WINTER TIME = MAINTENANCE TIME
Every season has a purpose. As I peer out the window, snow is falling and I won’t be riding today. What’s the purpose of this season…to depress cyclists of all levels? No, it’s to allow you to take time off the bike and recharge for next season. It’s also a great time to take the focus off the enjoyment you derive from riding your bike and put it toward maintaining your trusty steed so it will be ready to perform to your expectations when you fire it back up in the spring…or as many of us who really don’t quit during the winter, take advantage of the few days when the weather is foul to give that bike a complete overhaul. "But I take my bike in every other year for a tune up," You say. A tune up only insures that surface components are adjusted properly. An overhaul is a complete disassembly, cleaning, lubrication, reassembly, and adjustment of all working parts, external and internal, to guard against corrosion, excessive wear, and to maintain top performance. Most of us wouldn't think of letting our cars go without regular preventative maintenance so why is a bicycle any different? All that being said, how often should you have an overhaul done, what does an overhaul include, and how much should you expect to pay? Let’s take a look.
Basically, you should have an overhaul done once a year if you ride regularily.. If you ride very much in foul weather, you may want to do it more often especially if you have the skills to do it yourself. But for the most part, yearly will suffice. If you are one of the many who have had your bike for 5 years and it seems to break down every time after extended use, it's really time to have it taken apart completely. You'll probably find that you'll need to replace several of the internal bearings that have been contaminated by water or rust. Every bicycle should have regular maintenance of the chain, cables, derailleurs, and shifters...external moving parts that require weekly or monthly attention depending on the amount of riding you do. Aside from that, lets examine what major preventive maintenance should be performed every season.
An overhaul should include the following items. You should disassemble, clean, lubricate, reassemble, and adjust the fork (to include stem and headset), the drive train (to include the crankset, bottom bracket, chain, cogset, and derailleurs), front/rear hubs, and seatpost (do not lube carbon fiber seat tubes or seatposts). You should inspect and lubricate cables, pedals, shifters, cassette housing, derailleur pulleys, chain, cable stops, etc., and replace any parts that are worn or corroded. If you have aerobars, you should take out each bolt and grease them before replacing to prevent corrosion and freeze up. Corrosion not only will prevent disassembly of a part but it will also eventually cause that part to fail. If your aerobar should fail during a ride, it will give new meaning to the term “lunch on the road.” Check and lube the threads of your seatpost bolt, handlebar bolts, and stem bolts. Basically, your rule of thumb should be: If it has threads, you should grease it! In addition to greasing moveable parts, you should true the wheels and insure even spoke tension (balance). Just because a wheel is perfectly true, doesn’t mean it’s a good wheel. If spoke tension is unbalanced, the spokes that are holding the most loads will eventually fail…or the rim will. You should inspect your tires and tubes for wear, cuts, and abrasions. While you have your tires apart, you should check the rim tape to insure it’s covering the spoke holes properly. Have the rear derailleur hanger checked for alignment. If you have trouble fine tuning the shifters, your problem may be here. Many of today’s bikes don’t require as much maintenance as older bikes due to sealed or cartridge bearings. But even cartridge bearings can use cleaning to prevent contaminants from getting into the moving areas.
Bikes are expensive and regular maintenance only helps prevent more costly repairs and early retirement to the bike bone yard. You should expect to pay in the neighborhood of $115-$150 depending on where you get it done and that will only cover labor charges. This may sound like a lot but it is well worth the time and money to get that bike in top working order. You won’t believe how much better you’ll feel riding a freshly overhauled bike…it probably will ride better than a new one. So while the cobwebs are collecting on your bike this winter, take it in for a face lift. Both you and your bike will be glad you did.