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Home » Cycling » Winter Maintenance on the Summer Bicycle:  What to Do if You’re Fortunate Enough to have a Winter Bike

Winter Maintenance on the Summer Bicycle:  What to Do if You’re Fortunate Enough to have a Winter Bike

December 2016
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I was missing my Venge the other day.  This happens throughout the winter while I’m stuck on the mountain bike, rain bike or worse, the rain bike on the trainer.

My mind drifts back to better, warmer days spent on the Venge.

There’s one thing I can do before weather good enough for the Venge returns (and I’ll do the same for my my wife’s good bike next, I got her trainer bike set up yesterday):  Get my bike ready for those better days.

Now, because my good bike never sees rain and I have internal cable routing, I only have to worry about shifter and brake cables every other year.  I had them done last year, so I’ll skip it this year (though I obviously visually inspect the gears).  

Next up is the chain.  Most people get between 1,000 and 2,000 miles on a chain.  I get a full season out of a $28 SRAM 10 sp chain, or between 4,000 and 5,000 miles because I take such good care of it (the Trek’s chain is a different story because I’ll ride that bike in crappy weather).  I size and install my own chains to save ten bucks.  Simply clean the old one and lay out a half-dozen paper towels.  Lay the new chain down next to the old and choose about a half link shorter (to account for the stretch on the old chain).  Take a chain breaker and break the chain.  Install the new chain with a MissingLink or the replaceable link that comes with your new chain…. Just make sure to clean the drivetrain before installing the new chain.  Keep it clean, baby.  As a side note, the cassette should be changed every other chain, or maybe every third chain if yours doesn’t show much wear after two.  Mine didn’t need changing so I skipped it, but as long as you have the proper nut and a chain whip, installing a new cassette is easy.  If, however, I were to find my gears to be skipping after installing the chain, I’d obviously, immediately, change the cassette.

Next, I take apart and completely clean and lube the steering assembly and bearings.   Now, my Venge is a 2013 so it’s got the newer threadless stem/headset system with press-fit bearings.  This video will show you how to go about that:


Next up is servicing the bottom bracket.  If you thought your headset was dirty, your bottom bracket will likely be downright gnarly.  Fortunately, because Specialized is awesome, my Venge has a BB30 bottom bracket.  And because I’m awesome, I have the S-Works Crank on it, so servicing the bearings is quite simple.  Most won’t be so lucky so you may need a bottom bracket puller or you’ll have to take the bike to the shop to have it done.  This is a good video for a crank with press-fit bearings, like mine:


Once all of that’s done, check your wheels to make sure they don’t have any wobbles.  If mine do, I take them to the shop to be trued.  The local shop charges between $10 and $30 to true a wheel, depending on how bad they are and I suck at truing wheels, so it’s well worth the money to have it done right.  It’s not just about getting the wobbles out, it’s also getting the dish right on the rear wheel and keeping the front square, and then keeping the whole mess round.  If you don’t know what any of that means, take your wheels into the shop and save the headache.

My wheels were perfect so it was onto rotating the tires.  The rear tire will wear faster that the front so I rotate them to get the greatest life out of the tires.   If I change them soon enough, the flat spot on the rear tire will round out a bit when installed on the front because of the physics of bike riding and turning the bike (the rear wheel spends more time upright that the front).

Then the final step….

A simple wipe down and the bike’s ready for storage.

Till Spring, baby.

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6 Comments

  1. Brent says:

    You’re exactly right on what’s needed for a winter overhaul.

    My road bike goes in to the “bike spa” in mid-January every year with instructions to work on it until it rides like it did the day I bought it. This one is two years old so it’ll get a new chain and a new cassette. Cassettes are reasonably inexpensive, as are chains, but it took me a while to learn to think of cassettes as consumables rather than as a major repair (i.e., in automotive terms, they’re really more like an oil filter than a transmission rebuild). That way, I don’t beat myself up by thinking “How did I screw up and kill a cassette after only 2 years.” After all, I don’t think that way when I toss an innertube…

    The wheels definitely need truing. I ride a cross frame with road tires, and have hydraulic discs, which are awesome for many things. Unfortunately, you don’t notice wheels getting out of true until you’re going really, really fast on a downhill since you don’t feel the play in the rim when you’re braking. So I let the wheels go far too long this year without fixing them because my wheel wobbles are not as “in your face” as they are with rim brakes.

    Since I’m a Clydesdale, if the budget permits, instead of truing or relacing the existing wheels, I’d prefer to just suck it up and get a set of Velocity wheels — they make heavier rims with 36, 40 or 48 spokes, which are good for bigger riders. Riding 35mm road tires with a 40 spoke rear wheel may not make me look cool but it ought to immunize me from our famous New England potholes. And 35mm at 70 psi instead of 23mm at 100+ psi means my hands go longer without getting numb from road vibrations, a definite plus for old guys like me.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Zoom in on the wheels in that photo of my Venge on the wall… Velocity Wheels are awesome. To check your wheels, maybe two or three times a year, tape a twistie-tie from a loaf of bread to your fork so it sticks out to the rim. Spin the wheel and you’ll see any wobbles instantly. 😉

      I used to have the same problem with my cassettes wearing out. I think that comes from when we’re kids, riding the wheels off of our bikes. Or somethin’. Thanks for commenting, Brent.

      • Brent says:

        Actually, the tip for Velocity Wheels came from a post you did a while ago about getting new wheels for your Venge. I checked ’em out and discovered, to my delight, that they make wheels for Clydesdales.

      • bgddyjim says:

        I thought that might have been you, I just wasn’t certain. My apologies for not remembering. Enjoy them, my friend. They’re top notch.

  2. Good list and a good reminder! I really must service my bottom bracket, it’s the one thing I tend to overlook. My roadie is BB30 press fit, which I installed myself so it should be relatively easy. The TT bike I have no idea.

    I love your bike storage area!!

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