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Tech Tip: Bike Maintenance

Get your bike in to your local bike store during the winter months.

As tempted as you might be to just leave your bike on the trainer all winter and worry about cleaning it up in the spring, sometimes it makes sense to get it in to your local bike store during the winter months. If you can substitute your bike workouts with spin sessions, or by getting outside on a mountain or cross bike, the winter is a great time to get your bike in for an overhaul. That way, once the warm weather finally arrives, you can get outside immediately. Many bike shops will also welcome the chance to work on your bike in the winter, which is typically a down time for them, and often offer special deals during the winter months, too.

So what exactly should you be doing with your bike to keep it in perfect running order? Here are some suggestions:

Winter tune up:

For those brave souls who are planning on taking on all the different weather conditions on a mountain or cross bike, it’s worth getting your bike in for a pre-winter tune up. (See sidebar for tune up details.) This will ensure that your brakes and gears will work well and that your tires are in descent shape. Little things like correct handlebar alignment will make riding outside that much more comfortable.

Winter overhaul

A drive-train overhaul will do you well heading into the winter months even if your only planning on riding your bike indoors. Making sure the chain, gears and bottom bracket are in good working order will ensure that you won’t do any damage to your bike, especially since riding hard on a trainer can put a lot of strain on those components.

Having a complete overhaul done on your bike in the winter will set you up well for the summer months and reduce your off-the-bike time in the spring, when you’ll want to be outside as much as possible.

Paint/ Refinish

There’s nothing like having your bike repainted or refinished (stripped down and re-varnished) to give you that new-bike feel in the spring. Getting a bike repainted will require that all the components be taken off, so you’ll get the added bonus of a complete overhaul of your bike at the same time.

Tune-up vs. Overhaul

So what’s the difference between a bike tune-up and an overhaul?

For a tune-up, the bike mechanic will inspect, adjust and lubricate the various parts on your bike. The process involves adjusting the brakes, truing the wheels, lubricating the chain, adjusting the headset, bottom bracket and axles, and making sure all other parts are set up properly. A good bike shop will use this as a chance to forewarn you of any impending issues that you might want to take care of such as a need to replace your tires, gears or chain.

There are two types of overhaul that you can have done to your bike. A drive-train overhaul involves a complete disassembly of the drivetrain on your bike, which includes the cranks, chain, rear cassette and front and rear derailleurs. The parts are all cleaned, adjusted and reassembled on your bike.

A complete overhaul involves taking your bike apart completely, then reassembling it after all the components are cleaned, lubed and checked. Once the bike has been put together again, it is then tuned up.