When commuting, an easily maintainable bike will often be an important factor to consider when looking into which one may suit your needs the most. They will cost more to buy, but the time, effort and money saved on repairs will be worth in the end.
What maintenance do bicycles generally need?
Bicycles are cheap, practical, do not take space and are the most efficient mode of transport ever invented. Unfortunately, they are not eternal, and if you use a bike on a regular basis, it will require maintenance. These repairs can be either small (punctures, brake pads) or bike (drivetrain change, wheel replacements etc).
1) Punctures are the most common thing you will need to fix. This is when the tube, inside the tyre, has a hole and cannot keep the air inside it. Always ride your bike with the required inflation.
2) Oiling the chain: this sounds very obvious, but keeping a well lubricated chain will enable your drivetrain to remain in a good shape, for longer
3) Brakes: most bikes are equipped with cable operated brakes. These get rusty or dry with use (and the Irish humidity!), and will need to be replaced to keep an efficient stopping power
4) Brake pads: they need to be replaced regularly too, if you want to keep stopping your bike that is.
5) Gears: they work also with cables, and these will need replacement regularly too.
6) Accessories: although not exactly part of the bike, having integrated lights encourage all year round cycling
What is a Low Maintenance Bicycle?
A low maintenance bike is a bike that is easier to look after, not requiring as much complex TLC or not as many replacement parts. You would need to go to your favourite local bike shop less often, and will not get nervous about the things that may break. Riding a low maintenance bicycle everyday will also make you save money in the long run, and a lot more time fixing mechanical issues and / or sourcing the parts needed for your bike.
What to Look for in a Low Maintenance Bike?
When looking for a low maintenance bike there are some important and useful parts in the specification to look out for:
- belt drive instead of chain
- internal gear hubs
- puncture-resistant tyres
- hydraulic brakes
- dynamo hubs
1) A belt-drive system replaces the traditional chain with a carbon belt. It won't need oiling, is silent, and last much longer than a chain. It is also better for anyone who likes to keep their clothes clean and will only require wiping if it is a muddy day!
2) Internal gears. Generally bikes have a deraileur, with a chain and a cable operating the whole lot. With internal hub gears, the system is totally enclosed. It is very solid and requires very few adjustments compared to a regular deraileur system. It also has the advantage of the gears being out of the way if your bike gets knocked down when parked for example!
3) Puncture resistant tyres. Puncture resistant tyres (not puncture proof - you will get punctures, but way fewer than with regular tyres) are a game changer. You will just need to inflate them to the recommended pressure, they will last for a long time and they will take away the 'ah not again' feel when you are ready to take your bike to go to work. They can be installed on any bike, after purchase, even on an old clunker.
4) Hydraulic disc brakes. Anne, our founder, refuses to cycle bikes with anything else but hydraulic brakes. The main reason is that they are very powerful, do not need adjustments, pads will last much longer and they will stop you in any weather circumstances, even very heavy rain - perfect for emergency stops. They may need to be bled at some stage, but if you are a city cyclist, you will love them!
5) Dynamo hubs. Although this is not technically a maintenance issue, this is something that all of us city cyclists have experienced - lost lights, broken lights, nicked lights, lights that need battery etc. Dynamo hubs take that problem away, as they stay on the bike at all times and you won't have to worry about any of these things!
Bicycles with all these features are not very common, but the Achielle Oscar, Olivia and Ophelie integrate every single one of them.
We stock a large range of bikes with hydraulic brakes, and we always recommend puncture resistant tyres, especially to people cycling reasonable distances or who carry their children with them.
Any questions just ask us!