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Mountain bicyles and all-terrain bicycles which are both designed for off-road riding, have become the wheels of choice for the popular sport of riding. This form of exercise strengthens the leg muscles as well as the coronary and pulmonary systems of the human body. Not to mention it delivers plenty of excitement to the rider who maneuvers his or her way up and down rugged paths and through rocky territory.

Whether you own a mountain bike, or a basic street bike, you should follow some basic rules for caring and maintaining your bicycle.

Before and after each riding excursion, a wise rider will check his or her bicycle and make any minor repairs that might be necessary.

Before taking that first exhilarating spin on your bicycle, and before every ride thereafter, you must first check a few items to make sure your riding experience is safe and pleasurable. After all, you wouldn't want to end up pushing or carrying your bicycle back to the starting point, especially if you had already travelled far.

The first step is to make sure both wheels are securely attached to the frame. Check the nuts and bolts and tighten if necessary. Next, check both tires and make sure they are in good shape and do not show signs of wear and tear. Check for leaks or cuts in the tires. Also, check the tire pressures to see if they are properly inflated;. not underinflated or overinflated. Refer to the pressures listed on the sidewalls of the tires to get an exact tire pressure number.

Loose spokes can cause a number of problems while peddling along on your trip. So check them for tightness.

Check all bolts, nuts, and other fasteners; tighten any loose ones you might find. Be sure to check the handlebars and make sure they are securely attached to the frame of the bicycle. Look for worn parts, loose bearings, brake pads, etc. during your pre-ride inspection. Even spin the pedals and listen for any grinding noises that might suggest the bearings are worn.

Finally, and certainly one of the most important things, is to check both sets of brakes on your bicycle. They should be working properly and at all times.

After every ride, carefully clean off any mud and grime that might have accumulated on your bicycle during your ride. Pay special attention to the chain and the linkage system. Lubricate the chain and all moving parts before putting your bicycle away. The oil will help in the resistance of rust accumulation.

Storing your bicycle is an easy task as long as you follow these two rules:

1. Store your bicycle in a dry garage or storage shed.

2. Never lay your bicycle on one side or the other. Always hang your bicycle over head on a bicycle hook. (You can purchase one at your local bicycle shop.) Laying your bicycle on its side could cause damage to the wheels, chains, or derailleurs.

Finally, most repairs, such as straightening a wheel after a bicycling accident, or replacing worn bearings, are best performed at your local bicycle shop by a trained technician. You can perform the basic rules of care and maintenance as outlined above, though, and add years of service to your bicycle. And, you will undoubtedly add to that many safe and trouble-free bicycling trips!