Maintenance is key to prolonging the life of your bike and your safety. Last night on my way home I had a close call because of my lack of maintenance.
I was riding home on kept hearing a weird rattling soun. coming from my rear wheel/drivetrain. Not sure what was causing it and nothing really seemed to be working improperly at the time I continued home with out really stopping to check everything. There were a couple more incidents of rattling and chain skipping but nothing that really set off alarm bells for me.
. make it home and pick up my bike, turn it around to put it away for the night and the rear wheel rattles. Hmmmm… That’s not right I thought. I reach down check the wheel and it is definitely loose. Turns out the nuts holding the rear wheel in had come loose because I did not check to make sure they were still tight after my first few rides. I had been riding with a loose rear wheel for more than 4 miles, that I knew of.. If I had ridden much further and hit and bumps, gone off a curb or something like that I could have had a serious crash possibly injuring my and damaging my bike.
Moral of the story, be sure to periodically check all the fasteners on you bike from top to bottom. Also, one of the best tools you can have in you tool box is a torque wrench. Every bike and component manufacturer now has recommended torque settings for practically every fastener and that should be adhered to in order to prolong the life of you equipment.
Here are a couple places for inforamtion on maintaining you bike.