The essay below is graphic, but don’t be scared! We can fix most issues!
We want you to be safe on your bike and, mostly, we want you to enjoy riding and we know that you will get the best riding experience when your bike is well maintained!
So here you are:
Road bikes need love too. You may not know it. There may not be any obvious signs that your bike is screaming “service me!” because that’s how it is with road bikes; a slow erosion of performance that is hard to notice because it is incremental. Plus you’re riding too darn fast to care, right?! Until one day you’ve had enough of shifting up two then down one to get in the right gear, your brake levers bearing down to the handlebar or the repeated flat tires you’ve been getting were enough. It’s time to bring your bike into the shop. At Republic Bicycles we see tired, well used bikes all the time. No judgement here! We just want to get you fixed up, back on the road and enjoying your bike!
It all starts with an assessment of your bicycle.
More often than not, the first thing we’ll do is check your chain. The chain is the lifeline of your bicycle. Most riders know enough about bikes to know you need to lube your chain with a bike specific lubricant, but did you know you should also fully degrease your chain regularly to minimize wear? A clean and properly lubed chain is a happy chain! The tiny road grit that sticks to your chain, as seen in the photo below, increases abrasion and will increase the rate at which your chain wears.
And as your chain wears so do your chainrings and cassette sprockets. Keep on riding and pretty soon you’ll have wear-related shifting problems and your chain may even slip right over the sprocket teeth! Going to put the power on the pedals and getting a face full of gravel instead is no one’s idea of a good time. So, checking your chain for wear is easy and should be done periodically. We check every bike that comes through our doors. We’ll even check yours pre or post ride for free, just pop in and ask.
This chain is quite worn; we can see daylight between the chain and the chainring looking from the side. The idea with chains, and your whole bike for that matter, is to maintain and care rather than ride till repair. You’ll enjoy your bike more and you’ll save yourself from expensive fixes for problems that compound and affect other areas of your bicycle. You may even prevent serious mid ride catastrophes, like the following for example.
This bike was brought in for a routine service and cracks in the rims were found during our assessment. And luckily too, because if these were to let go during a long descent it would spell certain disaster for the rider. It’s hard to tell in this photo but the braking surface on these rims were also worn. Yeah, that’s a thing! Everyone knows to diligently replace their brake pads but often forget the other surface which is also wearing, albeit, at a much slower rate. We’ve seen rim walls get so thin they actually fold over from the pressure of the tire!
Not all problems are so severe. Some are as simple as a brake balance as shown below (right).
And then, there are some problems no cyclist should have to put up with. Smooth shifting is not a benefit reserved for the flashy, expensive bikes. Nine times out of ten the solution to poor shifting is as simple as replacing the shift cables. Friction is the nemesis of the shift cable system. Over time friction will increase either from dirt and water making its way into the cable housing or simply from use. As the cable inner slides in the plastic sheath of the outer housing it will wear a groove in to it, especially around any tight bends in the length of the cable. Friction will increase in the system since the surface area in contact with cable has increased now that it is sitting in a trough it has worn for itself in the housing. Replacing your cables routinely keeps your bike shifting as it should.
Another common problem which often gets overlooked on a road bike is the condition of the tires. They hold air so I’m fine, right?!
Well, there’s a bit more to it than that. Tires can hold air fine but when they decide to give up the ghost it is certain to be all of a sudden. When a bike is in for service we check for the early warning signs: a million tiny cuts and slashes in the tread, and sidewall cracking; and the dire warning signs as well: threadbare casing, and bulges or warping. A tire can also show none of these signs and still be due for replacement if over time those long rides have worn flat the once round cross section of your tire. Having a flat section down the middle of your tire makes cornering dangerous and you will likely start to get repeated flat tires from the tread being so thin.
Those are some of the common issues we see on a daily basis with road bikes – and mountain bikes too! Come by Republic Bicycles and have a chat with our friendly and knowledgeable service advisors; start down the path of better maintenance for better riding.
Questions? Come on in or get in touch.