Ride & Shine (Part II)
We have previously discussed several good reasons for a regular bike maintenance program, including: 1) Your bike will work better, 2) Your bike will last longer, and 3) Your bike will look and feel a whole lot better.
The first step of a good home maintenance program is doing a regular bike wipe down. In the upcoming weeks, I will be talking about GBP (good bicycle practice) as well as bike specific cleaners and lubes available at ARB to allow you to quickly and easily accomplish this. Before we start with that, however, let’s talk about what a good bike detective will be looking for during a wipe down. This will allow identification of problems and potential problems before they become issues on the road. As I always say, never ride a poorly maintained bike further out than you are prepared to push it back when it breaks down!
Things you should look for & check during every wipe down:
- Lift the bike and spin the wheels, checking for visual tire cuts, bulges and wear. Also check for loose spokes or evidence of damage usually apparent in an un-true wheel. Look for wheel dings particularly on the braking surface.
- Squeeze the front brake and rock the bike forward and back. If you feel any “clunking,” you probably have a loose headset. Another way to check this is to pick up the front wheel a few inches and drop it. A loose rattling sound can mean a loose headset, loose wheel bearings or a loose skewer, any or all of which should be corrected before riding.
- With your crank arms at 6 & 12 o’clock, grab a pedal and rock away from the centerline of the bike. Any loose feeling means a loose crank or bottom bracket. Again, correct before riding.
- Open the releases on your brakes and take look at the pads, checking first that they are not worn below the wear line. Also check for imbedded stones or metal bits in the pad rubber. These can ruin an expensive set of wheels if left unattended. Remove the offending bits with a pick or knife tip. If the pads look shiney or glazed this can be removed by lightly buffing with a little sandpaper.
- Check the control cables, particularly the brake cables for rust, fraying or kinks. Brakes are important, it’s much more important to be able to stop than to go!
- Look for any loose bolts or fasteners especially around the stem and handlebar area including aerobars if you got ’em. Make sure all parts and accessories are tight and secure. While looking at the handlebar area, check for any sweat build-up evidenced by white crustiness. This leads to corrosion of alloy parts and can result in component failure.
- As you are wiping your frame, particularly on carbon frames, look for any deep scratches or discoloration that can be visual evidence of frame or fork failure.
If you are doing this regularly, this whole process shouldn’t take more than a minute or two and can eliminate a whole lot of ride ruining break-downs or worse, crashes.
Now that we’ve looked your bike over, let’s clean it up! Next week we’ll talk about how to do that………