After last weekend’s incident with the broken derailleur, I got to wondering. It’s been awhile since my bike has been in the shop for any kind of maintenance, and about 11 months since its last tune-up.
While I do minor routine maintenance, it still needs the attentions of a pro every once in awhile. Is there any rule of thumb for taking the bike in for a tune-up?
Even though the cables checked out okay last weekend, they’re the original cables, and I’ve had the bike for 18 months. So the cables probably could be replaced, at minimum. And, putting it under the eyes of an expert might turn up some things that I never even suspected — like my chain and cassette issues last spring. Here’s where I’m a little leery, because I don’t know if they’re being straight with me on the needed work, or if they’re steering me toward the more expensive tune-up when I really don’t need it.
Care to weigh in on this one?
By the way, I’m still looking for more input on the tire question. What tires do you run and why?
I found this article from active.com very useful
I think the best thing you can do is learn how to fix the bike yourself. These days, classes are available in may places. Bike shops. REI. Bike co-ops. Your friend who helped you with your derailleur. Books from Zinn (probably available at your local library) are a great resource if you don’t want to take classes, or for reference after you have.
Cables don’t need to be replaced unless they’re unravelling/wearing through at some point or are binding within the housing. Brifters make this a little hard to check thoroughly, but 18 months doesn’t seem like a long time (unless you’ve managed to put on more than 5,000 miles).
Simple lubrication and cleaning (on the chain, in particular) makes things on a bike last quite a long time). Particularly since I don’t think you’re doing a whole lot of riding in dirt/mud/rain.
Clean and lube your bike often.
As for tires: I find that the propensity for flats is usually more due to riding style. Don’t ride through dirt/gravel/glass on the side of the road. This usually means being further to the left in the lane, which is probably safer in all sorts of ways. (See LAB BikeEd classes).
Keep the tires inflated properly. Don’t stress about it. Get a tire that’s popular. A little wider than your peers (25mm+). I’ve used relatively cheap tires from Performance ($20/tire) for years and had few issues with flats.
Make sure the rim tape is covering the spoke nipples. Athletic tape is a good substitute for rim tape (trick learned from old bike mechanic who sent me across the street to CVS when I stopped into his shop for some rim tape).
Inspect your tires after each ride – making sure glass isn’t getting caught in the treads. Slick tires make this a lot easier, as treads are generally useless on tires for a road bike.
You’re right to be concerned about bike maintenance, but it doesn’t take much to ensure that your bike is sound, and is really easy to do yourself. You’re no longer a noob :} , and a little confidence goes a long way with a bike.
I’m still trying to figure out how you broke a front derailleur. That’s really rare.
This link http://tr.im/xTtx leads to an excellent article posted on Active.com for weekly, monthly and yearly maintenance on the bicycle. Hopefully you will find it as useful as I did.
I echo the above thought that learning to do tune-ups yourself is a better bet. It’s a simple thing to tweak the derailleur cable to correct a sluggish shift. There are some great books out there to walk you through the process (Zinn and the Art of Roadbike Repair), and the Park Tool website has instructions for most everything. My policy is to give something a try on my own and then seek help if I need it. The only times I’ve really not been able to do something myself has been the rebuilding of a wheel (no trueing stand) and the diagnosis of a bent bent derailleur hanger. Besides, it’s a great opportunity to add to your tool collection!
As far as the replacing of cables goes, I only do it when I’ve got a problem. My road bike has 8,500 miles on it and they’re still original. Careful attention to cleaning under the bottom bracket and where they enter the housings makes a huge difference in their lasting. As long as they don’t start fraying at a pressure point or coming un-raveled, they should last quite a while. They can always be tightened as they stretch.
I’ve been a fan of Continental Ultra-Gatorskins for a while now, especially on the tandem. They’re pretty bomb-proof and decent as far as rolling resistance goes, but compared to the pair of Michelins I just wore out on my single (the Gatorskins weren’t available locally when I needed them last year), the new Gatorskins I just put on are quite a bit less nimble feeling.
Sine Botchen says
I take my bike in once a year and generally get the drivetrain overhauled if not outright replaced (I average 5,000 miles a year or so). I can do anything to a bike that doesn’t require too many specialized tools, unless they have more than one purpose or can be used on a majority of bikes (various sizes, depths, demensions, etc.) then I’ll usually just buy the tool and do it myself. If I do take the bike in it’s for the above reason or for a matter of convenience. Some things I can do, but simply prefer not to. Currently I need a new chain and the 2nd gear from the bottom on my cassette needs to be replaced. I have a chain whip and a chain breaker so this is probably something I’ll do myself. However if I need a wheel trued, the bottom bracket replaced, the chain replaced and headset overhauled then I’ll drop the bike off when I leave town for a long weekend or something.
Wes Robinson says
Do your ABC Quick Check before every ride. (See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YevEhfd3Mog).
– Tire Pressure
– Wipe and Lube Chain
– True Wheels
– Inspect Hubs for looseness. Also, with the wheel off, spin the axle to see if it feels rough. If it is, the hub is too tight.
– Check Brake Pads. You should have at least 1/8″ of rubber showing.
– Clean Rims
– Inspect Tires for Wear
– Inspect Frame for Cracks
– Ensure Crank Bolts are Tight
– Ensure Stem Bolts and Binder Bolts are Tight and Check Stem for Cracks
– Ensure Seat Post Clamp is Tight
– Ensure Derailleur Fixing Bolts are Tight
– Ensure Brake Fixing Bolts are Tight
– Ensure Brake/Shifter Levers Fixing Bolts are Tight
– Ensure Water Bottle Cage Bolts are Tight
– Check Chain Wear (12 links should be no longer than 12 1/8 inches.)
– Replace Brake Pads
– Check Disc Brake Pads for Wear
– Replace Cables and Housings
– Remove Brakes and Lube Brake Posts
– Remove Derailleur Hanger (Clean and Lube)
– Replace Chain and Cassette
– Overhaul Bottom Bracket
– Overhaul Headset
(Source: League Guide to Safe and Enjoyable Cycling pgs. 112 – 113)
The ABC Quick Check is one thing I’m pretty consistent at doing.