your bike in a corner for a month, you can bet you’ll need to pump those tyres up big time.
It’s worth giving them a boost of air every week, though if you’re riding every day you can be a little less frequent than this if you’re finding yourself pressed for time.
Changing a tyre Here’s something no one tells you: changing tyres is actually really easy. Shall we go through it step by step? If you’re a visual person, here’s a great step by step HowCast.
- Get off the road and out of all pedestrians’ way. Pull out your puncture kit (tiny kit not unlike a first aid kit, but it’s first aid for bikes).
- Tip your bike upside down, so it’s standing on its seat.
- Remove the offending wheel.
- Unscrew the valve on your inner tube and drain the air out by pressing the tyre pin with your finger.
- Get your tyre lever out of your puncture kit (it’s the bit of machinery looking a little like a skinny shoe horn) and separate the outer tyre from the inner tube. The inner tube is where all the action is at.
- Pull the inner tube out.
- If the puncture is big enough, when you pump air into the inner tube, you’ll locate the puncture via a hissing sound. If it’s tiny, put it in some water and see where bubbles form (difficult to do from the side of the road which is why you should always carry a spare inner tube).
- Glue a patch on top of the puncture. Let it dry and insert a new tube
- Put the inner tube and the tyre back on your bike.
- Pump up the tyre.
- Ride away with a big smile on your face: you’ve just changed a tyre.
It all sounds easy here, best thing is to find someone who knows how to do this and get them to show you. Then practice doing this all by yourself and you’ll have is mastered.
If all else fails you can always walk your bike home, take your bike on the train or lock it up and come back in your car and get it.
Having a greasy chain will help the bike ride more smoothly by cutting down friction, keeping the bikes parts moving easily and preventing rust.
To grease your chain, turn your bike onto its seat, get a handkerchief and run the chain over the hankie to clean it. Apply a little grease/lubricant to each roller on the chain. Don’t overdo it – you don’t need much.
Your local bike mechanic at your trusty bike store can show you how to do this in a flash.
You’ll know when your brakes are no longer for this world. You’ll be able to feel it with your hands. When brakes are working properly, it won’t take much of a squeeze from your palms to stop.
When they’re not working properly, you’ll need to squeeze harder and longer to come to a stop. If this is happening, grab an allen key and a spanner. Use the spanner to keep the breaks in place and an allen key to tighten the brakes.
If you’re still having trouble, get your bike shop to fit you with new brakes or tighten up the existing brakes. Being able to stop is kinda important so it’s worth the investment.
Buy some decent lights. If you do, you won’t be changing the battery as often and you’ll remain at maximum visibility.
Pay attention whenever you’re riding at dusk or in the evening at the brightness of your lights. If you see them waning just a bit, get some new batteries pronto.