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Get back on your bike

Cycling is one of the best ways to explore our beautiful country. But, as with any vehicle, regular maintenance is required to make your bike work optimally


By Gregg Cocking


According to, South Africa has the highest per capita spend on cycling equipment in the world, an amazing stat. Cycling is arguably the fastest growing sport in South Africa and many believe that it will usurp the prized position long held by golf as the corporate sport of choice! From scruffy kids to millionaire businessmen, the cycling bug really has caught on in South Africa.

All you need to do is take an early morning drive to the Cradle of Humankind one Saturday, about 50km northwest of Johannesburg, to see the cyclists hitting the relatively vehicle-free road by the hundreds. Conservative estimates put the value of the cycling industry in South Africa at R600-million.


With some bikes fetching the same eye watering prices as new cars and 300 000 cyclists participating in off- and on-road events annually, it really is a growing market. But with all these bikes hitting the road and the tracks around the country on a daily basis, all those parts that make a bicycle take you comfortably on your journey need to be kept in tip-top shape.


Most people who ride bicycles want to keep them in good condition, but you first need to know where to begin. Those who often ride in rain and mud, or who put on very high weekly mileage, will need to perform routine maintenance more often.


If you look after your bicycle, your bicycle will look after you and provide for many years of satisfying and enjoyable riding. But, as most who have been bitten by the cycling bug know, cyclists are always looking to improve their bikes and their set-up with the latest model or newest technology, so keeping your bicycle in the best condition will also allow you to maximise the resale value when you want to upgrade.


South Africa is full of exciting and beautiful cycling routes that will take you on some spectacular journeys, and regardless of whether you are a competitive cyclist or just someone starting out looking to lose a few extra kilos, South African cycling caters for everyone. It is also a very social sport – so get out, get on the road with friends and have fun!


Maintenance checklist


Before you ride:

•   Check the tyre air pressure.

•   Check your brakes and cables.

•   Be sure your crank set is tight.

•   Be sure your quick release hubs are tight.


After each ride:

•   Inspect your tyres for glass, gravel shards and cuts on the
tread and the sidewall.

•   Clean the bike’s mechanical parts as necessary.

•   Once a week or every few hundred kilometres, lubricate your
chain with dry lube, or every other week with wet chain lube.



•   Completely clean the bike, including the drivetrain.

•   Inspect the chain and freewheel. Measure the chain for wear, check for tight links and replace the chain if necessary.

•   Inspect and lubricate brake levers, derailleurs and all cables.

•   Inspect pedals and lubricate SPD-style cleats.

•   Inspect tyres for wear and rotate or replace if needed.

•   Inspect and check for looseness in the:

     - Stem binder bolt

     - Handlebar binder bolt

     - Seatpost binder bolt (or quick release)

     - Seat fixing bolt

     - Crank bolts

     - Chainring bolts

     - Derailleur mounting bolts

     - Bottle cage bolts

     - Rack mounting bolts

     - Brake and derailleur cable anchors

     - Brake and shifter lever mounting bolts

     - Brake mounting bolts.


Every three months:

•   Inspect the frame and fork for paint cracks or bulges that may indicate frame or part damage; pay particular attention to all frame joints.

•   Visually inspect for bent components: seat rails, seat post, stem, handlebars, chainrings, crank arms, brake calipers and brake levers.


Every six months:

•   Inspect and readjust bearings in the headset, hubs, pedals and bottom bracket (if possible – some sealed cartridge bearings cannot be adjusted, only replaced).



•   Disassemble and overhaul, replace all bearings (if possible) and remove, and, if necessary, replace all brake and shift cables. Those who ride in the rain or mountain bikers who get dirty should overhaul their bicycles more often.

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