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Now that the snow and gritters have retreated for another year and the mornings are now light enough to squeeze that fast hour in before work, we thought we’d prepare a guide on what to look for when giving your bike a clean this weekend. With road salt, muck and freezing temps, your bike has hopefully made it through the toughest part of winter and now is the right time to give it a good check over in preparation for packing those early season miles in before racing begins.

If you’ve been regularly commuting/training through winter, chances are your bike looks a mess. Great for your ego when meeting up with your riding mates, but in terms of bike reliability and dependability, it’s not the best way to go.

If you’ve treated yourself to an off season or switched to MTB’ing, now is about the time to get back commuting on a road bike – crisp mornings, the sun rising earlier and arriving at work full of energy make the early starts worth it.

Basic checks (only a couple of allen keys needed!):

  1. Cables: frayed ends (as you’ll see later) and any rust is a sign that they’re ready for replacement.
  2. Bolts and screws: nothing should rattle and they should all be torqued up to their required amount.
  3. Brakes – check your pads for life and clean away the muck which soon finds a home on top of the pads. Also check that they are clamping the rim in the correct area and not rubbing against a tyre when applied – this will ruin a tyre in no time at all.
  4. Tyres and wheels: if you haven’t the luxury of buying special winter tyres you’ll probably have plenty of cuts and nicks:
Does this look familiar?

Does this look familiar?Winter conditions soon wreck tyres

Winter conditions soon wreck tyres

Winter conditions soon wreck tyres

With your rims you need to make sure you have plenty of rim life left, often there are markers or ‘dots’ milled into the rim which when no longer visible mean you really should get some new wheels. Riding with a very worn rim reduces your braking power, increases the chance of blow-outs and if you use high pressure its more likely to crack/split which is never fun. Hubs should be rolling smoothly with no grinding noises – if there are, then have them serviced/spend an afternoon taking things apart and hope everything fits back in.

Jobs which need tools:

  1. Drivetrain – chain and cassette: if this is full of grit and leaves marks on your trousers which will never wash out, now is the time to degrease the whole thing or buy a new chain and cassette. Either of these will help to increase shifting accuracy and keep things quiet back there. A chain tool, lockring tool and chain whip are what you’ll need to swap/disassemble the parts. This is an ideal product for doing this. If it all looks OK, make sure its lubed and there are no stiff links.
  2. Front and rear derailleurs:
Clean those jockey wheels!

Clean those jockey wheels!

Keep clean for good shifting

Keep clean for good shifting

For smooth, quiet running these should be free from grit and dirt. A clogged up jockey wheel not only wears your chain but will be costing you energy. Note the frayed cable ends, I don’t know where the cable ends have gone but these help to keep this to a minimum and stop you stabbing yourself on the exposed cable.

  • Another, often overlooked area is your seatpost. There must be hundred of posts on bike forums about stuck and seized seatposts, so take two minutes to remove your post and give it a clean.
Make sure to check every fortnight

Make sure to check every fortnight

  • The seatclamp area, even with mudguards on still manages to get splashed with water and muck from the rear tyre. This problem seems particularly common on bikes with a metal on carbon interface. The front, if not fitted with mudguards also catches an awful lot of dirt. Clean this and make sure your headset bearings are running nicely with no notches or clunking.

What happens without a mudguard
What happens without a mudguard

Once you’re happy with everything take it for a quick spin and make sure all the gears are indexing correctly. If done regularly and with some care this will keep your bike running well on and into the racing season.

If you would like any help on what tools you need or what products are best for certain tasks, get in touch and we’ll do our best to sort you out.

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