How To Give Your Cycle A Pre-Season Overhaul
As the evenings lengthen and the weather warms up, even fair-weather cyclists are inspired to retrieve their cycles from the garage or shed, dust off the cobwebs and get out in the fresh air, enjoying the first cycle ride of the season! However, if your bike has been standing for a lengthy period it is an excellent idea to perform a pre-season overhaul before you don the lycra and set off on a 30k circuit. As long as your bike has been stored under shelter, a pre-season overhaul should not take you too long. Here’s what to do:
Start by giving your cycle a good clean all over. Use warm water with a little mild detergent; an old toothbrush is useful for cleaning hard to reach areas. Be careful not to get moving parts too wet. Clean everything, including the wheels, chain, pedals, derailleur and seat. While you are removing dust and grime, take the opportunity to check for signs of wear and damage such as cracks in the frame. Remove the saddle and grease the seat post before reattaching it.
Tyres perish over time so it is very important to check them for cracks, tears and worn treads. Inflate them to the recommended pressure and leave while you move on to the next task: check after ten minutes or so in case there is a puncture which needs repairing. Inspect spokes and spin the wheels to ensure that they run easily and true.
Inspect the brake pads to ensure that they are wearing evenly. When the brakes are applied, they should make contact with the wheel rim simultaneously. If this is not the case, you will need to adjust the tension slightly: apply the brakes to each wheel in turn, to check that they are working correctly.
Inspect The Drive Train
To check the pedals, chain and chainring, derailleur and the chain cassette in the rear wheel, you will need to stand the cycle up, so if you do not have a bike stand, you will need a partner to help out by steadying the cycle. Raise the rear wheel off the ground and spin the pedals while shifting through the gears: they should move smoothly and easily. If it does not, the derailleur will need adjusting. Check all the components for wear and damage such as missing teeth and dents. Chains wear out and will need replacing every 2000 – 3000 miles: a damaged one can wear down other parts. Carry out the same procedures on the front wheel and if all is well, oil the derailleurs and apply a little chain lube to the other components, wiping off any excess.
Check the cables
Both the cables that connect the shifter to the derailleurs and the cables that connect the brakes to the brake pads should be inspected for cracks, crimping, dirt and rust. If they are worn or damaged they should be replaced; this task is tricky and many cyclists prefer to get it done at a local cycle shop.
Finally, oil the chain while turning the pedals slowly anti-clockwise. Add lubricant to exposed cable wire, the pivotal point on the brake levers and the moving parts of the derailleur. Wipe off excess oil with a rag.
This spring overhaul should only take an hour or so and means that your cycle is far less likely to break down when you are far from home. Ride safely and enjoy your spring and summer cycling!