Educationby Steve Sarson
Maintenance of the Bike and Rider
Summer Bike Handling /New Rider Classes
These classes have been beneficial to many new cyclists in the past. Quite a few of our graduates have become active members in the LBC and ride on a regular basis. Last year, at least 20 of our students participated in the OKHT. If you know anyone who is interested in cycling but intimidated by road riding, received a new bike for Christmas and needs some help getting started or just needs to practice skills in a controlled environment, please encourage them to attend.
Look for a complete schedule in the next newsletter. Additional help is always needed, especially during our practice rides. If you are interested in helping the Education Committee with these classes, please contact Steve Sarson at 499-7089.
A well-maintained bike will ride better, shift smoother, brake better, sound better, and overall look better. We all want to look good on our bikes, don’t we? Here are some tips for winter maintenance that will make that first ride a joy, and your bike ride as good as new.
Before you begin, give your bike a good cleaning to remove road dirt and grunge. If you do this after you’ve finished lubing other parts of the bike, you’ll have to start over again. There are many cleaning products available — Dawn dishwashing liquid seems to cut grease best when giving your bike a bath. You can also buy some degrease to clean chains, cassettes, chainrings, and other parts. When tightening any bolts, grease the threads to avoid corrosion. Do not over-tighten any bolts — remember, you’re working on a bike with lightweight alloy parts. Over-tightening may cause threads to strip and parts to break. Remember, checking for tightness doesn’t mean tightening the bolts every time.
Chain — A dirty, worn chain will tear up your cassette and chainrings, shift lousy, is less efficient and looks bad overall. Clean and lube that chain, check it for wear and look for sticking or tight links. To check for a worn chain, measure 12 links with a ruler. If it measures over 12-1/8 inches, replace it. For the riding season, decide now to clean and lube every two weeks or 10 hours of riding, and check for wear every 500 miles. A clean chain is worth the time.
Cassette — Cassette care is simple. Keep it clean and apply a few drops of lube to the bearings once in a while. Check for wear and bent teeth. If the tops of the teeth are flat, the cassette is worn. If the teeth are bent, replace the cassette. For the season, clean the cassette every second time you clean the chain, and lube it two or three times a season. Check for wear every 1000 miles. By keeping your chain and cassette clean, you can extend their life.
Crankset — Grab the crankarm and wiggle. If there is play, check the crank bolts. If they are tight, your bottom bracket probably needs attention. Snug the chainring bolts (the ones that hold the big ring to the small ring), and also check for worn and bent teeth. Bent teeth can be straightened, but be careful. Check crank bolts once a month, check for chainring wear every 1000 miles, and bottom bracket slop once a month.
Seatpost — Mark your seatpost height with a piece of tape. Remove it, wipe it off, and apply a thin film of grease to it. Most carbon seatposts should not be greased — check with the manufacturer. The rails of your seat can also be lubed to help eliminate squeaks. Grease the seatpost every six months or after a wet ride, and apply a little grease to the clamp bolt.
Headset — Check for wear or looseness by applying the front brake and rocking your bike back and forth. If there is any play, the headset needs tightening. Turn your front wheel from side to side. If it feels gritty, the bearings may need to be overhauled. Grease your bearings once or twice a year, and check headset tightness every few rides.
Wheels — Check the hubs by removing the wheel, holding the quick release, and spinning. If the wheel grinds as it spins, check the hub for tightness by wiggling the hub up and down and in and out — too tight and it may grind. If this adjustment is OK, the hubs may need to be rebuilt. Conversely, check for looseness — too loose and your wheel may wobble. Also check the rims for wear and dents along the braking surface, and make sure they are true and round. Take time to also examine your tires for wear and cuts. For the season, check tires for cuts and proper inflation before each ride, check hub adjustment once a month, check wheels for general trueness after each ride, and plan to overhaul your hubs every 3000 miles.
Pedals — The most useful thing you can do for them is to keep them clean and lightly lubed. Lube anywhere the cleat contact the pedal. Adjust the tension if you have trouble clicking in and out. Grease the threads where they install into the crankarm. Also take time to examine your cleats. If they’re worn, replace them. From now on, clean and lube pedals once a month, check your cleats every six months, and overhaul the bearings every year.
Frame — Take a few minutes to examine your frame — after all, it is the largest part of the bike and supports everything else. Check for cracks near welded areas, scratches or chips in the paint, and corrosion. Also check the derailleur hanger to be sure it isn’t bent, and check the chainstay for abuse — if it is scratched and dented, touch up the paint and apply a new chainstay protector. Look for cracks every time you wash your bike, avoid spraying water directly into open areas, and grease your waterbottle bolts once a year.
Brakes — Examine the pads for wear and imbedded items — replace the pads if the grooved wear lines are gone and remove any imbedded items. Adjust the toe-in. The front of the brake pad should contact the rim first, with no more than two mm of clearance between the rear brake and the rim. If your brakes squeal, a toe-in adjustment will probably take care of this. Make sure your pads fully contact the rim — if not, adjust their position. Squeeze your brake levers — if the lever contacts the handlebar, adjust the cable tension using the barrel adjuster. If you can’t take up enough slack, tighten the cable. This may also be a sign that the brake cables need to be replaced. Also make sure the brakes are centered.
Stem — Loosen the bolt or bolts that clamp the handlebar in place. Slide the bar out, wipe it off, apply a thin film of grease to the handlebar and the inside of the clamp, and reinstall. If you have a quill stem, mark the height, remove the stem by loosening the expander bolt in the top, wipe it off, apply a thin film of grease, and re-install. Tighten the expander bolt. For threadless headsets, unscrew the top cap the whole way and loosen the stem clamp to remove the stem. Lightly grease the steerer tube and reassemble. Clean and grease all clamping surfaces once a year, clean and grease quill stems twice a year and threadless once a year. Check for loose bolts once a month.
Cables — Check cables for broken wires and rust. Replace if these signs of wear are present. To lube your cables, remove the housings from the stops. To remove a shifter cable, shift to your smallest cog without moving the chain. This should provide enough slack to remove the housing from the stop. Wipe the cable clean, apply a little lube, and slide the housing back into place. Replace the housing in the stop. For the future, replace cables at the end of the season, replace the housings every two years or when cuts and cracks appear, and lube the threads of the adjuster barrels and anchor bolts once a year.
This article isn’t meant to cover all aspects of bike maintenance. If you have any reservations about performing any of these maintenance items, take your bike to a local shop for a winter tune-up. At the very least, give it a good cleaning, apply a little lube, and hit the road pedaling.
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web posted: 4 March 2003
last updated: 4 March 2003