Neglecting to Clean It After a Ride1 of 9
It's raining, it's muddy and it's downright gross outside. But you don't scare easily, so of course you show up to that group ride you've been eagerly anticipating. Good for you! But not so good for your bike. That warm shower and cozy blanket might be calling your name when you get home, but don't forget about 'ol faithful. At the very least, take the time to wipe down the frame and drivetrain, which will prevent dirt and grime from solidifying in the nooks and crannies. And whatever you do, don't take your precious ride to a self-service car wash. That water pressure is too powerful for your bike, no matter how tempting it might be.
Leaving It Unattended, Unlocked or Outside Overnight2 of 9
When calculating how much your buddy spent on his bike, use the Rule of Three popularized by "American Pie." Whatever he says, multiply it by three to get the real answer. And you know what? Good for him! You wouldn't ask if you weren't drooling. So why, then, would you turn around and leave it out in the open for anyone to get their hands on it? It doesn't matter how much you needed that post-ride pint, making the solo walk home in a cycling kit sans bike probably isn't the look you were going for.
As for leaving your bike outside for long periods of time, it's basically the same as putting it away dirty. Snow, rain and grime can accumulate on the pieces and parts, causing rust and other unwanted things to occur.
Over or Under Inflating Your Tires3 of 9
We all (hopefully) know to check tire pressure before every ride. But aside from that, making sure your tires are at the right pressure can prevent problems down the road—literally. Under inflated tires can be a precursor to a flat and can cut down on the longevity of your tire rubber's lifespan.
Most importantly, inflate for the surface you're planning to ride on. If you're planning a nice, dry road or trail excursion, more pressure is better for a flat and smooth ride. But if you're tackling a ride in wet and muddy conditions, have your pressure a touch less than normal for more surface area on the slippery ground.
Neglecting to Fix Worn or Broken Parts4 of 9
Riding on worn or broken parts is just asking for disaster. Better to take the time to fix your worn brake pads or frayed shifter cable now than be stuck an hour from home when something finally gives out.
Leaning Your Bike on its Top Tube5 of 9
Your bike may look cool leaned up against that artsy urban mural or barbed wire fence, but you're just asking for scratches or even dents. Plus, the more frequently you do it, the worse it will be. Store your bike in a rack to keep it upright and away from harm. But if there aren't any viable options around, just make sure your handlebars take the brunt of the lean, rather than your top tube. And never, under any circumstances, leave it in the prone position on the ground.
DIY Repairs Without Proper Training6 of 9
Tinkering with your derailleur seems easy enough, right? Wrong. Trying to fix issues with your bike without training or knowledge can actually do more harm than good, making what was an easy repair a lot more expensive.
But that doesn't mean you necessarily have to take every little problem to the shop. Just make sure you know what you're doing before you go toying around with your ride.
Lubing Your Chain the Morning of a Race7 of 9
You should always lube your chain the night before your race so as to give the lubricant a chance to spread and dry before it's time to ride. But don't be lube happy. Overcoating your chain can be just as bad, creating a sort of revolving magnet for dirt and dust to collect and speed up the wear on the system.
Failing to Check Your Bike Before a Ride8 of 9
Doing an initial inspection before going on a long ride can save you time, energy and frustration later on. It's always better to catch a problem before it happens than be out on a Sunday morning group ride, have a mechanical failure and get dropped miles from home.