Your bike's fasteners are the glue that holds it together. Neglect them, and your bike will retaliate by creaking and maybe even coming apart at the seams mid-ride. The best defense against loose components is a routine inspection before every ride. This will help you catch potential problems (rattles, squeaks, wobbles) before they develop into safety hazards. Follow these tips to ensure a safe, sturdy, trouble-free ride.

  1. Your fasteners can loosen over time, so check them often--about once a month for the average rider, at least every two weeks for the hard-core racer or abusive rider. Pay special attention to seat clamp bolt, seat stem bolts, crank bolts and suspension pivot bolts; they are most critical to your safety and loosen more easily. Give each bolt a quick check with a wrench as part of your regular maintenance routine. 
  2. Overtightening can damage parts or cause fasteners to break. Undertightening can allow the bolt to loosen, allowing the part it's securing to move or slip. Look for imprinted torque specs on the part or frame. If there are none, refer to the manufacturer (often on the website) for proper specifications.
  3. Grease all threads for corrosion resistance and to achieve proper, consistent torque. Use a high-quality grease on the threads and under the head of the bolt.
  4. Replace corroded bolts. Corrosion can compromise their integrity and cause them to seize in the part they're threaded into. Also replace any bolts that have damaged or rounded heads. Even the slightest damage can make removal difficult or impossible down the road. If your wrenchslips, don't try again. Make sure there's no dirt or debris in the hole--if there is, clean it out. Take a new wrench or grind your old one so it has sharp, nonrounded edges, then tap it into the bolt with a hammer. No luck? Broken or rounded bolts can usually be removed with an Easy-out and some mechanical skill. If you're not confident doing this yourself, take the part to a machine shop--it has the experience and special tools to remove the most stubborn fasteners without destroying the part they're holding on.