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10 DIY Ways To Tune-Up Your Bike

Skip the bike shop and instead try some of these home remedies for quick bike fixes. From rusted chains to flat tires, here are the easy solutions for all your bike tune-up needs.

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1. Shine Your Bike With Furniture Polish

Once your bike is nice and clean, you’ll want to shine it up and show it off. Instead of using liquid or paste wax and spending time applying the wax to the bike’s various tubes, joints, and hard-to-reach spots, all you really need to do is spray the bike all over with a furniture polish that contains wax – something you probably already have around the house.

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2. Try Salt-and-Lemon Juice Rust Buster

Salt can cause metal to rust – yet it can also be used to remove rust. (Go figure.) If any rust spots appear on the handlebars or wheel rims of your bike, try this home remedy. In a small container, mix ⅓ cup salt with 2 tablespoons lemon juice to make a paste. Apply the paste to the rusted area with a dry cloth and rub it in. Rinse and dry it thoroughly, and then step back and admire your rust-free bike.

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3. Maintain Your Chain With WD-40

The hardest part of a bicycle to clean is the chain. But you can make the job easier with WD-40. Turn the bike upside down and spray some WD-40 onto a soft, clean cloth. Rub the chain with the cloth a few links at a time. Move the pedals forward to work on a new section of chain.

Once the entire chain is clean, carefully dislodge it from the chain ring (the metal toothed wheel that engages it) and use a screwdriver or dull knife to remove any gunk that’s lodged between the chain ring’s teeth. That done, use a cloth to polish between the teeth with a back-and-forth flossing motion, and then reseat the chain.

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4. Fold A Bill For A Quick Tire Fix

If a sharp rock or anything else in the roadway slashes your tire, you can patch the puncture in the inner tube – but it will bulge out through the slash in the tire when you try to ride. How to prevent the bulge? After patching the inner tube, fold a five-dollar bill in quarters and tuck it between the inner tube and the tire slash – a quick fix that should hold you for the ride home.

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5. Fix a Bent Bike Wheel

If one of your bicycle’s wheels gets bent and you don’t have any tools at hand, try this temporary fix: Remove the wheel and smack it against a nearby tree. Check it for alignment, and then smack it again if necessary. When the wheel looks reasonably straight, put it back on the bike and, if feasible, ride to the nearest bike shop to have the wheel repaired or buy a new one.

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6. Let Mother Nature Help With A Flat

If you get a flat tire while cycling and don’t have a repair kit with you, completely deflate the tire, turn the bike upside down, and pull one side of the bad tire out from the rim of the wheel. A good way to work it out is with the wide end of a house key, but any dull metal object will do. Once the tire is loose around one side, find some leaves and moss along the roadside and stuff them inside the rim. Then squeeze the tire back into place and ride straight home. The repair will let you ride (carefully) for a while, but not for long – so repair the flat properly as soon as possible.

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7. Baby Powder For Motor Cyclists

Yes indeed. If you’re a motorcyclist who likes to deck yourself out in leather before taking to the highway, sprinkle the seat with baby powder before you mount. The fine powder will make it easier for you to slide freely from side to side on the seat, assuring you of a smooth ride.

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8. Prove A Bike is Yours

You know how susceptible bikes are to theft – and even though your bicycle has a serial number engraved on its frame, thieves can easily file it off. To make sure you can identify your bike should you ever find it in someone else’s possession, remove the seat of the bike, roll your business card or a similar ID around a pencil, and push it inside the pipe supporting the seat. Once the seat is back in place, no one will think to look there. And won’t the new bike “owner” be surprised when you disassemble the bike seat and pull out your ace in the hole!

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9. Spray For A Smoother Ride

To keep the chain of your bicycle well lubricated, spray it with WD-40 and wipe off any excess with a soft cloth. You can also spray WD-40 into the cables and bearings to drive out moisture, and then on the springs in the seat to eliminate squeaking. Finally, spray the frame of the bike to keep dust from sticking to it.

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10. Keep Your Visor Unfogged

To keep a motorcycle helmet visor from fogging up on the road, put a drop of dishwashing liquid on the inside, then rub it over the whole surface with your finger until it’s no longer visible. Then kiss misty visors good-bye as you mount your bike and speed off.