Some Tender Loving Care for your Bike!

By the end of September and after all that summer mileage, you will be at your fittest. But unfortunately your bike will be a little weary, worn and in need of some tender loving care.  So perhaps now is the time to consider how to avoid problems and breakdowns during the coming winter bike rides. 

There are two things on our bikes that cause the most problems.  The first is tyres – getting them on and off to mend punctures.  And second, the messy bit – bike chains! These are the most hard wearing bits on our bikes and hence need regular cleaning, lubrication and checking for wear.

A Park Tool Chain Checker to easily and accurately measure wear

Modern 10 and 11 speed chains are not cheap so it pays to look after them to extend their working life. Especially, because a worn chain increases wear on the rear cogs and the chain rings. To replace all that lot could set you back some £300, plus labour charges at your local bike shop!
So below are some useful web pages from the U.S magazine Bicycling. Of course, the (too many!)  adverts are for the US market. But most of the recommended products (like the above Chain Checker) are top quality and hence stocked in our UK bike shops.

How many tiny bits make up a chain and need to be regularly pampered?

You might not like getting your hands dirty but you might find some chain trivia interesting – and useful!
For example, a standard bike chain has 116 links, and each link consists of six small pieces of very high quality, specialist steel, as shown above. That is nearly 700 highly engineered bits and why chains are so expensive!

So how long can a bike chain be expected to last?
Another bit of bike trivia is that, Tour de France riders can wear out 3 chains on their main bikes, during this 3 week bike race!
But with a bit of tender loving care you might get 3,000 miles, but leave it too long and the chain will increase wear on the cogs and chain rings – that lot could cost you upto £300, plus labour charges at your local bike shop.  And that is not just trivial!
Find out more chain trivia, here:

Rubber Gloves on for a chain clean!

How I hate cleaning my bike chain, but it is important and in the long term a money saver. Lots of clips on You Tube (also on oiling the now clean chain), but you could try this one
How to clean your bike chain and drivetrain like a pro: Top tips for fast, efficient cleaning – YouTube

And last but not least. Every year or two you can expect to need to fit a new chain. It is not too difficult to do, but you will need some special tools. But especially for ride leaders, could you fix a broken chain out on a bike ride? It does not happen often, but it has happened to me, and on several occasions, to other club members when I have been leading rides. So now I always carry with me, enough tools to hopefully be able to get myself, or another rider, home. So well worth reading this last article about how to go about it.