Bike stores today have an overwhelming number of parts available for various types of bikes – parts which can add a personal touch to your bicycle. This is great, but the vast choice can sometimes draw one’s attention away from the parts that actually matter (the essentials). That being said, before you go on to making your bicycle look unique, make sure it performs well by choosing the following parts properly.
What to Look for
First things first, no matter the type of bike, you should always go for a durable chain and by durable I mean one that is made from steel with hard rivets as it will resist stretching and hold up against abuse better. Cycle stores offer these chains with a higher price tag, but at least you won’t have to worry about breaking it for a very long time.
For a chain to function properly, it needs to be compatible with the drivetrain, meaning it needs to match the number of speeds on it. While getting a chain that doesn’t fit well can cause looseness or snugging, getting the wrong can end up damaging your bike.
Installing a chain on your own for the very first time can be quite challenging, so it’s best that you get a chain with a master link or newer models that come with a technology called PowerLink which requires no tools in order to install the chain. If you can’t get a hold of the above-mentioned chains, make sure you at least get one that has simple enough instructions.
If upon inspection you find any stiff links, chain stretch, rust or dryness, this means it’s time to get your hands dirty. While keeping rust off the chain involves checking regularly, grime, dirt and dryness can be easily detected and they only require a thin layer of clean oil. Accumulated deep rust require paying a visit to a bike mechanic, while stiff links can be detected by the way they’ll make your chain skip. You can find a stiff link by backpedalling the cranks and if you see a couple of links forming a kink, just loosen them a bit.
What to Look for
Material is going to be the most important part and the easiest to determine as the best material is rubber since it doesn’t accumulate rust or corrode and it works very well when used properly. Disc brake pads made out of ceramic and metal are also a good option but not as good as rubber. Sturdy materials are also a must when it comes to the pad’s backbone so it can withstand pressure and perform well on long-distance rides.
Adjusting a brake pad on your own can be quite intimidating and the same goes here if you want to do it yourself go with ones that have simple instructions and don’t involve external factors. Also, make sure the pads can perform in all weather conditions and for that, you should read the description of the model that checks all the boxes.
With rim brake pads you should check if the teeth of the rubber are visible as otherwise, they need to be replaced, Also make sure you check for bits of metal and grit stuck in the pads as they can make them less effective over time. Disc brakes, on the other hand, need to have at least 0.5mm of material left in order to function properly and check if they are being worn down at an angle and if they are, they’ll need to be adjusted.
Flat pedals are the most common type of pedal you can find in cycle stores nowadays. They are usually made from nylon and aluminium flat pedals and are very durable. They work with any type of shoes, are very easy to use, can give you more movement and are quite cheap. On the other hand, they are less efficient and can’t provide you with a consistent foot positioning.
Although clipless pedals are a more expensive and rarer option and while you can still find them in cycle stores, have in mind that you’ll need specific shoes for them. They make for a more efficient pedaling and allow you to have better control over your bicycle. While walking in clipless shoes is difficult, the amount of power you get when pedaling, compared to how much effort you need to put in overshadows that.
Checking for cracks and wared out pedals is the first thing you should do before testing how grippy they are. Put your foot on the pedal and try to slide it back and forth whilst pushing down as you would when riding it. A pedal that is in good condition should “burry” itself into your shoe and when you spin it, it should go smoothly, but if it feels tight it means that the bearing isn’t holding very well.
What to Look for
Size is the number one factor when it comes to tires as it determines their compatibility. There’s the outer tire diameter and the width of the tire which on mountain bikes is 27.5×2.0 and on road touring and racing tires it’s – 700×23. While cyclocross tires come in a narrow variation of 700 tires and 29ers come with a knobbier variation of those, BMX tires usually come in a 20″ diameter.
There are four tire threads available in cycle stores: slick, semi-slick, inverted and the knobby tires I just mentioned. Knobby tires are basically tires covered in small pointy ends that enhance traction. Slick tires have almost no pattern on them and just feature v-shaped grooves to improve cornering – they are designed for smooth surfaces like asphalt, groomed singletrack and Slickrock.
Semi-slick tires, although designed with smooth centre, feature aggressive thread designs on the sides in order to improve cornering as this type provides an overall minimal rolling resistance and faster acceleration. Inverted thread tires provide more grip and rolling resistance than slick tires but have fewer knobbies which makes them perfect if you want to switch from riding on asphalt to roads with ruts.
If your tire has no visible thread on it, the rubber has become brittle. In addition, if there are visible cuts that expose the inner tube, replacement should be done as soon as possible. Bald patches and small cracks forming in the rubber are early signs of the rubber perishing and the tire wearing down. Small random bulges indicate that the strength of the canvas is not as it used to be – these bulges usually appear next to cuts.