Bicycle maintenance is teamwork

MobileKids explains why regular bike maintenance is so important and why parents and children should work together on this issue.

Bicycles are a great means of transport for children - no matter whether the youngsters use them to get to school, to visit friends, or to go to sports training. Exercise in the fresh air is good for you and, above all, fun. It's important that the bike is always in good shape: because only a bike that functions properly is a roadworthy bike. What work is necessary, and how often, depends above all on how much it is ridden.

"If you ride your bike every day in all weathers, you should of course check more often whether everything is still in perfect condition", says Thomas Steppacher, who is an instructor at the W├╝rttemberg Cycling Sports Association and trains coaches in the field of grassroots sports and e-bikes. If, on the other hand, you only ride once in a while, it is completely sufficient to have your bike thoroughly checked once a month.

A functioning bicycle is more fun

There is usually no such thing as too much care. "If you take good care of your bike, you will enjoy it for much longer and ultimately have more fun with it", says Steppacher, who has a very special relationship with bicycles. "Personally, I clean my mountain bike after every ride. Then I can always see directly if anything has broken and can fix it in time before the next trip. With a normal road bike, that's not necessary."

What do you need to maintain a bicycle?

Anyone who thinks that a bicycle can only be serviced by professionals in a bike shop is wrong. Many smaller jobs can easily be done at home with just a few items of equipment. According to cycling expert Thomas Steppacher, every cyclist should have these items to hand:

  • Cleaning cloth, sponge and brush (small and large)
  • Chain oil (a drop of oil after a ride in the rain certainly does no harm)
  • Spanner and Allen key set
  • Torque wrench (ideally, but not necessarily)

Depending on the bicycle model, it is also advisable to search for and watch corresponding tutorials on the video platform YouTube. "The big advantage of YouTube videos over books is that you can't misplace them and you are always shown the individual steps", says Steppacher.

At least one more comprehensive check per year - ideally in spring, after the bike has not been moved for months - should be done by everyone. Brakes, chain and tyres in particular should be conscientiously checked after the winter months. "If the rubber of the brake pads has become hard or a film of dirt has formed on the rim, the brake will no longer grip properly. So it's worth taking a close look here. In the same way, the chain should be cleaned and freshly oiled. And there is always too little air in the tyres", explains Steppacher.

When children become bicycle technicians

The cycling expert is particularly keen that parents teach their children at an early age what to look for in a bike check, involve them and demonstrate to them how to take care of a bike. "Bicycle maintenance is not exclusively the responsibility of adults. In addition to more demanding activities, there are also a lot of child-friendly steps and visual checks that parents can demonstrate and then easily delegate to the children." Young cyclists can also check the tyre tread, inflate their tyres or test the brakes.

Thomas Steppacher mit seiner Tochter Sarah
Thomas Steppacher and daughter Sarah make a perfect team.

Basically, bicycle maintenance is particularly well suited as a parent-child activity. "When work needs to be done on the child's bike, the children should be there from the beginning - even if they only hand you the relevant tool. At least they will then know its exact name", says Steppacher. Children are usually so curious that they ask questions at such moments. "They then want to know why something is being done to their bike at that point, if something is broken." Parents can therefore help to ensure that children do not develop inhibitions about dealing with their bike and that maintenance becomes a matter of course.

Every child remembers the M-check

The M-check consists of a series of steps that must be carried out before getting on the bike and riding off. This will ensure that the bike is in a safe and roadworthy condition, thus preventing accidents. The name comes from the order of the inspection process, which is carried out in the form of an M when the bicycle is viewed from the side.

  • Front wheel
  • Fork, headset and handlebar
  • Frame, crank and seat
  • Rear wheel
  • Gearshift