How to service your bike
Spring is finally here and it’s time to get outside! Find out how to keep your bike in tip-top condition before taking to the roads, tracks or trails
1. Wash up
The first thing you will need to do when prepping your bike for the spring is to give it a good clean. All manner of mud, dirt and foliage may have gotten into the many moving parts, so using warm, soapy water and a cloth, give your bike a good wipe over. Pay attention to the rear brake callipers, as a lot of mud gathers there, which could hamper your brakes’ efficiency. Don’t forget to clean the frame’s underside too.
2. Brake test
Next it’s a good idea to take a good, close look at your brake pads. If the rubber part is less than 0.6cm (0.25in) thick then they need to be replaced. If, when you squeeze the brake, the pads don’t, or barely, reach the wheel, take out the screw clamping the brake wire to the mechanism. Pull the wire through a little more and screw it back in. The brakes should now be closer to the wheel rim and therefore more effective.
3. Oil everything
If your bike has been sitting around for a while or been used in the rain it could have become a bit rusty. Use some 3-in-1 oil or chain oil and apply generously to the brake mechanism, the chain, the cassette and the brake cables. When applying it to the chain, turn the bike upside down and rotate the crank, applying oil as the chain moves round for even coverage. You’ll be able to see when it has gone a full circle.
4. Check your wheels
Release the wheels from the frame and remove the tyres and inner tube from the wheel. Carefully run a finger along the inner rim to check for anomalies that could cause punctures, such as a spoke sticking through. Look inside the tyre for glass shards or thorns. Pump the inner tube up and submerge it in water to see if there are any slow punctures. If you see any bubbles rising, patch up any holes, before putting wheels back on the bike.
5. Replace brake cables
If your brakes are sticking or the brake cable is frayed, it may need replacing. When buying new cables, make sure the end of the new cable matches up with the old. Using an Allen key, undo the pinch bolt and the barrel-like adjuster that attaches the cable to the brake lever. Pull it out of the casing and cut the new cable to the same length. Thread the new cable back into the casing, reattach into the brake lever and bolt it back into the wheel housing.
After carefully scrutinising the bike all over and replacing rusty and thin nuts and bolts, you’re good to go. Servicing your bike yourself can save a lot of money, because most bike shops only check the bike over and oil moving parts – which you can easily do yourself. Expert advice and replacements will usually only be required if something is obviously damaged, such as a buckled wheel, dented fork or wobbly crankset.
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