While a shiny new bike for each season would be very nice, most riders make do with a yearly pre-season spruce up. Here’s 10 tips for a spring ‘pimping’ of your ride, plus a couple of cheeky Belgian alternatives for the Tour of Flanders weekend…
Rebuilding your bike in spring is a great way to check all is well for the upcoming season of riding. Checking components for wear and tear could also save heartache further into the year. Cleaning components before rebuilding your bike will regain that new-ride look and feel for your bike. If you are inexperienced at bike mechanics, investing in a torque wrench can help ensure components are not damaged while rebuilding.
The simplest, most cost-effective way to refresh your bike is to replace the bar tape. As well as getting a bit scruffy, tape can get a little flatter and less cushioning as it gets more worn. Replacing bar tape is a good opportunity to think if your previous set up was giving enough comfort and grip. Would comfort be enhanced with gel pads which fit under the tape, for example? Would you benefit from more padded tape?
Brake and gear cables get stretched and gain friction as they are used and get older. Stretched gear cables make it very difficult to set up gears accurately, increased friction can make gear changes more vague and make it easier for the gear to not quite to be in the right position for each gear selection.
Tyres & Tubes
Tyres wear out, as they wear, punctures get more common, as does the appearance of cuts in the surface of the rubber. When replacing tyres, think about tyre width, could your ride be enhanced with slightly wider tyres? (providing that your frame clearances will allow). 25mm tyres give more comfort than 20 or 23mm tyres. While 28mm tyres can provide an almost sitting in your favourite armchair experience, many frames will not support the extra width.
A replacement saddle is a good opportunity to think about your comfort. Would you benefit from a wider sit area on your saddle? Eventually the padding in the saddle gets a little flat and not quite as comfortable as it once was. Don’t get sentimental about all you and your saddle have been through, it’s probably had enough of your behind, and when it’s time to move on, it’s time to move on. Check our saddle guide blog for tips on selecting your next perch.
Cassette & Chain
A well cleaned chain and cassette will last for a good few thousand miles. Keeping your drive train clean and lubricated will save money and help efficiency. However, when your drive train and shifting start to feel less efficient or if your chain and cassette seem slightly less precise than they once were, it could be time to replace them. A chain checker tool can take some of the guess-work out of chain wear.
Bars & Stem
When riding, the bars and stem get the bulk of your attention (particularly the stem, if your name is Chris Froome). Because you mainly look at your bars and stem while riding, replacing them can be a neat way to trick yourself into thinking you have a new bike. As with most cycling upgrades, spending more on an upgrade with be likely to increase stiffness and reduce weight. A stem upgrade is also an ideal opportunity to dial in that perfect position, a choice of longer, shorter or alternative rise could make all the difference.
Worn chainrings can often be replaced. Alternatively, you could use this as an excuse to upgrade your chainset. Generally a chainset upgrade will reduce weight and increase stiffness, as well as cleaning up the look of your bike for the season ahead. Check out gearing options available too, would a 50-34, 52-36 or 53-39 suit you better…
Wheels have a huge impact on your bike. In German automotive terms, lighter and stiffer wheels can transform a bike from a TDI to a GTI. The move towards wider rims during the last few years adds comfy leather seats too. Wider rims (23 – 25mm at the braking surface) helps with extra comfort and lower rolling resistance when used with wider tyres. Either lighter, shallow aluminium rims, deeper carbon or a mix of the two (carbon & aluminium) can speed up your ride and transform the feel of your bike.
If your components and wheels are all in good condition, a new frame upgrade could be a cut-price alternative to a full new bike. Whether your frame is looking tired and creaking, if you just cannot get comfy or if you just fancy a change, a new frame can transform your riding. Before rushing into a new frame purchase, double-check your measurements. Use the opportunity to correct any issues with your current frame’s geometry.
Short back and sides
Refreshing your bike is a bit like getting a hair-cut; you can have a little trim, or go for a full-on, Beyonce-style extensions. Once refreshed, your ride mates will notice and you will not resist taking a peek in a shiny glass window as you ride past.
Full Hair Transplant?
Realised there are a few issues rejuvenating your existing bike? Now is a great time to invest in a new 2017 bike and enjoy the benefits through the year.
Check out the Merlin Fuse all-rounder carbon road bike or the Merlin Nitro SL with World Tour proven performance and giant killing credentials. Both the Fuse and Nitro are built for Merlin by our premium Belgian bike producer and have been designed for speed and comfort. So, whether you love to ride long climbs, fast flat roads or cobbled sections the comfort and speed built into the Nitro SL and Fuse will improve your ride. The films below were shot in Flanders and the iconic climbs from The Tour of Flanders.
Merlin Nitro SL
Merlin Nitro SL Review Cycling Weekly
Merlin Nitro SL Review The Telegraph