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Daily Archives: June 16, 2013

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Summertime Bike Maintenance

After a nice 42 mile ride yesterday I got the idea that it was time to degrease and lube the chain so after the ladies and I got back from taking my dad out for ice cream I got to it. I started at 8:45 pm.

First I degreased the chain and cleaned the cassette. On finishing that I noticed a salt deposit in the rear brake cable stop (the thing that holds the cable housing to the frame) so I decided to give her the works.

First, I loosened the back brake cable bolt and pulled the housing out. I cleaned the frame, housing and cable, then lubed the cable and put everything back together. Then I wiped down my bike and lubed the cables. Next, I pulled the seat post (after I made sure the height/stop mark was still there – Sharpie markers work great to mark saddle height on the seat post*) and cleaned and lubed that. Finally I pulled the quill stem, cleaned and lubed that and put everything back together. In other words, I did a lot.

Total elapsed time: 29 minutes

I’m finally starting to get the hang of this stuff.  I knew nothing about bike maintenance when I started out, heck I had a tough time degreasing the chain and cleaning the cassette in a half an hour let alone all of the other stuff I did last night.  The only thing I can attribute the efficiency I finally have is the fact that I’ve done these things so often that the steps are finally starting to click – I don’t have to think about whether or not I want to loosen the brake cable to clean the cable stop because I know I can easily put everything back together without having to mess anything up.  I don’t worry about hitting the quill stem bolt with a hammer because I know it’s okay to do it (that’s the only way to free it up on my 5200).  I know the parts to lube (anything metal to metal or aluminum to carbon) because I’ve either discussed it with the mechanics at my local shop or researched the issue online.  After two years, I know just about every place my bike will creak or groan and what to do to fix it (bikes are not supposed to creak or groan).  I can index adjust the shifting on any one of our seven bikes in a matter of minutes (instead of 1-1/2 hours on my first attempt two years ago).  There are two reasons for this:  Whenever possible, rather than take my bikes in, I tried to fix them myself first (suspension issues not included – I take shock problems to the shop).  As I work on fixing little maintenance issues, I’ve become more efficient and knowledgeable at getting them squared away.  More importantly, I’ve watched the guys at the shop work on bikes – especially the owner…  He’s so fast and efficient that I was inspired.  I paid very close attention to how he moved from one step to the next.  Finally, I use the Bike Repair app to make sure that I don’t miss an important step on a new maintenance item.  That took a little getting used to, but now I can fly through the guides.

In other words, I stuck with it until everything clicked.  The owner of my local shop often advocates tinkering – you can’t mess up anything that we can’t fix on a bike, he says.  There are those who have no mechanical sense whatsoever, and for their own sanity should stick to taking the bikes into the shop for maintenance.  For those of us with even a modicum of mechanical savvy, we should tinker away – it’s the best way to become efficient at what are mostly simple fixes, as long as the proper steps are followed in the proper sequence.

Happy wrenching.

* PS.  I’ve seen people use tape to mark their seat post for saddle height, usually electrical tape.  I much prefer the Sharpie permanent marker method because eventually the tape will fail and leave you a gooey mess to deal with.

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