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    Give me some pointers on bike maintenance.  
    [Note - some maintenance issues are included in other topics. For instance tire issues are with tires.]

Well, OK, not last-minute, but we're getting close...

A question for all you gearmashers, hard trainers and just regular riders: When did you last replace your chain? When did you last have it checked for wear?

I'm asking because the chain is one of the hardest components to check visually for wear... if you can see that it's wearing out, it's probably WAY too late to prevent other damage. A worn chain can cause shifting problems that you can't "adjust away", lots of extra (and sometimes scary) noises, and (worst of all) irreparable damage to chainrings and cogs.

I started noticing a bit of extra buzz in certain gear combinations in the last few days, so I made a detour to the Bike Gallery on my way home yesterday and had the chain checked. It was borderline... just showing wear, but not totally toast. I changed it out. I'd much rather spend $20 now than who-knows-what after CO when my chainrings and cassette would have to be replaced along with the chain.

I replaced the chain just over a year ago. I'd inadvertently let that one go WAY too far, and was quite lucky to avoid serious damage to the gear teeth. Since then, I've been a bit cautious about my driveline.

Something to think about.

Scott Saulsbury

Park Tools makes a chain checker tool that tells you if your chain is worn out or not. I have one and it makes deciding when to replace the chain a no brainer, it is very easy to use.

Raul Cardoza

Up until this year, I didn't think it would be worthwhile to purchase this tool, since it would be used so seldom and BG is a five-minute ride away. Now, with three bikes in the household getting regular miles, it would probably be a good idea. It's the same tool the shops use.

If you're a high-mileage rider or have multiple bikes in the house, it's a good investment. Otherwise, a good shop will check your chain for free. In any case, it's a good idea to have your chain checked out.

Scott Saulsbury

I bought the tool, too. After 3000 miles, the chain on my Trek shows no appreciable wear. Of course, I try to keep it clean and dry, use only dry (dirt-shedding) lube, etc. My commuting bike, which has about 300 miles of slush and grit on the chain, will probably have more wear on it. But since that has a single fixed gear, the cost of replacing the sprocket is minimal (less than the cost of a new chain).

Scott's advice is sound, though. A worn chain will necessitate a new cassette, which will cost mucho dollars in these days of Titanium rear clusters.

Andrew Black

Always check the brake shoes, clean them frequently, wet cloth (with hands on opposite sides of the rag) pull back and forth (like drying your back with a towel). Check the shoe's swipes and use a toothpick or awl to dig out packed in grime from them.

Inspect them for foreign materials (sometimes a shard of aluminum from the rim gets peeled off and embedded in the shoe) Dig out the foreign matter with an awl or some pointed object if found. Check your wheel braking surfaces for circumference "striping" which might indicate some foreign material is embedded in the shoes.

Always clean wheel braking surfaces (just water, a trash rag, and elbow grease) after wet rides. The dirt kicked up in the wet creates an extremely abrasive surface. Do NOT run a hose on the wheels! Water will seep past the spoke nipples and get into the innards. I had wheels that slooshed once from using running water to clean them. Had to remove the tire and tube and dry before reassembly.

Your wheel braking surface is just mere millimeters thick and the cleaner you keep your shoes and wheel braking surfaces the longer a serviceable life they will provide.

Don Bolton

Chain Lube, of your favorite kind -- and some rags. Those who rode in the rain this weekend should remember to apply some before CO.

Incidentally, especially if you use a wax-based lubricant, it is good to lube your chain, if you think of it, at the end of the day, rather than waiting until the morning. This gives the solvent time to evaporate and the wax to "set". Also, if you wait until the morning, the lube will be too cold to come out of the bottle.

There is a solution to the latter problem, however.

Andrew "with the rectangular bulge in his shorts" Black

Starting 3/1 I will have a 9 mile commute each way to my office. (I expect this to be good preparation for this season's tours!) My bike is steel and I would like to do as much as possible to protect it from the effects of the elements. I'd love to say that I have the discipline to wash and dry it everyday, but alas I do not. Also, this is my only bike, not a beater – I spent some decent money on it, and would like it to last for many more years. What do some of you do to protect your bikes from the elements? I've heard of treatments that can be put inside the frame to prevent rust. I'd also like to use some sort of wax or other protectant on the outside.

Thanks for the input.
Susan Otcenas

The best way to protect your good bike from the elements is to use a different bike for commuting. Advantages include permanent fenders, lights, racks, reflectors. One rider in SBC has his entire frame covered in reflective tape. Wider tires are great when hitting bumps, cracks, or holes camouflaged by darkness. Theft may be less of a concern with a relatively inexpensive bike too.

HOWEVER, the product to prevent rust inside of the tubing is J.P.Weigles Frame Saver. This product is a liquid which comes in an aerosol can. It has had great reviews in at least one bicycling magazine. You spray it into the bicycle tubes, plug the ends of the tubes with paper towels and rotate the frame so the liquid can coat the inside of the tubes. It is messy, smelly, harmful (per the can's label), stuff. You should use this stuff in a well-ventilated area, I suggest outside. My local bike shop told me to wear old disposable clothing cause it wouldn't wash out. This product is good enough that several custom frame builders and custom painters treat their steel frames with it.

J.P. Weigle Cycles
410 Townsend St.
E. Haddan, CT 06423

I purchased my can (4.75 oz., "enough to do several frames") from South Salem CycleWorks. I have seen it in mail order catalogs.

A second product that Rivendell mentions in their catalog is Boeing Boeshield. It is kinda a waxy chain lube/anti-corrosion product.

Touching up paint chips and them waxing your bike will help protect the outside. It is a good idea to wax the frame before applying the Frame Saver gunk to facilitate clean up. I read that model paint "Testors" works very good for touching up chips because it is made to be applied with a brush. In contrast the manufactures OEM paint is made to be sprayed and does not work as well when brushed on in a touch up mode.

Lube the cables and chain frequently, clean the brake pads periodically.


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  Page Last Updated: Jan. 20, 2003  
    CyclingSite > CO Collected Wisdom >Miscellaneous Info > Bike Maintenance  

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