Lockdown ‘To Do’ List

Obviously, these days of lockdown are very far from ideal. However, if you are spending more time at home, you could use the time you are usually commuting for doing those little jobs that have been put off or relegated for a rainy day. Once the garage is tidy, the driveway jetwashed (for the 3rd time), the cupboard de-cluttered and that shelf finally erected, it’s definitely time to focus on your bike…


Transferring your power into forward motion, your bike’s chain takes the strain. The chain makes around 30,000 individual metal-on-metal movements per minute at 90rpm. It also attracts the road grit spayed up from the front wheel as well as droplets of sweat / gels / carb’ drinks.

Feeling sorry for your chain yet? Please – keep it clean and lubricated.

Chains get worn over the time they are used. A chain checker tool can alert you to replace a chain before it prematurely wears the cassette, chainrings and derailleur jockey wheels. Quicklinks (below) allow chains to be removed for cleaning or replacing very easily. Many chains come with a quick-link.

Recommended Chains

Shimano Ultegra 11 Speed – £25.96

KMC X11 EL GOLD 11 Speed – £30.95

KMC X10 10 Speed – £22.00

KMC X9 9 Speed – £8.99

Chain Tool. When replacing a chain, you will need a chain tool to break the chain to the right size for your bike, before joining with a quick link.

Chain Check tools are the best way to monitor chain ware from regular riding. Replacing the chain when it is due is the best way to maximise the lifespan of drive train components.

A Quick Link Tool makes the job fitting the chain quick link even easier.

Chain Tips

When replacing a chain, take the opportunity to clean the cassette, chainring and derailleur jockey wheels. The sparkly new chain will look nice and clean for longer. Get in the habit of degreasing and applying lube to get the maximum life from a chain and minimising wear on the cassette.


A cassette should last for 2 or 3 chains. However, real world riding can reduce this hugely. Cassettes attract the stuff that grinds and wears them down. Nice clean lube, once mixed with a few weeks / months of road grit or trail dirt, can result in dirty paste clinging to the once shiny drive train components. MTB & Gravel / Cross bike cassettes are particularly susceptible to wear, as are cassettes on home trainer bikes which tend to be used on just a few sprockets.

If you regularly find yourself overgeared on steep climbs, try a cassette with bigger sprockets (11 – 32 for example). Likewise, if you live in the flatlands and never use your bigger sprockets, consider getting a closer ratio of sprockets, (11 – 25 for example). Also, make sure your rear derailleur will work with a wider cassette ratio.

Recommended Cassettes

Shimano R8000 11 Cassette £54.95

Campagnolo Potenza 11 £39.95

Miche Promato 10 Speed from £19.99

Sunrace R91 (Shimano / Sram) £16.99

Cassette Tools

Cassette Removal tools come in two main types – ones which you will need a wrench to use (pic left) and ones which already have a long handle attached. These tools also come in Shimano and Campagnolo types.

Cassette Tips

When replacing the cassette, replace the chain too. A worn chain will wear a new cassette quicker. Clean the chainrings and derailleur jockey wheels, this will keep the drive train looking and working like new for longer.


Fitting new cables can give your ride that new bike feel again. Over time the performance of cables deteriorates. Adverse weather, road grit and even sweat / sports drink running along inner cables can impact gear shifting performance. Likewise brake cables can also get less responsive over time. While bikes with internal cable routing ensure the cables are hidden away, they still get sticky and lose performance.

Recommended Cables

Shimano Steel Inner Gear Wire £2.50

Shimano Stainless Steel Inner Gear Wire £3.50

Shimano Stainless Steel Inner Road Cable £3.49

Shimano XTR Polymer Cable Shifter Set £28.00

Cable Tools

Cable cutters are a good investment. Good ones last a long time and can always be relied upon for a clean crisp chop of the cable.

Cable Replacement Tip

When replacing cables, use the old carpenter saying “measure twice, cut once”, alternatively use the old outer cable length as a guide for cutting the new ones.

Deep Clean

“If only there was a way I could pay back my bike for the miles of sheer joy it gives me…” Well there is – Keep it Clean! Find time to drop the wheels out and give it a really good seeing to. Cleaning your bike regularly is a great opportunity to check over for cracks, worn components or any potential maintenance issues. Here at Merlin we have a dedicated bike cleaning section on our website;


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