Nothing tests a relationship more than calling your other half to ask to be picked up when you are miles away from home with a broken bike. Many potential issues could be detected before heading out. Follow our tips below – they might just save your relationship…
Keep it Clean.
There are no excuses for a filthy bike! As well as not looking great, it’s much harder to keep an unclean bike working at its best. Any damage / cracks which would be obvious to spot on a clean bike are very hard to spot on a filthy one. Clean bikes are also probably faster too – giving their owner a real advantage – all for the cost of a quick 5 minute spruce up.
Wheels & Tyres
Look at your tyres, inspect for cuts and damage, serious cuts could open up and lead to a flat tyre, bulges in older tyres are a sign that they need replacing. Look at the wear indicators on your tyres, if they’ve worn away they will need replacing. Check wheels are true, or at the very least, true enough not to catch on brake pads. Also worth looking for any loose spokes and any cracking on well used rims (on rim brake bikes).
Check the chainset for any play which could indicate wear in the bottom bracket. A small amount of play can be fixed using the preload adjuster cap (On Shimano hollowtech 2). Make sure the crank bolts which attach to the crank to the axle are tight.
Make sure that gears index and shift properly – without any annoying clicking. Also worth checking that the bolts which attach the gears / derailleurs to the frame are still nice and tight.
If your cassette and chain have been neglected, degrease both. Cleaning off the gunk and applying fresh lube regularly will extend their usable life and help maintain positive gear shifting.
Inspect brake pads for wear and remove anything lodged into the surface which could gouge rims or rotors. Check cables / hydraulics for any damage or leaking. Do the brake levers spring back positively or creep back slowly? This could indicate that cables need replacing. Hydraulic brakes levers feeling not so great? They could well need bleeding. Check out our bleed kits here.
Make sure that the stem bolts are tight and holding the fork steerer-tube and handlebars firmly. Check for headset play or tightness and adjust accordingly using the top adjuster cap.
Ensure the seat post bolt is tight on the collar / frame. Check also the saddle bolt is tight as this can loosen / stretch over time.
Winter is THE best time to upgrade your bike and enjoy the benefits while the weather is at its worst. Even a low-cost option like replacing the bar tape can brighten long days in the saddle. If you are in need on a new winter / ‘do everything’ bike check out the adaptable Merlin Malts – great on gravel, but pop on some road tyres and they are very capable and comfortable on road too.
Soon after setting out on a long ride, try to include an early, hardi-ish effort . This both warms up legs for the ride ahead, but also applies enough stresses to your bike to ensure that if anything is going to break, it would break nearer to home – rather than in the middle of nowhere. After all, nobody likes the silent treatment for a long drive home…
Kind of mentioning this twice, but for good reason, cassettes and chains are more expensive and can be harder to find than a couple of years ago. Make Them Last!
Even when used in filthy weather, with a bit of regular cleaning and lubrication, chains should outlast cassettes, roughly 2 or 3 to 1 – one cassette should last two or three chains. When you think about the amount of metal on metal movement in a bike chain, it is pretty amazing they last as long as they do. Checking for chain wear and regular cleaning and lubrication will also help minimise wear on chainrings and derailleur jockey wheels.