11 May 2009

Arse of bike maintenance III: I never learn...

"This is my father's hammer. The head was replaced once, and the handle six times"

Old chinese proverb (or was it Polish? Australian? Who cares!)

When I first bought my bike, back in July 2006, I knew very little about bicycle maintenance. Strewth! It's not something I'd ever bothered with as a child - much as I spent idyllic summers on the saddle, worn chains and shot bearings were not an issue you worried about. Thirty years and 80Kg later, I know more but do almost as much - very little.

By the time I started practising to do the C2C for the first time, in early 2008, my gears were slipping so badly I had to be careful to start any pedalling very slowly. Needless to say, I paid for my lack of care, in cash - the good people of the Bicycle Boutique restored my bike for almost the amount of money I paid for it in the first place! Add kevlar tyres (bought from Prestwich's "Bike Factory Shop" - where I got my Tourismo from) and I'd invested quite a bit on the old thing.

Come last October, I had to do it all again - well, almost. New chain etc. To be honest, my bike worked a treat after this. But how many times did I clean and lubricate my bike between late October and now? Twice. And by 'lubricating' I mean only the chain - greasing hubs and stuff like that are simply beyond my poor skills.

So, should I be surprised when, having taking the bike to the Bicycle Boutique again, the bill came to an eye-watering £99? I guess not. I was shown the chain and cogs - which I myself never inspect, precisely so as not to be burdened by guilt - and they were visibly worn.

Special mention should go to the pedals, which I'd had since October 2006 and which I never ever lubricated - they had more play in them than my car's gear stick. I did consider not having the work done until after the C2C ride - after all, this is the bike I've been riding to work and back, 14 miles at least 3 times a week. Why would it break just because I'm cycling 150 miles in a weekend, including steady climbs over the Pennines? Why indeed... so on reflection I chose to have the work done - and enjoy the ride.

Bicycle Boutique were as good as before - I did have to remind them to transfer my recently acquired toe-clips to the new pedals! But they are true cyclists' cyclists and know far more about bikes than I do - plus they are in the right place for me, and I still think they offer value for money.

1 comment:

Nick said...

Oh dear, this all sounds horribly familiar. I even bought a sppecial bike tool kit a few months ago so that I could do it all myself rather than paying the bike shop to do it. But now, looking at the toolkit again, I'm not even certain what each of the tools is supposed to do. One day perhaps I'll learn.