Road bikes are relatively simple machines and most cyclists aim to keep their bikes clean and drive train well-lubricated when it comes to regular maintenance. Well shifting gears, snappy brakes, and a clean bike often give a false sense of well being and we see bikes rolling into our service centers only when there is a break-down or component failure. Most of the time these services demand downtime and end up being expensive.
Like we often say, Maintenance trumps Repair. Always!
This is especially true for bikes that are ridden a lot of if you’re on a high-performance machine like an Aero/Performance road bike or a Time trial road bike which has a lot of power, sweat and training miles poured into them. Proactive maintenance by professional & qualified bike mechanics at regular intervals is required to ensure the bike performs at the highest level, to save you a buck and to ensure there is no downtime in your training schedules.
Why – These bikes typically have complicated cable routing with sharp bends in the cockpit region and non-standard braking systems that benefit from an expert pair of hands. Headset bearings are often soaked with salty, corrosive sweat as a lot of our riders train on these bikes and the bottom brackets require proper detailing as solid power delivery on uber stiff frames to take a toll over time. Correct degreasing and re-lubing procedures will ensure the bearings don’t damage the frame shells, elongate lifetime and also save important watts for your ride. Pedals & Wheels are typical of high quality and well-serviced hubs and wheel bearings ensure your ride is that much better.
Expertise and quality tools & bicycle specific lubricants are important to make a difference to your ride.
Here are the top 10 things we look at when you bring in your road bike for a tuneup at our service center.
Headsets are the bearings that sit inside the head tube and take most of the brunt of sweat dripping after a hot day of riding or from riding the trainer. Well maintained bikes often still have badly corroded bearings and can impact bike handling and safety. While checking these we also review fork legs and the fork steerer tube to check for any signs of stress or damage.
These are simple bearings that require yearly degreasing and lubricating or simply swapping them out for a fresh set of bearings. Typically not expensive, but finding the correct compatible replacement bearings can be difficult.
Most importantly, the headset needs to be torqued to spec to ensure your ride is uber-safe post service.
Cables and housing are the simplest and cheapest upgrades that will leave your bike with butter smooth shifting and snappy braking. The housing can get kinked or become uber hard over time and the cables can fray making shifting dodgy and braking sub-optimal.
If the cable housing is relatively new, we flush all the dirt and muck out of the housing and lubricate the cables to elongate cable life along with a drastic improvement in braking and shifting.
A complete brake and derailleur setup is essential post this service.
Most Brake pads have wear indicators, and it’s critical to ensure you replace these before they are worn out. Work brake pads quickly end up destroying braking surfaces which are often expensive rims of brake rotors.
Rim surfaces have wear indicators to ensure rims are replaced in time. Not doing this can cause rims to crack because of excessive friction caused while braking. It’s also critical to ensure the braking surfaces are cleaned regularly and wear evenly over time to ensure maximum friction is generated. This helps in ensuring your braking is always snappy.
Brake levers also need to have a light feel without excessive force needed to get your bike to stop. A regular check on cable and brake pad alignment will ensure this. Caliper services will also ensure a smooth transfer of braking power.
Most freehubs are serviceable as they go dry and dirty over time. With the correct tools for the job, this is typically not a hard or long job. These are hard working parts with a lot of small parts working together to deliver a smooth efficient ride. Good quality bicycle specific lubricants are critical to ensuring drag and stickiness is minimal and continue working in all weather conditions.
Most riders look at tires only post a dreaded roadside puncture. We typically review tire treads and sidewalls to ensure we recommend replacements well before you are stranded on the roadside.
Not many cyclists consider servicing their pedals or checking worn cleats on their shoes. Both are important as they are the single point of power transfer from your powerful quads to your bike. Ensuring this is performing at the highest level will ensure your ride is safe and minimize loss of power.
Regular pedal service will ensure loose bearings are switched out or dry bearings are lubricated and serviced to keep them spinning smooth. Worn cleats can cause sudden loss of engagement and also lead to knee issues because of off-axis pedal movement.
A well maintained and lubricated chain is important. Most of our riders do a great job of maintaining their chains, but not many have the tools or forget to check chain wear. Worn chains can be a safety issue because of improper shifting and because chains could skip off sprockets in extreme cases. More importantly, these accelerate wear of other components – cassette & cranks – which are more expensive components.
With chains – a switch in time, saves 9. Literally.
Bar tape is often never replaced until and unless they fall off the bars. Replacing torn, and compressed bar tape is cheap and will bring new life to your ride.
Replacing or retaping your bar tape occasionally allows our bike mechanics to run a safety check on your handlebar to check for cracks or corrosion.
Modern derailleur hangers are fuse components, purposefully meant to bend to safeguard the more expensive derailleurs. A quick whack on a ride or a hit while your bike is parked can cause a bend which leads to imperfect shifting.
A quick check can ensure your shifting is back to being snappy and precise.
LOOSE AND RATTLING PARTS
Loose rattling parts require an experienced set of hands and ears to zero in on. While most of them could be harmless, it’s critical to bring this to our notice so that we can prevent any possible issues that could crop up in the future.
Common rattling noises or creaks could be because of loose cassettes, hubs or headsets. Loose nuts and bolts on the bike can also cause creaks finding which could preempt dangerous situations on road.
There you go. Our top 10 list of things we consider while looking at high-performance road bikes. Hope that was useful!
I am a hardcore mountain biker and enjoy Downhill racing. My hometown is in Kolkata and I am in Bangalore because of the fantastic cycling scene in the city and love it here.
I absolutely love working on all bikes, especially on components which experience the highest amount of wear and tear. I feel extremely proud when I can extend component life by understanding technology, apply mechanical fundamentals and work my magic on them. I am the go-to guy for anything related to service and repair of suspensions in India. You’re guaranteed to have the best solution! Working as a Bike Mechanic at BUMSONTHESADDLE allows me to work on some of the best bikes in the country.
Discipline: Mountain Biking & Downhill Racing
Current Bike: Scott Ransom
Dream Bike: Specialized S-WORKS Enduro