Bike Maintenance 101: the Daily Wipe-down

Here at Cycle Portland we love passing on our bike maintenance tips and tricks to help you keep your steed running smoothly as well as prolong the life of your components.  In this post we discuss an “after every ride” suggestion…

On damp, rainy days like today (and let’s be honest, like most Fall/Winter/Spring days here in P-town), it’s extra important to keep your bike happy and healthy to keep your commute safe, fun, and timely. If your bike is a year-round commuter like mine, one of the best bike maintenance things you can do to keep your steed in ship shape is to give it a simple wipe-down at the end of every day.

dirty rags for Bike Maintenance
The Wiper-Downers

Here’s our strategy: It’s as simple as keeping a designated rag (read: old teeshirt) by your front door to give your bike a quick once over when you get home. For the sake of both your bike storage space and your bike, towel it off a bit– as your shower curtains know all too well, air drying starting from dripping wet is nearly impossible in this climate. Get rid of dirt, salt and road grit that’s collected on your frame and moving parts, paying extra attention to exposed metal (I’m looking at you, tiny paint chips!) Keep an eye out for anything collecting on your wheel’s rims– you want to make sure your break pads have a good surface to grip without risking damage to the rim by grinding any debris into the metal. If you’ve got disc breaks, give those some extra love, too!

Contrary to popular belief, water on metal alone is not what causes rust, it’s a deadly combination of water, dead leaves, road top chemicals, sweat, and other particulates that do serious damage to your bike. Keeping your bike wiped down every day prolongs the life of your bike and the structural integrity of your frame in our climate. It also helps to keep you aware of bike maintenance issues before they become safety problems.

So get down and dirty with your bike this winter, because a happy bike makes a happy commuter!

Do these work on my bike? … Disc Brakes

Mike’s Bike Advice

Disc Brake Conversions

Part II of our three part series– answering your questions about if and how to upgrade your steed

Usually, answering this question is pretty straightforward. Are there disc tabs on the bDisc Brake Tabike? If your bike was built with disc brakes in mind, it can be easy–though costly–to upgrade. So if you are looking to upgrade the brakes on your bike to work best in wet, muddy weather, for higher speed braking or for quite steep hills, check for these tabs on your front fork and rear triangle:

Once you’ve determined you have a bike frame that will accept disc brakes, bring it on in to figure out whether cable or hydraulic disc brakes will work best for your purposes. For most commuting uses, cable disc brakes provide the cheapest, simplest and most maintenance-free option. If you are looking for the best braking system regardless of price, hydraulic brakes do provide a slightly stronger and smoother platform that doesn’t suffer from cable stretch. Look for trusted brands like Shimano and Avid when you’re ready to buy for the best reliability and longevity.

All that is left is to find the perfect wheel set to complete your disc brake transformation. There are two styles of attachment between the rotor and disc hub: 6-bolt and centerlock. Match your rotor disc with the hub style you have an you’re ready to roll with a bit more safety and security.

Surly Disc Fork
This Surly Fork is a great option to upgrade your front wheel to a disc brake

If you have found your perfect bike for touring, commuting or exploring but the bike doesn’t have disc tabs, we have a workaround for those looking to improve braking. Adding a new fork to your commuter can give you access to disc braking on just your front wheel–the wheel that provides up to 80% of your braking power.

There are quite a few options to upgrade your fork for under $100 to allow disc braking power on your favorite steed.