Road bikes are not all the same. Each is built differently and present idiosyncrasies when it comes to mechanical parts. But without knowing the intimate workings of your bike, how do you understand what it needs?
This article will determine what service to book, when to book and why.
What can happen if you don't tend to your bike? We've seen it all.
Riding a bike free from mechanical issues means you’re providing yourself the safest and most reliable way to travel by two wheels. It may sound extreme, but a rider who neglects the health of their bike is negligent and irresponsible. Your safety is easily compromised by ignoring signs.
An extreme mechanical disaster includes brake failure. Some riders are known to allow the stopping surface of their brake pads to wear down to metal. On rim brake bikes, this causes not only soft brakes but your rims to wear through. They become so thin the wheels warp. Handling your bike, especially down steep hills and cornering, can present all manner of safety issue.
Pinarello which enjoyed a well deserved premium service at Chainsmith
Just as commonly seen in the workshop are chains or cables that've snapped while riding in traffic. The rider may have been incorrectly installed the chain, or incorrectly adjusted the gears. Or the rider ignored signs it was beyond a fatigue safety point.
Failing brakes and snapping chains or cables are bad case scenarios. And they're common. Regular servicing will prioritise your safety, and maintain better bike handling. Aside from safety precautions, it's amazing to ride a freshly serviced, smooth rolling bike.
The Signs to Look For when riding your bike : Look and Listen
Regardless of your lack of time or skills, when it comes to bikes there are sounds and sights you should act on. Lets recognise when your bike tells you it needs attention by ticking off a list.
Obvious noises, sights and signs :
- Squeaky noises
- Creaking or cracking noises
- Hard to pedal
- Soft brakes, or no brakes
- Rust on your cables
- Broken spokes
- Wheels that do not run true
- Chain, cassette and pulleys caked with grease
- Loose feeling at the front end of the bike
- Chain keeps coming off
- Gears are not working, or slow to change
- Tyres have cracks or flat spots or colour change on the surface
- You keep getting flats
- The bike feels wobbly
- Your bike fell, or was in an accident
- Your bike has been stored
- The brakes squeal or vibrate when braking
- Saddle is loose
This list is not exhaustive. The rule of thumb is to service the bike if anything feels or sounds different. Follow intuition and if in doubt, read on ...
What Services of the 3 does you bike need?
Strip and Rebuild
Once a year we recommend a Strip and Rebuild for high end road bikes, (or a premium service - info found below). This will ensure every part is reliably cleaned and greased to work efficiently.
In a strip and rebuild, we check every component. This includes every simple part, like nuts and bolts and bearings. But it also includes maintaining larger, intricate components like hubs, headsets, rims, pulleys, brakes and the entire drivetrain.
The feel of your bike will differ when you roll out of a strip and rebuild. It'll roll smoother, and because of the efficiency your pedalling is predictably easier and allows more energy transfer.
Who do we recommend a strip and rebuild? Anyone particular about maintenance, safety, and performance. We know this rider needn't be convinced of the benefits. However, if you've bought a second hand bike we also highly recommend this service. Lets explore why with a case study...
Recently a rider bought a freshly purchased second hand TT Bike. Externally it required a service. On closer inspection, the carbon wheel set needed replacement. The surface was irreparably worn. Worse was still to come.
We established this needed more than a general service so fortunately we could check areas unseen by the eye. Lets say the rider was surprised when our mechanic Ben presented him a cracked steerer. That means it required carbon repair of which we organised.
The actual cracked steerer of a second hand bike fortunately repaired
By stripping the bike, we likely prevented a very dangerous accident. We dread to consider the riders vulnerability had he ridden the bike without a service. Thankfully the bike had originally cost the rider very little. He'd also the good fortune to be served by Ben, who's a particularly dedicated mechanic.
If you buy a second hand bike you will never know the true history. I am aware of a bike that was slammed by an apartment door and suffered a crack in the frame. This was repaired beautifully, but its also a trait many riders would omit from a sale description. There are plenty of areas hidden from the naked eye, that can present issues. Factor in the price of either strip and rebuild or premium service when buying second hand.
Ben Blackshaw Chainsmith Bike Mechanic
The premium service is the annual go-to for majority of our road bike clients. The service will add on to the general with more detail put into both maintenance check and cleaning. You'll notice the headset and bottom bracket checked as well as the cables lubed. The drivetrain is thoroughly cleaned, and we offer a new Drivetrain Lube service using technique and equipment to prolong the life of the parts as well as extend and improve the smoothness of your pedal stroke.
In short, the Premium service while not as comprehensive as reinstalling every component, is nevertheless a very considered approach to enhancing your ride experience.
We understand some riders have economic commitments. Also, your bike may have already undergone its annual premium service (seen above). Both scenarios makes a general service the viable option.
A general service, when done correctly, will certainly see you through a good amount of riding during the year. Depending how much you ride we would say 6-8 months between general services as a rule.
With all bike servicing, make sure you take your bike to a specific shop designed to service your kind of bike. It may not matter which brand or model your bike is, but if its a road bike we highly recommend getting the work done by professional and specific mechanics. You matter, so get the job done properly.
So, what do we mean by a general service done correctly? Mechanical work at Chainsmith is taken extremely seriously. Our training is perpetual to keep up with the technologies, parts and methods to provide you the best road bike service possible.
If your bike has seen a lot of the road since it last visited a bike shop, if you visited a shop that doesn’t specialise in your type of bike, or if a mate who dabbles in fixing bikes has “had a go”, then you’d likely be recommended to book a general service.
How to book your service?
Online booking systems don't always make booking easy. Thats why we give you these updates, to keep you informed with enough knowledge to make good practical decisions regarding your safety.
If you're still unable to figure which is the best service for your bike, contact us. All of our staff are competent at assessment, even over the phone. And when you bring the bike, we assess it again.
Because we like to be transparent in our servicing when it comes to the work and any necessary replacements of parts, you’ll be informed and quoted before work commences. We check your bike tip to tip.
Unless we need replacement parts or there are unusual circumstances, the bike will be ready the day of the booking. We message, email or call to let you know when you can pick your bike up that afternoon.
Our obligation after a service is to have your bike in excellent riding condition. That means giving you an honest and thorough assessment. We do not advise unnecessary work. Rest assured our assessment is based on a huge amount of experience, as mechanics and as riders. Our wealth of knowledge is what defines us. Its also what keeps our customers returning service after service, year after year.
Getting your bike serviced is the least you can do to enhance your ride experience and provide safer passage during your cycling.