I’ve been working on bicycles for over 20 years. I have a mechanical mind and I love nothing more than a finely tuned bicycle. Hiring a bicycle recently, one small thing really broke my heart and made the experience not as enjoyable as it could have been!
When I was over in Perth for the Ninja Challenge League finals at the start of November, a few friends and I hired some bikes to explore Rottnest Island. The bikes were sturdy, used an internal geared hub and even a belt drive. This is a really great setup for all that salt air and heaps of use with minimal servicing. But that last point is where the bikes fell a little short for me.
As soon as I was handed my bike for the next few hours, I could tell the riding was going to be challenging. While the brakes worked and the wheels, for the most part, spun freely, the levers pulled almost all the way to the handle bar. I was going to need to ride cautiously to avoid needing to rely on the brakes in an emergency. While I’m not used to that, I could handle the slow down of pace to enjoy the scenery and my friends company a little more.
Onward we rode, meandering through the busy tourist streets and everything seemed relatively fine. We soon met up with another friend and ventured a little further. This is where my heart sank. This bike had not seen a spanner in months, if not years! The gears simply weren’t adjusted and the hub sounded like all lubrication was long gone and maybe even replaced with salt and sand. Looks like it was gear one for the whole ride. I managed to find a few fixes to help my ride a little but all in all, it could have been a much better ride if the bicycle was more regularly serviced.
Ok, so I’m not sitting here just to whinge and moan about a bike that needed some attention, I’m here to entice you to take a quick look at your own trusty steed and think about a bottle of chain lube, some air in your tyres or perhaps, booking in for a complete General Service. A sentence I say a lot is, “I prefer to repair, not replace a bike!” It’s something I stand by 100% and will try to convince you of every time you bring in an old, tired and worn out bike.
If you’ve been out riding and it doesn’t feel as enjoyable as it once did, perhaps it’s your bike telling you it needs attention. If you swear the hill was steeper this time, maybe your gears need a tuning and you’re not as unfit as you may have thought! Ensuring the bike is the right size, seat at the optimal height and handlebars in a comfortable position will help but having every moving part doing what it’s supposed to without restriction will do so much more.
A few things to look out for;
- Squeaks. Squeaks and noises are probably the easiest way to know your bike needs some attention. Typically the first noise you’ll hear is a dry chain. A bit of lubrication on your chain goes a long way to prolonging the life of your bike.
- Spinning wheels. Lift the wheels off the ground and make sure they rotate freely. Quite often, an poorly maintained brake set will stop the wheels from spinning thus adding unnecessary resistance. That hill seemed more like a mountain? Probably some brake rubbing. If your brakes aren’t rubbing, that could signify deeper bearing troubles inside the hubs.
- No comfort. If your bike isn’t comfortable, that could suggest it’s fallen out of alignment or was not set up correctly from the beginning. While harder to spot, a visit to our professional mechanics will help identify potential alterations we can do.
- Rattles. There’s a thing called the bounce test. Lift your bike a few inches off the ground and bounce it on the tyres. (Be ready to catch it) If it rattles, excluding the normal derailleur noise, something could be loose. If you can turn the handlebars while holding the front wheel straight, the head stem is loose and poses a potentially dangerous scenario.