Looking after your bike by putting in place a regular bicycle service program is a good way to add a simile to your cycling. This post reflects my approach to servicing my bicycles, what I call my standard bicycle maintenance service. I do this with all my bikes every 500 km (310 miles) or 1,000 km (620 miles) depending on the time of year. In winter or rather the rainy time of the year ((June to November inclusive here in Australia) my bicycle service is done in 500 km intervals and in summer or rather the dry and hotter time of the year (December to May inclusive here in Australia) I do a bicycle service in 1,000 km intervals. This seems to have worked well for me so far.
Regular Bicycle Service – 12 Steps to a Well Maintained and Happy Bicycle
My regular bicycle service is a “gold-standard” 12 point approach to looking after my bicycles. I complete the bicycle service by doing the following tasks in the order listed here.
A Clean Bike Makes a Bicycle Service a Happy One
Step 1 – Cleaning the Bike: A clean bike is much nicer to work and to adjust so my first step is cleaning the bike with a hose, bucket of water and good old car wash or similar.
Step 2 Degreasing the Chain: My approach
to cleaning the chain is to use a Park Tool CM-5 Cyclone Chain Scrubber and a degreaser such as Australian Export . I generally run the chain through three to four flushes of degreaser with each flush being approximately 30 revolutions of the pedals. As of January 2014 I am experimenting with simply wiping the chain down with a rag and then lubing the chain with Rock and Roll Gold chain lube (step 11). It will be interesting to see how this works out in terms of chain life.
Oh, one thing to keep in mind. If you think the chain might be near the end of its life, I suggest checking its wear first (step 3) as this way you might save yourself the effort of cleaning a chain which is heading for the recycling bin.
Step 3 – Checking Chain Wear: I am a firm believer in using the right tools for the job hence I have decided to splurge out and got a decent chain wear measurement tool, a Shimano TL-CN41. I made this decision after carefully considering the points made in the Pardo.net evaluation of chain wear tools. I think going with the Shimano TL-CN41 was a smart move as without a doubt it is reading more accurately than my Park Tool chain wear indicator and hence I am finding my chains are lasting longer without any negative impact on the cluster.
Bicycle Service: Drivetrain Tender Loving Care
Step 4 – Rear Derailleur: I only re-index my rear derailleur if I haven’t been happy with the shifting of late. Ideally this should be a step that can be skipped must services.
Step 4 – Jockey Wheels: I do a quick visual and movement check of the jockey wheels. They are easy to service so worth a couple of minutes of time to avoid a disaster on the road or trail. Being a bit on the conservative side, I also replace them every 10,000 km (6,200 miles). The cost is minimal and I consider it a cheap insurance policy.
Bicycle Service: Wheels, Tyres and Brakes
Step 5 – Puncture Avoidance: I don’t like punctures but I also don’t like running really heavy tyres on most of my bikes either so I try to reduce the number of punctures I get. I do this by deflate the tyres each bicycle service and checking for wear levels, cuts and embedded foreign objects, e.g., glass. Any bits of glass or stones or wires or the like found in the tyres are pick-out. It is really surprising how much glass and the like I find stuck in the tyres just waiting to work their way through to the tube! Once all that is done I re-inflate the tyres to my preferred riding pressure.
Step 6 – Brake Pads/Discs: I do a visual check of the brake pads or disc pads and if appropriate a measure of the thickness of the disc pads with the vernier calipers. Any adjustments or replacement of pads is done at this point as well.
Bicycle Service: Pedals, Bolts, Nuts and Seizing Up
I hate bolts and nuts seizing up and/or coming loose so I have these four quick and dirty steps to my bicycle service schedule. As of 2014 I have started applying Shimano Anti Seize Paste and/or Loctite Threadlocker Blue 242 to hopefully remove the need to complete steps seven and eight. I will continue with step nine to be sure in my mind.
Step 7 – Pedals: Seized or hard to remove pedals are a pain and can need some pretty forceful techniques to get them off. To reduce the risk of this I remove the pedals and refit my pedals each bicycle service. I also take the opportunity to adjust the tension of the clip-less feature. If the Shimano Anti Seize Paste works out I will only need to do the adjustments.
Step 8 – Cleats: As with the pedals, seized up cleat screws can be a pain, so I check the cleats on my shoes each bicycle service. I find it smart to just loosen the screws and then re-tension. This seems to do the trick and I haven’t had an issue with seized up cleats since I started doing this. That said as with the pedals if the Shimano Anti Seize Paste works I might just have to check the tension.
Step 9 – Bolts and Nuts: I always take a moment or two in my bicycle service to go over the bike checking the tension of all the bolts and screws. This is just another quick way of checking over the bike while at the same time reducing the chance of something nasty happening out on the road or on the single-track. I think even with the use of Loctite 242 Blue I will still do this. It only takes a minute or three.
Step 10 – Seatposts: This step only applies to my diamond frame bikes; the recumbents don’t have seat posts 🙂 With this step I remove the seat-post and then reinsert; again is a preventive measure to minimise the chance of them seizing up in the frame. On the Look 555 which has a carbon seat post I also use carbon paste to ensure a good tight fit but without the seizing risks.
One thing to do is to use a piece of electrical tape to mark the seat post position before removing it. Makes it so much easier to get it back at the right height.
Bicycle Service: Chain Oil, Grease and Getting Dirty
Step 11 – Oils ain’t Oils: My second to last step in my bicycle service is to lube or oil the chain with Rock and Roll Gold chain lube and to lubricate all the other moving parts on the bike such as shifters, pedals, brake callipers, derailleurs etc with WD 40 and/or Rock and Roll Gold chain lube.
Step 12 – Polishing: My final step in the bicycle service schedule is to polish the bike. Nothing like a nice shiny bike out on the road 🙂 My preferred polish is good old Mr Sheen, the furniture polish. Mr Sheen is good for providing a layer against grease hands as well as adding a shine. I also use this opportunity to check over the frame for any signs of damage or other issues.
So there ends my bicycle maintenance program or schedule. This takes me around a 1.5 to two hours which I really don’t mind as I enjoy working on the bikes nearly as much as riding them. It is shed time after all 🙂
Preventative Bicycle Service Maintenance Tips
As I mentioned early I tend to be a conservative with my bicycles so I add in the following two preventative maintenance tasks into my bicycle service program every 10,000 km (6,200 miles). Both tasks are relatively low-cost and can easily avoid a lot of pain on the road or trail.
My 10,000 km preventative bicycle service tasks are:
- Replacing the jockey wheels every 10,000 km. I am looking at upgrading to BBB RollerBoys derailleur pulleys in the near future. This may mean I can extend the distance between replacements.
- Replace the inner shifter and brake cables. Again a low-cost quick and simple preventative maintenance task which can avoid a real pain on the road or trial.