Whether you’ve been riding a lot through the winter, or just left your bike rotting in the garage since September, chances are it will need a spring clean. This month’s step-by-step isn’t merely about washing the dirt off, but rather it’s a full system reboot, that will get your bike performing perfectly in time for the arrival of the spring season.
We’re not going to insult you by telling you how to clean your bike or bore you with the pros and cons of a jet wash. Each of us has a favourite cleaning regime; just make sure it’s effective and the bike is clean. Once it’s dry, now is the time to give it the once over. This doesn’t mean just making sure the gears work, but checking to see if all the bolts are tight; not covered in grime or rust and are still in place — it’s common for a rotor or chainring bolt to fall out unnoticed.
The follow dozen or so tips cover some of the more common problem areas. You’ll see that we even recommend stripping the headset and bottom bracket and repacking them with fresh grease. Chances are these will be running on sealed cartridge bearings and while there’s nothing much you can do apart from slapping on some grease, it means any service is going to take a few minutes at most. If fact, we think you could carry out all of the tips here in under an hour. This will also give you the opportunity to spot any major problems, like a cracked bar, a broken frame or a sticky bearing. So, follow the tips and your bike will not only work better, but it’ll be safe to ride too.
We haven’t asked anyone to come up to mbr Towers for a free lunch this month, so this Workshop is brought to you direct by mbr’s in-house mechanics, and of course the £1,000-
a-day prosthetic hand model we’ve used for the photos.
TOOLS FOR THE JOB:
Allen keys / Pedal spanner / Bottom bracket tools / Grease / GT85 or WD40 / Chain Lube / Chain oil / Degreaser / Clean rags / Pump / Talc
1 Remove the pedals, clean off any gunk, give the axles a spin to check the state of the bearings. Refit using fresh grease. Check the tightness of all the Allen key bolts and, if you have flat pedals, the surface pins.
2 Clean the saddle clamp/cradle interface. Especially the bolts using a small brush and reinstall with clean grease. Dab a bit onto the bolt heads if they’re looking rusty.
3 Remove the seatpost and lube the shaft and seat clamp bolt. Clean down the inside of the seat tube with a large bottle brush or a rag on the end of a stick.
4 Undo and remove the stem. Remove the bolts and clean the threads. Regrease them, then refit. Inspect both the bar and steerer areas.
5 Dismantle the headset and wipe away any dirt or moisture from the seals. Apply a thin smear of grease to all the contact areas — rub it into the gaps between the seals.
6 Clean any gunk off the fork seals. Trickle a small amount of oil (chain lube will suffice) onto the seal area and compress the fork, wipe of the excess.
7 Remove both wheel quick-release skewers. Clean off any rust on the rods with some GT85 or similar and apply a thin coat of grease. Lube the pivot and work the lever backwards and forwards until smooth.
8 A loose chainring or bottom bracket cup can cause the cranks to move out of alignment and result in rogue front shifting. It happens gradually — so periodic checking is essential.
9 Dodgy rear shifting can be caused be a loose derailleur hanger, rear derailleur or cassette lockring. It’s worth checking all three are tight and using Loctite on the former if it comes loose more than once.
10 Loose caliper bolts can result in uneven pad wear. To hold them fast use blue Loctite on the threads or if you have Shimano brakes, thin wire threaded between both fixing bolts.
11 Clean both the rotor and the pads with a dedicated disc brake cleaner or methylated spirits.
12 Check all the rotor bolts are tight, but not too tight. Again use some blue Loctite on the threads and tighten to the recommended torque.
13 Check your tyres for rips, bulges, thorns or glass embedded in the surface. Check the pressure. If you have time, remove both the tyres and tubes — sprinkle talc or French chalk inside the tyre and refit.
Remove the seat collar, dismantle and clean. Lube the pivot before refitting. Raising and lowering your saddle will become a joyful experience once again.
If you’re using the same tyre front and rear — swap them round for more even wear.