Mud, dirt and salt water can break down bike components. The chain will last much longer with thorough cleaning and lubrication on a regular schedule. Prior to cleaning your chain ensure you have the right tools for the job. A good degreaser, Simple Green works well, will not damage the chain. A chain brush or old toothbrush to scrub. A towel for wiping of grease. And of course chain lubricant for relubing the chain once the chain is cleaned. To clean the chain mix 1 part water with 1 part degreaser. You can mix this into a bucket or cup. Dip the toothbrush or chain brush into the degreaser mixture. Scrub the chain and sprockets to remove any built up grease or debris. Once cleaned wipe down the chain and sprockets. To lube the chain it is recommended to spray the lube while spinning the back tire. I recommend lubing all moving parts and joints of the chain. Wipe up any access lube when chain lubrication is complete.
Check the brake pads to ensure they are not excessively worn. If worn and not making good contact replace the brake pads. If your bike has a hand brake then clean the brake cable. Ensure there is not excessive grease or debris built up at the end of the cable.
Derailer (If 7 speed bike)
The derailer can be cleaned similar to the chain. The derailer does not need to lubricated. It will require degreasing if there is excessive build up of grease or debris.
It is recommended to check the tire pressure before each ride. Tires can lose pressure overnight. Get a decent floor pump and check each day. The PSI (pounds per square inch) will be indicated on the side of the tire. It is also a good idea to look at the tires and check for damage or excessive wear. Properly inflated and maintained tires will last longer.
The following areas will need to be lubricated at least annually: Derailers, All levers, All cables, Any moving parts of the chain.
Also check all nuts, bolts, seat stem and handle bar stem for loosening and excessive wear. This should be done at least annually but more often if riding in muddy, sandy or wet areas.
Clean your bike often to keep it running well and looking nice. A nice teflon or silicone bike polish will help to maintain your bike sheen, make it look great and help protect the paint. Simply clean the bike with water, follow the steps above for maintaining your chain, brake and tires then apply polish. Enjoy the Ride!