Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Ride Preparation - Sorting The Bikes

It's now time for one of my favourite ways to pass the time - getting the bikes cleaned up (I may as well do both).

You know how it is - that gleaming machine you parted so much cash for soon starts to look like an old banger, with dirt and grease clogging up the gears.

My ex-flatmate was very much of the opinion that keeping your bike grubby was the best way not to get it stolen - and proved it by leaving his bike chained up in a notorious theft hotspot for a week!

But since I find that impossible - I like my bikes to look as well as work as they should - and I never leave them chained up outside, I can afford to indulge my slightly OCD approach to cleaning. Personally I can't think of a more rewarding use of two hours than getting some dirt under my fingernails stripping down the derailleur and chain. Sad, I know...

From this... this!

The third approach is to do what my sometime cycling buddy Gary does and wheel your charge into a bike shop, where they will spray a couple of squirts of WD40 and charge you £25. And replace perfectly good parts at exorbitant hourly rates. I mean you can buy a new chain for £10 and it takes 5 minutes to fit...

There are arguments about how much you can prolong the life of components by cleaning them - some people claim the chain will last a huge amount longer if you clean it, while other say that you can strip out lubrication. You don't need anything fancy, just some turps, a tooth brush, a tray to catch the dirty turps and some rags.

But while there are many jobs I'm happy to do myself, there are some things I'd rather leave to the professionals, such as checking bearings and bottom brackets - get those wrong and you could cost yourself more than you save. Having not had the rear bearings on my touring bike serviced I had to replace the wheel last year.

And I can tinker with the odd loose spoke, but getting a really bad wheel back to true is an art.

So into the shop the newly-clean bikes go...

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