Preventative maintenance: fix it before it breaks!

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A lot of maintenance problems, which do not make a bike unsafe to ride, are nevertheless easier and cheaper to fix early than to leave until they're really, really broken. Every spring we see bikes that have suffered typical winter damage. By then it is often too late to repair and some of the components require replacement because they have rusted or seized. This is more expensive, and more wasteful.

 

 

Seized seatposts and stems can be difficult and expensive to extract. A seized seatpost means you won't be able to adjust your saddle height, and a seized stem will prevent you (and us) from servicing or replacing a headset. The solution is simple enough: once or twice a year, or more often if your bike spends much time outside, remove the seatpost and stem, grease them and refit. This could save you as much as £70!

 

 

Seized derailleurs (mechs) will prevent you from using some or all of your gears. We often see seized front derailleurs, sometimes simply because their owners have spent the entire winter using only the middle chainring. The solution? Change your gears regularly, as even occasional movement will prevent the problem, and oil the pivots once or twice during the winter. Fitting a full-length rear mudguard will also protect the derailleur pivot from spray.

 

 

Road grit can get lodged in your brake blocks and cause the wheel rims to wear more quickly. If your brakes make a rubbing, grinding noise (not squeaking), it might suggest that your brake blocks are contaminated. Undo the brakes if there is a quick-release mechanism, or remove the wheel, and with a very thin screwdriver remove any grit or debris from the brake blocks. This is much cheaper than replacing the whole wheel, which will quickly become necessary if the brake blocks aren't cleared of debris.

 

 

A general winter problem is rust and corrosion, which may affect any steel part of your bike. Make sure you keep cables, chains and bearings moving by using your brakes and gears, don't store your bike outside (or if you do, keep it under cover), and wipe and oil your chain regularly. The latter is especially important if roads are gritted, as salt will increase the rate of corrosion. More comprehensive advice on chain maintenance is available in our free Basic Maintenance and Long-Term Maintenance tip sheets, above.




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