5 Bad Habits That Wear Your Bike Out

Are you making your bike slower and more tired than it needs to be?

“It’s as easy as riding a bike” – isn’t that a lovely phrase? Riding a bike can be easy, but there are a few user errors that can make it more difficult than it needs to be. 

Whilst your bike generally wants you to get from A to B happy and not too worn out, if you treat it badly it might well start to complain. Here are a few things you should avoid if you want to keep your bike (and your legs) happy…


Cross chaining

Avoid this combination

Crossing your chain means riding in the big (hardest) cog on the front, and big (easiest) cog at the back, or the small (easiest) ring on the front and small (hardest) ring on the rear.

Riding in either combination will cause your chain to wear over time, and can cause it to slip. It also wastes your energy as it is the least efficient way for your chain to be positioned.

Instead, if you’re struggling on a hill and have moved into the easiest ring on the cassette, shift into the small ring instead – and if you’re after more resistance and have moved into the hardest rings on the cassette, shift the front chainring up. We’ve got more detailed information and pictures on this here. 

Keeping the chain clean and lightly lubed makes a big difference, too – allowing grit and mud to accumulate will have an exfoliating effect over time. Good for your skin, not for your chain!

Not wiping rims

If you’ve got a bike with rim brakes, then you need to remember that the surface of the rim and the brake pad are both vitally important to your ability to stop promptly. Let one become caked in muck and you might find your braking power is reduced. Not only that, if you let small pieces of grit become lodged in the brake pad, then they’ll slowly wear down the rim. Preventing all of this is easy – just give your rims and brake pads a quick wipe down with a rag after every ride, and clean your bike properly around once a week.

Riding at the wrong PSI

Riding with your tyre pressure too low doesn’t feel very nice, for starters. However, it also means that the tyre compresses more against the road, and this will cause the rubber to wear more quickly, also leaving you open to more punctures. However, don’t go too high – as this will make your ride more bumpy than it needs to be.

How Often Should I Pump My Tyres

The correct tyre pressure for your bike will be displayed on the tyre wall, and then you can choose which end of the scale you opt to go for based on your weight (lighter riders need less pressure) and the weather (wet conditions mean less pressure).

Laying your bike down on the drive side

The drive side of your bike is the side with the chainring, cassette and derailleurs. In an ideal world, it’s best not to lie your bike down at all – stand it up if you can. However, if you do have to put it down on the ground, always make sure the moving parts are pointing skywards. Derailleurs in particular are actually quite delicate – and bending one can cause your gears to go from being your best friend to your greatest enemy.

Riding through pot holes and gravel

Image: Steven Vance

There are of course times when you have no choice but to hit a pot hole or ride over a section of rough gravel. To help you out with those situations, we’ve got two guides: how to Avoid and Take on Pot Holes on Your Bike and how to cycle safely over gravel. 

However, there are other times when you do have a choice. Keeping your eyes and attention on the road ahead will give you more time to prepare, and riding a sensible distance from the kurb to give yourself room to maneuver will both help.

You might also like…

6 Reasons you keep getting punctures 

TWC Recommends: Best Pumps for Faff Free Inflation 

What to do if you’re involved in a cycling collision 

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