Bicycle Maintenance FAQs

What maintenance should I be doing on my bike?

You should pump the tires as needed. Lube the chain when it starts to run more loudly or feels dry to the touch, and keep the transmission clean. Also let a bike mechanic inspect it periodically, and address any problems that may arise in the meantime. (Bicycle Service Recommendations)

What kind of lube should I use on my bike?

You should use some sort of non-petroleum lubricant on your bike. Petrolem products tend to pick up a lot of dirt. Don't use WD-40. It actually contains more solvent than lube. We like to use an all-purpose teflon lube called "TriFlow" on the chain, cables and pivot points. "ProLink" works well on chains. It both lubricates and cleans. Here's a good video on lubrication.

How much air do I put in my tires?

Look on the side of the tire to determine how much air to put in your tires. It will always tell you. Go ahead and put in the maximum amount listed (assuming your tires are in good condition). Mountain bikes usually take 65psi, hybrids 75psi, and road bikes 100psi.

How often should I pump my tires?

How often you need to pump your tires depends on the size of the tire and how much pressure is required. High pressure road bike tires should be pumped up at least once a week, hybrid tires every two weeks, and mountain bike tires at least every two to three weeks.

Why do I have to pump my tires so often?

Bike tires hold only a small amount of air, but under a great deal of pressure. Since air seeps naturally out, it doesn't take long to loose enough air to make the tires soft.

Why is it so important to keep my tires inflated?

The reason it's so important to keep your tires properly inflated is because it guards against flat tires and rim damage, especially if you hit a curb or pothole. Moreover, properly inflated tires make your bike easier to pedal, and increases the life or your tires. (Shop Tale)

How do I put air in my tires when I have those funny, skinny valves?

Those funny, skinny valves are called presta valves. (A Little History). To inflate your tires when you have presta valves, you have to first unscrew the little nut on top. Turn it counter-clockwise until it stops. It won't come off. Then you have to use either a bike pump with a nozzle designed to fit presta valves, or install an adaptor.

Presta ValveAdaptor
Presta ValveAdaptor

Why do they use presta valves instead of the standard ones?

Pump heads fit presta valves better. It takes less fiddling to affix them to the valve, and they stay on better.

Will my bike pump work on presta valves?

Yes. Bike pumps these days have nozzles designed to work with both presta and standard valves. They'll come with one of three types of nozzles (or heads):

  1. A smart head, which adapt automatically to the type valve inserted
  2. A head with two separate holes on it, one hole for each type of valve, or
  3. A head that converts for the different types of valves. (To change a convertible nozzle: unscrew the top cap, take out the two small parts inside, turn each of them upside down, and reinstall them in the same order in which they were removed.)
Smart head PumpTwo Valve Head PumpConvertible Head Pump
Smart Head PumpTwo Valve Head PumpConvertible Head Pump

Remember that in all cases, you have to open the valve to inflate your tire.

What kind of pump should I buy?

What kind of pump you buy depends on what you need it for. Pumps fall into two categories: Floor pumps for home use, and bike-mount pumps to carry with you on the road in case you have a flat. Floor pumps are much larger, pump more air per stroke, and take fewer strokes to inflate your tires. They are much faster and easier to use than the smaller bike-mount pumps, but of course, you can't take them with you on a ride. A bike-mount (or road pump) on the other hand, is designed specifically to be taken with you. Being very small, it takes a lot more work to inflate your tires with one, but if you have a flat on the road, which is why you take a pump, that's a secondary concern. So, the answer as to what kind of pump to buy is, buy a floor pump for home use, it's a lot less work to pump your tires, and buy a bike mount pump to take with you in case you flat on the road.

Which is better, a pump or CO2 cartridge?

Both pumps and CO2 have their pros and cons. A pump is good because you have an infinite supply of air with one. However, it's more work to use, it's somewhat bulky, and carrying it detracts from the look of the bike. CO2 cartridges, conversely, are small, fit neatly in your seat pack, and are very quick and easy to use. The drawback is that you get only one shot per cartridge, so you better not misfire, and your air is limited to the number of cartridges you carry. CO2 is also a little pricey and the empties require deposal. I use both, CO2 on my "race" bike, and a pump on my touring/commuter bike.

How often does my bike need service?

In general, your bike should have some level of service once a year. Of course, what level of service it needs depends on how much you're riding it. (Bicycle Service Recommendations)

How long does a bicycle tune up take?

Depending on the quality and condition of the bike, and without interruption, it takes an hour to an hour and a half to do a bicycle tune up. However, plan on leaving your bike with us.

Do I need to make an appointment to have my bike serviced?

No. You don't need an appointment to have your bike serviced. We work on a first-come-first-serve basis. Bring your bike at your convenience. We'll put it in line.

How long do I have to leave my bike for service?

How long you need to leave your bike for service depends on what's being done to it and what time of year it is. In the spring and summer when we are the busiest, tune-ups usually take around a week. The turnaround time tends to be shorter toward the end of the week, and longer toward the beginning. Of course, the turnaround time is faster in the fall and winter. Come see us.

Do you do bicycle tune ups on the weekend?

Unfortunately, no. We are rarely able to do bicycle tune ups on the weekend. That is the time we are the busiest talking with customers about new bikes, doing minor bicycle repairs and processing repairs.

Do you offer same day service?

Yes. We gladly offer same day service. We just need you to make an appointment in advance.

What if I can't get there during your regular operating hours?

If you can't get here during our regular hours, you can lock you bike to our parking rack out front and drop the key or comination in our mail slot in the front door

Do you pick up or deliver?

No. Sorry. We don't pick up or deliver. (Plus, we rarely have a vehicle as most of us ride our bikes to work.)

What if I only need something minor done?

We can do most minor repairs either while you wait or in short order. (Spot Jobs)

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Ask Mike

Have a question about the world of bicycles? Whether it regards product information, technical issues, or riding the streets of Atlanta all you have to do is ask bicycle expert Mike Goodman, Intown Bicycles owner with over 30 years of experience in the industry.