If you’re anything like us, tips and tricks that speed up cleaning, fixing and maintaining your bike are invaluable because it means you get more time for riding.
There are plenty of ‘bike hacks’ out there, but quite often they involve a Dremel tool, steady hands, and way more DIY confidence than we have. So for those who just want to get back out on their bike without using power tools, here are six of our favorite bike hacks
1. Powdered laundry detergent for your hands
A pinch of laundry detergent works like a charm to wash bike grease off your hands Colin Levitch / Immediate Media
After you’ve cleaned and lubed your bike, your hands are probably going to be blacker than a coal miner’s lungs. What’s worse, everything you touch will have greasy black fingerprints on it, but no matter how much you scrub there will still be remnants of drivetrain gunk on your hands and under your fingernails.
There is a solution and it comes in the form of powdered laundry detergent. Grab a pinch before you head to the sink after cleaning your drivetrain, and your hands will be sparkly clean. That said, the stuff is hard on your skin, and if you live in a dry climate don’t forget to moisturise.
2. Save that valve cap
Every inner tube comes with a Presta to Schrader converter, you just need to make a small adjustment Colin Levitch / Immediate Media
When changing a tire, many people get rid of the plastic valve cap that comes on the fresh inner tube, but you should absolutely hang onto it because it might save you in a tight spot.
If you cut the top off, the cap can be used as a makeshift Presta to Schrader valve converter. It’s not perfect, but in a pinch, you can use this little hack to use the air compressor at your local gas station if you get a flat out on the road and can’t quite get your tires topped off with your mini pump or CO2 canisters. It’s also a hell of a lot cheaper than a proper Presta to Schrader converter.
Screw your newly modified cap onto the valve stem and you can use a compressor that doesn’t have a Presta valve head Colin Levitch / Immediate Media
Considering their size and weight, I keep a couple with chopped tops in my saddle bag because they’re extremely easy to lose.
3. Ultimate degrease
Washing up liquid is a fantastic degreaser Courtesy
Grease stains on clothing are another thing that seems to afflict every cyclist, especially if you’re wearing a white jersey.
The best dish soap can cut through even bike grease. Heck, the US brand Dawn (called Fairy in the UK and Australia) is even the soap of choice for rescue workers cleaning up critters after oil spills.
For that white jersey you accidentally wiped your hands on after taking care of a dropped chain, use some Dawn or Fairy to pre-treat like you would with a regular stain remover, throw it in the wash and voilà good as new!
Dawn also works great for degreasing drivetrains, but be wary of bearings because it will eat up any grease it comes into contact with. It does wonders on white bar tape too.
4. Dollar dollar bill y’all
If you find yourself on the side of the road with a big cut in your tires sidewall or casing you can use a wrapper, dollar bill or even a business card to limp home Colin Levitch / Immediate Media
A flat tire can ruin an awesome ride in a split second. What makes it worse is when you stop to find there’s a giant gash in your tire casing or sidewall. As most of us don’t carry a second tire, it’s a situation that often ends in an SOS phone call to a significant other or friend.
However, dollar bills make great temporary tire patches, especially ‘plasticky’ money like Australian notes. If you’re a bit cash poor at the time of your puncture, energy bar wrappers work great too, and we’ve even used a business card from a concerned passer-by (thanks again to Ed from Colorado’s FirstBank).
5. Print ain’t dead (yet)
If your shoes are wet, take the insoles out or fill them with newspaper Colin Levitch / Immediate Media
Putting your feet into shoes that are still damp after a ride in the rain is a pretty gross feeling, and some shoes just seem to take forever to dry.
To speed up the process, take your footbeds out and stuff your shoes full of crumpled up newspaper. The paper will take on quite a bit of water so don’t forget to change it after a couple of hours.
6. Furniture polish for your frame
Furniture polish works great on bike frames, just keep it away from your brakes Colin Levitch / Immediate Media
We’ve mentioned this tip in the past, but it’s too good not to mention again. Products like Mr. Sheen and Lemon Pledge aren’t just for bringing the luster back to your mahogany dining room furniture. They also work great on bike frames too!
Not only will furniture polish give your bike a bit of sparkle, but it will limit the amount of dirt that will stick to your frame on your next ride. It’s a cheaper alternative to the bike specific products too!
We should also mention that this stuff will compromise brakes, so best to avoid aerosol versions if possible, and we even go as far as spraying it on a clean rag and rubbing the frame down rather than spraying it directly onto the frame.
Have you used any of these or are there any bike hacks we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below.