We’re dead in the middle of winter here in the northwest of the US-of-A. We had a couple of nice days this week, but went back into the deep freeze immediately thereafter. Thankfully, this next cold snap won’t be quite as bad as the last, though I’m not holding my breath about riding outside. This is my favorite time to get the road bikes ready for next season with simple bike maintenance tasks that’ll have my bikes running like a top as soon as I’m ready for them in the spring. Some tasks are pretty standard, others are more “off the beaten path”.
First, I like to take the bottle cages off and clean up the bolts. See, I managed to freeze an old bottle cage on my Trek a while back. It was so bad, the bosses had to be drilled out and new installed on the frame – fortunately I had that done when the frame was painted:
I take the cages off, clean up the frame underneath them, clean the bolts, lube them and install them… I also put a dab of lube on the bolts themselves so they don’t rust from having water and sports drink dripped on them throughout the season:
Next, and this one is ultra-important, I like to clean out the frame inserts that hold the cable housings where they enter and come out of the frame – or on my Trek, I like to remove the cable ends from the frame so I can clean and lube them. This is especially important for the rear brake line on the Venge and the rear brake and rear derailleur cable for the Trek:
You can see where that rear derailleur housing will be important for the exterior cable setup – over the course of a season that cable end will pick up a lot of road grime. For the rear brake cables, they pick up a lot of salt from sweat. If they aren’t cleaned up now and again, the salt buildup will make it difficult to remove the pieces later on.
Next up, I’ll take apart the cranks and clean them:
If I’m really feeling ambitious on a given day, I’ll take apart my wheel hubs and clean them up. On another day I’ll take apart the steering assemblies and clean up all of the parts, apply new lube to everything, and put it all back together.
From there, I’ll swap out the old cables for new, if necessary. I don’t change them out every year on the Venge because I don’t ever ride the bike in crappy weather. The cables on the Trek are changed out every year. And the last thing on my list is the plate on the underside of the bottom bracket that holds the derailleur cables for the Trek. This plate, being exposed on the bottom of the bike, picks up a lot of sweat and road grime. If this isn’t cleaned up regularly, the shifting will be affected – even to a point where the bike won’t shift properly. I like to keep that part ultra-clean and lubed.
So, that’s my little “get the bike ready for Spring” list. Obviously, with seven bikes to take care of, I don’t do all of that in one weekend. I spread that out over the two or three months we’re stuck indoors. If nothing else, it’s nice to take the bikes apart and get my hands dirty. Oh, and the best part is that if I mess something up, I’ve got plenty of time to get the bike into the shop.