maintenance intervals for bikes

Not open for further replies.


Staff member
Dec 14, 2002
New Jersey

What are your equivalent 'OCIs' for maintenance work on the different parts of your bikes - PM and major replacement?

My fiancee is doing a triathalon in a week, and hasnt had her bike 'tuned up' in a year. Im not around to help her, and she is taking it to the shop...

Id venture to guess that she has put about 1000 miles on it..

so what intervals do you use???


Mine are:
Lube chain when it feels/sounds like it needs it, or before any long ride, or after riding in wet or dirty environment. A little White Lightning on the cables occasionally doesn't hurt, but usually isn't needed too often unless the bike is washed with a hose or pressure washer (which I don't do).

Other than that, I just do things as needed. Things like regreasing bearings and changing the fluid in suspension forks will depend on how dirty my riding is and how good the seals are, but I go years before doing those sometimes.

So I guess chain lubrication is really the only regular maintenance item for me. I check tire pressure at least by feel before each ride.
Regular Maintenance:

- visual inspection (tires and inflation, rims, frame, stem handlebar -- anything that can grenade unexpectedly) before every ride

- check axle nuts, headset bolts, stem bolts, seat post bolt (I marked the bolts/nuts with paint, so a loose one is easy to spot)

- wiping down fork stanchions with a soft cloth after each ride

- lubing fork stanchions before each ride with Slick Honey

- check fork air pressure, every two weeks

- adjust brakes and shifter as required

- clean, then lube brake pivot points with Slick Honey every once in a blue moon.

Major Maintenance:

The shaft drive gears call for grease every 6 to 12 months, depending on use, so I'll clean and lube those components every 3 months with Red Line CV-2 mixed with 3% Paratac.

I suppose I'll leave the internally geared hub alone, for at least 12 months. According to the instructions, pulling the complete unit out of the hub is fairly easy. Disassembling and cleaning may be more laborious. The proper lube is Shimano NEXUS gear grease.

All bearings are sealed cartridge bearings, so I don't see any reason to mess with them. If one goes bad, I'll simply replace the bearing.

The fork should be rebuilt once a year (new seals).
If she's doing a tri, I would suspect she's got either a road bike with aero bars or a tri-specific bike.

FWIW, here is what I do:

Before a ride:

Air- max on sidewall as road tires seem to lose air faster than mtn. Check for cracks, cuts, and bulges as well.

Brakes- application should lock the wheel with no load. You can also check the headset now by locking the front brake and rocking the bike back and forth while holding the headset area. If it clunks or feels loose, adjust it.

Cranks- Grab the crank arm and rock it back and forth (not in a pedal motion but perpendicular to the frame). If its loose, check all the bolts and try again. If it's still loose, your BB is toast. Adjust if you can (not many can although the trend is coming back). If not, replace.

Quick Releases- The release is properly closed when you kind of leave an imprint in your hand when closing the lever. Levers should point to the rear (front wheel) or between the stays (rear wheel).

Wheels: Spin em and check for true. Check the spokes as well for loose ones. Check the hubs for loss of grease (broken or damaged seal) and rust.

Now, the next is not so specific:

I would check all the bolts (stem, handlebar, aero bars, chain ring, etc) before competition.

Cable stretch can be checked as you ride. You'll know when the shifting isn't as crisp or the brake lever travel is a little long. Simple adjustments that bike shops charge a bunch for or will do for free (rarely). I would replace cables when you see a lot of rust or when you run out of adjustment.

Chain lubes are a personal choice. Some mfgs recommend that you don't reapply until the chain squeeks ( I would hate for that to happen mid ride). I re-lube every couple hundred miles or after wet weather. I will do a complete chain lube strip and re-lube once a year.

Chain stretch is bad. You should be able to measure (roughly) 12 inches along the chain and be center pin to center pin. Anything greater than 12 1/8 is "worn" I believe and the chain should be replaced. Worn chains wear cassettes and chain rings. Worn chains will also skip when changing rear gears.

Chain rings and cassettes are worn when the teeth become pointed (sharp) as opposed to the kind of flat tips when new. Worn cassettes will skip. You will also see excessive rounding between the teeth.

At the minimum, it is recommended that you replace the chain and cassette as a pair. A new chain will quickly wear on a worn cassette and vice versa.

I also use "Bike Lust" after a hard day on the trainer or after a long ride. The salt in sweat will kill a frame, even an AL one. That junk will get in the cable adjusters and freeze em up. When you apply the "polish" it gives you a chance to look for cracks, dings, and other damage.

I hope this helps. Sorry it's so long. Good luck to your fiance!
Not open for further replies.