Want to recapture the beautifully smooth, effortless ride of a brand new bike? Here are a few simple tweaks you can make to your existing ride to get that fresh-out-of-the shop feeling back again.
Keep it clean
Little and often is the easiest way to keep your bike in good condition, so try to get into the habit of washing it regularly. Pay particular attention to the drive train – the chainrings, sprockets, and the chain itself – as clearing the gunk away from your transmission is the most effective way to improve the efficiency of your machine. Add this to the psychological boost of having a beautiful clean bike and you’ll be flying along like never before.
Keep it lubricated
Just as important as keeping the chain clean is keeping it lubricated. A well oiled chain will run more efficiently and will also pick up less dirt when riding in the wet. Debate rages as to whether WD40 should ever be allowed near your bike, but most agree that a specific bike lube will keep things running smoothly for longer. Apply a drop to each link and be sure to wipe off any excess.
Check your saddle height
Probably the quickest and most effective way for a majority of cyclists to improve their efficiency is to set the saddle to the correct height. Having a saddle too high, or more commonly too low, makes it impossible to transfer your full power through the pedals, meaning you go more slowly for the same effort. An incorrect position on your bike can also be uncomfortable, and even cause injuries in the long term. Despite being such a fundamental part of getting the right bike fit there is no universally accepted method of determining saddle height. Some of the competing theories are detailed here.
Pump it up
Underinflated tyres have greater rolling resistance, meaning you’ll need to work harder to maintain your speed. Pumping them up properly takes just a minute or two and will reap immediate benefits, shaving time of your journey, or at least allowing you to achieve the same speed for less effort. Different tyres will run at different pressures, so check the sidewall of your particular tyres where you should find the recommended pressure range. Here’s a handy guide to correct inflation.
Learn to love your gears
When considering a relatively flat city like London, there’s a good argument to be made that most bikes you’ll see (notwithstanding the recent popularity of fixed gears and single speeds) have many more gears than are necessary. And whilst it’s true that you’ll probably never need all of the 27 gears which are quite common, a large number of riders underuse their gears and could benefit from expanding their range. Pedalling rates (cadences) vary from one rider to another, so let your legs tell you when a change is needed. Churning too big a gear, or spinning too low a gear are both inefficient, and can also lead to injuries, so don’t be afraid to shift up and down regularly to keep a steady rhythm.
By following these few simple steps, for almost zero cost, you can put a new lease of life into your existing bike, and enjoy that new bike feeling all over again.