Rainy Day Bike Blues Cures
The recent rainy weather has brought with it a bunch of new bicycle maintenance concerns. Even if you are not riding while it’s actually raining, road conditions have definitely changed since our last fair weather riding days. Since the rains started you will find cars have pushed a lot of extra road grit and debris into your regular riding path where it is just waiting to be picked up by your bike. These road nasties can easily destroy your bike’s finish and grind down the chain, gears, brakes as well as the tires and rims. Although many people express concern about bad weather riding, a little extra love will keep your bike looking good and running smoothly and let you ride safely into spring. In previous posts we have detailed proper bike maintenance using Motorex products available at ARB, but let’s talk in detail about post-rainy day ride good maintence demands and procedures
.Bike: You’ve just come in from your “epic” ride and your bike is covered with road grime. Now is a good time to give your ride a little attention before that dirt gets really attached. A high pressure water blast is not recommended because water will get into places where it can cause damage ie: bearings and cables. On the other hand, a “dry” wipe can lead to paint scratches. We are probably going to need a little low pressure water flush. Use either a garden hose on very low pressure or a watering can with warm water or a bucket and a rag works well. Wet the bike down from top-to-bottom, avoiding cables, headset bearings hubs as much as possible. Gently wipe down bike with a soft rag or towel, and flush with water again. Dry with a clean soft towel.
Brakes: Open up brake releases and inspect for grit build-up or metal transfer as shown as the silver specks in the picture to the left. Most often you will hear this as a grinding noise before you see it. This build-up needs to be removed immediately because it will destroy your expensive rims. Use a pick or sharp point to remove the foreign material and polish with a bit of sandpaper as necessary. Be sure to wipe down your rim braking surface as well. Next, squeeze the brake calipers together and make sure they snap back to the open position. Any drag or resistance means a brake service is required, which means pulling and lubing the cables. Some of this cable contamination can be avoided by wiping and oiling the cables where they enter the cable housing at the brake adjusters on the caliper body.
Drive Train: For our purposes, let’s define your bike’s drive-train as the cranks/chainrings, chain, cassette, and front and rear derailleurs. Bad weather bike riding problems usually show up here first. The key to keeping your bike shifting and noise-free always starts with keeping it clean and well lubed. Your chain is the primary muck magnet, so spend some extra time here. A lot of chain grime can be removed by wiping it with a disposable towel while back pedaling. All that road grit is grinding your bike away, so get as much off as you can, paying attention to the chain rings, and rear derailleur jockey pulleys as well as the chain. Rainy weather riding also demands you increase your chain lubing frequency, maybe to as much as every ride. We are recently seeing a lot of dry and even rusty chains coming into the ARB service department. Keeping your drive train clean and well lubed is your key to a trouble free winter riding experience.
Tires: Rainy weather is not the best time to put your expensive race tires at risk. All of the road grit that is gunking up your drive train is definitely making you more vulnerable to flatting. One good solution for this is a good set of “training” tires such as Continental Gatorskins. A benefit of doing this,aside from much more flat resistance, is that when you switch back to your racers next spring, they are going to feel that much faster. At a minimum, inspect your tires after every ride looking for rocks or grit that just love to imbed themselves leading to increased flat frequency.
Pedals: Again, the best thing you can do here is keep your pedals and shoes clean and mud/grit free. Oil the clips and springs on your pedals with a good light oil such as Tri-Flow. Make sure your shoe clips are clean rust free and lube them as the manufacturer recommends, such as with Speedplay lube. Your collar bone will love you for it.Keeping
Keeping your bike clean and well maintained is always key to a good bike riding experience. With a little more regular attention you can easily cruise on into spring mostly trouble free.
As always, stop by ARB for a free maintenance diagnosis.
Yours, for good bike health,