Whether it’s down to recent British successes at the Olympics and Tour de France, or because of Boris and his bikes, or the ever-increasing fuel costs, one thing is clear: millions of new cyclists are taking to Britain’s roads every year. About half of the nation’s households own a bike, and more and more of those are actually being used on a regular basis. According to British Cycling, about two million people are now cycling at least once a week. There has even sprung up a new social group, clearly visible on town roads and country lanes across the nation: the ‘middle aged man in Lycra’, or Mamil for short.

For some a bicycle is a means to an end, simply a method of getting to work or school, but for many people, their bicycle is way to get fit, stay healthy and enjoy themselves. From taking a gentle bike ride with the family, to tackling some serious climbs, there is a great deal a bike can offer, and the advantages of owning one are numerous. Although prices can become astronomical – and many a Mamil has spent some serious cash on his get up – for most a bicycle is an affordable purchase. With the right level of care and appropriate storage, there is no reason why a bicycle cannot last for many years. The good news is that bicycle maintenance is relatively simple, and so is the question of storage. Here are some handy hints for keeping your bicycle well looked after.

Storing your bike

To prevent your bike from damage and decay, all you need to do is make sure that it stays dry and rust-free. A wooden shed is cheap and secure option for bike storage; weatherproof, dry and comparatively warm. A dedicated bike storage shed is the best option available, as its double doors allow for easy access, meaning there are no problems putting your bike in and taking it out, and they usually have plenty of space for more than one bike, which can be very useful for families.

For an even more secure means of bicycle storage, it’s worth considering a metal shed. With all the advantages of a wooden shed, but even more secure and durable, a metal bicycle shed is well worth thinking about if you’re seriously worried about theft.

Regular bicycle maintenance

Knowing that your bike is securely stored and safe from the elements is important, but so too is the condition of the bike itself. A great thing about bicycles is that they are relatively easy to look after and repair. There is no need to spend hundreds of pounds on complicated tools and accessories, and they will look better and last longer as long as simple bike maintenance procedures are followed. The trick is to do these checks at regular intervals; the more often you carry out bicycle maintenance, the lower the chance of there being any problems. Here are the main things you should be doing on a weekly and monthly basis to keep your bike in perfect working order.

For the weekly check, simply make sure that the bike is clean, and that its moving parts (the chain and gear mechanisms) are well lubricated. Also, be sure to check the tyres, both for punctures and pressure.

It pays to do a slightly more thorough investigation on a monthly basis. As well as checking the tyres’ pressure and condition, make sure the wheels are fastened and in line with the frame. Also, check that the brakes are working properly and that they make contact squarely with the rim of the wheel, not the tyre.

It’s a good idea to clean the chain once a month as well. Use a rag which has been dipped in degreaser, and then reapply some oil. If you notice any serious damage to the gears, get them fixed by a bike mechanic. Finally, double check for any looseness or change in height of the handlebars and seat.

So, proper storage and regular maintenance: follow these two simple steps, and your bike will be in good condition for as long as you need it.

Image via themamil.co.uk

More detailed information on bicycle maintenance can be found at Wikibooks.

Featured image via madegood.org