Cycle repair and maintenance
The importance of keeping your bicycle well maintained cannot be understated, particularly with the hazardous and sometimes dangerous states of Britain’s roads.
Essential bike maintenance consists of the following:
- Torque it over - Don’t over-tighten fragile bolts. In the day of lightweight carbon components and puny 5mm titanium Allen bolts it is deﬁnitely worth developing a sensitive touch when tightening things up. Always grease the threads and base of the bolts ﬁrst, including both sides of the washers. On twin-bolt setups, nip each one up gradually, holding the tool with your ﬁngertips.
- Get your head right - adjust your headset correctly and understand how it actually works. Never tighten the top cap without loosening the stem bolts. Otherwise you’ll simply damage the cap and star-washer or expander wedge located inside the steerer tube. Place the cap on top and nip up the adjuster bolt. There should be no bearing play, but free movement.
- Under pressure - Inspect your rims carefully. Many rim manufacturers provide some sort of wear gauge – a shallow groove running along the circumference of the braking surface or small shallow holes drilled at strategic locations, usually indicated with a sticker. Find these markers and inspect them regularly. Don’t ignore wear limits on rims if you're using rim brakes. The consequences could literally be deadly.
- BRAKE! - Brakes should apply smoothly causing the wheels to lock. If this is not the case ensure that the brake pads are not worn down and the brake cables are free from corrosion. If they are hydraulic breaks, ensure fluid is topped up regularly
- Last post - Do not leave your seatpost in the bike for too long, a seized post will make it impossible to change saddle height or to sell your bike without getting it repaired at considerable cost. Even if it’s been greased, over time the grease will break down and eventually allow oxidation to occur, as it’s virtually impossible to prevent moisture from entering the frame. With metal, grease or copper slip should be applied to the areas of contact after cleaning and ensuring everything is grit-free. For carbon, use an assembly-paste formula such as Finish Line or Pace.
- PS(i) – Ensure you are aware of the correct tyre pressure for your tyres and regularly test them. Soft or flat tyres can lead to punctures, reduction in speed, delayed control and ineffective steering. Always check your tyres before heading out on a ride; some thinner walled inner tubes can lose between 5 and 20psi a day. Use a good track pump, and learn how to use your cycling pump to avoid any issues whilst on out the roads/trails. Whilst you’re there, as you would with your car, check the condition of your tyres. Particularly for bulges, bumps, splits and holes (as well as nails!).
- Chain smoker – do not ride with an old or badly worn chain and do not neglect chain wear as this could lead to early and uneven cog and chain ring wear which is both inconvenient and expensive. As a rule of thumb, remember to check your chain periodically, and/or replace it every 1,500 miles.
Since August 2012, Leigh Day has been in partnership with Condor, the UK’s most famous bike shop. In 1948 the majority of race bikes were bespoke but in today’s market place, a bespoke bicycle is a rarity. At Condor, it is what they have done every day for sixty years. Condor’s website quotes “From competitive to fitness rider, commuter, new or returning cyclist, the right bike opens up a world on two wheels”.
Leigh Day clients are referred to Condor’s assessment centre, which enables people who have been involved in a collision to get back on their bikes. Condor can cater for the most seriously injured who may need adaptations to their bikes to enable them to ride again.
Any serious repairs such as damage to the frame or the forks should not be attempted at home however. We recommend that in such instances you take your bicycle to your local bike shop for professional repair. If you are in the London area, we recommend you visit Condor Cycles in Farringdon.