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Importance of Regular Maintenance for the Commuter

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Importance of Regular Maintenance for the Commuter

Old 02-21-15, 01:51 PM
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mjw16
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Importance of Regular Maintenance for the Commuter

I've been off of the bike since late September, when I left my job to complete some coursework. I returned to work last month but have yet to return to bicycle commuting, hopefully that will happen next month. In any case, I was working on my commuter the other night and noticed several maintenance-related things that I had neglected. While changing tires and tubes both of my dropout adjusting screws broke, getting stuck in the frame, this was probably due to rust. Between drilling them out and filing them down, I was able to remove one, but the other is still in the frame although it shouldn't interfere with alignment of the wheel. I also went to replace my bottom bracket and it was incredibly hard to remove. After using Liquid Wrench I was able to remove and replace it after some time, but this was much harder than it should have been. In addition, my brake cables and pads were grinding, the chain was a mess, both tires had multiple holes in them, and most bolt heads had significant surface rust. The point is, although this bike has been ridden, year-round, on/off road, in all weather conditions, on salt treated surfaces, etc, I had always been very meticulous about regular maintenance as I relied heavily on this bike each day. Since that stopped I guess it was easy to overlook this maintenance and things seized with rust and grime very quickly. To give an idea, in a year I would typically go through: 2/3 sets of brake pads, 1 set of tires, 1 chain, and 1 cassette. I would, on average, replace my bottom bracket, chain rings, and cables every 1 to 2 years. Even excluding the replacing of parts I regularly cleaned/lubed the chain, removed and re-greased the bottom bracket 2 to 3 times a year, de-rusted bolt heads, checked tightness of all fixing bolts, adjustments, replaced bar tape, etc. It's amazing how reliable this bike has been, as a daily commuter, for the last 12 years, but that reliability is significantly jeopardized by taking maintenance for granted (or, ignoring it completely). So, as I get ready to return to commuting I'll be conscious to return to the same level of vigilance and daily maintenance I had before.
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Old 02-21-15, 02:46 PM
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Wanderer
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Yep, put it away clean, and you get to take it out the same way!

Good reminder!
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Old 02-21-15, 03:31 PM
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My new "beater bike" is going to have a Titanium frame, Aluminum fork, and stainless spokes. Hopefully a little less rust. While we get lots of wet stuff in the winter here, there is no salt, not even in the mountains, and I haven't taken the bike to the beach yet.

I tend to take maintenance as it comes. Tires wear. Brake pads wear, etc. But, it never hurts to clean up the bike for the next "season". Perhaps I'll replace the chains on my two current bikes when the sun is out in April or May, if I can last that long.
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Old 02-21-15, 04:36 PM
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I do clean and inspect my bikes gear trains, brakes and cables, but I stopped packing my own bearings years ago. But a couple of years ago I had a mishap removing my gear cassette to replace a broken spoke. BBs everywhere! Luckily I was in our video sound stage and "regained my bearings". Anyways, I cleaned and degreased the unit, put in fresh grease and repacked the bearings. That was the first maintenance like that the bike had seen since I bought it 15 years earlier. It was like a different bike. I didn't realize how sluggish it had become. So I did the front and took the other bike in for its first service, probably since new 28 years earlier. (I had the bike only 4 years at that point, but my friend had bought it new in 1984 and didn't remember any servicing). That was a revelation, too. I now have a third bike and will have the bikes serviced regularly.
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Old 02-22-15, 06:02 PM
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Depends on the bike. A Dutch city bike requires air every few months and maybe a clean/lube/adjust every 5 - 10 years. Road, mountain, and hybrid bikes (anything with exposed gears, chain, and brakes) get all of this about weekly if dry, daily if wet, and major overhaul every few thousand miles.
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Old 02-22-15, 07:02 PM
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Since starting back commuting regularly - and on a Huffy Rock Creek full suspension bicycle - I spend an hour a weekend on checking and adjusting the bicycle. When I upgrade, it's not going to change - one hour on weekends to check and adjust. If I had to do this daily, it would (in my opinion) make it not worth bicycle commuting.
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Old 02-23-15, 10:29 AM
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I don't do too much. I don't ride every day, nor do I have road salt to worry about down here. Maybe every month or so I will spend some time and clean off the drivetrain, frame, and relube the chain (that's as needed, and it doesn't take a whole lot of time or effort on the chain). i don't spend a lot of time cleaning the drive train to make it all new and shiny, just knock the worst of the grime out. I changed brake pads early last year to Kool stop salmons and have had zero problems or them showing signs of needing replacement. I've had to adjust the barrel on my RD, but cable stretch is normal, and again that is all of a few minutes. In general, I won't mess with something unless I feel it needs to be messed with, but once something doesn't feel like it it working quite right, then I will take the time to adjust/clean/lube.
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Old 02-23-15, 10:33 AM
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Be sure to remove and regrease your stem and seatpost at least once a year!
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Old 02-24-15, 12:38 PM
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A mechanic told me to use plumber's teflon tape on the bottom bracket to prevent it rusting in (after a previous one took about 6 weeks to free). It's worked so far, but that's only going on three years so far. (And I cheated on one bike when the middle ring needed to be replaced.)
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Old 02-24-15, 05:58 PM
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Yep, I do that; a couple of wraps of plumber's tape on both threaded surfaces of the bottom bracket cartridge, then generously grease the bb shell as well. I usually remove/replace the bottom bracket 2 to 3 times a year to prevent any seizing and to chase down the eventual creaks and pings that irritate the heck out of me. I also remove and lightly grease the seat post per noglider's recommendation. As hard as I am on the mountain bike and/or road bike, it's the commuter/cx that gets the worst of it with the weather and elements and often sits in the rack at work un-cleaned and wet after a morning ride in the rain. I think commuter bikes get hit especially hard for these reasons and need more maintenance.
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Old 02-24-15, 11:34 PM
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My bike is mostly made up of carbon fiber and aluminum - never head anything rust, despite having to leave it outside daily for over a year (while at work). Before this bike, the commuter was titanium - also good. I have had very few repair issues. I also do very little work on my own bike, aside from flat repair, tire replacement, brake adjustments and lubing the chain... I usually do bring it to the shop 1-2x year for a general check-up or for specific issues + tune up... Mainly, this is because I am not very mechanically-inclined. But, I also think it is good to periodically get someone else's opinion on the state of your bike. I had always thought I did a good job of keeping the chain lubed, but the last time I brought it to the shop, the mechanic said my chain was unusually dry...
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