Caring for your folding bike…
Many of us have folding bikes either on our boats or at home. All bikes need maintenance to provide trouble free service, and folding bikes are no different. In fact due to many of them spending time in a marine environment there are even a few extra steps we might need to consider when giving them a routine service…
Wheels & Tires
Folding bikes often have smaller wheels and tires when compared to larger bikes. A 16” or 20” wheel is common, but some are even smaller. These smaller wheels and tires can be more susceptible to damage from kirbs and obstacles than full sized bikes, so it’s important to give them a good going-over. Check tyres for signs of damage, don’t forget to check the sidewalls as well as just the tread pattern. Make sure they are pumped up to the recommended pressure too, an under inflated tire could increase the chance of rim damage. Spin the tires and check the rims are not buckled, and on bikes with rim brakes (as opposed to disc brakes) check the braking surface on the side of the rim for excess wear
Frame & Fork
Folding bikes are by their very nature more fragile than full sized bikes. While they are designed to provide many years of service, it’s important to check the frame over for any signs of corrosion that could lead to weakness. Keep an eye out for cracks too, although these are very rare, but worth looking for as they can lead to a catastrophic failure of the frame. If your bike has suspension, check the travel by applying weight to the handlebars. There should be no odd sounds, and the forks should be clean and free of dirt & debris.
This is an area of a folding bike that should be checked regularly for obvious reasons. There are many different types of mechanisms, but check all work smoothly and ass they should. It’s worth giving any moving parts or threads a quick spray with a suitable teflon lubricant to prevent corrosion, and put a small amount of teflon grease or similar on the actual hinge itself.
Chain & Drivetrain
Chains stretch over time, which can in turn cause excess wear to the teeth of cogs on which they sit. It’s well worth replacing the chain every other season - chains are relatively cheap but if the drive sprockets become worn these can be quite costly and difficult to replace. Otherwise folding bikes generally have reasonably simple gear setups, certainly when compared to full sized bikes. It’s worth using a degreaser once a year on your gear mechanism, then re-applying a light coating of a suitable lubricant.
Gears, Brakes & Cables
We covered gears servicing in the section above, but ensure that the cables that run from the handlebars to the gear mechanism are moving freely. In our experience many problems with gears are down to a worn or sticky shift cable. Brakes are an essential safety item - again check that the cables run freely. Brake pads should be checked on both rim brakes and disc brakes. Brakes should operate smoothly, without squealing and should stop the bike positively without excess force being applied to the levers. If in doubt, replace the pads as a precaution.
Electric Folding Bikes
If your bike uses an electric drive system, check all electrical cables for signs of chafe or damage. If you have a removable battery, check the electrical contacts are clean and not showing signs of corrosion. When storing lithium batteries for any length of time, it’s best to leave them around half charged (most manufacturers have their own recommendation, often between 30% and 70%, check your owners handbook) as the optimum condition for storing lithium batteries is neither fully charged or discharged. Motors are generally sealed and require little maintenance, just check for any odd noises and consult your owners manual for any more specific servicing requirements.