Monday, March 10, 2014

'Tis The Season....For Bike Maintenance

Many folks either don't ride much in the winter or we tend to let our bike care standards slip a little bit.  Whether you simply put away your bike on the first cold, rainy days of winter or you've been riding but just haven't faced the task of hauling your dirty rig out for a good cleaning, now is the time to get ready for spring riding! That means cleaning, lubricating, and checking for wear and tear.

I still consider the Litespeed T3 that I got last June to be brand new, but the fact is that after 4000 miles, it needed a little love in the form of a new chain and a set of tires.

Litespeed made ready for spring with good cleaning, new tires and a chain.
Even if your bike maintenance skill are limited to the occasional hosing off visible filth and a chain lube,  you can take that rare opportunity to look over your tires, check the tightness of various bolts and look for any obvious damage or wear.
The streets and trails are frequently wet from runoff and covered with sand and grit. The result is that our bikes pick up abrasive material and it sticks. It pays to keep your drive train and braking surfaces clean of this stuff.
When brakes make that "fingernails on chalkboard" sound, it usually means that your brake pads have picked up some grit that is prematurely wearing the braking surface of your wheel in addition to being annoying as hell.
The silver spots indicate where the grit embedded in this brake pad has worn material from the braking surface of the wheel.  The grit can be picked out with pen knife. If the pad is pitted, it can be sanded to get down to a uniform surface or simply replaced.
It is easy to inspect the pads by simply taking  the wheel. It's easier to pick out the grit with the pad removed but it can be done with the pads still mounted.
If none of this makes a damn bit of sense to you, drop your bike off and one of our fine local bike shops. They will get things in good running order. Most will routinely check for tire and chain wear. If your bike is more than a year or two old, also ask that they inspect your shifter and brake cables. Shifter cables usually break at the cable end in the shifter body, so early signs of failure may not be visible. 
By giving your bike a little love now, you can likely avoid the possibility of finding yourself standing on the side of the road on a hot Saturday in July with a flat tire or a broken shifter cable.
The joys of a cycling household
Diane and I share a love for bikes; however, she seems to turn a deaf ear to my admonitions that bike mainteneance skills are NOT gender specific. Though she is quite adept at maintaining her bike, she is even more adept at getting me to do it for her. After I had spent a couple of hours of working on my road and town bikes, she advised that hers "could use a little attention, too."
Which one do you want first?
My offer to leave the work stand and tools out went ignored until I finally relented and said, "OK, take off your bags and stuff and I'll do your bike, too.", to which she replied, "Which one do you want first?"  Bamboozled again!

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